Travel

Spain – Day 8/9

The last day :(

Well day 9 was travel day so it doesn’t really count but either way… our last day.

We went to the Seville parliament buildings and walked around and took pictures.

My little belly!

Dan was felling left out of the belly pictures!

 When Dan was here in 2007 he took a picture so we tried to re-create it.  It wasn’t as hot this time!

2007 (sorry for the poor picture)
2013

We went back to the hostel, got our stuff and headed to the train station.  We realized quickly that it was pretty far away and were every happy we got off the train by mistake earlier in the week.  The walk probably took about an hour.

We had done our research the night before and knew that the high speed train left for Madrid every hour.  The next one was leaving in about 25 minutes!  We got our tickets and they were half the cost of what we thought.  Double bonus!

I knew it was a high speed train, it was crazy fast!

That’s 247 Km per Hour kids!

When we got the Madrid and Dan tells me it has a high pick pocket rate.  Now, I don’t know if this is true or not but needless to say I was a little freaked out and wanted to get to the hotel as soon as possible.  It took a little time to figure out just how we’ll do that… 2 transfers on the subway and then a walk.  An hour later we get to the hotel and it was nice!  Lesson learned from trip adviser… it does well with accommodations not so much with food.

There wasn’t much in the area so we just got dinner in the hotel and called it an early night.  We had to get up at 4:30 am so it was going to be a very early.

Sadly our trip was coming to an end.

We made it to the airport with no problems.  This was going to be our last cheap flight of the trip.  So far we hadn’t run into any problems with multiple bags so naturally guess what happened on this one…  Dan had get his carry-on into the roller suite case (which was already full).   I was surprised this hadn’t happen to us yet and just our luck it happened on our last cheap flight!

This wasn’t the end to our not so good luck…


We got to London and found out that our connection had been delayed by an hour.  That would give us about 1.5 hours to get our third connection in Iceland.  Dan reassured me that the Iceland airport was really small and this wouldn’t be a problem (he has been to Iceland twice already).  Then our flight got delayed again and again.  We ended up missing our connection.  This was starting to worry me for many reasons. One, I had to work the next day. Two, we were assuming at this point that there would be another flight out of Iceland to Toronto each day.  Three, I unpacked Dan’s carry-on and left his laptop charger in the suite case which we decided to check since we were getting onto our last flights. This day was starting to not be in our favour. The airline gave us a vendor for food at the airport, we knew then we were in it for a long hall.

I finally got the guts to email work and let them know I wasn’t going to be coming into work the next day.  We talked to someone from the airline and found out that in fact they only have one flight out a day to Toronto.  It was at 5 pm so we decided to make the most of our extra day in Iceland and rent a car.  We weren’t going to miss out on this opportunity!!  Dan had also been two Iceland twice before and wanted to bring me on holidays one day.  This wasn’t in the plans so we were pretty excited!

Then we finally board our connection, sat on the plane for another hour and made friends with the girl sitting with us.  We had eaten before hand and got an extra sandwich which was smart of us.  The airline did what they could to keep everyone happy.  They tried to severed what food they had and it stopped right before us.  I was starting to get hungry, not knowing how long we would be sitting for I pulled the pregers card and got some food.  The flight attendants were awesome!

We were expecting craziness once we got to Iceland but nope!!  The airline had it all taken care of for us – hotel, food and bus between the hotel and airport.  We got to the hotel and they had a hot dinner buffet waiting for us!  It was really a great experience!

It was a very long day but we got an extra day out of it and who doesn’t love that!!  Well, maybe my bosses!  Haha!

Travel

Spain – day 7

Today we just took it easy.  Dan needed to work and I was up for a day of relaxing and just enjoying being on holidays.  So we just sat on the roof top of our hostel – Dan working away and me reading.

Once Dan was done we headed out for some lunch and it actually started to rain a little.  This was a little surprising to us since we sat on the roof for so long enjoying the sun!  It didn’t last and we were thankful.  We headed back to the place from last night but the kitchen wasn’t opened for lunch yet… but it would be at 1:30!  It was 1:05 so we waited it out.  We had more tapas, this time actually ordering off the menu.

