Last year, our friend Jay turned 50 and wanted to celebrate his birthday by coordinating a trip to Europe, specifically Spain & Portugal, and see how many friends he could get to go along.
Tina and I are always up for Europe, so we agreed to go along. Jay’s partner Miles also tagged along, as well as our friend Michelle, who’s done a lot of business in Portugal and Spain, and she’s kind of our designated tour guide.
Tina and I started the trip by spending a week in France on our own. We landed in Paris a week and a half ago, did a quick tour of a few places we’d never explored. Paris, while awesome, is not our favorite thing about France. While it gives us a chance to practice a little French, the life there is usually too fast (slow in American terms) and there are way too many touristy things to get caught up in.
We are used to city life, so it doesn’t really appeal as much to us.
So this trip we planned for four days in an area of Aix en Provence with a home base in Bonnieux, which is a gorgeous town on a hillside.
It was one of my favorite trips to France, mainly because we stayed in one place for a four days. In the past, we’ve been moving moving moving. Two days here. Two days there. It’s just too much airports or trains or rental cars.
I felt recharged and good by the time hit the Marseille airport again and headed to Lisbon. We ended up finding an Uber, because the cab line was crazy long.
I fell in love with Lisbon by the time we exited the airport parking lot. It’s kinda dirty and not as pompous as Paris. It has a kind of third world flair, like the Philippines or somewhere in Asia, but you’re in Europe. Someone probably won’t appreciate my Philippines reference but whatever.
All the people we met the first couple of days were VERY (almost EXTREMELY) nice. And not in a deceptive way. But in a genuine and kind way.
Of all the European experiences I’ve had, Portugal has been one of my favorites, in the sense that, I would tell everyone who hasn’t adventured overseas that Portugal is fucking rad.
We also took a train trip to a little area called Sintra, which was extremely touristy and so exhaustingly busy that you take a train to wait in line for a bus, to wait in line to buy tickets to a palace, to then find out you need tickets to a shuttle.
We landed in Barcelona, Spain yesterday. Our apartment is amazing. Our group is exhausted from traveling. So we kind of did our own thing last night and everyone’s ready to start the day today.
There are negative things that happen while traveling, too. Like Tina opened a sliding glass door too fast and almost took off her middle finger. She had a large gash and a flappy piece of skin because of it. With the exhaustion of travel and the shock, she almost hyperventilated. But we got through it. And now she thinks she will always remember Bonnieux France thanks to the scar she will have because of it. It’s like a tattoo on her middle finger.
One time in NYC, we were talking to a Nepalese man in his little shop that we stumbled into while looking for B&H Photo. We ended up chatting for a long time, and he told us how important it is for him to send his daughter on trips. “Travel is food for the soul,” he said. It’s always been the tattoo that I never got.