I loved the western coast of Ireland SO much, especially the places in nature that we got to explore. I made sure to take note of my favorite places so that any of you who are traveling through Ireland (or aspire to!) can have a starting point for places to visit!
Food & Coffee in Galway- Jungle Coffee (for cool, casual vibes), Open Door (healthy restaurant), Badger and Dodo (for some good, slow coffee), McDonagh's (for proper fish & chips), Cupán Tea (for the BEST scones & tea), & Coffeewerk + Press (easily the best coffee/design shop around).
Touristy Day Trips That Are Worth It- Cliffs of Moher, Kylemore Abbey, & Connemara
Here I am, finally getting to posting some of my photos from Ireland. While there are MANY more to come, I couldn't resist posting these ones first. My friends Grace and I spent half of a day walking and climbing the edge of these cliffs, and we even got to witness a proposal! The Cliffs of Moher honestly can't be described in words, so I hope that you get a glimpse of the glory of creation through these photographs.
O Porto /
My list of long good-byes started two weeks ago as I rode the train from Lisbon to Porto to visit some friends. I friend's family hosted me so well and made sure I was fed well and experienced all of the second-largest city in Portugal I could in the 2 days that I was there! I met Ana, Timóteo, and Patricia when I worked at a summer camp a couple months ago, and they quickly became family. My visit was the fulfillment of a promise I made to them to come and explore the city they claim is even better than Lisbon. Porto is just 3 hours north of Lisbon, but the atmospheres couldn't be any different. Still colorful yet with darker hues, Porto was much smaller, chillier, and calmer than Lisbon (especially during tourism season), but there was no lack of things to do and see. I definitely will return and make sure that next time my friends take me to all of the wineries in the Douro Valley (hint, hint...Patricia & Ana).
Last week, we went as a group to a small town east of Lisbon, Marinhais. Our friend, Vanda, lives there so she hosted us for lunch (it was obviously incredible!). We then spent some time learning from Vanda as she gave a talk on rest. We finished with taking communion together, and then we headed out to the dam you see below to try and not get chased down by ducks. We grabbed cold drinks, sat on the patio, and played games like time didn't exist. We then went to watch the bulls running in a small town nearby. This is a tradition every year on Portugal Day, and it definitely is a window into such a unique culture. Because we didn't finish all of the lunch that Vanda had prepared, we went back and ate dinner. Seamlessly, we transitioned into a time of worship & prayer. Then, when I thought the night was over, we went to a fair as the world had cooled down a bit and the sun was well set. We payed 2.5 Euros for a ride that lasted 10 minutes long (seriously, America could take some tips from Portugal on this one), and walked around dancing and singing as the locals crowded around, waited in lines, and watched live performances. The day ended after 12 hours, and, for your introvert here, I was ready to head to bed! It was such a wonderful day of being together, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
It is natural for humans to hunger. We are always in need of something. We are designed for dependence. It’s why we reach in the fridge around noon for lunch. It’s why we join groups and clubs and teams. It’s why we read books. It’s why do much of what we do. We find that our bodies hunger for food, our minds hunger for knowledge, our souls hunger for true community.
A few months ago, I found myself in one of my very familiar moments of anxiety after a surprising phone call that shook up my plans, shook up my peace, and shook all of my hopes out the jar that I shouldn’t have placed them in in the first place. I tried to stay afloat in the raging ocean of what-ifs that kept leaping and crashing over my head, desperately desiring me to drown. What-ifs came at me from every which way, clawing for my attention, each one growing louder and harsher as I sat there, paralyzed.
In that moment, I internally cried out for help. It was truly the only thing that I knew how to do. I know how to swim in water, but, when I’m placed in a sea of worry, I sink like a rock. There’s no pretending that I can float. I cried out for my Savior to help me up to some solid ground, out of this storm.
I heard one small sentence in return.
“Callie, who are you hosting?”
My soul rephrased this question: Who am I hosting? Who am I choosing to welcome into my house? Who am I choosing to feed?
I began to realized that who I host, who I welcome into my house, and who I choose to feed shows me the hunger deep inside. The thing is that Anxiety is an insatiable guest. I cannot ever fill it’s stomach. It’s an empty pit that then starts to consume me. After sweetly entertaining it for a while, it becomes a ravaging beast that begins to feed on its host. It can never be satisfied.
