A Travellerspoint blog

Europe Finale!

Hasta luego...

overcast

HOLA! I know its been awhile but here goes...
I wanted to take the time & thank the heavens for finally healing my skin from the MANY bug bites that occurred while in Malaga. As some of you may know my skin has been through the ringer from a previous Brown Recluse spider bite. And so when something interrupts the normal operations of my skin----I have NO IDEA what to expect. And so here's that story, I encountered LOTS of bug bites
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my body tried to heal them-- slowly but surely. Then 2 weeks after the healing, my hands decided to burn & itch during the middle of the night. I looked for relief from the local pharmacist in the way of an anti-histamine & cortisone cream. Now usually these things don't work (I have a whole drawer of creams & anti-histamines at home). But I hoped the European ones would be different... So then my hands now decided that burning & itching wasn't good enough & so then developed hives/boils/blisters on them!
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That lasted awhile & then finally my spidey powers kicked in & I am now actively shedding that skin & hopefully turning into a super version of myself! :-) No worries/complaints from me because everything is fine now & I have learned that through all my experiences (good or bad)---
there is always something to learn from all experiences...

Now let's get in a Broadway show Spain style while we are it! El Rey León or The Lion King theatre show was up next for us. Grandma Marty, sweet Caroline & I were lucky to have seen such a moving & amazing show through sight & sound! The costumes combined with the actor's movement of a giraffe, hyena or cheetah made the set a grand spectacle. Yes it was in Spanish, which made understanding all of the dialogue difficult, but luckily Caroline & I had seen the movie. We filled in Gramdma Marty, but she was loving it well before the story made sense to her :) I'd say it was like watching an opera. You don't know what they're saying or singing but you see, hear & feel whats going on & are eventually moved. Would love to see this show again.
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>Picked up Matt from the airport at 8:30am & it really felt like I lived in Spain! I am picking him up & I have no bags while he will. I know our way around (slightly) & could get us around on the metro. He got to have a mind vacation & relax about our surroundings. He sadly hadn't gotten any sleep on the flight from Atlanta to Madrid & according to his body it was 2 in the morning. So of course the first thing to do was get him some sleep! He slept a little & then it was onto sight seeing around the Plaza Mayor & Puerta de Sol areas. He wanted to get out & about in the city, for he only had 2 days in Madrid! Reunited the twins & had a great family dinner that night at a nearby restaurant :)

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>Matt & took the double decker tour bus around the city & got off at the infamous Museo de Prado & spent 4-5 hours admiring the numerous works of art. We made it a goal to find all the 'masterpieces' located in the museum, but some were moved. Sorry no pictures inside the Museo (I couldn't sneak any this time).
>We had worked up an appetite with all the standing & walking around the museum. So we had a WONDERFUL paella dinner at a recommended restaurant & ate the entire paella!
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A little time spent on a rooftop terrace sealed the evening & Madrid for us in perfect way :) We would try to have lunch at Cafe Botin (the oldest restaurant in the world dating back to 1725!!!) before our flight tomorrow...but turned out they don't open until 1pm. So after they asked me if I wanted to come in & take pictures & I told them we wanted to eat, they let us in to view their kitchen. Roasted suckling pigs were the main course.

> The time has come to leave Madrid ;-( Thanks for welcoming us & making it both fun & refreshing!

>random pics of Madrid :)
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Leaving is bittersweet because I don't want to leave Spain but I am excited about our next European adventure...
Since we are so close why don't we end our trip with a hop, skip & a jump to... Paris!

Adios Madrid!

Bonjour France!
What an experience this was! From trying to get all the stuff back in my luggage bags, to hauling it to the metro & then to the airport. Then finding out how spoiled I am with our luggage allowance. So we get to the check in desk @ EasyJet- first I was over on how many kilograms my checked bag was & had to pay a fee for it to be literally labeled "heavy". Matt checked a bag & carried a backpack. I carried a shoulder bag & was going to put my purse inside of that bag, while rolling my little carryon bag. So that meant I had the allowed 1 carryon (for the overhead bin) & the other for under the seat. Figuratively speaking, I was hit in the face with a brick when I gave my boarding pass the the flight attendent & was informed only ONE bag was allowed to carryon. So there I knelt on the floor trying to merge my purse, carryon & shoulder bag into 1.
In the end, we had to throw away a bag full of snacks & a couple other items. So as the lessons go ladies & gentleman, do some research regarding what you're used to & how it might actually be! No worries though because life is a roller coaster ride & why should vacation be any different. We can only plan & expect so much. Thats how we are given lessons to learn & grow from :-)
We made it to Paris & got onto the metro. Found our hotel directly across the street & learned there was a giant Ferris wheel across from us as well! Welcome to Paris! Ya know what that means?! Carnival goodies! And most importantly French carnival goodies180_IMG_7564.jpg 90_IMG_8359.jpg

We walked to the Louvre just to walk around & start to take in Paris--I mean try to take in its MARVELOUS beauty! It's a sight to see during the day but at night, its beauty is unbelievable.
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Since this our first trip to Paris & we have less than a week, we have prioritized our tourist attractions & sight seeing. So we have walked the Champs Elysées & saw the Arc of Triomphe.

Paris>

Very cool city! I think the architecture is splendid like Spain's, if not more. The sky constantly amazed me with its bright, beautiful blue color & clouds that seemed to be at my fluffy reach. Can't tell you how many pics I took of the sky... On to clarifying some of the stereotypes when thinking of the French. The local French people are kind & helpful, while the tourists & non-local French are rude. If one more woman hits me with her bag or cuts me in line...There were cafes everywhere & fun people watching in additon. The fashion is very cool & chic but also effortless sometimes with its simplicity.
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The weather was fantastic. Clear skies, sunny & warm but then a bit cool in the shade. Refreshing change from the HOT sun in Spain. Food was delicious! Matt had the very French Quiche Lorraine, while I had a sampler of different cheeses & patés. For the most part, people spoke French, English & Spanish. This was interesting because if the waiter didn't speak English, I had to go out of my comfort zone of English & go to Spanish--which isn't the first language that comes to my mind.They had the BEST bread ever! And sadly I didn't get enough in for the five days we were there...I did bring back 2 croissants in my purse for the plane ride though :-)
There are massive amounts of people it being August (tourist season) but it hasn't bothered me at all to wait in lines for hours. You get to see so much while waiting in line. Like this little girl dressed in a full Capt. America costume.
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Of course had to see the Eiffel Tower in all its glory!
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Went to the top of course!
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Thought it was amazing on its own, then we saw it at night. Because that wasn't awesome enough, it sparkles every hour after 10pm!
A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

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Went to Notre Dame & then up MANY steps to the top as well!
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Ate delicious food at a few cafes, watched people walk by & I tried to fulfill my quotas of bread, crepes & Croq Monsieur - a French specialty of a ham & cheese sandwich but with melted & golden cheese on top!
Having a crepe @ midnight in Paris!
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What an amazing city! If Spain was my Spanish Chicago, this is my French Chicago. It's been interesting to be out of my element in language, but I am constantly challenging myself not to resort to English for words I do know in French.
Because of course prior to coming, I learned how to say...'I would like something to eat' :-)

What else can I say?
Loving every magical moment.

Alright let's keep going...
>Catacombs
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>Versailles
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>The Louvre pyramid from inside
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My favorite piece inside The Louvre; The Winged Victory of Samothrace
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People swarmed to take a look/picture of the Mona Lisa
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What a way to close out Paris!
The time has come to head back home!!

>Flying over Greenland???
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Hello Charleston!
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Well family & friends, it has been fun keeping this going for all of us. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have writing it.

What else can I say! It has been an unbelievable roller coaster ride of a journey across the globe! I think that is the best way of describing it :-)
I have learned so many lessons throughout this journey- about myself, people, the world...Now on to using that knowledge in my life :-)

Much love & thanks to my family & fellow travel companions for everything!

Thank you for coming along with me on trip of a lifetime & for your comments as well :-)

E

Posted by enunez7 17.08.2013 09:58 Archived in USA Comments (1)

:-)

sunny

Soaking in my surroundings so much that I feel like I live here! Kinda weird! I feel like I should be going to work or school in the morning :)
But instead I am having a fabulous time enjoying the sights/architecture, culture, food, learning & growing from this experience is my full time job! Lets go!