Then we headed out to get tickets for a flamenco dancing show.  We got our tickets and on our way back past by a fabric store.  Dan’s the best and waited nicely for me to look at everything.  He even helped me figure out how to buy some fabric because I was struggling with the pricing.

Our plan for the evening was for Dan to work more and me to rest, go to the show and hit up one more recommended restaurant for a late dinner.  This was our last night in Seville and we hadn’t done much walking around at night in the area where the dancing was.

The show was awesome!  I highly recommend seeing a show.. the music was great and the dancing was something else!  Dan commented about how passionate the woman was and someone wouldn’t want to mess with her.  It’s true tho!  She looks like she could take you out with on stump.

After the show we headed out to find the restaurant for dinner.  Earlier in the day, I couldn’t find the place on google maps and was a little worried it was no longer in business but Dan wanted to try.  On our way, we walked through what must be the Time Square of Seville.  It was really lively and took us by surprise!  We didn’t stick around too long because we were hungry so we continued on.

One side of the street

and just one bar on the other
We came to the area where the restaurant should have been and nothing by the name we were giving was to be found.  We walked in circles for an hour.  We decided to go back to the first place that we ate at in Seville because we liked it so much.  However, not before stopping for crochets for the road.  

The place was packed but we got a seat…somehow. People were everywhere, inside and out. Everyone seems to smoke in Spain but not indoors so lots of people hanging outside with food and drinks.  It seemed like everyone in the place was local.  It was so lively and such an awesome experience!  I was so happy that we came back and were able to get a table.

My date!  I’m such a lucky lady!

We finished up and headed back called it a night. It was 11pm.

Travel

Spain – day 6

In reality yesterday wasn’t all that bad.  It just had crappy monuments. 

Today’s plan – go to the Seville Cathedral and the Alcazar. 

Lucky for us both were very close to our hostel (we planned this when booking).  We were so close to the Cathedral that we could see it from our hostel.  

The Cathedral is huge!  23,000 square feet and it was beautiful!  I’m no history major but it’s my understanding that Seville was a major shipping port from the Americas so it saw a lot of gold. Clearly it went into this church. It was built in the 1500s. This church wasn’t as pained or tilted like some of the other ones we’ve seen around but still very lovely.  The main alter was under contraction which has been a trend that we have seen throughout our visits to places.  Our best guess for this is because of it being off season and the temperature would be much more pleasant for the works.

This was our view from our hostels roof top!

Clothing check – all these old buildings are freezing so bring an extra layer. 

We headed out for lunch to another place our hostel recommended. It wasn’t opened yet. We have learned that you really have to alter your eating habits here. For dinner, kitchens open at 8:30 pm so getting lunch at 3 is perfectly normal.  We just hit up a cafe and got sandwiches.  
The Alcazar didn’t have maps and at first we couldn’t understand why but soon after we did. The place is so big that having a map would probably be impossible. This place must be seen by all. I cannot recommend it enough. It is a beautiful mix of Muslim and Christian art and architecture. It’s really something to see – the mix of the two cultures and how one didn’t ruin the other.   
Side Note: The teams from Amazing Race had to come to this spot and get a clue last season!  I was so pumped about that because I had been there!

We spent all of the afternoon here. Looked at the main building and walking around the gardens. Dan even pick an orange!  I think the picture explains how good they were. He did this twice and both time it was nasty.

We came back to the hostel for our nap/work combo. I’m not feeling jet leg probably because of these naps. I’m going to get my butt kick when we get back home.  For dinner headed to the place we had tried earlier for lunch. I’m so happy we did!  It was so good and there menu was in English so we knew what we were kind of getting this time.  However, we did still ask the server to pick our food.

After dinner we headed out to do some exploring.  It’s hard to remember that Christmas is just two weeks away.  It was really cool to get to see how other countries decorate for it.

We got back to our room around 11 and called it a night!  We were pooped!  Lots of walking today. 

