Sunday, 7 March 2010

Somewhere in.... Parenthood

Anna-Sofia came to our lives on the 20th February 2010, and we find ourselves yet again in unknown territory. This time, it is not a new place, a country yet to discover, a city yet to explore, but the life-changing experience of parenthood. Anna-Sofia is now two weeks old, and each day we look forward to seeing this gorgeous little one grow up and become increasingly less dependent on us. And for the time being, we are just enjoying every minute of having her around. She is certainly the most beautiful unknown territory we have yet challenged ourselves to know, and we look forward to the adventure.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Somewhere in ... the Black Forest

It has been a long while since we updated this blog and what best excuse than our first wedding anniversary? Yes, it has been one year since that amazing night in the beautiful castle of Palmela. We found ourselves celebrating it in yet another beautiful old historical building, a charming hotel called Parkhotel Adler which has been in the same family since the 15th century, and lies in the south of the famous Black Forest in Germany, in the resort town of Hinterzarten.

Godzilla by the hotel

Hinterzarten is an old skiing resort, a little town with quite a few alpine-looking chalets combined with old germanic architecture - the pinnacle of which was the old church by our hotel whose bells certainly made themselves heard, tolling their song each morning and evening - unfortunately we were to hear it only one morning and one evening, although as soon as we saw the hotel and its surroundings, we wished we could stay here for a much, much longer time!

The weather gods smiled at us - the usually wrong weather forecast had warned of rain, and on the way to the Black Forest we had seen some scary looking clo
uds, but as soon as we got there, the sun beamed at us and we knew it was time for a hike.

Walking in the Black Forest with Lenka is like going through a (very) interactive biology class - the flora there is not too unlike that of the Czech Republic, which means I learned the czech names for each flower, fruit, tree and mushroom that came our way - learned which ones were either poisonous, full of blood-sucking monsters, or those which could be used as nose accessories.

These pretty flowers can possibly kill you

The trek took us from Hinterzarten to a very pretty lake called the Titisee lake, where people can eat german cakes in busy restaurants, rent a boat to go around the lake, buy all sorts of souvenirs or hold "waldfests" (forest parties) with lots of food and beer. Unfortunately people were doing all of this. Many, many people. So after a short rest we decided to go back to the quiet of the Black Forest and hike back to the peace, relaxed atmosphere of Hinterzarten. All in all, we did nearly 10kms of hiking, and it was absolutely stunning. To finish off the evening we rewarded ourselves with a lovely dinner in our hotel's very old, charming restaurant, and toasted to our first wedding anniversary. So far so good.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Somewhere in Chicago...

Yes, the dream came true and I managed to organise trip to the city I always wanted to see. The city of blues, famous pizza and The Bean monument:). Haven't eaten the famous pizza yet, need to plan it soon as I am leaving on Friday afternoon. So it is approximately 5am in Europe and my body is fully awake thinking what a great afternoon. I have warned the trainer that she should ask me questions just during the morning as I will be dead by lunchtime. But it is fun - the skyscrapers, wind in the streets, snow and all the people in the streets. Flying over the frozen lake was amazing as you see such a big area frozen is almost unbelievable.
I am here to attend a training to get certification on programme "Getting Things Done" and to train this course within Mars and help people to be more productive, organised, to have better time management and make sure that all things are done in timely manner without the unnecesary stress. As I am walking to the course in the morning and stopping at my favourite Starbucks :) (yes, I am in US and Starbucks is on every corner - so it is like a small paradise). I am getting a really nice white tea, warming my hands and in the classroom sipping it slowly I realise what is written on the cup holder as motto of the day: "Your Next Action Item: Do As Little As Possible." What a fantastic coincidence. :) So the mood in the classroom is hillarious!
Thanks Chantal & Pablo for posting a comment on the last entry and I wanted to write you in between 100times, just didn't get into it. But you are right! Of course I complain and every travel seems like a burden, but at the end - I love it and I will miss it one day when it won't be possible to travel like this. All the hotels, airports, different town and cities, different offices - it just gives me energy. So thanks for making me realising it! And Pedro and I are saying Hi to Montreal:)
I was couple of weeks ago in Czech Republic to get all the documents and I am officially Mrs Lenka Farinha in my home country - now I need to make the changes in France, so the carousel hasn't stopped yet, but soon. I was there during very special time when Liberec was organising The World Championship in Skiing and Ski jumping. So we were officially famous - just for 2 weeks, but famous. Lots of people came and every evening when the medals were given to the sportsmen in front of the town hall, the main square was packed. What an energy! Not sure if you saw some of it on TV, but we lived with it and enjoy our 5mins of fame. There was a website: which described the event, so if you are interested, go and share with me how this small town in the North of Czech was important:) You can see I am really proud to be one of its' inhabitants:)
In between the travels, we had as well great news for me and Pedro. Or more for Pedro - as he got promoted and is now very important manager in Mars:) So congratulation Pedro and enjoy Your fame!
Next trip - lovely UK and then hopefully warm Portugal to celebrate Pedro's niece birthday and relax, relax, relax....
Talk to you soon everybody!

