Why we Stayed in Lisbon for a Month

Lise arrives after a loooong cab ride (yay strikes)

Lise arrives after a loooong cab ride (yay strikes)

I blame our month-long stay in Lisbon on the fact that I have a cousin in Denmark (how fun is that to say?). The original intent of the trip was a 1.5 to 2-week stint. I was going to join my work team in Lisbon for a meetup for a week, and Chris would join me at the beginning or end. Then my cousin said she might be able to spend some time with us, too. The time we were staying stretched onward, and we finally realized that staying for a month in an apartment was not much more expensive than spending a couple of weeks in a hotel. No brainer. We booked. She visited.

We had a marvelous time with my cousin and her man. You’ve met her before if you read this blog. She played Monopoly with us last year. Thing is — I haven’t seen her live in about 8 years. This was such a treat! So much better than Zoom (although I’m grateful for that).

Lise and Chrissie on the Yellow Bus Tour touring the modern section of Lisbon.

Lise and Chrissie on the Yellow Bus Tour touring the modern section of Lisbon.

Chris and I are serious walkers, and Lise thought she was, too. But the hills in Lisbon proved a little too much for a post-leg surgery patient, so we hit the Yellow Bus Tour. It had horrible reviews, which made me a bit nervous, but we had a marvelous time. I do have to say that in the on-season and on weekends the reviews are justified, but for a low-key weekday in April, it was a fabulous experience.

We sat in an uncrowded bus and cooled off under blue skies while soaking in the history of the city — both old and new. We also enjoyed funiculars, trolleys and ferries as part of the tour. If a radio didn’t work, we switched our seat. No problem.

On the weekend we struggled to get room on the trolleys (hence the correct reviews comment earlier), but weekdays were bliss.

I’m not sure what part of the Wed-Mon visit I loved best (apart from just being with Lise in person). Perhaps it was sharing the wonders of a continent together — from the Moor Castle in Sintra to watching performers in the plaza. Or giggling over childhood stories. Or meeting her boyfriend (also named Chris. Poor Lise, hanging out with Chris, Chris and Chrissie). I guess it’s good that I’m not required to pick a favorite moment.

e, surrounded by Chris's

Lise, surrounded by Chris’s

Funicular Fun:

The funicular in Bairro Alto, Lisbon.

The funicular in Bairro Alto, Lisbon.

IMG_2255

Anyway, that time will always be a treasure in my memory. If you are into pics, check out highlights of our extended weekend:

Our Lisbon Meetup Begins :)

Since I work for a distributed company, I only get to see my coworkers in person twice a year. Last year my team met up in Durham, and this year it’s Lisbon. Another team is here at the same time, and another team will be coming halfway to the week so I get to see lots of my Automattic buddies. 

There is just something super exciting about knowing that your friends and coworkers are all on planes and trains and busses, heading your way for a week of in-person collaborations, learning and fun.

This picture shows where James and I are hanging out at our co-working office for the week. We are working outdoors as we wait for our teammates to arrive. 

In Praise of the Google Translate App

IMG_1044If I were inclined to write poetry today (I’m not– the muse is not in the building), I would write an ode to the Google Translate app. As you may or may not know, in my job  I work mostly in mobile app support for the WordPress app. Since 27% of the Internet runs on WordPress, and many users worldwide use the app, I get a lot of issues in languages I don’t understand. Generally a cut-and-paste into a translate tool works wonders, but it gets problematic when someone send in a screenshot of an issue. That’s when this app comes in really handy.

I have the Google Translate App for both Android and iPhone.  When I get a screenshot, I open the app, download the applicable language then select camera in the app, and I get a translation. This has been invaluable in my work habits. And I’ve also found it really handy in travel.

When Chris and I were in Perugia, we hit the amazing National Archaeological Museum with fabulous history, but very little in regards to English translations. No problem. The app totally covered that, and we learned all sorts of stuff about amulets and recoveries from archaeological digs. So cool.

Now that we are spending a month in a new home in a land where we are far from fluent in the native language, we’re finding the app super handy in basic tasks such as grocery shopping. When you want to make a bean stew and aren’t sure which canned bean is which? The app comes to the rescue.

And it totally saved me from accidentally getting lemon tea when I thought I was getting mint.

It doesn’t just do images. I can type a phrase in English and have it translate to another language. I write my sentence, find a store-keeper, and point to the screen. We are all much happier and effective in our communications, I find.

Oatmeal – Aveia?
We don’t have it – Nós não temos isso.
Communication effectively achieved (I’m not thrilled with the result, but now at least I know to not keep scanning shelves fuitlessly).

Yay, app!

25 Years and Travel

Last December Chris and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. It kind of felt like we ought to do something out of the ordinary for the occasion, and we sort of did. We played ping pong, watched a movie and walked our dog on the beach.

Oh wait. We do that all the time.
But this day really was a bit different.

As we walked on the beach we dreamed about what we might want to do as a bigger anniversary celebration. Since we both love to travel, we brainstormed on a fabulous getaway. Dreaming is more than half the fun, I think. But we couldn’t decide where we might want to go. Then Chris came up with a brilliant idea. 25 small trips to celebrate our 25 years. Since he is an artist who can work on the road, and I can work wherever I have Internet, this seemed like a great idea so we started making a dream list.

Then work upped the ante.

Our little trips became no-so-little, and somehow we found ourselves in Italy two weeks ago (sharing WordPress with writers and journalists at the International Journalism Festival).

And now I’m writing this from Lisbon, where we are spending a month. My work team is going to spend a week here shortly, and we came early to enjoy the city together, and to spend some time with my cousin who lives in Europe.

I’m feeling pretty fortunate 🙂

So anyway, it’s been quiet here on my blog because I have been working/traveling/touring/trying to figure out a decent sleep schedule, and I have not been doing much else. But I think things are back on course now, so I can start sharing my thoughts. And some amazing images. I’m completely enamored with the rich history of these European cities.

When we go home next month, we will check in, re-acclimate, then start a road trip across the United States of America to visit friends and family for a month. Here’s where we stand on our list of 25 so far:

1. WCUS – Philadelphia (we officially started our list last December since that was our anniversary month)
2. Niagara Falls – Ontario, Canada
3. Connecticut – visiting family and friends
4. Saratoga Springs, New York – company dinner and visit with relatives
5. Utah – visiting our boys and daughter-in-law
6. Greek Peak ski resort in NY – snowboard getaway
7. Toronto, Canada – visiting friends (forgot to take pics)
8. Perugia, Italy – International Journalism Festival for Work
9. Lisbon, Portugal – Team meeting for work and extra time for fun

Projected Trips:

10. Columbus, Ohio – visiting friends
11. Missouri – visiting friends
12. New Mexico – visiting friends
13. Utah – visit CJ and Lauren again
14. Las Vegas (maybe)
15. California (maybe) – visiting friends
16. South Carolina – visiting family
17. North Carolina – visiting family
18. Maryland – visiting family
19. West Virginia – check in on our boys at camp 🙂
20. Connecticut – nephew’s wedding 🙂

As you can see, we are five trips short, but I have a feeling those will fill in nicely as the year journeys on. After all, it _is_ only  April.