Travel

Spain – day 5

Travel to Seville day!
Got up and decided to just go to the train station and eat once we were there. They had a cafe in the small station so this would work for us. The train ride was lovely and through some rolling mountains. 
This mountain so looks like a face!
Got off on what I thought was our stop but we actually wanted the next one. Sounds scary but this city had 4 stops so we were fine. I was more annoyed at myself for messing it up. Which for the day this wasn’t the end of that. 
Dan with his data plan found our way to our hostel. Which I thought was a b&b. Wrong again.  This day was shaping up to be not one of my best. 
Note to all travellers, don’t let the locals just hand you something.  Where we were they were giving “away” ferns which looked like rosemary.  We know this from when Dan was here before and our experience in Lisbon. They will just hand it to you and want money in return. They are very aggressive so watch out!
We got to the hostel and oh we should have checked in the day before. I was wrong again!  Third times a charm.  Today was not my day. So we didn’t need to stay the extra night in Granada and ended double booking ourselves. I guess these things can happen!
We took the hostess recommendation for lunch and headed out. I was starving!  So we went looking. This is my pet peeve while travelling. Looking for somewhere that someone recommended. We did this in London twice and looked for upwards to 2 hours one night. I like food but not that much and being pergers it was even worse. However, I was already in a bad mood from all the thing I did wrong that I was just trying not to kill Dan for trying to find this place.  So happy to have had Dan’s phone,we got lost very shortly but found shortly there after. 
The only information we had about the name is that it was called Bodega. Well that means wine bar. So there are bodegas everywhere!  So be careful. The place was packed and no English which was prefect for us in a way. Dan has allergies so we always have to be careful. We were trying to figure out the menu when I said why not see if the bar tender (you order the food at the bar too) can just pick stuff for us. Dan was able to communicate with the bar tender and placed our order!  I actually had a good idea today!  I recommend doing this. The food was awesome!
Did some more walking around and came back for our afternoon nap/work session. 
It was time for dinner and I found two places really close to us that rated high on tripadvisor so we headed out. One didn’t have many people in it (it was well after 10 – aka dinner time in Spain) and the other had no one in it. This should have been a sign. For some reason we still went in. The guy didn’t speak a word of English and I have no idea what we ate, it wasn’t that great either. I just wanted to leave. So tripadvisor isn’t our friend with food recommendation currently.  We walked around for a little after dinner and then headed back to the hostel.
We watched an American movie but in Spanish. The movie was pretty lame so this made it so much better at guessing what was going on!  
I was happy this day was over, it wasn’t a very good one.  However, it’s what you get out of it that is important!  Today we learned: Tripadvisor is not always right and we are pretty good at travelling without nothing the language!  Bring on tomorrow!
Travel

Spain – day 4

Alhambra day!
We both were so pumped for this day!  When Dan came back from his trip in 2007 he promised me that he would bring me to the Alhambra!  Today was the day that he was going to fulfill that promise to me!  
The Alhambra is at the top of a mountain, I highly recommend taking the bus. It’s worth the €1.20 each!  Dan walked it in 2007, in August, he said that it was a billion degrees outside. It was a nice day but this pregers was not about to walk up a mountain!  We already had our tickets and we knew that we had sometime to see everything else before our set time. Give yourself time to check out the gardens and the other buildings. It’s totally worth it!  Even in the off season it still took us four hours to see all of it. Of course, we had brought snacks and took a coffee break.  
Epic coffee picture!
We decided to get sausages again for lunch. We went to a different place this time not as good but still yummy. It wasn’t busy because were are still on North American lunch time and not Spain time.   
We headed back to the hostel for Dan to work and me to nap. I was worried about being pregnant and walking around all day.   Since Dan is self employed he still needs to work a little everyday so this works out well for me! 
While I was asleep Dan found a place to go for dinner. On tripadvisor it was the number one place so it had to be good. It was Italian, my fav, so worth a shot. Well, it was good but average. The food is made daily including the pasta but they heated it up in a microwave!  I was a little shocked by this but whatever. I have come to learn this is a semi normal practice.  It was a tiny place and the lady working was lovely. Her English was broken but you could make it out. Spanglish seemed to be working so far!
We did a little more walking around before calling it a night. 
Travel

Spain – day 3

The plan for for today is mainly travel. We headed out to the airport for our flight to Granada. It was a short one and we had no problems. Well, with the traveling part. We were carrying our backpacks and one small suite case on wheels with band stuff. Good thing I was on the ball today because when we stepped off the bus Dan forgot to get it and we had to stop the bus from leaving!  That aside we were issue free!
We found the hostel with no problems. Dan had got a Euro phone plan for his whole trip and this defiantly came in handy!  I highly recommend this especially in those little Euro streets!
So with the travelling done we got some eats… Oldy enough we got an awesome flafa and sharwa. The area where our hostel (which was super nice) reminded me of our trip to Rabat but much cleaner.

