“Leave a little BFC.”

A little what?

This is my new favorite travel phrase.  I got it from Margaret while we were in Portugal and have been using it ever since.

Sometimes your BFC can be smaller than others.  For example, when you’re catching a bus or a subway that comes along every 10 or 15 minutes.  Your BFC time is considerably less in that situation.  If you’re catching a flight and you’re not sure how you’re getting to the airport and how stringent security is in your particular country, your BFC time needs to be longer.

So what is BFC you ask?  Buffer For Confusion.

It’s the perfect phrase for travel.  You’re in an unfamiliar place and it just takes you longer to figure things out.  You actually read (and re-read) the signs.  You may have a particular plan, but then you realize that various modes of public transportation are on strike.  Maybe there is road construction or routine maintenance on a subway.  In all cases, you need a BFC.

When we were leaving London, we left a pretty big BFC.  Parts of the tube were being fixed.  We thought we’d take the Victoria line to the Piccadilly line.  But when we asked the man running our hotel, he suggested a different route.  The District line was being worked on in another area, so we could take the District line from Sloane Square and switch to the Piccadilly line at Hammersmith.  It was really good that we asked, because Mark told us the easiest way to go, taking into account that we were schlepping our bags.  The switch at Hammersmith only involved walking a few steps across the platform and hopping onto the next train.  We allowed a big BFC, but it turns out we were pretty efficient this time.

Earlier in the week we were going from Obidos to Fatima.  In order to do that route, we had to take a bus from Obidos to Caldas da Rainha.  Our bus was late so we ended up taking a later bus to Fatima than we had planned.  This was before we had heard the phrase BFC and you can see where that got us – sitting in a boring bus station for an extra hour and a half.

I have a feeling this phrase is going to stick with me in more situations than just travel.




We had heard of this ginjinha stuff from Margaret. But what on earth is it and why do they sell shots of it on the street?


Ginja is something similar to a cherry brandy. Only a few steps from our hotel there was a stand that sold shots of it for 1.2 euros. You don’t actually do it like a shot. You sip it. Sometimes there are small cherries in the bottom of your cup. A few times we had our ginjinha in a chocolate cup (above photo). Yum! And the ultimate ginjinha experience is Ginjinha Com Chocolate. It is ginjinha infused with dark chocolate. Liquid heaven!

We planned on checking our luggage. But after Obidos, it was a must since we both bought some Chocolate Ginjinha to take home with us. The main places where we saw ginjinha stands were Lisbon, Sintra and Obidos. We started a ginjinha shot count for the trip but we only made it to five. You just didn’t see it as much in the north. Oh well…

If you ever get to Lisbon or anywhere in Portugal. Make sure you give it a try.

My favorite pastime



Any guesses as to where I went this time?  This is the Monument to the Discoveries in Lisbon, Portugal.  It’s actually in a burb of Lisbon called Belem.  The dude at the front is Henry the Navigator (1394-1460).  In case you don’t recall, Portugal was a seafaring powerhouse back in the day.

Since it was spring break, I only had a week of vacation.  I did take a personal day on the Friday before break so we could stretch it a little.  Why Portugal?  I actually did not have Portugal on my “list” of places to go until something came up to send me off in that direction.  I don’t know if you recall my friend, Margaret.  But she and her husband are living in Portugal for the school year.  So, another friend of mine and I decided to explore Portugal and visit Margaret for a few days.

I’ll be doing more posts about my travels.  But for now I thought I’d just give you a brief taste.  We spent the first three days in Lisbon with a side trip to Sintra.  The next day we took a bus to Obidos.  After Obidos, we made a stop in Fatima and then went onto Braga.  We were in Braga for 3 days with Margaret and explored neighboring towns of Guimaraes and Barcelos.  Friday we ventured to Porto and then flew to London on Saturday and home on Sunday.

Like I said earlier, Portugal wasn’t on the top of my travel list.  But I was so pleasantly surprised.  It seems like an undiscovered destination.  I’ve been reading travel stuff that says as much.  But then you go there and you really believe it.  We hardly ever heard American English.  The prices are cheap.  We stayed in a nice, clean hotel in downtown Lisbon for a mere 45 euros a night.   Contrast that with a night’s stay in London for 100 pounds.  A glass of wine in Portugal is about 1 euro – cheaper than getting a coke.  The buses are pretty easy to figure out and run quite efficiently and are not expensive.

So stay tuned for my travel ramblings and a few photos.  Right now I’m starting to get a bit tired.  The mornings are great since I was 5 hours ahead for a week.  But for now, the evening shift is the more difficult one.

Two of my favorite words…

Spring Break.

Stay tuned for some travel posts.  We’ll see if I do anything from the road…


That’s how I feel.

Since when is it ok and a national past time to bash teachers?  When did we become the bad guy?  How is it that we are now blamed for damn near every problem in this country?  With the current climate in this country, who would want this job?  When is this country going to recognize that JUST BECAUSE YOU WERE A STUDENT DOESN’T MEAN THAT YOU KNOW HOW TO TEACH?!

The thing that really sucks is that I want my job.  I like my job.  My kids benefit from someone with 15 years of experience.  They benefit from all of my hard work and creativity.

There better be some major backlash over what has now happened in Wisconsin.  I can’t even stand to watch the news.


You just never know…

what they’ll say…

I’m in my groove, standing up on my little plywood stage, smackin’ my math examples on my Promethean Board (sometimes you really have to smack that board to get the pen to work)…

do-da-do (musical tone that my computer makes to alert me to email)

A few of them look around.  The thought bubbles appear, “Whose phone made that noise?”

Me: My email must be open in another window.  It’s the computer.

Student (slyly shaking his head):  It’s your boyfriend.  Right?

Me (with an eye-roll speaking to said student): No…  I’m single.  It’s just an email.

Student (trying to capitalize on getting me off task and makes a combo statement/question):  But you’ve got a friend with benefits.

At this point I’m a bit stunned about what this student is saying and also wanting to laugh.  I realize that I walked right into that one.  The student has succeeded in getting me off task.  But the problem is, he doesn’t get it that his joke needs to stop.  It would have been nice if there was time and I could take him off to the side and explain that he’s inappropriate in his efforts to be funny and needs to learn when to stop.  But it didn’t work out that way and I had to send him out.

I have to chuckle at the whole thing.  If any of you have read about my dating experiences on here, you know that I’ve pretty much bombed out in that area.  I’m trying to remember my last date and I’ll admit that I can’t even think of it.  I bet the whole incident would have gone differently if I would have said, “yep, it’s probably him.”