Malaga, Spain (April 1-4): Yup, that was the surprise destination that Mark was taking me too. And it the journey started at 3:45 am to catch a 6:30 am flight! The Taxi driver who took us to the airport was hilarious blaring the music saying “wakie, wakie, time to wake up”! After the 3 hr flight, we made it to Spain and we tried to find the hotel on our own, walking to different bus stops but we finally just took a taxi which we should have done from the start. The hotel was amazing, very modern and you could see the ocean from the window! We went to the beach but could only sit for about 15 min because it was windy and sand was smacking us in the face. It just wasn’t our time to lay on the beach yet, so we walked on this beach front path and there were all these restaurants, they kind of all looked the same. Being daring we walked into one and sat down, the waiter didn’t speak much English so we didn’t really know what we ordered. But at one point the waiter brought a big plate of whole dead fishes trying to explain which was which for how much. I thought I was going to throw up because the fish were all looking at me. We got our food and mine was salmon and we figured out that Mark’s was muscles. He got me to try one and well I don’t care for eating a chewing muscle. Needless to say we didn’t really feel that great after that meal. But we did go for the authenticity of it all! The first day was a little difficult; I was pretty tired from starting the day so early. But the following day we went to the beach again and this time it was so amazing! We got to lie in the sun and be warm! We were actually getting pretty hot and Mark wanted to go to the water’s edge (Mediterranean sea). So we walked up to it and I was really nice enough to help Mark get into the water J. But of course I followed in afterwards and WOAH it was salty. It was the first time I had ever gone into an ocean before and I well I didn’t know you shouldn’t open your mouth. It was so neat though afterwards because the salt dried white on my skin. Really neat experience! The sun was turning our skin red so we went back to the hotel and then for a walk. We saw crazy plants, eccentric birds, odd statues, an outdoor work out area (they were everywhere), lots of playgrounds and I got to go swinging in Spain! We also found a cute little place that had gelato and ate it in the sun! The sun was just so amazing; I have really missed it from being in Scotland. It comes through the clouds sometimes, which are lovely, but having a whole day of it was a blessing! Later we wanted to go get dinner but we didn’t realize that restaurants in Spain don’t open till late. At least that is what we came up with when every place had their doors closed. At around 5:30 pm people were sitting at café’s having coffee and cake so we figured we could do that. But instead of coffee we decided to try the Spanish beer Cruz Campos and well I don’t like beer to begin with so this wasn’t that great, it was pretty bitter. But I’m glad I tried it! One of the best moments in Spain was late in the night we went for a walk down by the beach and sat and listened to the waves. It was so great being in a place you never thought you would ever go and be in that place with someone you really get along with! Our last full day, Friday, we ate the hotel’s breakfast, it was good but I don’t think it was as good as that hotel could have made it! But it was nice to have it there, because we had no idea where to go to get food. The beach was calling for us to come out again and so well we did! And this time not expecting it, Mark picked me up and walked to the seaside and threw me in. At first I didn’t exactly like the idea but afterwards it was so refreshing. And to be totally honest I was a bit crabby and that kind of shook me up a bit and I started to laugh and smile!! That moment has probably been the best time I have had being over seas. It was kind of like a wake up call. “So its been hard being in a place by yourself and the weather isn’t all that great and learning things about yourself isn’t always fun. Well, snap out of the soap opera and let life open your eyes to it beauty!” I haven’t been very patient with myself so that moment helped me relax a bit! Other things we did was go to a Spanish market, eat at a Cheers bar, see Real Madrid in their bus, watch fisherman fish, almost get pooped on by a bird, and we went to the Picasso Museum! And seeing Picasso’s work was amazing, they even framed his sketches and I could literally see where Picasso scribbled something out or erased. Again, my eyes were open to the fact that not even Picasso was perfect. In my art classes I had been putting a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect and be this amazing artist when in reality that isn’t exactly possible. Spain was a definitely a time to see that I can enjoy life and relax! The next morning, Mark went to double check our flight and realized instead of Spain being an hour ahead it was 2 hours ahead so we woke up in perfect timing because we needed to leave earlier! God was definitely helping us get on schedule there! But we did make it back to Glasgow just in time for some light rain and clouds!!!! Of course!
