September 1: Another great day in Manhattan. Mary drove us in to check in to our hotel, a lovely little BestWestern under the Brooklyn Bridge, very welcoming and comfortable, clean and with excellent staff, and then we left her to go and wander our way back up to Time Square to meet them later for dinner and then a Broadway show, Jersey Boys. We took SO many pictures today and I have two winners of the day that must be posted:
September 2: We’re having a great time. So far we’ve seen two musicals in two days. Jersey Boys yesterday. It was fabulous. Mary Poppins today. It was OK but not nearly as good as Jersey Boys. The whiny, wiggly fussy three year old sitting next to Hannah didn’t help. I figured it was pay back for taking Hannah to Cats in London so I tried not to let it spoil my enjoyment. The thirty people sitting around us didn’t feel quite the same.
I FINALLY have my computer back on line and most stuff restored. So far I seem to have not lost much… only a few days worth of downloaded email which is still all on my gmail webmail so even that isn’t a problem. What a time sucking disaster though. I would have much rather spent the hours sorting the thousands of pictures we’ve already taken and/or writing emails and notes about our trips so far. However I am happy to have it back but have certainly felt some frustration at the time it all took. The moral is of course backup, backup, back up!
September 3: Leaving tonight to fly to London England. We have all day first to play. James is coming in to Manhattan to pick us up, drive us around and see the sights before dropping us at the airport.
Great to hear that our James is one of the winners in the energy contest back home!
September 4: We’ve arrived in London now and did manage to work out the hotel in Earl’s Court for a week. It isn’t ideal as it is a hotel whereas an apartment or “self-catering” type situation might have been better so that we weren’t limited to restaurant meals, but we’re managing and quite happy.
September 5: Today Cheryl and Gerry fed us two wonderful meals and in between we walked and talked for hours on Hampstead Heath. It’s fun being here. So much to do and see. I love all the people and lovely building, shops and sights. I could easily just be a professional traveler I think.
September 6: Today we started with a tour of Brick Lane, an apparently up and coming area, with Gerry and Cheryl and then wound our way down to the Thames and along the river side, back and forth across the milennium bridge (also known as the wobbly bridge), and trained home from St. Paul’s Cathedral –in short more sights and sounds and a zillion pictures to choose from.
Once back at our hotel, Graham and Helena drove in from High Wycomb to meet us for a drink. We took Hannah with us to the pub at the corner. It was great to meet up with them.
September 7: Another great day. We walked down Kensington High Street, past Kensington Castle through Hyde park, and then spent a couple of hours in the British Museum learning how to make mummies. We then meandered over to Trafalgar Square musing over which of the three of us we should mummify. In Trafalgar Square we checked out theatre tickets but decided that the day had been full enough. Instead we headed back to our hotel.
September 8: Today we toured the Tower of London. I think it the kind of place that I could visit again and again. I find the history fascinating.
We’re thoroughly into our journey now, several days into being here in London and already looking forward to moving on to Spain. We bought tickets for next Monday to go to Majorca, Spain where we have agreed to take a four bedroom apartment right on the water for at least a month. We’ll decide whether or not to stay there on a month by month basis as we go. The disadvantage is that it is an island and so not so easy to get away and see other places. Shall see what we think once we arrive.
September 9: Spent the day with Gerry and Cheryl going from Hampstead Heath, up through little towns ending up in Trafalgar Square. After we left them we saw our third show in two weeks, Wicked at the Apollo Theatre. It was fabulous. Great sets and the main character had an amazing voice.
This traveling has its down side. I think all three of us have each gone through a wee bit of anxiety wondering what we’ve done. Yesterday Hannah started her online schooling. After two hours she was so grumpy and we wondered if she was regretting having agreed to come away from her friends and her school. She claims not and during the day did wake up and perk up. Even when we got back to the hotel at 10:30 last night she opened up her computer and went back to her school work, so I think it will work out ok. But with every choice we make, one wonders.
