A Travellerspoint blog

Friends and Málaga

Spring is typically a time known for renewal, birth, rebirth or whatever. Around here, it is a time for reminiscing and catching up with long time friends. Can you believe I have known this lady for almost 20 years? What the heck?! We had a great time hanging around town and checking out local establishments like the beach, hidden pumpkins around town, the doctor, and our patio. Sometimes the best things are the normal things. Erica, René, and Javi took the ferry over to Cádiz and also just relaxed. It was a really great time.

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To prove I have known her since our grad school days, I have included a throwback to my first time cooking a Thanksgiving dinner and for some odd reason, the vegetarian is carving the turkey!

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They continued on with their vuelta de España and we went back to our “normal” life. Our next adventure was to Málaga for Quinn’s competition in Hyrox. For those who aren’t on Facebook and didn’t get my WhatsApp spam, it is an endurance competition that includes the following exercises: Skierg machine, rowing, walking lunges, burpee broad jumps, wall balls, sled pull, sled push, and farmer’s carry. In between each of the events you run a kilometer for a total of 8 kilometers. It was such a SCENE. Music blaring, rows and rows of competitors, waves of people starting the competition every 10 minutes, lights flashing and just a general party vibe. Quinn finished 25th overall and 7th for his age group.

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The coach of our gym, David, and his wife, Maria, (who are also our friends, neighbors, and language exchange partners) also came out to Málaga to support Quinn’s competition. It was a super fun time and we enjoyed exploring Málaga with them.

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It was a little weird being in Málaga because it is a cruise port and there were so many people speaking different languages. I have gotten accustomed to our little corner of Spain with the mix of Spanish locals and a sprinkling of Americans. For years, I have been confused as to why it surprises people to hear Quinn and I when speaking English to each other, but I can’t help but find myself surprised to hear German, Russian, and especially Italian here in Spain.

No matter how hard I try, I will never figure out how those Instagram influencers do it! I will keep trying to get a picture with the beautiful flowers though. Quinn has a number of videos of my attempting to get the right angle. You can message him if you want them.

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There are always little surprises driving around Europe. This time we found a ship and castle built by a Spanish doctor in celebration of the “discovery” of America, where he lived for a portion of his life. Very interesting little spot that he built himself, by hand, which included many symbolic sculptures and touches, many of which were explained with QR codes. I won’t try and get into the politics of this here, just some pictures to get a feeling for the site.

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Here are some photos from a planned stop which included a butterfly garden and a Buddhist temple. The butterfly garden had a surprise marsupial. There were SO many butterflies. It was magical.

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Posted by trackers 18:28 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Washington D.C, catching up with friends, and biking

Quinn had a work trip to Washington D.C. and I tagged along. We were there for a week and Quinn went to work every day while I explored some of what the city had on offer. We reunited in the evenings and were lucky enough to catch up with some long time friends. It is really special to have friends all around the world and it also really sucks! I wish I could be more a part of the day to day lives of the really cool people we have met over the years, but alas, alack, I must settle for catch ups every once in a blue moon.

We stayed in the Navy Yard area of D.C. which is super cool. I really enjoyed the almost small town vibe of the "main street" although I am sure I am the only one calling it that. Also, the waterfront is full of bars, restaurants, a beautiful cycling path and views of the river. Everyone spoke to me about the revitalization of the area and how the city has made use of the waterfront, but as someone with no historical perspective I could only appreciate it in its present form. When comparing it to how Seattle has used its waterfront, I must say, BRAVO D.C.

Quinn really didn't have much free time so the first and only day we had before he started work we set off on foot to explore the sites. It was COLD! We initially were planning on using the city bike system but at 32 degrees we said, no thank you and decided to hoof it instead.

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After about 12 miles of walking we felt adequately satisfied by the experience. We ate some bagels, saw the mall, the tidal basin, the cherry blossoms in the tidal basin, then walked along the waterfront and ended up at our predesignated brunch location to see our friends from our time in Italy, Patsy and Cory. Photo shoot! Notice the many backgrounds.We wouldn't have survived the COVID times without these two plus Sam and Austin and we were so happy to spend some time catching up. You will see more of them later.

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For ease of picture addition I will combine the next few days into one. I spent them riding the city bikes around and taking in some of the cultural offerings of D.C. This included: Smithsonian American History Museum, Natural history museum, the Botanical gardens, the Zoo, and quick ride bys of the WWII memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and other curiosities such as this garden Barbie exhibition as well as the Anacostia park route. I road about 30+ miles over 3 days on the "townie" bikes in the city. You have to check them in every 45 minutes with the day pass so sometimes that meant random pit stops at the various bike centers. It was an adventure and I enjoyed every minute of it. Quinn was able to join me on the last 1/2 day of cycling and we revisited the Anacostia park route and also road the bikes down to Alexandria. We were so lucky with the timing of the cherry blossoms as well as a bunch of other blossoms. D.C is so much more beautiful than I remember from my childhood and teenage visits.