So I left you in the zoo & aquarium, (forgot to include baby elephant pic)
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come out of the Spanish sun & get into the heat of what is a flamenco show! Yes, I know we saw one in Malaga! But this one couldn't be the same! It DID NOT disappoint! In addition to the singer, percussionist & guitar player, there were 4 dancers in this performance. Two lovely ladies 90_IMG_7047.jpg 90_IMG_7085.jpg, 90_IMG_7066.jpg
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a long-haired gentleman & an older gentleman that came out of the wood work! It seemed like everyone was surprised to see him on stage! He broke it down & it was a sight to see! GREAT entertainment from beginning to end! I love how the singers & dancers can be so free to feel & show their raw passion & not care about what people think! Each dancer did at least 1 individual dance, then the ladies had their moment. Then just when we think it can't get any better, its time for the fabulous finale! All performers stand in a semi-circle & 1 by 1 each dancer goes in the middle trying to outdo the one before. This is so fun to watch because you can tell it is not fake. Out of nowhere, this guy comes on stage in his street clothes & performs! He was seen talking to the dancers so maybe he's a friend, sibling or choreographer. The fact that his hair was so silky smooth & cut, had on trendy sandals --I couldn't understand why he didn't' have a belt on! Sorry, no pic!

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The flamenco dancer on my arm & I took pics with the feisty flamenco dancers :)

So now we will balance the intensity of the show & slow down...let's go to a museum :) IMG_7113.jpg El Museo de Reina Sofia to be exact, is the national museum of 20th century art & is named after the Queen of Spain. In addition to the multitude of Spanish artists & a few others- its highlighted works of art belong to Pablo Picasso & Salvador Dalí. Most notably, Picasso's "Guernica" lives here. I am sorry for I could not take a picture of this piece. But you should definitely Google it. Like every other museum, there was a staff member in each room of art ensuring no pictures were taken. This piece is HUGE & had 2 staff members on each side guarding it. Though I did ACCIDENTALLY (of course), get some pictures of Dalí's thought provoking pieces 90_IMG_7133.jpg - IMG_7135.jpg -
before I got caught. I was tazed, thrown to the floor & handcuffed. I am writing this from the 'yard' in jail. Today was an interesting day for I had to shank someone...
Ha! Just kidding! Just keeping ya on your toes ;)
The museum was an 18th century hospital & is an interesting building to walk through, around & especially take one of its glass outdoor elevators. 90_IMG_7111.jpg
Also a nice garden in the center of the building. Some very beautiful & cool pieces here but then some stuff I wouldn't consider art like...
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Now that we're relaxed, let's get back to hitting the pavement. Onto Retiro Park & Lake...
As I was exploring the streets of Madrid, I stumbled upon a beautiful entranceway. 90_IMG_7170.jpg I have learned that you must explore since you can't be sure if its a noteworthy place. And so I walk through & am glad I did! Well turns out iI was in 'The Park of Pleasant Retreat'. It is the largest park in Madrid, which belonged to Spanish monarchs until the 19th century. Marvelous statues & monuments, & a little lake to boot.
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I walked & walked & stumbled into more beauty...
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Now for some craziness! La Torre de Oro (The Golden Tower) is a famous & popular bar located in the Plaza Mayor. It is famous because their are a couple of mounted bull heads in this tiny bar along with bullfighting memorabilia. There is a glass case filled with the costume of a matador. There are also tons of pictures on the walls regarding bullfighters, celebrities that have entered & some CRAZY & GRAPHIC pictures of a bull fight in action! >If you DO NOT WANT to see the picture of a bloodied bull lunging its horn into the matador's face, SCROLL THROUGH NOW! I could not believe this! AND because I had to know more, I found out that the guy is ALIVE! He comes in occasionally...
>VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED! <
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So there just happened to be a Flamenco Festival happening at the theater next door to me. Turns out it wasn't a festival but more like series of performances for the month of August.
I am beyond thrilled that I took a chance & went to this by myself. And so now we are seeing our 3rd flamenco performance & guess what? This one was also similar but different! This one had castanets, finger snapping, dance offs between 2 dancers, & duo performances! 90_IMG_7296.jpg

So much passion, the dancer's hair came out of its very beautiful ponytail/wrap & her barrette came flying onto the stage! LOVE!! Couldn't take pictures in this show...

Onto the next chapter of this journey, for it is 11:46pm right now & I am picking Matt (I mean Mateo) up at the airport tomorrow 8:15a :-)
Now I get the pleasure of being his Spanish travel guide!
Here's to starting a new journey together!

¡Hasta pronto!
(See you soon!)

Posted by enunez7 06.08.2013 15:42 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Spain re-mix

