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Published: August 22nd 2010
We touched down in Frankfurt airport at 9 am and with twelve hours to spare before our next flight; we hopped on the train into town. I lived here in Frankfurt for a year, sixteen years ago and it felt really good to be back; it was Paulo's first taste of Germany. As we walked along the shopping streets of the city, we spotted a busy food market and went in for a closer look. Older German men sat in groups drinking beer, smartly dressed workers stood around eating snacks on their lunch breaks and hundreds of people filled the square. We spent the afternoon eating bratwurst and schnitzel and drinking wine with the locals before making our way back to the airport for our onward flight to Portugal.
We flew into Faro and travelled north to Lisbon, arriving at Paulo's parent's apartment to surprise them at six o'clock in the morning. There was great excitement as we shared stories of all our adventures. This excitement continued on for days.
The weather in Lisbon was fabulous; beautiful clear blue skies and temperatures in the mid thirties. We spent many of our days on the beach with Paulo's nephews, brother and sister,
playing beach ball, swimming and chatting for hours. The boys wrestled on the sand, splashed in the water and did what boys do. Tiago and Adriano, Paulo's nephews, buried us as we tried to soak up the last of the sun and we all did cartwheels, handstands and flips on the beach. All of this exercise and excitement tended to help us work up a fine appetite and we snacked on snails, sardines and octopus salad at the beach bars, washing it down with delicious sangria.
Other days were spent in the apartment with his mam, dad and granny, looking at photos, sharing stories and laughing together. His mam and dad cooked up super tasty food for us every day; rabbit, prawns and traditional Portuguese cod, to name just a few. We were really very spoilt.
Unfortunately, while we were in Lisbon, Paulo's granny sadly passed away. We travelled up north for a couple of days for the funeral and to spend time with his grandad. On the way back to Lisbon we stopped off in Fatima, where Our Lady appeared to three children in 1917. Beautiful churches have been built on and around the site of the apparitions and
there is a great sense of faith and peace along the kilometre long esplanade.
Paulo took me around Lisbon, showed me the city and taught me a lot about the Portuguese history. We strolled around Expo, drove to Belem, visited the Christ the Redeemer Statue and crossed Lisbon's 'Golden Gate Bridge'.
The night-life in Lisbon is definitely a huge draw card to any visitor. It really rivals anywhere else we have been. Things don't get started until quite late however, so we rarely headed into town before midnight. The streets of Bairro Alto were packed with both Portuguese and tourists drinking beers and caiparinhas. The nights were so warm that all the tiny bars that lined the cobble-stoned alleys were empty. They served drinks in plastic cups and everyone socialised outside. The atmosphere was fantastic, with all sorts of weird and wonderful people out and about. It is a super people watching spot. On one of the nights, when we were out with Paulo's sister Sandra and Susana, it was pushing on 4am before we'd even left Bairro Alto to go to Lux, one of Lisbon's nightclubs. The place was huge and the music was great. We danced until sunrise
and still the club was packed with no signs of closing. Lisbon proved to be an amazing party city.
A friend of mine, Julie and her boyfriend Damien were over in Portugal for a wedding while we were there, so the day they arrived into Lisbon, we arranged to meet up in Bairro Alto. It was really fantastic to see them both and spend some time together. It reminded us of the nights that are ahead of us back in Dublin and Galway, meeting up with friends and family and spending hours chatting and laughing.
The first match of the Portuguese league took place while we were in Lisbon. This is the first time in over four years that Paulo has been home for a Benfica match, so we bought our tickets to go see them play against Academica in the awesome Stadium of Light. The chants could be heard far from the stadium as we approached with Tiago and Adriano. The sea of red poured in to watch the league champion's opening match. Before the game, we were treated to the regular pre-match ritual. Vitória (Benfica's Eagle) has a key role as one of the main attractions. In a
unique show, he starts his flight from the roof of the stadium and slowly flies around loosing height before swooping down and landing in the center of the pitch on top of the Benfica symbol. An impressive sight and certainly something that gets the crowd involved. Unfortunately the football and the result didn't continue impressing us in the same way that the stadium, the eagle and the atmosphere had and the match finished off a disappointing 2-1 to Academica.
Paulo's godson and nephew Tiago, celebrated his sixth birthday on our last day in Lisbon. All of the family and extended family got together in Paulo's parents apartment for a birthday party. There were twenty-two members of the Caseiro family there, ranging in age from six to ninety six, covering four generations. Paulo's mam cooked up a storm and it was a perfect way for us to spend the last evening of our travels.
We have had such a fantastic time here in Portugal, spending lots of time with Paulo's family. Now it's time to go home and see mine. I have pains in my tummy with the excitement of seeing everybody. My Mam and Dad I know have been praying
for us every day for a safe return and soon their prayers will be answered. I can't wait to see my brother, Ro and his wife Vanessa and their beautiful little baby Saorla, whom we haven't met yet. She was born just four days after we left last year. My sister, Orlaith and her husband Niall and their three fabulous kids whom we have kept in touch with via skype throughout the year. Unfortunately that has led my godchild to believe that we live in the computer. It may come as a shock to her when she sees us walk into the house! Although we've had Caoimhe out visiting us twice since we've been away, the excitement of seeing her again is just as big. The volume in Gracepark Meadows could possibly hit an all time high.
We have had the most incredible trip. Thank you all for reading and sharing in our adventures.
Four hundred and four days, ninetine countries, countless unforgettable memories.
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