29 May 2013

Wet, Wild, and Wonderful

Last weekend I jumped in a car with two friends and we caravanned with two other friends to West Virginia. We had purchased a living social adventure deal for a weekend of camping and rafting. After 6 hours of driving and gas stations and a Wendy's we arrived at the campsite near Beckly, WV. We checked in with the Living Social crew and they hooked us up with a sweet "rustic cabin" near the bar. 

Being it a Living Social Adventure I was a little worried that the crowd would be rowdy 21 yr olds, but it really wasn't there were people from 21-40 and couples, big groups of friends, bachelor parties, and families.

The first night we had two free drinks at the camp bar where they had live music and we chatted with some of the other campers. It was Jenn's birthday so we had cake by our cabin and hung out with other campers around the camp fire.

Saturday morning we didn't have to meet for the river till 10 am so we took our time getting up and getting breakfast. The weather was pretty nice, but since we were worried about the water temperature we all rented wetsuits, geared up and hit the river.

Our guide was a seasonal guy from Cincinnati, he was really cool and very good at guiding our boat. We only had one person fall out and we got her back in within seconds.

They took video of some of our trip and was playing it on the tvs around the campground. The picture below is a picture I took of the tv.

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me on the front right
After about 5 hours of class 5 rapids (haha ok... there were some 1,2,3 &4s too) we cleaned up and headed to our BBQ dinner at the camp restaurant.

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After dinner we headed to the camp bar where everyone was hanging out and they had an open PBR bar from 6-10 pm. 

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The next day we had breakfast at a cute cafe in the neighboring town.

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hmmm should we eat here?

That was previously a church.

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from the balcony
We stopped in a store down the street and found it empty with the following sign:

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trusting West Virginians
On our drive home we stopped in this White House to use the restroom (aka The Greenbrier).

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23 May 2013

Days 8-10: Madrid (the food)

As mentioned before we didn't have the best luck with food, but we had a few wins. We ate dinner one night at the Mercado de San Miguel. It was bit of a gourmet market and the food was delicious. 

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best thing ever

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a little oily and bittery for me

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yummmy gelato

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fish + toast

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calamari sandwiches 

22 May 2013

Day 8-10: Madrid (the sites)

Our last stop was Madrid. Not my favorite. It is an International city and was packed with people (maybe more because of the holy week holidays). We also struck out on food a few times and had some rain to deal with. But by the end of our few days there Kendra and I decided that it wasn't so bad after all.

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in Plaza Mayor on my Birthday

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the royal palace

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Parc Retiro

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happy windows

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fans for sale!

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Parc Retiro & Art

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Parc Reitro

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plaza de sol, the center of Spain 9 am (it was usually packed!)

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looking at myself looking at art at museo sofia reina

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animal art at museo sofia reina

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shoes on the wall at our B&B

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Plaza Mayor

05 May 2013

Day 6 & 7: Seville (the food)

Most people think of wine when they think of Spain, but Kendra and I decided to taste of few of the beers they had. A fun thing about most of the bars is they only had one beer. So you just ordered a cerveza and they brought you the one kind they had on tap. In Barcelona it was Estrella. In Granada it was Alhambra. They were both delicious. Then we get to Sevilla and while they still served Alhambra at some places, most of the bars were serving Cruzcampo.  Cruzcampo is not good.

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my first Cruzcampo, I wish it was my last
Seville had a lot of gelato places. One night we decided to get some and ended up with the fanciest ever.

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delicious too
For dinner each night we would get tapas. By our second night in Seville I thought Kendra should try her hand and ordering. She heads to the bar and does her thing. Later the waitress brings us three plates of meat and a plate of cheese. Luckily thats all I wanted to eat in Spain. In both Granada and Seville the meat and cheeses were always served with crackers. They don't look like much but were delicious. They always gave us more than we could eat and I frequently put the extras in my purse for snacking later. Kendra had more class. Also pictured below is a tinto verano aka a red wine with ice and orange or lime soda.

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bacon, chorizo, manchango, panchetta
The morning of my birthday we only had a few hours in Seville before catching a train to Madrid. I got up and ran a few miles then we headed out to find breakfast. Up until this point we had been having pretty simple breakfasts. Usually a coffee and croissant. After the run and with a train ride during lunch time I was looking for a little bit more. 

I saw the menu on the wall said huevos y jamon (aka eggs and bacon) and thought that sounded good. Only when the waiter came over I ordered two coffees and jueves y jamon (aka Thursday and bacon), after he stared at me for a bit I realized my mistake and corrected my order. He asked if we wanted to share and by this point we had realized its best to go with the waiter's recommendations, but just in case I made sure it came with bread. 

