Travel Happy: Packing for Portugal

Portugal is calling! We head to the oldest country in Europe, this Thursday October 11th for a ten day trip. I’m much more of a planner than Mike, so I took the weekend to organize our Itinerary and pack. Here again, Mike and I have two very different philosophies: Mike will wait till the night beforehand to pack a bag he wants to check…and I will spend a few hours, several days before I leave, to pack meticulously, in a bag I can carry on the plane, so the airline doesn’t loose my luggage.

When we decided to take this trip, we settled on October due to the off-season weather (it will be mid-seventies) and the minimal crowds (Europe in the summer is hot and crowded!). When deciding what I actually need on this trip, I took into account our activities, the forecast, and wanting to pack as light as possible. The coastal hiking in Portugal looks amazing, so hiking is high on our list of things we’ll be doing, along with kayaking and SUPing. The amount of historical sites, the castles, monetarists, wineries, and old villages are endless, overwhelming even! With the amount of walking we’ll be doing just sightseeing (we’re not renting a car for the first few days) on the gorgeous cobblestone streets, I feel comfortable flats and layers will be the perfect combo. So, I thought I’d write about how I’m tackling the packing for the wonderful adventure we’re about to embark on.

Packing fora trip to Portugal in the Fall (10 days total)

Tip: Pick a color theme, two or three staple colors you’ll coordinate all outfits around. Mine: Navy Blue, Grey & White/Tan

  1.  Yoga Pants (3 pairs) – I have pretty colorful yoga pants so I’m planning to dress them up a bit on the days I need to wear them to tour around. Portugal people are stylish, so walking around looking like a sloppy American tourist will not do!
  2. Linen pants (1 pair) – I am not a jeans girl, but understand I need a nicer pair of leg warmers as the fall in Portugal is a bit cooler at night (we’ll be on the coast a lot and plan to do water activities: kayak, SUP, charter a boat). These linen pants will be perfect boat attire.
  3.  Hiking/Active tops (2 tank tops -Wika/flexible/breathable & 1 long sleeve base layer) – these are clutch for an active day. We plan to hike part of the Fishermen’s Trail near the southern coast of Portugal (in the Algarve area of Portugal) and be outside as much as possible, so these will most likely be worn multiple times. Because we’ll be close to the ocean (and the weather looks a bit gloomy on some days) I thought the long sleeve would come in handy for layering. I can also wear this over or under the dresses I brought for a dress up look.
  4. Dresses (4) – I am a dress wear-er for sure. And while you’re traveling, these are so easy and versatile to throw on and pack! All the dresses I’m bringing can be dressed up or down depending on what I layer with.
  5. Casual-dressy tops (1) – This will be worn on days when we’re touring and need to look dressier, but not formal. The white, flowy top can be worn with yoga pants or my linen pants for a dressier pants look.
  6. Sweaters/Long sleeves (3) – Knowing the weather, I wanted to pack lighter sweaters to layer on top of dresses especially. I have a navy blue and white stripe shirt, a grey & navy blue sweater.
  7. Jackets (4) – This is tricky, because I didn’t necessarily want to bring four, seems down right gluttonous! But, it may rain a bit while there – so there’s a rain jacket. It’s a dressier atmosphere and may be chilly at night – navy blue sports jacket.  A hooded puffy – for hiking so will have this in my camel back bag and leave it in there. My jean jacket – a staple and I will wear this on the plane.
  8. Shoes (4) – Here again, 4 pairs of shoes seems insane to me -for a ten day trip!? Well, we want to hike the coast – need hiking shoes – it may rain a bit, which won’t stop us from going out – so ya need boots – Some days may be sunny and nice – so flip flops -and the night time on cobblestone streets call for flats. And there ya go.
  9. Scarfs (3) – I’v traveled quite a bit in my day – Africa, Turkey, Belgium, Vieques, Amsterdam, Ireland, Italy, Belize – and the European style of dress always impresses me. And one of the best accessories and items to pack are scarfs. I am bringing a black, a navy blue and a grey scarf to add to my outfits, layer when it’s cooler, and dress up my yoga pants.

I’m so looking forward to exploring this beautiful country – and maybe even look a bit stylish while adventuring.

Cheers to our Happy Adventure!

Staycation in Breckenridge: Part II

Traveling and experiencing new things is a huge part of my DNA, what I love to do and a major reason I work so hard! Having moved to Colorado back in December of 2013, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed traveling to new places….Ireland, Vieques, Amalfi Coast, Belize, Jackson Hole, Park City, Moab, Oregon…to name just a few! That being said, there are literally thousands of places to travel, trails to hike, mountains to climb, beers to drink, rivers to raft on, paths to bike on in the glorious state of Colorado.

