We had to be at the bus stop this morning by 6:15 to catch our charter bus. This was an early 5:30 wake-up call after staying up so late! I had some last second things to shove into my carry on and got a nice refreshing ice cold shower... Not going to miss those! Then it was the joyful stairs of doom as we all rushed at the last minute, not that we're ever late! I was at the point where I was kicking it down three flights of stairs. After lugging our suitcases across campus to the bus, we finally were on our way to Manchester! We got our breakfast just in time to catch our flight. It was our last English breakfast. From here it was a smooth sailing 7-hour flight full of movies and school work! The jet lag and time change is definitely rough, I've been up for hours, but somehow it was only noon when we landed! We're now through customs and killing time on our 4-hour layover in Philadelphia. Playing cards, getting food, and exploring the airport.. fun layover things! Now it's just a waiting game until I arrive in Indianapolis at 7:45 and am reunited with my family and friends!
This trip has been a wonderful experience that I am extremely grateful for. I could not have done it without all the help from home I have gotten along the way from my credit card getting compromised to missing trains in foreign countries. I've been to 10 new countries now and learned so much about other countries. Portugal was my favorite country by far and my new dream job would be to teach there one day. Teaching in another country was challenging, but was such a learning experience! I guess this is goodbye, and until next time, Europe . . . I will be back!
Saturday morning I didn't get much sleep, but I just needed to power through! I woke up and got breakfast at a diner near campus, called Neighborhood, with Rachel. We ordered pancakes and they were WONDERFUL! I have an obsession with pancakes, so this trip was a major withdrawal for me and I could have cried tears of joy when eating them. After breakfast it was time to head back and start packing up our rooms.
After being here for 8 weeks, the amount of stuff I had has miraculously grown and I had no idea how it was all going to fit! After 3 long hours I managed the impossible. There was lots of packing, re-packing, throwing away things, Rachel sitting on my suitcase, me breaking the zipper, me fixing the zipper... Then magic! It all fit! Now, hopefully, it's all underweight as well.
We did some reminiscing while packing and this has been such a wonderful trip! We have a final dinner together tonight to celebrate the 4th of July together, but it's rather bitter sweet!
We went to dinner at Childwall Abbey, our professor's favorite restaurant. It was delicious. I got fish and chips, my final goodbye to British food! It was easily my favorite dish here. They prepare it differently from the states and I must say they do it better!
After dinner, Rachel and I went to Fiveways to say goodbye to our favorite pub and enjoy one last night together! We ended up having a little sleepover after I pulled my mattress next door to her room. I'm definitely going to miss her now that she won't be my dorm neighbor anymore! We stayed up a little too late, but why not end our last night with a bang!
It's Friday, meaning it was time to venture back to Liverpool. After enjoying my breakfast and feasting like a king, I showered and headed to Lisbon. I left rather early because I wanted to do some exploring in Lisbon and make sure I wasn't late to my flight. I took a short train ride to downtown and went exploring! Wow, was I overwhelmed. It was MUCH larger than any of the cities we had visited in Portugal. I walked around for 2-3 hours just seeing what the city had to offer, but I was so turned around and lost I made lots of unintentional circles. Not being able to read anything, having so much traffic, metros, cars to look out for, my huge backpack, and the extremely hot weather was overwhelming for this small town girl.
I was off to the airport a little sooner than planned, but I was dripping in sweat. I accidentally went to the wrong terminal, then when I got to the correct one I quickly realized it had no AC. I got to stand in a really long line to get my travel approved since I'm not an EU citizen. Ryan air had one person working the desk on a Friday afternoon as everyone is leaving to travel for the weekend.
From there I was off to security where I got through in one try . . . this was twice in a row! I knew something fishy was up because this was twice now... After waiting an hour after our flight was supposed to start boarding, we were informed there were technical difficulties and we were delayed an hour. After an hour passed, we all got to go up to our gate where we got to wait another hour because they overbooked the flight and had to figure out what to do! Once we FINALLY boarded the plane, two hours late, we were in for another treat! Someone left their suitcase unattended outside the plane so, naturally, security went crazy and brought out dogs and the whole shebang until the issue was resolved... this was another hour in the hot sun.. No AC... On the tar. What a treat! Three hours late, we finally took off around 5:30, our 2 hour flight landed and there was a back-up in customs, so we had to sit on the plane for 50 minutes until we were allowed off. Then the line for non-EU residents took an hour and 15 minutes! At this point I was nervous I was going to miss the last train to Liverpool for the night at 9:10. It was hot, people were annoyed, and I really had to go to the bathroom, but there was not a chance I was about to get at the end of the line and go through it all over!