Dan had to work so… me, myself and I ventured out for a walk!  Totally crazy for me to do, I stuck to the main streets and found that we were in a high end shopping area. It was busy with people so I wasn’t worry at all. My mission was to get tickets for the Alhambra!  I was walking for more then an hour and I knew that I had missed the store. So I headed back to the hostel and there it was!  Right at the first corner… Needless to say I was pooped after all of that walking.  Got the tickets and headed back to the hostel for a nap. Dan finished up his work and decided to head out himself!

Dan wasn’t gone long before he came back to get me.  He was seeing some pretty awesome stuff that he didn’t want me to miss out on.  We then walked around the streets for an hour!  With the help of his phone, he always kind of knew where we were. At the end we came up to a park and sat there for a little and took in the view. It was pretty much at the top of a hill and pretty awesome to take it all in. Lot of locals where up there as well. 
That’s a bus stop!
Our view… not a good quality picture

We came back down and started looking for dinner. We came across a sausage place that was packed with locals.  We knew it had to be good!  We just guest at what we were ordering and it was so good!  The place was packed with people just standing around talking and having a good time.  I can’t think of anything to compared it too. There was nowhere to sit and all the napkins where on the ground with the dishes everywhere. We headed out to see what else we could find and around the corner was fresh doughnuts!  Did I mention…made to order!  I couldn’t have been happier!

Sorry honey, this was the only picture I took inside!
MADE TO ORDER!

It was probably 10 pm and we went back to the hostel for some relaxation. What that really means is Dan needed to work more and I was going to go to bed. 

I decided to take a look at our reservations for the rest of the week and noticed that I somehow missed a day. So we decided to stay in Granada an extra night and travel to Seville during the day. 
It was a pretty low key day but we needed our energy for tomorrow!  Alhambra here we come!!

Travel

Spain – day 2

In 2007, Dan and some of his friends had come to Spain and he already knew the main highlights.  Since we were going to be in Barcelona for only one day we were going to hit up La Sagrada Familia and Park Guell.  They are probably the most popular things to do so we tried to get and early start, 11am. Considering we went to bed at 4am – 11am was early!!

La Sagrada Familia was crazy from the outside!  We did a walk around just to take it all in,then got into line.  Since it was December we only waited for about a half hour.  The BIG benefit of travelling off season, not that many people around and it was a SUNDAY!  I cannot recommend travelling off season enough.  I think my favourite part was when Dan was here before the roof was still being installed.  So even he was blown away with it (again)!  It was nice knowing it was blowing his mind too!

Afterwords we walked around a little, got some lunch and headed to the Park Guell.  It was actually smaller then I thought but still very cool to think that someone thought about this stuff in the 1800s. 

We then headed back to the hotel for me to rest and Dan to work.  We met with some friends that Dan was doing the tour with to get some dinner.  Boy was it a dinner!!  We ended up at a place the promoter told us about.  It was called Fabrica Moritz Barcelona.  It is a Tapas and beer resturant dating back to 1856 (maybe that is just the beer part).  Sadly, I just got to enjoy Fanta (they love Fanta in Spain) and water.  The food was so good.  The lighting not so much, everything is orange.

The Spanish eat late and so did we, not finishing up until 1am.  CRAZY!   We had to get to bed!  Our flight for Granada was leaving 10:45 am the next morning. 

Travel

Spain – day 0/1

The trip started out with me being nervous about flying by myself and getting around alone on public trans in Barcelona. By the way this started months ago!  The night before I was too excited to sleep and I also don’t sleep well on flights so this was going to be interesting.

Everything was going great!  Got my carry-on in the overhead compartment right over me.  Also got my much needed isle seat.  The big guy that was stuck in the middle seat was moved so there was extra space to be had.