So, when we bought a time share at the Grand Lodge at Peak 7, the idea of spending a week up in the mountains, in our own backyard, was exciting! Although we typically head to Breckenridge in the winter for the glorious skiing….that’s pretty much why we bought the timeshare to begin with, so we would have ski-in, ski-out access. It’s been great. Our week approached (we have odd years, in the summer) and we packed up, hit the road, and headed for the mountains. The first half of our Staycation was incredible…..biking, great restaurants, gorgeous sunsets, craft beer, and that was just through Tuesday!

Part II of our Staycation began on Wednesday, with a gorgeous morning walk on the mountain with the doggies…coffee in hand. Working on East Coast hours allows me to wake up early to enjoy the morning before most people have even stirred. It’s really a gift to get up with the sun, especially when you’re in the mountains. By 6:30 am I was back in the room working, while Mike planned another mountain bike ride. The plan was that I’d wrap up my morning and head to meet him, riding my bike down into town. It was a wonderful afternoon and I was pumped to get back on my bike.

We finished our ride and headed back up on the gondola so I could finish up my day. The gondola drops you off right at the top of peak 7 – so convenient! Our bikes fit in the gondola car, so we could avoid riding up the steep hill. So nice! After I wrapped up the work day, we headed to another private movie in the Grand Lodge, brought snacks too, watched Bad Moms (which was horrible!) then headed out to soak in the hot tub to overlook the mountains. It was officially a perfect end to a glorious day.

I took Thursday and Friday off, so when we woke up on Thursday, I was so excited! It was Breck Bike week and there was a women’s beginner mountain biking clinic from 10 am to noon so I got dressed like it was Christmas. To fuel up, we headed down to town to somewhere we’ve not ever been, Mom’s Baking Company. A European style bakery, with cozy seating and beautiful decor.

Mike ordered a burrito with french cheese and caramelized onions while I had a spinach & mushroom pastry. It was perfection! I rode over to the Blue River Plaza where the clinic was meeting. The ladies who gathered were at all different levels – some had never mountain biked ever, some were recovery from injuries (myself included) some had been out of the saddle for awhile. Our instructor Kat was awesome, a chill mountain chick who had great pointers and took us to the pump track then the B n B trail where we practiced uphill and downhill skills. It was an amazing day – my first time taking a bike clinic and boy was I a fan!

Mike met me back in town where I poured over the details of the day. We headed to Park & Main for lunch (again!) where we got beet sliders and a huge arugula vegan salad and Mike got the zucchini parm (again!). It was delicious! I was wiped afterwards, so we headed up to the lodge where I promptly showered the sweat off and took a rest before meeting a girlfriend for happy hour at the Blue Ridge Bistro. Although I had a pretty bad experience there early in the week, their happy hour is great (2 for 1 appetizers) and $2 off drafts. Plus, my girlfriend could walk there, as she worked in Breckenridge. We had a blast catching up and after BRB, headed to RMU for some drinks and ski shop shenanigans. Great bartenders and a hipster vibe….Mike has quite a few Manhattans while chatting up the owner, who he claims wants him to be a sponsor. Fun, fun night!

Friday morning came a little slower and after we awoke, got coffee and walked the pups on the hill, we got our bike gear on and headed out, down the four-o clock run trail, through the construction they’re doing to create a traffic circle through town, and to the Bold Restaurant for breakfast.

Mike ordered the huge breakfast burrito with veggie green chili and I had an quinoa & egg white frittata with citrus salsa. Oh yes, we were fueled!

After breakfast, we hopped on our bikes and headed to the pump track. A crew of little kids were there, ripping, so Mike and I jumped in and tried not to let them beat us. I had done the track yesterday, so was very pumped to show him the ropes, although he smoked me.

It was a blast! We climbed up above the course to a small track that took up up and down and around, back to the road, where we headed to the B n B trail. Instead of following the trail I did in my women’s clinic, we took V3 to Barney Ford to Barney Flow to Carter Park….oh man, if you’re ever in Breckenridge and want an amazing ride, do this one! Nothing crazy hard, definitely some climbs and rocks (that I walked my bike over, as technically I wasn’t supposed to be mountain biking at this level with my ACL recovery) this was a great ride!

And the VIEWS!!! It couldn’t have been a better day! Biking back into town, we both felt wonderful and hungry! Heading to Mi Casa, an incredible Mexican restaurant with the best margaritas I’ve ever had, where we ate our faces off! Guacamole, sweet potatoes tacos, homemade chips….oh my! Our cousins were heading our way that evening, so after paying the check we headed back up the gondola, took showers and rested before our guests.

The evening brought grilled veggies, good beer and hot tubbin’! The cool mountain air was perfect, so we stayed outside late, talking, soaking and enjoying being in Colorado.

Saturday, we awoke and planned our hike…Spruce Trail to Mohawk Lake. The hike was amazing, with several lakes and waterfalls, it was the perfect end to a wonderful Colorado staycation. At 11,300 feet & 6.5 miles I have to say, my knee was back!

