San Diego (or, Moving 2500 miles and Nearly Collapsing Due to Exhaustion)

Yet another attempted "brief pause" in writing has resulted in nearly six months of inactivity.  It's very easy to understand when I have explained the excitement of the past several months.  Let's rewind to the beginning of this year, shall we?

Dinner at Slater's 50/50 with the family
It's January, approximately, and my wife and I are stricken with wanderlust and have been searching for the cure for these past six years on and off.  While working with my previous job I had the opportunity to leave town a few times to visit family in Seoul but not much beyond that.  We began searching the web for affordable places to visit which would also satisfy our cravings.  We vacillated between Mexico, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Chile, the Bahamas, places in Asia, such as Taiwan or Thailand, and also our dear friends in Hawai'i had tempted us for many months as well.  We crossed them all off eventually.  It cost almost as much to visit Mexico as it did Portugal ($700 USD to Mexico City at the time, about $1000 USD to visit Portugal).  When reviewing pricing for housing it became obvious that the difference was really not as much as we had hoped.  We went to Europe.  We were there about three months and planned to wait out the time before my company, Brax, would move us out to San Diego, CA.  We had waited a while in Wilmington and were growing impatient so we made our move.

Outside my office, San Diego
After our three months in Europe we returned to Wilmington, NC, for one month, to visit with my family, say goodbye to everyone, and make final preparations to divest of our cars, and any unwanted possessions, and ship the rest.  On August 22nd, we left for San Diego.  We used airbnb until we were able to secure an apartment, and then purchased a car, and tried to settle in as quickly as possible.  It was far more difficult to find an apartment than we had anticipated due to the time of the year, the price, the lack of availability and quick disappearance of properties, and many other factors.  Ultimately we found a lovely place in Hillcrest, located just a couple of miles North of my office, which allows me to take the bus and only have one car.

At Petco Park, watching the Padres play
Our belongings arrived nearly one month after our initial move to San Diego and it made for a most interesting three weeks at the apartment.  We had next to nothing and it was quite freeing.  With the arrival of our belongings we became quite overwhelmed for a few weeks, spending night and day unpacking, sorting, recycling, selling, throwing away, and breaking down boxes.  We had to establish residency, change health insurance providers, update bank accounts, get car loans, wire money to new banks, get new drivers licenses, and I still needed to work.  All the while, there was a bit of drama with the insurance and the moving company.  It all worked out in the end, so I will spare the messy details.  Needless to say, it was far more complicated moving to San Diego than leaving it all behind and heading to Europe.  There's something about leaving your home and knowing you will be coming back that makes it easier--it must be psychological.  We put everything into boxes, but it was still our home.  We were gone three months, but it was still home.  Taking bags and moving away while leaving it all behind--that's easy--I've done that several times already.  Moving 2,500 miles with a wife and child?  That was stressful.

Outside of Hotel del Coronado
Fast forward three months--we've had our first guests from out of town, our boxes are now mostly in closets, the furniture is assembled, pictures have been hung on the walls, and it's starting to feel more like home.  I've been working a lot trying to get acclimated and make myself more efficient at work.  It has taken more time than I had anticipated.  Working remotely has given me the false impression that I knew what I was doing.  I'm still new, despite the fact that I've been with the same company for a little over a year.  I'm still the odd one out at the office, hailing from North Carolina, and having that ever-nagging desire to leave it all for a bit of adventure.  For now we're in sunny San Diego, enjoying the views of the beach, Balboa Park, and getting used to a different way of living.  We are happy to have been given this opportunity and hope to make great memories as a family.


Goodbye Gibraltar; ¡Hola Malaga!

Saying goodbye is sometimes bittersweet but it is soon overcome by the joy of getting to know another city.  The first few days are always a bit strange--getting to know the quirks of where you are staying, how to turn the key just right so that the 100 plus year old door actually opens, or how you have to turn it the opposite way you expect.  Where's the nearest supermarket in this city?  Oh, all the brands are different and new.  Oh, what?  I can't read the label anymore, that kind of sucks.  I guess I'll have to spend forever comparing or just get something and hope it's not terrible.
During my first few weeks in Seoul I ordered the wrong dish quite on purpose.  It doesn't really make sense, but I actively chose a dish that I thought I understood, but it was a boiling hot, spicy red silkworm pupae / larvae.  Whoops!

Other challenges besides local cuisine are things like finding your way home from all the places around town.  Add your wife, her sister, and your infant daughter and it's a bit more stressful than when it was just me at 21 traveling through South America.  Back then it was just: "Whoops!  Silly me, I took the wrong bus.  I just lost an hour, but no big deal."  Now it's more like: "ANDREW! The baby is screaming, we're starving, and now we're all HANGRY!"  Most of the hangry is actually me, and the tired and upset is the baby, but that can make it a bit more stressful for us.  It is normally short lived and we discuss how we can make it better the next day.  We just review what went wrong and make a plan for the next day: eat earlier, carry a snack, don't put off buying water, stop and ask for directions before proceeding, or listen to your wife.  It's basic stuff, I know, but the pressure tends to mount when one is traveling and it makes simple decisions less simple... especially when you're starving.