Friday, 17 April 2009
Rome, Italy (March 26-28): I suggest that if you are traveling to a foreign land try not to arrive late at night. When we got to the airport in Rome we had no idea how to get to he city. We ended up walking to the train station and sat there for a while figuring out what to do. Amazingly, God just sends this kind old man to notice us struggling at the ticket booth and asks if we need two tickets to the city center. We said of course then he helped us get another one and he showed us how to verify the tickets and everything. That was great but once we got to the station, these taxi drivers informed us we were not let off where we thought we would be let off, so they drove us to Ciao Bella Hostel. It was a sticky situation because two drivers hopped in the car and usually there is only one driver, but when we got to the area where our hostel was they kind of just shoved us out and said 35 euro…WHAT? 35 euro for seriously 5 minutes in a taxi, wow we felt dumb, but we only had 30 so they dealt with that. They left and we were then stranded in Rome Italy…only to notice the hostel was in disguise (had no huge sign but a little piece of paper next to its door bell). By this time we were exhausted and in no mood to sleep in a 12 room hostel, which is what we signed up for. When we rang the door bell it was like an angel answered, she was the nicest host ever and miraculously had no room for us but found a place next door where we would get our own 3 bedroom and bathroom. We got into the room sat on the beds and ate cold fried chicken and veggies and breathed! The first and only full day we had in Rome was filled with adventure. For breakfast we had gelato sitting next to the Fountain of Triton. For lunch we had panini’s next to the Pantheon. We walked for a total of six ours that day and saw so many things that we all have only seen pictures of. It was amazing. I think the best part of ending up at the Coliseum for a tour and by the end of it we were so tired and silent…we ditched the tour, climbed up on some rock and sat three best friends on a sunny day with the Coliseum surrounding us. We got to the point where we just wanted to sit and have coffee in the sun and after walking forever we realized that might not happen. Instead we ate gelato and Kelly climbed a tree and got the most disgusting orange I have ever seen; it just splattered on the ground when she threw it. Yuk. By this time we were in need of a nap so after 45 minutes of getting lost trying to find our hostel on Quatro Fontane, a street we were starting to familiarize ourselves with, we were able to sleep quite awhile. We had a lovely dinner of pizza and gnocchi by a restaurant near the Triton Fountain. The fountain was starting to become everyone’s favorite place. I think for one it was the calming water, the massive size and it was the place where we knew where we were. OF course after dinner we walked to a little café to have a bottle of wine. It was a great time being with friends and laughing about our crazy days of traveling in God’s hands. We had no plans, no way of knowing where to go or what to do but God continued to show up and take us everywhere. Getting ourselves to the airport to go back to Glasgow however was definitely a challenge to us all physically and mentally. We walked one way then thought it was the wrong way, a mile later it starts to rain and we realize we were going the right way from the start. All three of us had our massive backpacks on and then our little but deceivingly heavy carry on bags. Finally though we reached the train station and were able to be guided in all the right directions by several different people. Throughout the trip we have learned to let our pride go and just ask people for help…its amazing how much that helps J After a flight to Prestwick Airport (40 min from Glasgow), no more buses or trains going to Glasgow, no taxis available, thinking we were going to spend the night in the airport, I walked up to this lady not really knowing what I was going to say but in the end she was running with us to catch the last bus to Glasgow that left in one minute calling us lassies. The journey did not end at the bus station…there was a huge line of people for taxis so we started walking. My phone also was not going through to the taxi services I knew…we kept walking. We tried waving taxis down, they kept driving and we kept walking. It was about 2 am and it’s about a half hour walk to my flat. The door of 50C Hillhead never looked so beautiful. Hike the 3 stories and laid our bags on my floor and fell asleep. The next day we went to the movie Duplicity and no kidding there is a scene in the movie that shows the main couple eating at the exact seats we were eating breakfast the morning before in Rome. So that made us pretty satisfied with the trip! On the 30th Kelly and Sarah flew home and a couple days later I was going on a surprise trip, only known to Mark!