However, there is also another Guest I can choose to serve, to feed, to welcome into my home. His name is Jesus, and I find that when I feed him and serve him and give him all of my attention, all of my heart, and all of everything that I have, I find that I, in turn, am full. I might not have every answer that Anxiety desires to feast upon, but I somehow find peace in the fullness that comes only through the presence of God. When I feed the hunger for more of Jesus within me, I am reaching out to him as if I’ve fallen through the glassy surface of the water like Peter. He grabs my hand immediately, and I find that I’m transported to a living room resting at his feet, catching my breath, as his very presence satisfies every longing that I was trying to fill.
Just like eating a meal, hunger returns moments later (frustrating, I know). Seeking God's presence is a never ending journey, not only because he is endless and eternal, but also because his endless, eternal presence marks us like a handprint in concrete. We long for more because we were made for more. Hunger tells us that we are tapping into something extravagant- our deepest longings cannot be satisfied in the long run by things of this world, but we can get the sweetest taste of full satiation in Jesus Christ.
Instead of feeding what-ifs and inviting them to stay for after dinner coffee, don’t let them through the front door. Call on Jesus. He’ll be right there, knocking on the door. Make the choice to invite him in. Feed him. Let him feed you. Sit at his feet. Put the clocks away. The difference between Jesus and all of our other hungers is that Jesus, in return, satisfies US. He fills US. By choosing to host Jesus in your dining room, Hunger and Satisfaction dance the sweetest, eternal dance of delight that can only be found and enjoyed in him. This hunger for more of his presence is the only hunger that will not take and hold us under to the point of destruction. It will, however, take and hold us under until we are fully consumed by his love, his peace, and his joy. This is the best kind of consumption.
Who we choose to host shows us what is most hungry inside of us. What is hungry within shows us what we serve, what we keep feeding.
Who are you hosting?
My neighborhood. Here it is in all its glory. Enjoy!
This past Saturday, we went down to the ocean after a day-retreat and baptized 2 men who have been coming to our house church regularly. It was incredible to see them brave the cold water to show their love and devotion to Jesus, and the sunshine came out just in time. I wasn't planning on getting in, but I couldn't help but get my jeans soaking wet to get up close in order to capture this moment.
Having a local's point of view while traveling is always a game-changer. My friend, Ricardo, recently showed me around his charming town, Sintra. I had explored a little bit of Sintra before, but I had only hit the tourist-sights. Ricardo took me hiking in the forest, on the most stunning drive through the mountains (think Big-Sur-beautiful for you Americans), to Quinta da Regaleira, and many spots in between. I had the Beauty and the Beast soundtrack playing in my head most of the day because this town looks straight out of a Disney fairytale. We spent 7 hours walking, hiking, and exploring Sintra, and I've picked my favorite photos from our adventure to share with you. And to conclude, we ended the day with a coffee and pastry.
If you are traveling through Lisbon or Sintra feel free to contact me for a more detailed, insider's itinerary!
Yesterday I decided to walk around my neighborhood, Parque das Nações, and ended up at the Oceanário (the aquarium, for all of my American friends). The day was a little warm for springtime, but it seemed like all of Lisbon was outside walking and sitting with their families and friends next to the river. This area of town is relatively new, and all of the architecture is grand and modern.
I was pretty impressed by the Oceanário, although it was very crowded on a Saturday afternoon. I will definitely go back soon to get some more pictures!
Any of my good friends will tell you that one of the places that I feel most alive is in a garden (or really just out in nature in general). I found out about this garden from a blog I stumbled onto via Pinterest. Jardim Tapada das Necessidades is situated high in an older part of the city, and you can only find it by winding through streets with tight turns and steep hills. I didn't realize how big it was going to be, but it took me a good hour to wander through and take photos. I could have spent all day there! I made the mistake of going at noon, so I found myself fighting with harsh lighting. On the plus side, I only saw a total of about 15 people during my time there on a Friday afternoon, and the geese happened to be highly photogenic, positioning themselves perfectly for photos (as you can see below). Overall, this magical fairyland of gigantic succulents, ducks, swans, old pink architexture, and stunning views of the 25 de Abril bridge, far exceeded my expectations.
