The Cousins Carmen

Originally I was going to make individual posts for each stop that Rashida, Shida, and I made on our adventure, but I decided against that in order to keep the post about the highs and lows of each stop and have space to show off some photos.

Shida and I in the Lisbon airport.

So here was the itinerary: Lisbon, Portugal (February 20–23), Madrid, Spain, (February 23–26), and Barcelona, Spain (February 26–28).

To be completely honest, there are not many words to describe the week that I spent with my cousin. I left Sunday afternoon overwhelmed emotionally for several reasons. I felt extremely grateful that Shida’s mother and my mother met in college years ago. I wanted our trip to continue much longer than it did. I also left knowing that our adventures in the future will be full of good food, laughter, the deepest moments of reflection, and bursting with love.

The best way to sum up Lisbon in one word would be food! I think I tried the most amazing food I have ever had in Lisbon. A few food highlights: Pastéis de Belém, duck confit from Trigo Latino, and an ox burger at the Mercado da Ribeira (Time Out Market). It wasn’t all about food, we drank a ton of sangria too! On a historical/cultural note, Shida and I went on two Sandeman Tours (Free Tour of Lisbon and Belem Tour) and we stopped in the Igreja de São Roque among other sightseeing.

Chapel of St John the Baptist in the Igreja de São Roque.

As Shida and I prepared ourselves for an overnight train from Lisbon to Madrid we made the mistake of Googling what the car might look like. We got extremely attached to the nice beds, the television, and the multiple outlets. Let’s just say we didn’t get that experience.

Panorama from my bed (top bunk) & Shida sitting in our room before the beds were pulled down.

Arrive in Madrid in the morning was refreshing but the long train ride really did more damage than we both thought. We found something quick to eat before our Airbnb host was ready for us to check-in. Our first day we very relaxing, we walked around the area we were staying in and got comfortable with the metro system. We also experienced another Sandeman’s Free Walking Tour as well as a bus tour just to change things up a little bit.

Our full day in Madrid was perfect for the two of us. We had amazing salads (yes, salads) from Naif and we also had great burgers. Before the trip I decided to stop eating red meat so I ordered a vegetarian burger but just my luck…there were hazelnuts in it so that was fun. One Benadryl later and I felt fine!

I’m sure what we did next was unsafe, well for me, but when in Madrid, lol! Shida had the idea in Lisbon to get matching tattoos and we both have several so my hesitation wasn’t the pain but more the idea. I didn’t want to get anything without meaning just because the moment presented itself. So…we both got paper airplanes, mine on my foot and her’s on her wrist.

To ensure that we stayed true to our theme, we tried Asian Fusion on our last night. We were in luck, because during our initial walk around the neighborhood, we kept seeing menu’s for Gingerboy. The original plan was to go there on our first night but we were both so out of it from the train ride that it ended up sleeping through dinner. Let me just admit…we were so pumped for the menu, we both knew what we would order and we were both ready for something different. After getting off the Metro we walked up to the restaurant all to find out that Gingerboy does a lot of take out, so much so that there are only six stools inside to sit at a bar. *insert side-eye* Shida and I made the best of the limited space and we were very happy with the food, minus the salmon spring rolls Shida ordered, but the made up for that with a free dessert!

Our next and final stop was Barcelona! Barcelona was the one city that we both had must do’s on our list. Shida wanted to visit the Park Güell and I wanted to see the La Sagrada Familia. Although the weather wasn’t amazing, the time there sure was! Once we arrived in the city we rested for a moment and went straight to La Sagrada Familia. Our tickets were for 17:00 (5PM) and we arrived about 45 minutes so we had to check out McDonald's! Judge all you want, the Chicken Big Mac as AMAZING!! One thing that we noticed in Spain was the looks we received. On the train in Madrid a woman took photos of us and at McDonald’s two small children kept staring at us. Uncomfortable staring. Lucky for them, the McDonald’s was so good that all we could to was laugh in disappointment.

L to R: La Sagrada Familia and Park Güell.

Keeping with Gaudi’s work, we went to Park Güell the next day and finished with good food (no surprise there). Right next door to our Airbnb was a restaurant, el Mexicano. Shida and I enjoyed Mexican food and a few margaritas! We took our tipsy butts right next door to our apartment and laughed at episodes of Fuller House and got some rest. We ended our trip at El Nacional for dinner where we met up with another Nomadness Travel Tribe member.

At one point, in La Sagrada Familia, I sat in the section that was for praying. I was raised in the same church that my mother was raised in, New North Street AME Church in Springfield, Ohio. As a child church wasn’t usually an option and as I have grown older, I value time in fellowship with my church family, wherever I am. Well in that sacred prayer space, I thanked God for the life that I am living, for my mother meeting Shida’s mother in college, and for Shida.

The last week was more than just amazing food, drinks, sites, languages, and memories. The last week reminded me of how blessed I am. I am beyond grateful that He finds me worthy of these experiences.

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