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Portugal Day 15 — Ponta Delgada (August 2017)

Good morning, Ponta Delgada! We only had one day on the island, and we really hadn’t planned anything (I think we’d run out of planning energy by then). So we wandered to the tourist train “station” to see what they had to offer. Saw the cutest houses on our walk.

While waiting for our tour, we explored the Forte de S. Bras, a small fortress near the main harbor.

Then on to the “train.” We opted for the garden tour, which took us through lots of cool side streets and secret gardens.

Very serious about the whole thing.

The most amazing trees!

Matching poses, part 1.

Matching poses, part 2.

We ended up doing a second train tour as well — this one highlighting local architecture. After that, we wandered around the city for a bit to kill time until Tim’s selected lunch spot would open.


I tried to teach Soren the fine art of statue imitation.

Can’t get enough of Portugal’s streets!

Cheese wheels galore.

And then lunch. Tim had sought out the most non-touristy and local spot he could find with the best Portugal has to offer. It was tiny, and we were definitely the only non-locals there (also the only ones with kids). Shaw was crazy, which put a damper on things. But it turned out to be a trip highlight, since Soren decided he loved the grilled mackerel. We also had stewed beef and sardines. Plus lots of potatoes.

Tim’s favorite quote of Soren’s on the trip happened while at the restaurant, when Soren said, “You know what’s kinda cool? When you’re in a place and the food is different, you just kinda have to get used to it!”

We walked home while Shaw napped in the stroller. There was not a single gelato place on our route, so we settled for Magnum bars and a fruity popsicle for Soren.

And just like that, our trip was over. We packed up, walked to a nearby hotel to call a cab, panicked when it took forever for the cab to come, then eventually headed off to airport.


I had jotted down a few other trip notes, mostly cute things Soren said on the trip, and now I don’t have the context on some of these for when they happened or why:

At some point while we were split up into pairs, Soren told me, “I hope Tim and Shaw are having fun!”

When we were in Lagos near the stone arches by the beach, Soren said, “We have Duplos of those!” (We do have a few Duplo arches.)

Also, so many head pats. The kids received little pats on the head every day from lots of older Portuguese people. They were so friendly to the kids!

One day while Soren and I were walking back to our apartment from some outing or another, and I was probably sweating to death and out of breath going up and down all the steep sidewalks, I commented, “Portugal has so many hills!” And Soren, licking yet another popsicle, said, “Yeah, and so many treats!”


Portugal Day 14 — Lisbon to Ponta Delgada (August 2017)

We started our morning with breakfast on the porch before beginning the packing routine. (Mackenzie took the boys on a walk —thank goodness — while we tackled the suitcases.)

Packing — my nemesis.

Then, off to Lisbon to catch our flights. We stopped outside of Lisbon for lunch — kebabs and burgers. Then, to the airport.

Good thing we had someone to push the stroller!

The kids made friends. Meanwhile, Tim snuck off to his fancy lounge and brought us back some snacks.

An easy flight for all! (Tim and Shaw were in business class, again. Soren and I in the back with the regular folks.)

After we landed, we took a million years to figure out how to get to our apartment (no Ubers or Lyfts allowed at the airport, apparently, and no buses working). Eventually we got a cab (no car seats — yikes!). Our apartment for a night was lovely, but NO WIFI. I thought I might die, but it turned out I was fine. We bathed our filthy kids, then ventured out for dinner. Our apartment wasn’t in the greatest location for food, and a lot of things were already closed for the night. So… we ended up at Telepizza, a European chain that is… not good. BUT, they had a ball pit, where Tim captured the best video of our kids that we could ever imagine. We all went to bed around 11 p.m. — very unlike us, but we figured we might as well start adjusting back to EST!

If you’re a bacon lover, make sure you get the pizza with “crispy bacon, extra crispy bacon, and bacon.”

Portugal Day 13 — Amarante (August 2017)

Our last full day in Portugal was one of our most low key. We lounged around in the house in the morning since it was raining outside — maybe the only day of the two-week trip that bad weather kept us inside. Lots of thunder and lighting the night before. Shaw somehow slept through it all, but Soren needed a bedmate. (Which means Tim let me sleep in that morning!)

Once the sun came out we walked to the river and rented a paddle boat.

Mackenzie and I occupied the drivers’ seats — Tim handled the boys in the back.

We had lunch along the river on the cutest little patio.

Apparently some of the summer festivals in Portugal include fertility-related themes. One particularly peculiar custom is exchanging “bolos de São Gonçalo,” a sweet pastry and fertility symbol, unmistakably shaped like a man’s you-know-what.

Then back home for naps and quiet time. After a little more rain we took a walk to the Parque Florestal de Amarante (the park we’d visited a couple days before. This time we checked out the aviary and watched the peacocks fight.

For our last Amarante hurrah, we walked to get gelato and crepes.

