Bad Day Made Good: The Pena Palace

This past Wednesday we were going to go the beach to work on our fading tans. Alas, our plans of having sunny and warm weather throughout our whole trip were dashed. Wednesday (as well as the rest of the week) was cold and windy. I mean like in the 60’s cold (I knew I should have brought a snow suit on this trip). For those of you that use Celsius, that is 16 degrees. Brrrr… It was unacceptable blustery uncomfortable weather. That is all I will complain about the apparent early summer freeze we have experienced for now.

There was one positive side to the cold and having to miss the beach. The Pena Palace in Sintra.

Through very little online research Chad was able to find out that the easiest way to get to Sintra was by train. We went to the Rossio train station here in Lisbon, paid the four euros each (Zoë was free) and hopped directly on a train that would take us to our destination in 39 minutes. Zoë loves trains, as do we, and the ride went by quickly.

We disembarked from the train and were in a quaint little town that immediately makes you feel like you are in a real life Disneyland. The clean little cobbled road ways, the colorful and well-maintained buildings constructed in the 19th century, the sculptures and tile work each way you turned, all that were missing were the princesses and background music. And to top it all off, the castles, one within the town of Sintra that is more modern, The Palácio Nacional, and the oldest one in the area, the Moor Castle, which looks down on Sintra eerily.

Moor Castle Looking Down Upon Sintra

Moor Castle Looking Down Upon Sintra

The castle that we were in Sintra to see was up on the other side of a mountain, concealed from the town below, The Pena Palace.

I just want to give a little history of the castle before I go on about our day…

The site held a monastery that had been all but destroyed in the earthquake of 1755. Queen Dona Marie II and her king consort Ferdinand II, loving the beauty of the area, contracted Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege in the mid 1800’s to build and design a palace that looked like an “opera” around the remaining chapel that still stood. So it is actually a bit more modern of a castle than I had expected. If you would like to know more about the history and construction of the “Feather Palace” I would suggest the Pena Palace website, the wikipedia page, and gekkoportugal.com.

There are many different ways to travel to the palace, including a public bus, private tour buses, and even tuk tuks. We checked out the tuk tuks, because of our love for the fun little taxis from Thailand, but the prices were rather exorbitant starting at 45€ for a hour and a half tour. We opted for the cheaper public bus at only 5€ a person. The public sightseeing bus #434 stopped at the trains station, the old town center, the Moor Castle and the finally the Pena Palace. It was a great deal as they picked up every 15 minutes or so and you could hop on and off at any stop throughout the whole day!

A quick note about the bus trip, the road to the sites is steep, windy and sometimes cobbled. If you have ever had issues with motion sickness, I would definitely suggest taking dramamine before this ride. The drive only takes about 20 minutes, but I am sure that it could be a day killer for any one who gets car sick.

When we had arrived at the crest of the mountain at the entrance of the Pena Palace, we were confronted with ticket booths. I had figured there was a charge to enter the grounds, but was honestly unaware of the cost. Yes, that is how I research..pretty much half way. It is one reason that I always make let Chad look into what we are thinking of doing, that and my infernal laziness incredibly busy schedule. There were a couple of options as far as ticket purchase, you could get a ticket for just the palace grounds and garden which I think was 10 €, but we really wanted to see the interior of the palace too, so we paid 13.50 € each. I thought the price a little steep, and they did nickel and dime you a bit. For example, you could walk up the rest of the way from the entrance to the castle for free, or you could take the tram for two euros a person. But I think I could say in all fairness, that all touristy historical places I have been to do the same thing. You were given a map for free, and you could download an app on your smart phone for free to listen to a tour as well. At least they said you could, we couldn’t get it to work, but I did see people who apparently were using it.

Halfway up the steep hill that we were walking up for free, I started to regret saving the 4 euros for the tram though. Chads positivity saw us through pushing our almost 30 pound toddler up the steep cobbled road in our not so sturdy stroller, because the walk only took about 10 minutes. I think I probably complained for at least 7 of those minutes…I really have to work on that.

Anyways, as we came upon the palace garden and outer walls, I was again struck with how Disneyland must have been designed after castles like this. The pink, yellow grey and green walls interspersed with tiles. The defensive fortifications mixed with the purely cosmetic decorations.

Disneyland also might have been coming to mind because Zoë had been singing “Hi ho hi ho” the whole time we had been in Sintra. I do not know why she thought we were going to Snow White’s castle, but it was pretty cute and appropriate actually.

