Protests, Palaces and a Princess


We had 10 hours between our check out from our hostel in San Sebastian until our train ride to Lisbon.  We planned to wander around the town, eat some tapas and buy souvenirs.  Unfortunately, as is often the case in Europe, there was a strike and protest.  Every business was closed for the day and a huge mob was walking in circles with banners and chanting while protesting government austerity measures.  We spent the day dodging the flock and subsisting on stale crackers that I found at the bottom of my bag.

We were too happy to board our train later that evening and were pleasantly surprised to see one of the cleanest train cabins we had ever experienced.  It was also a 2 berth cabin which was a treat after sharing numerous rooms with individuals of various smells.  We arrived in Lisbon the next day to find that the rally had followed us there.  Luckily a few Europeans were willing to work as there were some restaurants and businesses open.











After a week of exploring Lisbon and the surrounding areas we jetted off to Sintra to spend our 1 year anniversary.  The town is filled with ancient, fairy tale-esque castles, palaces and villas and is set in the mountains with panoramic views of the countryside and Atlantic Ocean.  Since Nug thinks she is a princess I thought this would be a fitting location.  We spent the next few days exploring the amazing buildings, drinking the local “green” wine and eating some of the tasty local specialties before retiring back to our royal quarters…a double room at the local hostel with shared bathroom.

1 year!!!

only the best for my Nug!

Royal Quarters with a view



Quinta da Regaleira







The Flashpacker 10


We had just spent 10 days catching up with a big group of our friends from Jacksonville in Paris, Bordeaux, Hossegor and San Sebastian.  We had had a fantastic time seeing everyone again and were missing them now that they were gone.  It was rainy and grey outside and we were spending the day at our apartment in a mini-depression.  I was pacing the room restlessly.






“Does my gut look bigger to you?”  I was holding my expanding paunch in my hands as I asked Nug.  Without budging or looking up from the drivel she was reading (50 Shades of Grey) she responded, “Yes.”  It’s finally caught up to me.  The old age, the lack of surfing since leaving Australia and eating out 2-3x per day have taken their toll.

Perhaps an even bigger culprit was the double Achilles heel I have of loving fat kid food and not being able to turn down a good deal.  It started in Asia.  The food was amazing, everywhere and cheap as dirt.  We couldn’t walk a block without seeing something new or delicious looking and with the prices I felt like I was getting ripped off if I didn’t give everything a try.  Fresh donuts for 12 cents, peanut brittle for 25 cents, 50 cents for ice cream or a mystery meat skewer, buttered corn for 12 cents or any number of gastrointestinal treats for pocket change!  The 25- 75 cent beer and the fact that we could walk on the streets with a brew just compounded the problem.

It continued in China with the amazing bakeries and Russia with the sausages and the stews that were buried in sour cream.  When we arrived in France I fell in love with chocolate waffles and the gelatos that were on every corner.  Now we were in San Sebastian and the tapas restaurants were numerous and unbelievable.  I had been stuffing my face until my stomach hurt.

I looked at Nug and informed her, “I’m going on a diet.”  She continued to block me out and read 50 Shades of Grey.  Later that night after 3 tapas restaurants I spied a Snickers ice cream for a euro and started to feel a twitch.  “I’m going to test that,” I told Nug.  “I thought you were on a diet,” she hit back a bit too sarcastically.  I inhaled the ice cream cone before I responded, “Maybe I’ll start tomorrow.”