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Like sands through the hourglass… so are the days of our lives.

28 Jan

No – I’m not a Days of Our Lives fan.¬† ūüôā Sadly I have no time for soap operas in my schedule unless you count Game of Thrones and Once Upon A Time (these are my guilty pleasures and I love them).. ??¬† The days have been slipping by – I swear I don’t know where the heck they go and we have been very silent on the blog front. Sorry about that. It’s not due to a¬†lack of desire to post- that’s for sure…so much has transpired. I personally have had some major family stuff to deal with. Normally I would not address that in a blog but it’s pretty serious.¬† In a 45 day window my brother Doug¬†and my grandfather Gene¬†both died.¬† 45 days apart in fact. Wasn’t prepared for either one. Needless to say it’s been difficult .

      

 

I’ve hesitated and struggled with whether or not to write about any of this… But this is real life, horrible tragic things¬†do happen sometimes¬†and I have never felt more strongly about encouraging every person who will give me the time of day to follow their heart and dreams. Girls Gone Global is that for me. After coming to terms with the losses to the best¬†of my ability¬†( I mean can you ever really come to terms?)¬†¬†so much has changed perception wise for me.¬† Now- having a very personal connection to all of the clich√© sentiments I never took very seriously such as ¬†“Everyday is a gift”, “You never know which day may be your last so live¬†each one to the fullest”¬†…you know those¬†ones – I really understand the messages conveyed. Now¬†let’s be realistic…if I was living each¬†day like it was my last¬†you would likely find me on a nude beach¬†located somewhere in the Seychelles drinking a cocktail with an umbrella in it eating an entire loaf of bread full of gluten. So the statement still has parameters to really¬†be applicable in day-to-day life –¬†but here is my very expanded¬†interpretation of it from all angles bullet pointed out for you!

  • ¬†If you’re gonna do something – really do it.¬† Dive in…and I do not believe in regret. If that head first dive didn’t or doesn’t¬†work out for you, learn from it and make a different choice next time. For those of you who don’t know my background is in therapy and I worked as a very successful therapist for quite some time years ago – One of the most prolific things I learned was that guilt is an entirely useless emotion and serves no purpose other than to make you feel like crap. Let go of the guilt people. Learn, make different choices¬†and move on.

  • ¬†If you have unsettled emotional business with a loved one or friend…work it out. It’s not worth hanging on to – TRUST ME ON THIS ONE. Fortunately I had the privilege¬†of ¬†holding my grandfathers hand when he passed away and had told him¬†just ¬†that day how much I loved him and what he meant to me. I also was fortunate enough to of talked to and seen my brother¬†shortly before his death.¬†We had just had a giant heart to heart about life¬†and¬† – yes you guessed it I told him how much I loved him. Phew- THANK GOD! Rest assured – All the people in my life that I love have now sincerely been told 1897 times over the last two months.

  • Getting back on track to living life to the fullest and my interpretation – If you don’t like your life – make steps to change it..even baby steps are great steps. When we are little we don’t just stand up and run. We start with one little teeny tiny step at a time and we fall an awful lot. All those little steps add up and before you know it you are taking great big strides! Daydreaming, imagining and fantasizing all count as baby steps too! Believe in yourself and be kind to yourself. You ¬†have the choice of either being your biggest supporter or your own worst enemy. While on the topic of enemies..If you have anyone in your¬†life you have assigned that astute title to¬†– I suggest you eliminate the word from your vocabulary except in the context I just used it ¬†in and make up or forgive those people and move on.¬† Life is to short to hold a grudge..it’s all about the love friends.

  • Live your life for you…not your parents, your children or your partner. I’m not saying that your children or partner should not be a factor when making ‘some’ decisions…but you have to follow your heart and your dreams and your inspiration. Work with your partner towards a career change if you hate your job. Take time for yourself. Instead of spending all your moolah on trinkets and crud for the kids..set some of that dough¬†aside just for you. I do not care if your parents told you that you had to be a lawyer and in order to make them happy you went to law school and now you’re a fancy pants lawyer and now you fuc*ing hate it. It’s never to late.