Despite the cold chill of the wind whipping through our thin summer clothes, we slowed down and took in the entrance to this amazing and somewhat schizophrenic structure. The gardens were beautiful and showed off each decorative motif perfectly. The view was breathtaking, you could look over Sintra all the way to the ocean over 17 km away. I could go on and on about the grounds of the castle, but I will let Chads wonderful photos show you.

View From the Walk Up

View From the Walk Up

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Such a Beautiful Structure

Zoë Walking to the Castle on Her Own

Zoë Walking to the Castle on Her Own

The Amazing View

The Amazing View

Such a Mixture of Decorative Styles

Such a Mixture of Decorative Styles

A Depiction of a Newt and the Creation of the World on the Outer Wall of the Castle

A Depiction of a Newt and the Creation of the World on the Outer Wall of the Castle

The interior of the palace was a mixture of different decorating influences, including islamic, arabic, renaissance, and medieval. The way around the rooms were clearly directed with signs telling you where to go next and was clean and actually quite quiet (must have been because it was a weekday). The walk through the rooms begins with the formal dining room, complete with the full dinner service and tea china. From there you are led through the king and queens bedrooms, sitting rooms, and bathrooms. Surprisingly the lived in rooms were quite small, having just enough room for a bed (about 5 feet long and the width of a double mattress presently), a desk and a chaise lounge or settee. What stood out most to me was the almost unreal view out of the windows in these rooms. Unfortunately we were not able to get a good picture of the view from the windows, but believe me, its worth the trip to the palace just for that. It was overwhelming how intricate all the furniture and accoutrements were in the rooms.

The Dining Room

The Dining Room

Intricately Carved Furniture in One of the Sitting Rooms

Intricately Carved and Decorated Furniture in One of the Sitting Rooms

My favorite area of the palace was the chapel, which was the last remaining part of the monastery left after the earthquake of 1755. It had the most vibrant and clear stained glass windows I have ever seen. It also housed a complex wall sized retable carved from marble and alabaster by Nicolau Chanterene, showing seven periods from Jesus’ life and death. The interesting thing to me was that Jesus and the scenes were depicted as though they were in the renaissance period (which is when the sculpture was completed). Regardless of its historical accuracy, it was awe-inspiring to look at.

Monastery Sculpture

Monastery Retable Sculpted by Nicolau Chanterene

Pena Palace Chapel Credit Wikipedia

Pena Palace Chapel
Credit Wikipedia

At this point, Zoë felt that our time was up for walking around slowly and we had to walk a bit more quickly through the remaining rooms, including a room filled with stag heads and the great hall.

Our walk ended at the gift shop, which offered many different types of souvenirs that were reasonably priced.

We walked around the outer garden for a bit longer and took some more pictures and headed down the hill again to the bus stop.

You would be so proud of me, I didn’t complain once on the walk down the hill! I felt like I had turned a proverbial corner.

We hopped back on the bus and walked around the old town center, ate some dinner and went home, exhausted, but happy and feeling like we had had a great experience.

We will definitely be going back to Sintra to see more of the town, as well as the other castles, before we leave for our next destination. I would definitely recommend checking out the Pena Palace if you choose visit this wonderful country, you will not regret it!

Wednesday Write-Up: Roughing It in Unexpected Ways

We have now been living in our apartment for almost a week and all three of us are settled in and happy with our little haven in the “City of Seven Hills.”

Our apartment is a studio/one bedroom with a large full kitchen, a beautiful marble bathroom with a huge tub (Zoë’s current favorite place to play and “swim”) and all the amenities that you can think of while traveling. It’s fully furnished, with a dishwasher, and clothes washer. Our “clothes dryer” is the line hanging five stories above the ground that utilizes solar power. Yes, you read that right, we are on the 5th floor, with no elevator. It doesn’t even really bother me yet because I love the apartment so much! My legs better will be amazing when we leave for the next destination, so how can I look at it negatively? Also, there is a hook and pulley set-up in the center of the stairs, so we are able to pull up our groceries instead of carrying them… I tried to see if it would hold my weight and, alas, a bag of groceries seems to be it’s limit.

The Bedroom  Photo Taken By Chad R. Mitchell

The Bedroom

Living Room Photo Taken By Chad R. Mitchell

Living Room

The Tub Photo Taken By Chad R. Mitchell

The Tub

The Bathroom (yes, that is a bidet!) Photo Taken By Chad R. Mitchell

The Bathroom (yes, that is a bidet!)