Botanical gardens including a very stinky corpse plant cousin
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A little colder on this balcony than ours.

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So, as for the visiting, we also met up with Kate and TW and their "crew" aka 3 children! You might recognize this couple from our blogs back in China and Japan (also a cameo in Germany) for those that are long time readers and you might be surprised to see they have multiplied. These 3 kiddos politely and positively sat and played through a 3 hour dinner! They were incredible and Quinn made a new best friend. It doesn't surprise me that 2 social people would have 3 social kids that want to burn the midnight oil and socialize well past bedtime. Many laughs were had and it sucked to say goodbye but I cannot wait to hear about the adventures and tales this family will have over the years.

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Repeat! I could not stay a week in D.C without making it out to see Patsy and Cory again and meet their newest family member as well as see their new home. I spent an afternoon with Patsy like old times, sipped tea, bullshitted, and got to babysit. I now hold the record for being the only friend to have met/babysat her two kiddos in the first couple months of life. #winning. Babysitting for 10 minutes while she walked the dog definitely counts in my book. It was like old times having dinner with these guys and spending time with their little ones. We don't have another meet up planned any time soon but I am hoping something will pop up.

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We also saw another blast from the past. Feeeeeeelixxxxxx and Heidi! Plus their 4 kids! OMG. Last time we saw them was a decade ago and they only had 2 kids and now they have doubled. I made sure to avoid drinking the water while in DC. Just kidding! They cooked us an amazing meal and made us laugh with their stories, giant moka pots, and selves. You know when you haven't seen someone in a while and think, I totally remember why I liked these people so much. Same.

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Last up for the reunions, Wade! He did not multiply but he did do an addition and we got to meet his wife! Quinn had already met Susanna but this was my first time. Wade found a great partner and it was such a delight to chat with them and relive old times from Japan.

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We had another half day together at the end of the week to check out some sites, eat sushi, and ride bikes. The bike paths are really well connected and it was beautiful. On our last day in DC we caught a bit of the kite festival.

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I am very grateful for trip to catch up with old friends. It filled our social cup that had been depleted during COVID and seems to be bottomless these days!

Posted by trackers 09:32 Comments (1)

Kayla visits Spain and spring is here

Kayla came for a quick visit from Germany and spring arrived just as she left. She was really hoping for some sunshine and got a few glimpses but right after her departure the weather took a turn towards full spring like behavior, sunshine followed by crazy wind storms, some rain, then back to sunshine again.

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First a few pictures from Kayla's trip. We mostly hung around town and did local stuff like seeing the storks, walking on the beach and enjoying some desserts in at a local cafe. Kayla got to meet our latest foster Fingo. He is a 10 year old Pedenco/Galga mix and weights about 30 pounds. He is a sweet heart, scaredy cat, and very very smart.

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A few weeks after Kayla left, we drove up to Madrid to drop Fingo off with his new forever family. He is the only pet in the home with two loving adults and I think he is going to be very happy there. It was hard to give him up but I am so pleased that he was able to find a family. These older dogs are not so easy to place and Fingo has had a tough life so far so he really deserved a break.

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This next picture was sent to me by Fingo's new mom in his new home.

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Quinn felt inspired to sew some new cycling hats so we spent a couple of evenings with the sewing machine out and me watching him work. I am always amazed at his sewing abilities. My visual spatial skills are awful!

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Just a short update from here. Will be back with more soon on our last minute trip to Washington DC.

Posted by trackers 12:53 Comments (0)

From Southern Spain to South(ern) Florida

We took a nice little trip back home (one of our home states) to Florida to catch up with family. Unfortunately, I picked up a bug along the way and was basically sick the entire trip including 3 days of no voice. This put a damper on seeing my family (sorry everyone). We made the best of it and just did little day outings and enjoyed lots of time at Mom and Bob's house and a fun little side trip to visit with my Dad.

We spent some time helping my mom and Bob clean out their attic and I found these fun throwback pictures. So we will kick this blog off with a flashback to some childhood snaps.

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As an added bonus, Quinn's brother Cullen was able to fly down to spend the weekend with us. They went to a Dolphin's tailgate and had some great brother bonding time on a few different outings.

