Day 15 – Valencia, Spain 2012 – May 28, Monday

Our last day in Spain, in the city of Valencia, we head out bright and early with hard boiled eggs and a pear in hand (that we brought from our previous hotel). We walk down the street to the bus station and find the one we take down to the “Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias” (City of Arts and Sciences). It is an entertainment-based cultural and architectural complex that spans a very large area of town. It was a beautiful sunny day so we walked all over the grounds, admiring the interesting modern architecture, and especially the large shallow pools that surrounded the area. There is even a park with awesome bike trails all around it. Bougainville’s were everywhere and they were in full bloom! They had small billboards along the walkways that had interesting photography art work with thought provoking sayings…all in all it was a worthwhile visit for two people who don’t really enjoy museums and have seen our share of cathedrals and castles during our many travels!

After spending a few hours at the arts and science area, we hopped into a cab and had him take us to the beach for lunch. This beach reminded us a lot of Huntington Beach here in California….lots of sand! They have very large bike lanes, something I wish we had more of! This is where all the best paella places are too! We walked all long “restaurant row” where each place was pretty much offering the same thing…Paella, their specialty. We finally settled on one that had a nice “menu del dia” posted out front on a chalkboard and sat down to our last pitcher of cold sangria. Our paella came in the traditional “2 person” flat skillet, with some mussels, langostinos and shrimp. It was excellent, full of saffron flavor and bright orangy-yellow colored. So yellow, it caused our nails to turn orange just from peeling the shrimp! After our lunch, we walked a bit more to look around before heading to the metro train station for our ride back to our hotel.

At our hotel, Joey took a siesta while I blogged and uploaded pictures. This seemed to be how most of our siestas were spent, ha ha. I finally woke Joey and insisted we get out and hit the streets hard once again for our last bit of souvenir shopping. It’s harder than it seems…trying to find things for our kids that were practical and yet still fun. And of course, we had to get a few things for ourselves, and that was the hardest part! I’m pretty sure I was the hold out until the end, wanting to be sure I saw everything before making my final decision ;).

As the night wore on and we were strolling along the beautiful streets of old town Valencia, we decided we should probably eat again. I know it seems like all we did was eat and drink, and for a lot of this trip, that is exactly what we did (between walking and looking at things), but mostly we ate about two meals a day, with maybe a snack of either fruit, meats, cheeses or even a dessert in between. But this being our last day of our vacation, we decided to spring for one last dinner, in spite of having a heavy paella for lunch. And what did we have? MORE paella!! Again, there were lots of outdoor cafes selling paella in this old town area so we found one that looked charming where an according player was playing. AND, another “menu del dia” for $12 euro, that included THREE appetizers and bread that came before the paella! We hared some fried squid, a salad, and some potatoes with a garlic aioli sauce. THEN came the paella! This dish wasn’t as good as the one at the beach, and if you’re ever in Valencia, I would definitely suggest you head to the beach for your paella, but still…it was decent enough to eat…although we couldn’t finish our plates! They also served us a plate of desserts…fresh fruit with whipped cream, a small piece of cake, and some ice cream with raspberry sauce drizzled all over everything. Oh, and I forgot to mention, this came with a glass of wine. The owner kept coming by with a bottle and filling our glasses, even AFTER we paid the check! Sadly, I was too full to even drink all the wine! We eventually waddled back to our hotel where we packed everything up for our early morning flight home before hitting the sheets around 11pm.

As an addition to this last day’s blog, I will tell you that we woke up the following morning at 3:30am to shower and be over at the metro station (across the street…convenient) for the first 5am train to the airport. We made this in plenty of time, only to find out that our 6:40am flight with TAP Portugal into Lisbon had been cancelled! We had two connecting flights on United that we would have to make too (Lisbon to New York, and then New York to LAX…arriving home at 6:25pm). We knew we would never make these connections if we had to wait until the next 11:40am flight to Lisbon! And just thinking about how much sleep we could have gotten had we KNOWN about the cancellation…well, you can imagine our frustration! There wasn’t even anyone at the TAP Portugal window, just a sign posted that the flight was cancelled and to come back later. So we find a café, order some coffee, and get on the phone (at $1.39 per minute), calling United to have them re-book us. Oh lucky me, I get some girl in India whom I can’t understand who puts me on hold to “verify” this cancellation. Uhh yeah, I’m looking at the sign on the window! I eventually realize she disconnected me so I try another number I had for United. This time I got lucky and got an American agent. He spent some time looking for flight options (expensive time), but he eventually re-booked our flight on Swiss Air into Zurich, and then a direct flight home from Zurich to LAX, arriving at 4:40pm…even earlier that our original flight home! Yeah, coolio, and with an international airline too so that means they feed us and the drinks are free! Lots of glutenous foods being served though :(. But they did pass out Swiss chocolate! So without any further complications, and after watching 3.5 movies (I think I dozed…), we arrived home, on-time, and our sweet Lacy girl was there to pick us up!

First stop….Miguel’s Jr. for a couple of bean and cheese burritos before we start back on our diet, lol!


Day 14 – Valencia, Spain 2012 – May 27, Sunday

Today we woke up to say goodbye to our beautiful place at Hotel Montiboli. It’s bittersweet because it is so beautiful, and I would have loved a few more days here, but we also get to go to….wait……..wait for it……..VALENCIA!

We arrived to find Valencia very beautiful, but kind of confusing to find our hotel. There are lots of one way streets, blocked off streets, and bridges that take you underground leaving you completely disoriented about which direction you are going, etc. But we eventually found our way and unloaded our now heavier luggage….and we haven’t even done most of our shopping yet! We definitely have to find small things to buy from here on out!

After checking in and getting settled in our room, we went out to hit the streets of Valencia. This town is really quite beautiful in the old historic area. The apartments and buildings are so beautiful. Lots of pretty character to them all, and most are well maintained. The streets are mostly tree lined and there are lots of palm trees around too. There are outdoor café’s and shops all around, lots of people out and about too. We did a little souvenir shopping before stopping for a glass of cold horchata. I don’t really care for it, but Joey enjoyed it. They even had little mobile stands selling it on street corners. There was an open air market out in the middle of the plaza so we walked around there for a bit. Funny, but my feet have revived themselves! For now…

We eventually stopped for some dinner…our last night of tapas eating. There are lots of tapas places around here, lots of ice cream too! Everyone was eating ice cream, especially the older ladies! But we were saving room for our churros y chocolate for our dessert ;). We finally settled on a place for tapas and we each ordered a drink and helped ourselves to some tapas places out on the bar. Each one has a tooth pick in it (like an hors d’oeuvre might), and when you are finished, the waitress counts how many sticks you have on your plate and that’s how she charges you! Pretty efficient actually…unless you accidently use one to pick your teeth with and forget and throw it away. Afterwards we stopped at the chocolate shop where we got our churros y chocolate. Joey ordered the regular cup of hot gooey chocolate and I ordered a sampler plate which came with four types of hot gooey chocolate. This is heavenly! Seriously, hot melted chocolate with a hot fresh doughnut? How can it not be?