The Kitchen Photo Taken By Chad R. Mitchell

The Kitchen

My first order of business after we got settled last Thursday, was to start doing the massive amounts of laundry that we had been saving up since Curacao. I know, I know, it’s such an exciting and adventurous life I lead in between the “travel” type things we do. But it is a nice change to just be somewhere where I can stop for a while and accomplish some household things that are in great need of attention. In fact, I just finally finished all the laundry today, and I felt so accomplished! (Yes we had that much laundry!!)

Anyways, onto more exciting things (unless you are one of those people that are enthralled with household chores, there are some people out there like that, right?)…

And yes, that brings me to food! Each day Chad, Zoë, and I have been having lunch at a different restaurant, also called a snack bar or Pasteleria, in our new neighborhood. Each of these quaint places sport a glass counter filled with pastries and some tables for those that want lunch. It seemed odd at first to see a person walk in and stand at the counter and have an espresso and snack, but I have gotten used to seeing it and have actually done it a time or two. It’s not unpleasant, but can be a bit difficult with Zoë trying to hide her face in my shoulder, leg or skirt (almost to the point of pulling it off of me!) from the customers and employees that pinch her cheeks and try to talk to her.

Zoë is very shy, and I am sure that people speaking another language and trying to pat her head or pinch her thigh, makes her even more shy, but she is getting better. The people here are so nice and patient and find it very humorous when she covers her eyes with her arms when they talk to her. Everyone seems very family oriented here and everywhere we have gone has been very kid friendly.

Ok back to the subject at hand…the food. Every pasteleria has pretty much the same menu: pastries, beef/steak plates, fish plates, or pork plates. All the meat plates come with home made olive oil french fries or rice, and usually a salad or vegetable. So far, everything I have tried has been wonderful. I usually stick with seafood, because it is my favorite and its so inexpensive and delicious. Chad usually gets the pork or beef, so we get to try each others. It’s a match made in heaven…seriously! Zoë has tried everything that we have for the most part, including whole grilled octopus (oh my gosh…so yummy!) and she has quite an advanced palate for a two year old.

We found a couple of super markets nearby and have been taking daily walks around to see what is around us. Sometimes we hop on the metro and just get off at an exit that seems good, and explore. We did that today and found a park (with a mediocre playground for Z, but she was happy with it) that ended with a huge amazing fountain that must have been about 5 stories tall and a city block wide. It is crazy to me, and I feel so blessed, that we are in a city that we can get off at a random metro stop and there can be an amazing structural beauty such as this. And that’s been the case in most parts of the city of Lisbon that we have seen so far. In the midst of all the shopping and restaurants, there will be some sort of monument or statue that honestly, puts most of our American monuments to shame. Just the fact that they are older and more diverse here, than our monuments and statues back home, makes them more appealing and enthralling (to me at least)!

The Alameda Fountain Photo Taken By Jennifer Mitchell

The Alameda Fountain

Zoë's First Time on a Big Girl Swing Photo Taken By Jennifer Mitchell

Zoë’s First Time on a Big Girl Swing

There are a couple of ways that culture shock has been setting in for me, but the most difficult thing for me so far, is that they do not have baby changing stations in any of the bathrooms, unless it’s the bathroom of a tourist attraction (museum, aquarium, etc.). This means that I have had to get used to changing Zoë’s, sometimes very poopy, diapers while she stands. Of course, this is only in public areas, but you other parents know, if there is nowhere to change the diaper of a child, that is when they will have a poop explosion. It has happened a few times now (lucky me!), and I think I have finally gotten it down. I can be in and out of the typically claustrophobic and badly lit rooms in about 5-10 minutes flat. Unfortunately, Zoë does not enjoy standing as I clean her up and she usually cries and screams, but the people nearby have not assumed that I am beating her or anything, thank God (or at least I hope so)!

Despite all the differences between Santa Rosa, California, and Lisbon, Portugal, I still love this city. Chad and I are actually considering making this our home base for another month (so two months total) and just taking a weekend or week long trips to other countries in Europe. Lisbon has been so wonderful to us so far, but we do want to see more this summer. We are undecided still on what to see, we are considering different possibilities… southern Spain, Greece, Italy, and maybe Croatia. Maybe you all could help us, where would you recommend that we visit? Leave a comment here and let us know where and why…we love to hear others stories and opinions!

Until Friday my friends, ciao ciao!

