Saturday, July 30, 2011


Friday morning we took the train down to Lisbon.  It was a nice city to visit.  ...Porto is better though!  It seems to have more personality or something..  We had some delicious fresh fish in Lisbon.  We could get used to eating really fresh fish for cheap..  We spent most of our time there just walking around the city.  It was very hilly, so that was kind of a chore.  All in all, it was a fun little visit.  This afternoon we took the train back to Porto.

Tomorrow there is a local holiday of sorts.  People keep referring to it as the "festivities."  Meaning: We're attending Mass with Andre's mom in the morning, then participating in a procession, eating a huge meal (with only 5 "real cakes") with Andre's family, taking a nap, eating more, hearing some concert thing in the village, eating some more...  I guess it's like a solid day of eating, with occasional distractions to give your hands a break from holding the silverware.  We're excited!

And finally, we are proud to announce to everyone that we have seen a total of 100 cats on our trip.  Yes, if you had 8 weeks to do what ever you want.. wouldn't you keep track of all the cats you've seen?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Look at us... regular bloggers!

Hello from Portugal!

We arrived in Portugal with Andre this morning, thankful to have survived a Ryanair experience.  It is really really really hot and humid here.  What we have seen of Porto and the surrounding area so far, reminds me of a mix between the landscape of Southern California and the beauty of Mexico.  It really makes me want to find a way back to visit Mexico with Chris...  hmm...

Since it was so hot and we were very tired, we took it easy most of the day.  During the late afternoon we went on a hike along part of Andre's yard and up a big hill.  Then we walked down the other side of the hill through a village.  We spent a little time at a small beach on the river down there.  Then tonight we enjoyed an authentic Portuguese meal, during which nearly the entire conversation revolved around what to eat for the next meal.  Too funny!  Andre's parents are great!  Just like him!  This next week will be wonderful!  Oh, and we had squid for dinner.  It was delicious!

Well, it's time for bed!  Tomorrow we are spending the day in the large city of Porto.  Fun fun fun! :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

In Bologna and Doing Great!

Hello hello!

We are currently in Bologna, Italy.  The past two days we have been exploring the city.  Tonight we conquered a multiple-course Italian meal at this restaurant at the top of tiny mountain.  Tomorrow we're spending the day in Florence.  Tuesday will be in Milan.  Early Wednesday we are flying to Porto, Portugal with Andre.  There's apparently some village celebration happening that weekend.  Again, what great timing!

Well, we hope everyone else had a great weekend!  We definitely did with Daniele and Andre!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


We're in Venice!

Things have been going very well on the National Lands' European Vacation the past week!!  After Valence, France, we went to Thun, Switzerland for two nights.  We stayed with a wonderful couple that we wish lived much much closer!  We went on a delightful bike ride to Bern on Saturday.  It was along the river, with snow-covered peaks in the background.  Then Sunday we went to a small town about 45 minutes east of Zurich.  Again, we had wonderful hosts!  They helped prep us for our upcoming visit to Portugal! :)

We arrived in Venice on Tuesday and have spent most of our time walking along the beautiful streets, eating gelato.  We're also alternating between pizza and pasta for each meal.  James Taylor played a concert in the Piazza San Marco on Tuesday night.  We listed to about a song and a half.  Then it started raining, so we left.  Yesterday we got a free gondola ride with our Eurail passes.  After a picnic dinner we went back to the Piazza San Marco and heard an orchestra play for a while.  What great timing - free concerts and free gondola rides!

Today we spent the first part of the day at the Venice Biennale.  It's a huge art show with work from some of the world's best contemporary artists.  We saw about half of the main galleries today.  Tomorrow we will visit the rest.  We also spent a few hours on the island of Murano this afternoon.  This is where they make all those glass dolphin figurines.

Tomorrow we are spending the day in Venice.  During the evening we will be taking a train to Bologna, Italy.  It's a short trip.  There we will meet up with our friend Andre and our soon to be friend Daniele.  We know it's going to be a great time!

And finally, three thoughts in closing...

1. Throughout Europe, the size of squares of toilet paper seem to be the same width, but longer.  We've noticed this everywhere we've been on this trip.

2. My sunglasses seem to be virtually indestructible.  They have only suffered a minor scratch.  I've thrown them out of photographs in the split seconds before the shutter snaps too..

3. My (Lisa's) eyes look more blue now.  Not like really blue, just not as green.  Strange, huh?

Hope everyone is having a great summer!!
Lisa & Chris

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

So we forgot we had a blog...

Greetings everyone,

So as you probably expected, we went almost two weeks since our last post..  Last night we just happened to remember that we had a blog.  oops.

Since our last post:

We spent 4 days camping on a lake outside of Amsterdam.  It was wonderful!  Then we spent one day in the city.  It was not as wonderful..  We did have a very successful vacation moment when we saw people eating delicious cake so we just sat down at a table at this cafe and ordered ourselves some cake.

July 5th we flew from Amsterdam to Rome.  Rome was just as wonderful as it always is!  We spent lots of time wandering around the beautiful city, eating gelato and people-watching.  Last Thursday we got up early and went to St. Peter's before the crowd arrived.  Then we hopped on a train and spent the day at Pompeii.  Pompeii has been Chris's favorite part of the trip so far.

Last Friday we left Rome and came to visit our friends, Denise and Bernard at their home in the country near Valence, France.  We do not want to leave!  They are some of the best and most-loving people you will ever meet.  Their home and garden are absolutely perfect too.  It's always so relaxing to spend time here!  I'm so thankful I could bring Chris on this visit!  Denise has suggested we buy an old farm out here.  We can spend half the year here and the other half back in the States.'s a splendid idea!  Yesterday we cooked a big "American" breakfast for everyone.  We also made some chocolate chip cookies for them.  Funny how a double batch didn't even last 24 hours...hmmm....

Yesterday was our 3rd wedding anniversary.  In lieu of gifts we decided to pull practical jokes on one another.  I sewed all of Chris's clothing together and Chris hid a bunch of my stuff.  These pranks are going to become a tradition.  I am going to start plotting for next year..

Well, we are in France and it has been about an hour since we last ate something..  (not just something - Nutella ice cream, that had the consistency of mousse!)  Time to eat!  Another delicious meal; followed by cheese!  ..I really don't know how on Earth we're going to be able to leave here..  (don't worry Moms, we don't actually mean that!)

Bon Appetite!
lisa and chris