More of Lisbon

Yesterday morning we climbed onto a crowded city bus and set off to explore one of Lisbon’s most impressive landmarks, the Jerónimos Monastery.  Built of sandstone in 1502, the monastery overlooking the Tagus River was populated by 100 monks of the Order of Saint Jerome, whose spiritual job it was to give guidance to sailors and to pray for the king. Monks occupied the monastery until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1833 after which the building became state property. It was then used as an orphanage/school for the Casa Pia of Lisbon (a children’s charity) until around 1940 and is now a major tourist attraction.

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After leaving the monastery, we walked about a block to the the famous Pastéis de Belém, an amazing bakery with 400 tables that appear to be constantly in use as locals and tourists alike sample the delightful pastries and treats. We were there for the egg tarts, the Pastéis de Belém that gave the bakery their name. We were first introduced to this Portuguese delicacy in Macau about 10 years ago. The Lisbon bakery began making the original Pastéis de Belém in 1837 following an ancient recipe from the Jerónimos Monastery.

After indulging, we strolled along the riverfront first passing by the Monument of the Discoveries. Inaugurated in 1960, the 52 metre monument commemorates the Portuguese age of discovery and the five hundredth anniversary of the death of Henry the Navigator, who discovered the Azores, Madeira and Cape Verde.

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Just beyond the monument stands the Belem lighthouse and a little further on, the Belem Tower, another high place for us to climb. 93 winding stone stairs took us to the top! Originally built between 1514 and 1519 to defend the city, over the years it has been used as a prison, a customs post, a telegraph station, and a lighthouse.

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That brings our quick visit to Lisbon to a close. Today we flew to Rome. More about that in future posts, but there is so much to see and do here that it may be a few days before I’m back at the keyboard to share our adventures with you!

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High places

How can I possibly summarize the past 58 hours in Lisbon, Portugal in a single blog post? I could easily write several if I had time, but let me share at least some of the highlights.

Our plane landed at noon on Monday. After finding our way via public transit to our cozy little attic apartment, we immediately headed out to explore Baixa, the historical and commercial heart of Lisbon. Stepping out of Rossio station, we were greeted by sights like these and I knew that my long held dream had finally come true. I was in Europe!

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Rossio Square or more properly Praça de Dom Pedro IV, one of several squares in the downtown area, was a short walk away. With it’s beautiful fountains and the obelisk topped by King Pedro IV, who reigned from October 1822 to April 1831, the square was the perfect spot to soak up some sun!

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A little later in our walk, we came across the famous Santa Justa Lift. Had we realized when we joined the line that snaked its way up the hill at the base of the lift that the entire experience would take us over two hours (most of it standing in line), we probably wouldn’t have bothered going up. Once we finally made it to the top, however, the views were great and given the fact that Monday ended up being our only clear sunny day in Lisbon, I’m glad we took the time. Richard, however, calls it the stupidest thing we’ll do in Europe!

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There’s Rossio Square again!

As it turns out, the Santa Justa Lift was far from the only high place we’ve visited in Lisbon! Yesterday morning, we took a bus up to São Jorge Castle, a medieval fortress perched high above the city. If you look closely, you can see it in the upper left quadrant of the first photo above.

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After descending the hill on foot, wandering our way through the narrow cobbled streets of the Alfalma district and stopping for lunch along the way, we found yet another high place to climb. The Rua Augusta Arch stands at the end of the elegant pedestrian street, Rua Augusta, overlooking Praça do Comércio, or Commerce Square, and the Tagus River.

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Again, the views from the top were great!

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This is just a glimpse of the high places and some of the highlights of our first day and a half in Lisbon. I haven’t even gotten to today yet, but it’s getting late and we have an early plane to catch tomorrow, so the rest of Lisbon will have to wait!

 

Why I’m taking my oldest underwear to Europe

LogoToday is packing day, the day that I’ve been waiting for ever since February when we purchased our teeny tiny suitcases and booked our flights! I’ve been asked to reveal what goes into my tiny suitcase and today I’m going to do just that, but first I have to share a packing tip that I never would have thought of on my own. When I decided that we should try traveling with carry-on luggage only, I searched for tips online and that’s when I decided to take my oldest underwear to Europe!

Because we’re traveling light, I’ll be doing laundry in hotel sinks and hanging it to dry. Instead of washing that old ragged underwear the last time before we fly home, I’ll simply drop it in the trash! Less laundry to do and a wee bit more space in my suitcase to bring home a small memento or two! Genius!

