June - July 2016
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  • Day1

    Day 1: From Kate

    June 18, 2016 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 59 °F

    Yesterday we went to see Buckingham Palace, the London eye, Big Ben, Westminster abbey, and St. James Park. At Buckingham palace we saw 2 different kinds of guards, we saw police and the queens guards. We also saw the Victoria memorial with a fountain all around it. Next to the Victoria Memorial was the England flags surrounded in roses! It was an amazing sight to see. At the London eye there was a huge line so we didn't get to go on it. But each compartment can fit about 20 people, so altogether maybe 500 people can fit in it!Read more

  • Day1

    Day 1: From Grace

    June 18, 2016 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 59 °F

    Yesterday we went to a couple places in London, including Victoria's Bar. We went there for dinner, and the food was pretty good. We had a waiter that had recommended different foods and drinks to us, which some were good and others not so much. I had a Waygu Burger, which was filled with meat, lettuce, tomatoes, Canadian bacon, and thousand island sauce. Overall my meal was delicious and almost impossible to eat. The chips were soft and to me are better then McDonalds fries at home. We ordered some lemonade which was carbonated, and definitely interesting. Compared to the lemonade that I drink at home it was surprising when I first drank it bc it was extremely sour and carbonated which neither of them was expecting. We also got a Rhubarb soda which I thought was yummy but no one else liked it. Victoria's Bar was playing the European Championship futbal game of Iceland and Hungary. There were 3 TV so that you could see where ever you were but you weren't overcrowded with all the TVs surrounding you.

    The ride to Europe from the USA we took British Airways and it was about 8 hours and delayed amlost an hour. We were supposed to leave around 9:45 and we left about 10:30 due to the flight before us and an engine tweak. We waited on the plane for about 20-30 min. untill we started to leave. The flight was a little bumpy but still okay. They turned the lights out and we mostly slept, but there were little TVs on the back of each seat with some really good movies like Star Wars, Daddy's Home, The 5th Wave, and Zootopia. The food was delicious, surprisingly. We had pasta, bread, water, crackers, cheesecake, etc. But after a long day we were all exhausted.
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  • Day2

    London-Gatwick Airport

    June 19, 2016 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 64 °F

    Heading to Malaga! Boarding our big red Norwegian B737-800 series aircraft! First flight we've been on where more people are speaking a foreign language than English! Though it's interesting that they're playing American pop music. It was also interesting at the airport hotel breakfast to hear all of the different languages.

    We're slightly jet-lagged today and looking forward to arriving in Spain where we'll continue our adjustment to the time change. Yesterday we managed to stay up all day after our overnight flight to London. We took the train 30 minutes into London and saw some of the sites we wanted to visit. Of course we twice got on the wrong train (going there and coming back) but we managed to sit next to kind folks who helped us get back on the right track (literally). Tip of the day: if you're a few minutes early for the train then it's probably the wrong train! Expect them to be a few minutes late.

    The flight crew just announced that we're delayed another 20-30 minutes (we're already 30 minutes behind schedule) due to a possible ATC strike in France. Day long strikes in Europe are something we were advised about and, sure enough, it looks like we'll be affected. I guess we'll just sit back and enjoy our pop music :).
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  • Day2

    K: first afternoon in Malaga

    June 19, 2016 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 77 °F

    We made it to Malaga in Spain and yesterday we went to the beach and played on the zip line. We also went to a pizzeria and learned that normally people don't eat until 8:00!

  • Day3

    G: first full day in Torrox-costa

    June 20, 2016 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 79 °F

    After our first day in Spain we just relaxed all day. We went to the beach and just chilled for a while. We also went on a zip line that was on the beach which was very fun. We came back for lunch and we just had sandwiches with meat, cheese, and lettuce and tomato. It was delicious. We then went to a little restaurant where we got some lemonade and connected to the wifi. Then we went back to the beach and stayed there until about 8 which was dinner time. We went to a restaurant on the beach and I got a big sandwich with egg, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion on it. We went to bed around midnight since we had eaten so late!Read more

  • Day4

    Torrox costa

    June 21, 2016 in Spain ⋅ 🌙 70 °F

    We're in a smallish seaside town named Torrox. I say smallish because that is the impression I got while driving in but, in reality, we haven't wandered from our base in an apartment on the beach. The home was exchanged with a nice Spanish couple who will be visiting my in-laws home while we are visiting here.