Then we explored a bit of the town we hadn’t seen yet. We wandered over to the ruins of the Solar de Magalhães — a XVI century manor house owned by the Magellan family. We also went into the Igreja de São Pedro and got a great private tour by the caretaker there. He explained so many neat intricacies and symbols in the church that I have since forgotten… but at the time I remember thinking it was all very amazing!

Shaw became obsessed with church bells during our trip. So we had to video document some of his faves!

That night Tim and I took advantage of Mackenzie’s presence and went on a romantic date to… the grocery store. Had to prep for the next day’s travels!

Portugal Day 12 — Amarante, Guimarães, Braga (August 2017)

We woke up earlyish on this Sunday (Shaw was in our bed most of the night) and made it to most of church in Guimarães (didn’t understand a word). There were about 30 people in the branch there, and we met missionaries from New Hampshire, Arizona, Idaho, and Portugal.

Next, we headed to the Guimarães castle.

Next, we walked to the teleférico de Penha and rode to the top to explore up there. We ate lunch at a little restaurant (goat, pork, bacalao, rice, potatoes, soup), walked around the gardens/church, then rode the tram back down.

Next, we drove to Bom Jesus do Monte just outside of Braga — a sanctuary and pilgrimage site with an impressive staircase system (rising 381 feet, on top of the climb up to the stairs from the parking lot, if you choose that route). Shaw slept in car under Mackenzie’s watch while I started a brisk walk up the path to the famous stairs; Tim and Soren took the funicular up. I entered the church and got caught in a pilgrimage group there from Fatima. We were all sitting in the benches, taking it all in, but when everyone stood and started singing I made my exit.

After we returned to our cranky baby at the car (sorry, Mackenzie!) we ate peaches in the parking lot and watched a car get towed (kids’ choice). Then back home for fruits/veggies and meats for dinner on the back patio. Oh, and bread. Our Airbnb came with freshly delivered rolls or breads every day — some as big as our heads!

Then we walked into town for gelato and crepes — we all deserved it. And the kids were in bed by 8!



All is well until you get powdered sugar all over your shirt.

Portugal Day 11 — Amarante (August 2017)

Our first full day in Amarante was a Saturday, so we began at the mercado, where local families have been selling their produce and wares for more than 100 years.

Tim couldn’t resist the meats.

Prettiest little town!

We walked to a nearby park, and Soren was excited there were enough stone benches for each person to have his/her own.

Travel checkers — perfect for a game in the park.

Our afternoon adventure included a crazy drive on narrow winding roads overlooking scary, steep cliffs, then a super hot hike to Fisgas de Ermelo. Tim had researched it pretty thoroughly and assured us it would be worth it. He was right!

This kid is a sucker for a good view.

Soren’s look by the end of the hike.

Just when we thought we’d seen it all, a herd of goats came waltzing down the road — followed by their shepherd!

Portugal Day 10 — Lisbon to Coimbra to Amarante (August 2018)

On Friday we said goodbye to Lisbon and our apartment with the view of the castelo.

While we packed up the apartment and Tim picked up the rental car, Soren figured out what the remote control could do. Thanks to his Spanish preschool, he could pick out a few words here and there!

We headed north for a couple of hours until we hit Coimbra, Portugal’s former capital city.

Coimbra is home to a preserved medieval old town and the historic University of Coimbra. Soren did not fall into the fountain.

Tiles, tiles everywhere.

Inside sé velha de Coimbra — the old cathedral of Coimbra.

Soren walked into the church and knelt right down like it was regular.

The prettiest pink building you’ve ever seen.

We took a long walk up lots of hills to the famed University of Coimbra.

Great views from the top!

Portugal Day 9 — Belem (August 2017)

The kids woke up early today, which made it easy to get ready and get out the door for our train ride from Lisbon to Belem.

After a 35-minute train ride, we found ourselves at the Monument to the Discoveries.

From there, we walked over to the Belem Tower — and found some fun along the way.

We definitely did NOT wait in that long line to get in.

Next we walked over to the gardens by the monastery for a sandwich lunch at the playground.

Then, the monastery!

Then, time for treats. We walked to the Pastéis de Belém in the little town for natas — the famous little custard tarts.

And then why not top it off with gelato from Santini?

We had to wait awhile for a train back to Lisbon, and when one finally arrived it was full. Soren cried halfway home because he wanted a seat. Shaw was wild as well. A lady gave them candy, maybe to be nice or maybe to try to shut them up. We finally got off because they were too crazy. It was too late for naps, so we pushed through the rest of the day by stopping at the money museum, which was surprisingly fun.

Shaw and his stroller got their own personal lift up the stairs.

I can’t stop laughing at these. The museum had some fun interactive exhibits, including getting your face “printed” on Portuguese bills.