I’ve woken up several times in the night thinking “OMG! what have we done?” There is no real specific concern that scares me just a whole lot of unknown. It seemed worse in NY and now as we have our plans set a little more for where we’ll land in Spain my panic seems to be subsiding. I do feel a huge responsibility for getting Hannah connected to other kids her age and have no idea how that will be accomplished. Just have to try hard to not make it all my problem I guess.
But this traveling part, sort of an extended vacation is really quite fun. We’re all managing to get along well. Hannah is a real trouper in terms of being willing to walk and keep our hours. Our concession to her is that we’ve been staying up til midnight or so and then sleeping in til 9 or so, rather than the 10 pm – 7 am sleep hours that we tend to keep. This morning we didn’t wake up til 9, Robert went out to run up and down the four flights of hotel steps while Hannah and I lounged in bed and 10:35 in the morning found us still sitting over coffee in a little neighbourhood cafe on Earl’s Court road, eating chocolate croissants and working on computers. Hannah is doing day two of online school. Not a bad life all in all though it will be nice to be in our own place in Majorca and be able to cook and do laundry more easily. Hotel rooms, especially here just aren’t made for hanging out and working in.
Here is the first picture of Hannah at school. What you can’t see in the picture is the steamed hot chocolate and chocolate croissant that she consumed in this fancy little Earl’s Court cafe while she was working.
September 10: Every day in London we’ve walked and walked and walked; today from our hotel at Earl’s Court to Westminster Abbey. It is so neat here how one neighbourhood just leads into another. The buildings are great to wander around too with such amazing architecture. We’ve been truly loving it. Hannah continues to be a trooper though it will be nice to settle in at Graham and Helena’s. I know they are currently in a tiny place but it can’t be as small as this room. Hannah is hoping Amy will be around just because she’d love a bit of younger energy although tonight she was able to meet up with a cousin of Sayana’s at O2. While that might have been a nice reprieve, it also might have just made her want even more to be around some other younger folks. I’m sure she’s looking forward to meeting just about anyone once we land in Spain.
Robert and I have been listening to some great tapes for spanish and it might even be helping my pronunciation. I’m excited to be getting closer to some real immersion. I’m definitely feeling up for it although I do know I still won’t understand much. On the tube and in restaurants here we hear lots of spanish and they talk SO fast. But I need something different.
September 11: Tonight we’ve moving out to High Wycomb, outside of London before we fly on to Spain. Other than having too much luggage, we’re doing fine. It is another lovely sunny day here and we’re headed shortly for an Indian luncheon before we leave the city. Graham doesn’t eat Indian food and so we need to make sure we have our fill before we’re out that way and before we head to Spain. We hear the food is good there but not sure that there will be much in the way of Indian food.
Our next big stress though is that we’re definitely going to have too much stuff with us for the plane trip to Spain. We hear that the airlines charge big time for overweight luggage and we’re worried about that now. We’re trying to downsize but when we’re traveling and packing for ten months it is hard to be any more minimalist than we’ve already been.
September 12: We’ve had a really wonderful day here at Graham and Helena’s. Last night after we arrived we saw their old house and their new house. Then we went out to the oldest pub I’ve probably ever been in for a bite to eat. I’m loving the cider in the pubs here. It is such a treat! Today we drove out to Hedley, saw James’ school and then walked along the river. Graham treated us to a “cream tea” in town in the back garden of a pub. Just a really lovely day and wonderful to spend such good time with Graham and Helena.
September 13: Another great day in the country around High Wycomb. Today we did the “favorite walk” up and around from a very small picturesque hamlet. Meant to have lunch in the pub there but by the time we’d finished tea and cake in the church yard we’d missed food at the pub so we headed on to another pub close by and had excellent soup with delicious “cloudy” cider.
September 14: We did indeed get our flight and all went smoothly. We’re now here sitting on the front deck having a glass of wine and some cheese. We’ve been for a walk to get a few groceries, been for a swim, had outdoor showers. Basically life is great!
