Trip

Sevilla, Part II

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Oh, so much to do and so little time - that was the biggest problem we had while in Seville.  The city is not that large and it is packed with ancient artifacts, which means we walked (a lot) and around every corner we did that gasping “wow”.

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One of my favorite things about these deeply historic European cities is that you may find on a tiny little cobbled street a pair of huge shabby oak doors and then you open them up and you find this dazzling church inside complete with priceless art, beautiful stonework and an indulgent alter.

 

 

 

Life at home can get frenetic and one of the things I love about getting away is it changes your perspective.  It gives you a chance to take a breath about those huge issues that are really small issues that are bothering you.  Heck, you can’t do anything about it from three thousand miles away.  I had not felt this chilled and relaxed in a long time.

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The gelato is so delicious.  I think I ate my weight in it during my trip.  There are gelato stores EVERYWHERE, so it’s just too easy to pick up a scoop several times a day.  I gave myself a challenge to try every flavor, I just may have succeeded. 

 

I managed to pick up a cooking class while in Seville.  It was so well organized and a wonderful experience.  The meeting point was in a local market and the first hour of the class involved searching for the ingredients we would need for the menu.

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Then we went back to the cooking classroom and started cooking.  We made gazpacho, creamed spinach and chick peas, but my favorite was making paella from scratch.  The whole process took about 2 hours (but did not feel that long because they kept us well supplied with sangria).  From making the chicken stock from the carcass, to deboning a chicken the right way, to just the right amount of saffron and how you toast and crush it, to the adding of the rice at the end. 

Little known facts.

  • When you add the rice do not do not stir it.
  • You simmer the paella until there is almost no liquid left and there is a crust on the bottom.
  • If you order paella at a restaurant and it takes less than 30 minutes to come out, it is not paella!!!

I think one of my favorite times in Seville was at night.  The locals all disappeared in the afternoon to miss the heat of the day (sensible people) but at about 8pm everyone appeared, the tapas bars were hopping, children were playing in the plaza, the light began to fade just enough that there is an ethereal glow over everything especially those ancient buildings.

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This is the cathedral, which has a mixture of Roman, Arabian and Catholic influences.  If you climb the tower (which I have) you will not find any steps, just lots of ramps…in case you want to ride your horse to the top…. which I did not!

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We were sad to leave but did so with many happy memories of spending time with Jenny and Elliot and exploring yet another striking and ancient city with a hope that we will return one day.

Goddaughter Week

So, I have collected quite a few goddaughters in life.  A job I take very seriously in terms of keeping in touch with them and (attempting) to be a positive influence in their lives (sometimes easier than others with my wacky personality). 

It has become a wonderful event to have these girls come visit on their own for a week or two.  I have known these girls since they were babies and now to reacquaint myself with them as they are now young adults is a really special adventure for both of us.

Emily, Catherine and Sarah have already been on their trips and it was truly a magical and a distinctive event to spend that one on one time with them and get to know them as the amazing young adults they have developed into.

The most recent goddaughter week was Ruth.  Born a week apart from Elliot and the daughter of a very dear friend, we got to spend many, many hours together even though it was hard for Ruth and her family being in the UK and us being in the USA.  Somehow it was not too hard to stay in touch.

I loved watching Ruth develop from a small baby (gosh she was so shy) to a child to a preteen and now to a young adult (who is not at all shy!). Watching her grow up was just a joy.  To say she is rocking, it is an understatement.

I planned the whole week out with FUN in mind.  This is what we got up to: 

  • M Day – Manicures, Massage, Mall – one of many necessary shopping trips.  Retail therapy and all that.
  • Sculpture Garden tour – this turned out to be an epic fail as the heavens opened and it pelted with rain all day.  We licked our wounds, ran to the store to get popcorn and then settled in for a movie marathon.
  • Trip to DC - this was the highlight of the trip.  Ruth had never been and it’s been years since I was there so we wanted to pack it all in. Here are a few things we did.
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This is us standing in front of the Whitehouse.  We had hoped to get to as close to the South lawn as we could to get some good pics but the whole area was cordoned off by the secret service (why do they not smile when you ask them a question – so rude). So this is as far as we got.  It turns out President Trump was going to his weekend retreat and so he took off in Marine 1 (his helicopter) which we saw so that was a small (very small) compensation.

