Lisbon starts via Vespa

Our first honeymoon adventure is a Lindsey surprise.  Without telling me where we’re headed, we venture out into Lisbon after a redeye flight, a quick bite to eat, and a short snooze.  Asking lots of questions on our way through the city’s narrow, beautifully cobblestoned streets, I can’t imagine what the surprise is going to be until we arrive in front of a Vespa rental shop.  I’d been talking about renting vespas the entire week leading up to the wedding in Santa Barbara, and now, half way around the world, we’re going to scooter up!

Aboard orange and white, Lindsey and I get our lay of the land via the humming, toy-like scooters made popular in Italy back in the 1940s.  Balancing above cobblestones and tramcar grooves, all the while dodging pedestrians, cars, and road construction, we realize how small, beautiful, and coherent is the picturesque city of Lisbon.  Meanwhile, the adrenaline that comes with doing something that could easily be considered a bit dangerous makes sure that we don’t feel any jet lag through our 4-hour tour.

Lisbon is made of seven hills and it feels like we hit all of them stopping at each of the most expansive view points.  We start with the Parque Eduardo VII, Lisbon’s landscaped central park. We stop at Miradouro das Portas do Sol and lean over the railing for a better view. And we check out the Golden Gate Bridge’s doppelgänger from Miradouro da Graça.  Although we’re just getting to know the city, as long as we keep the Sao Jorge Castle in sight, we can figure out where we are and where home is.

Ancient Athens

In Athens, I led a small private tour for Adam, Drew, Amanda, and Carley earning myself the nickname “Tour Guide Andy”. We ran around Ancient Athens from the Acropolis to the Parthenon to the Agora to the Temple of Zeus and to the original Olympic Stadium just to name a few. At each site, while dodging other tourists, we learned of the history from Lonely Planet’s kindle edition and marveled at the beginnings of western civilization.

towering temple of zeus

The restoration process of some of these sites was in full swing. I have mixed feelings about such rampant restoration. I want to see the sites as they would have originally looked; however, I also want to see what remains from the original builders. Even if it is only a small piece of a much grander building, knowing that small portion comes from the original constructions in the 5th or 6th centuries B.C. would be magical in its own way. In addition, the sites would never be hidden behind scaffolding or bracketed by construction cranes.

The Parthenon

That said, walking through the Agora and up the hill to the Acropolis and finding a panoramic view of Athens from its top, was inspirational. It was proof of what people are possible of achieving irrespective of what has been done in the past. It was proof that societies can make big steps forward when given the right mindset. And it was proof that owning the high ground in any situation is advantageous because no one can sneak up on the Acropolis.

View from the Pella Inn

Temple of Zeus

Seen in Ancient Agora