Budapest/Slovenik, Hungary (March 23-26): Now at this point Mark left and went back to St. Andrews for his studies, but Kelly, Sarah and I hopped on to EasyJet to Budapest, Hungary to stay with Kelly’s friend Mariana (she was an exchange student in Kelly’s family last year). They greeted us with many hugs and kisses and it was just such a warm welcome to a cold place! There was definitely a language barrier between Hungarian and English; Mariana was amazing at translating. It was just really neat to see people trying to understand others through facial expressions and gestures…the head nod can’t go wrong. It was an interesting place, a place I never thought I would ever go and I also did not know what to expect. But it was very cold, one day we went to a castle tour and wine tasting and it was a challenge with myself to keep a positive attitude while my toes, fingers, and nose were numb. However, the Hungarians know how to solve the problem of being cold…shots of Baileys! The first day we went over to Mariana’s grandparents house and they have a mini-golf course. Mini golf is actually considered a professional sport and they get really serious about it. Its as popular as golfing in the states is-instead of a ton of clubs they just have a ton of balls! But anyway we wanted to play but I guess we couldn’t play with out the Bailey’s so the grandparents gave us some before and then when it came to the ones during the game I actually…cant believe I’m sharing this but through the shot over my shoulder…I’m a small girl J haha. But we were only able to finish 9 holes and at the end we went on to the winners’ stance and the grandpa brought out a huge trophy that we all held up and got pictures taken like it was seriously a tournament. Then he put metals around our necks and it was so fun! Another night we went to this spa place that Mariana’s mom was vice president of so we got in for free. But it was an amazing place- there was a hot springs, so the water was mineral water, straight from the ground and it just made you feel so clean and healthy. We then went inside and got to walk around this rock thing with cold water, so it was basically a foot massage. Then we went into a sauna that was steamed with really good smelling oil. Then the best part was hopping into a hot tub with 3 seriously Hungarian men. A Hungarian man is a man with a big belly that its visibly he eats because you ate never hungry in Hungary I learned. We ate all the time, and half the time I really didn’t know what I was eating but it was good. They eat salty and buttery foods over sweet and sugary foods. For example, for breakfast we had fried dough with meat, cheese, or sour cream. When I asked to put jam on it they thought I was crazy, they never thought of putting jam on a croissant type thing. But it was good! But the dessert we did have one night was super sweet, it was spaghetti looking and tasted like chestnuts. It was good but you couldn’t eat a lot of it. The best meal we had was at the grandparents and it was what they call ‘chicken paprika’ basically a chicken noodle dish. But it was so good! At that dinner the grandma got up and sang a Hungarian folk song that secretly Kelly got recorded on her camera…it was awesome! The country was overall impoverished it seemed. The outside of houses did not look equal to how amazing they were on the inside. It also seemed like they have a lot of caution to burglary because every time we went somewhere we had to take our purses and bags with us or they covered them with a blanket. The family was amazing that we stayed with. After being in a hostel in London, being in a home in Slovenik was such a blessing. They treated us so well and they wouldn’t let us pay for anything. Both the mom and the dad had to get us souvenirs so the mom took us to a jewelry store and well I felt bad getting something big so I ended up getting two nose earrings, a foot and a diamond. The best thing about going to Hungary was the hospitality and the kindness of the family. Other things we did was went to an amazing wine tasting, and well their wine tasting are more like have a glass of this wine to taste and five more! So needless to say it was a happy drive home. Something I learned about the capital Budapest was that Buda and Pest are separate cities divided by the river. When we were going to the airport we stopped and ate a huge Chinese meal. We were stuffed but the grandma persisted in buying us meal for dinner, so I had to carry fried chicken and steamed vegetables till we got to our hostel in Rome…another story to reveal…
