Grant Adventure Random moments

While travelling there will always be randomness. Just simple moments that you capture because you were there and voila that randomness becomes a conscious moment.

So here are a few that each have a story as part of this Grant Adventure

img_2667This is the ultimate in a butt Floss bathing Suit – I suppose when nude beaches are not permitted and you want the ‘maximum’ amount of sunshine in Cascais, Portugal, one resorts to this bathing suit style!


How to ‘Co-Host’ a dinner party with a Random Stranger, who then becomes a friend –  Thomas Obrador

img_0566

Thomas, was our Host that we signed up with on Eat With. Here’s his link: https://www.eatwith.com/profile/6467/

For anyone who’s done it – you already know what I am talking about.  For those you have not – it’s a wonderful way to meet people and eat in a local’s home.  (confession – although I was a paid guest at Thomas’ dinner party, my skills at conversation allowed him to cook in the kitchen and wonder what he was missing at the table – aka my co-hosting skills) . Here are moments of our dinner with a group of people we had just met at 8 pm one night in Paris!

img_0565 img_0564 img_0563 img_0619

 ——————————————————————————————–

The huge moment when you realise that your little girl is growing up to be a beautiful young woman

img_0800


When someone else’s moment becomes your moment – we shared a 90th Birthday in Somerton, England.

We were thrust into heading back to England an extra long weekend and thus we planned a dinner out.  We were staying in a wonderful Inn and met a very eccentric man, Andy. Turns out he was in Somerton to celebrate his Mother’s 90th birthday.  Low and behold the restaurant people at The White Hart put us at the only small table for two, in the same dining area as his Mother, Barbara Olley.  We sang “Happy Birthday” and watched her blow out her candles.  Barbara and her son Andy became our moment, during their moment.

img_0871

Happy Birthday Barbara Olley!

Happy Birthday Barbara Olley!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

” Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.” – Regina Brett


 

 

 

Lisbon – October 5th – who knew what this was about?  We left to wander about Lisbon to do what we do best “when doing nothing becomes doing something”.  Around a corner we go and voila – a marching band:

img_0298

Turns out it was Dia da Republica – the day when Portugal celebrates the founding of their Republic in 1910.


Cabo da Roca wasn’t on ‘the list’ of places to go but go we did anyway, in style, Dave on the back of an old motorbike and me in the sidecar.

img_2621 img_2622

Cabo da Roca (Western most point Europe)

Cabo da Roca (Western most point Europe)

 


 El Rinćon de Jaén, in Madrid has yummy yummy food with a wonderful staff serving people.  After graciously taking a picture of Dave and myself with Federico, Daniel & Anna Cavestany – it was their turn to ham it up for me.  I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful this place is to eat and the bonus – people working together who like each other!

img_1029 img_1024

http://www.elrincondejaen.es


img_1140

This was THE only Thing (One) I liked about a road random stop at Burger King in Poland!

Live, Learn, Evolve and You Should Laugh (“Saying Yes Part 2”) – Madrid

<disclaimer this isn’t for anyone who is easily offended, is too religious, doesn’t like sarcasm and most importantly, lives their life on the politically correct spectrum>

 

As part 2 continues, Dave and I headed off with Federico to his home of Madrid. Yes, he now lives in Australian but his blood flows Spanish.   Our adventure began with the “yes we’ll go with you to Madrid and stay at your Mom’s place” after sharing Lisbon.

Madrid, a city that loves itself and its people; I mean, who else creates a football club and calls it “Real Madrid” – as in not imitation or artificial, but genuine!  When you walk through this Capital of Spain, you have to agree.  It’s real.  There are beautiful buildings, people and food!

Having our very own local Madrid with us, Federico, we trekked off to explore his hometown.  Off to the Royal Palace….

Turns out the Spanish King does not reside in the Royal Palace in Madrid.  Darn!?!  Federico, being a true Madrileños, posed as Charles II – a wonderful Spanish King.  I think he’s now worthy to be on the invitation list to have dinner with the current King’s family!

img_2570

We really were wow’d  by the Royal Armoury in this palace.  It houses a fascinating collection truly worthy of Royalty.  Count on Dave to ensure we understood how German Armour differs from the Italian made as he commented that much like today and ‘cars’ – the German’s built function and the Italian’s build fashion (Mercedes versus Ferrari).

Here’s the example of German made:

german-2-armour german-armour

And of course the elegantly designed Italian:

italian-armoun-2 italian-armour

After our enjoyable day out it was time for food!  (Yes we try food from everywhere to answer a few relatives questions on that subject).   Eating in Spanish el fresco areas I must comment, For the Love of God (we were in Catholic Madrid) what’s the deal with cigars?  Although I cannot share the benefits of an ‘after dinner cigar’, these Spanish men did have the art of conversation and a digestive drink with their cigar.