sunny

~~~The stuff that didn't make the other entries!~~~

>Seniors are so surprisingly put together than I'm used to seeing in the US. No offense. They always have nice clothes/shoes/sandals-which sometimes don't look comfortable. Women's toenails painted as well of course! Heck! mine aren't always.
They are out & about! They sit together & visit with each other, wherever there's a place to sit.
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>Women use pretty fans to cool off! Thought they were a tourist gimmick.
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>Breakfast is usually a pastry of some kind with juice or coffee. You will not find eggs, bacon or pancakes...

>Bacon = ham. And ham is so plentiful & important, you can buy the entire leg! Hoof & everything!
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>Breakfast also could be a bocadillo which is a baguette sandwich with Spanish ham & cheese. Also a popular choice for breakfast is churros with chocolate. Basically, fried dough (like funnel cake) but in long tube strands. Dip this in chocolate & repeat until done.

>Lunch is a salad usually consisting of lettuce, tuna, tomatoes, onions & corn. Or a bocadillo, or a series of tapas.

>People either walk really fast or really slooooow. No in-between. They cut you off walking & there is no 'excuse me'.

>You make the cars yield at a crosswalk if there isn't a light. This took awhile to get used to.

>On elevators, it is common etiquette to say "hasta luego" to strangers.

>On escalators there is also etiquette!! Everyone stands on the right, passing lane on the left! Couldn't believe this one since there's no courtesy in other avenues.

>To conserve energy, the escalators run slow until someone steps on, then it speeds up.

>To conserve energy, the metro (subway train) doors don't open unless you make them open.

>Lottery is a huge deal but there are no machines to buy from. So there are people standing on corners selling tickets or in kiosks.

>The word 'vale' pronounced 'va-leh', is the equivalent of okay. It is very interesting how much a person uses that in a given day. I didnt realize it until I kept saying okay & realized that they have no idea what I'm saying. Okay or vale means so many things, so taking out okay & replacing it with vale has been interesting.

>At a restaurant/tapas place, it is assumed by the waitstaff that you're only there for a drink. So you have to tell them to get you a menu (if not available at table already), then also that you're ready to order food. They also expect you to sit for awhile, so you have to ask for the check otherwise they'll leave you there for a long time.

>There are a fair amount of men walking around with purses-
--Err,I mean European shoulder bags.

>I have seen a lot of men wearing either white or red pants.

>The Spaniards are surprised that an American can speak Spanish. I have been flat-out asked why I speak Spanish.

>They want to go to the United States as much as people want to travel to Europe. The grass is always greener on the other side.

>Most male dogs are not neutered :-( But on the bright side, no dogs are overweight.

>Money is the Euro & as the bill amount gets smaller so does the bill size. They have a 1 & 2 Euro coin- no bills. Coins are in 50, 20, 10, 5 or 2 cents.

>Mostly in Malaga, people were taken aback if you spoke to them on the street & weren't asking for directions. I complimented a woman's hair color & she looked at me like I had 2 heads...

>In Malaga, to ward off the heat in your home from the sun, people have curtains in front of any doors.

>There is a separate lane for taxis & buses.

>There aren't many fast food or to-go food establishments (that aren't major chains).

>McDonald's, Burger King & Taco Bell offer beer as a beverage option. The kids meals are great because they're the cheapest thing & you get a dessert as well.
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>Flamenco dresses/skirts are heavy!

>For women printed colorful pants are the hot thing here style wise! Baggy or tight--doesn't matter.

>I have become a big fan of a juice called Bi frutas-- which is milk & juice put together!!! You can't taste the milk!

>Milk only comes in a carton & is NOT refrigerated in the grocery store! Took me forever to find, since I kept circling the refrigerated sections.
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>Eggs are NOT refrigerated as well!!
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>Grocery stores charge you for plastic bags--no matter how much you spend. But at the bakeries, I buy a 40 cent bread roll & was given a bag...

>Spicy doesn't mean spicy...oh wait that happens in the US as well.

>Depending on where you're from in Spain, the pronunciation of the 'c', 'z' is either an 's' or 'th'. For example a word everyone knows; cerveza- pronounced 'sair-ve-sa' in the north & 'ther-ve-tha' in the south, similar to the sound of a lisp. The terms are called ceceo or seseo.

>In restaurants, water is not free. If you get a drink, you are given olives or some other small tapa for free.
>There are pictures of the food plates on the outside of the restaurants, so you can see what it looks like AND so the tourists can point to what they want.
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>People walk so much & take their feet into priority so much that slippers have a special spot in trendy shoe stores.
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>Magazines (bought at new stands) come with gifts regularly like shoes, purses etc. My fave thing I've seen as a gift was a...Thigh Master!
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Muchas gracias for those enjoying this blog! I miss you & I will continue to keep you up to date on our wonderful journey!

Hasta luego!
Mucho amor,
Elida

Posted by enunez7 04.08.2013 15:23 Archived in Spain Comments (2)

Bienvenida a Madrid

sunny

Now I do have to say I was nervous about the train ride here...the accident felt too close for comfort. But everything was great down to the minute. The Renfe trains are clean, modern & provide a movie, comfort & have a cafe on board. I even had a wonderful conversation with a lovely older lady from Salamanca! That's where I lived for a month when I was in Spain 7 yrs ago. Very rare to meet people from there.
So lets start this new journey to our new city of Madrid. IMG_6576.jpg
Beautiful mountains & clouds were the scenery on this 2hr 40 min train ride. I find it interesting there aren't any seatbelts on these high speed trains...something that should be changed Renfe!

Made it to hotel that turns out to be on a main street---thanks Hotels.com. This is great because I don't have to worry about getting "home" after dark since I'm regularly walking alone & I don't have any weapons...maybe I should get one.
Thankfully, it doesn't get dark until about 10:30pm! So I don't have to worry about getting home at a certain time, like Cinderella. The day & some night filled with sun makes the days very long & the nights short. This is great because you can do so much & still have plenty of time left in the day. Except that I end up going to sleep at 1am! As soon as I put my stuff in the room, my mind told me that I should relax since I had a long & busy weekend. I had stayed up late packing, walked my heavy & bulky luggage for what seemed like forever to the train station. It actually made my back hurt--geez I thought I was strong. Guess I need to work on making my core stronger. Oh Carolina Fitness, how you will make me strong again. My feet hurt from all the walking done during the recent visits to the La Alhambra & Gibraltar visit. But Madrid was calling my name to go play outside!
Holy Smokes I forgot it was Sunday! NEVER woulda guessed that because of the drones of people walking, shopping or drinking/eating at their tables. People on the sidewalks as far as the eye could see. In Málaga, I was so used to ghost town Sundays. From the start, you could see the heavy tourist population mixed with the local Spaniards- a lot more t-shirts here, an urban vibe. In Malaga, I was used to everyone being Spanish, German, American or French. There seems to be a lot of Asian tourists here as well.
Local Spanish eateries are right next to a Starbucks! I instantly felt good about this place, which was refreshing since I had become comfortable in Malaga. It felt like Chicago to me...Spain style! I walked around to get my bearings with nothing but a map & an appetite for taking in the city.
Let's start with the famous Plaza Mayor or Main Square of Madrid.IMG_6592.jpg
I made it here for a brief excursion 7 yrs ago, so I remembered I wanted to go there. It was initially built to be used as a market in the 1400's, but has been used as a proper square for courts, kings, bullfights, carnivals & executions. Very nice square with a bronze statue of King Phillip III on a horse in the middle of the plaza. There is nothing else in the middle, just hundreds of people--all the time. Oh there are also a variety of random street performers that set up spots to make some money, by making you laugh, smile or granting photo ops. 90_IMG_6774.jpg 90_IMG_7013.jpg
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Surrounding the square are a multitude of shops, cafes/restaurants/tapas on the first floor, while the 2nd & 3rd floors are apartments. It has a clock in the middle wall & very minimal decorations. This is interesting to me because the rest of the city is SO EXTREMELY architecturally decorative. I seriously had to tell myself to stop taking pictures of the light posts, balconies & doors! The roof tops of the some of the buildings are outstanding with statues!
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I must stop & say that I have made a realization; I have left out information that was once unusual & then became usual & that made me forgot to mention it. So I will try to remember to put those things in as well, even though its 5 weeks into this European journey...
Next up El Mercado de San Miguel or The San Miguel market. Fabulous!! So picture the Atarazanas market but with a more modern, food & drink element. IMG_6703.jpg There was a variety of vendors selling seafood, meat, vegetables, fruit, olives, pasta, wine, cheese & desserts. But in addition, you could have some tapas of the products or a full plate. I had lunch here by just eating tiny tapa portions & was sooo full, I had to wait to eat dessert! That's a big deal for me, ladies & gentlemen. I tried Gulas which is a very northern Spain thing. Basically they're small thin strips of a huge fish, mixed w/ mushrooms- Yum! Pretty cool being introduced to this local treat just coming from the south of Spain too! Also had Octopus a la Galicia (Spanish city know for its seafood) & an anchovies/codfish/cheese bite as well.
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BDFFC3C52219AC68175ADAA6FF5FB999.jpg Hello paella!

Onto the double decker bus to tour the city, see the famous landmarks & get my bearings! This place is HUGE! To give you some perspective; the double decker bus tour had about 21 stops in Malaga. Madrid has 2 different routes & has 35 stops. I like these tours because you can use it to get an idea of what to see more closely, you can hop on & off at any point & use them as transportation home as well :-) Wow wow wow taking the bus around the city.
