As we prepare to take off again, I thought having a synopsis in pictures of our last year of travels would be fun to look back on. I haven’t edited any of these–as there’s just too many and with preparing to leave next week, I haven’t the time to do it. So–here are some candid shots of where we’ve been–a lot of these are posed shots–and there are a few candid shots. I hope you enjoy looking through them as much as I have :).
I realize that I have fallen quite behind in my writing our last month and a half in Europe. So, bellow I have written a quick synopses of the last few places we visited before heading back to the States for the holidays.
After Nice we went to Lisbon, Portugal for 2 weeks. This was, across the board, our family’s favorite city so far. The people are wonderfully kind. The city is beautiful with many amazing museums (our favorite being the National Museum of Natural History and Science. This place has a wonderful dinosaur exhibit, an incredible gem exhibit, and our favorite exhibit of all time: a hands-on-board game exhibit. We spent about an hour just in the board-game exhibit playing and learning various different board-games from around the world.
While in Lisbon, we also visited the beautiful and historical city of Sintra. This was one place I had heard was definitely worth seeing while being in the are. It’s about a 45 minute cab drive from the center of Lisbon perched up on top of a beautiful mountain overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. If you google Sintra, you can see what we saw and it is exactly as the pictures show. Spectacular and absolutely beautiful. Definitely a worthwhile place to go back to!
In Paris, we became tourists and visited the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Arc de Triumph. I really do love Paris. It has an incredible romantic feel to it and the people there are just lovely.
Next, we visited Barcelona. We stayed right by the building designed by Gaudi that is still being built after 100 years of construction. It’s called La Sagrada Familia. It’s a big tourist attraction…and thus has been built to be none other than a tourist attraction, where other beautiful Cathedrals we have visited have been built as places for worshiping God. So, that being said, I didn’t feel giving it the title of church or Cathedral was appropriate. Others may have a differing view, that is just mine. While in Barcelona, we also visited the amazing Gothic Quarters. I would love to go back and spend more time there. The winding streets and little shops were so fun to look at. There is an amazing food market right across the street from the Gothic Quarter which is the most incredible open market I have yet to see. They said to be careful of pick-pockets here, but we didn’t have any issues.
Of course, with Spanish Tapas being one of my favorite foods to eat, I was extremely excited to try some Tapas restaurants in Barcelona! In our quest to find Spanish Tapas, we found a really neat restaurant called Zyriab. Now, this was not Spanish Tapas, but it was Arabian Tapas and oh man! It was incredible food, the atmosphere romantic, and the service amazing. All 3 combined made for a wonderful evening.
We spent our last month in London and saw some things we had not seen before. The first week we stayed up in Camden and one afternoon took a walk through the Camden Market. This Market is fantastic! So many different shops and food and people! Definitely a place I’d like to spend a little more time in next time we’re in the area. We also took the audio tour of the Parliament building and learned some very interesting things about the building’s history and structure. We bought our tickets online, where it was cheaper and we could go strait to the front of the line.
Also, while we were in London, we checked out the Museum of Science and also the Museum of Natural History. I must say that I love how most of the museums are free to visitors in this city! The Museum of Science had fascinating exhibits on the history and development of all different areas of science. They also had wonderful exhibits with models of cars and planes through history–some you could even get in! The kids loved it! The Museum of Natural History was my favorite museum in London. The kids love the exhibit and we could spend days there–especially since it’s free!
Our favorite place to visit this time around in London was the Tower of London. We were surprised at how amazing that place is and could have spent much more time there. We went later in the day, not realizing how big that place is. They closed at 4, so we had to rush through a few things before leaving–feeling as though we should come back and see it another time. I definitely recommend this for people of all ages!
So, that is a very brief, and I fear, a very incomplete synopsis of each place we visited. Over-all, it’s been a great 3 months!
I spend quite a bit of time online finding the best flight and Airbnb deals I can find. This time I needed to find a place and flights for the six of us plus my in-laws. We were going to Paris, Barcelona, and lastly, London and I was extremely grateful when I found the deals I found for the 8 of us.
Our last stop was London. We left Barcelona and landed in London around 5:30pm. We took the Tube up to our place in Camden which took about an hour. I checked the email with directions on how to get into our flat. The directions gave us a code to the dumpster bin closet right outside the front door of the building. In there was a lock where our keys would be that would let us into the building. We followed the directions to the T, only to find that there were no keys in the lock. We looked all over the small closet and found no other possible place where they could be hidden. We were all hungry, so after I tried calling our host and emailing him to ask him what we should do, we left our bags in the dumpster bin closet to go get some dinner and figure out what we were going to do if this didn’t work out.
We joked about sleeping in the dumpster bin closet or getting a hotel for the night. I couldn’t believe they had given us such specific directions and not put the key in the lock. Yes, I was just a bit upset and frustrated to say the least.
We found a pizza place around the corner and ordered dinner. Once we got our food, my phone rang. I answered it, knowing it had to be our host for the week calling to apologize for the mix-up. The conversation went something like this:
“Yes! Hi Aaron!”
“Are you at the flat right now?”
“Well, we decided to go get some dinner while we waited to hear from you.”
“You’re there now?”
“Yes, we are at the pizza place right around the corner.”
“Well, Jennifer, I’m a little bit confused. I have you down as arriving tomorrow. I have the flat rented to someone else right now.”
“What? Are you sure?”
“Yes, I have you down as coming in tomorrow.”
Now, because I wouldn’t put it passed myself to do something like this, I realize that it was most likely me that mixed up the dates. I searched for our reservations and sure enough, I had checked us in the following day…which meant we had no place to go that night. Awesome.
“Jennifer, let me make some calls. How many of you are there again?”
“We have eight,” I said a bit hesitantly, knowing that it would be difficult to house a group of 8 at the last minute in London on a Saturday night.
“Eight? Ok, let me make some calls and see what I can do for you.”
I hung up a bit embarrassed and really upset with myself. How could I have done that?
A little bit later Aaron called again and said, “Well, I have a 2 bedroom in the same building and the tenants just left. It’s a little bit messy, but would you mind staying there? I know it’s a bit of a squeeze with eight of you, but that’s all I can do.” He was so apologetic, I was floored. This was my mistake, why was he apologizing?
“Absolutely we’ll take it! Wow, Aaron, you have gone above and beyond for my mistake! Thank you so much for bending over backwards for us!”
So, Aaron came to the rescue and I learned that even when I check and double check dates, I need to re-check those double checks.