All Photos are (c) andthreetogo.wordpress.com

Review: Hostel w/ Children – Travellers House

Travellers House – A Luxury Hostel Experience

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One of the challenges of traveling with a toddler is finding a place to stay. There are thousands of hotels, guesthouses, and sublets that accept children, but almost all of them are pricier and less “indie” than the backpacker favorite known as the hostel. Unfortunately most hostels aren’t as willing to let those under 18 stay as guests.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with staying at hostels, Wikipedia defines them as “… budget-oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available. Hostels may include a hot meal in the price.”

Family Friendly?

Family Friendly?

To most travelers with children, especially those who are unfamiliar with the road, the idea of staying in a “dormitory,” or sharing a kitchen, bathroom, or anything for that matter, may sound like a disaster. The free meal may be tempting, but a hostel is generally considered a young persons game, and not one that lends itself to the traveling family’s needs.

Kids love parties yeah?

Kids love parties yeah?

However, we used to stay at hostels throughout the world, and had seen kids here and there, usually not in the dorm areas, but sharing private room, and shared bath, and generally being the star of the accommodations. Well, at least as long as they were well behaved…  And we loved hostels: the camaraderie, the chance to meet other travelers, the kitchen where we could cook our own meals, etc. Especially as this trip is not a vacation, and more a way of life… Every saved dollar, pound, or baht, is another day we can enjoy the adventure without worrying about the day those same finances run out…

So we began searching well in advance for accommodations in Lisbon that would host our small family. First we searched Airbnb (Our personal favorite!), but decided against renting something for the long-term, sight-unseen, until we had become somewhat familiar with the territory. Unfortunately we put off our purchase of a room until it was far too late, and ran out of most options. Fortunately we stumbled upon a hostel that not only accepted toddlers, but also one that redefined our expectation of what a hostel is meant to be.

Traveler’s House Hostel – Review

Common Area: Beanbags make everyone relax.

Common Area: Beanbags make everyone relax.

Words cannot describe how relieved we were to find this accommodation in the Baixa district of downtown Lisbon. The location is mere minutes (walking distance!) to the neighborhoods of Alfama, Bairro Alto, Chiado and Rossio, and as close to the major Metro stop of Baixa-Chiado. It is on the pedestrian only street of Rua Augusta, and as soon as you step outside the front door you are in the heart of the touristy, yet charming, hub of this fascinating city. Everything a weary traveler may need is within a stones throw and everything else is only a short walk away.

Location, location, location.

Location, location, location.

The view from the balcony

The view from the balcony

But enough about the location… and on to the accommodations. Traveler’s House was one of the only hostels we could find that not only accepted children, but actually mentioned families on their website. The shared dorms are most likely not kid-friendly, but the private rooms most certainly are. Due to the fact that we booked the room late (only a few days before we arrived), we had to split our time between different rooms. For the first couple of days we stayed in a private room with shared bath, and for the last few days we moved to a private suite.

To be honest we were hesitant about the shared bath situation, but in the end we loved it, and even wished we didn’t have to move. Primarily as the suite was more expensive, and we really didn’t mind having to walk the short distance to the clean and plentiful restrooms/showers.

Zoë Approved!

Zoë Approved!

The room was impeccable, clean, and just large enough to host us and our luggage. They even, at no extra charge, had a portable crib setup for Z to use during our stay. Once we moved, the suite was about twice the size, and the bathroom was excellent as well.

As good as it looks

As good as it looks

Two small things I must mention as a small warning: You can’t eat or drink in the rooms (except water), and the shower floors are very slick. What this means is that with the child who wakes up hungry, and nibbles all day long, is that you must get up and get going as soon as possible, or else face the crankiness of a jet-lagged, and starving toddler… In a hostel… where screaming can be heard quite easily… And that during showers you must continually try to hang on to a soaped up squirming bundle of fun so as not to let them crash their head into the wall.

Those small annoyances challenges aside, the rooms are more than adequate, and even border on the side of being perfect. Especially compared to what you might find at any comparable price in any major hotel chain. And don’t forget they do offer a delicious breakfast (eggs, bacon, toast or Nutella crepes! With coffee, tea, juic etc.), starting at 8 and ending at 11… All the more incentive not to huddle in the room past tantrum the waking hour…

This bed is just right.

This bed is just right.

The best part of staying at hostel is the time spent getting to know your fellow travelers. To partake of the common room, and to take advantage of the knowledge of those who work, stay, or all but live, at the hostel.

Fortunately Lisbon Traveler’s House employs a great variety of well traveled folks, who are kind, talkative, and more than willing to chat in great detail about what to do and see around Lisbon and the rest of Portugal. Not only do they patiently recite the same instructions over and over again, when asked where the “authentic” Fado singers might be found, but they will willingly mark out a map, make telephone calls, or even accompany their guests to the spot.

