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Falling One Step at a Time

Not sure why but I signed up for a half marathon a few months ago. I’m not even a runner but I do run and I am active so why not. Found a Groupon and a few friends signed up so it seemed like the right thing to do. At the time!

I remember signing up and the form asked me how long I plan to take to do the run. I saw that the race had a closing time for 3pm so that was the number I picked. My goal was just to finish before the race closes.

I like to walk and last summer I ran about a mile to meet up with my friend and partner in 2WM Kris to do core work before running back home. I say I ran a mile, but in truth, I walked up the big hill so I wasn’t even running a mile straight and I signed up for a half marathon! What was I thinking!!!

 

I did what most do when they don’t know what they are doing. I went online to find tips and read about others who embarked on the same crazy journey. There was even a “couch potatoes to half marathon running plan” and lots of other like this. I knew I wasn’t alone and felt confident with my decision to do this.

The first day I went out running it was hard and I just thought to myself

lean forward and fall,

just take one more step, catch myself, and keep falling and I will get there.

 

With two kids under 5, and a full-time job, I didn’t jump off the couch potato wagon, I fell off the bed like someone does in their sleep, not knowing what I was doing but just went with it. Just keep running!

I was lucky if I was able to get in 2 runs in during the week and 1 long one on the weekend. Soon I was way behind the couch potatoes half marathon schedule, but over time I started to notice a difference. But not with my body. I started thinking, almost meditating on my own thoughts. This running time was my time, my time to think, for me to get lost in thought and really ponder about life and what is important to me. With a lifestyle that is always on the go, always moving, planning, and making things happen I found it hard to just think. Relax and ponder about life. All this thinking made me forget that I wanted to stop. In the past, I would find a target to run to and once I got there I got to rest. Now I don’t want to rest, I don’t want to stop what I am doing, I want to keep thinking.

Got over the stopping, and over time I just kept running. I didn’t buy any new gear, I didn’t do extra core work, I didn’t do anything but run. In fact I even barely did that, according to my couch potatoes plan. The crazy thing, without even really trying I got better and better. Before I knew it I was running over an hour and wan’t stopping. In my whole life I never experienced such a gain, growth on a task or skill just by doing. I eat food every day and I am not a healthier eater. I drive every day and I am not a better driver. I ran and I got better, a lot better.

 

The bug has bitten me and now I know I can do it. I know I can run 13.1 miles without stopping and I actually like running. The time alone is a rare gift when you are a mom and being able to stay healthy is a gift I can give my kids. As an introvert thinker, this quiet time really impacts me emotionally. I find myself in better spirits and able to take on the emotional winds of life better as I stand taller with my sore legs.

Next weekend is my run but I have already won.

Updated photo post first 1/2 marathon. I did it and I can’t wait to do my next one!!! * L

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Lisbon Portugal Trip

Please read, if you just found out you are going to Lisbon Portugal for work, you don’t have time to research what to do and see, you want to make the most of your short time there.

I had one weekend and some evenings to make the most of my business trip I took back in March. I saw a lot, and as a San Francisco native, I felt like this place was my sister city and fell in love with Portugal and Lisbon. Not only does it have a look-a-like golden gate bridge, it has the same coastal plants and landscape. The people are diverse and the hills make for a familiar place that I have never seen before. One day I hope to go back with my family and spend more time in Lagos and eat more egg tarts.

Day 1 – The East

You are going to have jet lag, so why not get up super early and head out for a run to catch the perfect sunrise photo in Lisbon. I got some address for a hotel, and some kind of balcony. Well let me warn you, there a big hills (think San Francisco) and if you are running, give yourself some extra time so you don’t miss the sun and the perfect photo.

 

If you are a Mom like me getting up early isn’t a big deal and since I am training for my first 1/2 marathon my real only time to do that is before my kids get up.

 

 

I walked a little on the way back and got some photos of the statue on the top of the hill. Great location to find a cafe and sip on some coffee if I didn’t have a country to see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also found a fun tunnel with cartoon art inside that overlooks a palm tree. So much to see and I wish I had more time to capture it all. The hills and stairs are a real workout and even the cobblestone streets give you a challenge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

After my run I went back to my hotel, DoubleTree Lisbon – Fontana Park. More about hotels later but I only stayed at this one for a night and it was already too long.

Grabbed a Uber Driver to take my coworker and I East to the town of Sintra. He was awesome and spoke a little english so we hired him for the day at 100 euros to take us to a few places.

 

First stop was Castle of Moor, a hilltop medieval castle in Sintra. This place is a huge park and you could spend all day here hiking trails, doing a picnic, or puts around the castle and spectacular views.

