Saturday, September 27, 2014

Impressions of Spain


Hello!  We have been home a couple of days now, but I had a few last photos of Spain I wanted to post and I wanted to share with you were we stayed while in Spain.  I have to say Spain is pretty spectacular and I can't wait to get back.  I am not to fussed about Madrid as it could have been any European city and it seemed just a little bit cold in the sense of it just lacked it's own character.  I could be completely wrong and maybe Madrid just needs more than a couple of days to grow on you. I adore Barcelona and could move there in a heart beat  The people of Spain are friendly and helpful. I can't tell you how many times I needed assistance lifting Avery's stroller up and down stairs and someone was always willing to help.  Spain is easy to get around.  We didn't have a car the whole time we were there and had no problem getting from point A to point B.  The train, subway, and bus system is fantastic.  The hotels we stayed at were clean and the staff were extremely helpful.  We stayed at the AC Victoria Marriott Hotel in Barcelona and the NH Collection in Madrid.  Oh, and don't forget to have some Paella while in Spain.  I had a chicken and vegetable paella and it was wonderful.  I am going to miss my plates of fresh fruit every morning, my baguettes with salami, and chocolate croissants.  Will not miss the humidity.  That was one thing I was not prepared for and should have done a better job of researching as I didn't have enough clothes to wear and had to wash a few things out in the sink.  I had packed for a  temps in the 70's but 70's in Spain is much different than 70's in Atlanta.  OH Well!  It all worked out in the end. Overall our trip was a huge success!

Fall has finally arrived to Atlanta.  It was actually chilly this morning.  Sweaters are just around the corner.  I am now busy decorating the house and even made some brown butter pumpkin cupcakes the other day.  My favorite!  I even got to watch the first episode of Downton Abbey as I have a friend with a British IP address. Winston is back at soccer and couldn't be happier.  Frank is off to Chicago for work.  He asked me to go with him, but I didn't feel it was right to leave the children again; especially, so soon after getting back from a trip.  Great city to hang out in though and will definitely take him up on his offer another time.  What are you up to this weekend?  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Futbol



We are pretty big soccer fans here in the house, so when I found out we were traveling to Spain I had my husband look into soccer games that might be playing.  We bought tickets for a game with a team in Madrid called Athetico.   They were playing against a team called Celta.  The game was a tie. with an ending score of  2-2. Unless you are from Spain you may not have heart of them, but both of  the teams have some national players on their roster. When we arrived in Barcelona we had heard that their team was also playing, but we thought the game was going to be while we were out in Figures. As we were coming home a girl asked us about how to get to the stadium which happened to be by our hotel.  My husband looked confused and told her the game was earlier in the day.  She said no it is at 8:45 p.m.  and I could see his face light up so before he could ask I told him to get off the train and run over and get himself a ticket.  He was so thrilled.  He saw Messi and Neymar.  He was in heaven! The Barcelona team won the game 1-0.  As if two games were not enough, we found out that  Real Madrid was playing.  Cristiano Ronaldo is one of their most famous players.  He also plays on the Portugal national team and we heard he  was going to play. We thought why not go as we may never have another chance to see him play again.  So Tuesday morning Frank bought tickets and that night off we went to the game.  I almost passed out when I saw Ronaldo.  He was so close to us as we had seats only 8 rows up from the field.  He even waved in our direction when we called his name during warm-ups.  I guess there is still a little bit of a  teenage girl left in me!  What is sad is that he could be my baby brother. Call me a cougar.  I also got to see Kroos, Ramos, and Bale who are also national players.  Actually, the whole team is pretty much lined up with national players.  Going to the game was so much fun. There is so much energy in the stadium.  The fans chant and sing songs the whole time along with a few swear words when something goes wrong.  Avery had fun too!  I was worried she would make a stink and I would have to take her home early, but she was a total angel.  A couple of fun things to note is that instead of popcorn many of the fans will eat sunflower seeds along with a sandwich made of salami or ham.  Winston was so excited when he heard we went to a game.  We brought him home a hat as the jerseys are pretty expensive.  Ronaldo is the player with the green shoes on in the video.  This was during warm-ups.



video

p.s. We are home now.  We arrived yesterday afternoon.  The children were so happy to see us and we were happy to see them.  It is back to the real world.  I have been working on laundry, going through mail and a few other house keeping items today.  I have a feeling I will be going to bed early tonight as I woke up at 4 a.m. this morning.  Have a great day!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Madrid Zoo, Teleferico, and Someone Turned 3

















Yes, one little girl who is from China and who is very much loved turned three this past week.  She is such a joy and I am so grateful I get to be apart of her journey.  Happy Birthday Darling Girl!  We celebrated the day with a piece of cake and then yesterday I took her to the Madrid Zoo.  Lucky us we just had to hop on the metro and ride it to the other side of town. The tour guide book said to get off at Batan station, but that lets you out in the park and the path is not so easy to find; therefore, I would suggest riding it to the next stop which is Campo de Casa. After the zoo we took a taxi to the Teleferico station.  There is actually a station about 3 kilo meters from the zoo, but it is up a steep hill and there was also a bike race going on, so the driver drove me to the station just around the corner from the palace.  Avery and I purchased a round trip ticket and off we went.  What a great view of the city you get and of the park.  Camp de Casa used to be the hunting grounds of the King, but today it is used for walking, biking, races along with the zoo and a small amusement park.  On our way home we stopped at the Egyptian Temple of Debod which was a gift from Egypt to Spain.  The park that the Temple sits in offers also fantastic views of the city. A long day but fun never the less a fun day!
Happy Birthday Avery!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Postcards from Madrid