The weather is a bit off, thundershowers and such but it hasn’t actually rained on us yet since we’ve been here. The thunder and lightning is just starting up now for real. It could be a fun night. The place is great, the water amazing, even today when it was a bit choppy we had a wonderful swim. It is a bit too residential for our liking. Apparently there is a town center not too far away but we got lost when we went looking for it and so ended up walking past just a lot of houses. We’ll have a better look around tomorrow. Today we were just looking for somewhere to buy food because we were all tired and very hungry.
The storm is getting good though as I write this. The internet is cutting out. Time to go light some candles.
September 15: As the thunder storm picked up last night we lost our internet. It was quite an amazing storm. Lots of huge flashes close to us as we sat out on the front deck and watched; then as it calmed down so we went off to sleep only to be woken up by a second round of equally as house shaking crashes. In fact this morning a few pieces of the wall are laying on the hallway floor. Quite the night. At any rate, the wireless internet didn’t seem to like the competition of electricity in the air. While my computer still showed connection, I think it was rather disrupted. I decided as it picked up that it was best to unplug the computer and shut down.
It is quite amazing here so far. Even with the weather being stormy with more in the forecast, it is warm and fairly humid. The house is old, with a bit of that mildewy smell that I’m not fond of but really everything here seems to have a bit of that so, like in Mexico I think that is just the way it is. The house is all very comfortable with room after room. So we’re having fun. Yesterday after getting lost in amongst the mansions trying to find the nearby town we decided we’d give it a go again today. We’ll likely drop in on the school as well. I think we’re resigned though to needing to rent a car if we’re going to stay here for any length of time.
Right under the tile roof is the deck for the flat below us and from in front of their place it drops off to the water with little carved in the cliff steps down to a rocky beach where we swam in the warm water. Even with the stormy weather it was fabulous, though a wee bit choppy. I’m looking forward to trying it out one morning when the water is calm. I can hear the waves this morning so that won’t be today.
We are happy but realizing that we all have to make a life here for now…. It is a bit disconcerting but we’ll get through it. Just had a lovely dinner and conversation (English) with Pacha, the young woman downstairs. So, we have a friend!
September 16: Kim, our landlady and Pacha’s mom arrives home today and so we are looking forward to meeting her. We’re beginning to get orientated to the area. We’ve found the short cut through to the rather English town, and a lovely little beach on the way. Up from the beach is a VERY steep hill that Robert and I have decided will make a great outdoor stairmaster. Already we’ve been out to power walk up and down the steps 10 times, followed by a refreshing swim at the beach.
Mallorca is good but we’ve been up and down about being here. It is hard to get people to help with anything. Things are slow. We’re a ways away from any action. Probably we need a car but it is expensive. We’re not set on staying but just going a day at a time. Great as in beautiful location though the house is pretty old. So pluses and minuses.
September 17: Today we may have found a soccer team for Hannah. We got the name and directions from the lady at the local swimming pool and then Kim drove us out to the field. We met the coach and it seems she can play. There was a practice tonight but we’re off to Nit de Art so she’ll start on Monday.
Tonight we’re off to an art festival in town. It will be our first time in town, that is in Palma itself. It will be nice to see something besides our rather dead little very english town.
September 18: We’ve had very sporadic internet, although sometimes we’re lucky and we can borrow a signal that isn’t locked down. Not sure when ours will be working. The borrowed internet is really sporadic. Not sure about their systems here. Nothing is very stable.
Nit de Art was fabulous. All of the art galleries and many little studios were open and serving wine and goodies. The old, narrow winding streets were packed with people sauntering in and out of galleries, talking art (I presume, although I couldn’t understand much) and sipping wine. In some places there was music. On one street the buskers were tango dancing. Everything went on for miles. We stayed out til 12:30 am and it was still going strong when we left. We saw some great art and some really awful art.
Our favourite exhibit was by Claudio Capellini, an artist who invited us into his house/studio where he had removed everything from his flat, covered the walls, ceilings and floors with paper and then drawn it all back in. It was unbelievably intriguing.