 

Mind you there are several entrances and parking lots. We ended up get mixed up and got lost. We asked a few people for help but most don’t speak english or very little. we ended up going the wrong way and couldn’t find our driver. Thankfully, he found us and this time we made sure to get his cell phone number.

 

Pena Palace is only about 20 more minutes drive away from the Castle and is a must see destination. Love the color, tiles, and architecture. There is a cafe outside on the deck with great views and a restaurant upstairs inside with air condition. No hot foods but you can get ice cream and some wine.17311144_10154538532462683_9070122551529320911_o

 

It was a warm day but you can tell you are closer to the ocean and can feel the cold wind in the air. In May I would suggest layers.

Next up, we went to the ocean to have a late lunch and see one more thing before going back south to Lisbon. Meals in Portugal take time and we almost missed out last destination before the sun went down.

 

 

 

 

 

Boca de Inferno, is located in the seaside cliffs close to the city of Cascais. There is a platform to walk out on and see the “Mouth of Hell” from the ocean viewpoint. Just a caution there isn’t any lights and there are steps so make sure to have something to light your way or it might be a hard walk back up.

We saw the sunset and used the nice public bathrooms before buying us and our driver a coffee and some snacks before heading back to Lisbon.

Of course, we couldn’t call it a day without visiting and seeing some of the night life. We headed to Pink Street for some drinks.

We heard things didn’t get good till 11pm and no one goes out before then. Me being a mama of 2 young kids I never go out at 11pm. Heck I am usually in bed by then.

My coworker really wanted to go out and thankfully my jet lag was working in my favor and after a shower and some new clothes, I was ready to check out the night-life.

We headed to pink street around 11pm and 30 minutes later the area was still dead. We asked around for a good place to dance and then headed to the spot a few people recommended, LUX.

17264853_10154538980617683_7252966033334493538_nIt opened at midnight, and we heard it can be hard to get it as they get selective once the line starts to form. We got there right when they opened and had a few drinks while we waited for it to fill up. I would say it didn’t really get going till 1 am. We danced till 3am!

 

 

 

 

Day 2 – The South

Sunday was our full day to go south and see the town of Lagos. We woke up early and headed to the train. We already got our tickets the day before and thought we could sleep on our way down. On the map it looked to be a 3 hour trip. The train is slow. What could have taken 3 hours to drive took us over 5 hours on train. It stopped a few places and we had to connect to a different train at one point. In hindsight we should have taken another method since we only had a day.

The ticket was a great deal but not planning ahead cost a lot of money coming home. Since it was Sunday the train had a limited schedule; therefore, we would only have 2 hours in Lagos before having to take the next train back home. We opted to enjoy the day and worry about it later.

 

Train Tips:

  • Everyone is assigned a seat. I thought it was odd these two girls sat right next to use then the train was mostly empty.
  • There is a food cart. We asked more than 3 people if there was coffee or food on the train and everyone said no. YES, there is a food cart and thankfully we found it after they announced over the speakers.
  • It is very SLOW.
  • Make sure to ask about transfers. The ticket was hard to read and this wasn’t very clear to us.
Lagos is amazing and really you could spend a week here and relax. Oddly enough most people who are born and raised in Lisbon never making down here. Things are slower, more shops are closed on Sundays and not that many people speak English. In fact later I found out it is rare for Americans to visit this part of the world.
Praia do Pinhão, is the beach we went to since it is closer to the city center and isn’t as busy as the other locations. Wasn’t a big deal for off season but we didn’t have a lot of time in Lagos so it worked out great.
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Sadly the one restaurant and local bathroom was closed but I could imagine how awesome this place would be in peak season.
Much like other beaches you will be on in Europe people here don’t mind getting dressed into their beach gear at the beach. So a closed bathroom wasn’t a big deal.
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After the beach we walked around town to have lunch and find a car rental place.
Sadly the only car rental place open was sold out and renting a car to go back to Lisbon wasn’t an option. At this point we already missed the last train north so hiring a taxi was are only option. We got nervous that no one was willing to take us up north after offering 400 Euros to 5 different taxi drivers.

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Final we got a taxi driver to expect our deal, over $400 dollars. We asked him why the others declined and he said they don’t want to be in the car that long with someone they can’t talk to since many taxi drivers here don’t know english. Still I thought this was crazy to give up so much money for one evening.

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In the end it worked out since Joe our taxi drive did know English and showed us a lot of great locations along the cost as we drove back up north to Lisbon.
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Evenings in Lisbon

The good news is I had the evenings to explore Lisbon. In fact I had a lot of time since most dinner places don’t open till 7pm.
Lisbon is a safe diverse city and there is so much to do and see. LX Factory was one of my favorite locations with a bunch of restaurants such as the Cantina, A Praca (pictured below), an ice cream shop, a bakery and a Sushi restaurant.