We'll be in Málaga a few weeks and will hopefully have plenty of time to get to know the city... Getting to know the feel of the city takes more than a weekend.  I'm not certain that a few weeks is enough either but it allows us many more liberties even if we don't always make the most of our time every day.  We can do many, many excursions and re-visit places on our way home.  Sure we could visit Casemates Square in Gibraltar and take a few pictures and add them to the scrapbook but that's just less exciting to me than walking through there five or ten times, and walking up and down Main Street every day on the way home.  It's not the way everyone feels, however.  Part of me longs to visit the whole of Europe and place red pins on an imaginary map and write dates, times, and snap pictures as a family.  The other part of me knows that going everywhere is just not quite as satisfying if we can't take it in.  Besides, don't we have to save something for our next trip?

Goodbye, Gibraltar--Llanito, you lovely mix of Spanish and English, your fish and chips, your Morrisons supermarket, your lovely beach on the East side, your lovely cliffs [of insanity] with Barbary Macaques, your sunsets after 9:30pm, and your 30,000 people that all seem to know each other.  Goodbye Siege tunnels, Ape Den, Europa Point, Saint Michael's Cave, Botanic Gardens, Main Street, Casemates Square, and your delightful plazas and playgrounds.  Goodbye, friendly Gibraltarians and awkward political climate between you and Spain which makes the border crossing a power game played out between immigration officials refusing to stamp Schengen exit stamps... Goodbye to your airport runway which just so happens to stop traffic from entering and exiting the peninsula.  Goodbye, beautiful cliffs enjoyed from the sands of the beach and age-old cannons protruding from the mountain... Goodbye view of the Strait of Gibraltar, Algeciras, and Morocco!  Goodbye, Gibraltar!


포르투갈 파로

-기차를 타고 파로로 왔다. 쁨이는 기차에 모모가 다운받은 뽀로로도 봤다가 그림도 그렸다가 종이로 만든 배랑 놀다가 잠도 잤다가 그렇게 세시간 정도를 남쪽으로 내려왔다. 파로에서는 금토일 주말만 보내는거라 별 기대도 없었다. 근데 이게 웬일. 집이 정말 좋다. 넓고 깨끗하고 앤드류가 일하기에도 좋고 각자 방하나씩 잡고 화장실 두개에 부엌도 넓고 테라스도 있고 거실도 따로 공간이 있어서 모모 말에 의하면 거기서 일하는 앤드류도 멋져보일 정도였다고했다.
-모모랑 금요일밤에는 근처 몰에 가서 놀다가 아홉시가 넘어서 들어갔다. 신난 우리둘은 밖에서 저녁도 먹규 쇼핑도 하고 쁨이도 덩달아 신나서 집에가는 길에 잠도 안잤다. 우리가 선글라스 껴보면 '쁘띠',신발신어보면'쁘띠', 아이스크림 먹으면'쁘띠'. 정말정말 사랑스럽다. 쁘띠는 쁨이가 쁨이 스스로를 일컫는 말. 쁨이이름이 자기 귀에는 쁘띠로 들리나보다. 누가 자전거 타면 자기도 타고싶다고 쁘띠, 지나가다 놀이터를 보면 가고싶다고 쁘띠. 암튼 다 쁘띠. 억번을 들어도 귀여운 소리다.
-토요일 아침에는 대성당을 중심으로 관광지를 돌아다녔고 오후에는 어제갔던 몰에서 놀고. 놀이터도 굉장히 잘 꾸며놓아서 모모랑 나는 쇼핑하고 아빠는 쁨이랑 놀이터에서 놀고. 완벽하지.
-근데 문제는 다음날 발생. 사실 우리가 알게 되었을때는 이미 벌어진 일이라 나는 별로 개의치 않았다. 일요일 오후 1시몇분 버스를 타고 스페인 세비야로 갈 예정이었는데, 우리는 오후 4시쯤 버스를 타게 되었고 세비야에 시차 바뀐거 적용해서 8시쯤 도착하고 세비야 집에는 열시에나 들어가게 되고 저녁은 12시가 다돼서 먹게 되었다는 얘기. 여행에 이정도 스토리 하나 없음 심심할까봐 앤드류가 만들었나보다. 다시 파로로 돌아가서. 그 작은 버스 대합실에서 열명도 안되는 사람이 있었는데 거기서 한국 커플을 만났다. 그래서 인사도 하고 몇시차타고 세비야에 가느냐했더니 자기네는 네시몇분이란다 그래서 우리는 한시몇분차탄다 했더니 그커플이 아까 표살때 제일 빠른게 네시라던데 엥? 앤드류에게 말하고 확인해보니 우리가 샀던 티켓은 오전 그러니까 새벽 한시차였던 것이었다. 그 십만원정도의 티켓은 날라가고 다시 얼른 표를 사고 다시 기다림. 기다림. 세비야에서 열시나되야 일이 끝난다는 집주인 여자 기다림. 도착한 날 샤워기가 고장났는데 월요일은 무슨 공휴일이라 샤워못하면서 기다림. 시에스타때문에 상점은 오후에 문을 정말 다 닫길래 또 기다림. (엥? 갑자기 세비야 얘기를 쓰고있냐)
-이제 포루투갈에서 스페인으로 넘어간다. 포루투갈은 한달뒤에 포루토로 다시 간다.