  • ¬†I am officially giving you permission to do what makes you happy. Personally, professionally, socially – you get it. And I don’t want to hear any ‘buts’. There are no ‘buts’ about it. You could die tomorrow.

Now for me… the things that makes me happy¬†are travel, my family, spending time with my girlfriends, making out, telling the people I love how much¬†I love them,¬†listening to ¬†really loud music while driving in my car, singing along to that really loud music, pursuing my dreams, making tv and movies, writing, encouraging people to follow their inspiration –¬†heart and dreams, reminding people that they are ‘worth it!’ and inspiring them to believe in themselves,¬†sweet little babies when they are not crying, you get the idea and that’s just¬† naming a few.¬†Do you have a happy list? How many of those things are you doing or¬†have done recently? Lets make a game plan. How about you make that list and agree to do at least three things on it over the next week.¬† You must put at least 10 things on the list. They can be small things or huge things. Whatever you are comfortable with. Just¬†make the list, choose your three and do them. Oh gosh. How did¬†I forget – my cat Princess Diana – she makes me really really happy.

We have lots of good stuff coming up over the next month too! Every friday in March¬†I will post a new blog.¬†I’ve asked each one of the girls to write a blog about why they love to travel, why it’s important to them, what’s their favorite part of a trip¬†and why do they think you should be traveling too.¬† My secret mission is to inspire you to go somewhere. You’ll have to let me know if it works. ¬†ūüėČ Speaking of going somewhere…there has been a¬† fair share of traveling happening for me and the ladies over the last two months as well.¬† Melanie was in Hawaii twice and is headed to Florida and¬†¬†Grand Turk¬†next week.¬† Just yesterday she finalized plans for a trip to Costa Rica this April.¬† Her husbands ( Kaleo¬†Wassman¬†) band¬†Pepper is currently on tour and were going to head out and meet up with them tomorrow. Yay-¬†always a good time with Kaleo¬†and Melanie! Angie spent a glorious 10 days in Anguilla and St. Barth over Christmas and then flew to LA to spend New Years with me. She dragged me to Hugh¬†Hefner’s¬† New Years party at the Playboy mansion. I wasn’t kicking and screaming but I definitely utilized the fake it til’ you make it attitude that night.

I spent a week in Seattle during January and then took another short road¬†trip up the coast with my hubby. We took the 101 North and kicked things off¬† house hunting in Montecito (planning on moving by August)¬†then headed to Solvang,¬† Pismo Beach, Avila Beach and San Luis Obispo.¬† It was a great little mini trip that was incredibly inexpensive. Gotta love those. We paid $68 per night¬†for a suite with an ocean view in San Luis Bay…deal of the century!

       

We also spent a¬†long weekend in Palm Springs with friends. We rented an absolutely stunning house that I was able to negotiate a last-minute rate on…never hurts to ask¬†– sometimes you get a YES! ¬†Weather was 75- sunny and the pool was outstanding. Check it out here… http://www.vrbo.com/70857¬†.

So it’s safe to say we’ve been logging the miles. Angie promised to write a post about St. Barth and Anguilla so that should be coming soon-¬†the pictures I’ve seen¬†are outstanding! ¬†I’ve also got an extensive travel itinerary over the next 6 months… Seattle, Canada, France, Amsterdam, Belgium,¬†Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and maybe a Mediterranean cruise with Mom (I’m taking my own advice and doing what makes me happy while living my life to the fullest!). ¬†So I promise..we have lots of good¬†blogging on its way!¬†¬†¬†On that note I leave you with¬†Angie and I counting down the New Year straight from the playboy mansion itself.

This blogs for you Dougie and Grandpa…so much love and missing you both every single day,

Eden

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Baby I Was Born This Way!