By this time it was about 10pm, STILL light out, so we waddled our fat little bodies back to our hotel and called it a night!

Day 13 – Alicante, Spain 2012 – May 26, Saturday

Today we woke up around 9am, just in time to grab our breakfast before the 10am cut off. Afterwards, I stopped by the front desk to schedule my massage at 1pm. We then came back to our hotel room and got changed into our swimsuits so we could go to the spa and use the hydro-massage circuit. This was quite a unique experience! They have various showers where you stand and wait for the water to come spraying out at you. The water changes from warm to cold, pretty invigorating…okay, more like shocking. But the pool area has some nice Jacuzzi jets where you either lay down on them, or go to a station where each one hits a different part of your body. But the fun part was the different spouts! The high pressure water comes out in various shapes; each one feels a little different. You really have to brace yourself or they will knock you over. But they do give you quite a good massage. I was rubbery even before my massage!

When it was time for my regular massage, I went in while Joey went down to the regular pool and waited for me. The massage was very nice, and very relaxing! After my massage, I met Joey down at the pool where we spent most of the day relaxing some more. This is my favorite part of the vacation! We even went down to the beach for a bit; we had to at least get into the ocean for a bit, right? But it was quite chilly and very rocky. It was hard to walk into the water, not so easy on the feet. We then went back up to the pool where we stayed until probably 6pm as it stays hot and light out until quite late. There was also a private party going on down below so we had the added bonus of some real funky disco music to listen to! We eventually headed back to our room where we showered and got ready for our last dinner here at this beautiful place. We arrived for dinner at 8:30pm, the first to arrive, and were given the most beautiful spot in the restaurant. It was a corner spot with glass windows all around overlooking the ocean. VERY pretty! For dinner we had the mushroom soup, a nice salad, and fish and steak….once again, very tasty. Then, we rolled ourselves back to our room for the night…wondering if anything will fit us tomorrow for the last couple days of our trip!

Day 11 & 12 – Alicante, Spain 2012 – May 24 & 25, Thursday & Friday

Thursday, May 24th we woke up and got packed up and ready to leave Sevilla. We had to catch a 12:15pm flight to Valencia. Our flight was delayed about an hour, but it gave me time to catch up on some blogging at the airport. When we arrived in Valencia, we rented a car for our drive down the coast to our hotel stay at the beach in Villajoyosa, just outside of Alicante. The drive was nice enough, it reminded us of California for the most part. When we finally got near the coast, it was kind of hard to find our hotel. Our directions weren’t too clear so we stopped at a tourist office and the lady helped us out with a better map of the area. When we finally arrived at hour hotel, we were a bit surprised by how nice everything was. I mean I knew it was gonna be a nice place, but was pleasantly surprised by just how nice it was. It is a beautiful hotel situated on the bluffs overlooking the Mediterranean with rooms on various levels all the way down to the beach area. We were shown to our room and I immediately walked out to the large balcony to admire the view. Amazing! The water below is such a pretty color of turquoise, especially against the all over tan nude bodies on the beach below as well, lol. As it turns out the beach to the left of us is a “naturist” beach, while the beach to the right is just a “normal” topless beach…if you are so inclined. There were also dogs on the beach once again. One even swam around for us, sooo cute!

So this first day we pretty much just lay low, snuggling up in our hotel provided robes and slippers and just sit in awe of the view before us for the rest of the night. After such an action packed week in Sevilla, I wanted to do nothing else! So Joey went into town to pick us up some snacks and some to-go salads that we ate while sitting out on our balcony, feet kicked up and resting our tired bodies.

Friday, May 25th, we wake up in time to catch a late breakfast at the hotel restaurant. I was expecting the typical European fare of breads, meats, cheese, fruit and coffee…maybe some yogurt. But luckily this breakfast buffet had all that and more! They even had eggs! I have been dying for some eggs since I eat them quite a bit at home so this was a real treat for me. They also had champagne too. What I didn’t know when I booked this room is that the breakfast was free! How cool is that? And to make it even better, the dining room has a wall of windows so you still get to enjoy your morning looking out at the amazing views!

After breakfast we came back and changed into our swimsuits and then took a walk around the hotel grounds, finding all the little bars and lounges tucked away here or there. We also spotted the spa where I am hoping for a massage tomorrow. They have a whole circuit of hydro-therapy type massage things so we’ll probably partake in that as well. It’s pretty interesting… the spa pool which otherwise looks like a regular swimming pool, has all these little private Jacuzzi stations around the outside, as well as a reclining area with jets too. That makes for a pretty warm pool overall, which will be nice since I like my pool water warm. But I’ve never seen anything like that before! Pretty cool! We also walked down to the “non-nude” beach to see how cold the water is. It’s chilly, but not unbearable. The beaches here don’t really have sand; they’re more like small river rocks of varying sizes. Not too easy to walk on! We eventually made our way to the pool because the views from the lounge chairs are stunning! They are positioned right at the edge of the cliff and you pretty much get a full 180 degree view of the coastline. The pool water is a bit chilly too, but then again, I like my pool more like bath water :).

After our day at the pool we stopped at one of the bars at the top of the cliff and had a drink. AND I got to Skype with Claudia again :). We then went back to our room for a shower before going into town for dinner. We could have dinner here at the hotel, and we will tomorrow, but we just thought it would be more fun to see what’s out in the town. It’s not really a tourist town, but rather a small beach town where the locals live so there weren’t a lot of options. We stopped into the market and picked up a few things for the beach tomorrow, and also got some dessert for later. Its fun seeing all the different foods they eat here. As it “should” be, the cereal isle is the smallest, doesn’t even take up a full isle. And there are minimal packaged foods too. They have all kinds of odd seafood as well. We finally ended up deciding on a Chinese food place of all things, but figured what the heck, we’ve had our fill of Spanish food…for now. Still saving our big diet splurge on paella in Valencia since that’s what Valencia is known for…”paella a la valenciana”, which is a seafood paella. Anyway, our Chinese food place was an interesting little oddity, a mix of Asian and Spanish décor… but the food was excellent. The hot n’ sour soup was HOT, spicy hot! But oooh so tasty. Everything else was cooked fresh and done really well. We were the only ones in there other than one local man. Overall, just a pretty funny experience that we both got a kick out of. We then came back to our rooms with stuffed tummy’s so we stripped off our clothes and got back into our hotel robes and slippers and sat on the balcony until it was dark before retiring to our wispy netted bed, ha ha.

Day 8, 9 & 10 – Sevilla, Spain 2012 – May 21, 22 & 23 Monday-Wednesday

I’ve gotten a bit behind on my blogging, so it’s just the facts, only the facts. No time (or memory ) for the details. Sorry :(.