(Note Federico – just because they give you free cigars at a wedding doesn’t mean you should smoke them!)

img_1076 img_1079

Now onto the Spanish culture of collecting & The Imperio español – The Spanish Empire.

This country has a very impressive history of conquering and creating colonies in these new worlds included the countries as we now know them today: Boliva, Cuba, Netherlands, the Americas, Philippines, Peru, Mexico and Morocco to name but a few.

The Spanish Requirement of 1513 was a declaration by the Spanish monarchy.  It was written to declare Spain’s divinely right to take possession of the territories of the New World to “subjugate, exploit and when necessary to fight the native inhabitants. Those who resisted conquest were considered to harbour evil intention and thus the Spaniards considered those who resisted as defying God’s plan and use Catholic theology to justify their conquest.

OK,,, a bit of too much history perhaps for a blog BUT it will be explained in the next wee bit of dialogue on the Toledo Cathedral which took over 200 years to build and required several Spanish King’s wealth (aka conquering wealth) to do so. Toledo is beautiful.  Historically you are gobsmacked at the beauty of this walled city and it’s history.  THEN you do what every tourist does here – you go to the Cathedral.  Every single corner you go around, every nook and cranny, every ceiling, wall and floor has you astonished at the shear WEALTH it took to build this place.  Then you realise it’s in the “name of God” under the Spanish Requirement.  AND then you form your opinion (or not) based upon how you feel…

cathdral-6 cathedal-7 cathedral-1 cathedral-2

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Toledo Cathedral cathedral-8 cathedral-10

WOW’d right?  Awestuck?  We were also and at some point equally balanced by the opposing feelings of shocked and dismayed at the level of wealth and power in one place all once again devoted to Christianity….

Then we moved on towards the last room – Pictures of all the Cardinals throughout the centuries that have been the head of Toledo Cathedral.  And here’s where some offensive (but by my point of view the laughter part) of our day here…..

Dave’s comment: “Nice pointy hats”

img_2726

“This guy didn’t get the pointy hat – he got the one out of the Christmas cracker”

img_2727  !

And here’s the most non-politically correct comment of the day, with special commentary going to Federico:

“This one looks like a paedophile”   img_1092

===================================

We certainly laughed a lot and made the trip with Federico to a wonderful city he grew up in.  We filled our tummies and minds with this city!   Madrid is wonderful!

When you say “YES” – Part One – Lisbon

We are in Lisbon for only a mere 4 full days because of wonderful invitation to stay with our friend Federico as he was here for work. Living with our motto “yes people” when he invited, we of course said “YES please” and so here we are.

We dragged Federico along (by dragging, I mean he tied up his shoes and was the first out the door) for our first day of ‘doing nothing and something’.  Here’s our first day in Lisbon in pictures via the English word: selfies!

The BEST thing about Lisbon is hands down the Portuguese people!  We honestly face little language barrier and when we did, it was best handled in a very Portuguese way, as we discovered in Azeitão:  We walked into the winery, José Maria Da Fonseca Vinhos and asked the woman where to eat.  She told us her favourite place, so off we went.  In the front of a small coffee shop, we explained we wanted lunch, then got directed through a small side door, out into a court yard filled with picnic tables, down into a small open door inside and told to sit down at a communal table with 10 men enjoying wine and lunch (probably in that order).   When we didn’t know what they were offering, the man gently grabs my elbow, ushers me back outside to the grill and said ‘what you want, show’.  Now that’s how lunch is served to non-locals and the language barrier solved!  By the way, it was THE best salmon – yes my fellow Vancouverites – cooked so well, it was like heaven.

img_0977 img_0978 img_0979

Since the bus / trams / train system has not been our best experience… we said “let’s rent a scooter” and off we went for 35 Euro.  It certainly helps that we have been enjoying 26-30 degree sunny weather every day and Dave rides a GS1200 Motorbike although not the same bike, it was a fun experience:

img_0983 fullsizerender

What we have also experienced, beyond the people and the weather, in no particular order is:

  • Survival of the Mom and Pop Restaurants. Even in expensive downtown real estate, streets are lined with family-owned shops and restaurants open for generations and we have enjoyed a couple of meals in these!
  • PONTE 25 DE APRIL – the Portuguese beat the Chinese on knock-offs because they have done a great job on this bridge!  Cars on the top – trains on the bottom!
  • img_0342
  • In fairness they did a pretty good job of knocking off “Brazil’ also with Cristo-Rei

img_0341

  • Although it wasn’t on the list, we added it when we were in the neighbourhood – Cabo da Roca – the western most point on the Continent of Europe.  Bonus, we enjoyed the sunset and the feeling once again, of why water matters to us and our need to be near it

img_0327img_0330

  • OCTOBER!!!?? and this:

img_0353 img_0354 img_0357

  • BIKE PATH TO BELEM @ 7 kilometres along the water, past restaurants, men fishing, people walking and museums.  Of course there’s also the ‘e-bike’ that Federico rode so he had bragging rights all day ahead of the two Grant straggling behind!