And now, what else is in that suitcase? The photo and list below include what I’ll be wearing on the plane. Initially, I was thinking about taking only four tops instead of the six that are shown, but after packing Richard’s bag (yes, I pack for both of us) I realized that our little suitcases will hold more than I anticipated and I added a couple more.

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Packing list:

  • 1 pair jeans
  • 2 pairs lightweight long pants
  • 1 pair capris
  • 1 pair leggings
  • 2 camisoles
  • 6 tops – 1 long sleeved, 3 with 3/4 length sleeves, 2 short sleeved
  • 1 little black dress
  • 1 dressy black jacket
  • 1 ultra light down vest
  • 1 scarf
  • 1 lightweight hoodie
  • 1 windbreaker jacket
  • 1 hat
  • 3 pairs shoes
  • 1 swimsuit
  • sleepwear, underwear, and socks

There are two keys to successfully packing light. The first is coordinating colours. As you can see from the photo, every top I packed can be worn with every bottom. I can easily visualize about 30 outfits coming out of that little suitcase and we aren’t even going to be gone that many days! The second key is layering. For example, the little black dress is simple, sleeveless, and very lightweight. It can be worn over the black leggings or without and it looks good worn under several of the tops and/or the dressy black jacket. Depending on the weather, the hoodie, down vest, and windbreaker jacket can each be worn individually or I can layer them if we encounter chillier temperatures. The swimsuit is on the very bottom of the suitcase where it will probably stay as I don’t actually anticipate using it. I never travel without one though, just in case.

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Another key to successful packing is utilizing space wisely. For example, my extra pairs of shoes are filled with small items like our spare pairs of eyeglasses and our sunglasses. There’s even a pair of socks stuffed in that bottle of medication!

Many travellers swear that you can fit more into your suitcase by rolling everything instead of folding, but that hasn’t been my experience. I prefer to fold basics like pants and tops, but I rolled a lot of the other items.

We expect to have wifi in each of the places that we’ll be staying, so I plan to share some travel posts along the way. I’m not sure if Fashion Friday will appear every week or not, but I’ll do my best!

Building a cohesive wardrobe

LogoI’ve written before about my 3Cs of fashion… classy, confident, and comfortable, but today I want to look at another C… cohesive. Cohesion could be the difference between a wardrobe that works and one that doesn’t, so what does this C word mean?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, cohesive means “united and working together effectively” and the Collins English Dictionary says that something that is cohesive “consists of parts that fit together well and form a united whole”. That sounds like a workable wardrobe to me!

So what makes a wardrobe cohesive? I would suggest two things… most of the tops work with most of the bottoms and the majority of the garments are versatile enough to be dressed up or down for a variety of venues and occasions.

How then do we build that cohesive wardrobe? Obviously, few of us can scrap our entire closet full of clothes and start from scratch, but begin by evaluating what you already have and then work toward making purchases that add cohesion.

  • If you haven’t already, define your personal style. I’ve written about how to use Pinterest to help you do that here.
  • Choose a colour palette. Build your basic wardrobe around a few colours that suit your complexion, that you feel drawn to, and that coordinate well with one another. This doesn’t have to be boring. Scarves and accessories are a great way to add pops of other colours. Pattern and texture also add variety.
  • Only buy pieces that will go with what you already own. Ask yourself, can I wear this at least three different ways with items that I already have in my closet? If so, it will probably be a good purchase. This may not work for something like a special occasion dress, but it’s a good rule of thumb for most other wardrobe purchases.

If you follow these simple suggestions, you’ll end up with a cohesive wardrobe that will make getting dressed in the morning easy and enjoyable. No more staring at a closet full of mismatched clothes and moaning about having nothing to wear!

Nothing to wear

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I’ve been thinking a lot about cohesiveness lately for two reasons. First of all, spring is finally coming to the Canadian prairie and I’ll soon be doing my seasonal wardrobe switch. As I bring out my spring/summer wardrobe, I’ll be looking at it with a critical eye and deciding where the gaps are and what I need to fill them with. Secondly, it’s less than two weeks until I’ll be packing that teeny tiny suitcase and flying off to Europe for three and a half weeks. This will be our first attempt at traveling with carry-on luggage only, so whatever goes into that one little suitcase is going to have to work well together!