4 Mar

So it’s official. We are booking the 7 day Greek Isle Cruise out of Venice. Yes I love to cruise¬†– I am one of those people – Angie refuses to set foot on a boat – Melanie hates it..well strongly dislikes it would be more accurate..it’s the food¬†– but me –¬†I LOVE IT!¬† (That’s another blog in itself.)¬†I haven’t been excited about much lately and I gotta say – it feels good to be excited about this. Things could not of come together more perfectly!

The original plan was to fly abroad on July 5th spend the next 10 days touring Belgium, Luxembourg, Amsterdam and Germany – do a couple of days in Paris and then head down to the South of France for a 7 day private tour of the region. ¬†After the South of France we will take a train into Espana and spend a few days in my beloved Barcelona before heading to NYC – and three days in Lilydale. Wow. I just felt tired thinking about all that.¬† Must reframe the brain around that. I’m also putting it out there that I am absolutely – completely refusing to experience jet lag at anytime during this trip.¬†So here is why I was speculating as to whether or not the cruise thing would work out.. The dates I was available to cruise were very limited. I had to be back on land by the 5th of July¬†– not a day later and while I am willing to come back to port a few days early..I couldn’t get off the ship on say the 27th or 28th of June. Toiling around in Europe for an extra week can cost the big bucks…even with all my budget savvy trip saving tactics in place. And lastly I’ve been a lot of places that are common cruise destinations and I¬†was having a very hard time finding¬†a cruise¬†that visited – new to me- locations. My number one choice and where I wanted to go was the Greek Isles and imagine my delight when I stumbled upon an American cruise line, going to all my dreamy top choice ports and leaving from one of my favorite places and all the dates were perfect and the price is incredible!! Wow that was a run on sentence. Now all I am asking the Universe for is a plane ticket to Europe round trip for under $1000. Yep – there it is Universe. I’d like one of those please.

So all in all I will be gone for approximately 38 days…and I deserve every single one of those glorious vacation days as do you my fellow readers and friends. Now Angie on the other hand. She’d be freaking out. She is¬†only participating in the last couple legs of the trip. She’s a very routine oriented person and doesn’t like to be away from home longer than 10 days. I have no idea why because as soon as she gets home and gets settled in she starts complaining about wanting to go somewhere and being bored every single day.¬† Being a teacher she has the whole summer off and she goes very stir crazy.¬† I suppose it’s just how she is – she was born that way and I clearly was not.¬†¬†However both ways are perfect …unless she’s making me come home early from a trip. Just kidding. I really think I have Gypsy blood if there is such a thing. I want to see the entire planet. All the time. While I do love my squishy soft¬†pillow top California King bed and the comforts of home – I’d gladly swap them for an adventure abroad-¬†heck an adventure anywhere – wait I have to be straight with you-¬† I’m not the best ‘rough it’ camper. I’ll do it – for a few days. Then I’m out. And ‘rough it’ camper means hot water and a toilet to me. Now my sister on the other hand…she requires a rock star tour bus in order to agree to camp..so at least I am not that bad. ¬†ūüôā Love you sissy.

Alrighty¬†then…lets wrap this blog up. Next friday we are starting the¬†“Why we love to travel, why we think you should too and why you deserve it” series of posts. Really I am just so full of run on sentences tonight.¬†I’ve never¬†said this was a good grammar blog. Hahahaha . Melanie is currently on a cruise ship – I¬†told her to claim she had a gluten allergy which ensures every single meal is made fresh for her¬†– so hopefully she took my advice and has¬†become a converted cruise lover¬† ‚̧ .¬† I really am allergic to gluten as is Angie, so my eating experience¬†on a cruise is very different from most people’s.¬†¬†I order what I want specifically the night before¬†dinner and everything is made fresh and is allergen free – just for me!!¬† I just get so excited about cruising. ¬†I think it’s the hot balmy¬†sexy nights at sea and the sun drenched days in exotic places. Ok – focus Eden. On that note I will leave you with an amazing¬†little girl belting out Lady Gaga’s latest jam…in¬† honor of Angie being ‘born that way’.¬† ūüôā

