I went to a talk at the school I teach at last year given by one of the former directors of the Futuroscope theme park in Poitiers. The whole talk was interesting but one thing he said has really stuck with me:
On ne part pas en vacances simplement pour se reposer. On part pour revenir changé.(We don’t leave on holiday just to rest. We leave to come back changed.)
A lot of trips I’ve taken have done that for me, but this past weekend I left behind work and family to spend a long week-end with my parents in Porto, Portugal, and it was again true.
Traveling with my parents is always different as my adult responsibilities seem to some how disappear no matter how many years I’ve been living away from home. But this time there was even a day outing planned and organized by a third party that none of us had to worry about managing.
This was my first time in Portugal so last week I somehow managed to find the time, also after talking with one of my colleagues who speaks Portuguese, to learn a few phrases (Fala inglês? Adeus! Obrigada! Olá!) It was fun to try to exercise a velar /l/ and whistle some s’s. A tour guide even explained to us the plural thank you and I used it once or twice getting out of a taxi with my parents.
The first day was long since I drove to Nantes (two hours) at 7 am before flying to Porto where my mom met me at the metro station. I dropped off my things at the 5-star hotel my parents were using for their work meeting and the television in the room greeted me by name (in writing).
That afternoon my mom and I (my dad was working) walked around Ribeira and into the Saõ Francisco church which looks a bit like someone threw up baroque gold all over it (except pretty of course). No pictures were allowed but trust me, it was extravagant.
Everything in Porto seemed unlike the other European cities I’ve seen. I guess I haven’t seen a lot of baroque gold in my life.
On Sunday we went with my dad’s group with a guide on a van tour (did I mention we didn’t have to take charge of anything at all that day?) to Coimbra University which was also beautiful.
Then we went to Aveiro where we rode on a boat through the canals. The buildings are very pretty but hard to get good pictures of given the cars parked in front.
Monday morning my mom had reserved us a guided walking tour of Porto.
Anyway for someone who knew almost nothing about Portuguese history and culture I feel like I really learned a lot, and also got to taste some port wine. I picked up a few souvenirs (a tile trivet, a bottle of port) and lots of memories of almost an almost stress-free trip. I’m not quite back to reality since I’m still on vacation for another ten days but I was reunited with Littlest and J yesterday and special boy seems happy to have me back. I’ll just try not to let the mental load back in right away… and keep reminiscing about this magical, brief getaway.