Sometimes I worry, dear readers.
I worry I’m not quite ready to give the summer up. I worry my roof is leaking (wait, no, that’s a reality.) I worry Amsterdam won’t live up to my expectations when I visit next month. I worry I’m not traveling as much as I want to. I worry I’m a bit too fond of London and a bit less fond of the US these days. I worry that after almost 11 years away from the country I hold a passport to, that I might not really understand it anymore. I worry every time I pick up a newspaper. I worry I might have my priorities messed up. I worry I over-exaggerate. Or that I’m not exaggerating enough. I worry too much.
But then – its silly – I see an old-fashioned ice cream truck outside Hyde Park. I see landmarks that have seen a heck of a lot more worry than I’ll ever worry about. I learn of stories of the world’s loneliest whales and alcoholic vervet monkeys and get out of my self-absorbed human world for a bit. I take a lesson from David Attenborough and think about a world bigger than my own. Jon Stewart reminds me that there are still sane Americans out there. I listen to stories of people with incredible strength. And know I’m lucky to have lived in a time when some truly special people were with us.
And I tell myself its OK to worry every once in a while.
And get sappy in a post.
There is a reason people read guidebooks and research their trips before travelling. And I like to think that might be so they avoid walking 2 kilometers straight uphill to reach a fairytale palace.
Yes, Lindsay and I literally hiked our way straight up Portugal at the beginning of our recent trip. But I actually wouldn’t have had it any other way. Taking a train from central Lisbon, we arrived 45 minutes later in the adorable town of Sintra. There are several castles you can visit and we chose the colorful, fairytale like Pena Palace at the very top. There are some stunning houses on your hike up and the forest is stunning.
Around halfway, the giddiness set in – we came across a giant lemon someone had stuck on a fence and thought it was the funniest thing we’d ever seen. And that was before we spotted the lime in the gutter… Who was hiking up this mountain with excess citrus??
You reach the gardens of the Palace before you continue up the hill to the Castle itself. It is a much nicer walk to wind your way up through what feels like a manicured jungle and I imagine it would be stunning in the spring with all the flowers in bloom.
After curving through the gardens, the bright yellows and reds of Pena Palace greeted us. As did the lines of people waiting to get inside. This is one hot ticket in the summer months and we even visited on a Friday rather than the weekend. The inside was packed with people (including some particularly rude French tourists… France, I must say, you were not on your best behavior during our trip. This would become a recurring theme…) The queues are mainly due to the first few rooms only being doorways you can glance into. Once you get upstairs, the crowds break up and you can wander a bit more freely. And my goodness is it worth it (photos of the inside to come in part II).
With Lindsay having traveled over from Brussels, we felt like we fit right in. The site was first developed in the Middle Ages but the current Palace was built for Ferdinand II, who as part of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, had direct family links to Queen Victoria in England and King Leopold I of Belgium. The whole place feels over-the-top romantic. And the views… oh, the views… And our current weather in London, I’d kinda like to go back…
(Blog maintenance update: I’m upgrading the blog to use Disqus comments. For the moment it looks like I may have lost past comments… But the kind people at Disqus tell me to be patient for 24 hours before panicking. Fingers crossed. Please let me know if you have any problems!!)
The build-up of favorite internet finds has reached almost epic proportions so I’ve had to trim it down to some favorites. Whether you are enjoying a bank holiday in England today or headed back to work elsewhere, I hope these kick off your day on a happy note.
In other news, I recently went on a little trip-planning spree and would love your recommendations on what to see and do in Amsterdam! Despite living in Brussels for ten years, I never visited. Seriously folks, that is ridiculous. So please send your recommendations this way!
Tina Fey’s “Lessons from Late Night” and 20 other classic stories from The New Yorker archives
How technology can give romance a little nudge
The NYTimes’ profile of designer Sarah Burton
NPR Correspondents put together a radio reenactment of the war of 1812
Really tempted to read the Outlander books…
The Buckingham Palace Guards playing the Game of Thrones theme song… see also: Best theme songs of 2014
“The Questions We Ask”
Susan has me dying to try the Steller app… (if only my old phone would download it!)
Best coastal drives
Jay’s pictures of Bath
A photo essay of the South
How to pick a summer read (it should involve a handsome man on a Vespa)
“This is not snuggle club” (Its Nap Club)
Kelly’s post on travelling with PMS
Picture of the Wiltshire countryside in June by Jess-On-Thames