Joined November 2016 Message
  • Day7

    Day 7: Final Day

    August 12 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 33 °C

    Woke up and feeling like myself again. Coughing and sneezing are mostly gone. A bit dizzy and have a bit headache, that’s about it. It seems COVID is mostly behind me now.

    Will take an easy still, only walk around the neighborhood today.

    Coming back home tomorrow. YAY!
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  • Day7

    Day 6: Barcelona Hotel room

    August 12 in Spain ⋅ 🌙 25 °C

    2 days, staying in the bed, sleeping most of the times.

    Day 1: some coughing and sneezing, sore throat, itchy chest, feeling chills in one minute, hot flashes in the next, but never escalated to fever.

    Day 2: chills and hot flashes were gone. Itchy chest was gone as well. Only few coughing and sneezing left. Mostly feeling back to normal! A bit headache still remains though.

    Thanks to the vaccines, thanks to science, it seems my COVID 19 experience is a very mild one.

    However, this experience is reconfirmed one fact: I CAN love my husband even more!

    Trapped in a small room with me, he was patient, caring, funny and gentle. Since he continues to test negative, with mask on him at all time, he was able to go out and get food. Fresh squeezed Orange juice, yogurt, bananas, cookies and pastries. He wanted to make sure his sick wife didn’t go hungry.

    Tonight, he managed to find my favorite Chinese dish in Barcelona! Spicy fish stew. I crave this dish from time to time, especially when I am sick. He managed to track it down and went to get it for me. As he was waiting, I guess the restaurant owner, who doesn’t speak a word of English, took liking of him, gave him all kind of extra food to take back to me. Some tasty chicken legs, roasted sweet potatoes, fresh honeydew melon slices and some fresh plums. As we opened up the package, we looked at each other and confused. We definitely didn’t pay for all these things they added in here. But then…who doesn’t like Steve once you meet him!

    He was munching on other dishes I ordered, left the giant bowl of fish stew for me to consume. I looked at him, and really wanted to kiss him, but had to refrain myself. For some reason, the forbidden things are always so much more attractive. 😂

    I think I will be back to normal tomorrow, will try to head out if I can while wearing mask the whole time. I think walking around this lovely neighborhood should be a safe activity to do.
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  • Day5

    Day 5: Barcelona

    August 10 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    Well, not too surprised, I tested positive for COVID. We have been testing ourselves daily since we arrived, and I tested positive this morning; Steve is still negative.

    I have canceled all reservations to restaurants, and will be isolating myself for the next couple days. Since Steve is negative, he can go out and get food for us, while masked the whole time though.

    My symptoms are mild so far, no fever, can still taste and smell. A bit of cough and scratchy throat, that’s it.

    So thankful for Vaccines!! I got 2 booster shots on top of the regular ones, probably helped to keep my symptoms mild.

    I have no regrets coming to Barcelona. This city is absolutely amazing! I am fond of its people as well, so friendly and genuine. I have done most of what I wanted to do anyway, so staying in the hotel rooms for a couple days is not a problem.

    Will head back home on Saturday, and keep the mask on me the entire time!
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    Too bad you have the covid, Juliet. It is a shame but you seem to have mild symptoms. I am sorry your trip is a bit spoiled but you seem positive about it and did most you intended. Hope Steve stays covid free. Take care. xo Peter

  • Day4

    Day 4: Figueres - hometown of Dali

    August 9 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    Today is all about Salvador Dali! We took a small group tour (just us and a lovely family) with a knowledgeable guide, who drove 2 hours away from Barcelona to Figueres, hometown of Salvador Dali.

    Dali has been one of my favorite artists, along with Picasso and Rodin. Years ago we went to Rodin museum in Paris and loved it. I am so glad I had the chance to learn so much about Dali today.

    Dali museum was our first stop. It’s rare for an artist to design their own museum, but Dali not only did that, but lived in the museum towards the end of his life, and finally buried in this museum. Throughout the museum, you can really peak into his mind, and discover it’s craziness and beauty. Touring his living space was kind of neat as well!

    Dali was madly in love with his wife Gala, to the extend that he bought a castle for her! The Gala castle was our second stop. As Dali’s muse, you can see Gala’s face in many of his pieces, even more so in her castle. Gala however told her husband not to come to her castle unless he received a written invitation, meanwhile took many young, handsome lovers. Dali still maintained his deep love for her to the end.

