Sunday, September 11, 2016


Can I be completely honest with you guys for a second?  Ever since we went to the States for my mother-in-law's funeral after being gone for 3 entire years, the spell of living in Europe has been broken.  Living here has been enchanting and enlightening and the most incredible experience of our entire lives; we are better people for having lived here!  But, we are ready to go home. 

I'm sure that's surprising coming from me, especially since I've used this blog to document our travels, and have attempted to inspire you all to travel too (although, I'm sure that that is pretty grandiose for a teeny blog like mine).  But, being ready to go home is how I'm feeling right now, and this wouldn't be a blog about my life if I wasn't being honest with you all.  
Maybe it's just that we have no doubts that we have made the most of our time here, we have pushed ourselves as far as we possibly could and now we can leave with absolutely NO regrets.  Or maybe it's because the list of things we have to purchase when we get back to the States is astronomical (really enunciate that and say it a little slow for full emphasis of the amount of money I am talking about), leaving almost nothing left in our travel budget.  Or maybe it's because being a foreigner is really hard sometimes and I'm tired of feeling so out of place.  I don't really know what it is, all I do know is that we haven't felt like traveling, and instead, are focused on moving home.  

Except that our trip to Spain was planned before Deb's funeral and before the spell of living in Europe was broken, which was a good thing because otherwise we probably never would have gone on one of the BEST trips we have ever taken!

The 4-star resort we stayed at! 

The morning view from our balcony. 

View #2 

View #3. 

And just because I couldn't get enough of it, view #4.

We spent Labor Day weekend at a 4-star all-inclusive resort on the Mediterranean ocean on the coast of Spain near Barcelona.  Because of a mix up when booking our trip, Isabelle got her very own hotel room.  Since we had already paid for the extra room, and didn't catch it when we were completing the booking, it would have been more of a headache to change it rather than just leave the reservation as it was, so we just left it and Isabelle quickly claimed it as her own. She loved having her own room!  And I'll admit that Eric and I loved it too.  Both of our rooms were directly above the VIP area, so we got free VIP access to their nightly shows just by sitting on our balcony!  And the views!  Ohmigosh!  The view of the ocean was breathtaking, and falling asleep to the sound of the waves....ahhh-mazing!  We could have had an entire vacation from just our balcony!

We spent our first day & night in Spain laying on the beach and getting burnt to a crisp.  Being out in the sun was indescribable, we had forgotten how the sunlight feels on our bodies....side eye at you, Germany.  The beach was all rocks, it was not soft sand at all, so our feet got tore up, but when you're on the Mediterranean who really cares about the bottoms of your feet?  We floated in the salt water, and Eric and I drank Spanish beer at 10:00 in the morning until well into the night.  

The next day we went into Barcelona- an easy train ride from our hotel- without a plan.  Not having any sort of plan is so nooot like me.  Since we haven't felt like traveling lately, and I've been so busy planning our international move back home and planning a promotion party for next month, I didn't give a hoot to plan for our trip to Barcelona.  All I knew for sure was that I was going to lay out on the beach and it was going to be hard to get my butt to move unless there was food involved. 
My husband couldn't believe that I would actually go anywhere without a detailed plan, reminding me that I don't even go to the grocery store without a list.  He thought that maybe it would have been better to go to Barcelona with more of a plan.  So then I reminded him that he was just as capable of planning things as I am, and asked him through squinted eyes and slightly clenched teeth if he really thought that I haven't had anything else to worry about lately.

He shut up.

Sagrada Família

We headed straight for the Sagrada Família, because when you think of Barcelona, you think of the Sagrada Familia- a UNESCO World Heritage Site!  And the most visited site in all of Spain!
Construction began on the minor basilica 134 years ago and is not expected to be finished for another decade.  The architect who designed it was Antoni Gaudí, a designer with a distinct style that is seen throughout Barcelona, and whose style we enjoyed all day long.  Inside the basilica the stained glass windows were a rainbow curving around the entire building, with every shade gradually blending into the next color.  It was so beautiful!

Gaudí designed 18 towers for the Sagrada, but only 8 are currently completed- four on each facade.  We went up to the top of the Passion Facade and were able to overlook all of Barcelona!  I always forget how much I hate heights until I'm at the top of a tower looking down at what I feel like would be one of the worst ways to die.  Thankfully, I managed to snap a picture of the view of Barcelona, because when I'm a million feet off the ground all I can do is try really hard to concentrate on breathing and finding my way back down to solid ground, so I don't usually enjoy the view until I'm at home on my couch looking at my pictures on my computer screen.

The metro in Barcelona was a cinch to navigate, but that doesn't help when you aren't really sure where you want to go.  So we picked random stops on the metro and then walked along the streets of Barcelona as we made our way to Park Güell, admiring the architecture every where we looked.  We talked about all of the different cities we have been to and how each of them have a unique vibe all their own.  We talked about how we've gotten really good at navigating the European metro system, and how even a year ago I would never have gone to a new place without some sort of a plan, and that maybe, just maybe, that meant we weren't the obvious tourists anymore.  