On the way back to the apartment we stopped by a market and got suckling pig sandwiches and a kebab. The kids were kebab fanatics. Also, VERY tired at this point. So Mackenzie and I ventured out after bedtime for an adults-only Indian dinner!

Portugal Day 8 — Lisbon (August 2017)

This Wednesday was a low-key day in Lisbon. Tim spent the day at his conference, and we headed out on a long-ish walk (thanks to all the hills) to a nearby park for our morning outing.

Sights along our walk.

Halfway around the world and we can still find construction to spectate.

Finally made it to the playground!

Dump Trump!

While we were at the park, Mackenzie arrived from Virginia! We headed back to the apartment to get her settled and to give Shaw his nap. In the afternoon, we went out for another walk — this time along the water.

We had dinner at the Time Out Market — a fancy food court. I wish I could remember everything we ate. We sat at a table in the middle and Tim would run off to one shop or another and bring us back the best Portuguese delicacies. Jamon iberico, pizza, fried squid, and much, much more — and all of it amazing.

Topped it all off with gelato, of course.

I loaded up on Father’s Day goods at Loja Das Conservas — the store was so cute it almost made me want to eat sardines.

Had to stop for TP on the way home. Thanks for schlepping it, Soren.

Portugal Day 7 — Sintra (August 2017)

Sintra day! This was one of my favorite Portugal days. The most unique architecture and gardens and views and history.

We walked from our apartment to the Rossio train station, then rode for about 30 minutes to Sintra. No seats for us — so we gave the kids breakfast and entertained them on the floor.

Taking this sketch pad thing very seriously.

Took LOTS more pictures of fancy tiles.

Our first glimpse of Pena Palace. Pictures hardly do it justice!

Taking tiles to the next level — 3D!

That’s us hanging out in that little turret.

And then we began our long walk through the Palace gardens and on to the Castle of the Moors.

Reeeally missing my UppaBaby right about now!

We took lots of pictures of cool trees for Pappy!

Cookie break.

More trees for Pappy.

Goodbye to the Palace, and on to the Moorish Castle.

It was a long walk to get up there!

Stroller nap.

And here we are. This castle was incredible. And enormous. So many stairs and long, narrow paths.

Just trying to make sure Soren didn’t fall over that one-foot ledge to his death.

Taking a breather.

Battle scars.

The bus ride back down to the train station. Already been a long day for this kid!

Excuse my double chin, but this is probably what I looked like every second I was sitting and not breaking up a kid fight. Had to get through that book!

Back to Rossio (train station), back to Lisbon.

Nicely decorated trains.

End-of-adventure rewards.

That night, Tim and I finally took advantage of the babysitter situation and went out for an adults-only dinner.

And it’s a good thing we did, because we got to talking about Soren’s upcoming kindergarten year, and we decided to… not do it after all. A surprise decision, for sure, but definitely the right one (and an exciting one — a year of play time for us at home!). So… just wanted to document my night with this guy.

Portugal Day 6 — Lisbon (August 2017)

Our Lisbon apartment had a perfect view of the Castelo de São Jorge, which sits atop a hill looking over the city center. So visiting the castle was our first item of Lisbon business. We made our way there on foot, taking advantage of the free city elevators to get higher and higher until we finally reached the castle entrance.

Not a free elevator, but a cool one!

Views as we made our way up.

Walking along.

This guy was busy re-painting the doors. Soren was mesmerized.

I don’t know how many pictures I took of tiles I loved, but it’s probably in the hundreds.

Soren was more impressed with the views from the castle than I expected him to be. You don’t really expect your 5-year-old to appreciate the richness of international travel, but in this moment, he got it.

And then he sketched the scenes for a LONG while.

There were all sorts of peacocks running wild in the castle gardens.

I spy Tim and Shaw.

Tim and Shaw ran around the ramparts until Shaw couldn’t handle it anymore. They spied me and Soren down below.

Shaw taking a breather on Tim’s back.

Taking a water break on our walk home.

Seriously can’t get enough of the tiles.

We took a (crowded) tram ride — kids were in heaven, of course.

After bifanas for lunch and then a very long nap for Shaw, we headed back to the Alfana neighborhood for a DIY walking tour of all the amazing street art (and more tiles — duh). Lots of tiny streets and nooks and crannies and beautiful buildings.

A little historia de Lisboa.

Cobblestone streets: A nightmare for the stroller, a feast for the eyes.

Stopped for a refreshing juice at this cute spot.

Next up was our nightly dinner dilemma — should we grab something and bring it home or attempt a dinner out and hope the kids will hold it together after being out for hours and hours. (With the added dilemma of not knowing where to eat and not having great access to tried-and-true tools like Yelp.) We finally decided to throw in the towel and head home, but on our walk home we spied a tapas place that looked like it was worth a shot. And it was a winner — bacalhau, octopus, cheese, hot flaming sausage. Delicious.

And then another late bedtime… especially considering the next day would be a big one!