All-in-all, we had such a fabulous time in the mountains, exploring the wonderful trails, town, and mountains. Make sure to get outside and enjoy the wonders of summer, especially those you find in  your backyard!

 

Adventures in Belize: Day 3

We awoke early to the sound of birds chirping loudly and the howlers off in the distance. Today we were going to Che Chem Ha, the Cave of the poison wood. Lucy’s cousin William had discovered the cave when he was just 18 when he was hiking for palm leaves with his dog. He wanted to get high atop a hill, where people rarely went, so he climbed up the valley and his dog ended up chasing a critter into a hole. This had behind it the cave!

Excited for our Mayan jungle cave experience, we headed into the jungle, leaving Williams house and small restaurant behind us. It was blazing hot, despite it being only 9:30 am, and we were drenched in sweat before we even descended into the jungle. The hike plummeted into a valley, then rose switchback style up the mountain. Thirty five blistering minutes later, we arrived at the mouth of the cave. Before entering, William retold the tale of discovery and had us on the edge of our seats. We were prepped and ready, so William unlocked the gate that kept wild animals out, and plunged into the cave.

Pre classic pottery was found, dating back almost 3,000 years, and the cave had plenty of it scattered without. William explained that the cave was used for ceremonial gatherings, to offer up things to the gods and ancestors ho had left the world for the under world.

As we traveled deeper and deeper into the mouth of the cave, light became scarce and we were glad to have brought our headlamps. William let us know when the archeologists came to inspect his discoveries, he helped them and learned much about what they used the caves for. Remnants of grain were found around the mouths of pots and carbon was discovered within the holes of the cave walls, allowing torches to be placed upright, shedding light in the cave. We crept deeper and deeper into the cave.

It was cool in Che Chem Ha, and there was an earthy dampness smell. Around each bend there were nooks and crannies, more broken pots, and a sticky clay floor that clutched onto your shoes. It was wide enough in the cave so we all stood upright and with much room around us. At some points in the cave, the ceiling stretched 30 feet above us and looking up, our headlamps cast shadows on the opposing walls.

After about 25 minutes, we reached the end of the cave and climbed down into a huge cavernous room. There was a ceremonial rock in the center, where rituals and offerings had been found. A small hole in one of the sides of the cave led to another room and Mike felt compelled (and brave enough!) to go through it. His 6ft 4′ frame barely made it, but he slid through then climbed up into the upper levels and back down to meet us. There was no way in HELL I was squeezing through, so we got ready to ascend into the light. William asked that we shut our lights off, just for a moment to truly feel the darkness. It was as if our eyes were closed and black filled everything. It was time to head into the fresh air!

When we hiked up to Williams, his dogs close at our heels, we all raved about the experience we had just had. Our guide books had explained the awesomeness but nothing can prepare you for the real thing. We paid and thanked him for the wonderful tour. Having sweated profusely (I mean, we were drenched) we opted for a shower break, since the cave was only a few miles from the house. Although I say that, so you’d ink it took us a few minutes to travel….well, the bumpy road was unpaved and extremely undulating, so a few short miles took 20 minutes!

Showers refreshed us, so we headed out to the Belize botanical gardens which were relatively close by and said to have a nice cafe. The guidebook told us to go to Duplooys jungle lodge and we’d find ourselves at the Botanical gardens. Down another extremely bumpy road and we were there!

The cafe was just beyond the main office for the jungle lodge, so we meandered back and ordered a delicious lunch amidst a tropical paradise. There was a back patio that had a long walkway that overlooked the jungle where we were able to see a number of birds flying about. The collared Aracari and the plain chachalaca were among the bunch and their coloring was gorgeous! The shade felt nice and while we ate we were thankful for the fans that blew overhead. We finished lunch and moseyed through the gardens; Mike was fascinated by all of the citrus, avocado and fruit trees. He plucked two lemons, the biggest I had ever seen by far, smelling the goodness of the sun kissed fruit, then putting them in our backpack.

With over 45 acres of plants, there was quite a lot to see and in the heat, we knew we wouldn’t last long, so we chose the medicine trail to follow, which led us to a replica of a Mayan dwelling, where there was a palm bed, what looked like a clay stove and handmade tools. The Mayans were a crafty people and they knew how to make use of nature. Pretty cool!

 

We wrapped up the botanical garden and headed back to Casa Santa Maria. Mike and I ventured out onto the river on the canoe that came with the house, hoping to catch sight of a crocodile. At dusk, the river was calm, quiet, full of bird songs and soft breezes. We paddled quietly hoping to catch glimpse of wild life enjoying the same breezes. Although no crocs were spotted, it was a lovely trip down the Macal with the sun setting and the jungle surrounding us.

Back up the switchbacks, we came to the house, where dinner of fish wrapped in grape leaves, coconut rice, and a zucchini medley awaited us. Scrumptious beyond words!!!