September 19: Time is a whole different concept here. We’re saying YES to every opportunity that comes our way but that means doing things at all sorts of strange times of the day. When we went to the Nit de Arte we didn’t even leave the house until nearly 9 pm. At 12:30 am we asked Kim to please bring us home. This morning we went to one of several Saturday morning markets to buy some food. To do that we had to get up at 7:15 before the sun was even up although we do have a pesky little wannabe rooster a couple of houses over that is trying to learn to cock-a-doodle-doo. He’s pretty pathetic but he does make some noise….poor thing is never going to get his rooster certificate at the rate he’s going.
Mostly we’re eating our own cooking so the food isn’t much different than home just yet. Yesterday at the market we were definitely treated to great sites. The fruits and vegetables are all laid out so carefully and each person patiently waits their turn for the vendor to pick and choose each piece. It’s not at all like home where everyone is grabbing and busily filling their own bags. Its actually very nice as you get a chance to interact with the vendor, your own small moment of being important to him or her.
After the market we wandered through the city, our first time during the day. The buildings are old, the streets narrow and winding, and the whole atmosphere quite charming. It isn’t big, only about 350,000 people in the 2007 census apparently, but tons of character. We, of course, got completely lost and turned around but did manage eventually to find the right bus to get us home. In the evening Kim had a friend over with her teenage son and a friend of his. Hannah was invited down to visit and meet the boys. It was great to see her have a chance to socialize.
September 20: Kim took us to her friend Marta’s house for lunch where we ordered in a huge big plate of fideua, the catalan equivalent of pallea, but with noodles instead of rice. It was really delicious especially with the copious amounts of wine that we drank starting at about 2:00 in the afternoon. We had a great long drawn out lunch that was great fun as we tried hard to speak spanish with Marta who speaks very little English, or so she says. Actually I think her English is much better than our spanish but it was a great opportunity for us to practice. Kim and Pacha were really helpful, translating back and forth as we tried to elaborate on stories or whenever something go far too silly to possibly explain in a language we just don’t speak that well.
After our lunch we took the relatively new super tunnel up island to the incredibly quaint little town of Soller. It was so lovely that we definitely plan to return in the near future. Today’s visit only wet our appetites for more. To return home we took a different route up through the mountains to the west coast of the island, through a town called Deiá, timing it perfectly to stop at a beautiful spot just north of Miramar which is famous for sunsets, and then on through yet another lovely town, Valldemossa, another that we will have to return to see more of.
Life here is getting a bit better, smoother going. We’ve all had some moments where we’ve missed home but as we do more things and start to get to know people a bit, those moments are fewer. We have been swimming daily. The water is amazingly warm and so salty that the buoyancy lets even Robert float. I’m not naturally inclined to be comfortable in ocean water with huge swells, sharp ocean rocks and giant creatures always lurking just below my feet but each day I venture out a little more and stay in a little longer. The mild anxiety I feel when I can’t see the bottom, or worse perhaps when I can see the bottom, is slowly lessening and/or more easily manageable. Who knows maybe I’ll make it to the island before we leave here.
September 21: A bit of a rainy, dreary day; probably our first day since we arrived that we really haven’t gone out to do much of anything short of getting groceries. Kim drove us over to take Hannah to soccer practice. Seems like that is going to work out. It was great to have Kim translate for us as Rafa, the coach, speaks absolutely no english.
September 22: Getting to work on redoing the PAGE BC website at http://pagebc.ca. Am replacing the Drupal Content mangement system with one that is easier to use and will give the page a fresher, more upbeat look. Wish I knew more about this but it is a fun project to do while I’m a way.
September 23: Lynn arrived and so is now officially our first visitor from home. Yeah Lynn! We borrowed Kim’s car to drop Pacha off at the airport and pick Lynn up. Just venturing out to navigate and drive from here to the airport on our own was enough for one day.
September 24: Our second trip to Soller was also great because we spent a bit more time in Soller, enjoyed the train trip and managed to get down to the port of Soller where we had a feast on the beach and jumped in the water before heading home.