On Monday, May 21st we took a train to Cordoba…a town where there is a big cathedral that fell under the rule of both Muslim’s and Christians over the ages. The Cathedral and former Great Mosque of Córdoba, in ecclesiastical terms the “Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción” (English: Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption), and known by the inhabitants of Córdoba as the Mezquita-Catedral, is today a World Heritage site and the cathedral of the Diocese of Córdoba. It is located in the Andalusian city of Córdoba, Spain. It took us just over an hour to get there by train from Sevilla. The interior really reflects both religions, going from the traditional Christian paintings and statues, then transitioning to the more typical Muslim architecture of domes and archways as each conqueror added on to the building…”making it their own”, ha. Saying it was HUGE is an understatement. It’s pretty hard to describe so you’ll just have to look at the pictures. After touring around the cathedral and walking the grounds (and working up a hunger), we stopped for lunch at a pretty little place with an inside courtyard as their restaurant. We ordered a variety of tapas…some shrimp, olives, chorizo, BULL meat, and a salad. We then continued on and walked, and walked, and walked all over this town. We finally took the train back home where we were exhausted! TOO exhausted to go out on the town for dinner so we opted instead to stop at a little market to pick up some snacks and then came back home to our room and had dinner in bed :).

On Tuesday, May 22nd we explored some more of Sevilla, walking through the large park on our way back down to Plaza de Espana to get a closer look at all the tile work. Each providence is represented in tiles so it was fun taking pictures of all the places we’ve been visiting and will be visiting here in Spain….especially the Valencia tiles! Being so pooped from the previous day, it wasn’t long before we needed a stop for some refreshments…Sangria time! We found one little place that had tables under a HUGE tree (lots of HUGE trees here in Sevilla), and kicked back for about an hour resting our feeties….and calves, and shins, and knees. Afterwards, we took a ride in a horse drawn carriage around town, asking him to specifically deliver us back near our hotel so we didn’t have that long walk back. This really helped because I was then finally feeling refreshed enough to go out and have a nice dinner! Our horse was such a trooper too on this hot sunny day! We later ventured out for dinner and decided on a little place that had a Spanish guitar player playing inside. It wasn’t exactly a tapas restaurant, but rather a very nice Italian place! It looked like a little hole in the wall until we walked inside the cave like opening and found that it had a whole other section upstairs. We thought the change in pace in food might be good, and after all, (according to the pictures in their entry), if it was good enough for Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz to eat at, then it was certainly good enough for our lowly selves. We shared a salad of warmed goat cheese with a honey vinaigrette dressing. Oh my, it was heavenly. MUST make this at home! Joey ordered the ravioli in a bolognaise sauce and I had the roasted pork with sherry sauce. Both were excellent. Adding a bottle of wine to share made this a very special dinner.

On Wednesday, May 23rd, we walked back over to the train station for a day trip to Jerez de la Frontera and Cadiz…(Jerez pronounced “haired-ee” and Cadiz pronounced “kah’-dee”….of course in your best Spanish accent!). It took about an hour or so to get to Jerez where we walked and walked into the downtown area. This town was pretty neat, it had a fantastic fish and meat market in the middle of the old town area. They had some of the strangest fish we have ever seen sold at a fish market! Lots of eyeballs, teeth and snouts! Also, outside in the streets, people were selling bags of these tiny little snails like we might see clams being sold…in plastic netted bags, ready to be taken home and thrown in the pot of seasoned boiling water. They also had the larger snails as well. AND, some tiny little slivers of silvery crustaceans about an inch long that if you watched them closely, they jump! I tried to get it on video so hopefully you can see it. No clue WHAT they do with those! We stopped for lunch at an outdoor café (pretty much they’re all outdoors…), we shared another salad and Joey had paella and I had the meatballs. Nice little lunch spot, came with a bottle of wine and dessert! I had the flan and Joey had rice pudding. Off we go again and after finally finding our way over to some bodega’s where they make the famous Spanish Cream Sherry’s, we inquired about doing a tasting and it turns out you are required to take their tour in order to taste. Well…with my now aching feet (they tire earlier and earlier each day), we decided to skip the tour and tasting because I didn’t think I could handle another step. We finally caught a cab back to the train station where we hopped on again to continue on to Cadiz, a pretty little coastal town on the west coast of Spain. Again, we took a cab to the beach area and immediately slipped off our shoes, rolled up my skirt, and walked along the edge of the water, refreshing our feet and ankles in the cool ocean water. This is a pretty small beach (compared to our California beaches), so the walk was short, but the beaches were pretty packed with locals sunning themselves. After rinsing the salty water off, we tiptoed over to a park bench and laid in the sun to let them dry. Okay, well Joey sat while I laid my head in his lap, feet elevated. After almost falling asleep, we finally felt a little refreshed, certain we could go on for another 15 minutes or so and slowly strolled over to a beach side café and sat and had a drink, just watching the people and looking out at the many boats in the bay.

Day 7 – Sevilla, Spain 2012 – May 20, Sunday

There must be something in these sheets (like Dorothy in the poppy fields ;)), but I have been sleeping soooo good! Luckily today we have the window open in our room and the church bells have been going off like crazy so they woke me up at 8am! And then of course, they go off at 9am too….for a long time! I think mass must be starting. Darn, missed it. Oh well, was hoping they’d have multiple services today, since it’s Sunday here and all, but we never made it.

We did however get a nice vente Starbucks coffee and walked around most of the morning. We also bought our tickets to a flamenco show! We found out that one of the best places to see the flamenco is right on the ground floor at our hotel…how perfect. Tonight the “fantastic Pastora Galván dances”. She was voted best female flamenco dancer by Spanish critics last year so this was promised to be a special treat for us. “Pastora Galván is from Sevilla, baby sister to the most cutting edge flamenco dancer today, Israel Galván, and daughter of old school living flamenco legend José Galván. Pastora was arguably the greatest star of the last edition of the Bienal in Sevilla, the largest and most prestigious flamenco festival in the world. Tonight she is performing together with her husband Cristian Guerrero on cante/song. You will also see young dancer Antonio Molina “El Choro” and Pedro Sánchez on guitar.” Does this mean anything to you? No? Me either, but it’s what I was told by an expert on the subject and lives right here in Sevilla :).

We started out on our walk this morning and found ourselves at a large park area and there was a festival of sorts going on. Kind of a Medieval type of event, with lots of vendors selling their arts and crafts, and lots of food as well. Joey quickly spotted a Gyro place and he ordered one for himself, and I had some kind of couscous fritter thingie. Both were excellent. We stopped to watch a knife juggler on a stage for awhile, but not understanding a word he said we decided to move on, ha ha. We stopped at one little stand selling sangria and each got a glass. Then we noticed some big bbq roasting place with all kinds of meat on these large round spinning grills. There were pigs and ribs, black sausage and pig snouts…really yummy stuff! Well most of it anyway. We noticed a lot of people were getting a plate of octopus so we decided to try some. It came on a plate of boiled potato slices, and topped with chunks of octopus sprinkled with a little chili powder and salt. I don’t know how they do it, but they really know how to cook their octopus! It’s not rubbery at all! We also ordered a plate of “Los pimientos de Padron”…little roasted green chili’s that are very mild. We have seen them everywhere and they are tasty little suckers. We couldn’t finish everything but we tried! As we left the festival, we came upon one guy who had all these endangered species type birds perched and tethered on posts. We were literally three feet from them. They were BEAUTIFUL, but being a bird lover, it made me kinda sad…especially when some of them flapped their wings and wanting to fly away :(.

