Friday, February 28, 2014

The Town of Guildford in Surrey, England

Actual date of this event: 16 February

It was a beautiful Sunday, and rather than sitting inside and doing taxes (that would be Luke) or watching someone do taxes (that would be Debbie), we decided to make a visit to Guildfold. The town is located in the county of Surrey and about 45 minutes from our home. After a pass by Luke's office (which I had never seen before) and some slight car nausea (always on the way, never on the way back), we arrived in Guildford.
As beautiful of a day it was, I had a major first world problem going on...
{yep, I created that meme because it was tooooooo perfect to not create one}
The town is really nice, and I didn't know what to expect. Surrey is quite hilly, so the streets of Guildford go up and down a bit. The High Street and all of the little streets off of it are cobblestone and pedestrian only. It seemed that quite a few people had the same idea as us - enjoy the sun! I got a kick out of some of these stores... you know, an American-expat-jump-for-joy kinda kick!

{coming soon......}
We wandered toward the river, and the city was/is preparing for any possible flooding that may happen. Luke and I are lucky we don't live near the river - it is amazing how much damage has been caused by flooding recently!
We also checked out the Guildford Castle, which isn't much itself, but the grounds were stunning! The property was landscaped so beautifully with bloomed flowers and extremely green grass. I have never seen such well-kept grounds during the month of February. I am sure the bright sun helped it shine!

We ended our time in Guildford sitting on an outdoor terrace at The Kings Head for a little while to enjoy the weather. I had myself some fish & chips and an ale... as Luke watched me eat it all.
We debated on going to visit the Guildford Cathedral which required us to drive there because it is a bit farther away, but we decided against it. The cathedral is set high up on a hill and we could see it from where we parked. It looked huge!
So we didn't see everything, but from what we saw, Guildford is a nice little place!

Guildford is 27 miles southwest of London.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Funny Moment: Buisson's in Bairro Alto

Actual date of this event: Debbie's 31st Birthday in Lisbon, Portugal

First off: We spent 48 hours in Lisbon, and I had so much love for the place that I journaled four full posts about it. Obviously, we loved it!

We had a few funny moments in Lisbon.
I already said one of them in my Belem post, and another in my Baixa post.
Here are two more funny moments that keep us young :-)

The One with "Coke!"
That picture is what Bairro Alto looks like from around mid-night til probably 3-4am. There are some patches that are so crowded that you have to squeeze your way through and some areas are open like the one I am standing in. Bairro Alto reminded us a lot of the French Quarter in New Orleans. The streets fill with people starting around 11pm (although in NOLA, it's like an all day thing). Everyone goes into one of the many bars in the area to get a drink in a plastic cup, and then takes it outside to hang out and chat with their friends. The bars are really tiny, so there isn't much room for people to stand. The bars also vary between live music (some fado, some not) and DJ's. We stayed in an apartment one street up from this street :-)

Moving on to the funny moment, I mentioned how Luke kept getting asked if he wanted to buy hashish while we walked through Baixa. Bairro Alto was no different - it was actually worse. Finally, I told Luke that I thought it was his beanie. His beanie cap was attracting these people to him. He refused to take if off. Well the next seller asked if Luke wanted to buy coke. Obviously, Luke declined. I missed the incident as I was distracted by... well, I don't know what, but probably something shiny. Just after he finished telling me the story, a guy walks buy us and yells, "Coke!", not directly to us but he was right next to us, so it was as if he was yelling it at Luke. We started laughing because Luke was like, "Now there are just yelling 'coke!' at me." I again, told him it was his beanie, but he still refused to take it off. I think we had a few more people approach us about hashish and coke for the next two hours while we wondered around Bairro Alto. And every couple of minutes we would hear someone yell "Coke!!" out to the crowd. The way the Lisboans offering people drugs is quite amusing :-) Note: I am not sure if the people of Lisbon are called Lisboans... I'm making that up.

Lastly, if you are thinking this is a dangerous place to be with the drug trafficking, we never felt like we were in danger this whole time. We felt 100% safe. I read online that some of these sellers are scams. And we know the webs is never wrong.