So Much LOVE,

Eden

Yo te amo Barcelona…

30 Jun

I transferred to a new school in 6th grade. A not so fun experience for an 11-year-old. Especially considering I had also transferred to a new school in 5th grade. No I was not a problem child. First we moved – hence the new school in 5th grade and then after completing that year I was invited to attend a smarty pants school. You know the type..lots of smart children compile into one place and have more homework. Two major changes in two years. So anyhow… on the first day of 6th grade I wandered aimlessly around the quad. Either make friends or die – at least that’s what an 11-year-old thinks. I’m still here..so I obviously survived. Wandering around the quad that day was also another new girl, one who was having an equally traumatic experience. Her family was from Spain and after living in South Africa for many years had relocated to the grand ol’ U.S. of A to pursue the American dream. Not only a new school for my soon to be best friend but a new land and a new language too. Where am I going with all this and what does it have to do with me loving Barcelona? I’m getting there I swear I really am. Caroline (Carolina in Espana) was her name and we forged a bond that day that has with stood the test of time. We were and still are the best of friends.

This is me in the 6th Grade - I'm wearing my favorite dress!

I spent countless days with Caroline and her family. I was fascinated by their accents, their mannerisms, decor, traditions, food and especially with how fast her mother could fire out words while scolding Caroline – or both of us- in Catalan. Catalan…is a dialect spoken in the region of Spain known as Catalonia. Catalonia is one of the 17 Autonomous Communities of the Kingdom of Spain. Its capital is Barcelona. In case you were wondering – political power in Spain is channeled by a central government and 17 autonomous communities or regional governments. Did you know that ? Did I just teach you something? It must have been that smarty pants school back in 6th grade. ūüôā Bringing it back around..got off on a tangent there..I suppose it would seem I was already smitten with Espana and I hadn’t even sent foot off American soil yet. Flash forward. Caroline’s parents sent her to private school back in Spain right smack in the middle of our freshman year in High School. I was devastated. I vowed to come¬†and visit. It only took me 13 years to get there..but hey who’s counting? (Besides Caroline)¬†¬†

  

Caroline and Mom

Reunited!

¬†I can now proudly say I have been to Barcelona many times and rather than tell you about a specific trip.. I will tell you about my favorite adventures. I can’t possibly fit all of them into this one blog – so I will start back at the beginning. First¬†trip to Barcelona, first night out, first¬†adventure. ūüôā¬†Look for others in the future – so many great memories and I will share most – The food, the people, the sights, Tibidabo, the beaches, Las Ramblas, Festa Major De Gracia, Gaudi -the list goes on and on! ūüôā¬†¬†

  

Adventure Numero Uno РBarcelona Club Hopping Night after 20 hours of flying:  

I was so excited that I had finally made it to Barcelona that I refused to embrace jet lag or exhaustion. Exit plane, squeeeel with delight when seeing Caroline for first time in years, drive to her apartment , talk incessantly, shower, food, wine bar, nightclub and dancing Рin that order.  

The view from Caroline's Apt.

Interior Apartment Shot

Let’s just get right into it. We arrive at our first club. I have never experienced Latin men like this. Whoa. They love the Americans with blonde hair and light eyes. I should mention that I have a girlfriend traveling with me that fits this mold too. We don’t have to wait, don’t have to pay and are shown right it. I’m feeling right at home and loving Barcelona even more…and it only gets better. We have an authentic Spaniard with us.. Caroline has developed an impressive repertoire of foreign languages and is capable of firing off in Spanish, French, Italian and Catalan. We are covered on all fronts and Caroline is a beauty. Life is good. We wander around the club, grab a drink and start to settle in. We had our choice of rooms to hang out in and we headed upstairs into the designated hip hop area. I’ve never been a techno girl. Now for some reason I have to admit –¬†I¬†was expecting the music to suck.¬†I’m not really sure what I thought the DJ would be playing but it definitely wasn’t¬†Snoop Dogg and Notorious BIG – so when we walked in.. I was pleasantly surprised… I can work with Snoop- definitely wasn’t what I was expecting- but it’s all good …heads are bobbin’, drinks are flowin’ and I am a happy girl.¬†¬†

Sara and I

Up in da' club!

