I am not a morning person. I like to take it slow when I wake up and ease my way into the day. Note that my current situation of having a toddler does not allow for this.
My ideal morning view: breakfast with the cows in Ireland.
I am also not a breakfast person. I dutifully tried the full Irish breakfast in Dublin, but once was quite enough. It was not something I could do every day.
Full Irish breakfast
On the other hand, the glorious tea service available at every meal was something I could definitely get used to! I don’t drink much coffee, but I do love my tea, and having my own pot with milk and sugar right there was amazing. I got quite spoiled in Ireland. At home, I tend to prefer vanilla chai.
I will refrain from posting pictures of every wonderful breakfast I had in Ireland (I swear I don’t usually take pictures of my food), but this one was much more my style. And the view was perfect, too.
I’ve been to Europe several times, but have never been privileged enough to visit the same place twice. There are many spots I would love to go back to, particularly the city of Salamanca where I studied for a semester in university.
I did, however, have the chance to return to Spain several years ago. While I was visiting completely different regions of the country, it definitely still felt a little like coming home.
I was taking pictures of every little detail that reminded me of my previous visit: a grocery store I had shopped at, a favorite jewelry store (I had to make a quick stop there to pick up a pair of earrings).
I loved being able to converse in Spanish again; though I was a bit rusty, we were mostly in tourist areas, and I only had one confusing issue where a cafe asked for a PIN for a credit card, despite the fact that US credit cards didn’t have those at the time. I did my best not to get flustered, as I was used to a bit of miscommunication; during my studies, my friends had once ordered lemon juice instead of lemonade, and I had once stood in a phone store for about 10 minutes trying to explain which phone card I wanted to buy (one I had previously purchased at that exact store).
Stained glass in Santa Maria del Mar
Palma rose window
Palma de Mallorca Cathedral, La Seu
It was wonderful to be able to see castles and Gothic cathedrals and be able to view them with my previous knowledge of Spanish history and architecture. We were also happening to visit soon after the Great Recession, which hit Spain quite hard, so we tried to patronize local cafes as much as possible.
Beautiful streets of Spain
In the meantime, I had also picked up the habit of photographing sewer and utilities covers that were interesting.
In San Gimignano, Italy, a letterbox provides a glimpse into the past to a simpler time. I don’t know how I would manage currently if I didn’t have email or video chats. Life would move so much slower if we had to wait for letters! I’ve had email for most of my life; I was very young back in the time when letters were people’s main method of communication.
But if you want an even simpler way of life, think about how these monks on Ireland’s west coast lived around the 12th century. Their homes were these small “beehive” huts, without even mortar in the stone walls. They lived off the land and what they could grow, and spent the rest of their time in prayer. I’m not sure I aspire to that extreme simplicity!
Lisboa sits at the mouth of the Tagus River, which then travels from Portugal across most of Spain, being the longest river on the Iberian peninsula. Its navigable waters gave Lisboa a valuable port which made it possible for Portugal to take the lead in Atlantic sea voyages during the Age of Exploration. Many famous explorers, including Vasco da Gama, embarked from here. The “Monument to the Discoveries” celebrates this history with 33 key figures of the time period, with Henry the Navigator in front.
This next photo was a bit of a failure in that I didn’t get a good picture of any of my friends! But as a shot of the river, it’s pretty cool.
We were visiting the Torre Belem, just a bit further down the river. Out the tower window, you can see the 25 de Abril Bridge, and the Sanctuary of Christ the King on the opposite bank of the river.