April 29th, 2010

Portugal: In Living Color

When most Americans think of traveling to Southern Europe the countries that first come to mind seem to be France, Italy, and Spain. I had bought some quidebooks and done some web research, of course, but we were not really sure what to expect from tiny Portugal when we went there. What a wonderful surprise to find that it is an amazingly beautiful and diverse country, easily traveled and totally “tourist friendly”! The weather and topography are very similar to our own Southern California, it is very easy to travel around by car, an amazing value (your Euros will go much farther in Portugal than elsewhere), and the people are incredibly friendly and helpful; most speak English very well. This last item is important as Portuguese is a VERY difficult language to master, even for the Portuguese according to my new friend Ana in Lisboa! I HIGHLY recommend that anyone add Portugal to their wish list for their next trip abroad. Here is a quick overview of this warm country from a color perspective.

Looking from the hilltop Castello over the red roofs of Lisbon


Confection colored facades in Belem.


Orange life preservers on boat ride on the Douro in Porto.


Blue sky over Porto.


Shiny silver fishat the old market  in Porto. (Oh, they DO love their fish!)


Green doors in Pinhao.


Blue azulejos tile mural at the train station in Pinhao.


Lush green woods on a hike in Sintra.


Looking back at one of the fairy tale palaces in Sintra. Those two large cones are actually the chimenies for the wood burning stoves in the massive kitchen!


More to come! Still wading through 100′s of photos and lovely memories…..

April 26th, 2010

Melanie vs the Volcano

I was just shocked to see the date of my last post was almost 6 weeks ago and am now filled with guilty, bloggy remorse that I’ve been away so long. BUT! I have good excuses people!

You see, I was extremely busy with a trade show and hosting Aurastone classes at the studio just leading up to leaving for my 2 week HONEYMOON trip to Portugal and Spain that I cutely decided was going to occur BEFORE the wedding. It WAS a good idea, in theory…. Go on the honeymoon and come home relaxed with lovely photos and stories to share at the wedding reception scheduled to follow a week later.

And then….Bum! Bum! Bum! The volcano erupts, spewing dangerous (or so they purported) ash over Northern Europe. Lucky us, we were ending our trip in Barcelona, Spain and felt quite safe as we packed our bags and headed out for our final, lovely honeymoon dinner at Pla. We returned to frantic text messages about the airport being closed, flights cancelled, chaos erupting (pun intended). We were promised a flight out the following Friday, assuming that planes WOULD be flying, and were forced to extend our stay another 5 days. With so much incertainty we had no choice but to postpone our wedding day, which was a difficult, but necessary decision. The happy ending to this story is that we are home safe, had a lovely, LONG honeymoon, and were able to reschedule our wedding date to August 22 without any problems. You can be sure I will NOT be planning any trips in the weeks leading up to the nuptials!!

Honeymoon photos to follow…..