We then walked over to the river…the “Guadalquivir River”. It’s a big winding river where you can take river boat day cruises. We also came upon “Plaza de Espana, a gigantic place…a real “palace”…lots of beautiful tile work all around. I plan to go back there and see much more and take more pictures of all the pretty mosaic tile work. Pretty much everywhere you turn you will see something old and beautiful….and many people in horse drawn carriages as well. It’s been a bit of a gloomy day here today, sunny but cloudy at times, and we even got some sprinkles at one point on our walk around town. Also some pretty strong winds came through here, but they passed pretty fast. Only once did we have to duck into a coffee shop to wait out the rain for about five minutes.

We then headed back to our hotel for a rest where I was grateful for a chance to wash my feet! It’s dirty and wet out there and of course I am in sandals. I also spent some time searching out where the bus and train stations are because we’re hoping to take a couple of day trips outside of Seville over the next couple of days. Our plan is to visit Cordoba and Jerez. Our tickets to the flamenco show were for the 10:30pm show…early here in Sevilla. But after our big lunch today, we decided to skip dinner and just head to the show to get in line before 10pm. Good thing because we got front row seats! It’s just a small venue, maybe 75 people, but still, pretty cool to have grabbed these great seats.

What can I say about the flamenco show? Ess Eee Ex Why! Sooo sexy! I don’t understand how they can move like that! And trust me, Joey and I tried going back up in the elevator to our hotel, lol. No bueno! We stopped, fearing we would send the old elevator to its death, us along with it! But it certainly was a highlight of our trip so far, very cool to watch. And I just loved the Spanish guitar player. I’ve never seen fingers move so fast! They didn’t allow pictures to be taken during the show, but they said we could take them during the last five minutes. Well…everyone did, and flash bulbs were going off everywhere as you will see in the video. But it’s a good thing they didn’t allow it during the whole show. I don’t know what else to say about the show because I think you just had to be there. Fantastico! Clap, clap, tap, tap tap, stomp!

Anyway, we have to call it an early night because the train to Cordoba was at 9am the next morning! So after a quick cup of decaf cappuccino and some cheesecake to share, off to bed we go at 12:30am….


Day 6 – Sevilla, Spain 2012 – May 19, Saturday

Today we woke up at 1:30pm…yep One Thirty PM! And I think we went to bed just after 1am so that is a LOT of sleep! But boy was it needed, we slept sooo good! We got up and threw some clothes on and headed out to the streets of Sevilla in search of some coffee. We thought we saw one place that had “regular” sized cups…you know, nice big American sized coffees but no such luck, those large cups were just for hot chocolate apparently. Oh well, café con leche would have to do, even if it meant we ordered two. We also stopped at the ATM for some much needed cash, and Joey also got some churros.

As we headed back to our hotel, we stopped for another cup of coffee and also got something on the menu that said Iberian ham, hardboiled egg, and olive oil. Okay, I could use some protein, so this would have to suffice. For some reason, they don’t do a lot of over-easy eggs here. Well…what came turned out to be some sort of cold soup, a thick bisque like broth that kinda had a tomato taste, but also tasted a bit like hummus….so I don’t know, maybe a bean like base? It had a bit of chopped hard boiled egg on top, with a smattering of crispy dried ham. It was pretty tasty, but not at all what I was expecting, ha.

Afterwards, we came back to our hotel with a plan to shower up for the day but we were slow moving so that didn’t happen for another hour or so. Instead we just sorta hung out in our room, sipping on Cava (Spanish champagne), and went through various tour brochures trying to figure out how to spend our week here in Sevilla. Eventually we got ready for our day, which turned out to be our evening. I tried Skyping with each of my kids, but none of them were online, but I eventually got Claudia online and chatted with her. Kinda cool. Still hoping to Skype with my Isabella, although she’s not a fan of looking at the computer screen for some odd reason.

Soon we were headed out into the streets again for another tapas crawl. We got a little side-tracked as we found the Cathedral of Sevilla. WOW! It is huge and amazing! It seems to take over one whole city block. We walked around the whole thing and eventually heard loud pipe organ music coming from it and noticed a nearby door open so we ventured in. Stunning! There seemed to be some sort of ceremony taking place as we saw some of the procession going on. We saw a few brides out on the streets and in the plazas so maybe they do lots of weddings…back to back maybe? Oh well, back to our search for food! Oh…and we found a Starbucks! Now…the coffee in Spain is great, really great…but we REALLY are craving a nice big vente sized cup of coffee!

We decided on one little tapas bar on a corner spot out of the wind a bit. We ordered a couple of glasses of Sangria and two tapas…one of oxtail and one was some kind of pork.  Both were pretty tasty but we knew we’d need more eventually. We thought we’d try another place but we happened upon a fish place (kind of like fast food), that served a variety of fried fish…cuttlefish, squid, anchovies, hake, prawns, etc. I sat at an outdoor table and ordered Joey a beer and a glass of wine for me. Joey went up to order the fish…which was sold by the ¼ kilo. Joey got a full kilo, thinking he needed to fill me up some since I hadn’t eaten much today. Oh my, a kilo of fried breaded fish is a LOT! We could only eat about half, choosing to leave the anchovies and some other vinegar tasting thing behind.

We finally headed back home although found ourselves stopping for one last after dinner drink of coffee con leche for Joey and a Bailey’s coffee for me. Although…sometimes things get lost in the translation and Joey ended up with espresso again, ha! Oh well, better him than me because nothing seems to keep him from sleeping! We ended up watching the last of a soccer game that went into overtime at an outdoor café with many other Spaniards before heading back to our hotel.

Kinda seemed like a short day, but I guess that happens when you sleep half of it away!


Day 5 – Sevilla, Spain 2012 – May 18, Friday

On this Friday morning we woke up early at 6am (well normally very early again for me), and we showered and got all packed up before heading down to breakfast in the little breakfast room. Today Maria made the most delicious baked pears (maybe poached?) topped with yogurt and honey. Or wait…maybe it was sour cream. I don’t recall because I ate it so darned fast! I must make these at home! And of course, she again served an assortment of breads, jams and honey…with the best coffee! Soon after breakfast, we were loading up our luggage in our rental car and saying goodbye to Maria and Collette…signing their guestbook that was filled with kind thoughts from people all over the world. Maria assured us that we would have fun in Sevilla because it is “the happy city”. Cool! I love being happy ;).