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Hopped off in a number of places for pics. Visited the Botanical Gardens which had soooo much. But surprising to me was the lack of color. I guess from seeing the rest of the city in its decorative state, I'd assume more color/flowers. Nonetheless, I was pleased to go & see the numerous plants, trees, flowers & the grounds.
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Onto the Royal Palace or El Palacio Real, which is the official residence of the King of Spain. So we start the tour & make our way into a grand staircase of marble leading up to marble lions. And then we found out we weren't allowed to take pictures!! Wait, what?! Well, after seeing the grand regal elegance of some of the luxurious items/rooms----I realized that I would risk my life & ACCIDENTALLY take some pictures ;-)
Jaw dropping rooms were seen. Enjoy.
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Next stop...guess what?
Who said the zoo?!! Or aquarium? Hello, it's been many days since my last animal encounter...
So the wonderful city of Madrid has put its zoo AND the aquarium in the same place! Fantastic, smart AND economical :-) Super hot day + a hike to get from the metro station to get there = me not keeping track of what animals I saw.
Saw some of the usual animals, but also got to see some creatures from this region of the world. But by far one of my favorite animal friends in Madrid & also in Fuengirola are the Lemurs. They're darn cute & have such funny expressions! And you were able to go in their enclosure & get super close to them. One of them touched my lap, while another almost touched my nose!
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Yay an actual aquarium! With actual fish, jellyfish (one of my faves to see, yes I know they sting), creepy sharks & sweet dolphins. It's been interesting to compare between the countries let alone cities in Spain.
Will load more pics when I get the chance...
Here's to a new week!
That's all for now!
Hasta luego!

Ps this site went mobile hence why the pics are on the actual page. Some good & bad comes with that-

Posted by enunez7 03.08.2013 15:28 Archived in Spain Comments (2)

Getting ready to leave Málaga...

¡Qué belleza por todos lados!

sunny

~--This is the "I'm behind on the blog, so let me put down what I can" edition!~

While in the city of Malaga, the celebration for the Virgen de Carmen (pronounced veer-hen) was mentioned as something to see. In Andalucia, religious Virgins are common & popular.
She happens to be noted as the "Queen of the Seas" & is the patron saint of the of the fisherman & mariners. For her being so important, it was ridiculous trying to find out info on this celebration because every person I asked had a different date & place for the celebration. I did finally find out that there are SEVERAL celebrations in multiple places, especially in the coastal towns -remember Queen of the Seas! So happen to find a poster for a celebration in her honor, taking place in a park in malaga. It turned out to be a street/park festival with your typical stuff; rides for the kids, vendors of many kinds & food. Oh wait, did I forget to mention there was a ham leg to be carved or the delicious sweet cake bread?! Also, there was a dance performance that was FANTASTIC! There were gals of every age on stage at some point! Dancing in beautifully authentic clothes & adding flare with their moves! The music was infectiously happy & you couldn't help but smile!
Note-
--dance moms in Spanish are also big time drama queens but with more arm/hand movements
--women got angry at me when they showed up late & I had saved seats because I was early & smart
--other fave part of show was the very young children watching in the audience who were overtaken by the NEED TO DANCE! (See pics)
They had a party going on the beach nearby, people eating on boardwalk outside the restaurants/cafes AND I got to see a Zumba class Spain style on the beach!
Even though the celebration was in her honor, she was nowhere to be found...
Onto waiting for the weekend to go by so we could watch her statue/shrine be put into the sea, as happens every year.
Making my way to Muelle Uno to look around, I spot a church making lots of noise with tons of people. Some people call me nosy, I think I have an insatiable thirst for knowledge! I'm a sponge! Hence why I keep doing so much while on vacation! So I head that way & see a line of people waiting to kiss the scapular of the Virgen & bring her flowers. Finally, there she is in all her glory! A tall decorated beauty! People in wheelchairs were brought to the front of the line.
Not gonna describe because of course I got pics! Come to think of it, there's not much I haven't taken a picture of...! I could have a photo gallery of light posts for god's sake...
Time came to go the beach & we watched as a different statue was hoisted onto a boat by divers & the coast guard (remember Queen of the Seas) that was on its way to the middle of the water, where a much bigger boat waited for her to go out to the Mediterranean sea...
So many people screaming, crying & taking pics.

>Went to the "aquarium" & discovered that I personally know people with more fish than this place. Enter angry & disappointed face here. Well look on the bright side at least it was in a cool looking part of the city. (See pics of Muelle Uno)

>And because we haven't seen enough interesting or dynamic things yet, onto The Cuevas de Nerja or The Caves of Nerja.
Nerja is a town 45 mins from Malaga city & that was a quick breeze when it came to the treasure we saw! Soooo amazing to think what the earth has done to form these caverns! Yes, stalactites & stalagmites are AMAZING! If my science professor could hear me now...Yes, I mean sí, there are pics to see :) sure there are bats in the reptile house but not in the caves...
>While in Nerja & because we can't get enough animal encounters--we went to the Donkey Sanctuary :)
Lots of yes, you guessed it- donkeys, I mean burros. But also horses, pigs & sheep to hand feed fruits, veggies & bread to. So much fun feeding the animals & watching the kids get a kick out of the animals touching their hands with their tongues :)
And yes, while on these premises- I happened to find not 1 but 2 cats...

Onto finding out that on Sundays certain landmarks sites are FREE! Its a ghost town on Sundays...So yay for something cool to do & for free!
>1st up is The Alcazaba, which is a palacial fortress that was built in 11th century & its name is Arabic for "citadel". It was an interesting balance of stone, rock & metal but also trees, flowers & gardens. And wait til you see the view!
Who knew that fortresses could be so interesting?! The attention to detail was quite surprising.
Right after, or as soon as I hiked forever to get there...was the Castillo de Gibralforo .
>The Castillo de Gibralforo was great. If the fortress was good, this had to be too! In retrospect, I liked Alcazaba better.
But still a sight to see & worth the hike.

>Next adventure is a 25 min train ride to the coastal town of Fuengirola to go see more animals! Ha! Insatiable! I am Latina & we are passionate!
It was a zoo named BioParc & it placed different species of animals in the same habitat as it would be in the wild.
Saw lots of animals & then my highlight of the zoo was making Lemur friends!!! They can't all be cats...

>Bus ride to coastal town of Marbella where there's a casino & a beautiful beach-of course. Very pretty here, didnt do much but walk, take in beauty of the town & water.

>2 hrs 30 mins on the bus took me to...Seville- I mean Sevilla. Beautiful city! Like Malaga city-wise but also different. getting a kick seeing the similarities & differences between the neighborhoods, towns & cities :-) I took the double decker tour bus & saw the sights! The Arabic-influenced architecture here was so interesting to see! Beautiful bridges.
--*thank you to the nice bus driver who let me get on his bus even though 2 rude bus station women caused some issues
--*oh wait-also enter here, 3 kids on the bus who were traveling alone, scream/talked the whole 2 hrs & 30 mins. Then one of them puked all over the floor...

>Hop on the bus for a couple hours & I'm made it to the beautiful city of Granada! My guide spoke 5 different languages- English, Spanish, Itslian, German & French! I went to see the fascinating La Alhambra & had my mind blown away by the vast beauty of the SIGNIFICANT details of this palace! Its name translates to "the red" for its reddish clay. It was built as a fortress in 889 but later turned into a palace by a sultan of Granada. After the Reconquista, it was used by Christian monarchs & eventually for the Spanish royalty like King Ferdinand & Queen Isabella. This is where Christopher Columbus got his support to find the new world in 1492...
If you took how much I loved the beautiful details of La Alcazaba & multiplied by 1000, that's how much better this place was!!! ¡Qué Belleza! (What beauty! You have to see the pictures to believe. At one point, I told myself I couldn't take pictures of every nook & cranny...but I wanted to.
--*note- for those who don't know, questions & phrases of exclamation have punctuation marks in front of the sentence or phrase.
There were gardens, fountains, cobblestone walkways, canons, & hand carved wood details from the Jewish, Muslim & Christian influence.
And what is the LAST thing I expect to see?! Who said a cat? Yes! A grey cat maybe a Russian Blue (for those who know cat breeds) just sitting in one of the labyrinth maze gardens of Cypress trees. Or waiting for me...it's the same :-)

>last but not least, was my last trip from Màlaga to...Gibraltar.
Couple hours of driving the coastal towns & seeing the beautiful mountains, past passport control brought me to the Rock of Gibraltar. Wonderful! This was an unexpected experience with the huge difference of cultures. Mostly everyone spoke English & or Spanish from the nearby Andalusians. It was not a pretty city as but very hard, cold & military due to the heavy British influence. The euro was accepted but they mostly used the pound but There were few flowers & beautiful balconies as I have accustomed myself to see. It still was a cool place to visit & see. Walked around the city, took lots if pictures of The Rock, the view to Morocco & other sights. I went to St. Michael's Cave which was a joy to see, followed by encountering ape/monkeys on the side street! And there was a baby!! I made friends (of course)!
Next stop was going through & learning about the tunnels used in World War II that housed 16,000 men like a town! The tour guide was an exuberant little German man named Hans & man was he great! Listening to history isn't always fun to listen to but in this case it was! Even when he did the tour in German, it was still entertaining! Imagining the life of the people who worked & lived in such conditions- wow!
>>That was the last day in Málaga & it has been an unforgettable adventure with all types of things thrown in- planned & unexpected! It has been an unbelievable roller coaster ride for it is time to head to Madrid via train.

---~~My deepest sympathies to the people who lost their lives & their families/friends in the train accident recently on the Renfe train traveling from Madrid~~----- :-(

Stay tuned for Madrid adventures...

Posted by enunez7 30.07.2013 13:25 Archived in Spain Comments (3)

Hola, Cordoba y Benalmadena

