Planes, Trains and Automobiles or What We Did On Our Vacation

We didn’t plan to neglect writing our blog posts while we traveled from Portugal to the US but, as master procrastinators who can find that one excuse is as good as another, that’s exactly what we did.  Any blogger will tell you that writing a post takes time and a fair amount of discipline and we found both of those to be in short supply once we landed in the US.  In fact, rather than the slow travel we both have found we enjoy so much, we behaved exactly like tourists.  We tried to cram as much sightseeing and visits with friends and family as we could into the roughly six weeks we were back in our home country.  The map below will show you the ocean crossed and the ground we covered.August-September 2016

We kept a calendar and a folder to organize our bus tickets to and from Lagos to Lisbon, our airline and Amtrak reservations, the AirBnB house that we rented to share with family members during a family reunion and an upscale hotel on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.  We collected numerous maps and brochures from tours of the Gettysburg and Vicksburg Battlefields, a walk around the monuments of the National Mall in DC, a sculpture Garden in New Jersey, an aquarium in Atlanta, a ride on a steamboat up the Mississippi River, multiple museums in several cities and tours of antebellum houses in Natchez, Mississippi.  We even took a day trip south of the border to feast on some authentic Mexican cooking.  17 nights were spent in guest bedrooms, 16 nights in hotels, 7 nights at an AirBnB rental and 2 nights on Amtrak trains.  We packed and unpacked our suitcases 15 times.  An estimate of the miles we traveled by air was a whopping 6,372 and we logged in somewhere around 4,943 miles by land.  But who’s counting? 🙂 Just adding it all up made us exhale a big “Whew!”

Most importantly we renewed ties with friends and family.  And we kept learning.  It’s never too late to learn more about the War of 1812 or the US Civil War, how and why Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and what a beignet and the “Best fried chicken in the South” tastes like.  We also delved into the Civil Rights Movement and reminded ourselves why it still matters today.

We returned home a week ago to Lagos, Portugal with heavier suitcases, a great sigh of relief and a promise to ourselves that next year family and friends will have to cross the Atlantic to see us. We’ve unpacked the suitcases for awhile (can we help it that we’re already thinking of future journeys?), washed the mountain of laundry that tumbled from our bags and are in the process of making the rounds to say hello to our new friends.  We have several hundred photos to edit and lots of stories to tell about life here and there.  And it’s way past time to resume a healthier diet and engage in some much-needed exercise!

Sure writing takes time but we’ve missed the fun of rehashing and thinking back on where we’ve been, what we’ve seen and learned as well as the chance to share our experiences.  We’ve missed the give and take of online friends, comments and replies, the support of the blogging community and the chance to “meet” more of the traveling community – those who travel near and far as well as those who travel by armchair or in their dreams.  We’re looking forward to telling some tales, sharing some places and stringing our words together in a way that’s, hopefully, both entertaining as well as interesting. Thanks for hanging in there with us.

And in case we haven’t emphasized this point enough: It’s good to be home!

Anita Oliver and Richard Nash

cobblestone walkway along marina, Lagos, Portugal

Cobblestone walkway along marina, Lagos, Portugal

48 comments

  • I love everything about this! Your style, the way you tell your story! Thanks for sharing I can’t wait to read more

    Liked by 2 people

  • That’s a lot of traveling in a short time. Bits of you left at various places and you’re probably wondering when they will catch up and come flooding back to your mind. Yet, you managed to get your entry posted – well done.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh you’re right about that Ted – a lot of miles! It seems though, that rather than leaving bits of ourselves behind we picked up bits here and there – how else to explain our heavier suitcases? 🙂 We’ve found over the years that jotting down a daily note about where we were each day or what we did can help make the blur of days a little easier to figure out later. And what’s really fun is that we’ll have pics and stories to share so that we relive some of the highlights!

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  • That’s exhausting travel! And some great fun, too, it sounds like. Welcome home. I thought of you as we went north to Lisbon as you were going south to Lagos. One day, we may find our paths crossing long enough for a meet-up (hope so!)

    Liked by 3 people

    • Our paths crossed for sure this time, Susan and not in a fortuitous way! We were sorry we couldn’t arrange a place to meet between our schedule and yours but there’s always a next time. And, since we both love travel, we can even pick a new country as a place to meet. I’d love to take some walks with you!

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  • Take your sweet time my dear, slowly and lovingly editing the photos. That’s my favorite thing to do – 2nd only to the traveling itself!

    Sorry I didn’t make it to visit you in Portugal, but it appears you weren’t there anyway. My family/old friends no doubt hate me, but I’ve not been back to visit my native land since I first flew the U.S. coop 5 years ago. Just too many places I still need to see with my own eyes – I figure they can visit me as I’ve lived in some pretty exotic places.

    I too am thrilled – after 40+ days and 8 countries away – to be back here in my beloved adopted home in Cuenca, Ecuador, to just enjoy a super simple, quiet life for a spell.

