Our First Visitor!

My brother Adam, an amazingly talented artist,  came our way for a quick visit before he soaked in all of the art history Italy has to offer.  We met in Venice for the day.  He took in the museums and I wandered the alleys with the kids.

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If you want to experience one of the most miserable experiences of your life, take the big water bus.  Otherwise, the water taxi is totally worth the splurge.  Venice is one of those cities where you will blow through money faster than you could ever imagine.  I think it is best to mentally prepare yourself and enjoy your time.

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We were so lucky to have beautiful weather all weekend because it had been raining buckets for months!

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While wandering through Venice with the kids, we looked at the fish, chased bubbles, enjoyed gelato, and watched the gondolas row by.

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I think every kid in Venice logged time with the bubbles.  These guys must make a killing.

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We all dined at this lovely spot right outside of the hotel for dinner.  The hotel was wasn’t fancy by any means, but with a five minute walk to Piazza San Marco, the location couldn’t be beat.

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Our hotel

I left Venice with the kids as soon as possible as it is not a bit child friendly.  The crowds are insane, it’s just too much walking, and a bathroom is impossible to find!  My brother enjoyed another day getting lost in the alleys.

The next day, we showed him around Maniago, Lago di Barcis, and drove through the Dolomites.

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We enjoyed a coffee while the kids played at the playground.  Sister will always find a place to relax.

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Piazza Italia in Maniago

The last day of his visit we took  a day trip to Piran, Slovenia. Slovenia’s coastline only stretches 27 miles. Piran is located at the very tip of a narrow peninsula.  It’s old town is one of the best preserved historical towns anywhere on the Adriatic.   20160508-_DSC244020160508-_DSC2444

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Tartini Square named after the violinist Giuseppe Tartini

We enjoyed lunch and a good bottle of local Slovenian wine in the square.

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The kids had time to run around the square.

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We strolled through the old winding alleyways.

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We climbed the bell tower for spectacular views of the city and Tartini Square.  From up here we could hear a choir practicing on one of the balconies down below.  We never did figure out where the sound was coming from, but listening was treat!

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Hello down there!

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Laskos under the sun at this seaside cafe — does life get any better?!?

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Looks so inviting!

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We capped off our time in Piran with a gelato stop.  Benny was served his first ice cream cone.  He felt like such a hot shot.

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Looks like we missed another day of rain in Maniago and came home to a  beautiful rainbow.  We had a good visit with my brother and now he’s off to explore Italy’s endless treasures.

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Spain: Malaga

Last stop… Malaga! We were pleasantly surprised by Malaga.  Because we were flying out of Malaga (the busiest airport int he Costa Del Sol), we added a couple days to the itinerary to explore the city.  We were disappointed to learn Rick Steven doesn’t recommend Malaga and barely mentions it in his guide book – we even considered changing plans at the last minute, but found it to be too big of a hassle.

I don’t understand what Rick Steves doesn’t like about it — tons of history,  sightseeing, and one of the best pedestrian areas I’ve ever seen.  And I LOVE pedestrian zones.

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These two are becoming quite the troopers.  It was a bit of a walk from the cab to the hotel as the hotel was located in the heart of the pedestrian zone.  Though we must have walked right by it at least five times – Google maps was not cooperating and the hotel didn’t have any signs.

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Waiting patiently for Google Maps to produce

This was the view from my room — overlooking city’s main plaza which provided great entertainment while Clara was sleeping.  20160416-DSC01394

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Ready to explore!

We visited Alcazaba and the Roman Theater barely discovered in 1951.

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We meandered the grounds of the Alcazaba – an 11th century Arabic fortress.

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Benny was getting a little too close for comfort.  It was a looong way down!

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Maybe one day Derek think about photobombs before he snaps the picture. Haha!

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Poor Derek twisted his ankle pretty badly on the stones in the ground, so a “horsey ride” was a welcome idea.  Clara was in heaven.

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From the carriage ride we took a ride on the giant ferris wheel.  The kids loved it! And we had great views of the city from the top.

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 Can’t do anything without a little wrestling!
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Malaga’s Bullring

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Yum… we found the Golden Arches! It was the most the kids ate in one sitting the entire trip!  Derek and I passed and opted for the largest cappuccino ever made.  You can’t tell from the picture, but the mug was at least the size of a large cereal bowl.

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A playground + beer service = fun for all!   We logged a lot of time parked at this table. 20160416-DSC01396

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admiring the princesses

I always enjoy fun artwork and painted murals throughout the streets.

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It is not a myth that Spaniards are night owls! The commotion on the streets woke me up numerous times.  This video was taken at about 12:30 AM.  Tons of people wandering around…

…so it’s no wonder the streets look like this around 10:30 in the morning.

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I’ll never forget this Mickey.  I watched many entertaining Mickey encounters from the balcony of our hotel after Clara had gone to bed.

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Love these two.  And I love this picture of them!

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Whew!  Our trip to Spain is complete!  It only took me a year, but I got through it!  It still feels weird to fly into Venice as our home airport.

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Gibraltar

Gibraltar was about an hour away from our hotel in Marbella so we hopped on the bus and headed out there for the day.  Though it’s located at the very tip of Spain, it is actually British territory.

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The Rock of Gibraltar, a limestone ridge jutting straight out of the sea, is the main landmark of Gibraltar.  We were able to see Africa from the top.

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Much of the top of the rock is a nature preserve which is home to the apes Barbary macaques.  They were a little scary, but so fun to watch.  Now the kids know what I’m talking about when I lecture them about “monkeying around”!

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These two got a little closer to the ape than I would like to be and he just happened to leave a surprise for them!  Benny thought this was so hilarious!

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This big guy was barely INCHES from crashing into me!  He came leaping through a window right as I was walking past.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt me heart beat so quickly!!! Terrifying!

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We got to witness some of them getting into trouble.  The gift shop had left a box of merchandise unattended…it didn’t take long before the “monkey business” began.  The employees did not look happy.

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There must be something tasty in here!
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The aftermath

Of course we couldn’t leave the top of the rock without taking a monkey with us.

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The main streets were quite bustling and had great shopping.  It was so refreshing to speak english without feeling guilty!

Now THIS is what I call fish n’ chips!

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…and the freshest chicken nuggets I’ve ever seen!

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It was quite a delightful day and I would definitely like to go back some day to explore more of the city and nature preserves.

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Spain: Puerto Banus

Well…It’s been almost a year since we returned from Spain and I still have yet to finish the  posts! Oh well, I just about quit the blog altogether, but figured I’ll be happy someday if I keep it up.  So here is an abbreviated version of the last few stops.

We took the catamaran to the ritzy town of Puerto Banus just down the coast from Marbella.  It is full of fancy yachts and high-end shopping.

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They were a little uneasy about sitting on the net for a while, but quickly took a liking to it.

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We found a cool little bar right on the water shaped like a pirate boat.  The kids loved the kingsize furniture.

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And we loved the kingsize drinks.  This was amazing!!

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The freshest orange juice ever!

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We didn’t stay in the town very long as it was mostly high-end  shopping.  The sun finally decided to shine and the boat ride back was wonderful. The kids loved discovering that fish like to eat Pringles.

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There’s always time for a little roughhousing.

And relaxing…

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Benny is ready to be captain.

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Yikes! I had never realized that Clara’s dress had gotten so short on her.

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Down we go!

 

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Whew! Good recovery!

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Back on land, this is what happens when anyone has to potty.  Bathrooms are impossible to find unless you are a customer.

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