포루투갈 리스본

4월13일 오후 윌밍턴을 출발해서 포루투갈에 오전에 도착했다. 쁨이는 비행기에서 저녁을 잘 먹고 밤비행이라 계속 잤다. 도착하니 흩뿌리는 비가 내리고 있었다. 리스본 공항에서 인상적인것은 미국에서도 경험하지 못했던 '애기엄마'찬스다. 입국심사를 할때 긴 줄을 서야하는데 이때 다들 비행끝에 모두들 피곤한 상황에 아이엄마라고 먼저 가라고 양보해주는 사람을 아직까지 보지 못했다. 근데 표지판에 장애인,노약자,아이엄마 포함 다른 창구를 이용할 수 있는것이다. 야호! 이후로도 리스본 마트에서, 기차역에서 '애기엄마'찬스를 여러번 쓸 수 있었다. 이어서 공항에서 나오자마자 이런 담배연기는 백년만에 처음이었다. 실내든 실외든 주저없이 담배연기를 내뿜는 기막히는 사람들. 좋은점 나쁜점 하나씩 적어본다.

이주넘게 있을 집에 도착해서 집주인 여자 소피아와 인사를 나누고- 지금 다섯번째 집에 머무르고 있는데 소피아가 가장 친절하고 맘에 든다- 집앞 인도 사람이하는 구멍가게에서 첫 장을 봤다.
조금 쉬다가 비오는 날 유럽의 첫 산책을 나섰다. 그리고 집 근처 식당에서 바깔라우와 연어를 시켜서 이른 저녁을 먹었다. 그다음날 아침 11시가 넘어서 다들 일어났다. 정말 오랫만에 단잠을 잔것 같다.
그리고 우리의 리스본 <일상+여행>은 시작됐다.