 

 

 

The Newsuem, new one to me, opened in 2007. This is a strong recommendation if you are in the DC area.  It was amazing, we were there for 2 hours only because we had other things on our wish list but we could have stayed there considerably longer.  So much stuff in there about news history and how news is made and broadcast but our favorites were the legacy of JFK and the gallery of Pulitzer Prize winning photos from journalists, outstanding, emotional provoking and some that just highlighted the injustice of so many.  We may have shouted…. on the inside!!

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The Library of Congress, must be one of my favorite places to visit.  Not only is the rotunda (the place where they keep all the book stuff) outstanding, but the architecture and the mosaics are spectacular.  Little known fact, we had lunch in the basement of the Capitol and we found a secret (well not so secret) tunnel to the Library of Congress that not many people find and we felt like we were in a Dan Brown book as we went on our adventure.

The Lincoln Memorial, we walked miles to get here but it was totally worth it.  The workmanship in the building is intricate and seeing Lincoln in that huge scale was truthfully inspiring.

We were weary but extremely saturated by American history (in a good way) when we got home.

The next day Hubby took over as I had lots and lots of papers to grade.  They went on an impressive 30-mile bike ride and they came back suitably exhausted and sun kissed, much fun was had by all.

The last day we went to a National Quilt Show, an event I have been looking forward to for months and it was so lovely that Ruth was here to share it with me.

All the way there I was shouting in my head “restraint Angie, show restraint”

As soon as I got there that went out the window!  So many beautiful fabrics and so many gadgets for quilting that I do not know how I lived without.

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I did come away with some gorgeous fabrics that I am very excited to turning into something beautiful and several knickknacks that I have no idea how I have lived without.

And then it was the last day (insert sad emoji face here).  We had a good sleep in, to help with Ruth’s overnight flight, and of course did one more trip to the mall for the last-minute needs/necessities/ok I just want it cause it's shiny.

I hope this trip was memorable for Ruth because for me it was a joy and a delight every single day.  Because of the 3000 miles between us not sure when we will meet face to face again but this is one girl (like all the other goddaughters) where FB messaging will be on overdrive.

Thank you, Ruth, so much for coming! 

Visiting Seville (Part I)

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Jenny and Elliot are currently living in Seville and because we live vicariously through our children we planned a trip for late September thinking that the temps would be perfect (we were wrong - still insanely hot), and the city would be bright and beautiful (we were right on that one). With over 300 days of sunshine we knew it would be a trip of a lifetime and we were not disappointed.

Seville is in the Andalusia part of Spain and is famous for its food, hospitality and flamenco dancing (more of that in Part 2).

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So many old old buildings. I mean 5th Century onwards with a prominent gothic style which we love.  Seville also has a large bull fighting arena (which we did not go to) and a great deal of Moorish buildings, which when the Moors abandoned their mosques, the Christians took them over and made them very Catholic and they were very, very beautiful inside and out.

Yes, the place was stunning but the biggest joy was spending time with these two.

Found a random cow that needed a kiss right after we found a Starbucks where I could get a decent cup of Earl Grey tea (deep joy).

Fish markets were everywhere. These were kinda creepy langoustines and all the crab, scallops and shrimp looked amazing but…. sigh…. due to my severe shellfish allergy, I could not touch any of them.  And yes, I go everywhere with my EpiPen and my stash of Benadryl.

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We went to Cadiz which is thought to be the oldest town in Europe.  It has over 150 watch towers and we climbed the tallest one to get this view.  I guess they wanted to see their enemies coming in every direction. 

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The day we were there, there was weird choir festival going on in front of the cathedral.  I would not say they were good but they were very colorful.

When we visit our kids it’s such a special time to get to know them better as young adults and these two are as much joined at the hip as they were when Elliot was younger. It is such a special thing to see a child and parent not only respect but like each other.

