Thursday, December 29, 2011

Patton Family Takes on Portugal

Hello, family and friends! I hope that you all had a very Merry Christmas/great holiday season. My Christmas vacation has been amazing.

I flew out of Dakar in the wee hours of the 22nd and arrived in Lisbon around 7am. I was so excited to see my parents and brother! I was descending an escalator near baggage claim when I spotted my family, and my mom had her IPad open and ready to document our reunion. It was so great to see them again!

Our first day was spent catching up, resting and exploring our area. We rented a flat in the Chiado part of Lisbon from an apartment rentals by owner site. For our first dinner we enjoyed traditional Portuguese paella, prawns and SANGRIA!

On our second day, we walked around Lisbon. We trekked up to Castle Sao Jorge, a Moorish castle overlooking the city. My dad, James and I climbed up the walls and checked out the view while Mom hung out down below and took photos (which became a recurring theme throughout the entire trip). I also ran into a few Senegalese guys selling jewelry on the street. My parents got a kick out of me speaking Wolof with them.


Hanging out at Castle Sao Jorge

Pretty Lisbon

Mom on her IPad... she's obsessed.

Castle at night

Castle at night

Castle at night

James being a GQ model

Lisbon nightlife

We took a few awesome day-trips. One place we loved was called Sintra, which was the home of a few really cool palaces, and possibly the best meal I've ever had (shrimp in a creamy lobster sauce and the best sangria ever- aside from Doreen Higgins' famous recipe). We liked Sintra so much that after our first day there we decided to go back again the following day. And yes, I did force my family to go back to the same restaurant the next day so I could eat the same lunch two days in a row. Yum!

Moorish castle

Pena palace

James at a Hobbit's door

Just chilling in the palace

Mom and Dad being silly

Hanging out in the castle walls

Loving the BEST MEAL EVER!!

 Today was my last full day with the family, and we had a great day. We decided to do a private tour to go see a bunch of sites that we were interested in seeing. Our driver/tour guide was so kind, helpful, and easygoing. If anyone's planning a Portugal trip and needs a recommendation, let us know; because he was awesome. Our first stop of the day was in Fatima, a city famous for apparitions of the Virgin Mary seen by three children in 1917. I was kind of expecting a grotto-like area that still looked like what it would have been like back then, but the area now has a huge cathedral and a small chapel where the apparitions took place. We saw people crawling on their knees around the chapel as part of a pilgrimage. We were told that this time of year is quiet there, but that it's packed in the summer. I'm glad that we were able to see it.


Fatima cross

After Fatima, we went to Nazare, a beautiful beach town. Huge cliffs overlooked the water, which had killer waves and was full of surfers. Then we headed to Obidos, a walled city decked out like a Christmas village. Obidos was charming and has some delicious chocolate for sale. I bumped into another Senegalese guy selling stuff on the street and chatted with him. It turns out that he met my friend Sarah, another PCV from my region, the day before. Small world!

Cliffs at Nazare

Awesome waves

Such big waves!

Two Patton beach bums

F & J


Now I'm getting my act together to fly out tomorrow night. I'm hoping for one final amazing meal tomorrow, then it's New Year's Eve time! My friends and I are planning on heading up to Saint Louis, in the northwest part of Senegal. I'll let you all know how my first Senegalese New Year's turns out. All in all, my vacation was amazing. It was so nice to hang out with my family and it was so, so good for my mental health to get out of Senegal for a bit. And I was able to skype with a lot of my friends and family back home, which made my Christmas even better!

I was hoping that while I had this super-fast European wi-fi that I was hear the good news that my newest baby cousin arrived, but no such luck. Get a move on, Aunt Cindy! I'm dying here!

And HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MER!!! So glad I was able to talk to you the other day. Hope your b-day is amazing!!

Happy 2012, Everyone!! Love you all!

1 comment:

  1. With happy tears in my eyes I'm just so happy to have seen the smile on your Mama's face. Have a safe trip back. Happy New Year. I can't wait until the day you are home and we're hanging out at your parents' house! Big hugs!