Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Summer 2012 recap

Since it took me all summer to complete my Europe trip posts, I'll catch everyone up on my summer in one quick post.  The theme of our summer was definitely family, friends and fun.  One of the highlights of my summer was my trip home for a week to see high school friends, my parents, my brother & his family and my sister's two oldest girls.  Plus I got to spend some time with my best friend (since preschool) and my too-cute-for-words goddaughter.  It was a great but crazy busy trip! Instead of describing every important event of the summer, I'll give you a photo montage :o)

TX family photos
V-Day presentation with Corey's Granddad, mom & sister
Menchie's w/the Munchkin
Girl time with a special Ohio visitor
Spent some wandering around TCU
4th of July
4th of July
Coop's 1st birthday

Jersey Boys!
Out in San Diego
Rangers at Angels with the Fam 
My oldest nieces
Fair food! (OC Fair)
My oldest niece - all grown up :(
Gardening with Harper
Met GP!
Kelly's 1st birthday

Lexie's 4th birthday
Celebrating love @ a wedding

It's been a great but busy summer!  Despite both of us being super busy with work, we actually managed to be pretty social (woohoo!)  We had so much fun with all our friends, new and old, as well as family.  Now we're very much looking forward to a fun-filled fall, including TCU football (and tailgating), a wedding, friends visiting and a small trip or two.  Christmas will be here before we know it - yikes!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Europe 2012: Spain (Part 2)

On our 3rd full day in Spain we took a day trip to Toledo.  The first train we planned to take was sold out so we had to wait around for an hour or so until the next left.  We wandered the area near the train station, got a late breakfast then finally lined up to board the train.  A quick train ride on Spain's high-speed (and rather nice) train and we were in Toledo.  

Madrid's train station

En route to Toledo
It has an interesting history and a rather large, well-preserved medieval center.  At one point it was the capital of Spain and has been a home to Jews, Muslims and Christians.  We took a cab to the old city and started walking the narrow (like some so narrow I can't see how a car can pass through) historic streets marveling at the old architecture and crazy number of shops.  We toured a church then climbed to the bell tower and took in great views of the city and surrounding countryside.  After lunch and more walking/wandering/shopping we were tired and hot so decided to catch an earlier train back to Madrid.

Mosaic art in the Toledo train station 
Narrow medieval streets
View of the cathedral spires

Inside the church

Alcazar (old fortress/castle, now a museum)
Puerta del Sol - one of the entrances to the old city
We were pretty tired thanks to the day in Toledo so we planned for a low key night.  We had dinner at a cute little restaurant where one of the workers (manager or owner maybe?) gave us complimentary glasses of a home-brewed liqueur.  Not sure what was in it but neither of us were fans.  We decided to stop in at a little bar for a drink on the walk back to the apartment and met the cutest old man who was bar tending.  He made us Caipirinhas which were dangerously delicious and we attempted conversation with him (thank goodness Kirsten is pretty fluent in Spanish).  

The unknown and not very good liqueur
Mixing up a delicious concoction
This man was a drink artist!
Enjoying our libations
Our final day we decided to see the Royal Palace, the cathedral, a market and have a picnic lunch.  It was a beautiful area of the city that we hadn't seen yet so it was a great experience.  Unfortunately the entrance fees for Palace and cathedral were more than we wanted to spend so we didn't see the interior of either.  The market was quite a sight and packed to the gills.  They had cheese vendors, a huge pastry/candy vendor, as well as people selling olives, fish, nuts, potato chips, sushi, tapas, drinks and more.  We gathered a few items and made our way to a grassy area near the palace to eat.  

Fountain outside the palace

How European, no?

Violinist in front of the cathedral

At the Palace gates

Palacio Real de Madrid

Fish in the market

Olives abound
Enjoying our picnic lunch
 Later that afternoon we went to Museo del Prado which is one of the best known art museums in Madrid.  They had free entrance after 5pm so we queued up and enjoyed looking at various well-known works of art (as well as some we probably should've known but didn't).  For dinner we attempted to eat at the same restaurant as our first night but were turned away because we didn't have reservations.  We found a different place to eat and enjoyed it (although not as much as the first).  After dinner we walked to the Plaza Ciebeles and Puerta de Alcala before walking back to the apartment for the last time.
Museo del Prado
Enjoying our last dinner together

Plaza Ciebeles

Puerta de Alcala

My airport shuttle arrived at 3:30 am so I could make it to the airport for my 6am flight back home.  I was amazed at how busy the streets were at that time - more people were out at 3:30 am than 11pm!  After a short layover in Amsterdam I flew back across the pond to my wonderful husband and pup.

It was a great trip filled with culture, sights, food and fun.  In 18 days I visited 4 countries, 7 cities and countless museums, churches, historic sites, shops and restaurants.  We had our fair share of hiccups including travel issues, a day or or two of crummy weather and illness but overall the trip was wonderful.  We're planning a trip to England, Ireland and Scotland for 2013 and I can't wait!