Caroline and I

Suddenly I realize my girlfriend isn’t next to me. We’d been fending off suitors for the last hour laughing and she’d been bugging me to dance.. I figured she’d finally succumb to one of the latin love’s in hot pursuit and made her way to cut a rug. I wandered to the edge of the dance floor and noticed a small circle of about 8-10 men had formed. My girlfriend is in the middle. She isn’t putting on a show. Each guy is patiently waiting their turn to dance with her. She would dance for a few seconds with one and then move to the next round and round the circle. They were all very handsome and could really dance. She looked like a 5-year-old who had found Santa under the tree holding a new puppy with a giant red bow. I can honestly say I laughed so hard my sides hurt…I asked her after- What were you doing? She said they all wanted to dance and wouldn’t take no for an answer and she didn’t want to hurt anyones feelings. Oh boo whooo..sure Sara.¬†¬†

Sara making her way around the circle.. wearing a hat belonging to one of her 8 dance partners.

The night only got better and better for Sara. Did I mention she was single and I wasn’t? The Barcelona EuroLeague Basketball team had just walked in. That’s kind of like the Lakers in Spain…need I say more? What? I can look alright… I assure you – basketball players are not my thing..but Sara does need a strong wingwoman and someone to look out for her best interests. I repeatedly have to lift her jaw up off the floor and drag her away from them.¬†¬†

This was only 2 of them..there were like 14 more.

Caroline meanwhile had bumped into some colleagues from the fashion industry Р(she works for Dolce and Gabbana and I think they were with Gucci) and was pondering over an invitation to Menorca on their yacht. Boy oh boy..what is not to like about Spain?  

Menorca

We did have our fair share of stalky types of men that we had to hide in the bathroom from..they are persistent those Latins..but this club had a DJ in the womens bathroom so it was no trouble…just a little change of pace.¬†¬†

Yes - that really is a DJ in the bathroom AKA Lovely Room

And there was actual dancing happening in the Lovely Room..best bathroom ever.

5 hours after we entered the club we eventually made our way out . It was only after the coach of the Barcelona basketball team dragged his players out that Sara would agree to leave. We exited just in time to see the sunrise. 5:30 am Barcelona time.. 9:30pm for Sara and I.  

Barcelona sunrise..

¬†We were still going strong and on US Pacific Standard Time- but it was starting to sink in that we had been up for like 2 days and were running off pure adrenaline and excitement. It took almost an hour for us to hail a taxi to take us back to the Plaza where we had left Caroline’s car. Have no fear..there were lots of ‘clubbers’ stranded waiting for taxi’s so the socializing and good times continued out front.¬†¬†

Deliriously tired and giddy in the front seat..

And down for the count in the back seat - It'd been a hard days night!

¬†¬†We got back to Caroline’s at around 7:30am. Thank God for those metal shades that roll down over your apartment windows and completely eliminate all perception of what time of day it is.¬†¬†

Love those metal shades.

We didn’t get up until¬†4 pm that afternoon…and the next day/night started off at a little pizza place over looking the ocean right by Caroline’s apartment. The Chef made our pizza into the shape of a giant heart. He must of known that I love Barcelona…¬†¬†

xoxo,

Eden

Venice Venice Venice!

23 Jun
Venice was absolutely my favorite destination on our recent European tour. From the most handsome of men to the most delectable cuisine, I could have stayed there forever. As seen in the picture below, I arrived in the glorious city of Venice by water taxi, closely followed by an equally glorious civilian. Though the taxi wasn’t crowded, the gentleman behind me found the need to stand close by, not that I minded. 
 
Our accommodations consisted of a primordial apartment building that flowed seamlessly into the timeless Italian scenery. As I was helped off the water taxi, a local woman by the name of Vivian walked us to our temporary residence. Vivian was dressed in a stylish black outfit paired with Italian leather heels. The sunglasses she bore never left her face. She walked with quick sure steps, and we had to hurry to keep up as she led the way. We waked three flights of stairs to our apartment room. When she opened the door the comfortable furnishings and exclusive woodwork pleasantly surprised me. 