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    • Wow Dyanne – that’s some traveling. I imagine that sorting through your photos will definitely take some time! We were also sorry that we couldn’t make the travel plans fit this year while you were in Europe and figure out a way for our paths to cross. But … there’s always the next time and the next country or even continent! Have a great time settling in to your Cuenca home and savor having your own space again as well as time to enjoy it. A super simple lifestyle is a great treasure!

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  • Agreed, family and friends have the same opportunity to hop across the pond to visit you. It’s exhausting, physically and emotionally, being the ones to make the trip. We love your pictures and your stories. During our first expat year in Panama we plan to master conversational language skills and only travel to Spanish speaking countries to not muddy the (elderly) brains. However, when we do start branching out to other countries, Portugal — meeting you two in person — is right up there on our list. Thanks for another great blog.

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    • We’re so glad you’re enjoying our posts and pics. We’ve also enjoyed following along on your expat odyssey and it’s really great to have some firsthand knowledge from our travels of the people and area you’re talking about. It’ll be fun to see how your first year in Panama unfolds and your experiences. I think you’ll be really surprised at how much you’ll learn after a few months. And oh do we know about the trials of learning a new language and trying to stay disciplined enough to get some of the words memorized. 🙂 We’ll look forward to our paths crossing when you start traveling to non-Spanish speaking country – We’d love to meet you too!

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  • It sounds like a great, albeit busy, trip.Sometimes one just has to cram in as much sight-seeing and visiting as possible. Now you will get to re-live it as you sort through photos and write about it. I look forward to taking a small part of that trip with you as I read your posts.

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    • Sometimes sorting through all the photos can be intimidating but it’s also fun to go back and talk about the places we’ve visited – or question about where we were when we took a mystery photo! You’re right, Donna about cramming in a lot of people and sight-seeing during our visit and towards the end of the whirlwind we were draggin some. However, it really was worth it. Now we just have to get a bit of writing mojo and incentive back to sit down and type out some posts!

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  • Welcome back! Sounds like a whirlwind of activity! I know the feeling of trying to cram in too much food too much planning and sometimes haha even too much family, into a short smount of time.
    Glad you had a good trip.
    Peta

    Liked by 2 people

    • Too much, too much, too much! it really was a relief to get back home, unpack and pick up our own quiet and simple lives. There is a quiet joy in preparing your own food again, setting your own pace and letting your day unfold rather than running from place to place. Our time in the US was great and now, we’re looking forward to time enjoying and learning more about our new country!

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  • Looking forward to read more about the trip, meanwhile enjoy home and the new travel plans!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Ingrid! We really are enjoying the simple pleasure of being in charge of our own space again, cooking for ourselves versus eating at restaurants, catching up on emails and sorting photos not to mention simply enjoying the October weather in the Algarve. And you can be sure that we’ll have many stories to share, both from the US and here in Portugal!

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  • Oops! My comment above slipped off before it was finished.. I tried to say that our trip last year back to our old home area in the US was way too fast-paced (frantic, actually) and we swore we wouldn’t do that again. So, we’ll slow things down this year and think that’ll be just fine. Sounds like you enjoyed yourselves and were happy to fit it all in. Now that you’re home in Portugal, you take time after the laundry is finished to rest up.

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    • Fast-paced and frantic is a great description of our travels, too and we agree with you that slowing down would have been the smart thing to do. But now, the suitcases are unpacked and put away and the laundry is done – now for the fun of sorting through our photos. And, uh oh, we’re already thinking, what’s next? 🙂 (But we’ll kick back for several weeks first!)

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  • Next time, we’ll have to find a way to cross paths, you were so close. But, I totally understand the need for speed sometimes to make sure you get it all in. There’s only so many hours in a day, right?! Actually, I’m hoping we make it to Portugal in the next year or two and we can meet on your new turf. Much for interesting, at least for us! So glad you enjoyed a terrific visit and shared hugs all around. I’m looking forward to stories to come. Beignets in New Orleans?! Yes! Please tell me you went to Cafe du Monde!

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    • Next time … in Portugal! We really were close to where you are Patti and, considering that we spent so much of our time on the road, we should have arranged a meet up. And you’re right, the hours and days sped by as we went from tourist spots and seeing sights to spending time with family and friends. As for the beignets – YES! We went to Cafe du Monde and OMG those lovely creations melt in your mouth! However, one thing I’ll make a note to myself for next time:
      Wearing black capris should probably be avoided. It wasn’t hard to see where I’d been! 😀

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  • Sounds like you had a great time. I look forward to hearing all about it.
    Alison

    Liked by 2 people

    • We did have a great time being tourists in our own country and visiting some of the places we’ve always wanted to see. We have lots of pics to sort through and edit as well as many stories to tell. But I know you’ll understand this Alison, it’s lovely to return to our adopted country, kick back, slow down and simplify. For now we’ll focus on today rather than where we need/want to be tomorrow! 🙂

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  • Even though we haven’t cut the chord completely, I can relate to your travels and visits in the US as it seems our summer was spent in much the same way. We too are toying with the idea of making this side of the ocean the home base and if family and friends want to see us they can alternate by coming this way (of course if their lack of emails and communication are any indication, I suspect we won’t have many arriving at our doorstep!) Glad to have you back in the blogosphere – you’ve been missed!