London, England (March 20-23): The place where Sarah Spiegle shows Kelly, Carrie and soon Mark around! It was crazy how when we arrived we had to figure out how to get to our hostel and Sarah just kind lead Kelly and I there, pretty much God was leading through Sarah! It was amazing. Mark was meeting us later because he wanted to make sure Lauren got on her flight. But through buses, the crazy underground and walking we looked across the street to see the graffiti painted building say “Hostel 639” Yup, our hostel was pretty much the ghettoist place I have ever stayed. It definitely tested all of our faith and trust in God. Every morning we prayed for our stuff and protection throughout the night! He sure is faithful. But the place was literally what you would think a hostel is. For breakfast, if you dared to have it, was a bowl full of cereal flakes with a big scooper and milk that could not be refrigerated. It was definitely an experience I don’t need to have again! We had a six room and for the first two nights we were blessed with just the four of us…but the last night it was a full house, with new friends George from the Netherlands and unknown man. And oh we also found another friend…the rodentizer. So the days were more so enjoyed when we were in the city! We got to see Lion King on Broadway, eat the best cookies ever from Ben’s Cookies, have pizza from stands, sit in this center area and listen to a great guitarist with sun on our faces, eat the biggest grapes ever seen, eat the best roasted peanuts on Tower Bridge, walked across the “so this is London bridge?” bridge, heard “mind the gap” more than I need to forget to actually mind the gap, meet up with my friend Ashley at a pub and had the best laughs ever, and just let God take the lead of our travels and let Him reveal amazing things to us!! London was probably one of the best times I have had now looking back on it! There was so much we did in such little time. We also saw the changing of the guards at Buckingham palace, walked and sat in a field of daffodils, found Peter Pan, saw what an angry swan looks like, got to see Big Ben during the day and night, saw a massive rollerblading crowd, went to an amazing church service at Hillsong and was taken out to lunch at the best noodle place ever by people of the church, got to experience how amazing Oreo’s taste when you are super hungry and just really got to know each other and were able to be filled with laughs as Mark taught Kelly and Sarah the best pose for a picture- “the blank stare”.
(March 13-20) And here I begin another blog entry with…”so it’s been awhile.” Since the last entry I have been to many places and my life seems to have been lived out of a backpack. I had the amazing blessing of having my sister Lauren here in Scotland and two of my best friends, Kelly and Sarah. It was God’s perfect timing in bringing them here; I was in need of friends being around for encouragement. And my sister for laughter and song filled days, old children’s church song…”milk, milk, milk drink your milk, milk, milk, spread the word, word, word and live strong…” We sang that quite a lot while walking the streets of Scotland. Lauren and I were able to have some mornings where we would go off to have coffee and catch up which was nice. She got to spend time in my favorite café, Pico (which is now S’Mug). We all went to Glasgow, Edinburgh, and St. Andrews. In St. Andrews we were able to walk up a tight staircase with probably 100 steps to stand on top of a cathedral ruin and see all of St. Andrews and then some. It was beautiful! One of the nights Sarah and I went for a walk and sat on a stonewall and while we were chatting fireworks went off in the distance…it was romantic J. The best part of having them all here in Scotland was to be able to share my life here with them. The places that I go daily and the things that I do, they were able to experience. As much as I was showing them around it did feel like four best friends creating memories together! OH I can’t believe I forgot to mention that I wasn’t even supposed to know Lauren was coming. She was a surprise! The three of them had been brewing this plan since January and a couple days before they came I subtly found out. Which in my thoughts was ok because she needed to be signed into my flat in order to sleep there. But even when Mark and I were at the airport to pick them up I kept saying “oh my gosh I cant believe they are coming, and Lauren is coming, it doesn’t seem real.” And the doors opened and I saw Kelly, then Sarah and then there was Lauren- it was amazing! The best half surprise ever (I have come to the realization that I like half surprises-I know bits about what is going to happen!) It was just a really good time having everyone here. When Lauren left to go home it was kind of sad because the goodbye was early and rushed since Kelly, Sarah and I were off to London. But it was ok because I knew that we’d see each other soon!