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Onto the next journey, because we obviously haven't done or seen enough ;) We traveled about 2 hours from Malaga to Cordoba. The mission was to see the legendary Great Mosque of Cordoba & my oh my, was it worth it! The architecture was breathtaking everywhere your eyes landed! From the marble floors to the intricate pillars that were made up of pieces of the previous Roman Temple, to the magnificent ceilings! You do not have to be a religious person to admire the sheer beauty of this place. We walked around finding more & more to look at. I really can't say more since words can not do it justice. The pictures will speak for themselves. When it was time to go, the streets were more than enough to keep us entertained. They were filled with people out looking for souvenirs, cafes or just walking. Saw a wedding procession, including a dapper gentleman on a horse. Its so interesting to see how similar but yet how different the villages or cities are from each other; they offer just enough variety to keep you satisfied. I am happy to have been able to have made this excursion. We played in this quaint water fountain square area, where the kids took off their shoes & walked from end to end. I sat on the edge & put my feet in. Such refreshing cool water; the floor bottom was all beautiful rocks & flowered bushes surrounded. We ate at a pretty little restaurant, where we dined on Spanish ham, cheese, fruit, nuts, pork tenderloin & salad- which I enjoy for its simplicity but its characteristic tuna topping. We watched a man make some pottery & be taken in by his skill. I wanted to buy everything in Cordoba & then I realized I have a 50lb weight limit on my checked bag... :p

My next Spanish bucket list item was the aquarium or so we thought. Traveled on the train to Benalmadena for this excursion-about 20 mins from Malaga. The train station happened to be in a central location of local shopping, eating & walking. I think its pretty cool to see how different cities, states, let alone countries differ in zoos/aquariums, especially since we all have different creatures. So the closest thing to an aquarium I found was the delfinarium or dolphinarium. So its basically like a zoo similar to Sea World. There were dolphins swimming in a pool before we had the joy of watching them perform tricks in the water & air. Also saw seal lions perform some cute & corny tricks. By the way the BEST part of the show by the sea lions or dolphins, was the FANTASTIC music playing during the show. It was either high energy dance music OR Celine Dion! Either way it made it more enjoyable :) We walked around & saw turtles, crocodile-like caimans, squirrel monkeys, piranhas & penguins. The squirrel monkeys were super small & cute in a "stop looking at me like I have the Ebola virus" way :-) I took pictures as some unruly boys tried to give them a water bottle & I was sure there would be footage of them biting I should capture...but no. I was easily amused entering the Reptile house since surprise! there are 3 bats that were hanging above us & nothing in between us. We watched the bird show which was very fun since the birds made their own entrances by flying over head of the audience in an outdoor area. They had a little obstacle course above us to climb & fly from. They did little tricks & talked about their place of origin or other interesting facts. In the midst of the parrots & cockatoos, a porcupine was introduced. That was awesome because they showed him load up his quills for shooting which was cool to hear & see!

There are MANY museums in Malaga & sometimes I end up running into a few of them randomly. Not all are interesting to me so I got a museum map & planned on checking a few out. Since I walked past it & had seen a few signs for the temporary collection taking place, decided to go to the Carmen Thyssen museum. The permanent art was traditional Spanish works of the people, land & traditions. The temporary collection was from Julio Romero de Torres who was from Cordoba & regarded as one of the most popular painters of Spanish history. I was alarmed to find a woman taking pictures in one of the galleries. Turns out you were allowed to take pictures without a flash. This was not the case in the Picasso museum...So now I can share with you these paintings. Also on this trek, I found El Teatro Romano- The Roman Theater. This ancient ruin lies at the foot of the Alcazaba fortress & was built in the first century BC. It was used until third century AD & left to ruin until the Moors settled in Andalucia. It was discovered in 1951 when excavation for a garden was taking place & since 2011 has been used for actual performances. Just goes to show you about the wonderful things we find when we're looking for something else :-) Interesting find!
And then in between cafes & restaurants, I found a black cat friend...

Posted by enunez7 21.07.2013 02:52 Archived in Spain Comments (4)

Hello Villanueva & Malaga!

Maybe it was Bernardo?

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What an interesting first week! No complaints here! It was a learning experience of many calibers. And remember I'm taking you on this journey as well- so I don't want to leave out details :-)
So the first full weekend came & I decided to hike from the house to village nearby to see how it was & how long it would take. Also gotta get in as much intense cardio as possible--how else can I eat those delicious spanish chocolate croissants (napolitanas). The view is breathtaking every time I see it! I hike it down the mountain road taking in all its splendor, like the valleys, trees & mountains. Everyday I still can't believe how beautiful it is up here. I end up running into the older goat shepherd & his herd of goats. I guess they felt comfortable enough to walk past me & at one point I was a part of the herd! It was surreal to be in the middle of all these animals; listening to the bells on their collars in a melodic way- so cool! I tell the shepherd, "Hasta luego" or see ya later. Now remember h is silent, 'lue' is one syllable & 'go' is the other. I commonly here this word being pronounced 'lu' 'e go' which is incorrect--but now ya know :-) So one of the people I have met on my hike down is the same older gentleman we had run into before (that fed the dogs scraps of bread). He works with the seed or grain factory nearby it seems. He is always friendly in his conversation & always helps with the dog situation. The group of dogs camp out & keep guard of the goat pen & the business. Unfortunately, they are not on leashes & are a bit intimidating. They come a little too close for my comfort & can easily bite at your legs. I hope that being friends with the man will help the dogs relax a bit with us. So on down the mountain to the village, Villanueva de la Concepcion. Yes, we've driven around but I take in more walking around. So the village is like a neighborhood perched on a hill. It's very quiet, not a lot of action it seems. I see a little bit of people at the cafes having lunch (its about 3p). There are a few neighborhood bars that are open. The supermarkets or grocery stores are closed due to the time of day. For those that aren't familiar, people close down for a lunch break & siesta-which is to go home, eat & maybe take a nap. Some people take this time to run errands. Its up to the business if it closes or not, depending on a multitude of factors. So I took in looking at the streets, little parks & watching the locals sit outside & chat. What a quaint little place :-) From the sounds of it, many were at a nearby pool cooling down. I spotted a dog sleeping under the shade of a car. The houses are like townhouses or apartments; no space in between them. There was usually a curtain in front of the fron door, to absorb some of the heat. Also if it was cool enough, they'd leave the door open but have the curtain down, to keep the sun out.
Very family oriented people everywhere, just not always the most accepting of foreigners. After taking some interesting pics, I had a late lunch/dinner, which was shrimp with a sweet but spicy rice AND a piece of ice cream cake ;)
Well, I did do a lot of intensive cardio getting here, under the sun I feel so close to, I can touch. And I'm gonna need the energy to get back up the mountain too :)
Alrighty, up the hill we go & on to use the knowledge I learned while going down. Luckily, not a lot of cars pass through this road, but enough to keep me walking on the outer edges of the Carretera de la Montaña or the Road of the Mountain. Also road is an obstacle course, avoiding goat poop pellets while walking & wondering -what just rustled in the bushes?! Okay good-it was a little lizard. So I say hello to whatever locals I see- I mean hola (remember h is silent my students). I passed a couple I've dogs I hadn't seen before but luckily they were on leashes. The scary part is hoping that the Cujo looking dog ( which is now being referred to by us, as "Puppy del Diablo". Sometimes he's taken in the house because of how hot it is & the other times he's just growling/barking lunging back & forth on a collar/leash that I don't trust. Well, I get to the the neck of the road & he's not there. Yay! So then I hope the gang of dogs is near the man & will stay by him as I make my way there. Nope. A couple hear me & come trotting down the road to me barking. I say no to them & start throwing piece of bread from a sandwich leftover, I had with me. Bread wasn't helping me out. So I walk back enough to see if anyone was in the road to call them off. Nope. Alright, my animal behavior knowledge tells me I shouldn't be moving back from the dogs because I'm reinforcing that people will back away if they bark. But I didn't feel comfortable walking through either, especially since I was feeling uncomfortable. Animals then pick up that nervous energy & react negatively to it. So I get distracted by the nearby goat herd & regain my sense of positive energy & try to lose the uneasiness. I try to walk forward enough to not alert the dogs, but also try to see the man. Dogs start barking, man looks down the road & sees me. Yay! He calls them toward him & I thank him & ask if I can feed them to gain their friendship. He said that we would no doubt be friends from now on- I was hopeful, but skeptical. On my merry way I went up the last stretch to the house- phew, I had made it through a tiny but heart pulsing (for many reasons) adventure:) So of course I followed up that adventure with swimming & relaxing :-)
Starting week #2 with a tour of the city Malaga & its landmarks on a double decker bus. Sadly, it was too hot to sit on the top deck :-( This was cool because I hopped off & on between different landmark stops for the whole day! It was a very entertaining bus ride- glad I do it. Also got experience all the different ethnicities of the fellow passengers- a lot of French & German.
•Found a local mall to check out the scene there. Seems like everything is on sale! No, I didn't buy anything... Went into a store where the security officer stapled your bag s closed before you could enter. The food court was a bunch of cafes & Burger King.
The exotic vet (exotic = anything more than cat & dog) came by the farm to check out some of the animals.