My patience was running short and I FINALLY got up to the customs officer. As soon as I gave him my paperwork, his boss came up to him and told him he needed to pick up a shift tomorrow because they were understaffed (this was after I waited two hours to go through customs). He refused to take the shift and then got into an argument with his boss. The last thing you want when going through customs is an angry customs officer!!! I knew as soon as he sat back down this was NOT going to be easy.
He instantly sent me to this huge plastic cube in the middle of the customs area where I had to wait for him and another officer to escort me to a private room. This is where the karma of going through security twice with no troubles comes back to get me. I wasn't nervous about the questions, more about missing my train! Poor decision #1 was starting off by telling them I was going to miss my train for the night; their response let me know there was no chance I was catching that train.
So now began my hour and 20-ish minutes in customs being questioned about everything under the sun! After getting released I noticed the time and missed the last train of the day to Liverpool.
It was time to advise a new plan to get home. Once I got off the train from the Euston, I tried to figure out a new plan to get to Liverpool. It was now 10 o'clock, I hadn't had dinner, and I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to find a way back to Liverpool. I ended up finding am 11 p.m. train to Manchester, where I arrived at 2 a.m., and I had a layover until 4:50 a.m. to get to Liverpool, arriving at 5:30 a.m. It was a long three hours filled with lots of music, coffee, and walking the halls to pass time. Turns out at 2 a.m. in a train station there is nothing to do! After I finally caught my train to Liverpool, I took a cab back to campus. My easy flight back turned into a delightful 20 hour trip... Oh, the joys of traveling!
Today was Lynzee's birthday! She signed us up to do a 9:30 boat tour to see dolphins and the caves. The caves were one of the main attractions in Albuferia. We got some pretty amusing looks as Lynzee climbed into a dingy wearing her walking boot to go out into the ocean. It already smelled awful, so surely salt water couldn't hurt it, right? The tour was a couple of hours and my favorite part of the trip. We got to see dolphins in their natural habitat for at least 30 minutes. There was a whole school of dolphins and they were chasing a fishing boat. Apparently, when the fisherman are collecting their nets, some fish manage to get away, making an easy meal for the dolphins. There were 10-15 dolphins in the school including some adorable tiny ones. We're talking smaller than the length of my arm. It was amazing to be able to see them swimming up next to our boat, just 5 feet away at times. It was so cool to watch them come up, then they would do a huge jump up before they would go down for a few minutes. AMAZING!
Once the dolphins moved on we went to the caves. We're not talking caves like Kentucky. These were caves in the ocean with crystal clear water that had bright colors. We went into them, or even through them if they came out the other side. It was amazing and the water was all so clear.
After we got back, we wanted Steven to see the caves also, so we went on a little adventure! We drove up and down the coast to show him all the different caves, like the lighthouse cave and cathedral cave.
When we got back from showing Steven all of the sights, Lynzee and I headed for the beach and laid out. Before dinner we played another card game and Steven tried out some of his favorite jokes on me... he's a sly one!
We had dinner in the little area through the cave we found yesterday! It reminded me of Bravo! The birthday girl got to choose the place, and she picked a good one.
After dinner we all did some shopping in the local shops and I got myself a leather purse. In Portugal they have leather everywhere and I found a cute one. I love all the different cute things here! After dinner we continued celebrating Lynzee's birthday in Portugal! This was my favorite day of the entire trip so far! I love being able to travel with my cousins!
Our time together in Portugal was coming to an end, I wasn't ready to say goodbye to my cousins yet though! Steven would be moving to Wisconsin this weekend. It was a bittersweet goodbye after breakfast as they were leaving me in Portugal while they began their journey back to the states. I wish I could have flown back with them! I miss my family and wish I could go to our 4th of July cookout. Instead i headed up to the pool to lay out until siesta was over! After siesta I walked along the beach to cascais and went to some of the shops and finished up my Portugal shopping! It was a really nice day outside, the beaches were hoppin and there was a lot going on! I saw quite a few sand artists that were pretty good! One had a dog so it was obviously my favorite. I finally got to video chat my parents for a bit as well.
