Chris died 5 years ago today. I finally had the courage to reach out to the people who were behind the scenes when Chris passed and ask them the details of the day. These people were kind enough to share the events of that day with me and give me space to ask for as much detail as I needed. I am grateful to have this information and I feel like I now have the big picture of how Chris left.
I honored him over the weekend going through old photos and smiling from great memories. I know he will always be with me.
I left my previous job and had some time before I began my new job. So of course, where should I travel? I called my travel agent and with this short time frame, she had two options: Ireland or Portugal. I chose Portugal. So off I went for another adventure! I have been using the same tour company, Trafalgar. This was my 4th trip with Trafalgar. I've met some great folks along the way throughout the years, some I've seen again and keep in contact with. I really like how well organized each day is, packed with lots to do and see, but balanced with a good amount of time for myself. In October, I'll be heading to New Zealand, my 5th trip with Trafalgar, can't wait!
If you just want to see photos, just scroll through them. If you want to know more about the details of the photos, read on...
I arrived to Lisbon airport on Wednesday morning. We were transported to our hotel where I had the opportunity to shower and freshen up after a long day of traveling. In the evening, we went to a restaurant to have our welcome dinner. Our group was quite large, over 40 people.
We spent day 2 in Lisbon, exploring the culture and an amazing monastery, Hieronymite Monastery, a UNESCO site. In the evening, we went to a Fado Dinner which is a traditional Portuguese dinner with music and singing. It was stellar!
On day 3 we had an amazing lunch at a horse farm on our way to Algarve. These are Lusitano horses that are descendants of horses used during the days of royalty. It was a great experience, and an amazing meal!
We spent Day 4 in the Algarve region, known for its beautiful beaches. I also went to Faro and explored a bit. We had an authentic dinner there called Cataplana.
On the 5th day we headed to Evora where I saw a chapel made of human bones. Kind of put me off my lunch! We also went to a village called Monsaraz. It’s enclosed and has been around since about 1290 I believe. It was a beautiful town and I bought some treats from there to bring back home.
We continued on to a town called Castelo de Vide on the 6th day. We were en route to Viseu. This is where the famous Dao vineyards are. We had an amazing dinner with wine pairing, it was fantastic!
The next day we headed to the Douro Valley on our way to Porto. We enjoyed a cruise through the Douro River where we saw another UNESCO site: Eiffel Bridge. We also went to Guimaraes to see a castle from the 10th century.
On day 8 we woke up in Porto and we explored the city, rich with culture: gothic Church of St. Francis, the Stock Exchange Palace, Bom Jesus – another UNESCO site where you arrive through a funicular, and we even had a port tasting at a cellar! I was able to have time to take a gondola up to a bridge. I’m terrified of heights, but that hasn’t stopped me yet! Our dinner this evening was amazing, all the seafood was so fresh – nothing like dinner at sunset by the beach!
We left Porto on day 9 and headed to Coimbra and Fatima. In Coimbra we saw the University where JK Rowling was clearly inspired to write the Harry Potter books. The students there have been wearing capes for centuries. We went through the university, and it was almost like walking through the set of Harry Potter. I even saw the staircase that leads to a wall!! After this tour we went to the Templar city of Tomar. Here you can see that the Knights Templar had a prevalent existence in the 12th century. At the end of the day, we ended up in Fatima. While I am not Catholic, I attended mass at 9:30pm and it was a deeply spiritual experience.
Our last day touring Portugal, we went to another UNESCO site: Batalha Monastery. It was an amazing site to see! Massive walls and Gothic architecture. Afterwards we went to Nazare and Obidos. We had an opportunity to walk around these quaint little towns. At the end of the evening, we went to a lovely dinner in Lisbon once again. It was our Farewell dinner.
I made some great new friends that I continue to communicate with. I hope I get to see them all again in the future! Alexandra, Alejandro, Suzy, and Rosario & Neal made the trip extra fun and memorable. Alexandra (from NY) and I are two professional single women that love to travel all over the world! Alejandro (from San Diego) sat a row next to me every day in the bus and we had some nice chats and enjoyed a lovely beach day together. Suzy (from Australia) and I caused some trouble! Suzy and I sat together in the bus and had some great times together, mostly laughing and being loud. Rosario & Neal (from South Bend, IN) are non-stop laughter, I don’t think I ever stopped laughing around them!
I can’t help but smile when I think about Portugal… what a trip!!
My wine buddies Luis and Gerry continue to join me for wine dinners at my home. We have enjoyed various evenings of food & wine. It’s great to share great food & wine together! Great times!
My good friend Jane and I flew to Boston in April to explore New England and eat our share of dozens and dozens of amazing oysters! We always have such a great time together! We went to Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachussets, and Maine.
For several weeks in January and February of this year, I had the opportunity to work remotely in Cambria. I rented a house and worked during the day and enjoyed the sunset every night. It was amazing to wake up to an ocean view every day. It was just what I needed.
Hi there! You may be visiting because you received my Holiday Card. Welcome!
Due to lack of travel, I have been able to spend time at home learning new recipes. I've enjoyed sharing these with friends and family. So here are pictures of what I've been cooking up!
My Christmas tree is up, as well as two Santa’s! I acquired “Wine Santa” while I was in Cambria this year.
Hope everyone has a great holiday!
I took 4 days off and headed north to Cambria. I rented a cute little house for myself, and enjoyed some R&R. I drove up on a Saturday, and made 2 stops at wineries on my way north. First I stopped at Foxen. This winery has always had pretty good wines and I've always had a nice time in the past. I stopped in and had a tasting outside. Since I spit when I taste, the lady who was serving wine offered me several tastes of other wines not on their regular tasting list. It's always nice to receive extra pours!