Choosing the shoes

LogoOne of my favourite fashion bloggers, Susan B of une femme d’un certain âge, frequently suggests that when you’re planning what to pack for a trip, you should start with the shoes. That hasn’t been my usual practice, but for our upcoming trip to Europe I thought perhaps I should follow her advice.

I firmly believe that the best way to see a city is on foot. We’re going to be visiting several cities and I expect that we’ll be doing a LOT of walking. Some of it will even be on cobblestone streets! Comfortable shoes are an absolute must. In fact, they’re probably the most important things we’ll take with us, so from the moment we started planning I’ve been thinking about which ones should go with me.

I have several pairs of trendy fashion sneakers, but they’re more about looks than long distance walking. I thought about taking my trusty Merrell hiking shoes, but they’re all about comfort on the trail and not very attractive to look at. No, I wanted something that was comfortable and supportive for all the walking we’ll be doing, but also nice looking. Nothing in my shoe collection seemed to fit the bill.

Then I wandered into a Payless closing out sale to see what was left on the shelves and there they were! A pair of Airwalk Speed Vitesse sneakers in rose gold!

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I was pretty sure I’d found my new travelling companions and it didn’t hurt that they were on sale for 30% off. Since buying them, I’ve worn them on two long walks and now I know for certain that I’ll be walking the streets of Europe in them. They definitely tick all the boxes for me! Comfortable, casual, and classy looking!

I’m hoping that there’s room for one or two other pairs of shoes in my teeny tiny carry-on suitcase, but if I had to go with only one pair, these ones would do the job.

Which Diane are you?

LogoBefore I begin, I want to give credit where credit is due. As I sat in doctor’s waiting room earlier this week, I came across the idea for this post in a recent issue of Zoomer magazine. “It’s time to embrace your inner Diane,” suggested veteran stylist, Susie Sheffman in an article written by Karen von Hahn. “There’s a Diane for every one of us, and all of them are inspiring.”

She was referring to Diane Keaton, Diane Sawyer, and Diane von Fürstenberg, all in their early 70s and all style icons in their own right. I’ve written before about choosing your own style icon, someone whose style you admire or whose outfits you love. So, is there a Diane for you?

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Diane Keaton

Diane Keaton is known for her quirky, androgynous style. She wears her menswear inspired suits with panache. Her signature style made its debut over 40 years ago with her starring role in “Annie Hall” but apparently the bowler hat that she wore in the movie came from her own closet. To this day she is often seen wearing a similar one.

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Diane Sawyer

American television journalist, Diane Sawyer, on the other hand, epitomizes classic, sophisticated style. Her tailored outfits are both figure-flattering and professional looking.

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Diane Von Fürstenberg

Flamboyant is the word that comes to mind when I think of Belgian fashion designer Diane Von Fürstenberg. Her taste is eclectic and colourful. Once married to a German prince, she could now be rightly called the queen of boho!

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So which Diane are you? Do you see yourself in any of them or is your style completely different? If I had to choose, I’d say that my style is closest to Diane Keaton’s but somewhat less extreme. I could see myself dressed as she is in this final photo and I love her hats, but I tend toward a more feminine look than she does.

Diane Keaton out and about, London, UK - 16 Jun 2016

We’re each one unique. It’s fun to get ideas and inspiration from other women, but in the end, love who you are and don’t try to be anyone else!

1000 posts!

When I launched Following Augustine in early December 2007, I didn’t expect the blog to still be going more than 11 years later and I certainly didn’t expect that I would ever write 1000 posts! According to WordPress, however, which keeps track of all sorts of interesting stats for me, this is it; my 1000th post!

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As many of you are aware, I started the blog to share the year that we spent teaching English in Japan with friends and family back home. Writing has always been a passion of mine and when that year was over I couldn’t simply let the blog die. In the ensuing years, Following Augustine has chronicled our travels to other parts of Asia including a full semester in China,  as well as trips across  Canada, to the USA, Israel, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Saipan. Soon it will be off to Europe!

When I started Following Augustine, I never dreamt that it would someday include a weekly fashion feature. In fact, I probably would have laughed out loud if someone had predicted that. I certainly didn’t visualize it recording a cancer journey either, but life takes unexpected twists and turns and the blog has faithfully followed mine through many ups and downs.

The blog is older than all five of my grandchildren. It has become so much a part of me that I can’t imagine life without it, but a blog is nothing without its readers and so today, hats off to those of you who have been with me since the beginning and also to those who have joined me along the way! I couldn’t have done it without you.

Photo of a woman silhouette taking off a hat. Taken in Riga, Latvia.