Archive for July, 2008

Ok, So I Was Wrong

Karie on Jul 27th 2008 02:49 pm

Since I was about 15 I’ve always felt like wherever I am in life is the best.  “Life can’t possibly get any better than where I am right now.”  I’ve thought that now for 15 years straight, and continue to prove myself wrong at every turn.

I remember the stress I felt when I graduated from high school.  I had attended the same school my entire life - Kindergarten through my Senior year. Wore the same plaid uniform, and hung out with the same kids, whose parents were my teachers.  I absolutely loved my high school years, and leaving that comfort zone was a big deal.

I then went to college, and behold, I loved that too.  I met Scott, made new friends, learned some stuff, and didn’t really want to leave, so I went back for graduate school.  For the next several years I worked for a company I loved, amongst great friends.  Scott and I got married, added Penny Lane to the family, moved a few times, relocated to San Diego, and our careers continued to advance… it just kept getting better and better and better.  Just when I thought life couldn’t be improved upon, we moved to Spain.  A full year of the most amazing adventures that I still can’t believe I actually experienced.

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The Running of the Crazy People (Oh Yeah, and Bulls)

Karie on Jul 13th 2008 11:58 am

My, oh, my… I’ll try to go in chronological order, since that’s the only way I can attempt to describe a few days of chaos in a way that might convey at least a little bit of what San Fermín (Running of the Bulls) was really like. There were a few websites like TripAdvisor.com and Phillypena.com (this guy is super cool & helpful) that were fantastic resources, but no amount of information can really prepare you for something like this.  You just have to see it to believe it, so trust me, you should really go.  These people are the craziest, friendliest and most fun in the world.  If you don’t want to read the whole blog, you can check out our videos to get a small taste.

Ok, back to the beginning… Our bus arrived from Bilbao around 12:30pm.  Unfortunately, we didn’t book accommodations as early as we should’ve, so pickings were slim, unless we wanted to pay 350€ or more per night (no thanks), sleep in the park (too old for that), or stay an hour outside of town (too young for that)… so we took what we could get.  We ended up renting a room from this company who owns several apartment buildings around town and rents out the rooms for this event.  I believe the term that someone on TripAdvisor used to describe one of their apartments was “hell hole,” so I wasn’t expecting much.

We were told to pick up our keys at their “office”, which was about a 5 minute walk from the bus station.  This is when we stumbled upon our first of many drum march band parade thingies (sorry, but I really don’t know how else to describe it).  A few days later we ended up in another one of these (this time voluntarily), and it took the crowd 40 minutes to move the distance of a small block.  Therefore, I do not recommend trying to walk through such a parade if you’re actually trying to go somewhere – and especially not if you’re carrying luggage.

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Bilbao, Spain: Gawking at the Guggenheim

Karie on Jul 10th 2008 10:37 am

We have found the most helpful city in all of Europe.  Five people gave us advice on how to get from the airport to our hotel, even though we only asked one.  People literally came up to us on the street and offered help.  At first I thought, “Do we really look that lost?!” But after noticing a pattern over a few days, I realized that’s just the way people are around here.  We also had people offer to help us at the bus station and the Metro station… in fact, that was the same guy both times.  He even missed his train to help us catch ours.  Nice, nice people.

Our primary motivation for coming to Bilbao was to see the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, designed by Frank Gehry. This is definitely the coolest museum I’ve ever seen – even cooler than the Guggenheim in New York designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (and we are huge FLW fans, so this is a big statement).  There is not a straight line in the entire building – inside or out – everything is fluid.  It’s artistic and engineering genius.

Honestly, the only reason I came was for the building, and I wasn’t so much looking forward to following Scott around the exhibits.  I realize this makes me sound uncultured, but after a while all museums look the same to me, unless there is a specific attraction.  However, I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised to find that many of the exhibits in the Guggenheim were almost as interesting as the building itself.  The 12 Euro ticket was well worth it.  Oh, but they don’t allow cameras inside… except that everyone had cameras.  Unfortunately, I’m a rule follower, so we left our camera inside the backpack at the coat check, but if you’re the sneaky type and have a small camera, you can likely get away with a few shots… as long as you’re ok with answering to God and/or the security guards!

The museum is by far the main attraction in town, but the town itself is also lovely.  I have a friend in Barcelona who works as a flight attendant, and after a couple of trips to Bilbao, she said it’s a place she could call home.  After visiting, I can see what she means.  It’s such a welcoming city – beautiful, comfortable, medium-sized, super nice people… and tons of cool art stuffed inside one huge piece of art.

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Aunt Janice & Uncle Dave Take on Catalunya

Karie on Jul 7th 2008 03:43 pm

Aunt Janice has been one of our biggest supporters almost ever since she found out we were moving to Spain.  At first she wasn’t too happy about it, but the more she learned about Spain, the more she wanted us to move so that they could visit.

My mom (who thinks “Barcelona” is Catalan for “stairs”), gave her big sister all sorts of warnings before their big trip… “Now Janice, it’s going to be a lot of walking and a lot of stairs… Are you practicing?  Did you pack the Ibuprofen?”  So Aunt Janice & Uncle Dave were well prepared for the trip.  It also helped that my parents, being our first visitors, were our guinea pigs.  After we ran them into the ground, we realized maybe we had tried to fit in too much, so we have since improved our tour guide skills.  I’m sure they are glad to have made that sacrifice for the well being of our future guests. Right mom & dad?

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