Thursday, May 3, 2012

We're Back

Ok..we've been back three weeks.  We were just terribly depressed.  We're not alone on this are we? You take a magic holiday and then you can't function when you return to reality.  PB admitted he has only managed to fit in two workouts in the last three weeks and arrived home last night begging me to host an intervention because he couldn't stop eating chocolate bars.  I ate my weight in bread and pasta (AFTER we returned from Italy...the irony is not lost on me...) and bought some very random bright green pants.  This is what we do.  We eat and spend and are lazy useless human beings when we return from trips.  And then..when said random purchases no longer fit us, we get off our lazy asses and book our next holidays and try to restore order to our lives.

But I digress.  We had an awesome two weeks in Europe dividing our time between Portugal, Rome, Sicily and London.  We kicked off our trip with a night in London with Tony and Jo, and typical to our favorite trips, a few good meals including a fabulous lunch at Wahaca - a great Mexican restaurant that is a favorite of ours because of their fresh dishes, vegan friendly entrees, and numerous options of tequila.  We followed lunch up by going our separate ways...yup, that's how we roll.  PB checked out the Natural History Museum and I avoided millions of school children by heading to Camden Town and spent hours browsing the Camden markets.  We met Tony and Jo at Brewdog - a Scottish Craft Beer brewery and then headed to Manna for an amazing veg friendly dinner.  We wrapped up our 24 hours in London the next morning at the Borough Market- a favorite of ours every time we're in London. Amazing markets always make me want to live in the city.  I dream of lazy Saturday's shopping for fresh produce and returning to our London townhouse and cooking gourmet meals...I digressed. Again...

We then headed to Portugal.  We were staying in Foz do Arelho, about 45 minutes north west of Lisbon.  Lisa and Brett had rented an amazing vacation home and we had a fabulous week chilling out with Lisa and Brett, Ella and Teg and Terry and Lynn (Grandmas - who proved very useful when the four of us attempted a very unsuccessful pub crawl...).  We had amazing weather, and took some day trips to Obidos (very cute little town - even better Gringa...), Sintra - cuter town...(but damn..don't attempt to walk to the palaces, especially with a stroller and a five year old) and Nazare- which had GORGEOUS beaches,

but the waves were unreal - swear to god, like 10 metres tall.  PB and I took a little trip in Lisbon one day...sorta expecting another Barcelona, which...well, it was not.  To be fair, we only had about 5 hours, but we weren't overwhelmed.   We did wander around the Alfama district, which was very charming, and visited the Castelo de Sao Jorge - which offered some gorgeous of the city.  We had a great lunch at Resto do Chapito which is known for having some of the best views of Lisbon - and they ALMOST understood the term vegan...which...for Portugal was somewhat refreshing.

  Lets just say I ate a TONNE of iceberg lettuce during my week in Portugal.  The ABSOLUTE highlight of the Portugal leg of our trip was that Brett and Lisa had arranged for caterers to come in our last night in Portugal and prepare an absolute FEAST for all of us. (Ummm....except that six must mean 46 in Portugal...cause that's how many people it could have fed)  AND..they totally went above and beyond for the token vegan in the group.  I ate so much I was 98% sure I'd ripped my stomach open. (But not so much that I couldn't down six more Portuguese lentil croquettes on the way to the airport the next morning..)

Are you beginning to understand that a trip is made or broken over food for us?

Then we were off to Rome for a night.  Ahhhhhh...Rome.  18 hours is not enough in Rome.  We did manage to fit in two Roman pizzas (and they didn't bat an eye when I said no cheese!), some amazing pasta aglio e olio, some pastries and Italian coffee for PB and the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and some great piazzas that are best admired over bottles of Prosseco. We were in Rome just long enough to say holy shit, we need more time.  So summer?

After Rome, we flew over to Sicily.  We booked a hotel through Mr. and Mrs. Smith Hotels - which if you've never used...start. now.  THEY ARE AMAZING.  They're all boutique hotels - all very chic, and typically are small, and family run, and offer special touches you won't see at your typical chain hotel.  As we concluded while chatting with a lovely couple about our age from Sweden who were also staying at the hotel - one just doesn't go back to the Holiday Inn after a Mr. and Mrs. Smith.  For reals. (Except that we will...because PB is cheap loves a bargain).

So we stayed at Azienda Agricola Mandranova and it was AMAZING. Not only do they produce the world's best olive oil, they offer a very stylish, very comfortable, inn.  We went on this trip with the goal that we would actually try to relax a bit on this trip as opposed to running ourselves raged...and we could not have chose a better place to chill out.  While we did find some time to sight see a little in Sicily including checking out some local beaches and the Valley of Temples, we also enjoyed laying in the sun, reading and relaxing, learning more about the production of olive oil and wine production in Sicily.  The best part of the Mandranova - the cooking.  Oh my gosh.  First of all, upon checking in they actually asked...any dietary requirements, like vegetarian or vegan? Awesome. For the next five days, the chef prepared us a different, but authentic Sicilian vegetarian and vegan meal each evening.  It was amazing.  On my birthday, I had the opportunity to take cooking lessons from the Chef (and owner).  The biggest lesson - we're WAY too conservative with our oil usage.  The owners bent over backwards to make sure we had a lovely trip - and that we did.

When we dragged ourselves away from Sicily, we headed back to London for a last night with Tony and Jo, where we enjoyed some great thai at SUDA Thai in Covent Gardens.

Augh...I should not write these posts over red wine.  It makes me waste hours planning hypothetical next trips. 

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