The One Where Luke Imitated the Window Display
Go shorty, it's my birthday, we gonna party like it's my birthday! Technically, it was the night before my birthday, but it became February 9th while we were out in Bairro Alto, so I'm calling it my birthday. Obviously we were drinking, and obviously things were much funnier due to that. Reason why we thought "Coke!!" was so funny.

We were walking along the streets in Bairro Alto, and I noticed this window display. Luke and I do this thing that when we see something really goofy, we make this flat laughing noise (like a quicker version of the Beavis & Butthead laugh). If you're ever around me when a smart car drives by, I will make this noise. In Rome, it got a bit old. Anyway, when we saw the window display, we started our flat laugh, and I'm like "I have to take of picture of this! It's so funny! Wait, no! Luke go imitate the display!!!" So while he was posing for my picture, people were walking by and look confused at why I was taking the picture. But then they noticed Luke, and started cracking up and giving me a thumbs up for it :-) Good good times!!!

Other posts on Lisbon: Sneak PeekBelemMiradourosBaixa, Alfama

I found this video online, and this has me cracking up right now!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Lisbon, Portugal: Alfama

Actual date of this event: 7-9 February

My absolute most favorite part of Lisbon was Alfama! Almost fully pedestrianized - or at least it seemed that way as no cars could fit down half of the streets - Alfama is labeled as a labyrinth. I challenged Luke to use his "elite sense of direction" and not Google maps to get us out of the maze. He accepted that challenge... for about ten minutes... and then began using his phone "to be looking for other things". The area doesn't have a whole lot to it, but it is soooooo does. My knee was still bothering me, but I was so lost in the uniqueness of Alfama that I barely felt the pain.
So here is what we did.... we headed straight to the Lisbon Cathedral. Took a peak inside to catch our breath, and prepare for the awesomeness that we were about to experience in Alfama!

We let our eyes choose which way looked most interesting. And walked.

Watch out for that #28 tram... it might ya!

Luke and I stopped for a late lunch and drinks at some point... I have no idea what the name was or what street it was on or if it was in the southern area or the northern area of Alfama... but it was a small family restaurant, it was good, the pints of beer were 1.50 euro and main dishes were 6 euro!
Moving on... but we can't wander without a road beer. I chose the mini-beer because it was too cute to not purchase! Pardon my red wine teeth...

{It wasn't us - I promise! We are always respectful in other countries... except for the public drinking... we blame that on Louisiana.}
Are open glass containers legal on the streets of Alfama? I don't know. But we figured it was okay because we came across a group of joint-rollers at one point. Eventually, we came across the São Vicente de Fora Monastery. 

Behind the São Vicente de Fora Monastery is the Santa Clara Market which sells everything. It's basically like a flea market - Nokia cell phones, naked Barbie dolls, toothpaste, Polaroid cameras, scarves, pocket watches, boom boxes, laptops, etc. I really wonder where all of this crap - I call it crap because it looked like a big outdoor attic - came from.

And the Santa Clara Market surrounds the National Pantheon.
We continued our wander through Alfama - going up and down every path and stairway, some of them a few times.

Eventually, we ended up by St. George's Castle and used the excuse of rain to have a large beer.

It was about this time that we made our way to Miradouro da Senhora do Monte for some nice views of Lisbon.
But hunger struck us again as the sun went down, so we decided to head back to Alfama for tapas at Caso SÉrio. We enjoyed the flaming Chorizo, so much that we got another order for dessert, but the Roasted Goats Cheese was also a big hit.

Have I convinced you yet to make your way to Lisbon? I have convinced myself that another visit to Portugal is needed... hopefully this time we can make our way south to the Algarve! Anyway, I am missing one last piece of the Lisbon puzzle... and that is the super goofy picture of Luke from my sneak peek post. Funny Moment: Lisbon coming right up!

The hard bedrock foundation of Alfama saved the area from much damage in the 1755 earthquake.

Other Lisbon posts: Sneak Peek, Belem, Miradouros, BaixaBairro Alto

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