You were a tumultuous year, 2016. You brought upheaval and bureaucracy, as Tom and I moved across Europe to a new home. You made mischief with crazy politics in our home country and elsewhere. And along the way, you also delivered memory-making travel adventures for us, tailor-made and unforgettable. The pace of your days was addling at times, but things were never dull. You were gritty and colorful, 2016! When you made your exit, in a flurry of tinsel and December memories of Havana diesel, we saw you out with a mix of relief and gratitude.
We started the year by selling our home in Basel and moving to Portugal. Just after arriving in Porto, we enjoyed a world-class port wine experience, found a place to live, and began to learn our way around the city. I joined a yoga studio and a book club. In October, we were interviewed for Evasões, the weekend supplement of Portugal’s Jornal de Notícias, for its “Made in America” feature. Tom got out his bike and enjoyed Christmas-season rides around Porto. We also saw the inside of a daunting number of bureaucratic offices, and by year-end had the residency cards and import papers for our car to show for it.
In Portugal, we made forays into the Douro Valley from our new home base, and shared food, wine and stunning scenery with friends and family. We practiced slow travel in Spain, the US, France, Italy and most recently, Cuba. We took our first-ever cruise, a culinary extravaganza from Lisbon to Barcelona. In France, we had blissful travel in Provence. As ambassadors of the new Italian Wonder Ways, we walked in the Apennine Mountains of Central Italy, and extended our journey with a stay in Rome.
In December, we landed in Havana hours after Fidel Castro’s passing. We found the challenges of social media in Cuba to be onerous, and decided not to tweet and Instagram every move–or any move, for that matter. It was liberating to be offline, but now we have thousands of photos no one has seen, and many stories to tell. Stay tuned!
New flavors and food ways
The year brought a number of new food travel experiences our way. We joined cooking evenings in Porto, Lisbon and Peniche, and learned delicious seafood preparations. On a tour through the Oeste (West Lisbon) , we gained a new appreciation of the region’s wines and culinary offerings, and are eager to return to this region of Portugal.
Our Mediterranean cruise taught us a thing or two about Spanish wines. A food tour in Malaga reminded us of the joys of eating local. From Provence, we brought home the French practice of a long, glorious lunchtime meal and great memories of a summer harvest season around a Michelin-starred table. In Italy, we almost came to blows at our neighborhood food and wine shop, as we argued over discussed which of the glorious antipasti and wines to take home for dinner on our terrace in Rome.
During a month in the US, we shared wonderful meals with family and friends. Especially in New York, we savored the Asian flavors we don’t find in Porto. We even took a food tour of the Metropolitan Museum. In Minneapolis and New York City, we re-connected over food with new friends from our travels in Europe.
Into a new year
Last year, we were delighted to meet up with a number of our online acquaintances “in real life”. We also enjoyed foodie explorations in Portugal with Julie of Julie Dawn Fox in Portugal, in France with Carolyne of Perfectly Provence, and in Italy with James of Wandering Italy and Martha of Martha’s Italy. We look forward to bringing more of our virtual friendships into the real world in the year ahead!
Tom and I have barely tapped the surface of Portugal’s food scene, and in the coming months look forward to experiencing more of it . We want to be in Porto for early-summer festivities, and enjoy the change of seasons in the Douro Valley.
We have a return to Italy in the works, and have already booked tickets to Nepal (!) in the spring. It will be Anita’s first time there, and for Tom, a chance to renew connections from previous travels to Nepal. Family time is high on our list of priorities for this year, too, with summertime dates TBD.