2287ff38-18f9-498c-8d84-e4606a164cec

 

What we didn’t do:

  • FADO MUSIC – all the reviews have good music, shitty food and I didn’t have time for shitty food despite wanting good music
  • VINHO VERDE – there is NO excuse for this, save for the fact there was Dao, Douro, Tejo and Península de Setúbal
  • SINTRA TRAIN RIDE – because public transportation in this city SUCKS and we refused to line up for close to an hour to buy the ticket
  • PASTEIS DE NATA PASTRIES: These pastries are a Portuguese institution, they are custard filled pastries, with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top (I think we drank our calories here anyway so OK to have missed this)
  • SANTA JUSTA ELEVATOR – give us credit… on our doing nothing and something day, we 3 walked past this huge line of people lined up in a LONG line in front of a square small elevator building and thought “WTF are they lined up for”… turns out it was this!

Lisbon… you merely gave us a sampling… see you again in March 2017! With love from 2-Grants & 1-Cavestany

There IS but one Paris!

15 FULL DAYS HERE

What an adventure to be in Paris in September….

There really IS but 1 Paris.  People spend a life time (I have read) yearning to come to this amazing city.   One part of me understands it and the other thinks “really?”.   It’s a city that has finally grown on me.   I did not have an instant feeling of love like so many others.  Instead, it had to work its way into my person.

People in Paris smoke a lot – I mean A LOT!   Sitting enjoying the gardens of Versailles tried my patience sharing a bench with two very beautiful young women.   They ate lunch, we sat in the sun enjoying the garden, then they light up.  In the span of 20 minutes they each had smoked 3 cigarettes and were lighting a 4th when I couldn’t control myself and looked at them and said “really?? If I wanted to smoke, I would have lit one up myself!”   In the way that ONLY Parisian woman can be – they each looked over at me, clicked their tongues and smoked away.  Dave and I did take a moment out with no smokers to enjoy the sunshine on a bench at Versailles with no smokers:

img_0759

Transportation is a charm!  Bus # 68 runs right past all the major sites like the Opera, The Louvre, Museum D’Orsay, and Notre Dame.  Plus you only pay 1.85 for the pleasure of riding with locals who see these amazing monuments all the time.  (NOTE the Big Bus Company lets you hop on and off sure but your day ticket is just shy of 30 Euros.  You can ride multitude of buses here for that for an entire week.)  All that is required is a sense of adventure and to sit back and enjoy the ride.

It’s a huge city!  Which of course means that people die there. Which means a huge cemetery.  I mean we love cemeteries. Which is perhaps odd for some people and no, it’s not because I also like to read crime novels.  Rather they are often big open green spaces and have open art displays.  Have you ever seen such luxurious family crypts such as this:

img_2607 img_0723

Epernay!  Well yum yum!  That means a train direct from Gare de l’Est to this wonderful town.  That means CHAMPAGNE! Oh the delicate little bubbles floating their way to the top of a delicate fluted glass.  The smell of fresh fruit in one glass.  How wonderful it is to drink and even better when you are riding an electric bike through the hills!  One wee push of a button and in kicks the electric assist and you are off flying up the hill or down a bike path running along a canal.   Most people know I’m not a ‘biker’ chick in any sense of the idea.  However, an e-bike – that I could get into.  Dave and I took a tour with http://www.bikeabouttours.com/_2015/biketour_champagne.htm    We were met at the train station by a knowledgeable about Champagne man, Paul.  He was from Vancouver Canada and his English was impecable of course and 25 years of living in Paris ensured his French was on point also!  I highly recommend this trip to anyone – it’s a splurge at 150 Euro per person but an entire day in the French countryside with Champagne as the drink of the day….

img_0236img_0263img_0257img_0258

Shoes!  Yes everyone knows I love them – boots also!  However, in the city of Paris, you need a really good pair on your feet because you walk and walk and walk.  We learned the art of doing nothing and something all at the same time.  You can walk to see the Arc de Triomphe, past the Louvre, through the Luxembourg gardens and the Eiffel Tower.  What we loved most was the lesser known and more intimate Le Promenade plantée. The Promenade Plantée is built on the former tracks of the Vincennes railway line. Paris’ 4.7 kilometres (2.9 mi) parkway was the only elevated park in the world for quite a few years but other cities like New York, Chicago and now Vancouver are following suit.  I think it’s a wonderful way to transform an old rail line in a city:

img_0738img_2619

Paris… they say the city of lights… but for us… we tried to live and see the city from the ground in ways of not always being a ‘tourist’.  AND we got our Long Stay Tourist Visa completed which means – hello EUROPE!