Thursday, August 29, 2013

Prepping for La Tomatina 2013

Tomorrow is the big day:  La Tomatina 2013!  For those of you that are not up on your obscure Spanish festivals, this is the giant tomato fight in Bunol, Spain that dates back to 1945.  The day begins with revelers attempting to climb a greased pole to grab the prized ham on top.  This immediately is followed by the world's largest food fight!  The town trucks in 150,000 tomatoes grown specifically for the festival.  The only rule is squish your tomato before launching.  As you may guess, the kids are beside themselves with excitement.  They designed their oshirts.  Goggles are a must! The bus leaves Valencia at 8:15am with the first tomato thrown at 11am!

Getting geared up!  We decided against matching swim caps.

Just off the train in Valencia, Spain.

Ready for battle!

Gun show!

Mac cut off his sleeves and drew a great tomato!

No mercy!

Bring it!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

La Tomatina 2013: Bunol, Spain

After a short bus ride to Bunol we worked our way into the narrow streets to await La Tomatina 2013.  The initial cannon shot indicated the beginning of our long tomato fight with an estimated 150,000 tomatoes.  They are delivered via a parade of dump trucks packed with tomato snipers looking to drop anyone and everyone.

The crowd works into a frenzy as the initial cannon fires.

Here come the trucks.  The streets are packed wall to wall but the trucks still pass through causing everyone to be crushed against the buildings.

The precious cargo is delivered.

Game on!

Victory is ours!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Lisbon, Portugal and driving a Tuk Tuk by Wiley

A tuk tuk is a little three wheeled car.  You can take tours on it through the town.  We started the tour at the Cathedral in Lisbon.  We went to a bunch of different places like the golden cathedral and the carriage museum.  I liked the small one person carriages because they were cool.  I also like the suits that the carriage drivers wore.  I liked riding in the tuk tuk because it was lots of fun.  I got to ride in the front and I even got to drive it up a hill!
Me driving the tuk yuk

riding in the front of the tuk tuk

One of the cool old carriages at the museum.  the queen of England rode in this one.

This is a tuk took

the one person carriage that I like

In the gold cathedral
Me driving the tuk tuk

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Blanket That Saved A Dog

About 10 days into our trip,  while we were camping at the Glastonbury festival, we bought this smiley face fleece blanket:

It was very cold and rainy in Glastonbury so we bought it to have something extra to put on the tent floor.  It served its purpose and I came very close to leaving it behind in Glastonbury....we try to keep our packs as light as possible.  But instead I rolled it up and cinched it to the bottom of my backpack. I've nearly tossed it out about a dozen times since but for some reason I've always ended up clipping it back on my pack.  

Fast forward two months, we are in northern Spain, lost trying to find our hostel in Sopelana, on the coast.  The GPS in the car was also apparently lost because that British(yes we've got one that speaks English) woman's voice kept repeating "leave the roundabout at the second exit, prepare to make a u turn, leave the roundabout at the second exit, prepare to make a u turn..." We were all a little cranky, even the GPS woman seemed a bit testy. So we pulled into the parking lot of an apartment complex to call the hostel and get directions.  As I was making the call, Lane said "Look at that dog!"  I looked up to see a big furry dog hanging over the side of the second story balcony with two paws on the rail and one on the clothes line. 

 There was no way he could hang on much longer and the fall would kill him or certainly severely injure him if he survived.  Apparently the owner was not home and the poor dog had somehow climbed onto the rail.    We jumped out of the car and ran over to him.  Lane shouted for someone and a couple of neighbors came out but no one who had access to the apartment. We were  standing there trying to figure out how to catch the poor thing when Lane said, "we need a blanket or something to catch him in."  Then it hit me.... THE SMILEY FACE BLANKET!!!  I yelled to the kids to bring it out of the car.  With only seconds to spare, Lane and I opened it up and held it out as tight as we could hoping it would be enough to break his fall...he came tumbling down full speed right into the worked!!  Other than panting heavily he was completely unscathed.

Of course, in the rush we didn't think about taking pictures.  But we did go back by the apartment later that evening.  We met the owner.  He was extremely grateful and the dog was fine!   Needless to say we will never get rid of the blanket now!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Spain, Gibraltar, and Morocco

As you can tell from the kids' posts, we have been traveling in Spain and Gibraltar.  Our friends, Maripe and Jaime, from Madrid, loaned us their car! Yes, they are wonderful, generous and very trusting!  We spent a night in Granada, home to the famous Alhambra and then a night in Sevilla which is  beautiful riverfront city.  We enjoyed both immensely.  We love Spain, for many reasons....but one particularly nice thing is that we can eat really good food here for not a lot of money.  (this is important when feeding three growing boys)   And luckily, they are usually willing to try pretty much anything.
Here's Mac eating stewed bull's tail,  we all liked this dish( a good follow up after watching bullfights :))
From Sevilla we decided to go to Gibraltar in spite of the warnings about the long lines and difficulties  to get through customs.  In the early 1700's the Spanish ceded Gibraltar  to Britain in perpetuity....they've been bickering about it ever since and most recently tensions have flared over Britain's proposed development of an artificial reef.  So apparently the Spanish have been making it very difficult to get through customs.  I guess we were very lucky because both coming and going there was no more than a few minutes wait.

 Mom's note to Mac's Gibraltar Monkey blog:  The monkeys are Barbary Macaques. Although they are certainly accustomed to people walking around, they are in fact wild monkeys.  There are signs everywhere on the rock that say things like.... "Don't pet the monkeys", "Don't tease the monkeys", "500 euro fine if you're caught feeding a monkey", "Danger monkeys may bite."...i.e.Don't make the Monkeys mad.   Mac was not breaking any of these rules.  He just squatted down to take a picture of one of them and the next thing Mac knew another one took a liking to him!....fortunately this monkey didn't get mad about anything!  

Gibraltar is only about 9 miles from Morocco on the the northern coast of Africa.  There are ferry crossings from nearby Tarifa to Tangier about every hour.  This was just too tempting to pass up.  So after we got the monkey off Mac's back :) we hightailed it down the rock and made our way to Tarifa just in time for the 4:00 ferry.  We spent the afternoon exploring Tangier and had a feast of fish(we're not sure what kind), shrimp, squid and a variety of meat skewers.  We tried to find a hotel so we could spend the night but everything was booked.  So unfortunately we had to take the last ferry of the night back to Spain but we enjoyed our afternoon exploring the city.  Here are some photos of our day in Morocco:

Our Moroccan Feast

These are blacksmiths' shops behind Levi

Standing on the casbah wall, you can see Spain in the background

On the ferry headed back to Spain 

My photography in Spain (by Levi)

These are some of the pictures I took while we have been in Spain.  They are from Seville, Spain and are from the Alcazar Palace and the Bullfighting museum and bullring.  There are also pictures of geckos I found on the palace wall.  I like taking pictures of interesting things.  I thought the Alcazar Palace was  really interesting and very pretty from the rooftops looking down on the town.  I thought  the tiles on the walls were very interesting and very cool to look at too.  They have all sorts of designs as well. In the Alcazar Palace the ceilings were very fancy and decorated.  The walls were chiseld into animals, humans, and buildings, weapons and fighting and war.   I also liked the bullfighting museum because it had a lot of paintings of bullfightings and weapons and other pictures.    Also the matador costumes were very fancy.  
A peacock was on the palace wall