We saw the alpacas get de-wormer injections, which they did not appreciate. There was a lot of alpaca sass & spitting. Also saw an exam of a female alpaca. The owners were concerned about her since she inexplicably did not want to mate & was acting unhappy. She had a distended belly & had already gone through a false pregnancy so the vet did an ultrasound, while we watched! Sorry but there were no stirrups. the alpaca stood & the vet placed the probe under her belly. And no they couldn't tell the sex of the 1 baby in her. Alpaca pregnancies are 11 & 1/2 months long!!! It was very cool & interesting! Surprise its a baby alpaca birth announcement! What followed was in true soap opera (I mean novela) fashion... "Well, who's the father? Maybe it was Bernardo ?" "Or was it Angel?"
And last but not least... "Well, I guess we'll have to see if the baby comes out white or brown." I laughed so hard :-)
We saw peacock babies this time with their mom. Note: female is a peahen & babies are pea chicks. Also peacock is pavo real in Spanish, which translates to royal turkey!
Went on a drive up past our place to find Lobo Park (Wolf Park) where we saw quite a few different types of wolves; Canadian Timber, European, Iberian & Alaskan Tundra- up close & personal. It was interesting, entertaining & informational tour. The wolves were lured to the front of the fence we stood in front of with cow stomach. We watched as they jumped up on the air trying to snag a piece. Amongst the animals on the property, we saw & petted a Vietnamese potbellied pig, a very old ram & a duck. There was a cute fox that was touched by one of the guides. Also seen walking around was a beautiful peacock. So cool seeing untamed wolves just a couple feet away!

Posted by enunez7 14.07.2013 06:29 Archived in Spain Comments (2)

End of the first week

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So one of the things I had researched & planned to visit while in Málaga, was a popular farmer's market & it just happened to be located downtown, near the shopping area Marques de Larios. Atarazanas market had a beautiful exterior & was bustling with different fruits, vegetables, breads, olives & nuts. Andy bought some delicious dates & Corrie had fun buying cherries & fresh goodies. I got to try some almonds & dates that were offered by vendors. It was originally built by the Moors as a ship builder's yard, which is what the name loosely translates to in Arabic. large_90_8096D19C2219AC681719ACF5A10D7BC8.jpg
The Malagueta beach is where we found lots of people soaking up the sun & water. They had a zipline & other fun contraptions for the kids. The water is clear & blue, while the sand was like a dirt which turned into river rocks near the water. It was a place to chat with friends, get a tan- I mean tanner, go for a swim, smoke a Hookah, show off your speedos, practice your soccer moves or get a full out massage...Also some cool looking cafes along the beach with fun looking tables on the sand.
I also noticed a man on an interesting device but wasn't sure what it was, turned out to be exercise equipment! A good appearance is an obvious priority here. And I don't mean being attractive, there's a put together look to everybody from the young to old. Its not all trendy clothes though, nice clothes are normal to see amongst the people, not just the women. No one looks like they rolled out of bed, threw random clothes on & went out. I would say the men would be called metro-sexuals or presumed homosexuals in the U.S. They wear a fair amount of tank tops & form fitting shirts & capris or work out shorts. I didn't think this was so odd, until I realized this is not so in the United States. I think I counted a handful of obese people & I don't mean everyone else was fit or thin---just not obese. People are healthy looking no matter what their size. They do A LOT of walking, bike riding & I've seen a few rollerbladers! When's the last time you saw someone rollerblading in the United States? The people don't seem to eat fried foods at restaurants. I bought a sandwich that was supposed to have bacon on it & turned out to be ham. Lots of fresh foods, lean meats & produce are the norm here. Don't get me wrong, there are quite a FEW shops for pastries & sweet/fattening goodies, but these are mostly consumed during breakfast or lunch. This is good because if they're consumed in the early hours, those extra calories are more likely to be burned off by the end of the day. Bread is a delicious staple here, my sandwich came on a fantastic baguette even though it was a fast food sandwich chain. Mmmm bread...oops back to reality.
So I made the painful decision to not continue to drive anymore. It would be one thing to drive on the streets in the city, but driving up & down the mountain to the house, I just couldn't do :-( not something I felt comfortable with & was truly scared about. Yes, I'm a scaredy cat. I would now more than ever have to figure out the public transportation system. That's okay because anything is better than being scared everyday. HUGE SHOUT-OUT to Andy, the master negotiator & Corrie for helping any way they could during my rental car return dilemma. ¡THANK YOU! And also thank you to Mandy at the rental car place!! By this time, we had everyone's bag, but mine :-( We had been thinking Atlanta was the obvious issue, but in reality, it was the bad reputation having Paris that was the problem. This sorta of thing happens all the time, we were told by more than one person. One of the kind men from AirEuropa, said that when he first started there were 60 bags that had been misplaced by the airline/airport terminal, now it was 4. Sadly, mine wasn't part of the 4 that day :-( Thankfully, I had packed some clothes in my carry-on & Corrie kindly lent me some items as well, to hold me off. I did get my bag the next day ! YAY! When they brought it out to me, i checked my name twice on the luggage tag- I just couldn't believe it :-) Fresh clean clothes for tomorrow the 4th of July! Happy Birthday America!
After some fun swimming at the cottage with the Joe & Carolina, the kids had a sleepover in my casita & fell asleep watching the Lord of the Rings & no it wasn't in Spanish ;) Sleepy sweet cuties :-)
On to the 4th of July...
The Picasso Museum was one of the next finds, which was SO VERY COOL! So Pablo Picasso was born in Málaga & his family helped honor his wish to have his work there. Very interesting to see some his lesser known & un-finished pieces, was great! I learned he also named multiple works with the same title/name. For example, I must have seen a few works of his titled "Woman". How'd he keep track of them? "Hey, Picasso I really like your piece "Woman" but not the "Woman"?! He named things very simply, something like woman with green scarf, but was very focused on being extremely different in his work. In regards to people finding his work odd, he asked about why eyes had to be in the same place as we would expect them to be? So glad we got to see this! Sorry no pics allowed inside. There were people dressed in all black in every hallway ensuring no one touched the art or used their phone...
Feeling clean & happy, we went to Xebar for our 4th of July dinner to have paella. For those that are not familiar, it is a rice & meat dish prepared in a huge skillet. So lots of rice, seasoning & chicken drumsticks & pieces of boneless chicken too gave this dish so much flavor. Their are many variations of paella. Note; table next to us had fantastic music playing while we all had dinner. What kind of fantastic music you ask? Let's see; She's Like the Wind by Patrick Swayze & Hungry Eyes- hot off the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, Take My Breath Away from Top Gun soundtrack, then last but not least, Barry White's You're My First, My Last, My Everything. I feel blessed to have celebrated the 4th with great family, good food in a beautiful place. We then took a little walk to a nearby park for the kids but also found an area with outdoor exercise equipment. There were about 10 different machines that looked like a kids playground, since they were bright yellow & red. There was something to do lat pull downs, an elliptical type machine, a bicycle, something to work your shoulder joints & more. Obviously the ones I saw at the beach were used more.
I walked to find the bus station from Marques de Larios shopping area. Interesting walk filled with city life, double-decker bus tours, beautiful parks, construction & little businesses everywhere. Someone tried to sell me some pens to make a buck on the street, this was interesting because I understood that & then he went on rambling which I didn't make out--- he was speaking Portuguese... It is similar to Spanish so I told him I didn't understand. His girlfriend did compliment my tattoo which I did understand. Kinda funny because it was offputting to mostly hear Spanish everywhere instead of English, so when I heard Portuguese--- woah! The bus station was hopping & more different types of people here. You could catch the bus to neighboring cities & villages in Spain or more far off places like Morocco. Corrie, Caroline & I were dropped off at a nearby mall to kill time & then to get to the bus station. Our goal was to experience the bus from Malaga to the village, Villanueva de la Concepcion & then Andy would pick us up from there. We hopped on the bus & entertained ourselves with music, movies & watching the locals on the bus. There was eventually a full bus & it was fun to see all the happy TGIF crowd. I ended up talking to the very nice local lady named Guadalupe that sat next to me.

We all had fun watching a Flamenco show from a company called Kelipe, I found out about months ago when researching Malaga & Corrie planned for us. It was FANTASTIC! So moving to hear them sing loudly with extreme passion for the words. The female of the group was singer & dancer extraordinaire. The male singer would sing & when she felt the music & the words, then she would dance it seemed! There is a rhythmic foot stomping similar to tap dance but louder/ harder, add the adorning hands, colorful frilly dress AND passionate attitude --you've got a captivating show! Here's a link to them, so you can enjoy for yourself hopefully :-) http://www.kelipe.net/inicio.html. Now of course I had to have a picture taken with her! What a great night with everyone & what a way to end the week with a BANG! ¡OLE! ¡GRACIAS!
That's it for now :-) By the way, I am loading pics up with every entry/post, so don't forget to look at those before, during or after my post so you can have a visual of some things I mention. And FYI the first photo in this entry was a test & I am unable to add more pics in the entries at this time.
Thanks!

Posted by enunez7 10.07.2013 15:09 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Learning the Spanish ways

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So even though we just went through 24 hrs of say what? we had just gotten to the house & needed to explore our surroundings. Who cares that we were exhausted & didn't have our bags. I was happy to be here with such wonderful & caring people as my family to enjoy this place. As soon as we walked around, we were mesmerized by the view of course but also there were more animals to be encountered, besides the horses, goats & sheep, we had seen on our way up. On the actual property of the cottage, there were donkeys, a turkey, 2 female peacocks & 1 beautiful male, 2 cats, 4 dogs, & a few alpacas! They belonged to the nice English couple who owned the property & lived next door. He was your normal looking man & his wife was reminiscent of "Magda" from Something About Mary, kinda hard to say how old they really are. For those who haven't seen this movie & don't understand the reference, picture an older woman who has been tanning for hours, daily for years & is darker than I am but in a wrinkly leathery fashion. I am not trying to be mean just making an observation. They both were vegetarians & grew most of the food on the property, like cauliflower, eggplant (known as aubergine to them), broccoli, raspberries & other goodies.