After talking with them I went to a wine tasting in our hotel that was quite fun! the Europeans sure do know how to drink though, there was no way I could keep up with them! I followed up the wine tasting by having dinner on the beach in Cascais and watched the sunset on the ocean. It was a wonderful day with lots of pretty sights, but it was time to repack my things and head back to the hotel. I wasn't ready to leave, but it was time. I watched tv until I passed out for the night!
It was our past full day together in Portugal! How sad, but no time for rest we had a full day ahead of us! We were off to Sentra. Sentra was my uncles favorite city in the world and now I know why. It was gorgeous! Sitting up on top of a mountain with castles all among the trees. There were tons of colorful shops and buildings. So many buildings were also covered in Portuguese tiles. It was quite breath taking! We spent the daytime there then headed off to Cascais, our last city.. So sad! It was really close to Sentra.
In Cascais we went out for dinner together along the docks and the beach. Such a pretty town and really friendly people! I have now fallen completely in love with Portugal. It's my favorite country throughout my whole trip. After dinner Lynzee drove us out to some cliffs nearby that were breathtakingly beautiful. You could hear the waves crashing into them below and it was just as the sun was setting. In the background was a mountain, where the peak was covers by voids. We tools lots of pictures and finally a group picture in memory of our time together traveling Portugal. Just the drive along the coast to get to it was relaxing, but the views once we got there were even better. On the way back we listened to some of our favorite new songs we discovered during our trips and each talked about our favorite part.
When we were driving back from dinner we pasted this festival near our hotel, while Lynzee was figuring out how she was going to make it all fit Steven and I went to check it out!
It was all lit up with Christmas lights and had a group of elderly men singing in Portuguese the whole time. There was LOTS of fresh seafood to have and lots of hand crafted arts. Steven and I began talking to a lady about her tiles and were quite intrigued by all the time and effort that it took! We ended up getting a few things from her and I cannot wait to unwrap them when I get home. We both told her about our long flights home so she wrapped them all up in bubble wrap for us!
When we got back to the room we were all exhausted! Lynzee's leg was killing from all of our walking and it was getting late so we played some card games and called it a night. When laying in bed we noticed that most the channels were in Portuguese and if they were you could get subtitles... In Portuguese!
Where is the week going?! Monday already? I guess when you're having fun, time flies. I'm most definitely enjoying Portugal more than any other country I've visited so far. It's so beautiful. Having family has been nice, relaxing, and as it always is with the Johnson Clan ... humorous!
We had breakfast in the hotel this morning. It was a buffet, which is always wonderful. Go figure the pool boy from dinner last night had to be there as well *prepare self to get embarrassed* ... Countless jokes were made during this humiliating breakfast. What would one expect from a breakfast with Johnsons? Surely not a peaceful meal. Just remember, Karma.
After breakfast, it was off to the next city. Watch out ,here we come Algarve! Algarve is the Florida for all of Europe. It's a huge tourist destination because of their beautiful beaches. Thank goodness for the ocean being nearby because it was already above 100 degrees before we left. It was supposed to be 107 when we got there with a high of 112 degree! I am really excited. I enjoyed our jam sessions until we got there.
The highways in Portugal have zero cops patrolling them, but in places they have cameras that are discrete to catch you speeding. Much more cost efficient and I'm sure gets more people than a cop patrolling the roads would.
First things first, after arriving in paradise, aka Algarve, we went to the beach. Our view was AMAZING. Seaside, with an outstanding view, props to Lynzee! It was siesta soon after we arrived, so Lynzee and I went out to the beach to catch some rays! After we got back, we all showered and played some card games before we headed to dinner on the beach of our hotel. It didn't take long for Lynzee and Steven to figure out how awful I am at card games! It was quite amusing. After an hour or two we went to dinner.
It was gorgeous outside and we managed to get there just in time for sunset! It couldn't have been planned out any better. We had a little visitor at dinner that Lynzee loved and Steven didn't appreciate so much. Our visitor had 4 legs and resembled Ronaldo, Lynzee's cat, so she kept feeding him each time he returned and Steven didn't appreciate it too much. We all were starving and got huge delicious sunset pizzas!
After dinner Lynzee and I went through a tunnel under our hotel that lead you to a square full of live music, shops, entertainers and so much more! It was adorable. There were flags everywhere and it was all lit up! Lynzee and I did a little bit of shopping, but decided we wanted to save some shopping to do tomorrow as well and come back for dinner there. We ventured back to the room and passed out! It had been a long day with lots of traveling plus we were quite sunburnt!