Got to London with no problems!  The next two hours is what has been keeping me up at night since planning this trip.  I had 1 hour 55 minute before my next flight took off.  I speed walked to customs, I knew that I was going to have to switch terminals so needed to get there as fast as possible.  I already had my boarding pass for the next flight so I felt like I was in a good position.  Customs wasn’t busy!  Got on the monorail to the other terminal and went right back through security. No problem!  Was this really happening!!  Not to shabby for my first time travelling by myself. I was so proud!

Now that stressful part was done, I was feeling tried.  After all my head thought it was 2am and not 8am.  So I got some food and had about 45 minutes before my flight would get posted.  I thought I would read a little but gave up really fast because I was too tired.  So I was that creepy person that just sat there and listened to all of the wonderful accents around me!  I love England!  Did I mention that’s where I was getting my connection?!
I overhear a women on the phone with her mom saying “everything was on time”.  I didn’t think much of it because she could have been going anywhere and maybe where she was going was weather related.  The gate gets kinda posted, it was a range of gates. So I headed to another less busy holding area.  So there is where all of my good luck started to slow down.  No announcements where made about the flight until 15 minutes before it was scheduled to leave. There was a delay. Noticed an another airline had a flight going to Barcelona that delayed by an hour and a half.  I had no idea what was in store for me.  I wasn’t too worried at this point because getting to the gate was the part freaking me out the most and I was sitting at it!

The next two hours are a little blurry for me… so sleepy!  We lined up twice and were told that the flight was delayed.  Then third time we line up we are actually boarding. Got to Barcelona no problem and I think was asleep by the time the flight leveled out in the air and woke up when we landed.  I don’t remember much from the flight at all.  I found out later that the issue was air traffic control was done in the UK that morning.  So everything was delayed.  
Now the hard part, take the airobus to the subway in a country I don’t speak the language.  I did the research before hand and I did it!  No problems!  So excited!

I figured this out all by myself!!
I also got to the hotel with pretty much no problems as well.  I was finally able to sleep!!  I was then woken up by the best thing ever – my husband who I haven’t seen in 2 weeks!!
I couldn’t tell you what time it was.  All I knew that I had to get ready for dinner because the band promoter was taking us out for an authentic Spanish tapa dinner.  Humm, I don’t think I’ve explained why we were on this trip.  My husbands band was doing a two week Europe tour and I was meeting them for this last show and we were going on our last vacation just the two of us!  
The dinner was out of this world!  We were in our own private room.

Just your average dinner decor!  Haha!

The food was awesome!  I had duck liver for the first time and wished I could have tried the beed tartar but no raw meat for this prego.

We then headed to the venue, the famous Razzmatazz, where the boys were going on at 3am (it was currently midnight). I was going to try to make it through and I totally did!!  The show was awesome and the crowd was amazing. I even got to see the back stage treatment given to the band!
Went back to the hotel for some well needed sleep!
Great start to the adventure that was ahead of us!!
Recipes

Skillet Dinner

On
Sunday, I was having a hard time thinking of something to make for dinner.
 I forgot to take some meat out of the freezer to thaw, and when that
happens my go-to is ground beef.  
Side
note, we order beef in bulk from a butcher, so we always have lots of ground.
 
I
had no idea what I was going to be making, but this is what I came up with.
 It turned out awesome and only took about 15-20 to put together. The oven
did the rest!
Ingredients:
1
red pepper chopped
1
onion chopped
2
celery stocks chopped
2
garlic minced 
1
lbs ground beef
1
can kidney beans
1
jar of pasta sauce
1
cup Bisquick
1/2
cup milk
1
egg
1/2
cup mozzarella cheese 
Olive
oil
Directions:
Preheat
the oven to 350.
Using
a cast-iron skillet (or anything that can go from stove-top to oven) cook up
the pepper, onion, celery and garlic for about 5 minutes).  Put into a
bowl and save it for later.  Now cook the beef.  Once the beef is
cooked, add the bowl of peppers, onion, celery and garlic back in to the pan
with the cooked beef.  Add the kidney beans and pasta sauce and give it a
good stir (Dan helped with this).
Mix
the Bisquick, milk and egg together separately.  Once mixed, fold in the mozzarella.
Pour
the Bisquick mixture over the beef/veggies and add a drizzle of olive oil to
the top. 
Bake
in the oven for about 25-30 minutes until the Bisquick is fully cooked.
I doubled up the Bisquick when I had made this but we found it to be a little too much.  The recipe above is half of what I did.  It was still very good.
I think this would work well as a more Mexican dish.
 The next time I make this I’m planning on using salsa instead of pasta
sauce, add corn and doing a corn bread on top!  I can’t wait.