There also were beautiful flowers, plants & trees like cactus & aloe & also beautiful stone everywhere to appreciate. As we were getting acquainted with them a couple of their dogs wanted to meet us & check us out. Since we had arrived, they barked at us & let us know this was their home. I was gonna introduce myself to them so they would know me & not bark EVERY time. A large, light brown shepherd mix approached & opened his entire mouth around my arm. Now normally this would have been BAD but in his case that was his way of saying hello & as I interpreted "shaking your hand". It didn't hurt in the least, this was Fat Boy- named after Fat Boy Slim ;-) Another dog that made an impression on us was this shmedium (Elida word for small but medium) terrier/shepherd mix who was super cute & reminded me of my Virgil but also reminded us of Cheeto- CAndy's dog. I would call him Cheegil but his real name was "Suerte" which means "luck" in Spanish. I started thinking this was our little bit of home or like it was a Spanish mirror view of our real home, like Alice In Wonderland. The other 2 dogs stayed closer to their house & we only saw them when they approached the car, barking. One did sorta bite at Corrie so I knew to keep a watchful eye & to go slow in getting to know him, especially around the kids. Also to approach us, was a sweet, black & orange cat who loved to be petted- her name was Twinkle & had been given to them by a little girl who couldn't keep her. This is kinda interesting to me because Joe & Caroline's cat's name is Sparkle & Twinkle really liked Caroline (missing her little girl). Yet another similiarity! Can you hear the Twilight Zone music playing?
Okay, so the houses were beautiful- 3 bedroom's in the main house complete w/a bidet or as the kids first called it- a butt washer. There was a full kitchen w/a washing machine (this is where its kept in Spain), there aren't dryers (only for the rich, I've been told) so clothes dry outside w/ sun & air. There is a fancy clothes dryer contraption located outside (pic to be included). Decorating the house are tapestries with Spanish, Middle Eastern & Mediterrean accents, LOTS of handmade pottery & wall hangings made from the alpaca hair by Di, the owner of the property. The casita where I am staying is a smaller version of the Casa Grande (big house), similar in fashion, except I have a bigger kitchen, ironically. Lots of windows & shutters to let the sun in & look out at the amazing view. There is also a BEAUTIFUL BLUE tiled pool located outside, in between the houses for us to enjoy. I have thoroughly enjoyed sitting poolside & or swimming with the kids. There are some moths, flies, & gnats which luckily for me aren't causing a problem for me in the skin department, for all who know me- I am hypersensitive to bug bites. They all are a nuisance because they're not just flying around, they try to land on you & the gnats bite. There are also wasps or yellow jackets that REALLY like hanging around the pool, so there have been MANY killing sprees. Joe, Caroline & I have both been stung- that hurts!

On the road, we encountered a local shepherd & his MANY goats walking (I mean like a 100) so we got out & made his acquaintance. Regarding Spanish language; I am fluent but am learning there are quite a few differences in my dialect & theirs, Corrie knows a good amount & Andy knows a few words, & the kids know a little from what they've been studying at home but hadn't gotten a chance to use. The shepherd wasn't too sure about us, but when he saw how excited we were to see all the goats, especially the kids. I made the effort to start a conversation with him & asked if we could touch the goats. He grabbed one in particular & motioned for the kids to touch it. We talked & took pictures for a couple minutes realizing that our car was blocking the road & that there were goats behind our cars waiting for it to move, so they could move along. The goats were used for milk & cheese purposes, mostly had bells on & could be heard from far. I asked him if he knew all their names & he just looked at me; I explained I was making a joke & he laughed. Now I can be both shy & outgoing, so its been interesting talking to strangers while also practicing my Spanish, that I only speak with my mom & the employees at the Mexican restaurants, so we ALL are learning! We hiked down & up the road getting a sense of the land & met another local; an older gentleman who was throwing bread scraps to about 6 or so different dogs. The dogs are all different breeds, super cute but sadly malnourished, the vet tech in me wants to run tests on them & make them better. They lay in the middle of the street sometimes & we have to wait for them to move. There was a dog furiously barking at us that reminded me of Cujo, who luckily was chained up. The man threw a scrap at him as we passed the dog, he said it was to quiet him down. The kind man proceeded to follow us & talk to me & Corrie. At this point, I realized he was in a happy drunken state & that his wife was also following us. I thought to talk to her so she didn't get any bad impressions from us. We left & went to the closest town to us, Villanueva de la Concepcion, which is about 20 mins driving from the cottage. We ate dinner at a restaurant named Xebar, where an English couple who owned the place, embraced us & our American ways. She made her first Grilled Cheese sandwich for Joe. I had some Spanish olives, grilled chicken with lemon juice/garlic & a side salad. Oh & a red, tiny hot pepper with a might kick!
We head home to wind down from our big adventure here & to settle in for the night so we can prepare for the drive into the big city, Malaga for kids' 1st day of Spanish lessons. I accompanied Andy who was driving into Malaga, to retrieve our bags from the airport. I couldn't let him go by himself down the crazy road down at NIGHT. So 45 mins or so we are the airport trying to find someone that will help us at AirEuropa. There was a lady named Irene who had called regarding our bags. So all we had to do was find the office & Irene, sounds easy enough? We found the office next to other airline offices but no one was there, I was afraid we had missed her. I notice that there are people in the other offices so I proceed to ask this woman who wasn't helping anyone on the other side but was sitting playing on her phone, possibly eating a snack. I begged her pardon & asked if she knew where I could find Irene. She rolled her eyes at me, got up, mumbled some Spanish to me, turned off the lights & left. Yes, seriously that happened! WOW! So I find someone else & ask if people stay in these offices & he said no they come & go which was comforting that Irene was still there. He said that she was assisting someone else at the moment. So now we wait for Irene or anyone else to come back to this office. In the meantime, we people watch all the different ethnic groups passing through the airport. I now assume that everybody speaks Spanish here but also a little bit of other languages to since they have to communicate with so many ethnicities. Two Asian women approach our area, one younger & maybe the other was her mom or aunt. The "mom" walks up to me & in perfect Spanish talks at me about why there isn't anyone in the office. I kindly tell her that we are supposed to wait for them but that there is help available. She states that the younger lady had lost her passport. I nodded in understanding her dilemma. Irene shows up & she speaks some English too. Yes, I understand Spanish but definitely feel more comfortable speaking English with details of the important kind & also Andy wasn't completely in the dark. They speak really some real fast Spanish too! We only had 1 bag out of 5 that had been located & was there. As we were talking to Irene, in between a pause of words the Asian "mom" starts barking at Irene about the lost passport. We all look at her like she was being rude & to wait her turn, she looked at us completely oblivious. Irene kindly told her she'd be with her in a moment, after she got our bag. She had never thanked Irene for being nice to her while she barked at us. Turns out the ONE bag they managed to get to us, was Joe's- not any of the adults. Ha! We were speaking to Irene about what had happened & the next steps...Asian "mom" starts to bark again, this time it was enough- Andy stopped her dead in her barking & told her to wait. This was so awesome because you could tell no one had ever put her in her place & she definitely NEEDED it. Irene had a smile on her face which said to us, she had wanted to do that but couldn't. Our bags were hopefully on a flight here tomorrow...Going to sleep was harder than I thought for how mentally & physically tired I was.
Waking up at 7:15a was hard but excitement quickly set in for the start of the day & week. We drove into Malaga which is a bustling city, lots of people heading out & about. The kids' school was on a main street, which was good because it was easy to find but bad because parking sucks. Corrie & I bring the kids into the school, where we are taken to an outdoor garden area of a table & a canopy with a dry erase board. We leave & head to find Andy & get us some breakfast. Across the street is a grocery store that is connected to a pastry/sandwich shop. Corrie goes to buy some apples & then we go to pay. The cashier rolls her eyes at us & says in Spanish that they didn't have a price or weight on them. She was speaking so fast, I had a hard time tuning it in. I tell her how I was unaware of what to do, she rudely shows me the scale & how to work it. I didn't think to look at the apple to find out if it had a sticker so I put it on the scale & just hit the first apple (manzana) button I see, thinking it wouldn't matter. OH boy, now she goes back & hits the right apple button & we leave. And then in comedic fashion, as I grab the apples roll out of the bag & into the street. As I try to pick them up, I drop them again. Yes, that was all ridiculous... We find Andy & give him the apples, his first words "Did you guys roll these down the stairs?" I crack up laughing & we try to tell him the story...
We have about 2 hrs to kill while the kids are in school so we find a parking deck, which is super small but interesting because once you enter it, you are informed in numbers how many spots are available on the floor you're on. Also there is a light for each parking space indicated by a red (occupied) spot or a green (open) spot. So you don't have to go driving around getting fooled by scooters in spots & thinking they're open until you get to it. You just look up towards the ceiling & look for the green lights. The floors seem like they've been recently waxed making squeaking noises as you turn the tires. The cars seem to all look the same, they're small, basic & cheap looking- they're sole purpose is efficiency. There are NO SUVs, we laughed at what they would think about the Gladstein's trucks. The Spaniards park super close & crooked in these spots as well. We find a beautiful outdoor shopping area nearby named Marques de Larios (pics included). We walk around there window shopping, people watching & taking in the city. People are usually in groups, conversating at tables & being close-knit it seems. One of things I've noticed is that people like to sit & talk with their families & friends- especially the senior community. This gave me the feeling that this was a friendly & talkative community, especially since the locals I've met, only 2 had been rude. As we got around it seemed like people didn't really want to talk to us; when Corrie would approach with broken Spanish, they wouldn't try in the least to understand her & she was saying the right words too! I felt so bad for her :( When I would talk to people, it seemed like it was better but there was still an abrasiveness that I felt. This would start to now be the pattern & I wondered if this was just the air about the Spaniards. Maybe they seemed rude because they were pressed for time, stressed from something else, irritated we weren't local or that we were American. Maybe they were taken aback by our way of trying to be polite rather than the usual manner of stating things.