On top of that they always have a social event, food tasting, walking tour available every night of the week, and rent out Segways for those who would rather do it alone. We recommend the chorizo and wine tasting! It is delicious!

Jørgen heating up the chorizo

Jørgen heating up the chorizo

The common area is warm, clean, and inviting. There is light music being played from the antique stereo, and never once did we feel uncomfortable using the computer area, or the TV room. Though no one ever did use the TV room, as it seemed most would rather socialize, or go out on the town to explore. And there is Wi-Fi provided throughout the building. So if you choose not to leave your room there is always enough internet for the anti-social exhausted traveler.

Overall this hostel is one that we would gladly stay at again. It isn’t the cheapest one available, but it accepts kids, has “luxury” accommodations at a more than reasonable rate (check the site for seasonal prices), and is excellent for families looking for a more personable and social stay than at a normal hotel.

5 Hearty thumbs up to this excellent stay!

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Wednesday Write-Up: Falling In Love With Lisbon

I have decided that I need to write more than one post every week for a while. There is so much going on in our lives these days that I feel like my Friday blog post is just about the sights and not the substance of our lives. I want everyone to know how we are doing as well as what we are doing. And so, what I have decided to call my Wednesday Write-Ups, will continue until either our lives get boring (who knows… it could happen) or I just have nothing else to say.

Since my last post on Curacao’s beaches, we have traveled by plane to our new home for the next month or so. The flight, I should say flights, from Curacao to Lisbon, Portugal took a total of 24 hours. We had layovers, just long enough to run from one gate to the next, in Dusseldorf, Germany, Zurich, Switzerland, and Palma de Mallorca, Spain, before finally alighting in the charming and lively city of Lisbon.

Unfortunately, we left a part of ourselves in Zurich, we realized as we waited for our bags at the baggage claim area of Lisbon airport. All of our luggage and our stroller got left behind. It was frustrating to say the least, but we handled it well, and felt blessed to find out that they had already found our luggage at the aforementioned airport, and would deliver it to us the following day at our hostel. The problem was that we were stuck wearing stinky, dirty clothing, plus we had not brushed our teeth in more than 24 hours. I kept wondering why there seemed to three feet of open space around me as I walked about, and then I realized it was probably my putrid less than fresh breath and body odor. The moral of that story is that if you have a problem with personal space, you should just skip brushing your teeth and showering or applying deodorant for a couple of days.

I was wearing a skirt, tank top and flip flops. Zoë was wearing her favorite elephant pajamas. Chad was wearing shorts and light shirt. We walked out of the airport to a cold blustery spring day and took a taxi to the hostel that would be our home for the next 5 days. It actually felt really nice to not be carrying 100 pounds of luggage, Chad and I realized how great it would be that someone else would have to carry our bags to our new place. Yes, we were both trying to be positive, while suffering somewhat severely from jet lag and trying to talk to each other through our hands so as not to commit bad breath homicide.

We checked into our luxury hostel right in the thick of downtown and the tourist district, called Traveller’s House and they have it right: it is luxurious… which made my very natural odor seem even that more wretched. So we dropped off our carry-ons, tried to freshen up the best we could and headed to the nearest market, or mercado, to buy some much needed hygiene products. After getting everything we needed, we settled down for some dinner at an outdoor eatery almost right outside our hostel door. We shared some steak and fish with potatoes and rice, not the best food we have ever had, but a vast improvement over the food in Curacao. We were too tired to go get clothing for the next day at the H&M a block from the hostel (thats right! I am in H&M heaven! I have one a block from me thats 3 stories and another one about 10 blocks away that is 5 stories! Try not to be too jealous…I know it’s tough) and stumbled back to our room to finally brush our teeth. What a great feeling it was to have clean teeth.

We went back to our room and all three of us went to bed around 8pm and slept peacefully until 9 the next morning! I cannot tell you what an awesome thing that was! Chad and I had assumed that Zoë would be getting used to the time difference and would keep us up until the wee hours of the morning, or that she would wake up and want to play half way through the night. But no! She slept from 8pm to 9 am, the longest she has ever slept in her life without waking! And since then, she goes to sleep around eight every night and sleeps until at least 7 am. This time change seems to have agreed with her! Thank you God!

