Travelers, how about an update?

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Travelers, how about an update?
9
Sat, 08-31-2013 - 3:13pm

Kelly, I would love to hear details about the trip to Spain.

Shirley, please tell us about your drive out west and all about the cruise. What land excursions did you take?

Nora, did you take the "scenic route" to your dd's house, or the highway? Did you do or see anything interesting on the drive or while you were there?

If anybody else has traveled recently, please share with us.

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Sat, 08-31-2013 - 4:55pm

Don't remember if I mentioned it, but we were in Key West in May.  Lots of water things to do, if you are 20 years younger.  Good food, but not "beachy" enough for us.  We like the sand, and Key West is, after all, just a big rock in the water. 

Rae went to Spain and brought home over 800 pics.  Hopefully, she will donate some copies to me.  There were some very good shots, which one would expect from an artist.  She loved it, especially Barcelona, and Granada, but said it was Africa hot.

As for this weekend, no big plans.  Going to a neighbor's party in a bit.  It's been POURING since last night, and just stopped about an hour ago.  We were in the 90's up till this, and even tho the temp has dropped, the humidity is still a killer.  I just hope the bugs won't eat us alive. 

Lolo & Will are going to a party tonight, and we will have Bree, beginning around 8, overnight. 

I desperatly need to clean house, since nothing gets accomplished when the baby is here, but we've spent the day so far "binge viewing" that netflix show with Kevin Spacey, "House of Cards".  Politics and power.  Lots of manuvering and double dealing.  Very addictive.  We liked "Boss", too.  Time to go.

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Sat, 08-31-2013 - 5:50pm

Spain was amazing, and I wish I were still there!  13yo DS & I missed most of the time in Madrid due to the passport situation, but we joined the rest of the family on their 4th day there and visited El Escorial, Segovia, Burgos, several towns in the Rioja region, Pamplona, Zaragoza, and Barcelona - all in the northern half of Spain.  We saw gorgeous scenery and beautiful cathedrals, ate tapas & jamon (the Spaniards love their ham), drank lots of inexpensive Rioja, and nearly died with happiness inside La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's cathedral in Barcelona.  It is possibly the most amazing man-made thing I have ever seen and, for this Catholic, worth the entire trip to Spain.

21yo DS was a huge help because after his six weeks in Peru, he is almost fluent in Castilian Spanish.  We had some funny moments with that during the trip.  One was in Barcelona where I was buying a piece of artwork from a local artist, who spoke Catalan and Castiian but not English very well; he asked me in English if I had a friend with me who spoke Castilian, so I found DS and brought him over so the artist could tell him in Castilian about the poem that was on this piece of artwork, and then DS told it to me.  The other incident was in a small town in Rioja, where we wanted someone to take a family photo.  DS asked someone in Spanish if he would do it, and he turned to his companion and asked her to translate what DS said into English. :)

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Sat, 08-31-2013 - 6:38pm

Kelly, I loved La Sagrada Familia too. Did you ride up into one of the towers? The way Gaudi took his inspiration from nature is so beautiful. Did you visit any of the other Gaudi sites?

What did you think of Zaragoza? I wanted to go there but we decided that it would be too hectic for our itinerary...maybe another time.

Nice that you had a translator! Does your ds speak Spanish with a Peruvian accent now?

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Sat, 08-31-2013 - 6:44pm

Sabr, I didn't know that Key West didn't have a lot of beach. I wonder if they used to, and it has eroded away? I recently read about a beach erosion/sand crisis all along the southeast Florida coast. 

800 photos? Wow...that's a lot to sort through. Maybe she'll make a slideshow and send it to you.

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Sat, 08-31-2013 - 9:42pm

We went up into the Nativity tower.  It was astonishing to be so close to the various towers and spires and to see the construction up close.  Gaudi was so phenomenally talented *and* inspired - you rarely see that combination of inspiration and ability to execute on a vision.

We saw two other Gaudi buildings from the outside - Casa Mila and Casa Batilo (what DS called "the fish house").  Not enough time or money to go inside.