    Although this seems like it may be a place that some Europeans come for holiday (because there are United Kingdom, German and French flags flying below the flag of Spain) I get a sense that we are not the typical visitor. For one, folks who speak English are not the easy to come by. We use the limited Spanish we know, along with Google translate, to do the best we can when ordering food. The locals are kind but maybe also a bit put off by our limited knowledge of Spanish. I sometimes, although it could be my imagination, feel as if we're being watched as something out of place.

    I've pondered this a bit and believe this is a good thing for us - to feel as if we don't necessarily belong and to be a bit out of our comfort zone. It forces us to work harder on learning Spanish, because we can't rely on English speaking waiters. It forces us to observe and respect our surroundings because we don't want to look rude, be disrespectful, or, quite honestly, find ourselves in an unsafe place. And it forces us to accept that not all cultures are like America and that's ok.

    Consider these things: eating dinner at 9 PM is the norm here. The locally owned grocery store closes early so that the owner can be with his/her family in the evening. It is not uncommon for stores to close in the middle of the day. We don't need to tip the waiter because he/she is paid a living wage. The waiter won't provide you the bill unless you ask for it because your meal, and your time with friends and family, should not be rushed. It is impolite to order too much food and then simply throw it away after the meal. All of this, except maybe eating dinner at 9 PM, could be applied in America and maybe we'd be a little less rushed, a little less stressed, and a little more appreciative of people and relationships because people and relationships are where life is really found.
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  • Day4

    Nerja and Balcony of Europe

    June 21, 2016 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 79 °F

    Today we expanded our horizons and, after sleeping late and spending part of the day on the beach, we took a drive to the nearby town of Nerja. We were seeking to see prehistoric cave drawings that are said to be over 35,000 years old. Little did we know, the summer hours for the caves begin July 1st and we arrived after closing time. We had read, however, that near the center of the town of Nerja was the "Balcony of Europe" so we headed there. Our disappointment in not seeing the caves was soon displaced by the enjoyment of walking through the pedestrian streets of Nerja in our search for the balcony. We walked past cafes that spilled into the streets as visitors enjoyed the relaxed environment, as musicians played the accordion to entertain said visitors, and as tourists strolled toward the sea. We were rewarded with a memorable walk, some fine ice cream, and a spectacular view overlooking the Mediterranean Sea via the Balcony of Europe.

    What did we learn today?

    - you can have more than 1 ice cream cone a day (G&K had 3)
    - We're addicted to wi-fi so we go down stairs to a small Moroccan themed, bar/cafe to connect back to our virtual world (sometimes we buy something, sometimes we're pirates)
    - It is not easy to sign up for soccer camps and to get acclimated to a new soccer program via slow wifi
    - A zip line on the beach is more fun than almost anything else
    - Don't assume that summer schedules are equivalent for Europeans and Americans
    - When the Tartunga (the little bar downstairs) runs out of fresh lemons for lemonade, they'll run across the street and pick up more from the local market
    - The local market store is smaller than the smallest bedroom in my house
    - The local tomatoes here are way better than the grocery store tomatoes at home
    - The locals stay up late and open the Tartunga late (at 9M) for coffee and breakfast
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  • Day5

    Alhambra

    June 22, 2016 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 88 °F

    Today was a bigger adventure as we headed to see the Alhambra - the most visited site in Spain. A walled city built by the Moors/Muslims before the time of Columbus sailing to America, it was eventually surrendered to King Charles V of Spain. The exquisite and intricate patterns on the walls and ceilings were fascinating considering when it was built. It was also easy to see why the fortress was built up in the mountains where it would be very difficult for an invasion to succeed.

    Also fascinating was looking beyond the fortress walls to see the cave dwellings that are still occupied today! They have fronts that appear to be homes but these fronts lead into caves that are occupied by locals.

    It's always interesting to drive through the countryside of a country to see how people live. Homes built into the side of a mountain, run down, ramshackle houses along the road but then apparently planned towns with pristine white walls with all of the homes built within close proximity to one another. It appears that most people in the poor countryside homes are farming their land for the fruit or olives that grow here.

    Interestingly, we were told that the highway (which wound through tunneled mountains) was just built within the last year. It must have been quite a process to drive from the Costa del sol area to Granada area prior to the road being built.

    Some other things we learned today:

    - you're never too old to wear a speedo
    - The Europeans don't have a body image problem
    - It isn't so bad falling asleep to the sound of the crashing waves
    - Ketchup isn't so common
    - Peanut butter is non-existent
    - The kids are great travelers
    - My initial impression of feeling out of place seems to have been my own insecurity
    - We are addicted to wifi
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