 

By the end of the short journey I was famished and exhausted. After the day out, we decided to stay in and cook. We made grilled cheese sandwiches with olive oil because butter was not an option. They ended up being the best-grilled cheese sandwichs we ever had. 

 

The following morning we stopped by a local café and shared chocolate croissants and Italian cappuccinos. Afterwards we shopped and explored the local scenery. Taking cobblestone paths and skinny walkways we ventured through Venice. Along the way we stopped at a Furla store and picked up some beautiful Italian bags. I would recommend that store to anyone, the prices are much more conservative in Italy than in a Saks in the U.S. 

 

Later on we visited St. Marks Square where dozens of pigeons crowded the gathering place. Though I am an animal lover, this many birds made me feel claustrophobic. I had to escape and come back later when it was dark and less congested. When we returned the city had transformed into an elegant masterpiece. The tables that lined the small restaurants and cafes were strewn with white lights and candles. Venders were on every corner selling authentic Italian handicrafts. I was overwhelmed with the unique culture and livelihood that overflowed during the balmy night. 

 

Disregarding the idea of eating at one of the more famous restaurants in St. Marks Square, we found a quaint tourist free bistro. The fed us pasta and delicious wine, which I watered down as I noticed the locals did. The pasta noodles were perfectly al dente, and the live entertainment was marvelous. An Italian man, who attempted to sing the very American song, Spider Man, serenaded us. 

 

Later that night, being our last night in Venice, we enjoyed a gondola ride. We were serenaded yet again by our guide Alessio, who sang us an operetta Italian love song. As we glided through the dimly lit canals I was able to relax and relish the sultry pastel colors of Italy. 

 

The next morning we indulged in chocolate croissants and cappuccinos for a second time. We walked to Doge‚Äôs Palace where the famous Casanova was kept. We visited the Palace on a private tour where we were able to see where Casanova slept. There is a photo of me below¬†looking at the Bridge of Sighs, which got its name from the idea that once a prisoner crosses that bridge it is most likely the last time they will see freedom or the Mediterranean. I thought my expression in the photo is quite befitting¬†for the bridge and what it represents…I could not justify a smile.¬†¬†

 

After exploring Doge’s Palace we were off to Florence. The part of Venice I miss the most is walking through the streets during all times of day without having to breathe it car exhaust, for there are no cars in Venice!

Venezia Venezia¬†Venezia¬†… Come ho tempo per tornare a te!¬†

Angela

Temos saudades Portugal!

16 Jun

We are back! Portugal has got to be one of the most beautiful, friendly, relaxing, and fun places we have seen so far. I guess it also has to do with how you ‚Äėdo‚Äô your vacation, what type of trip you want to have, and how much you want to fit into the time available. Well, this trip was done just right.

Kaleo on the deserted beach in front of our condo getting ready to surf an empty wave 
Deserted beach in front of our condo getting ready to surf an empty wave

 

We have some incredible friends that live in Portugal named Alexa and Hugo who offered their gorgeous two bedroom beach house to us for our entire trip! The place was in one of the best areas to surf in Portugal, near Peniche, Foz, and Baleal. It’s about an hour north of Lisbon so we rented a car to get there since the rail system hasn’t yet reached all of that region. Well, the car that they gave us was simply awesome. It was a Citroen C1. C1!! Even Alexa didn’t know they made them that small! It was like a Smart Car with four doors. Seriously. We named him…. Pepe the Mule.  

Pepe!
Pepe! 