We were finally on our way to Santander, driving through green mountainous areas, as well as along the coast for awhile..I think there was water out there. It was starting to sprinkle a bit, but mostly we drove though some misty clouds. We arrived in Santander with plenty of time to catch our plane to Sevilla, so we stopped at a nearby Mc Donalds for a cup of coffee and a burger. Yes, a burger in Spain…but it’s what Joey was craving. I ate one sans the bread of course. Plus, they have free wifi so it was a perfect spot to be to check our email. Surprisingly…the kids are apparently doing fine without us :/. We then drove a block over to the tiny little airport, checked in, and were soon on our way into the bright blue skies. We flew RyanAir, which is known to be a cheap regional airline. And cheap it was…no assigned seating, and more importantly, NO reclining seats! Oh my aching back!

The flight was only about an hour and a half (where we got a very short little nap in…siesta??), and we were soon hopping into a cab who then took us on a wild drive through the busy streets of Sevilla, to the old historic part of town. This is apparently where all the fun is, and where our hotel is as well. Our cab driver dropped us off about a block or two from our hotel because the streets in this area are pretty narrow, but we easily rolled our luggage along to our hotel and got settled into our room. It’s nothing fancy, just clean and tidy, with a little window that opens to a courtyard down below. It’s much warmer here in Sevilla but there’s a nice breeze blowing through the window most of the time. And again, free wifi ;).

After freshening up and changing into cooler clothes, we ventured out into the streets to explore. We eventually stopped at one of the many outdoor cafes for a drink…because it’s apparently the thing to do! And when in Spain….;).  I ordered a cocktail that was posted on the blackboard, not really knowing what it was gonna be. The waiter said something about “frambuesa” so I knew it would be something raspberry-ish. Well who doesn’t like raspberries? Turns out it was something like a Mojito, only with a big glob of raspberry jam in the bottom. It was pretty tasty, but I soon followed it with a tried and true glass of red wine . Joey once again got his favorite beer…he is really hooked on these! We also ordered a couple of tapas…a salad w/feta cheese and some of the famous Iberian ham. We walked around some more, peeking into shops and looking at the plates of other people sitting around eating and drinking, trying to determine where this tapas crawl would take us next. It was gonna be hard to decide which tapas places to hit, everything looked so interesting! We eventually stopped at another place and tried the meatballs and potatoes, and some roasted red peppers served with bread. Sometimes you just don’t know what you’re gonna get because you have no clue what the menu says, lol.

We eventually came back to change into something a little warmer for dinner as it was starting to cool off just a tad. As we walked around, we started seeing a number of little girls all dressed up in their flamenco dresses and wondered where they were all going. I also came upon a group of 5 or 6 young teen-aged boys who attempted to talk to me…”pardon madam”…as if they maybe thought I was French? I simply said with an apologetic smile…”English”…and one said “ are so beautiful!” in his best Don Juan impression. I guess the boys learn to flirt young. Sweet! So as I strutted my newly-confident self along the streets, we eventually settled on a place for dinner. Sitting there, we saw many more of these flamenco dress wearing girls go by and I was able to snap a few shots and video of many of them passing by. Some of them were young teenage girls as well, all so beautiful!

Our dinner consisted of melon with ham and fresh fish. Our waiter was a hoot, he really enjoyed presenting everything so spectacularly for us. Perhaps it was because of Joey’s great interest he showed in the fish offerings ;). He also assured us the melon was sweet…too sweet he said. And then once again, we were being served a fish with the head still on it and as always when this happens, we recall Claudia’s reaction to having it like this when we were in the Exumas with her, ha! Frankly, it doesn’t faze me or Joey. But our waiter gently carved off the meat and served us, and then whisked away the yucky parts…leaving Joey wishing he could pick away at the carcass. As our dinner was ending, our waiter came out with a shot glass of…something…we have no clue. But it was sweet and frosty cold so we drank it.

We then continued on our walk through the narrow streets and alley ways, all which are filled out outdoor cafes and people out eating and drinking. We eventually came upon a big plaza where there seemed to be a big festival going on. THIS is where all the little flamenco girls were! And even some other little local kids participating in processions where they carried things adorned in paper flowers or incense burning objects. Lots of proud mama’s and papa’s standing nearby taking photos. There were tons of tables set up all over around a big stage and the girls were all up there dancing in their pretty little dresses. Sometimes they all would just stand there in a line and one brave little girl would take center stage and do a short little dance performance before sliding back into the line, giving opportunity to another. Then after a few minutes, another one would brave the spotlight and shake her tail feathers as well! It was all very cute and sweet, we had huge smiles on our faces the whole time! Even some of the mamas and grandmas eventually took the stage with their big shawls and pranced around for a while. It was such a festive atmosphere, we stayed there watching and taking pictures for over an hour!

We eventually decided to call it a night, but not before stopping to finish off the night with a glass of sangria, and to share some flan for dessert.

Day 4 – Laguardia, Spain 2012 – May 17, Thursday

Today I woke up at 4am and could not sleep, though I tried. Joey however woke up when I finally got him up around 7am. We were schedule to have breakfast at 8:30am and I did NOT want to keep Maria waiting! Plus I was eager to try her honey :). Last night she had told us that there was another English speaking couple who were scheduled for a 10am winery tour over in Haro (a nearby town), and that she could get us in with them as well if we were interested. Well…since most of the wineries in the are don’t do “walk-in” tastings like we are familiar with in Napa and Sonoma, we thought we’d better take her up on this offer. So after getting showered and ready for our day, we ventured on downstairs to the communal breakfast area. There were two other couples staying here.

Collette brought out some coffee and hot milk for us. I have to say, I have not had one bad coffee since we’ve been here in Spain. In fact, it’s quite excellent! We were also served orange juice with a variety of toasts, unsweetened cream butter, some hard cheese, a fruit spread of sorts?, some little red and white cherries in a sugary juice and of course Maria’s honey. It’s certainly not like the clear shiny filtered stuff you can buy in a little plastic bear jar at home! It was thick and dense and grainy, (kind of like scooping out caramel!), but it was oh so tasty! I would have been happy just to sit there and eat it with a spoon.

Maria then gave us directions to the winery called “R. Lopez de Heredia”, and also suggested we visit the “Museo de la Cultura Del Vino” another nearby hill town of Briones. Soon we were on our way and arrived easily within about 45 minutes. There were about 10 of us on this tour and it was very, very interesting! And I don’t normally like any kind of tour. But the guide was personable and quite charming and funny. We were led through a number of rooms where she explained the history of the Spanish wine making and how this place still family owned today. We went down in under ground caves where there were thousands of barrels lined up on the walls of the caves. She also explained that the walls were covered with fungus which helps keep the proper amount humidity levels…so the wine doesn’t evaporate. Their particular type of fungus is penicillin. It was very musty and moldy smelling! I certainly didn’t want to bump into the walls. At some points the stuff was literally hanging from the ceiling. She showed us some caves that had bottles in the walls and you could barely see them due to being covered in this furry fungus! Anyway, for the fee of $20, you not only got the tour, you got to taste the wines, but you also went home with a bottle of wine as well. Not too shabby! (BTW, I’m drinking it now 😉 )

After the winery tour, we stopped in the hill town of Briones as Maria had suggested. Well….they had a beautiful old gothic church but other than that, it was much too cold to walk around this town. The wind was blowing way up there on the hill and quite frankly, I was tired of being cold! So then we stopped into the museum but being people who don’t really like museums, we opted instead for the wine tasting bar. And this was no typical wine tasting bar. This was a do it yourself kind where you buy a card, put it in the machine, and pick the wine you want and it dispenses it into your glass. Kinda fun. We tasted about 8 of them (we shared the tastes), and afterwards we came back home in time for siesta, which Joey once again took part in. Luckily I managed to get a little shut eye as well this time.

