One of the great joys of traveling is making and renewing friendships, with both family and friends. During this journey, we cemented our friendship with people we had met barely a month earlier. We have re-connected with family we have not seen in over 40 years. We’ve enjoyed time with friends and family in new places that have added energy and spice (or herbs) to long-term friendships. All in all, it has provided some of the most memorable moments of our trip.
Make New Friends….
We met Gregg and Bridget in March after learning from a mutual friend that we all were headed to Portugal within the next two months. By the time we arrived in Lisbon, Gregg had been here for a month, survived 10 days of COVID by himself by virtue of food delivery service and the internet, partially furnished his newly-leased apartment and thoroughly explored his new neighborhood, the Arroio area of the city.
Not to give Gregg a swelled head or anything but he proved to be a true friend, as well as a guide to the practical matters of living in Portugal. He was instrumental in introducing us to the day-to-day life of Lisbon away from the tourist areas. He provided luggage storage, socializing and advice both times we entered and exited the city with hours to spare between arrival and check-in and/or check-out and departure. The day we went to the ER, Gregg, offered his place as a haven during our very anxious 24-hours of not being certain we would be able to go to France, afraid we would have to cancel both our plans and those of our friends… I am so grateful to Gregg for all he gave us during these weeks and hope we are able to reciprocate at some point (the hospitality, at least, hopefully not the emergency refuge!)
You Go, Girl!
Bridget, the other friend we made just prior to our departure on this trip, made an unexpected trip to Lisbon during the week we were in the Algarve. As she had a full schedule for the two weeks she was here, we had resigned ourselves to not being able to see her. We were therefore surprised and pleased to receive a text message from Bridget that she was 1/2 hour away in the Algarve for two days and could we come for a visit?! Having our rental car, we made the trip to Albufeira to enjoy a precious one-hour visit learning about her travels to decide on a place to live (she has since settled on Lisbon). You can see from the photo that Bridget is full of enthusiasm and positive energy over her plans— it was a confidence-builder in all kinds of ways for us. Enthusiasm is a trait that I value highly and Bridget personifies this value for me. That hour with her gives me energy and joy when I think back on it. She’s back in San Diego now but planning to make her move in the fall.
Mom and Dad’s Legacy
Chantal Henry, responded in about 1972 to an advertisement from my mother who wanted a French-speaking boarder in the extra room so she could practice her French. I remember the heavenly vegetable soup on Mom’s stove on my visits hope from college, stewed until limp, then puréed in the Cuisinart and eaten hot and fresh with bread… yum! My brother, Chris, remembers Chantal riding off on her Vespa in a floor-length gown to her job as a hostess at a restaurant. That five-year stay with my parents became a decades-long friendship, extending to my sister and me, even after both our parents passed on. On this trip to Portugal, Bob and I took a side trip to Lunel to spend a week with our friend. Chantal’s hospitality surpasses mere hospitality. Her home is a garden, we ate two of three meals a day in it, all vegetarian and so varied and sumptuous you never think to miss the meat. She took us on a great hike to see capellas, small stone huts built by shepherds to shelter from sudden rainstorms and to Arles, where we enjoyed the glow of the atmosphere of this small city where Vincent Van Gogh worked for about a year…. Oh, and not to forget the flamingos!
Exchange Year Friendship
Christiane Schmidt adopted me during my exchange year in Nürnberg, Germany in 1970. Through her sponsorship, I was invited to go with her class at school on their much-awaited Class Trip through then-Yugoslavia and spend a week in Greece. We still laugh about our night in Nafplion, when we smuggled ourselves out of the hotel and went out dancing with two (older) Greek guys. Two of our classmates came to find us before the Greeks had talked us into going someplace else with them… and we didn’t get into trouble, either because we sneaked back into the hotel safely and without being discovered by the chaperons. On another occasion, we drove together from Nürnberg to Salzburg, stopping literally at every Konditorei (pastry shop) on the way and filling ourselves with delicious and very rich desserts— total binge. Twenty-five years later, both married and with children, we met again in Nova Scotia and followed up with visits in Paris on the occasion of our thirtieth anniversary, a five-country European tour in a big blue van with six people and the dog, Dooley (I still refer to that trip as “Travels with Dooley”!) and a trip to Costa Rica. My friend and travel buddy could not make it to Portugal but she flew into Montpellier for four of the days we were at Chantal’s. I can’t imagine being in Europe and not seeing Christiane. She is a big part of what makes our trips here so memorable.
A Joyous Reunion
Bob posts on Facebook and because of this, his entire set of cousins in Brazil follow our movements. And because of this, we learned to our great surprise that Bob’s Aunt Luisa, just turned 99 years old, is now living a mere two hours away from Chantal in southern France. Chantal not only understood our desire, no need, to visit this last surviving member of his mother’s generation, but offered us her car so we did not have to deal with trains and transfers. Tia Luisa lives with her step-son, Thierry, who helps to care for her. Words cannot do justice to this reunion, so I’ll just show photos.
My Around-the-World Family
Dan, my sister’s son, his wife, Julie, and five-year-old daughter, Fiona, have their own blog covering their odyssey, which started in San Francisco in March and spending time in Fiji, Bali, Australia, Shanghai, Spain and, yes, Portugal. They timed their stay in order to be in Porto when we were, and what a fun two days we had! Having a five-year-old with you truly changes the vibe and the tempo of your day. We were very impressed with the entire family, how laid-back and flexible it’s possible to be, and we’re super impressed with how well Fiona keeps up with the big folk— she’s a great walker! She is also tremendously patient with us old folks while we insist on taking time over a meal and over a glass (or two) of wine. A tour of the port cellars was a highlight (for the adults)— and the gondola ride across the river!
More on Porto to come. This city, like Lisbon, stole our hearts but for different reasons. Family and friends along the way has added spice and warmth to our stay here.
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