We made it to the beach and explored some of the outstanding architecture in Seville.  More to come in Part II. 

Until next time, 

Angie

 

 

Leaving Las Vegas

So, the best time I had in Vegas was when we got out of Vegas.  I decided that there is an over saturated supply in Vegas of casinos, alcohol, shopping and shows.  They are all aggressively trying to get your attention and dollars, and to be honest, I am not particularly interested in any of those things.

So, by Day 2, hubby decided to play hooky from his conference and we rented a car and headed for the hills. Red Rock Canyon to be exact.  A valley of volcanic rock, showing many layers of sediment, no doubt thousands and thousands of years old.  It was surprisingly very lush and green for desert land.  Little known fact, the valley is over run with tortoises, wild horses and burros (a donkey type of mule).  Many desert flowers were in full bloom, which was a real treat.

The valley is surrounded by a range of mountains which are quite spectacular. I felt like I could be on the set of a Western, where apaches were going to come out of the pass and ambush me.

Then, on our last day in Vegas, we decided to get out of town again. We signed up for a tour of the Hoover Dam. What an amazing feet of engineering! Built in the 1930s, this endeavor came in before the deadline and under budget.  I wonder - if a job so vast was undertaken today, would those two things would still happen? A beautiful day to wander around, under and above the dam.

One side of the dam is Arizona and the other side is Nevada.  The Nevada side has developed the largest man-made lake in the country, Lake Mead, and it was very lovely.

Finally, we stopped off at a Cactus Botanical Garden.  A lover of plants but not especially cacti, nevertheless it was still very interesting to wander around.

After that all that, we headed back to pack and it was time to hop on the plane and come home.  It does not matter where I travel in the world or how amazing of a time I have had, I'm always, always ready to come home to my bed, my puppies and my regular ordinary precious life.  I’m a bit like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz in that regard!

Have any of you been to Vegas?  What were your experiences, the good, the bad and the ugly? Would love to hear your comments!

Xo, 

Angie 

We Went to Vegas

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Hubby has that kind of job where he travels to conferences quite a lot.  Sometimes he goes to non-fun places and sometimes he goes to interesting places that I’m happy to be his plus one and tag along.  In that way I have seen Barcelona, Rome, many places in Florida, Hilton Head and of course back to England multiple times.  For a few days in April he was attending a conference in Vegas.  Never really had the desire to go, but I thought I would try it just once to see how it was and say that I had done it.

We left a very rainy Philadelphia and arrived in beautiful sunshine and perfect temps.  The first day, I spent wandering around the strip.  To be honest I was over the strip after one day. It was very loud with piped in music everywhere, lots of show girls with no clothes on advertising their casino, and everybody seemed to be walking around with an alcoholic beverage in their hands.  However, I did see a couple of cool things. 

Bellagio Hotel

The Chihuly glass ceiling at the Bellagio was really impressive and the fountain display was very cool.


Caesar's Palace

I have never seen such a sprawling hotel, it is huuugge


The Big Roller

I have done the London Eye which is what this spectacle is based on but it is bigger and I got some amazing panoramic views of the city and surrounding mountains. Good photo op!


Bus Tour

I always do a bus tour when I am visiting a new city.  The guided tour gives you lots of information on what to do and see the history of the place.  I saw the wedding chapel district, many mob houses and cool info on all the casinos.


Birthday

We went to a cool Japanese restaurant called Sake Rok.  In addition to delicious food (and it was really good) The staff burst into song and dance every 20 minutes.  Meet my new friend Jonice.  He really is my new friend.  Very colorful and attentive and he took time (in a very public way) to teach me how to do a Sake bomb.  It was great and I can now tick drink bombing off my bucket list.


Cirque Du Soleil: Zumanity 

This is the erotic very naked version of this troupes show.  I know, go us, these middle aged has beens…. not dead yet.  There was lots of boobies (hubby was very happy) but it was also beautiful and very artistic and we had a really really good time.


After that I was pretty fulfilled on everything I had seen on the strip and the next few days I took the opportunity to get out of the city.  That will be part 2 of this blog post.

Until next time, 

Angie