After our nappy time we ventured off to the center plaza again where we sat and first had some coffee and then had a drink and just chilled, watching the people come and go. It was a little more crowded tonight, almost like a tour bus may have stopped in our little village. We eventually decided to have a late dinner at “Hospedria Los Parajes” and it turned out to be fabulous! The restaurant was elegant and the food was presented beautifully. We opted for some of the local traditional dishes tonight. We were given an amuse bouche of Cream Asparagus, which was a small shot glass of a cold soup. Very tasty! Then we had the big fat grilled white asparagus, a bowl of soup with potatoes and chorizo…again, perfect for warming me up! And for our entrée I had the “Traditional Roasted Lamb” dish and Joey had the “Suckling Pig”. Yes….he ate a baby pig! Awful, its little life was cut sooo short!

Day 3 – Laguardia, Spain 2012 – May 16, Wednesday

Today we checked out of our hotel in San Sebastian, rented a car, and drove off in search of our hill town of Laguardia where we’ll stay in a B&B out in the Rioja wine region in the Spanish Basque area for a couple of nights. We stopped at a mini-mart to pick up some snacks for our road trip…potato chips, salami, sunflower seeds and cookies. Snack time! We had directions printed out but after about half way there, we made one small wrong turn, which got us a bit confused at one point. But luckily there were enough signs that we were able to pretty much feel our way to our destination. The only difference is we ended up taking an off the beaten path road which lead us up and over some VERY tall mountains with lots of tall trees and winding roads, which eventually led us to miles and miles of crops as well. Lots and lots of what looked like leeks! The landscape was amazing! In looking back, it was really the best route we could have chosen, if only for the amazing views.

After many stops to take some pictures, we finally were getting into what was obviously the wine region evident from the never ending vineyards surrounding us. As we neared our destination of Laguardia, we just happened upon a very large winery so we decided to stop in and just have a look around. Oh my gosh, this place was amazing! It had lots of deep caves and dark little nooks and crannies all through it! It was truly beautiful, all lit up by candles and lanterns.

We got back on the road and eventually came to Laguardia, a very old…well ancient…hill town with narrow little pedestrian streets and plazas where the kids play and people sit outside cafes having drinks. The town is only about 3 blocks long with maybe 3 rows of these narrow walkways that tuck in here or there. It is very easy to get lost at first. It was certainly hard to find our little B&B because there are not exactly names on the “streets” and most places are not very well marked. There are a few hotels but you certainly wouldn’t know it. But after we searched for over an hour, we finally spotted the sign to our little place. We were greeted by one of the workers here, Collette, because the owner, “Maria” (a women in her late 60’s), was at work tending to her “bees”. Collette didn’t speak English very well and I was having trouble trying to understand her, but she finally explained the bee situation by saying “bzzzz bzzzzz”, lol. It worked! I then remembered reading that the bees are Maria’s hobby and she really loves gathering the honey and serving it at breakfast to her guests.

Once we were settled into our room and got the wifi set up, we ventured out into the streets in search of a glass of wine and somewhere to just sit and chill. Well…we did this twice, trying another place for our second glass, lol. Actually Joey has been having beer, a Spanish beer that he really loves…Alambra 1864. But once again, more fluffy dogs and their manly owners walking around town! Gotta love Spanish men and their dogs! It was fun to watch the little kids play too. Strange to think kids grow up in little towns like this. After a short walk around the village we went back to our room for our siesta. Joey is really getting a hang of this napping thing! Me, not so much…our room was freezing and I had no clue how to run the heater! Is there a heater? We don’t even know! But somehow at night it’s not so cold anymore.

We finally decide it was time to go find some dinner and being that it was chilly and slightly windy, I didn’t want to walk to far so we pretty much stopped into the first restaurant we could find. It was okay, nothing too special, just a casual little café. They did have a salad on the menu though and as I often do on vacation, I was craving a basic salad. Well, it was pretty basic yet very large, and I ate it all. At least it was fresh and crisp! I also ordered some meatballs and Joey ordered some breaded veal. Both were adequate, though nothing to write home about, ha.

Day 2 – San Sebastian, Spain 2012 – May 15, Tuesday

Somehow Joey and I have still managed to be on separate sleeping patterns! The only difference is now I wake up early instead of him, (around 5:30am!) and Joey sleeps in until 8am! Obviously SOMEONE needed a vacation…a sleep vacation! Even during siesta time, we come in to nap and only Joey manages to actually sleep. Oh well, the early morning hours are a good time for me to recap what we did the day before.

Today (well…yesterday, ha ha) we woke up and went out into the streets again in search of some coffee. It was a sunny but very brisk and cool morning. And yet…people are still out on the shore walking their dogs, swimming in the freezing cold water and jogging up and down the sand. Not me, too, too cold! We stop in one little café and Joey orders two coffees. Ooops, guess you gotta order “coffee with milk” or else you only get espresso! So back he goes to get me my cappuccino and he drinks the two espressos….yikes! We then go back to our little farmers market to get some breakfast, having eyed some egg type dish…kinda quiche looking I guess. It was actually some egg and potato thing. We also bought a very large tomato, and some sort of “ham salad”, which was super thin sliced ham mixed with a few slivers of onions and a couple of olives thrown in. IDK, it just looked like some decent protein to me. It WAS, and very light and tasty too! We also bought some more olives to snack on. THAT was breakfast, ha.

We came back to the room, showered up, and decided today we would walk west on the boardwalk. As long as we were in the sun it was very pleasant, but as soon as you hit a shaddy spot…brrrr. This whole northern region is known for having cooler weather so while it was somewhat expected, I didn’t really bring enough cool weather clothes. Luckily I did bring one jacket!

As we ventured over to this other part of town, it was obvious that more locals probably live over in that area. We started to notice more regular type shops…pharmacies, appliance stores, kitchen gadgets, etc., just things normal people would need. But still…they were mostly all small business owner type shops. We stopped into an ice cream shop and I got the mango frozen yogurt and Joey had dark chocolate…a little over a dollar each. Wow, such intense flavors! Not the watered down, heavy sugary tasting ice cream like we have at home. Why can’t we do gelato cheap like they do here? Why must we pay $4-5 dollars at a mall kiosk for a tiny little scoop of this “specialty” stuff back at home? Pssh. We stopped in another little local market and got Joey some more of the white apricots he likes, and I got a couple of very large loquats. Anyway, after touring around, on foot, we walked back to our hotel in time for siesta and once again, I lay there “resting” while Joey was out like a light!