 

More Pepe the Mule 
 Pepe the Mule

 

We were staying at the Praia del Rei resort area which is close to Caldas da Rainhas (bath of the Queen) and Òbidos. Òbidos (pronouced oh-be-doosh) is a little city within castle walls that was a gift from the poet King Dinis to his wife, Isabella of Aragon. They saw it in passing once and she likened it to a jewel-studded crown so he gave it to her as a wedding gift. It is a medieval town that is set in the middle of a valley of vineyards. Just stunning.

we are walking on the castle wall walkway around the city of Obidos
We are walking on the castle wall walkway around the town of Òbidos

 aleo walking up the stone stairs to the castle wall walkway that surrounds the town of Òbidos

 Walking up the stone stairs to the castle wall walkway that surrounds the town

We had absolutely no agenda on this trip. Such a great feeling when you are on vacation. Of course there were things that we wanted to do such as eat the local food, taste the regional wines, surf the world famous surf spots, hang out with our friends, hear some Fado music, see Òbidos, go out in Lisbon, etc. But we weren’t necessarily attached to the outcome of whether we checked any of it off our list or not. Well, except for the surfing. It’s not a surf trip with no surf, right? Of course, since I don’t surf I got to relax and explore a little more than the guys did, but believe me, they were not complaining. They got some great surf, most of it with little or no people out besides themselves. So not really caring what we did each day that we were there gave us such a sense of freedom. We got SO much done and still had much more time to just relax and do nothing than we have had in a really long time.

The empty break in our front yard
 The empty break in our front yard

Porto Batel on our first day

Porto Batel on our first day

 

If you could design a dish that’s perfect for me..it would be found in Portugal. Oh my gosh‚Ķ Especially at our favorite place called Rio Corti√ßo¬†which was hidden deep within the woodsy, beachy¬†area that we were staying. Through the trees and down a white sand road into a clearing is the cutest little restaurant on the beach. You just park on the sand in a make shift lot, and walk to the restaurant that has only outdoor tables. It‚Äôs set up on a deck a couple of feet up off the sand and has hanging rice paper lanterns and a bamboo shade ‚Äúceiling‚ÄĚ. The fish that was caught that day is grilled right outside on an old school homemade grill so you can see what looks good as you walk up. The fish is prepared just grilled, some as is, others halved and grilled in two with only sea salt as a seasoning. When you order a fish it is served with a side of boiled potatoes, steamed vegetables, and a salade¬†mixta, or lettuce, tomato and onion salad with a tiny bit of olive oil, vinegar and sea salt for flavor. Oh wow. I was in heaven‚Ķ Pair it with a glass of the house wine which is the Vinho¬†Verde (like a very light, dry white wine with the slightest bit of sparkle to it) or a Super Bock (national beer of Portugal) and some mel√°o¬†(a huge slice of melon that is kind of a¬†cross between a honeydew and a cantaloupe. Honey-loupe? or Canta-dew?) for dessert. We must have frequented this place about 5-6 times while we were there. The owner, Susana was trying to get Kaleo¬†and Remy to play a Sabotage show there‚Ķ ¬†Which is a funny story because our waiter was this cool Brazilian guy named Luciano, who looked like Seu¬†George, one of our favorite Brazilian musicians. He barely spoke English and my Portuguese at that time consisted of ordering food, so using a lot of hand motions, we figured out that he liked the same music as us. The guys gave him a Sabo¬†CD, which was the only CD we had in Pepe. The ext time we came back for dinner they decided to put the CD on for the restaurant. If you‚Äôve heard the CD, you know that it may or may not be for all ears during dinner, depending on how open your mind is. And Susana and Luciano most likely didn‚Äôt understand anything the songs were saying because of their limited English. Cool beans, right? Well the clientele¬†at this restaurant is basically British and Irish tourists. Who understand English. I know! I‚Äôm laughing too! So I was having a blast watching Kaleo and Remy squirm a bit at first as we looked around the restaurant. What did we see? Everyone was grooving! Even this man who was in his 60‚Ä≤s wearing a lemon yellow sweater vest and white yacht pants was literally dancing in his seat. A mother was bouncing her kid to the beat, another woman was tapping her feet and people all around were just loving it. It was a cool scene.