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I just loved this place and ate here 2 times while I was in Lisbon. The food was fresh and tasted amazing. They are super generous with their glass of wine and the staff was very friendly. I ate here the second time alone and didn’t feel odd at all.

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Among the many stores in LX Factory, the book store “Ler Devagar” clearly stands out. By size, architecture and design and the cute flying biker art installation that floats above you. There is an old printing press upstairs as well as a Cafè on both floors. I got some cute canvas bags here for gifts.

 

Not too far from here if you walk towards the water you can find the best bakery in Lisbon for egg tarts. Egg tarts started here in Lisbon and they taste so amazing I had at least one every day. Joe my amazing taxi driver in Lagos told us the secret to these tasty treats. They are made with seagull eggs. Crazy I know, and not sure if there is some seagull farm or they just get them from the wild. Either way they taste amazing and you must visit Pasteis de Belém’ to eat one right out of the oven. They also have lot of port and other branded items like a cooking apron you can have or give as a great souvenir. Tip there are two lines so make sure you don’t just stand in the one line. One line is for take-away and it moved much quicker. I don’t think it is worth the wait to get a table. Just get some to go and eat at the park down the block. YES this is worth the line and you will be sad if you missed it. http://pasteisdebelem.pt/en/

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I just loved walking around town and seeing all the neighborhoods and the wide variety of tiles. 17390453_10154557617742683_5008302911788957110_o

 

Another shop I would recommend is Claus Porto. I came out this way one evening to get some of these locally made soaps that have gone global. This new store is so cute and the store smells great, as these hand crafted soaps are infused with fine scents taken from Portuguese ingredients and you just can’t wait to take a sample of that home.

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The soaps are wrapped with finely and beautifully illustrated art work and make for great gifts. There is also a  gentleman barber services on the lower level for some extra pampering with their shaving and location collection.

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If you only have one night for dinner then you must go to Palácio Chiado

This place is a castle for sushi. Make sure to set up a reservation. You enter downstairs via a different restaurant and they hand you a card to enter the above venue. As you walk up the marble stairs with painted walls you feel like you are entering a place that is for the royals and perhaps your work attire isn’t enough. Don’t worry, it is.

This is the view half way up the stairs. The gold flying lion greats you.

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I came late so my photos didn’t show up that great. Take a look at them here: https://o-tuga.com/mochilando/palacio-chiado-portugal/

Such a dream location and the food was amazing. Creative sushi and we had them make whatever they wanted. Of course we did order egg tarts or dessert.

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I had enough time to see one more thing in Lisbon and I visited the Jerónimos Monastery and see the gothic style of architecture.

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Beautiful place and a great place to visit and take photos. There is an the main courtyard and the rooms around it. Then near the entrance is a free view of the church that is also viewable at the balcony level with you ticket to enter the monastery.17493000_10154557619387683_4470538302558746599_o17504602_10154557620012683_4574872142672739438_o

 

Hotels in Lisbon

I know it sounds crazy but in my 10 days being here I stayed in 3 hotels and here is what I thought about them:
1. DoubleTree Lisbon – Fontana Park. I was going to stay here the whole time and ended up only staying 1 night and will never go back. When I first got there the hallways was super creepy. It was a long black hallway with no windows and the modern look was’t working with the green carpet and just looked like a scene from a 70’s horror movie. My non-smoking room smelled like cigarets and you could even see burn marks on the floor. The sliding door to my 2nd story room didn’t lock and it didn’t even shut the whole way. I asked to be moved to another room that was secure and safe and they accommodated. My coworker was staying at another hotel so I moved there the next day. When I left my room in the morning and went to the elevator to check out my card key no longer worked. It didn’t work for the room or the elevator. Yes you need a card key to get to the lobby. I had my big roller bag so I couldn’t take the stairs. I had to wait 15 minutes till someone stopped on my floor to help me leave.
2. Sheraton Lisboa – was an amazing upgrade to the Double Tree. They have an breakfast buffet that has caviar and champaign. The room is plush and they even give you your own slippers to keep. Just being here felt like a vacation, but sadly they had been all booked up and I could only stay here two nights.
3.  Jupiter Hotel – was located closer to my office. It was a smaller hotel and more minimal but super clean and again a great buffet. Not as good as the Sheraton but had all the fixings and also did a buffet style dinner. The room was clean and the staff was very nice. The price was also a great deal for what you got. If I ever came back with my family I would stay here. The only thing to note is there wasn’t a bathtub and the restaurant doesn’t open for dinner till 7pm.
Hope I make it back to Lisbon one day. * L