And I couldn't help but think that after everything we've been through- meeting despair face-to-face over & over again and still being able to find joy in every single day, and after having moved to and lived in a foreign country, and having explored more than twenty others, that nothing will ever feel impossible to us.  That actually, everything seems.... possible.  Everything.

Does that even make sense?  

It's a really great feeling.

Casa Batlló

Palm trees!

The Columbus Monument

To finish our day in Barcelona, we went to Park Güell.  The same architect that designed the Sagrada Família was commissioned by Eusebi Güell to design a park for well-to-do families in the early 1900's.  Eusebi was an entrepenur who helped to develop Barcelona into what it is now.  The Park was opened to the public in 1926 and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.  
The main terrace is lined with a mosaic bench that squiggled around the perimeter of the terrace for people to sit and enjoy the view of the city and of the ocean in the distance.  Other than the bench, the terrace was wide open, underneath it was the Hypostyle Room- an area of large columns holding up the terrace with a mosaic design on the ceiling. 
It's hard for me to describe to you guys what the park looked like exactly.  I can't describe things artistically like my Grandma Sue could have.  Park Güell was a place I'd never seen before- sort of modern in the mosaic designs, but sort of cave-like in other ways.  When I was walking around I was thinking about my blog and what I wanted to tell you all, but I knew that I was going to have a hard time with this part.  My pictures will have to do the explaining for me.

I was REALLY excited about palm trees!  I wanted to kiss one, but Eric said that was probably what the little fence was for.... so people like me who insist on kissing palm trees, don't.

On the terrace

The squiggly mosaic bench

Hypostyle Room

Walking down the Monumental Flight of Steps 

Looking up at the Monumental Flight of Steps with the Hypostyle Room at the top and the squiggly bench above that.

We stopped to buy some postcards on our way back to the meeting point to head back to our hotel, and I got a really neat painting of the Sagrada Família that is at the frame shop getting matted and framed as we speak, but that was our day in Barcelona!  I would love to go back someday with an actual plan.  I don't think it's possible to truly experience the city in only one day, but even so, we don't feel like we were gypped out of an experience.  We saw exactly what we want to see at the exact pace we wanted to!  

For our last day in Spain, Eric and I really wanted to go to Montserrat to see the mountains.  We had seen the beach, swam in the ocean, wandered around the city, and now we were wanting to climb mountains!  But none of us had any energy, and even though we were having a blast, it hadn't revived our lust for travel, so we let Isabelle decide what she wanted to do... her request: lay by the pool! 

So we spent our last day in Spain laying by the pool under the balcony of our hotel rooms, blissfully soaking up the sun, spending time together as a family without having to worry about anything.  
We had immediately noticed the cultural differences laying on the beach when we first arrived, but were reminded again by the pool that in Europe... no one cares what you look like in your gosh damned swimsuit!  No one is looking at you!  Everyone is too busy enjoying their vacation to pay any attention to you, your body, or what you "should" or "should not" look like when you're on a beach!  There were women who were topless, other women who weren't, little girls in just swim bottoms, and every European male was in a speedo.  No one, literally no one, cared what you looked like!  It was the most refreshing experience I have ever had while in a swimsuit.  

Isabelle did water aerobics, and then we spent ALL day laying by the pool drinking Spanish beer (not Isabelle, just us) alternating between napping in the sun and swimming.  Isabelle knew exactly what would be the best way to spend our last day in Spain and she was so right!  
Later we showered, and I felt like it was finally the perfect night to wear my hot pink lipstick and new pants that I had been saving for a cruise we were supposed to go on but had to cancel (for the 2nd frickin time... don't even get me started I am still pissed about it).  We walked on the beach at dusk, got gelato, and had a really amazing dinner listening to the waves.  Lastly, we listened to live music on our balcony until way past our bedtimes.

Look at how happy she is.

Water aerobics!

Gelato on the beach! 

Jazz music all night long!

Well guys.... this is it.  Spain was our last big European adventure, and oddly, there is no pouty face about it.  I may have lost my lust for travel, but I don't feel bad about that.  We have made the absolute most of out time here, we saw all that we hoped to (minus a couple of cruises) and more!  
But now it's time for us to move on to the next chapter.  We are so excited for an adventure we have planned for 2017, and I know that Army life will keep us on our toes.  And even though our traveling in Europe is coming to an end, we'll never stop traveling and exploring completely, so this isn't the end for my blog.

But if you've only been reading for our travel adventures, then Spain was truly the exclamation point to an amazing chapter, and for you, the end of our time together.  

But I hope you'll stick around.... even if I can't ever top Spain.

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