We take our first bus ride to pick up the kids where you must get off at back door. The kids are happy & we meet Oscar, their teacher. He is young, nice & has that teacher vibe about him-we talk about how they did the first day. There are 3 other girls in their group which most seem to be from Germany? I think. Two that are older & one about Caroline's age. We take the bus back to the shopping area & eat lunch. We watch a man paint with solely his finger on a small tile of glass beautiful scenes of nature. The cashier was actually nice especially when we dropped pop (I mean soda for non-Mid westerners) on the floor. Okay now it seems like I just happened to run into a bunch of rude people at one time & that had established a pattern. Once we're at home, its pool time for the kids (none of the adults had swimsuits), Corrie went into on an excursion into town driving my car (that I didn't want to drive & she preferred since it was a stick/automatic) to buy groceries. After dinner, we hoped for a call regarding our bags---no call. I tried to rest but with so much going on in my head, it took me awhile to wind down. And so I tried to keep track of my daily info so I didn't miss a beat (this is for both of us) & prepared myself mentally for interesting week, now that we had done a couple things at least once.

Posted by enunez7 06.07.2013 10:33 Archived in Spain Comments (6)

24hrs of say what?!

Airline drama...bread...time travel through Paris & Spain...airline drama

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Hello!
Now that we've packed, let's take you on this journey from the start so you feel like you're on this trip as well, by starting @ everyone's favorite place-----the airport!
Leaving Charleston was interesting due to a delay in Atlanta, which cut our layover down to 20 mins. Anyone who's been to Atlanta, knows 45 mins is already cutting it close...So after an hour long failed attempt @ being re-routed (thanks for trying Colleen) & watching some of the flight group act like children-- we took the risky connection flight to Paris which will get us to Malaga, Spain.
As we land in Atlanta, its announced that there are quite a few people w/ TIGHT connection flights & if your destination was Atlanta or had time to spare, to let them/us get off the plane first. to let them/us go first, Most of the plane acted like there wasn't an announcement made but BIG thanks to the bunch who did wait for us to get off :-)Clouds over Atlanta

Clouds over Atlanta


And so we RAN, I mean HAULED ASSES to the gate! The kids were awesome & luckily had scooters that got them there faster. Luckily, there were 16 people on our flight & they had waited a few minutes long enough to at least get one of our group to the gate. One of the ladies on the plane said she wasn't worried because of how many people were on the connecting flight & that they would wait for us. I saw her running behind us & had taken off her shoes to run faster...A previous experience left 8 of us behind when we were 10 mins late for a flight...so take caution my friends.
We showed our passports at the gate because were heading to Paris.
We got on this huge plane of the usual seated rows of 3 on the left & 3 on the right now having a middle row of 4 or 5 seats. The plane was nice & clean, the female flight attendants were lovely in their light blue & white print on a 3/4 sleeve blouse. As I got to my seat, I apologized to the plane about our plane delay & the girls I'm sitting next to because of course, I had the window seat. They seemed interested in what I had to say & they nodded/smiled. Oh good, they understood. I didn't want them to think I was late to get on plane because of something I did. Little did I know that an announcement had been made about holding the plane for a delayed connecting flight. I ramble on to these girls about running as fast as possible & they nodded/smiled, then I realize French is being spoken because oh yeah, we are headed to Paris. So I ask the girls if they spoke English & they both nodded. I ask where they're from; Kansas City & Alabama! Ha! One was headed to Paris to study French while the other was headed to Spain to study Spanish. We didn't take off for what seemed like 1/2 hour past us sitting down, I was convinced that was to allot for our late luggage from Atlanta. After we took off, I notice that there was a menu for dinner & that they would serve breakfast. Wonderful, because I was starving! Menu was a card similar to a thank-you card design & we had a choice of Beef w/ mushrooms & mashed potatoes or Penne pasta of some kind. Also included w/ dinner was cheese, entremet (which means something in between servings, in French) & a Strawberry-lemon cake slice for dessert. Before dinner was served, I was already anxious about wanting to eat something & then I saw they were serving bread! Yes, I got excited about having bread. Hopefully it was soft, delicious & French bread...I love bread, what can I say? Bread basket came & I grabbed 2 rolls, yes I know everyone else probably grabbed 1...dinner came & I got served Beef option because they ran out of pasta. Beef looked like dog food but I didn't care, it tasted fine. Soooo I proceeded to eat everything like I was going away to prison including (the entremet which was a Lentil garbanzo salad w/ spices & a container of applesauce). I don't even like applesauce... along w/ another bread roll since they kindly went around again w/ bread basket. So good :-)A3EE18B62219AC6817BEDFE4A88866D6.jpg
Now since I had to put my carryon bag up & it happened so fast, didn't have anything to read for the long flight- luckily Ithere was a monitor where you could watch tv, movies or listen to music OR watch the live video of the plane flying...A3C84FB22219AC681766A41060BA7B83.jpg

I challenged myself to not watch a something I had seen before but instead to watch a foreign movie. I watched an Argentinean romantic drama in Spanish. And so it was an early bedtime for me but in the morning we would be in Paris for a bit & then Spain...ah! I mean España. That's right people, you guys are also gonna learn some Spanish with the rest of us! I slept 4-5 hrs while we time traveled 6 hrs forward from Charleston time. When I woke up, breakfast was on my tray- what a great way to wake up! I inhaled ANOTHER bread roll, fruit cup & a muffin washed down w/ juice. Went back to sleep for 30 mins until we landed in Paris.

Off plane to customs, which means take your carryon through security again & then wait in line for an intimidating looking man to stamp your passport. Because of my love of languages, I have dabbled in the French language & wanted to try it out. But then would also be afraid that they'd ramble on in French & didn't want to have to tell them I didn't understand a lot & to slow down. Ah, what a relief to have enough time to get to our gate. Due to jet lag or time travel as I like to call it, first thing we wanted was coffee! Ooh a coffee stand is right near our gate, what a perfect opportunity to speak some Francais! I order a coffee & a chocolate croissant a la Francais:-) Delicious!

Airport in Paris

Airport in Paris

Off to the 2 1/2 hr plane ride to Malaga. I was able to switch seats on this to sit next to Caroline & time flew by...Interestingly they charged for beverages on this flight & unlike snacks that could be purchased on US flights, they offered whole baguette sandwiches.Menu on Malaga flight

Menu on Malaga flight


We land in Malaga! Interestingly enough 1st language on signs is German due to their important & heavy presence in Spain. We split up into a "Get the rental car" group consisting of me & Corrie & the "Get our bags" group consisting of Andy, Joe & Caroline. We discover that there's a shuttle to take to the rental car office, luckily that was easy to do via text. But a little off putting because I wasn't 100% about using my phone appropriately due to certain price rules. As we are getting our rental cars, Andy was finding out that our luggage didn't make it along with us...bumpbump buum (dramatic music playing). As I am at the rental car place I find out they mostly carry cars that drive stick! Luckily, they have one that's automatic. Yay!! So we go to our cars & I had to push Corrie's car backwards while it was in neutral so it could make it out of the tiny spot it was in. Thanks CFX for my muscles! My car won't start, sounds like its not on even though I turned the key for a few secs. After I get some help, turns out I have to turn key longer & also release emergency brake as we know it; regular parking brake here. And so I reversed & got out of the lot & proceeded to wait to follow Andy to our destination house about 45 mins away. I tried to get comfy & familiar w/ car. Found an A which i thought meant park, 1 & 2 which i assumed was Drive 1 & 2. As we all know the airport is usually located near main highways but now we're in a different country...So we are immediately on route & am driving fine. I noticed as we started accelerating on the highway my car sounded like it was working to hard & not going fast enough. It quickly hit me to shift but of course I pulled to the shoulder which was frightening since there is some serious aggressive driving here. I realize I can shift from 1-4 going faster through each #. Did I mention I have never driven stick?! Okay, I can do this, you just survived your heart stopping, you can get to the house. And then we started driving up hills, mountainsides, which mostly don't have a rail & are full of dangerous rocks. OMG! We reached the top of a street on a hill & I notice they are starting to roll backwards in front of me, a little too much for my comfort- Andy gets to go forward thought the street. He had been waiting for a car to pass & in the mean time I am learning that I need to manually shift this car to go up & down hills & to go faster. I started rolling back & then skidded forward (heart stops beating) I was headed backwards down a hill but I never looked back...
Now don't get me wrong, heading up the mountain wasn't just scary, it was exciting & AMAZINGLY beautiful w/ valleys & trees as far as the eye could see w/ goats, sheep & horses! It was liberating AND. breathtaking to get to the top & see the cottage atop this beauty. So grateful to Corrie for finding this slice of heaven on the mountain & to be surrounded by such peace...

Posted by enunez7 04.07.2013 06:14 Archived in Spain Comments (5)

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