Sunday, February 19, 2017

This Week I'm....

Mike is back country skiing in Kyrgystan with one of the Olmsted scholars based in China.  As disappointed as I am that he'll be getting a pin on our world map, spending my days hanging out in the yurt while they back country ski didn't sound as appealing as hanging out in the comfort of my own home. Luckily, I'm pretty okay with just hanging out by myself (although it's times like these where I really miss having friends in the same city) and have a long list of things I need and want to do.

So, without further ado, this week I'm...

reading The Color Purple.  I'm having a hard time getting into it, but really want to persevere.  It's also given me weird dreams at night, so I've had to make sure I'm not reading it before bed.

listening to the Popcast with Knox and Jamie! I love it and have recommended it to so many people! If you like pop culture, this is the podcast for you. I just listened to their 2017 predictions and they already got one right (Beyonce being pregnant, although I don't think anyone would have predicted twins). I've also been listening to Pod Save America, which is one of the many political podcasts out there.  The hosts are definitely liberal, but they have guests from both sides of the aisle.

doing all the yoga.  Anything that stretches out my lower back because it is tight.  I could sit in child's pose all day because it feels so good.

eating/drinking smoothies.  I had a craving for one the other day and have started making them for breakfast almost every day.

watching so many things!

  • the pro bowl's kiss cam  this brought me to tears! The Orlando nightclub survivor! The two men! The friends! So much love!
  • New Girl.  I watched the first two seasons on Netflix a while ago, but now they've added seasons 3 and 4 and I forgot how good the show is.  It's so easy and lighthearted, it's easy to watch a few episodes.
  • All the Oscars movies! Mike and I saw Arrival this past week for Valentine's Day and it was better than expected.  I also went to see Jackie yesterday and really think Natalie Portman should get Best Actress.  I'm trying to figure out a time to go see Hidden Figures this week as well. Here is where you can access a lot of the different nominations. 
researching cars! We're going to need a second car when we get back to the United States.  So, the thought is that we'll drive the Golf until it's end (hopefully a few more years) and our other car will be an SUV/Mom car.  Since we'll be in Connecticut for at least one winter, we'd like something that's good to drive in the snow, but can also accommodate a baby and all of the gear that comes with him.   Suggestions?


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In honor of National Drink Wine Day yesterday, I posted this picture on Instagram! Nine weeks (give or take) and counting....

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A Day at the Alhambra

Well, I'm finally sitting down to write the final blogpost about Spain a week and a half later.  Better late than never, right?  

When we were planning our trip to Spain, we knew we wanted to focus on the Muslim history in the country to tie it back to our Turkish Olmsted roots.  One of the main ways of doing this was by visiting the Alhambra in Granada.  Everything we read said to book our tickets a month in advance to ensure we could get a tour space, so we did that like the good tourists we are.  I don't think we needed to do it quite that far in advance since it was the off season, but I am glad we reserved them ahead of time because all we had to do was show up the day of the tour and not worry about lines or tickets or availability. 

Our tour started at 9:30 and was full of Americans (God bless the English speaking tour!) with a great tour guide.  It was originally a small fortress that was taken over by the Moors who turned it into a huge palace before it was turned over to the Christians. Eventually, Ferdinand and Isabella would live there and have visitors such as Washington Irving.

I loved the Alhambra! I thought it was beautiful both on the outside (thanks to the Christians who focus primarily on exterior architecture) and the inside (thanks to the Muslims who's tiles and Arabic script are on the inside).

Views of Granada

Mike and I were saying we could do a whole photo book of cats we've seen out and about while travelling

Our tour guide! She spoke almost perfect English, knew a ton about the Alhambra and was just an overall pleasure to spend a morning with. She was saying that squatters used to live in the Alhambra during transition times.  I guess if you have to squat somewhere, the Alhambra isn't a bad place to do so!

Excuse the crazy hair, but we had a great morning at the Alhambra!

After the tour, it was lunch time and we were EXHAUSTED.  A three hour tour will really knock you off your feet if you're recovering from mono or are pregnant.  We got lunch and went back to our hotel and napped for the entire afternoon.  I woke up feeling like a whole new woman!

It was a good thing we did nap, though, because we really wanted to stay up and watch at least part of the Superbowl.  We found an Irish pub that was showing it, so around midnight, we, along with every American college student studying abroad in Granada, rolled into the pub.  Luckily, the owner saw I was pregnant and brought out a stool for me to sit on. We stayed until halftime and had just as much fun people watching all of the college students as we did watching the game.  Unfortunately, we made the poor decision (well, poor in that we missed a great half of the game/smart in that we got to go to sleep) to go to bed at halftime.  

The next morning, we had to drive back to Malaga to fly back to Berlin, so we took the scenic route along the coast line.  It was beautiful!! It looked so much like the Amalfi Coast and we were catching our breath at every turn.  We stopped in one of the small towns to have lunch and sat outside soaking up the sun for one last time before heading back to wintery Berlin. 

We loved our week in southern Spain.  It was a great mix of warm weather, Muslim culture, and beautiful scenery.  We got a taste of the warm weather this week and we spent the days dreaming we were back along the Spanish coast! Until next time....

