Sunday, November 26, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving from....Missouri!

At the last minute I decided to fly Grant and I home to Missouri to celebrate Thanksgiving. I did not tell anyone in Missouri that I was coming. My parents were in St Louis and I knew their hotel so I showed up knocking on their door Tuesday night at 8:30pm. To say they were surprised is an understatement. It was a great visit with beautiful weather and I love to be with family. Is there anything more important?

We had fun eating familiar foods, shopping at stores with way too much stuff and not having to watch football games in the middle of the night. We left clothes just so we could bring back important staples, like, Lucky Charms (shouldn't they have this in Ireland of all places?!?). That my friends will be Christmas breakfast. We are now spending our last 6 hours on American soil in the Atlanta airport with our layover before our 8 hour flight to Dublin. I hope you all had wonderful Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Costa del Sol

I first want to send out our most heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the families of Steve and Catheryn Roundy. They both worked with Jay for many years at Enhance and most recently Catheryn was working with us at the sunglass store. She gave us great tips for our trip to Paris. They were so kind and always willing to help. They will be missed~

We flew into Malaga, Spain on Saturday, November 11th. This is located on the southern coast along the Mediterranean Sea. We are staying just outside the seaside town of Marbella. During the summer this place is packed with tourist from all over Europe but as usual we are missing all the crowds. We are taking advantage of the 70 degree weather that we have had for the last 4 days. The next two are scheduled for rain.

On Sunday we attended a very small English speaking branch (congregation). A total of about 30 people. Apparently there are many people living and working here along the coast from the UK. Our kids gladly doubled the primary. The next two days were spent near the sea and the (indoor) swimming pool.

Wednesday was a day trip to one of the oldest cities in Spain, Ronda. It is one of the Pueblo Blancos (white villages) that refers to the many white buildings built upon the hillsides. I won't pretend that throughout all these travels that I am an expert on any of these areas we are visiting. Most places we have gone I have never even heard of. I have just spent alot of time researching and reading travel boards to decide where and what to do on our trips. I wish I were more fluent in foreign languages, I wish I knew more about history, religion and architecture on these trips. And while things are still interesting, I know with my ignorance, I am not able to fully appreciate all the significance. But I am hoping it sparks something within the kids that by exposing them to these places now, in the future when they learn about it in school it will have more meaning and they will want to learn more about it.

Anyway, back to Ronda, we spent the short time there wandering the narrow streets, looking off the "new bridge" (200 years old) and touring the oldest and largest bullring in Spain. We learned that most of us would not want to witness a bullfight (the season is usually April-Oct) and it is much more bloody than I had known. We had lunch at the Don Miguel hotel and I should note that the menu was a little too adventurous for the kids but as usual most places are willing to make a tuna sandwich, hamburger or spaghetti for the kids. I had their almond and garlic cold soup followed by the spinach and prawns in olive oil. I just couldn't bring myself to try the ox tail that is a very popular menu item.

Thursday under the threat of rain, but luckily none fell during our outing, Jay, Cameron, Grant and I took the two hour drive to the city of Granada to see the Alhambra (here I was especially feeling that ignorance). The detailed carving and the abundance of it in the architecture was amazing. We spent about two hours and had it not been for our craving for lunch we could have spent another hour. It is massive and well, palatial.

Our last full day we spent in the sun and then went to the Pablo Picasso museum in Malaga where he was born. We had fun guessing what the paintings were and then reading the descriptions. I wanted to link to my favorites in the collection but it won't allow me. Here is the website and my two favorites were Olga Seated and Man, Woman and Child both in The Collection. We walked around the town center of Malaga and I wish we had found it earlier. It has many pedestrian streets and shops. We had wanted to take a couple of other day trips to Cordoba and Sevilla (that one would have been a bit much for a day trip) but we didn't get them in.
I have really liked Spain. I love the mountains and they way they use every bit of the landscape to farm or build even if it is up the side of a steep hill. I love the Spanish tile roofs, the tiled courtyards, arched entryways, carved doors and my favorite, corbels. I have always loved this style and hopefully someday build this style of house. I love the mixture of history and am on a quest to learn more about it. I will post our pictures after we get home on Saturday.

Please post if you have ideas on places to go and things to see. Or post about anything. Our next trip is in December to the Bavaria region (Christmas markets!) of Germany (Frankfurt, Nuremberg and Munich) and Austria (Salzburg and Vienna).

Buenas Noches

Saturday, November 04, 2006

So What Did You Do This Weekend?

3 days, 6 countries, 3 Ferries, 1 car, 980 driving miles and we are back in Dublin with our new Volvo XC90. Jay and I left for Goteburg, Sweden on Wednesday afternoon. We had some time that evening and went over to the Mall next to the hotel. It was so nice to see so much COLOR! I have read about and I can attest to the Irish phobia of color, in their clothes, decorating and even their weather. But to be in Scandinavia where the bolder the better was exciting. It made me want to redecorate the house, except it isn’t mine. It was FREEZING in Sweden. The temp was in the low 30’s and the wind was bitter. We were not too adventuresome in the eating department and opted for a sushi place down the street for a snack and the hotel restaurant for dinner. It was just too cold to walk anywhere.
Thursday after picking up the car and touring the factory we headed to our first way point, Hamburg Germany. This was strictly a trip to pick up the car so we didn’t do any sight seeing but covered a lot of area. It took longer to get there than appears on the map which seems to be the case all over Europe. We drove down the coast of Sweden and since it gets dark, pitch black, at 4:30 we missed seeing any part of Denmark in the day light. We took a short ferry across to Germany and arrived into Hamburg at about 10pm. We awoke the next morning thinking we had an easy 4 hours to Amsterdam. It was slow going (which included a stop at IKEA) we arrived in the port at Rotterdam at 7pm. Here we boarded an overnight 12 hour ferry to Hull, England.
We disembarked at about 8am and headed across to the other side of England to take a ferry into Dublin. This we thought would be our longest day was infact our shortest. The total drive time without stops would be only about 4 hours but with our obligatory stops to Costco and a shopping mall near Manchester (with no Thanksgiving to appreciate, Christmas shopping is in full force) We arrived at 5pm to take the hour and a half crossing to Dublin and were home by 7:30pm.
Phew and here we go again on the 11th to Spain. And I thought life would be less busy here in Europe....