Traveling inspires me.  A place will come to mind, I'll ruminate on it, start to obsess over it, transition to actually researching and studying maps, and then decide it's a non-negotiable to visit.

Best end of year teacher gift ever!

That's exactly how I ended up visiting Portugal this summer.  My original dream was to visit small seaside towns in Spain, take the ferry over to Morocco, and then wander the coast of Portugal - what actually happened was some quality time in Houghton/Wyton, England, a few days in Barcelona, and then on to Portugal.

Mar Bella Beach, Barcelona 

Reflecting inside of La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona 

And, it was incredible.  Every single moment.

The most charming village, Houghton/Wyton

When talking to a friend that recently spent her 40th anniversary in Portugal, I realized that what I loved so much about the trip was the quality time with the friends I was with - the freedom from a schedule to sit outside (of course) at charming cafes, take in the sangria, people watch, and catch up.


You see, we live in an age where communication is e-a-s-y.  I valued trading the iMessage and What'sApp for good ole fashioned in person hanging out.

One bummer (in my mind) was we did not visit as many beaches as I would have wanted to.  Ok, lets be real, would I ever say I visited enough beaches?  Nope.

We made it to Peniche, a known surf spot, and made it to the beach for low tide.  We adventured through the tide pools searching from treasure. 

Peniche, Portugal

I picked up a lot of interesting rocks and shells and a few pieces of ceramic.  Finding ceramic in Portugal felt like true treasure.  Everything is tiled in Portugal; floors, walls, entire buildings, so it's natural to feel like any ceramic finds there could be really, really old.

City Wall, Peniche, Portugal

Next, we explored Costa Nova beach on the way to Porto.  Costa Nova is a gorgeous beach and we visited on the most perfect day.  Vivid blue skies, bright, blinding sun, crashing white-capped waves - absolute perfection.  We actually ended up visiting this beach twice since it was so delightful.

Costa Nova Beach, Portugal

Another inspiring tradition in Costa Nova was the candy-colored striped houses.  As the story goes, fisherman used to paint the houses with bright stripes to make them stand out from the sandy beach.  I've never laid eyes on a more adorable town.

In love with the architecture, Costa Nova Beach, Portugal

In addition to the whimsical architecture, there were also sidewalks decorated with fish mosaics.  City planners, take note.  It's all in the details.

Hey fishy!

Inspiration surrounds you in Portugal.  Architecture, ceramics, crooked alleys, tiles, beaches, baked goods - it was all delightful.

Sintra, Portugal 

The doors...

Obidos, Portugal
So many gorgeous doors...

On the last day, I found a ceramic shop I adored in Lisbon, A Loja da Ceramica.  The artists all worked just outside of Lisbon and one specialized in making striped bowls, plates, and cups.  Being conservative with shopping due to luggage restrictions, I bought an orange, striped cup.

need the whole set!
Of course, I now wish I would've bought a whole set.  Or, better yet, multiple sets.  Sigh.  Follow them on IG: @alojadaceramica

Lisbon, Portugal

They will (fingers crossed) be shipping overseas soon!

It's no surprise that when I sat down at my worktable and finally faced my Portugal finds, I was overcome with emotion.

ooooh, that ceramic
When I opened the baggies, the smell of the ocean brought me right back to standing in the great Atlantic.  I was reminded of the wooden dice I brought back from Morocco over 10 years ago - they still smell like the souk in Marrakech.  Fascinated by how one sense could activate my memory so vividly, I enjoyed the moment and sat for a few minutes enjoying being transported back to summer.

Now, to apply the inspiration (and plan the next one)...



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