    However, Gala is buried in the castle, Dali chose to be buried in his museum.

    Our tour ended on a lovely beach of Mediterranean sea. Some cold beer for Steve and ice cream for me on a hot day was so perfect!

    Our dinner was at a restaurant specializing food on toothpicks. A smaller form of tapa dishes. The food was delicious!!
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  • Day3

    Day 3: Barcelona

    August 8 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C

    We started our day at the center of the city, the Catalonia Plaza, and started Rick Steve’s’ walking tour (his free app is fantastic to listen to while walking).

    Following his directions, we walked through La Rambla street. As Rick making a big deal on a street fountain, talking about its history and significance of it, an old woman was vigorously washing her feet and sandals in this historic fountain, making Steve and I laugh out loud. I really like the fact people here live with the history (their balconies may be decorated with statues, their doors may have some historical carvings on them, their apartments may belong to some historical figures…), they continue live their lives and kind of become part of the history, which makes the city so much more vibrant and lively. History is not some dead objects or stories here, it very much is part of the city and its culture.

    As we were heading deeper and deeper into the old city area, the winding narrow streets started showing their personalities, so much more charming than the big avenues lined with major brands. Small personal shops displaying handmade shoes, clothings, art pieces, sculptures; cafes and bars popping up at every corner and small courtyards. Families walking with their kids and dogs, young people on skateboards, old people on their walkers… they are going about their daily lives, perfectly fine with tourists passing them by. They have become part of the landscape of this city.

    People here are proud and kind, and diligent with their work. Street sweepers busy keeping the streets clean; the wait staff smile warmly and super pleasant; the huge smile on a street vendor’s face after he made a €1 sale somehow moved me greatly; the musicians playing expertly in plazas were full of energy.

    This is a great city!

    As we walked through the Gothic Quarter, the Cathedral, the palace of Catalonia Royals where they sent Columbus off and then gave him a hero’s welcome upon returning (therefore changed the history for Spain), to the headquarter of Spanish Inquisition (a surprisingly whimsical building…wished we could check out the basement), we somehow found ourselves in front of the doors of Picasso museum. Unfortunately it’s closed today. However, the Modern Art museum was right next door and was open, so we went inside and checked out some Banksy works.

    After walking for 5 hours and more than 5 miles, we were exhausted but very happy! Time to head back and have a nap!
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  • Day2

    Day 2: Barcelona

    August 7 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    Today’s agenda is all about Gaudi, one of the most famous architects of Spain.

    We joined a walking tour in order to gain access inside of the buildings. The first stop is Casa Batllo. This charming house has an ocean theme, everything is waving and curving; very few straight lines anywhere. Gaudi was truly creative and ahead of his time!

    After visiting a few more houses and the Park Guell, we finally arrived at La Sagrada Familia, one of the most magnificent buildings in the world! Words cannot describe how amazing this building is. The construction of it started 1882, and still going on today. When Gaudi died in 1926 (killed by a streetcar), the building was less than a quarter completed. The Spanish Civil War caused the destruction of his blueprints and plaster models. It took 16 years to reconstruct the plaster models for the work to continue. They are hoping to complete the construction by 2026, but the pandemic delayed it yet again.

    This building is one reason I picked Barcelona to visit. My gosh! It’s so worth it!

    Dinner tonight is a restaurant known for its paella, and the beautiful view of the city. Arriving early granted us the best seats in the house, a corner table with a sweeping view of the harbor.
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  • Day2

    Day 1: Barcelona

    August 7 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    We originally scheduled to go to a River Cruise in Europe to celebrate our 20 year anniversary in 2020, well, that didn’t happen due to COVID. 2 years later, we have come to Barcelona for the celebration, just because I have always wanted to come here.

    The night before our travel, we got an email from American Airline, informing us our flight to Philadelphia (with 9 hr layover) has been canceled. Calling them immediately resulted us flying through Miami and then Barcelona. My plan of walking around Philadelphia for 9 hours was forced to changed to 7 hours lazy around in the Miami airport lounge, since we were exhausted after getting up at 2:30 AM to make our 5 AM flight.

    After 30 hours of traveling, we arrived in Barcelona at 9 AM. Since we were not able to check in until 3 PM, we decided to walk around the neighborhood for a while.

    Turns out our fancy hotel is located at the heart of the ritziest neighborhood in Barcelona, where a lot of architecturally significant buildings are located. Walking around here was a fantastic thing to do to see Barcelona in our first day.