Zaragoza was a happy accident.  We had planned to go to Montserrat on our way to Barcelona and the GPS screwed up.  When we realized we wouldn't get there before it closed at 6:30pm, and DD asked if we could stop to eat, we decided to stop in Zaragoza.  As we pulled into town and saw the colored tiles on the spires of the basilica, we said, "Let's go there!"  It was a lovely surprise stop.

People were complimenting DS on his Spanish - obviously he was speaking for our group, so they'd ask where we were from.  They all said he spoke excellent Spanish.  No idea if there's any Peruvian there but I don't think so - no one had any trouble understanding him.  I was quite proud of him for speaking it so well.

I think you had mentioned how hot southern Spain would be in August and I'm REALLY glad you did.  Madrid was in the upper 90s but the rest of northern Spain was in the 80s and sunny and fabulous every day.

Avatar for shirley_v
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-29-2000
Sun, 09-01-2013 - 12:42pm

Well, we are back from our cruise vacation, which also included a couple of stops to visit my sister and BIL and Ray's cousin and Dh (in Kelowna and Vancouver, B.C. respectively - we stopped overnight at my sister's going, two nights at Ray's cousin's, and then stayed two days, three nights at my sister's on the way back home). 

The cruise was a wonderful pampering experience.  Friends of ours, a couple, from Ontario were there to share it with us.  We thoroughly enjoyed their company.  For us women, in particular, it was such a treat to sit back and not have to prepare any meals!  And the food was fabulous!  The dining room experience top notch...so fancy!  The portions served were perfect... small servings for the appetizer and soup or salad and not overly big portions for the main meal. (That meant we even had 'room' for dessert - and how could we say no to those desserts!)  We ate in the dining room for most supper meals as my friend, Cathie, has MS and is wheelchair bound so dining room service was perfect for her and her dh.  Ray and I did at times choose to eat breakfast and some lunches in the cafeteria instead. 

Happily none of us were bothered by seasickness and the sea was never very 'choppy' to induce a lof of boat movement.  Only one night for a brief period (when I was up to the bathroom) did I notice a real rolling of the boat!  It was (to my mind) a neat experience but not something I'd want to experience the whole time!  Some times during the day when walking it just felt like you were a tad 'drunk' by walking oddly from one side of the hallway to the other. 

With no cell phone service and no Wi-Fi service (you had to pay to use the computers on board in the library, which we didn't choose to do), it was very relaxing to not have any of that to interfere with our holiday. 

We went 'gold panning' in Juneau as our land excursion tour.  The weather was drizzly but not so much to interfere with our experience which was educational and kind of fun...(they give you small pans with sand in them and the gold bits are already in there in the sand which after sloshing water around in the pan and with a specific motion to remove some water  and sand each time, the sand is repeatedly removed in small amounts, the gold flecks are discovered at the bottom of your pan (they are heavier than sand or water which is why they stay down at the bottom of the pan).  We got to keep the miniscule bits of gold in a small vial.  Ray especially seemed to enjoy this tour.  We also had included with it a salmon bake dinner afterwards....very nice food eaten outdoors. 

Our next stop at Skagway included a train ride up to the border between Alaska and B.C. with commentary about the history of the gold rush in 1896 to 1898 (really short run!).  The train runs parallel to the trail to Dawson city that wishful gold millionaires had to walk to get there.  (They even had to build their own boat or raft to cross a lake!).  That was such an interesting story - and due to the hardship the people had to endure to get there, amazing what people will do for the dream of getting rich!  The weather in Skagway that day was unfortunately very rainy.  It was good to be in the train for a portion of the day if only to escape the rain!  We visited the town of Skagway in the morning and it is so charming (if not touristy) with old Victorian wooden buildings.  I would have liked to have spent more time visiting the town after our train ride, but it was just too wet to comfortably walk around (despite having some rain gear and umbrellas).

The stop at the glaciers in Glacier Bay was impressive (though again...more rain).  We saw a couple of huge chunks of ice 'calving' from the glacier which was impressive indeed...and not always do visitors to the glacier have that unique experience. 