We then sat here looking out over the ocean for quite some time, sipping on wine, eating chocolates and fruit before finally deciding to go to dinner. We hesitated because the clouds were really coming in and it looked mighty cold out there. But once we were on our way out the door, we realized it wasn’t too bad. There wasn’t much wind and the fish market restaurant that we had wanted to try wasn’t too far away. We were seated outside over looking the marina where some older men were fishing out in front of us. It’s funny, there’s no railings along the marina walkway. My knees go week just getting close to the edge :/ But suddenly as we were sitting there waiting for our food to arrive, we realized one of the men caught a fish so people gathered around to see what he pulled up. It was an octopus!! And the guy who grabbed it off the hook threw it onto the pavement right at peoples feet. It was pretty funny, everyone scattering quickly. Oh man, it was so odd to see this thing squirm around on the ground. You could hear the suction thingies gripping as he attempted to pull it off of the street. Anyway, pretty exciting moment, and I tried to capture some quick video but people kept getting in my way so I have no clue what it shows yet.

Being that it was a bit chilly, and I have been battling a bit of a tummy ache, I really just wanted some soup. Fish soup to be exact. Luckily, they had some and it was heavenly! It was a light bisque style with a couple of mussels in it, a few chunks of nice fish, and a piece of soggy garlicy bread in it. Perfect! Joey gave me his one little mussel because he is a sissy lala ever since he got sick on one in Greece! I also ordered some salmon…yes, just plain ole boring salmon. But the guy next to us had it and it looked good. It was cooked perfectly, and oh so fresh. Seriously, not fishy at all either! Joey ordered “mullet fish”, not having a clue what it was going to be. But anyone who knows Joey, knows he likes his fish served with the head still on it. What he got was two tiny little fishies on his plate. We ordered a half bottle of wine to share, something we wish they served more of in restaurants back home.

It was COLD out in the open on the boardwalk as we walked a bit after dinner. But the sky was amazing! The most beautiful deep blue I have EVER seen, it was absolutely stunning, I hope the pictures do it justice! It was just something about the way the clouds played off the tiny bit of light still filtering through…yet in a dark and ominous sort of way. But there stood the Jesus statue above it all, protecting this little town. Anyway, we walked back to our hotel and called it a night….a good night.


Day 1 in San Sebastian, Spain 2012 – May 14, Monday

Today we woke to a beautiful Sunny day. I first woke up around 5:30 am. It was still dark outside, but all the lights around the bay were still glowing into our bay window….that over looks the bay, how fitting. Joey was still snoozing so I tried to catch some more sleep but it wasn’t happening, the restless body was back and I lay there and tossed and turned. We both finally got up around 7:30am and Joey took a quick shower so he could head out to find some coffee for us. I stayed back at the hotel to get showered myself but Joey returned empty handed. What? No coffee in the lobby? He even ventured out to the nearby streets but apparently it’s much like elsewhere in Europe where you pretty much have to find a little street side café and sit down and have cappuccino from little white porcelain cups. Oh well, we finally left our hotel around 9am and set out for some much needed coffee. It clear and sunny as I said, but it was still quite cool and brisque out….well, it was actually very cool in the shade. I was freezing for a while! We finally start smelling the coffee at every turn and it turns out most of the bars sell coffee where they have “breakfast pinxtos” as well. A pinxtos is what the people in the Basque region call what we know as “tapas”…little appetizer sized foods set out on the bar that you just help yourself to..and then pay for. They hand you a plate, you eat what you want and they ring it up at the end. Pinxtos is pronounced “pinchos” so Joey spent most of the day referring to them as “pinche pinchos”. We ordered a couple of pinxtos and some coffee and sat down to eat our breakfast. Joey had a croissant with ham and cheese; I had a roll with an egg and potato mixture inside. I ditched the roll and ate the eggs. They were both tasty but not exactly what I needed so we plotted our mission to find a market where we could buy some snacks for the day….some protein and maybe some fruit hopefully. We walked around for quite a while, just checking out the small city area, also walking along the boardwalk that leads over to the marina and fish market. Joey was in heaven, determined to come back and buy some fresh fish. Really? Like where are we gonna cook it? It’s not like our hotel had a little hibachi on the balcony! We also happened upon this beautiful old Catholic church that they allowed us to walk around in, and even found a playground with a working carousel. Eventually we head back to our hotel for a potty break, but we soon were out again and stumbled upon a great little local farmer’s market…only it was in a big warehouse. This was the perfect store! They had raw meat vendors, cured meats (a Spanish delicacy), lots of fresh fruits and produce, great cheeses, fresh baked breads, and even some pastries. We bought some home made olives, apricots, apples and nectarines, some bread and Spanish ham. They have a bunch of different kinds of these hams (hanging all around everywhere), and they sell them all prepared and seasoned differently. We really had no clue what kind to buy. We finally just picked one and hoped for the best. It was loin something or other. We also found a little market to buy some beer, sodas, wine and chocolate. We also stopped at a bakery that sold lots of fancy little desserts. Joey got some flan looking thing and I got some chocolate truffles. It was really warming up, and everyone was out and about for their daily stroll (with their doggies…..most not even on leashes!), when we decided to head back to our room and get changed for a day at the beach. Of course when we got back we had to tear into our little snackies and I can tell you, this Spanish ham is the bomb-diggity! It’s kinda like eating dry salami, only it looks like thicker prosciutto…and tastes more like dry thick prosciutto…only better. Seriously, Johnny….you would love it! Only thing is, we can’t bring it back through customs 😦

So we finally get down to the beach, which is really filling up now. Joey picked out his perfect spot on the sand when he eyed all the topless beauties from our balcony. Seriously, it’s the strangest contradiction here. The women dress pretty conservative around town, in fact its customary to do so, but they will take a little break from their work day by walking down to the beach in their work clothes and undress right on the beach. And this is women both young and old….from 17 to 70 years old. Joey wasn’t so interested in the 70 year olds ;). IDK, he must have eventually grown bored of it all because pretty soon he was snoring….softly. But I have to tell you, Spain has some of the most handsome men I’ve ever seen! Everywhere I look, there’s some hottie who looks very much like Joey. Seriously, there are a bunch of Joey’s walking around here….only taller ;). But I can certainly see where his genes came from, ha.