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Somewhere in between the countries...

February is almost finished and our travels continued. The trip to Czech Republic was quite successful (or I hope) and all papers and documents were submitted. Of course it didn't help the mood when I went early in the morning to the town- hall and saw a paper on the door - Today closed! (Every last Friday in a month the office is closed). Well lucky me, that they were open on Saturday morning. Some of you might know that the town of Liberec, will be hosting next week the world championship of skiing and ski jumping, which is great for all the tourists, but will be very complicated for all the inhabitants of this town (let's say that the road structure should have gone through some construction prior to this event). Well I will tell you little bit more about it once I return next week hopefully with my new documents and new identity - I am slowly getting there :)
That is why it is great that we have lots of snow and temperature below zero, for this important event (and it is great that I am writing this blog entry from a sunny Lisbon, where we currently have 16 degrees - well, life is beautiful)

While we were visiting Czech at the end of January, my great friends (Kacenka and Pavel) took us for the first time (to a big excitment of Pedro) to the ice hockey game. This sport is quite popular in Czech and I must say that we are (or at least we were quite a good in it). Great sport, especially if you are watching it from a VIP floor (thank you Kacenka for finding the tickets) with food, champagne, beer, popcorn... hmmm shame that the game is so short (3x20mins with 2 breaks in between the thirds). Well, we had fun! (and Pedro enjoyed not just the ice hockey players dressed as White Tigers - name of the club - but as well plenty of cheerleaders in the stadium)

From there I took a crazy plane to US and spent 4 days in West Chester near Philadephia in a meeting and realised again how this kind of travel is different. Just travelling with business people is not such a fun as most of them open laptops in a second the plane is in the air, starting preparing presentations and at the airport waiting impatiently and silently for the luggage. Then you look to the luggage belt beside you and you see many people from some charter plane returning from the holidays, chatting, laughting, being loud and us in the "business area" jeallously looking at them and almost "shushing" them as they are destroying our great professional environment. :) Well it was fun, as always when I go to US something happens to the weather and there is the constant thread if I am going to leave this country on time. (eg. some hurricane approaching Philadephia and due to the strong winds flights were cancelled and some of my colleagues had couple of hours to rebook, reschedule, or buy new flights - well again, this is much easier if you are travelling on business)
And as I have mentioned already before, now I am sitting in Portugal Lisbon, enjoying the sun and the warm weather ( had to do already some spring shopping due to the unexpected sun:) We came to celebrate Pedro's birthday (not mentioning his age - even though 31 is really not a lot:)
It is great to dine with his family (extended) as it is a habit in Portugal and you almost feel that you are in a different world. Loud music, 10 people talking in the same time, and they are not talking, they are very loudly exchanging opinions on politics, music, films, next holidays, Pedro is trying to translate and for me it is like a movie and I am watching it from my sofa and eating popcorn. It is great, they are great and all the fun, great atmosphere and they genuine feeling of love and being loved sucks you into the environment and you have to participate. You don't have to, you want to as it is extraordinary how happy they are, seeing not just Pedro but as well me, the alien who doesn't speak the language and comes from this cold culture and family where we never raise the voice :) Well, you have to love it!
I am going to say good-bye tomorrow, leaving my hubby behind as he will go to UK (again) and spend another weekend in Portugal and me returning to Czech to collect my passport.
Well - 3 weeks, 3 countries... and there will be more. Next trip planned is to Chicago (beginning of March) where I will participate in a training course for a week....

Until then - hopefully we will spend couple of days together in Strasbourg!

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Somewhere on our white sofa...

Another Sunday behind us and we are sitting on our white sofa, enjoying being at home and don't have to travel. Well, it will start again, but it was a nice change to stop and just look around, without being part of the crazy world. We couldn't though just sit and do nothing as Pedro would say that I am hyperactive and won't let him in peace for couple of hours, so he took me to a trip to Freiburg. Freiburg is a really nice German university town, approx. 70km from Strasbourg with a great catheral, old town and a nice walk to the Freiburg "castle", where you have a great view all over the city. But the main reason we went there was a coffee, which Lenka had to have for a long time already - these cravings which don't go away until you satisfy them:) . It was not a coffee per say, but a lovely cafe latte, which Pedro - as a proper Portuguese - calls hot milk. Well French have really no idea, how to make this tasty hot milk, so you have to go to Germany to get it. And what a fantastic surprise, when we arrived to this town and saw.... oh yes! Starbucks cafe :) For you who knows us, you remember our forever discussions about Starbucks. Is Starbucks this devlish place, the factory for bad and expensive coffee or a place where you can enjoy different tastes, with nice sofas and a nice vanilla latte :) I guess we are just different! But Lenka couldn't resist - of course. Perfect!