Lastly our stop at Ketchican was very nice with mostly sunny weather.  Which is remarkable since Ketchican has the reputation of being one of the rainiest places on earth, maybe?  So we really lucked out with sunshine considering too we had a lot of rain otherwise during this cruise!  In Ketchican we visited a native Tlingit town - well, at least their large cedar long house (can't remember the actual name of the building) where we were treated to a few dances and songs of the Tlingit.  We learned of the stories behind a number of totem poles on the property and visited the workhouse where a master carver makes totem poles and learned about how they are made.  Later we visited the town of Ketchican itself...which like all the towns on the cruise have tons of shops - the amount of stuff being sold to tourists is overwhelming!  Of course you can see how it is such an important part of their economy for the months the ships dock there. 

All tolled we were away for two weeks short a day, with one week being on the cruise itself.  We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise, but Ray and I both feel that a week is probably as long as we'd like to be on a cruise...or then again, maybe ten days - well, all depends perhaps on how much time is devoted to stops to tour on land and how much is spent at sea.  For the Alaskan cruise we had two full days being at sea with no stops on land...although for the day visiting the glaciers that too meant no stop on land...but just some time spent seeing the glaciers from the boat. 

Well, this is probably long enough a summary of our time away.  Back to reality here at home!

Shirley

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Sun, 09-01-2013 - 4:23pm

Key West is an island by definition, so you might think there'd be beaches with crashing waves. Not so. There is a good reason for this: America’s only living coral reef (and the world’s third longest barrier reef). The barrier reef does it’s job of protecting the Florida Keys from large ocean waves. There is no surfing in Key West because there is no surf. Without those big waves hitting the Keys, the mechanism required for creating sand naturally is missing.  The VERY few beaches on Key West are all man-made, with sand imported from the Bahamas.

Here is a pic of the famous "turquoise waters", caused by the fact that the limestone of the Key is only a few dozen feet down, on the east and south sides of the island.  The darker water is the ABRUPT drop-off in depth.  The west side of the island is all deep water.  U S. Naval and cruise ships dock there.

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Avatar for nora_mcl
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-30-2011
Mon, 09-02-2013 - 11:13am

Our trip was not fancy, or exotic-but it served the purpose for which it was intended. It distracted us from the sadness of Adam's birthdate & it ended what was indeed a very sad month. We got to spend quality time with our grandchildren, I took Jonah to register at his new school, & Toby came in prepared to sweet-talk his grandfather to take him to a movie ("Planes")except it did not take any effort. Living 4+ hours away-it was a treat to be able to do this, to, as Mike said-be "real" grandparents for a change. Now the temptation is to consider actually moving closer to them-a big decision for sure. We like where we live-& our other grandchildren live only 2 1/2 hours from here-so it would be further from them. Nothing can be decided until a year has passed-so time to think & talk & think more.

The neighbours kept the pugs-& they put flowers on Adam's grave on his birthday & sang to him on the date. I went there yesterday, a day late to wish him a Happy Birthday. So sad-he was too young, but I have to accept it, I guess.

Today that same neighbour is here making Buttertarts-some without raisins (her preference)& some with.  IF we ever move-she (& her family)we will miss. Like I said-a big decision to make.

Now I have to get things together-our older son is coming on his way through. Lunch will be informal-bunwiches & salad & buttertarts still warm from the oven.

Nora

Nora

Avatar for shirley_v
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-29-2000
Mon, 09-02-2013 - 11:54am

Nora, I would think that it will take time to think over a decision to move, and where to...closer to one family of grandchildren or the other.  Who knows what events or circumstances in the near future may help provide the answer to the question of when and where to move to. 

I too did think of Adam on his birthday.  You will always have the memory of Adam in your heart - hopefully in time the pain will subside - maybe not completely (not that I know what it is like to lose a child) but that you'll feel much less heartwrenching pain when these particular anniversaries of important dates in his life occur each year. 

Have a good visit with your son (and your daughter-in-law?). 

Shirley