Then the most delicious plate full came out. Sliced potatoes covered with fried eggs covered with jamon covered with olive oil with a little green pepper garnish. 

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we were members of the clean plate club

04 May 2013

Day 6 & 7: Seville (the sites)

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the kids in robes were the cutest

A quick train ride from Granada we arrived in Seville. We stayed at a Spanish chain hotel that was conveniently located on the edge of the old town area. After dropping our bags we wondered right into holy week activities on the street and it didn't end the entire time we were there. Around every corner we saw people dressed in robes, bands, and floats on display inside churches. Many of the actual processions were canceled due to rain. When we asked if they would be rescheduled they said not till next year! It seemed like a lot of pageantry and planning to cancel for a little rain, but some of the floats are very old and apparently not rain resistant.

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Seville men were very clean cut compared to the men in Barcelona 

It seemed like all the bands played the same procession march music, but we all know I don't have the best ear for music.

Other than the general festiveness of Seville we checked out some of the sites including the Alcazar (aka palace).

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entry way

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interior garden

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the bathroom

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random wall
The gardens surrounding the Alcazar were very pretty, they had different garden styles and plenty of fountains.

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the gardens
Bullfighting season doesn't begin till Easter Sunday (not that we were interested anyway) but we still walked by the stadium.

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outside the bullfight arena
Not far from our hotel was a the Plaza de Espana in the Maria Luisa Park. Kendra and I first walked over while it was raining a bit. I ran back to the park on the morning of my birthday for a few miles and a little more exploring.

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plaza de espana

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trying some camera tricks
The Cathedral of St Mary was built from 1400-1500 on the site of the city's mosque. Its one of the largest cathedrals in the world. When they built the cathedral they left the Giralda, the minaret from the mosque, and converted it into a bell tower. For those of you in Kansas City the tower should look familiar; the Giralda tower on the Country Club Plaza was modeled after this one. 

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Also inside the Cathedral is the remains of Christopher Columbus.... or are they? Apparently his remains were moved around quite a bit in the years after his death. So these are his remains or they might still be in the Americas.

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We were able to go to the top of the tower walking up ramp after ramp. It was an easy walk, but a little dizzying. 

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from the tower

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01 May 2013

Day 5: Granada

Our train arrived in Granada about two hours later than expected, but that just gave us more gazing out the windows at the Spanish countryside time. Once we arrived we took a cab to the hotel (hey we aren't poor 20 yr olds anymore) checked in and headed out for cafe and croissant. Then we swung by the cathedral. This was the point I was kind of over seeing cathedrals, but while we were waiting in line to get in there was a British couple chatting behind us. I was really listening till he goes "We just need to decide when we are going to Kansas City" and Kendra and I both do a double take. We started chatting and the man had gone to grad school at KU and was going back to visit some friends. 

After getting some bocadillos (sandwiches) we headed up to the Alhambra. It was bit of an overcast and chilly day, but we didn't have any rain while we were touring the Alhambra so it wasn't too bad. 

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After several hours touring the Alhambra we headed for the Mirador, a place across the valley from the Alhambra where you can see the Alhambra. Kendra had read that it was President Clinton's favorite spot and had an amazing view. I had read in my tour guide that it was dangerous to go up through the neighborhoods during the siesta. We went up after 5pm but still felt spooked about the warning in my book. On our first two attempts we got lost and ended up back at the bottom of the hill. I looked at the map one last time and we made another attempt, this time success! After a dicey moment with some creepy guys we found the top. There was a good view, people playing music, and people selling jewelry, but we didn't love it.

It started raining as we got back to the main drag. We made a quick pit stop into H&M to buy shorts and tights. EVERYONE was wearing shorts with tights in Barcelona and I wanted to fit in... Only no one was wearing it in Granada so I waited till Madrid to try it out.

As we made it back to our hotel we ran into a Holy Week procession. This was our first encounter with the masks and robes.

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We waited around for a bit, but then it really started raining and we were in deep need of our siesta. After a nap we headed out for dinner. Luckily (since it was still raining) our hotel was on a street of a million restaurants. We did a bit of tapa/vino/cerveza hoping that night. All of the places were playing religious procession music and had the procession footage on TV. The second place we went to (which we affectionately called the Jesus Bar) was covered in religious flyers and pictures. We ordered a cerveza and received the best free tapas of the trip. It was sort of a brushetta with crumbled egg on top and some crispy chips on the side.

Kendra's Dad had hooked us up with an awesome room at the Best Western. We had the penthouse which had two balconies. One out of the bedroom and one out of the bathroom. So I took this picture from our bathroom:

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yes we had a view of the Alhambra from our bathroom