Friday, 30 January 2015

Home to Portugal

For New Year we gave ourselves a trip to Portugal! Home to see my husband's family and enjoy some sunshine. It was lovely! I wish we were still there. Waking up to this view right outside my window was just amazing. The sun was shining bright every single day and I took my jacket off most of the time to soak it all in.

Having family around to love on us was the best part by far. We've really needed that. I didn't have to cook, clean or do any laundry too. That's my kind of holiday! Luis has a huge family so most of our days were visiting with aunts, uncles and cousins, eating yummy food and taking in the sights.

Portugal is a beautiful country! But I think it is the people that are the real gem here. I have never in my life met a more humble and happy people. They are generous with all they have and live a simple life. Which I find heavenly.

Here are some highlights from our trip::

+ Temperatures were in the 60's and we had sunshine every single day.  We took walks around the village, played at the park, went to the beach and even drove to Spain! The weather couldn't have been more perfect.

+ When Luis's father saw Sebastian he started crying. He's such a sensitive soul. Sebastian is the only grandchild. Luis's parents are in their 80's. Anytime Sebastian would say, "Abuelo" he would start to cry. On our first morning in Portugal Sebastian said, "Abuelo, sit. Play with me." I about started crying too.

+ Sebastian was obsessed with his cousin (once removed) Ricardo. He is a few years older than Sebastian and didn't speak English but they played well just the same. Sebastian read him books, shared his toys and wanted to be wherever Ricardo was. Luckily he lived across the street.

+ One day when we drove into Spain we walked into a restaurant and a there was a little boy Sebastian's age there. He took one look at Sebastian, smiled and said, "Hola amigo! Vamos!" Then they ran all around the restaurant playing. Then he kept asking him, "Como te llamas? Como te llamas?" It was a really fun moment that I don't want to forget. To see Sebastian playing and being social with other children is a big win in the autism department!

+ The food. You guys, it is the best. I can't get enough of the fresh bread. Citrus tree's everywhere. The lemons are as big as my hand. When you go visit someone they give you a basket of oranges, grapefruit or lemons. Everyday you get visitors and they bring avocados, kiwi and fresh bread. Everyone shares their abundance. It is wonderful!

+ We spent one day in Porto and it is such a great city. We saw traditional epiphany carolers singing and dancing all over the city. Sebastian was dancing right along with them. Nuns were walking outside the Porto Cathedral (Se do Porto) and  we walked all over the city.

+ We spent some time at the beach. Our coats were off, Sebastian and I looked for seashells while Luis sat in the sun with his brother and chatted. We ate some Portuguese gelato and walked along the boardwalk. I can't wait to go back in the summertime and get in the water!

+ We spent an evening in Aviero picking up some hand painted pottery for my birthday present. I have two different styles now. I'm slowly adding to my collection each time we come to Portugal!

+ Sebastian called his grandmother a "scary monster" and I laughed really hard. So glad she doesn't understand English. Then the next day he called his great aunt "a witch."

+ My 35th birthday was spent abroad and the family was there to celebrate. My sister in law played the guitar and they sang to me a traditional Portuguese birthday song, then another in Spanish. Then they surprised me by singing Happy Birthday in English (they don't speak English!) and then I cried. It was really special.

Our trip was really just a few weeks of Portuguese immersion. I love that we get to be a part of this culture. We can't wait to go back! We're are planning for a summer in Portugal!

Now, for pictures::

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

London First

It's been a long (and expensive!) road getting all of our new passports, visa's renewed and British citizenship for Sebastian. After it all we finally were able to go visit my husband's family in Portugal over the holiday's!

Sebastian got the chicken pox during the break, but I was surprised at well he actually did. He was pretty much his normal happy self. I was worried about how Sebastian would do with flying and being abroad. Sebastian has autism spectrum disorder and changes in his routine can upset him. I didn't know what to expect and I tried to plan for anything (just like any other parent). The last thing I wanted was a meltdown that would result in a situation that can quickly get out of control. But my worries were all for naught because Sebastian did amazing! He was so excited to get on the plane and he loved his tray table and getting to order an orange juice. He fell asleep on both flights and we really couldn't have asked for an easier time. He was a rock star!

Aberdeen is a small airport and only has a handful of direct flights into Europe. Porto, Portugal isn't one of them so we needed to fly into London first. We decided on a long layover (8 hrs) in London so we could take in some sights before we went on to Portugal. That proved to be a great decision!

We went downtown to see Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. We grabbed some quick food (burritos!!) and walked all over downtown London. It was a quick run through but it was great! Everything was just a quick glimpse so I can't wait to go back for a proper visit.

 We had a great time and rushed back just in time to hop on our flight to Portugal!