After three weeks, we began to feel like we lived in Portugal, which was quite nice, I admit. We had become acclimated to so many things that at first had seemed either unfamiliar, or on occasion, even strange to us (such as roundabouts).
I think the extended length of our stay, along with the fact that we resided in Airbnbs, rather than hotels, truly allowed us to assimilated into the culture. We drove on what felt like every harrowingly narrow street, rode public transportation, shopped at local supermarkets and stayed in relatively residential neighborhoods. Traveling like this, although not always easy, allowed us to steep ourselves in the culture and way of life, which we loved. For example, one of our favorite pastimes was watching the local woman who lived across the street at or Airbnb in Porto, wash and hang our her laundry everyday outside, by her front door. Tuesdays seemed to be undergarment day.
We absolutely fell in love with Portugal. There was nothing we didn't like (well, expect perhaps the chaotic city driving conditions, but one can easily overlook that). We loved the hospitable people, the charming cobblestone streets, the late sunsets, the delicious cold-cuts and cheeses, the codfish (served everywhere, in every imaginable preparation), the fresh pastries, the sparkling clean subway stations, the breathtaking beaches, and of course, spending time with our family.
We had some tough moments, such as our arduous trip over, finding our way around at times, and of course, Garin contracting Covid. However, we persevered. We banded together as a family and dealt with the challenges together. So it was not only the enjoyable times, but also the challenging ones, that brought us closer together and provided memories that will last a lifetime.
Garin tests negative for Covid the morning we were leaving Porto, to return to Lisbon. This was the first test he had taken since initially testing, a full week before. A true cause for celebration.
In the morning before we were checking out of our Airbnb in Porto, Miles decided to feed our leftover bread to the resident seagull (who we observed visiting daily to partake in a snack from or neighbor). The seagull was most appreciative for Miles' generosity.
What comes down, must come back up. Our apartment in Porto was inaccessible by car, so I had to wait with the rental car at the top of the street while the kids made multiple trips up and down our very narrow and steep street, bringing the luggage to the car. No valet parking or baggage service on this trip!
We made it in about 3 hours back to Lisbon, from Porto, with only a brief stop/lunch break at a rest stop along the highway. We stayed near the airport on our last night (rather than in the town center as we had during our first stay in Lisbon), but liked our hotel a lot and found our all white room (named the "White Feeling") to be spacious and pleasant. And the view was spectacular!
We had to be up bright and early (6 AM) the next morning to start our 20-hour journey home (door-to-door). We were not permitted to take one taxi to the airport in Lisbon due to space limitations, so we had to hire two instead. Our flight out of Lisbon left a little late, but we seemed to make up the time in the air, allowing us enough time to clear customs in Philadelphia and still make our connecting flight to Los Angeles. After our agonizing trip on the way there, we were relieved that everything went relatively (or as smoothly as one can hope for traveling internationally, post-pandemic). The kids managed to stay awake for the seven-hour-plus flight from Lisbon to Philadelphia, but then crashed for the second leg of the trip, for nearly the entirety of the six-hour of the flight. They were exhausted.
We've only been home for 48 hours, so the jet-lag is still significant. I made a beautiful dinner tonight (our first at home in nearly a month) and everyone, except for Garin and I, fell asleep at the dinner table.
Garin and I are already hard at work planning next summer's trip. The day after our return, we headed to the library to check out travel books. If you have any suggestions please let us know!
We are grateful to be home safely and to those of you who followed along on the blog and our trip. Your interest and support mean a lot to us!