Thursday, July 17, 2014


My family recently returned from a trip to Europe. Some went to London, some went to Paris, my parents went to Geneva (to see Michael and Tanya right before they moved to Portugal), and then we all met up at the Lisbon airport on July 1st.
I went straight to Lisbon. I had already been to London and Paris...and while I would LOVE to go again, I wanted this trip to be about new adventures.

We were all meeting in Portugal to celebrate my brother, Michael, and his wife, Tanya. They got married on March 21, 2013.
Tanya's parents are from Portugal. She still has a lot of family there. So, she came up with the beautiful idea of having a wedding party/ring ceremony/reception in Portugal so the two families could meet/vacation/party/fall in love.

So, the party was planned for July 4, 2014. The whole family has been planning on this for over a year now.


I was the last to arrive. So, everyone was waiting for me at the airport......

I met my new sister-in-law, Tanya, for the first time at the Lisbon airport. I also got to meet her sister, Nina. It didn't feel like Tanya and I were meeting for the first time though. (Thank you email, Skype, and Google Hangouts.) 

We then got on a bus that took us to Figueira da Foz. I was nervous about the hotel because of some past experience with European hotels....and my time as a travel agent. :D I was expecting a box with a sink in it.
But, the hotel was LOVELY! 
If you follow my blog, then you probably follow me on Instagram (LeahFederation) and you saw my view out the back of the hotel. This was my sister's view from the front of the hotel:

This beach went on forever. AND EVER. It might look like the beach is empty, but that's because you have to go to the end and then go downhill a bit to get to the people and the water......
Forever. :D

We went to dinner that night at a seafood place. (I had steak.) And then some of us got gelato on the way back to the hotel.

SIDENOTE: are doing gelato wrong. Unless I just don't know where to buy the good stuff. YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG.

On the morning of the 2nd, we woke up and got ready to go to the train station for a trip to Coimbra. First, we met Tanya's mom and went down the street to get breakfast. Tanya's mom, Maddy, is amazing. There are not enough nice things to say about this woman. It was an honor to meet her.

COIMBRA! I loved this city. 

I'm such a sucker for history. I love going to historical places and learning about the history from the inside. There is something magical about going to a place and FEELING the weight of age and knowledge. 
If that doesn't make sense to you...........then I'm sorry I GEEKED on you.

Coimbra, Portugal is home to the University of Coimbra. ESTABLISHED IN 1290. 

I'm yelling at you. I told you I love history. You were warned long ago. (If you know me. I'm sure I've also mentioned it before on the blog. GEEK.)

Here are some pictures from our adventure in Coimbra:


We got rained on quite a bit that day. But, I was too filled with joy to care. 

That evening, we had a Welcome Social at the hotel. Tanya's family, my family, and Tanya's friends all came together to chat. 
I am horrible at chatting. I should probably send letters of apology to everyone in attendance. I don't mingle. I mangle the mingle. But, it was a lot of fun. It was great to meet all of Tanya's people and laugh all night with my people.
(There was a cry circle toward the end. It was hard to do this trip without my older brother. But, we even laughed in the cry circle. Cause you can't talk about Todd and not remember all the funny. Heaven is lucky.)

There was sleeping in on the 3rd. So, I was a little late getting to breakfast. Sidney and I ventured out on our own and I discovered the breakfast of my dreams. 
Chocolate bread. 
I don't know what else to call it. It was like a squished croissant filled with chocolate cream. But, I'm calling it chocolate bread. No. Let's call it Breakfast Heaven.

Moving on..............Sidney and I decided to wander the beach to see if we could find any of our peeps. It was then that we discovered the true expanse of the beach. Sheesh. 

We didn't find anyone. Shocker.  

Thursday quickly became a free day. It was pretty much the only time we all split up to wander and do our own thing. Well, at least until that evening when we all got together for family picture day.

I. Cannot. Wait. To. See. The. Family. Photos.

I will share them with you when I get some.

So, a wander day and a photo day. I only took one picture of my wanderings......cause I'm not good at remembering why I have a camera in my bag.

Oh yeah! That night ended at Maddy's house for a barbecue. YOU GUYS! A barbecue in Portugal might be what people eat in paradise. (Well, when people in paradise aren't eating cheese or burritos.) It was almost like the food was in some kind of competition to make the last thing you ate taste inferior. Everything just kept raising the bar and blowing some minds. 
Granted, I'm sure this also has to do with the magic touch of all the people that made the food. *slow clap* 

I very rarely take pictures of food. Sorry. 
This should have been the night I changed my habit.....

FRIDAY! The day had come! It started with a breakfast journey for Tanya, Samantha, Brooke, Sidney and me. Then I went back to the hotel.........

I'm about to admit to something shameful. No. It's not shameful. It's just weird vacation behavior.

I went back to the hotel, sat in my favorite chair in the lobby.....and read a book. Well, I read a novella. I read half of it, realized that was weird adventure behavior, and went upstairs to see how my mom was doing. 

Many of you know that my mom has been quite ill for years. Well, SHE WAS A CHAMPION on this trip. I'm so proud of her.  

Anyway, I went up to hang out with my mom and then my dad took me to get a burger the size of my face. (I ended up having this burger for lunch three days in a row. Noms.)

Then, it was time to get ready for the wedding festivities. 


You guys. What. A. Night. 

It started with the ring ceremony. My dad said wonderful things and Maddy gave a lovely blessing. Then, you know, more pictures that I can't wait to see........

Then food. THE FOOD. Even the fish was good. I don't like fish. But, for the love of all that is holy, the fish was GOOD. 
Why don't I live in Portugal?

A woman, I never caught her name, sang for us for a while. I was asked to give a toast and spent most of the time she was singing making notes on my phone. I'm horrible. 
But, it was only my second toast ever and I was NERVOUS. Tanya's friend, Sarah, was a big help. But, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was going to totally botch it. 

I didn't. YAY!

Also, Tanya, THANK YOU. I am and was honored that you asked me to give a toast. It was my great pleasure. 

And I only got a tiny bit verklempt. My little brother is married, you guys! I got a wee emotional. It's allowed. (Even though he has been married for over a year. It's allowed.)

Tanya danced with her dad. Michael danced with our mom. And then we all danced. EVERY. ONE. DANCED. 

What. A. Night. It was the perfect celebration, I think, for two such wonderful people. It was beyond. And I'd like to take a moment to thank Tanya's family. I wish I could find the right words to tell you all how wonderful it was to meet you and feel AT ONCE connected to you. :D Must have been meant to be! 

Saturday, we all seemed to have lazy mornings (those of us that didn't go surfing) before it was time to head back to Lisbon. Saturday was our goodbye day. I hate goodbye. 

Did I tell you that Mark moved to Portugal too? Yeah. I hate goodbye. But, I'm so happy for Michael and Mark. They finally get to be together to start making years of dreams and plans come to fruition. It's going to be rad. 

So, we parted ways at the train station. Sunday was going home time for many people in our big group. But, my parents and I did not go home on Sunday. We continued our adventure. :D I'll tell you about it soon............


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