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    • We’ve been enjoying your pics of the southwestern deserts and it definitely sounds like you’ve put a lot of miles on the road too, Jackie! Crazy, huh? Like you, we’ve found there’s a distinct gap between our friends from our former lives and those we’ve made while traveling who really make the effort (like us) to make sure we meet up. All of our visitors this year were people we’ve met in the last 4 years, some even coming from Costa Rica and Curacao. Friendship seems to assume a different type of priority for travelers and expats … And we agree with you about alternating visits back to the US – Our welcome mat is out on our side of the ocean too! 🙂

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  • Happy to hear from you. Found your latest in spam and must find a way to get out into my regular mailbox. I would LOVE to visit you in Lagos. I’ll check airlines for price and the weather. What is a good time for warm weather?

    Liked by 3 people

    • This is our first October here in Lagos and the weather right now is glorious. The day temps have been in the low to mid-seventies with cooler nights and the humidity is around 80%. A welcome change from the sticky, sweltering heat of August and September in the Southern States! Last year, when we arrived in mid-November, we weren’t quite prepared for the cold, rainy weather but the winter was actually fairly mild with lots of sunshine in the afternoons. Our temps started getting very nice in April and May – jeans and t-shirt type weather. Perfect for long walks and day trips to nearby villages without the summer crowds. You’d love it, Maida!

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  • If you have eaten a beignet than you truly have arrived!

    Liked by 3 people

  • Sound like you packed it in. What a trip. Great to hear from you. Looking forward to more of your blogs.

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    • What a trip is right Jeannie! As we were listing the places we’d gone to and the things we’d done we looked at each other and said, “No wonder we’re tired!” We usually travel at a slower pace with downtime in between to absorb what we’ve seen and learned as well as downtime to read email, a book or follow the news. For some reason though, we kind of went crazy and turned into typical tourists on a 2-week vacation! BTW, we hear you’ll be doing some travel again too and meeting up with Marti, Steve and Linda in Mexico. Sounds like lots of fun!

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  • Welcome back! Boy.. it sounds like you squeezed a whole lot into your vacation. Now you need a vacation after the vacation. I am envious of your stay in New Orleans as that’s definitely one place l would like to visit. The steamboat ride must have been very cool too. I am so looking forward to hearing your stories of the trip. For now, just chill. I’m sure you’ll be packing your bags soon enough 🙂 .

    Liked by 3 people

    • You’re right Kemi about the vacation after the vacation! Luckily the weather here has been made-to-order perfect – lovely warm and sunny days with cooler nights and people are still swimming in the sea. This is the third time we’ve gone to the southern US states in the summer and experienced the sweltering days and high humidity. Next time we’ll have to rethink when we visit! We have all sorts of stories about New Orleans to tell you (and tempt you to visit) and OMG you would love the food. Hope to see you soon!

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  • There really is no place like home. After traveling six weeks we were glad to eat back in Panama and our trip feels far. Behind us now. Enjoy Lagos!!! Life is good.
    Suzi

    Liked by 3 people

    • You’re right about that Suzi and it’s wonderful to have a place to call home after 3 years of nomadic traveling. It’s too bad that our travels to the US weren’t in the same part of the country. One of these days we just have to meet up!

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      • Haha I notice autocorrect changed. Be back in Panama to eat back in Panama. I was not enamored with the food in China so it rings true anyway. Lol

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        • I figured you meant get instead of eat and, now that I’ve heard your stories about the food, I imagine getting back to your own cooking might have been something you looked forward to! For us, one of the highlights of travel is the food (good, bad we’ll try it all) and I’m disappointed that the authentic Chinese food was less than enjoyable. 😦 But your trip sounds amazing! I had to peruse TravelZoo myself after I read your letter to see if there were any good deals out there that we just wouldn’t be able to pass up!

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  • Welcome home! You have covered a lot of ground and I am looking forward to hear more about your trip. We loved our visit to Lagos and it was such a shame not meeting you there. Let us know if you come over to the UK, it would be lovely to meet up.

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    • Thanks Gilda – But while we were there, you were here! We were bummed that we missed your visit and the chance to show you what we love about this area. However, we’ll look forward to hearing what you have to say about our adopted country and see your pics. And you can be sure that we’ll be in touch with you when we visit the UK. The more we read about it, the more we want to see it. Looks like we missed the warm weather this year but hopefully next summer we’ll be able to make it!

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