Ever have those times where you work your butt off? Oh sure you have. Especially those of you who are parents.
You know how hard it is. When you're working ridiculous hours, taking care of everyone except yourself, it is so good, and so necessary to get away. Even just for a little while. And the farther away you can get, the better it feels.
From January through April of this year, I worked so many hours, I rarely left the house. Twelve to sixteen hours a day. I mean to tell you, I'd walk outside and blink in the sunshine, realizing that I hadn't left our condo and had not seen daylight in two weeks.
Why so busy? Eh, I was producing an online cooking class. Plus keeping this blog going and the Real Food Media blog network. Anyway, whatever, I was just swamped.
I knew I needed a vacation. Bad. My husband, Seth needed one, too. He had been driving back and forth from Vegas to LA to teach his class at USC — on a weekly basis. That's 8-10 hours of driving per week. Oy vey, too much!
Then, out of the blue, Seth got booked to speak in Amsterdam in May. That was all we needed. We got online, booked the flights, and we were all ready to hit the road.
The Best Grandparents in the World
The day after Seth flew to Amsterdam, 5-year-old Kate and I caught a plane to New York. We were greeted by Bubbe and Papa (Kate's grandparents).
Bubbe and Papa are the best grandparents in the whole world.
Not only were the willing to watch Kate for a full two weeks (actually we were there for almost a month, but they had Kate by themselves for two weeks), but they lavished her with homemade ice cream and chocolate chip cookies as well as lots of toys, including her first American Girl doll. Oh, and matching outfits for Kate and her American Girl doll — handmade by Bubbe!
How lucky am I to have inlaws who beg us to babysit? Sure, they're on the other side of the country, but it's worth every penny for the plane fare. They get to spend time with their precious granddaughter, which is the best gift they could ask for, and we get a break. Adult time — alone, relaxed, no work.
There is no better trade off!
Ed (Papa) was celebrating his 80th birthday, and while we were sad not to be there, at least they got to have their granddaughter there to help them blow out the candles.
Stopover in Madrid
A few days after I arrived, Bubbe and Papa kindly drove me to JFK, where I had a lovely dinner (by myself — ahhh, the peace and quiet) at Todd English's Bonfire — burger, fries, and a glass or two of wine.
Thanks to the wine, a full belly, my iphone with a white noise app, a sleep mask and socks (ahhh, warm, cozy feet), and some melatonin (these tricks really work!), I slept very soundly all the way to Madrid.
The Madrid airport is absolutely stunning.
If I hadn't had to transfer to Lisbon (and I only had about an hour and a half to do it, including getting through customs), I would have stayed there, had some coffee and a snack, and just taken lots and lots of pictures.
Not only that, but it's so well-designed. There were color-coded signs with digital updates everywhere, “Five minutes to your gate,” and so on. Unlike 99% of the airports out there — normally you can't find a clock to save your life.
But the Madrid airport was a total breeze. Gorgeous — like walking through the Getty Museum. And due to the fabulous design, even with jet lag, I had zero stress finding my gate.
The flight to Lisbon was easy and fast. Before I knew it, I was meeting Seth in the airport and we hopped on a streetcar to our hotel.
Lisbon is a very colorful city, although it is a bit rough around the edges.
A little faded and tattered.
You see a lot of this in Lisbon:
But it is also very beautiful.
I loved the painted street signs:
Yes, all the sidewalks look like that in Lisbon.
Oh, and the food is divine. And did I mention cheap? You can eat out every single night in fancy restaurants and it costs a fraction of what it would cost in Paris or London.
We'll cover the food in the next post.