We eventually came back in from the beach, opened a bottle of wine and snacked some more on our goodies while watching the sun set from our balcony. I was shocked to find that it was 9pm and the sun was just setting! No wonder they don’t go to dinner until after 9pm! After quickly getting freshened up, we head out for our first night of tapas…or rather “pinxto” hopping. We had already staked out the area that has the most bars and we could see that even for a Monday night, many of them were filling up. There is this whole area just a short walk from our hotel where you walk up and down alley like streets that are filled with little shops and bars and some other unknown businesses. It is customary here in Spain to go to one place for a drink, have a couple pinxtos, then move on to another place. Some places have seating, some just some stand around tables, and some you just belly up to the bar and graze. We peered into a few as we walked around, checking out their array of pinxtos offerings, and finally settled on one particular place that looked intriguing. Plus, they had seating inside and it was again getting quite chilly. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I just can’t get warm! I’m sure on warmer nights, and probably the weekends, the crowds would spill out into the alley areas. I sit down at a table and send Joey off to the bar to surprise me with some goodies. He’s scared…or as we like to say “scuurrred”, that he will pick the wrong things. But really, there is such a variety of odd looking goodies that it’s just a crap shoot anyway…so off he goes. He comes back with a glass of Sangria for me…my first here, and it was actually quite pleasant….light an fruity. As you will see from the pictures (food pics, yeah!!), we had some kind of ham salad mixture on bread, a couple of artichoke heart diddies (one wrapped in bacon), some anchovy with an olive (very pungent!), and the best octopus I have ever had! Seriously, it was like eating chicken, not rubbery at all! The family next to us ordered a whole plate of it. It had some mildly spicy seasoning on it, yum. We ended up paying $15 euros for 1 drink each and our food…not bad. We soon left and moved on to another place. This next place had some tasty looking stuff! We tried some sort of meat thing that had some soft batter on it. It kinda reminded me of pancake on the outside, but well seasoned ground meat of some sort inside. It was greasy, but tasty. Joey loved it! We also got a mushroom torte of sorts (a crust shell, with savory cooked mushrooms inside), some bacon wrapped mushrooms…or were they those big fatty white asparagus?, only these mushrooms were huge chunks. Almost like if you were to cut up portabellas, but they didn’t taste like portabellas. We ended with a slice of soft cheese that was placed on crisp bread, topped with an apricot jam. Loved it! Again, $15 euros, interesting. Since we had done some earlier snacking in our room, we were content with out two stops so we called it quits on the food. After all, we still have 14 more days of this!

We finally walked back to our hotel where we stopped in the bar to have a night cap. It was a very cold walk back to our hotel so I was eager for something to warm me up. Having spotted the big bottle of Frangelico on their wall earlier in the day, I decided that would be perfect to top off my night with. If only they poured big glasses like that back at home! Oh my, so tasty. And better yet, it was only a few bucks!

Travel Day to San Sebastian, Spain – May 12-13 Saturday/Sunday

Wow, where do I begin? It’s was a long 16 hours getting here, wait…was it 19 hours? IDK, my brain is fried! Yeah, I think it was 19.

Okay, so after a morning of going to Lacy’s graduation, then lunch afterwards, we finally got to LAX around 7pm for our 9pm flight. We checked our luggage this time, which was an odd feeling to be going through the airport with very little in our hands. I was sure I kept leaving things behind. Joey was in need of a charging station so we plugged in and waited out the time until our flight was called. It was a direct flight to Munich on a brand spankin’ new plane. A big one too! We used some flyer miles and they put us on a code share flight with Lufthansa. I’m glad they did! They not only feed you, but you get free drinks too! So we settled in to watch “We Bought a Zoo”, ate some dinner (I even ate the brownie!), had a couple glasses of wine and attempted to get comfy to sleep. No such luck for me, I had an attack of “restless body syndrome”, something I apparently suffer from quite often at bed time. I finally had to cave and take some Ambien and next thing I know I was waking up when breakfast was being served. Gotta love drugs! We finally arrived in Munich rested and ready to go!

We had a two hour wait in Munich but luckily they offer 30 minutes of free wi-fi so Facebook kept us entertained for a while. ALL airports should be so kind! The airport in Munich is pretty nice. It was clean and modern, yet still quaint, and had plenty of shopping too. IDK, it just felt very Munich-y, and Joey even got some decent German beer. But soon we were on our way again for our 3 hour flight to Bilbao, Spain. We flew Lufthansa again so this time I opted for some champagne to celebrate our little va-cay. I ate some glutenous Thai noodle-y salad-like dish that left me feeling yucky. No more gluten globs for me! We finally arrived in Bilbao around 10pm, and thankfully our checked luggage made it all the way through! Whew! Our plan was to take a bus to San Sebastian but it wasn’t scheduled to leave for another 45 minutes so we had a cup of coffee at a café in the rather small airport (not Exuma small…) and soon we were on our way. The bus ride….well, lets just say there are a lot of curvy roads on the way to San Sebastian and it made me a little queasy :/ But we made it to the bus station safe and sound, grabbed a cab to our hotel and checked in sometime after midnight. The hotel is a nice historic boutique style hotel right on the boardwalk that goes around the bay. We couldn’t see much because it was dark, but all the pretty lights made for a pretty view outside our balcony. We were hungry, and everything was closed so we had to hit the mini-bar. Joey wasn’t pleased, what with the high prices of that stuff and all, but it didn’t stop him from cracking open a beer…to “celebrate” our safe arrival of course 😉 We eventually decided to hit they hay early (if you call 1pm early), so we would be well rested for our days ahead.

Stay tuned…


Italy – Day 10, Saturday

It’s our last morning and it was time to pack up and say goodbye to our darling Vittorio. Breathing in the last few moments in our little Toscano town, taking some photos so we’d never forget, we loaded up our tiny car and hopped on the road to Orvieto. We drove through all the beautiful scenic roads, passing vineyard after vineyard. It doesn’t take too much to make two girls wearing new straw hats happy.

We arrived in Orvieto and luckily our rental car return was right across the street from the train station. We dropped off the car, crossed the street with our luggage toting behind us (balancing this, grasping that) and found ourselves completely confused as we entered the train station. It was hard to find any information in English and we just stood there for a while, trying to figure things out. With trains going in both directions, and us having no clue which way was which, we didn’t even know which side of the tracks to stand on. Finally we figured it out so we found a spot to sit and wait for our train to arrive.  We hopped on and entered a car with a lady who was traveling with her dog. Of course we both loved her up, in spite of it being a terribly stinky little thing!

We finally arrived in Rome in the early evening. We only had one night here (I had been before), so we were going to make the most of it. We checked into our hotel and quickly headed to the Trevi Fountain. We made our wishes, tossed our coins in amongst the crowds, determined to come back by here when it was dark to see it all lit up. We strolled the streets checking out the architecture, shops, various sights and finally ended up sitting down to a fabulous pizza dinner in a beautiful square near one of the famous sights. It was all lit up and provided a stunning view by which to have our dinner. This is where we finally asked our waiter what “rocket salad” was, as we had seen it on menus all over. He says, “Oh, that’s what we call Arugula, but we put it on the menu that way for you Americans.”  I say, “Umm, we called it Arugula too.”  Then he kindly corrects himself and says, “Well, maybe it’s for the Britt’s then.”  “Ahh yes, that makes sense, ha.”

Anyway, we make it back to the Trevi Fountain and it is as beautiful as always, a great last memory before heading back to our hotel with plans for a good nights sleep before our early morning flight.