Enjoy! 
Travel

Spain – packing

For our resent trip to Spain, I was under some major pressure about packing.  Mostly brought on by myself and the fact I was only going to be bring a carry-on backpack!  I have yet to pack such a small bag for a weekend let a lone a 10 day trip.  Needless to say I was scared… but only a little.

I’m a planner by trade and that comes into my regular life all the time.  Just ask Dan or my family, I have lists for lists.  I started with some reading but was only finding information about going to Europe in the summer.  We were going in December so that wasn’t really helpful.  However, the one good thing that I got out of the research reading was get packing-squares or cubes.  They are used to help with organization and boy did they ever!

Dan was leaving before me (he should probably do a guest appearance and tell that story because it’s a good one!) so I gave him all the toiletries.  I still brought some hair stuff and make-up but he had almost everything else: shampoo, conditioner, soap and face wash.  Being that I’m a little old school, I packed his bag and knew everything that was in it.  He basically had on him a mini medicine cabinet which included: pain medication, allergy medication (Dan has a nut allergy, if you haven’t picked up on that yet), stuff for if someone was going to come down with a cold, laundry detergent for washing small items in sinks, etc.  Dan was going to be away for a total of 3 weeks so you never know what could happen.  I made sure he and his friends were covered!

When it came time for my packing, I took a look at my closet.  I had a pretty good idea in my head already of what I wanted to bring but just had to get it together.  With me being pregers, my clothing is much more limited than normal and therefore packing was in my favour.

Tips:

Get a carry-on backpack to spec for the airline(s) you’ll be using
Get packing-squares or cubes
Plan for mixing and matching your clothing.  My plan was mostly black, white, grey with a few things of colour
Limit toiletries wherever possible because that stuff is heavy
Roll, roll, roll your clothes
Bring enough for half the trip, wear everything twice not including pants.  Plan to wash socks and underwear
Bring one sweater – my recommendation is a NorthFace fleece because they are thin and compact but can also be worn on flights
The biggest tip I have with travelling in Europe and taking those cheap Euro flights – make sure your purse can fit into your carry on.  On some of those cheaper flights you are really only allowed one bag and a purse counts!  We only ran into this once but nevertheless still ran into it and I was happy to be prepared.

What I packed:

Travel outfit: jeans, t-shirt, cardigan, scarf, light coat (mine is a rain coat with a hood) and orthopedic socks (midwife recommended and Uptown Wife approved!)
NorthFace Fleece
Second pair of pants
Second cardigan
Second scarf
Five shirts – two short sleeves, two 3/4 sleeves and one long sleeve (this was actually a cotton/wool blend so it was nice to have on the cooler nights)
Two white tank tops (I wear these every day so only three was really cutting it back for me)
Something to sleep in
Five pairs of socks – I could have gotten away with three because I ended up wearing the orthopedic socks on big walking days and washed them
Five pairs of underwear
An extra bra

Everything nice and folded… soon to be rolled!

Second pair of shoes (I had space and thought it would be nice to have something else to walk in other than my runners)
Mittens and a hat (didn’t think I would need them but was so happy I brought them)
Hair gel, makeup, face cream, bobby pins, headband, travel (blow up) pillow and a eye mask (this I didn’t end up using)
One book, my iPhone and charger (I only took pictures with my phone… crazy I know)
Passport, boarding passes and any hotel or other flight information print outs
Granola bars and water bottle (This didn’t get back into the backpack but the airlines were ok with that)

It started to get a little messy

All packed up!

Everything fits!  Including my purse!
At the last second I didn’t pack my leggings and I regretted it.  I wasn’t thinking about nights when we would stay in and having them would have been nice.
So that’s the list!  I really hope that this helps with any travelling you may be doing in the near future.  I really put a lot of thought into each thing that I brought and was very happy with everything that I packed!
I’ll be doing a day by day posting over the next few days!  Here is a little sneak peek!
Enjoy!