So far this week, we have walked around downtown Lisbon and tried different restaurants, they mostly serve the same fare (lots of seafood and steak… yummy!), but each one has its own slight differences and it’s fun to try them all. I have located two Starbucks in the area and have still been able to enjoy my Chai tea lattes. I know Chad is going to be chagrined with me for talking about Starbucks. He really likes to go to the local cafes, but he drinks Americanos (or as they call it here “American coffee”), which you can get anywhere, but it is difficult to find good chai tea lattes. And so I get a Starbucks every day sometimes, everyone has their guilty pleasures right?

Like Mother Like Daughter-Zoë Loves Her Starbucks

Like Mother Like Daughter-Zoë Loves Her Starbucks

The thing that I love about Lisbon is the architecture and the cobbled sidewalks and streets that make it known to me that I am away from home. I am in this amazing, colorful, old city. It blows my mind that I could live in a building built in the 18th century here, not just take a tour through one, but actually LIVE in one! Two things remind me of home, the hills of Lisbon remind me a lot of the hills of San Francisco. The weather here also reminds me of home. Hot and breezy during the day followed by cool evenings to clean the air and give you a chance to wear your light sweater and jeans.

The Architecture Here is Just Amazing!

The Architecture Here is Just Amazing!

On Thursday we move into a large studio apartment on Rua De Liverpool for the next month or so. The apartment has amazing views of the city as it is on the 4th floor (all stairs too, no elevator…my legs are gonna be gorgeous) and has a balcony overlooking the hills of Lisbon. I cannot wait to post pictures and tell you more about this city that already feels like (a new and exciting) home! I really am falling in love with Lisbon. I really am looking forward to sharing this journey with all of you! Talk to you on Friday.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds. James 1:2

What a Week!

Wow, what a week this has been! First of all, we had Zoë’s dedication last Sunday morning. I have wanted to have her dedicated at our church since we started attending regularly when she was 3 weeks old. Time flies by though and when Chad and I decided that we would definitely be traveling, one of the first things on my mind that I wanted to do before we left was have the ceremony to dedicate ourselves to raising Zoë in the Christian faith. For those of you that know me well, you know that I am not a person that enjoys or subscribes to anything that can be considered ceremonial (my dream wedding was going to the courthouse in jeans, a t-shirt, and converse all-stars). I have always felt that my faith is a personal relationship with God and that the pomp and circumstance of ceremonies are unnecessary. But I really felt that this was something I wanted to do, a public promise that we would be an example of faith in God for Zoë and pray that someday she too would believe for herself. We promised this in front of our family, our church family and our good friends. It was a great day!

Also on Sunday, we gave notice that our last day living in our home for the past three years will be March 31st. We have been truly blessed to have such a kind and responsible landlord. She is also a traveler and lives in Europe for most of the year and was very understanding.

The next day, 19 people from our church began having symptoms of the novo virus flu, as well as all the members of our family that attended, one of our friends and poor little Zoë. I have no idea how I came out unscathed, but I think God kept me healthy because I needed to take care of my very sick little girl. I have never seen such a horrible stomach flu. For four days and nights, Zoë was unable to keep anything down.  Luckily she didn’t become dehydrated and now is fully recovered. But boy, was I on the edge of my seat waiting to get sick too. I am so thankful that I was not affected.

Chad is leaving for a work trip to England (for two weeks) tomorrow and so we were in high gear starting on Friday, trying to decide where we are going to travel to. Yes, that’s right, we are leaving in 49 days and we had not decided where we were going yet. We hate to rush things obviously.  It’s just such a daunting decision, there are so many places, I had to keep telling myself that this will not be the last time we travel and the places that we don’t see this time around will still be there.

Our original plan was to go to Austin, Texas (in case we come back to the states, we might move here) and then Buenos Aires, Argentina. That was all we had until yesterday.

After what has seemed like hours and hours of discussion and research we finally have flights for the first leg of our trip! We are first heading to Disneyland (we have annual pass holders and this will be Zoë’s sixth time there, we are total disneyphiles), then to Austin, Texas and Miami, Florida. Then our international trip begins. We will be spending two weeks on the beautiful white sand beaches of Curacao, and then taking a 19 hour (4 stop!!!!) flight from there to Lisbon, Portugal! From there we are planning on seeing a bit more of Europe and then heading to Thailand and Taiwan.

Now that we have real plans set in motion, the real preparations can begin. I am going to be doing a bunch of packing and cleaning and paperwork for the next 49 days. The fun begins! I am so excited and feel so blessed that we have the opportunity to travel and experience different cultures, landscapes, and ofcourse, food! God is good!

I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me. Psalm 13:6