All of the colors of spring are coming out just for me (at least I'd like to believe that)! On my way back from getting my haircut, I decided to wander through Bairo Alto and snap some photos of one of my favorite Miradouros in Lisbon (there are a bunch, but I've only seen 2 so far!). I wandered through the streets and found some incredible colors and subjects to capture (surprised? nope). You can probably tell that I really liked this fountain-pool-alcove thing. The high-contrast texture and the blue water next to the orange buds of new life were making me drool!
I realize that pretty much all of my posts begin with "I was wandering around and stumbled upon...". Usually, in America, I am very good at getting from point A to point B. I never really took time to enjoy the process of getting from point A to point B. Here, I have a lot of free time (and this culture is slower in general), and I've been learning to enjoy the journey and to take in everything that would normally go unnoticed. These photos are from an area in Lisbon called Santos all the way up to the yellow line metro stop, Rato. I got off the bus early and walked the rest of the way to my stop, and I am so glad I did because look how beautiful this city is even on an overcast day!
This, right here, is one of my favorite places to hang out in Lisbon. I've had a Portuguese language intensive in a co-working space in the LX Factory, so I've had multiple opportunities to spend my afternoons here. The LX Factory is one of the younger, more hip places in Lisbon and has one main street running through the buildings lined with vintage shops, cafés & restaurants, coffee shops, book stores, pastry shops, specialty stores, and other creative businesses. This is definitely one of my go-to places, and I'd highly advise anyone visiting Lisbon to stop by the LX Factory!
Two of my best friends and one of my favorite moms came in town to visit on their way to family vacation this past week! Calah, Will, and Mrs. Lisa were in town for two days, so a couple of hours before they had to catch their flight we got a ride to the beach. Our Uber driver, Antonio, was the sweetest little old Portuguese man we'd ever seen, and the whole day felt straight out of a dreamy Hollywood movie. From perfect weather to the best, oldies soundtrack playing in the background of our drives, this day was one to remember.
Today I drove with my friend Tito to a small suburb of Lisbon where a lot of people come to surf! Sadly, the waves were not ideal for good surf, and I tried to convince myself that it would actually be warm in February. But despite the chilly weather, the sun was shining, and the wind was blowing fresh ocean air over me as I sat, read, and watched the surfers. There was even a strange, stray dog that came and cuddled up next to me. It was pretty weird, but I had a great day getting some new kinds of shots and learning to work with strong natural light.
Today, I chose to walk and wander and find my way near the water. I followed a street that I knew would take me close to the shore, but I found my sense of wonder being awakened with each turn. It was nice to walk without having a specified destination. This adventure led me into residential alleys, past green parks, near bakeries, small art galleries, and the train station. I'm amazed by the amount of beauty this city has to offer! It seems like there's something new to see with each turn. Here's to being wide-eyed and needing to get my miles in for the day!
So far, this little coffee shop has proved to be the spot most like Nashville in Lisbon. Shortly after arriving in Portugal, I realized that ordering a cup of coffee meant ordering espresso. Espresso=coffee, and to ask for a regular cup of black coffee is definitely not the norm. Some places don't even serve it! Even though my go-to is a plain cup of black coffee, I've really come to love Portuguese cafe.
Copenhagen Coffee Lab, however, serves all kinds of coffee brewed multiple ways. You can get a V60 drip, an aeropress, an espresso, and all kinds of lattes. The prices are a little steeper than most places in Lisbon (an espresso costs less than a dollar), but I've allowed myself to splurge because the dirty chai was just too good to resist. The clean interior and English speaking baristas could have fooled me into thinking I was somewhere in Nashville. The food was also unbelievable, so you can bet that this is going to be one of my regular spots!
The title is funny because I don't blend in at all. Although Lisbon is an incredibly diverse city full of people who you'd least expect to be locals speaking Portuguese, my rosey skin gives me away. Most people could tell right away that I am not local. My friend Tito (pictured below) says that I look British...I'll take it!
In between making fun of my mispronunciations of his language and my stereotypical "americanisms", Tito showed me around some more of Lisbon's downtown. The night was complete by being offered drugs by a stranger, walking next to the river as the sun was setting, and wandering into the most unassuming but vibey Portuguese coffee shop that tourists would never find.