Exploring Leon

On our first full day exploring Leon, I woke up around 7AM because of the lack of curtains in our hotel room and the noise, and did not feel rested due to a fitful night of head congestion. Brendan slept for a few more hours as I did yoga, showered, and tidied up the bomb that went off in my luggage from the night before. Around 930AM we headed to breakfast, which was complimentary with the room, and quite delicious. I ordered the granola, yogurt, honey (from the nearby volcano area) and fruit, and Brendan ordered the Nica breakfast (gallo, which is beans and rice, eggs, plantains, and a lovely side of fruit). We also were able to snag some coffee, which was just what the doctor ordered. After breakfast we organized a city tour at 1PM, but before then we took a stroll to the main square to take in sights at our own pace. There was market going on in the plaza but it was still a fairly calm environment. After walking to the plaza, we continued along Main Street (Real) to the colorful 18th cathedral on the other side of the city. On our way, we saw….

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Arriving in Nicaragua

In the past 3 weeks, I got married, traveled to the UK for work, had our contract accepted for a house, brought our cat to the pet ER, and also prepared for our trip to visit a friend getting married in Nicaragua (and THEN spending some time in Costa Rica); so actually merely arriving in Nicaragua was the easy part. After booking some First Class tickets on United (using a $2000 voucher I received for volunteering to give up my seat on a previous flight), my husband Brendan and I had a long day ahead of us on Thursday, Feb 15 in anticipation of arriving in Nicaragua. We set out from our Highlands Ranch townhouse to the airport at 320PM via Lyft so that we could catch our 530AM United flight to Houston. All went as planned, and we probably left a little too much time to make our flight. We enjoyed our premium cabin food and service experience (soft product), even though the hard product on these regional planes left something to be desired (seats were old, no entertainment systems on the DEN-IAH leg). We enjoyed a few mimosas before 8AM 🙂 The flight was on time and we….

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Bairro Alto

We decided to take the Bairro Alto and Chiado Free Walking tour (Discover Lisbon) at 330PM, which meant we had a little time to grab lunch. Starbucks was the easiest so we paid for 2 caprese sandwiches and rested for a bit before meeting our guide at Rossio Square (where the Christmas market from the previous night was held). We had just enough time to grab a treat from the market. The meeting point was easy to find – we just had to look for the yellow umbrella and yellow shirts. Our guide, Eduardo, was a PhD cultural anthropology student doing his dissertation on the Thai islands of Phi Phi and its unique expat lounge culture. He was full of energy and a bastion of knowledge. Brendan previously has mentioned that the best guides he has had on these free walking tours (offered by many cities) are usually university students. Eduardo did not lead us astray as we headed to Bairro Alto. We learned about the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 and how it devastated the city on a Sunday and All Saints Day to boot, when everyone was in church (except for the Muslims and the Jews) lighting candles. The….

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Sintra

We woke up at 8AM to have plenty of time to get to the meeting point in Praça dos Restauradores to explore Sintra through a TAP stopover free tour, with more time in Bairro Alto later. First we had a quick bite to eat at a cafe on the square. After a tasty breakfast, we met our guide Henrique at the Tourism Office on the Praça dos Restauradores for a 1015AM departure. There were only 3 other people with us on the van, making it a much smaller group than we expected. Our driver and guide provided information in both English and Portuguese (for the Brazilians on the tour) as we made our way to the coast on a main Lisbon highway. This free stopover tour was literally the ONLY good thing about TAP airlines. We made our way first to the resort beach town of Cascais (pronounced Cashcaish) and had a quick stop at the inspiration for the James Bond movie Casino Royale. We then drove another few minutes and parked outside the Cascais fort, which was now turned in to an artists’ village of sorts with a fancy hotel in the middle. We had a brief walk around the….

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Lisbon by night

Lisbon, named by Ulysses, means friendly bay (Alisubbo) and NOT good air as we previously thought – and we were very warmly greeted in to the embrace of this city, much like reuniting with an old friend. Everyone here was nice, including the immigration agents, the Uber driver, the airport information staff – everyone but the Enterprise desk agent who we asked for help looking for the uber pickup point. He pretended like they didn’t exist at the airport and was a total dick. That’s what happens when you ask someone in a technologically irrelevant profession for help finding his replacement. Soon after we were in an Uber that cost 10 Euros and whisked us to a within a block of the pedestrian area in Baixa that we were staying in less than 30 minutes. We were in to our Air BnB by 630PM.The place was great – right in the middle of the pedestrian Baixa area, which is the heart of Lisbon – and within easy walking distance to every other neighborhood including Bairro Alto where we spent most of our time. The place also had a hipster, funky decor – with the bed upstairs in a loft style….

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