Hello from Madrid!  Friday afternoon after my husband finished with his work, we took a fast train from Barcelona to Madrid.  It took about 2 hours and was pretty easy to do.  What is different about going to Madrid is that you will have to go through security just like you would the airport.  What I didn't expect was about 20 minutes or so before pulling into Madrid it looks like Nevada.  The land is completely barren.  I am not sure if the same hold true of the south of Madrid, but it is like Madrid just spring out of nothing.  A total oasis.  I am still trying to wrap my head around Madrid.  It isn't as clean as Barcelona and it is much noisier, but then again it is a much larger city.  Kind of like New York with a Spanish twist.  The city is pretty easy to get around with it's great metro system, cabs, ans buses.  The Metro can be a little difficult if you have a stroller because of all the stairs leading into it, but I have found the people are willing to help you if you if you need it. Avery and I had fun wandering around the city.  We went to the Palace which I thought was a little disappointing, but given the economic crisis they have had here the last few years I guess it is to be expected.  Churros are a must.  Who wouldn't want to dip something in a cup of chocolate.  Yum!  The street performers are amazing and worth a coin or too, and the architecture of the buildings is beautiful.  Well, we are off to a local park and the zoo.  Avery has been such an amazing traveling companion that I thought she deserved a day just for her!  How are you?  Are you have a good weekend.  What did you do?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Montserrat "The Birth Place of Catalonia"

Montserrat located just an hour out of Barcelona is a perfect day trip and well worth the visit.  You will need to either take the Metro, Tram, or Bus to Espanya Square where you will follow the orange metro sign down below.  There you will purchase a ticket for the R5 train to Montserrat.  When you purchase your ticket you want to pick either cable car or funiculars.  The tickets will cost you between 20 Euros to 27 Euros depending where you purchase them.  You can also purchase them outside Espanya Square from the ticket booth selling city passes.  Montserrat or serrated mountain is the birth place of Catalonia the region in which Barcelona sits.  The monastery  located at the top of the mountain was burned down and all the monks were killed when Napoleon came through with his troops. The location and event is equivalent to our Alamo.  Once you get to the top you can take the challenge of climbing higher to some of the crosses located even higher up on the mountains, have lunch, go to the museum located there, or see the black virgin located inside the church.  I should also explain that Catalonia is more than just a region because the people who live within Catalonia have there own language that is a mix between French and Spanish.  Don't worry if you want to come to Barcelona to practice your Spanish you will be able to do that because everyone speaks Spanish too. The signs here are both in Spanish and in Catalonia.  The people of this region would love to separate from Spain if they could.  This was our last trip in this area as we are moving on to Madrid.  See you soon.














Dahli

While it is not my style of art, my husband loves Salvador Dali.  We hopped on a train and headed 2 hours north to go to his museum in his hometown of Figures.  Super Easy to find.  Once you arrive you just grab a city map or follow the line of tourist.  You really can't get to lost.  A word of suggestion is that  you do not want to visit during the summer months (you will need to buy tickets in advance). We had no problem getting in, but it was crowded and at times we were knocking elbows with fellow visitors.  It was interesting to see his body of work.  What I found sweet was to learn of his love for his wife Gala.  He was so in love!  The main statue you see when coming into the museum was a tribute to her upon her death.  Afterwards we celebrated my birthday by getting some great food at the Imperial Restaurant located adjacent  to the museum.  Frank had schnitzel and I had lamb chops. Avery was not thrilled by either of our choices. We ended up getting her some yogurt later at a supermarket.  She is not so thrilled with the food choices here in Spain, but does seem to like the ham. After lunch it was back to Barcelona.  I went and did a little shopping at a near by mall and Frank went to a soccer game.   He was in heaven to see some of the greatest soccer players of today play.







Happy Birthday to Me!  "43"

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

In The Trail of Gaudi "contrast cv"

Today we were on the trail of Gaudi. Who is Gaudi! He is a famous architect that lived here in Barcelona around the 1900’s. He was a pioneer of his time much like Frank Gehry today. A little mad man a little genius. What is also interesting about him is that in his younger years he was very rebellious, but as he got older he was commissioned by the church to do some work for them and through his day to day relationship with the monks grew closer to God. Our first stop was La Peddera a building that was designed for family living. When visiting these attractions here in Barcelona give yourself plenty of time as the lines are long and it does take some time to get through each attraction. The building is divided into three stops: the roof top or terraza as it is called here, the attic, and the apartment. I didn’t show any photos of the apartment, but it was very beautiful. Next was the cathedral or Sagra da Famillie . It is about a 20 minute walk from La Pederra or you can hop on the metro. We did not go inside as we did not purchase tickets in advance and the line was pretty long. Also, the ticket prices are pretty steep. This church is still under construction and will not be finished until 2050. It is like looking at something constructed out of Star Wars. The building showcases Gaudi’s love for nature. When completed it will be adorned with a giant statue of Jesus. Then it was on to Park Guell. This park was designed to be a private family living community, but the idea never took off. The Gardens are beautiful, but once again be prepared to wait a long time to get in as we waited 2 hours. I would buy tickets on-line and then you just need to show up at your time given slot. Today was certainly a dream come true for me as I have wanted to see his works for 17 years now. Avery has been a dream. She is such a good traveler. After the park, we headed back to our hotel with a stop for dinner and a stop for diapers and a curling iron. My adapter didn’t work here as I didn’t have the right number of prongs. Well, by the time you read this it will be my birthday and we are off to see the works of Salavador Dahli. It is a 2 hour train ride north. That should be fun!





















A contrast from your typical architecture!