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We did some typical South Florida adventures like shopping, eating at restaurants, art festivals, boat rides, walking around some local wildlife preserves, and watching for animals in the backyard. Look closely in the water and you will see a manatee! Love those.large_fe64db20-d260-11ee-95ee-9b66c06fcc20.jpglarge_1000023199.jpglarge_1000023080.jpglarge_1000023860.jpglarge_1000023602.jpglarge_1000023110.jpglarge_1000023232.jpglarge_1000023124.jpglarge_1000023604.jpglarge_1000023544.jpglarge_1000023197.jpglarge_1000023619.jpglarge_1000023570.jpg

Most importantly, I got to do some cooking with my mom.
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We also got to spend some time with my sister Tracey and my niece Jessica.

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We got so lucky to spend some time with another blast from the past, our pals Kyle and Julie plus their two boys Connor and Owen. They are high on the list for friends of the year award for flying down to Miami to spend a day with us. It was a super fun time playing tourist in my old high school stomping grounds.

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Then my Dad, who drove across the country to see us, scooped us up and we crossed the state to check out Siesta key. This is a super cute little town/island that has the still has the old Florida feel. We greatly enjoyed our time together eating special meals, strolling the island, and enjoying the area. I also got ti meet some of my Dad's lifelong friends who were also passing the winter in Florida. It was a great little trip and always fun to explore a new place together.

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We also cruised up to St. Pete to visit my cousins Melissa and Steve and their two kids, Amelia and Hudson. We enjoyed a delicious dinner together and it felt way too short. I am so happy we will get another chance to see them in 2024!

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Overall, it was a very nice trip, although I did miss out on seeing many of my cousins due to my extended illness but hopefully, it won't be long until we all get together again. I leave you with a modern throwback picture. While cleaning out the attic, we came across my mom's wedding dresses which I put on as part of a retro fashion show. They are both beautiful dresses.

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Posted by trackers 13:59 Comments (0)

Christmas in Spain and a Winter Trip to Italy

Christmas in Spain definitely looks more like my old Florida days than it does any other recent locale. We spent the Christmas time season with some more foster pups. Carlitos found a forever family and they gave him a new haircut which was so disappointing. He had such cool hair. The good part is, I know they will be a great family for him. He is living with a retired man and his extended family including son and grandson and Carlitos absolutely loves men so that is perfect for him

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Then along came little Blanquita for a couple of weeks. She was a 5 pound Chihuahua and the sweetest thing ever.

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We took her on quite a few little adventures and she spent some of that time in a purse since her little legs couldn’t carry her so far. She went a family with two older children around 10 and 14 years old and she will be officially the dog of the little girl. I think they will be the best of friends.

We also attended a Christmas lunch with our gym. It was primarily Spanish folks and it was a cultural experience. The restaurant was occupied only by the members of the gym for our lunch since we basically took up the entire inside. It was a 4 hour eating bonanza with many courses, all you could drink wine and towards the end of the lunch, the group started up with singing. This went on for about 30 minutes where people sang, danced and drummed. No need for instruments. Everyone knows all the words to at least 50+ songs in this country. It was hilarious. Then the group continued the party and I received pictures from the group chat until well past 2 AM. The Spanish know how to party.

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These are of us on our way to the lunch. Quite warm in December.

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We took a little long weekend trip back to Italy to further explore western Piemonte which borders France and includes the city of Torino. We enjoyed the mountains, delicious food, a little city action, and mostly just checked out little towns and a few Christmas markets.

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The last picture is an underwater nativity scene. We stumbled across a medieval town that decorates with a collection of nativities during the Christmas period. There were so many cute little scenes built into every nook and cranny of the town. Google Borgo di Bardo for more pics. We didn’t take so many even though it was adorable.

We spent Christmas Eve with our neighbors/friends/gym owners and had a bunch of laughs and delicious food. I didn’t take a single picture but I did take a picture of the dessert Quinn made and will also share a picture of our Christmas tree this year. (Thanks Patsy, look familiar?)

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We also enjoyed a Christmas Day hike. This pictures didn’t turn out so spectacular but here is one of us trying to avoid a cow party.

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Our gym is now an official HYROX gym. This is an exercise event where people do a 1 kilometer run followed by an exercise set which includes burpee broad jumps, 100 wall balls, a farmers carry, sled push/pull, Skierg and row machine, and walking lunges with a sand bag. Since there are 8 rounds, you end up with 8 kilometers of running by the end. There are many videos online. Anyhow, Quinn won our gym’s little kick off competition and the prize was entry into the Malaga hyrox event so he will participating in that in April.

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It was a fun winter and although, it is only February now in Spain we have had several 70 degree days in a row so it feels more like Spring. I think it will be a HOT summer.

Posted by trackers 12:56 Comments (0)

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