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Cordoba, Spain

We had been told that Cordoba was worth spending a decent amount of time in, but had also read that it could be a day trip from Seville.  Since we had a week, we decided to spend two nights in Cordoba, which gave us an afternoon when we arrived, as well as a full day the next day. 

Upon arrival, we quickly learned that Cordoba embraces the siesta culture heavily. We were able to get a lunch at a craft beer bar before heading back to our hotel for a little siesta. That evening, we walked around and got dinner, but Mike was pretty exhausted so we called it an early night.

The next day, our number one priority was to see the Mezquita.  Cordoba is a port city and became the capital of the Moorish kingdom.  The Moors built the Mezquita, or "Great Mosque," which became one of the largest mosques in Islam.  When the Christians conquered the Moors, they thought the Mezquita was too beautiful to destroy, so they converted it to a church. We saw a lot of churches converted to mosques in Turkey, but it's rare that we get to see a mosque converted to a church. Pretty cool! 

Not only was the Mezquita beautiful, but it was HUGE!

That altar!

More oranges!

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the old town and embracing the Spanish ambiance (and warm weather!).  We had tapas for lunch, Mike had some Spanish beer and we both got a lot of Vitamin D.

All the meat and cheese!

I love all of the little side streets and alley ways!

We both loved Cordoba! The Old Town had a lot of the same feel as Seville, but the newer parts of the city were more developed and the city as a whole seemed more alive and vibrant, even though it's technically smaller.  I'm glad that we spent a whole day plus an afternoon because it gave us plenty of time to really delve into the ambiance of the city.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Seville, Spain

After singing endless rounds of "Help me Ronda," it was time to move on to our next city in southern Spain, Seville.  We arrived just in time for tapas for lunch and decided to hit up the Museum of Fine Arts (Bellas Artes) afterwards.  This was small enough to not be overwhelming or too time consuming, but had a ton of artwork that we both enjoyed. 

That ceiling!

After our time at the museum, we wandered the streets a bit and found what I like to call the wooden mushroom. It's official name is the Metropol Parisol and it's claim to fame is that it's the largest wooden structure in the world.  Mike and I both questioned whether it was actually made of wood, but I guess we'll never know.  It was worth going up to the top, though, because the views were great and the cafe was the perfect resting place.  Plus, you get a free beverage with your entrance ticket!

We heard that the Flamenco Museum had a flamenco show every evening at 7:00 and that you could get a combo ticket for the museum and the show.  What we didn't realize was that people start grabbing seats almost an hour beforehand! We arrived around six and were advised not to go to the museum because we needed to grab seats, so we didn't end up getting to do the museum, but the show was still fun. It lasted about an hour and, by the end, both dancers were covered in sweat.  It was a lot of fun and a great way to spend an evening!  We are always looking for fun things to do in the evening since I can't drink right now and most sights close around six, so this was the perfect fit!

 Our night ended with dinner at a tapas bar, where there was pork literally hanging from the ceiling.  As we went along on our Spanish trip, I began to realize this was quite the norm.  It took me for surprise though!

Our first stop on our day two tour was at the Alcazar, which is a palace developed by the Moorish Muslim kings.  We really wanted to incorporate the Muslim history of Spain into our trip since Mike is technically still considered a Turkish scholar, so getting to see the Alcazar was high on our priority list.  It's amazing how many similarities there are between all of the Mediterranean countries, as well as between all of the Muslim territories and architecture.

Tiles! I love them all!


Mike really wants a courtyard in our dream home.  I'm more of a backyard with a deck kind of girl, but I wouldn't complain if this makes it in to our future home.  One can dream, right?

One of my favorite parts of southern Spain was all of the orange trees everywhere! They are sour oranges, so not really what we like to eat, but they were in every city we went to and all over the Alcazar!

Our last stop for the day was the Plaza de Espana, where we watched tourists row in the water and rested our tired legs.  It's tough being pregnant and recovering from mono!

I feel like you could spend a whole day just wandering around the city and down the streets of Seville, occasionally stopping for a glass of sangria.  We didn't spend a whole day doing this, but we had a few hours to kill before our second flamenco show, so we definitely did a little wandering!

 Our second flamenco show was even more entertaining than the first! The dancers were better, the music more upbeat (the first night seemed a little angry!), and our seats were in the front row!  We had a blast and were impressed once again with the skill and the passion of each of the performers.

Spanish Mark Ruffalo! This guy was definitely his twin!

This guy made the funniest faces when he was singing, but I can't judge because his voice was magical!

We ended our night and our time in Seville tapas hopping.  It's like bar hopping, except with tapas. We heard this was a thing, so we wanted to try.  Our mistake was going to actual sit down restaurants instead of just going to bars.  At restaurants, you usually have to pay a service fee for the wait staff, whereas a bar waives that.  Plus, the portions were larger at the restaurants, so we were both full after the second restaurant.  That being said, it was fun to get to compare menus and try a couple of different dishes at three different restaurants.  It was a fun way to end the night and our time in Seville!

We had a great time in Seville and loved embracing the Spanish culture and history.  The food was delicious, the flamenco dancing was entertaining and the history and art was beautiful.  It was a great escape from the cold and dreary Berlin winter!