September 25: Today we bussed into Palma and after a really delicious tapas lunch at 2:00 in the afternoon as is the spanish way at a place that Kim recommended we toured the cathedral in Palma which Gaudi apparently did some refurbishing of. It is quite a powerful building and well worth seeing. We then continued to wander the streets in Palma; we’ve taken pictures of some of the really beautiful buildings and shops. There is so much to see here. But our spanish isn’t improving a whole lot as yet. Robert and I are thinking that with a car we may get on to taking some lessons but we need to do some research into where would be good.
September 26: Hannah was invited to Victor’s birthday party tonight but it didn’t start until quite late and short of us hanging out somewhere not to far away whilst Hannah partied we really had no way of getting her home so she passed. She would have enjoyed the chance to meet more kids though.
Today after we dropped Lynn off at the airport, we hiked out to a more isolated beach at Cabo de Salinas. It was very much a clothing optional beach, with lovely turquoise blue water, gorgeous rocks, just lovely. It wasn’t the hottest, most perfect day for it other than in much more heat the 20 minute hike to the beach might have done us in. My pictures don’t do it justice at all.
September 27: Apparently it is more stormy here now than normal so who knows what’s to come. I feel like my español is sliding backwards. I’m not using it as much as I’d like at all. It’s too easy to just speak english and most people understand. If we stay on Mallorca we’ll definitely start with lessons again. I need to be doing something to make it work. Instead I’ve spent the last two days rebuilding the ENGLISH website I manage for pagebc.ca. It’s helping my IT skills but not my spanish at all. I had been planning to rebuild it sometime this fall but managed to wipe it out when I went to load something on and got frustrated with the clunkiness of the previous site, so the the timing was really chosen for me. Still lots to do but its coming.
Hannah’s enjoying being here but spending a lot of time on her own. Last night she skyped her friends Lucy and Sarah for the first time and talked to them for about an hour. It was really fun to listen to her excitement about catching up with them. Then she and I curled up on the couch and watched Grey’s Anatomy on the computer while Robert read his book then went to bed.
We have very little food in the house tonight as Robert and I walked up to the food store in town today at lunch time and decided to go drink in the restaurant before shopping. We forgot that the stores close at 1:30 or so on Sunday and so by the time we were mildly inebriated the stores were closed. Luckily Kim fed Hannah and we had pizza with drinks, so it wasn’t a problem.
September 28: Robert took Hannah to soccer on Kim’s scooter and it broke down at the top of our hill on the way home. Getting her to and from Son Ferrer is going to be a problem if we don’t get a car. Hannah is tentatively on the soccer team but they want money and documentation this week, so she may not be on it by the end of the week. We don’t mind paying the 300 euros if we’re going to stay but the documentation that they want is proof of residency and so she may be quickly made ineligible. We’ll see.
September 29: Well I’m not doing super great at staying in touch with all my family and friends but I guess that a tests to the fact that life here is good and we’re keeping busy. I do think that friends are so important so one of the things I’m enjoying about not working is that I’m taking time to sit down and at least email one or two people most days. I’m enjoying being able to stay connected at least in this way. Of course some days I end up doing school work with Hannah or being out and about and so don’t get to it.
Robert and I are finding though that we’re missing home more than we realized that we would. We do have so many good friends and of course our connection to our Adam, Sarah and James is huge. Somehow email and skype aren’t quite the same. We do talk quite regularly to Sarah and James and also to Adam. Those talks are fun. In some ways it is almost like being in the room with them. Sarah in particular as she’s quite animated. The other night she was showing us the boots she’d just bought. Then Hannah came in the room so Hannah and Sarah start laughing and sticking their tongues out at each other. It was all quite funny.
Couldn’t help but send these two pictures to Jan:
September 30: We were up early this morning hoping to go hiking up a waterfall but although it is quite beautiful here now, the forecast has changed to storms and lightning. As there are no natural rivers, apparently, on Mallorca, the waterfalls and rivers are all what they refer to as “torrents” and so just the result of the water rushing down after a downpour… and it does downpour here. But of course that means that if downpours are expected you just don’t hike up the “torrents” as you could easily be washed away to sea. So, Robert has gone back to bed and Hannah and I are up after playing a couple of rounds of a scrabble derivative game. I actually got into using spanish words it the game, the best I’ve done at it yet.