I drove 6 minutes down the road and stopped at Riverbench. I was running low on sparkling wine so I bought a few bottles of their blanc de blancs.
I continued north and arrived at Cambria. The home I rented was super cute and charming. Very spacious and comfortable. I was very happy during my stay there. I arrived and unloaded the car and made myself at home. By 4:30 I drove to Moonstone Beach for dinner at my usual place. I knew there would be an hour wait before dinner so I took my camera with me to take pictures of the sunset. It was a beautiful sunset with clear skies.
The next day I headed into Paso Robles for some wine tasting appointments. It was such a great day of tasting! This area never disappoints!
The second night I went to the same restaurant and once again enjoyed a great meal. In fact, I went there again the third night. I've been going to that restaurant for almost 20 years now, and it has become a bit of a comfort-food-place.
My last full day in Cambria, I enjoyed walking through Main street and shopping for random odds and ends. I had lunch in town and even enjoyed an afternoon margarita. After dinner each night, I went to the spot where I spread Chris' ashes and spent some time thinking about him, and talking to him. I feel grateful that I am able to visit him and be in a wonderful place at the same time. Cambria has always been a special place for me, and Chris knew that. So much so, that Cambria is where he proposed. I am happy to have so many wonderful memories with Chris. And I know I will continue to build memories in the future.
Sometimes I feel like time flies, and other times it feels like time stands still. It is hard to believe that for years ago today Chris went to heaven. I don’t know where the time has gone.
As Chris would always tell me, he wanted his life celebrated, and wanted my happiness. So I invited my good friend Gerry over and we had a great evening celebrating and remembering Chris. My brother and his wife even stopped in for a glass of champagne.
I made a large bone-in ribeye steak, roasted cauliflower, potatoes, and sautéed mushrooms. For dessert I made a chocolate olive oil cake. We also shared some great wines. It was a fun evening full of laughter, memories, and dancing. I’m grateful for my friend Gerry who has celebrated Chris every year. Back in the day the 3 of us had great times together, and happy to continue the tradition.
May you continue to Rest In Peace, angel.
I guess I can say Happy New Year! Hi! It’s been a while.
I hope everyone is healthy and staying safe. Only now have I started to feel safe going out. My friend Karla and I decided to meet in Central CA to have a weekend away. Karla lives in Sacramento, so we met up in Paso Robles and did a bit of wine tasting at two wineries on a Thursday.
We continued west and ended up in Cambria. I was able to visit the site where I spread Chris’s ashes years ago. We had dinner at the Sea Chest and enjoyed a fun, windy evening outside.
The next day we headed east to Paso Robles again where we tasted wine all day. It was a super fun day with absolutely beautiful weather!
On Saturday, we spent the day at Tin City and had an awesome time exploring so many places. At the end of tasting we went back to the home we rented and had a great dinner together.
Disclaimer: in order to share a home we both quarantined for over a week before our trip so we could be sure we were Covid-free. :-)
I’m grateful that we were able to get away, and hope we can make it an annual trip.
Today I am full of gratitude for friends and family that sent well-wishes and happy tidings for my birthday. I have an amazing tribe and feel quite blessed for those that surround me.
Howdy! If you're here because you recently received my holiday card, welcome! Thanks for stopping by. If you want to see pictures of my travels this year, scroll down. If you want to see my Christmas tree and read my good news, hang tight!
It's hard to believe it's December. It feels like just yesterday I arrived to an empty airport in March, but also feels like that was an eternity ago. I had this year planned out, but of course, things didn't quite align the way I hoped. After I returned from Antarctica, I was supposed to fly to New Zealand on March 15th for about 3-4 weeks. Upon my return from NZ in April I was going to begin looking for a job. Well, things took a turn obviously. I didn't go to NZ since borders closed in March, and my job search was basically null for several months as the country tried to figure out what was going on. I began searching for a job in late July, and I will say, it was definitely a challenge. In the past I have been fortunate to find new positions rather quickly, but this year presented a lot of competition. I made it a goal to apply to as many positions as possible, and hoped that I'd land somewhere great! I made a list of the dream job qualities and put it on my vision board. I did not want to take just any job; I wanted a new "home," a new "family."
Well, after 5 months of searching, I accepted an offer last week with a private real estate company as their new Assistant Controller. I'm home. I found my family. And I'm incredibly grateful. This new role is everything on my list.
With the new job beginning next week, I'm doing everything I can to get things organized at home. In the past my family and I have decorated my Christmas tree together. This year was different. I brought my tree home and set it up by myself. I missed having my brother, sis in law, and parents with me at home, but I keep reminding myself, it's just for this year. So here are photos of my Christmas Tree. I also enjoy collecting ornaments from my travels and new ones I find that are unique.
Last week, I celebrated the new job with a bottle of Cabernet Franc from Chappellet and a bone-in ribeye.
As I look around, I can’t help but feel immense gratitude for all of the opportunities for growth this year has provided. I celebrated 5 years of being cancer free, hosted my cousin from Peru, traveled, spent a lot of time with my family, had the opportunity to volunteer and give back in many ways, became closer to friends and welcomed new ones, and found the new job. I also had the chance to celebrate what would have been Chris’s 40th birthday and 3 years of his passing; he will always be my best friend. I am humbled and moved by how much I received and experienced this year. I truly hope everyone continues to remain healthy, and safe.
Much Love & Light to all!
Have passport, will travel.