    With Rick Steve’s’ audio tour (an app you can download) in our ears, we set out to see the masterpieces of Spanish architecture marvels.

    After walking almost 2 hrs, we were completely exhausted by the time we got back to our hotel. Thankfully they were able to check us in. After 36 hours of traveling, we were finally in bed.

    People in Spain like to eat late. The Michelin star restaurant we planned to eat in doesn’t open until 8 PM. But it’s so worth the wait. The restaurant is a fusion of Peruvian and Japanese cuisines, and the amazing tastes of both cultures shined through each dish. Our first meal in Barcelona is already an highlight of our trip!

    Finally, time to sleep!
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  • Day14

    Day 14: Honolulu - Pearl Harbor

    June 10 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    Today was the final day of our amazing Hawaii vacation, and we devoted today to Pearl Harbor.

    We visited Bowfin Submarine and USS Missouri. I tried to make reservations for Arizona Memorial, failed to secure 3 tickets fast enough before all were gone. 😔

    However, the submarine and battleship tours actually took us all day since there were so much to see! It was so impressive that Bowfin sunk 44 Japanese ships! Being on this very ship felt surreal.

    I didn’t know the official surrender of Japan happened on USS Missouri. Standing on the very spot of the signing ceremony made me emotional.

    My mother’s family had suffered a lot during WWII in the hands of Japanese army. Her father was killed by Japanese air raid early in the war. Her mother re-married a few years later and then died. Her stepfather sent her to live with her uncle. She was abused by that family, treated like a servant. When she broke a tea cup one time, they made her kneel on the broken pieces. She still has those scars more 70 years later. The uncle then sent my mom to an orphanage, where she actually was treated better. Then just before the city was liberated by the Communist army, the adults of the orphanage fled, left the entire school of kids to fend themselves. The kids were starved for 3 days before the Communists soldiers saved them, gave them candies and food. Then new Communist government sent my mother to school, gave her proper education all the way to college, where she met my father.

    War is cruel and common people suffer. I often wonder how she had survive so much sufferings and still always smiling and happy. She is the kindest and most selfless person I know (Steve is too). I don’t know why, but standing on the spot of Japan’s surrender made me miss my mother.

    The final dinner in Hawaii was at a restaurant called Aloha Table. The food was absolutely amazing!! A fitting end to our trip!

    We have to get up at 4 AM tomorrow to catch our flight. 😬
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  • Day13

    Day 13: Kona to Honolulu

    June 9 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    Woke up and got a text from my friend about helicopter crash in Hawaii, asking if I was still alive. Immediately found the news article, and realized we actually passed by some helicopters on our way to the mountains yesterday, wondering if we should do a tour to the volcano site. Good thing we didn’t!!

    We were traveling to Honolulu today and the flight was not eventful at all.

    This was actually the first time for us to visit Honolulu properly. Last time we completed skipped this island. Now I am here, to be honest, it’s a bit too metropolitan for me.

    After a very satisfying dinner at the famous Roy’s restaurant, we took a stroll on the Waikiki Beach, just in time for a beautiful sunset. Passed by an outdoor Luau, and stayed for a couple shows. Free Luau! 😂

    Tomorrow is our final day in Hawaii. Honestly, I am ready to go home. I miss my own bed. ☺️
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  • Day12

    Day 12: The Big Island of Hawaii - Kona

    June 8 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    Sea turtles! We saw a dozen sea turtles this morning in a nearby state park. We just love these gentle creatures!

    We then drove to a lovely town called Waimea and had a great lunch there. Along the way, the landscape kept changing, from volcanic wasteland with few goats, to lush English pastures with many cattle and horses, ended with rainforest jungle of Waipio Valley. I do think the big island of Hawaii is the most interesting island in Hawaii!

    After a great dinner at a fancy Japanese restaurant, we headed back to Mauna Kea mountain to look at the stars. The an hour and half drive towards the mountain was nerve racking because when we started, there was heavy rain and many clouds. I was really worried that we would waste 3 hours of back and forth driving not seeing any stars. However, there is a reason the scientists built the most cutting-edge observatories at the summit here, because this mountain top seems always above the clouds.

    As we jumped out of our car, the sky was full of stars! Unfortunately the half moon made some of them less visible, but it was still amazing!!

    We are heading back to Honolulu tomorrow.
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