So we have spend a nice lazy Sunday in sunny Freiburg, calling friends, thinking about future, drinking "fantastic" coffee and realizing that everything is perfect and we do need more days like this in 2009. So enjoy your Sundays, or any other days in 2009, get a nice coffee, tea or glass of wine or whatever you enjoy and have fun! Crazy travels will start soon, so we will let you know how we are coping. Next stop - Czech Republic, seeing friends and most of all coping with all the bureaucracy of changing Lenka´s surname and her documents - well, definitely an adventure. Have a great week!

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Somewhere in...

... It has been more than a year that we have written an article about our travels. This doesn't mean that we haven't been travelling - may be too much and we have said many times that we need to go back to our lovely blog and create some more tips and stories from our travels. The 2008 was a long and a busy year and it included travels around the world again, though in a different style. Travelling on budget and for personal reasons give you a different perspective and it seems that you see more details and different details on your journeys, than you do whilst travelling on business:) That is logical right?! but you might not realise it. All the hotels, restaurants, 24/7 contact to your travel agent, priority cards for hotels, flights, check in.... Gosh! :) Sorry just remembering our last travel from Heathrow - Frankfurt which took us 12 hours... So, let's try to continue this travellers blog - definitely more frequently than in 2008, to share both types of travel the business one and the personal one. It reminds me of the adverts from the bank HSBC when they compare two things and exchange the meaning. :) Business travel comfort, personal travel budget or business travel budget, personal travel comfort? Well, it all really depends.
So the first and probably last article from 2008 will be from Czech Republic, where I'm spending Christmas with my family.
In Czech snow does belong to this fantastic holidays, though the weather forecast said that the snowflakes are delayed for 24 hours, which means we can forget snow again this year and especially on the 24th December, when we celebrate Christmas, decorating the Christmas tree, watch old and even older fairy-tales in the TV, eating carp (yes carp:) and potato salad for Christmas dinner and visiting friends and relatives to wish everybody a very merry Christmas. So no snow... which I was very disappointed about, but the rest is excellent as every year... the mold wine tastes great and the Christmas dinner which was prepared by my father (our own family tradition:) was delicious.
Reading the statistics from 1908 - 2008 what is the most favourite present each year, I must say that we have followed the most of the Czechs and didn't give each other many useless presents but spend 3 days in a really nice hotel in Prague and celebrated Christmas as family. It was really amazing!
So let's see how the Christmas holidays will look in the 2009 and what travel is planned for us in the next year.
We wish you all Merry Christmas and all the best for the new upcoming year 2009! Enjoy....
L&P is back under 1 single surname Farinha:)

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Somewhere back in Europe ...

We have proved that indeed the World is round, and travelling eastwards for the last 8 months, in a journey starting at the end of December, a cold windy day in Frankfurt, Germany, we have ended up back in Europe, in a much sunnier Portugal, a fitting final as a tribute to the first world traveller Ferdinand Magellan (or Fernão de Magalhães) who set this trend which we have now followed!

And what eight months we had, so many countries we have seen, cultures we have encountered and people we have met and made friends with! Oh and how we already miss the Thai street food, the Angkor ruins, the Mallaccan "Portuguis", the Singaporean tidyness, the Australian beaches, the New Zealand scenery, the Macau and Hong Kong skylines, the Chinese temples, the Korean barbeques, the Japanese trains, the Hawaiian sunset, the Canadian Tim Horton's coffee and the US beautiful scenic drives! So much we have done and seen, we come back with a wealth of experiences that is so rich it will take a long time to digest it all, review it and remember - when we are back home to Strasbourg in early October we will need to organise a long party just to go through all the hundreds of photos and fill back our famously empty bar!!

It is impressive how seeing something new and amazing every day and moving from one place to another can be so tiring, but thankfully during our journey we were so lucky to find so many amazing people all over the world who were so happy to take us in to their homes and allow us to set down our heavy backbags and relax our weary feet, and share in their lives if for just a little while, to all of you - you know who you are - a very big thank you!

And it is with mixed feelings that our last day in our travel reached an end, a party in the lovely town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania a perfect finale, after having visited the wonderfully free and museum-ridden capital city of Washington. We packed for the last time the few belongings we took during these 8 months (packing is certainly a skill we have perfected in this time!), bid farewell to our last hosts Matt, Lisa, Maddie and Moby and took our final plane back to Europe. But in all this time we never felt alone and the 4,000 visitors to this blog have kept us company all throughout with their reading and comments, and it has been great for us to be able to share what we saw and did with you, it never felt like we were too far away!

Eight months of travelling takes its toll and we reach the end tired and happy to be back with family and friends, with homecooked food and familiar places, the bar which has not changed a bit and the friend whose conversation resumes where it left off. This is the end of our round the world trip, and what a fantastic trip it was, but it certainly will not be the end of our travels, once the travel bug bites, you can never get rid of it, and we have been very badly bitten! We will probably go back to many of the wonderful places we have been to, and visit many new places that remain unseen, and we will try to continue sharing our stories in this blog, but until that happens, it is time for us to take a small rest, regain our energy back and watch the World go round ...