Some Numbers from our 14 Months on the Road, or “Lisbon: How Many Custard Tarts Can You Smuggle Through Customs?”

By the Numbers

Every so often I’ll stop for a second and wonder how many countries we’ve visited.  Or flights we’ve taken.  Or miles we’ve traveled.

So on this rainy day, as I sit at the kitchen table of our rented farmhouse in Sneem, County Kerry, I’m going to start this post with some fun stats.

Miles traveled:  28,189

Countries visited:  10

Flights taken:  15 (the worst was on Air Mauritius from Paris to Mauritius…12 hours in a seat that felt like it was designed by the Torture Chamber division of Ikea)

Items stolen:  2, my beloved No Bull sneakers (which stunk to high heaven) and one pair of flip-flops

Taken just outside the Oceanarium. It had been awhile since we’d been to an aquarium (Monaco, the previous summer) and the Oceanarium didn’t disappoint. We arrived at the octopus tank just as it was making a grand show of stretching out and cruising around. Braeden was riveted.  Then he sprinted around outside like a maniac.
Pasteis de Belem, probably the most amazing bakery I’ve ever visited. My mouth waters every time I look at this picture. Known for their signature sweet custard, this place is huge and efficiently serves up some of the most amazing pastries I’ve ever ha d the privilege of inhaling.
Some scrumptious Pasteis de Belem ready to be served. I thought for a minute about swiping a tray and running for the door.
Cloister of Jeronimos Monastery
Inside the monastery

more numbers continued…

Cars rented:  10 (at least two of them looked like they belonged to the rental guy’s Cousin Ralphie…skeeeeetchy)

Apartments/homes/hotels/etc inhabited:  34   

Schools attended: 3 (in Mauritius, Chiang Mai, and Hoi An)

CrossFit-ish gyms visited: 23

Check Out – Queen of the Coast: Positano

It’s impossible to package up a year of travel, but the above numbers get at the scale.

Walking around the cloister with my buddy
Taking a breather
View of the monastery from the cloister
Having a laugh with Mommy
More of the cloister
I’ve found that no matter where we go in the world, it always pays to look up

Lisboa

Portugal’s capital city wasn’t on our original itinerary, but sometime in late winter we realized that after Italy and Spain we would have about a week remaining on our permitted time in the Schengen Zone.

Oh, pardon me, you haven’t heard of the Schengen Zone?  Sounds weird/sexy/tasty/kinky, doesn’t it?  Don’t get too excited.  It’s a group of 26 European countries that have all agreed to kick border control to the curb so travelers can move freely among all of them.  Kind of like the EU for borders, except not exactly.  But almost.

Check Out – The Good, the Bad, and the Tasty – Sihanoukville and Kampot

Without a visa we were permitted to stay in the Schengen Zone for 90 days, and after Italy and Spain we would have about 8 days left.  So we looked at the map and asked ourselves, “Selves, where y’all wanna go in the Schengen Zone for a week that’s convenient to Seville?”

We have dear friends back in the States from Portugal (you know who you are, you sexy mofos) who lobbied passionately for their home country to be included in our original itinerary.  So when we looked at the map and realized we could practically hit Lisbon from Seville with a rock, the deal was done.

Outside our apartment on Rua da Prata, looking North towards Praca de Figueira
The fountain in Jardim da Praca do Imperio. Jeronimos Monastery is in the background.
We stopped at the 40-foot-plus diameter map of the world in front of the Monument to the Discoveries, and Braeden went in search of Mauritius. He found it with a little help.
The business end of The Monument to the Discoveries, Lisbon’s tribute to the great explorers of Portugal
The riverfront of the Tagus
Belem tower, built 500 years ago as part of the city’s defenses. It was lovely and majestic, but we wanted no part of waiting in line to climb it, so we passed and admired it from the riverbank instead.

We had little time to plan our itinerary for Lisbon, but fortunately our good friend Nuno sent us a list of all his favorite things to do in Lisbon, and we tried to hit them all.

Pasteis de Belem – Shut up.  That’s all I can say.  They practically had to throw me out of the place the pastries were so good.  And if you’re holding, give me one.  Please.

Clube Fado – Sooo much fun.  We had a great meal there and listened to wonderful Fado music for a few hours.  The boy loved it as much as we did.

The Belem Tower, the Monastery, and the Monument to the Discoveries – All unique and fascinating, and a great way to spend the day.

The Oceanario – This aquarium was small but so well done, we spent a few hours there that just flew by.  Highly recommended if you have kids.  And they have an Ocean Sunfish in the main tank, which inspired about 100 questions from Braeden.  Wicked pissah, as we used to say in Beantown.

[Beantown friends, does anybody still say “wicked pissah” up there?  If not maybe we should bring it back.  You’re welcome.]

Castelo de Sao Jorge – This castle is perched high on the hill above Rua da Prata, and we hiked up one afternoon for a peek.  It was worth the effort to gawk out at all of Lisbon rolled out at our feet like a rumpled carpet of tiny red-tiled roofs, the warm evening breeze blowing in our faces.

Ginja – Nuno didn’t mention this one, probably because he knew I’d find it anyway.  Ginja is a delicious, sweet, cherry liquor and we became fast friends.  I had a little too much one night, which made for a slow-moving morning the following day.

Nuno also gave us some other recommendations that we just couldn’t squeeze in because, well, we tend to move a little slowly.

By all means, move at a glacial pace.  You know how I love that.

So our entire itinerary turned out roses because we had an awesome travel agent.  Thanks, Nuno!

Enjoying the river with Mom at the Praca do Comercio, right down the street from our apartment
Digging the best of Lisbon

Seven days flew by and we felt like we had barely scratched the surface of Lisbon, let alone Portugal.  We’re planning on returning at some point and spending a few months in some of the quiet towns out in the country to really get a feel for the place.

From the teensy bit of time we spent there it seemed to us a beautiful country with generous, lively people.  And pastries to die for.  Repeatedly.

Next:  Dublin!

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