Delicioso
Delicioso
 
on the road that goes to our beach house in Praia del Rei
On the road that goes to our beach house in Praia del Rei

 

Every morning at the casa we would wake up at about 8,  do some yoga and stretches and check the surf while I made breakfast. By then the clouds would burn off and we would head out to the beach. Hugo tried to surf with us everyday, work permitting, and as the locals say, he is like the unofficial mayor of this region. At least in the beach areas. He knows everyone! Perfect way to be introduced to a local break, just paddle out with Hugo Amado. The Portuguese are so kind and welcoming, it felt a little like being back home in Hawaii. 

Kaleo, Hugo and Remy
Kaleo, Hugo and Remy
Entering Ferrel Fest
Entering Ferrel Fest

 

¬†Alexa and Hugo told us about this festival in the town of Ferrel called, well, Ferrel Festival. It lasts for an entire week and they practically shut everything down to move in an huuuge¬†stage, lots of gypsy vendors, caipirinha¬†and Super Bock stands, bumper cars, some octopus-like ride that made me feel woozy looking at it, churro¬†and fartudo¬†stands and most importantly‚Ķ donkey races! Oh yeah. I wanted to race a doney¬†SO bad! Hugo and Alexa said that anyone could enter, so I was going to find a donkey and race it. Of course since I grew up riding and showing horses, I thought it would be a piece of cake, no problemo! We had to pass through the town of Ferrel to get to the beaches everyday and I secretly would bring an extra bag stashed in the very back of Pepe that held my jeans and boots JUST IN CASE that day would be the day that I got to race my donkey. The festival had been going on for three days and we still hadn‚Äôt stopped once! We were waiting for Saturday when Hugo and Alexa could come with us sans the kiddos. Saturday came and we were invited to Hugo‚Äôs friends birthday party and then we were to hit the Ferrel! I got dressed for the party in a cute black, short, frock (I just said frock. who am I? I think I‚Äôll leave it) with my slippers. Dressy casual for a¬†Portuguese¬†party that I had no idea what to expect. But how could I ride a donkey in this?? So I re-packed my donkey-racing-clothes bag. Busted. Remy walks by my room and says, ‚ÄúSister, what are you doing, bringing like 3 more changes of clothes for the night? Just wear what you have on.‚ÄĚ ¬†I told them that I really DID want to race a donkey (I think they thought I was kidding), and they laughed¬†hysterically¬†at me! Whatever, I‚Äôm bringing it. After the party we went to the Ferrel. It was so packed we could barely get through the crowd. We saw some of Hugo and Alexa‚Äôs friends and danced a bit to the crazy¬†Brazilian¬†pop stars on the massive stage, got a caipirinha, browsed the gypsy wares, and ate a fartudo. Now, I‚Äôm sure most of you know what a churro¬†is. It‚Äôs basically dough squuezed¬†into hot oil and fried then¬†rolled¬†in sugar and¬†cinnamon. It‚Äôs about an inch thick and maybe 8 inches long. A FARTUDO¬†is the same process, but it is about 4 inches thick and over a foot long! Cra-zaaazy. Now nicknamed the burro churro. Figure it out. So it was all fun and games, but no donkeys were seen! I was bummed, but I figured we still had a few more days to find the mystical donkey races. On the way home, I asked if the donkey racers were just locals who were drunk enough to want to ride a donkey, because I figured that I would be stone cold sober and bringing my A-game and would take this thing. Well it turns out that the adorable little old Portuguese men that I kept seeing on the side of the road in their cool hats were my competition. And they practice all year long for these things. Whoa‚Ķ Ok so reality is hitting me a little bit and suddenly I am a little intimidated! But I still persisted on riding a damn donkey. The next day we were at our local little restaurant and Remy saw a poster for the Ferrel. Turns out, the donkey races had happened on Saturday, but it was early on in the day‚Ķ Alas, I rode no donkeys on this trip. I guess I saved face though, because I probably would have been last and made an Ass out of myself and my donkey. Pun very intended.¬†

Temos saudades Portugal!

Melanie