-아침 8-9사이에 일어나서 물론,쁨이가 제일 먼저 일어나고. 아침을 차려먹는 사이 앤드류가 10시쯤 일어난다. 느긋하게 나갈 준비를 하고 12시전에 출발한다 어디로 가는지는 날마다 다르다. 날씨에 따라 다르고 전날 얼마나 피곤했냐에 다르고. 자기전에 모모와 갈 곳을 정하고 근처에 맛집도 찾아놓고 가는길도 미리 알아둔다. 그리고 신나게 놀다가 오후 5시쯤 집으로 돌아간다. 앤드류는 쉬면서 일 할 준비를 하고 쁨이와 나는 집앞 공원에서 좀 더 놀거나 저녁을 준비하거나 혹은 먹거나 그리고 저녁 8시쯤 쁨이는 잠을 자고 그 이후 나는 주방을 정리하고 다음날 일정을 짜고 잔다.
- 리스본에서는 트램,택시,버스를 주로 타고 다녔다.
크리스토 레이에 갈때는 집 근처에서 페리를 타고 강을 건너갔다. 집 창문으로 그리고 집 앞 공원에서 산위에 있는 커다란 십자가 상을 볼 수 있었는데 이후로 쁨이는 십자가와 예수님 단어를 확실이 배웠고, 높은데 있던 공원 덕분에 벤치에 앉아 트램,기차,버스,배,오토바이,자동차, 비행기를 보며 교통수단 단어를 확실히 배웠다.
-핑고도스 체인 수퍼마켓은 여러도시를 거친뒤에도 아직까지 기억에 남는 수퍼마켓이다. 해산물이 정말 풍부하고 싸고 맛있었다.
-또다른 기억에 남는 장소는 벨렘에 있은 패스츄리집. 나타의 원조인 그집에 다서 여섯번은 간것같다. 물론 이곳저곳 지나가며 나타를 많이 먹었는데 벨렘에 있는 그집은 바다를 갔다가 기차를 타고 돌아오는 길에 즉흥적으로 기차에서 내려 들르기까지했다. 가서 먹고 집으로 싸오기도 하고. 여행 한달이 넘은 이 시점에 가장 맛있었던것은 그 집 나타. 이 맛있는것을 쁨이와 나누고 싶어서 그냥 쁨이에게도 먹였다. 계란 노른자와 설탕때문에 살짝 주저했지만 얘도 여행중이고 여행의 별미는 이런거지 싶은 정신없는 엄마가 됐다; 애초 20개월된 아이와 삼개월 넘게 유럽여행을 한다는 것 자체에 '정신없다' 카테고리에 집어 넣은 사람들도 있겠지.
-너무 많은곳을 다니기도했고 스페니쉬 지명때문에 아님 나이때문에 어디어디 갔는지 다 적을 수가 없다.
아무튼 꼭 가야할만 곳은 갔으며 굳이 가지 않아도 될곳도 갔다. 쁨이를 업었다, 안았다, 유모차에도 태웠다 앤드류 목에도 올려놨다, 걸리기도했다. 힘들기도 힘들지만 재밌기도 재밌다. 우리가 젊으니 할 수 있다 싶다. 애가 한명이니 할 수 있다 싶다. 그리고 더 중요한 것은 '쁨이니까 이렇게 할 수 있는거다' 여행을 하는 중에 쁨이를 알아가면서 이아이는 앤드류나 나에게서 확실히 여행 유전자를 받았다 싶다. 다른 아이들과 여행을 다녀보지 않아서 비교 대상이 없지만, 새집에가면 우리보다 더 신나서 집구경을 하고 이동할때는 놀랍게도 잘 기다려주고 버텨주고 낮잠도 어디서든 잘자고 잘먹고. 정말 고맙다. 이런 선물을 주신 하나님께도 감사하고 이런 상황에서도 잘 지내주는 쁨이에게도 고맙고.
- 리스본에서 지내면서 물론 말은 안통하지만 살려면 살 수도 있을것 같다고 앤드류에게 말한적이 있다. 리스본이기 때문인지 아니면 그냥 외국의 '도시'이기 때문인지. 30년정도 서울이라는 도시에 자라서 나는 작고 조용한 윌밍턴이 별로라고 생각했던 것 같다. (하지만 쁨이를 낳고 윌밍턴이 훨씬 좋아졌다.)
-리스본에서 지낼때는 이국적인 커다란 창문이 달린 파스텔색의 집들과 도로쪽으로 널어둔 빨래들 이런것들이 처음이어서 다 예뻐보였는데 한달 정도 이곳저곳 다니다보니 그런것들에 대한 감흥이 사라졌다. 그냥 이곳에 사는 사람들에게 일상인것처럼 나도 벌써 그렇게 되고있는지도 모르겠다.
-내 첫번째 유럽 도시 리스본에서 포르투갈 남부 작은도시 파로로 출발한다.


Gibraltar Botanic Gardens

Today we spent our day at the Botanic Gardens of Gibraltar.  While it may not seem like much, we woke up and went out again today.  I'm sure you're probably thinking: "If I were in Europe I would not waste a moment!".  Some of the joys of our trip are that we don't do crazy things every day.  Some days we just wake up and try to determine what we'll do with our day, much like any day in the USA.  That's part of the beauty I suppose.  If we only had one or two days in each place we would rush like mad and, perhaps, miss out on some of the boring magic of the day to day life.

A supermarket can be a thing of adventure when the whole family goes and you have never been there before.  How many people does one need to ask in order to find a supermarket?  We asked at least five people.  It's necessary to do this unless it's really obvious.  Back to the gardens...

We walked to the gardens from where we are staying since it was only about a mile away.  It is easy to find--you just look for the cable car and it is right behind that.  Very obvious entrance, and it's all in front of the Rock Hotel (which ironically ruins the view of the rock).  We just walked about, found a comfortable place to have a sandwich, and explored.  We didn't take hundreds of pictures but we enjoyed it very much.

Eliora and I explored a bit while the ladies were given a break.  We found a waterfall put in by the Lion's club, I believe it was, which had a few places where we could reach in and touch the water.  I showed Eliora how to get on her knees and hold herself with one hand while reaching in with the other.  Safety first!

There is an amazing playground which did not have a slide, but it had all sorts of things we had never seen.  We spent an hour or two there easily even though Eliora was exhausted.  We thought she would only last a few minutes but, no, she had energy to spare.  We talked to a few locals--a lady and her 11 day old baby (Andrew III, the third), and a gentleman who runs a computer business here--I think it's called PC Fix It or something like that.  He was quite friendly and I was able to ask him a lot of questions about Gibraltar--they are veritable founts of knowledge!

After we returned home we rested a bit, Eliora slept a while, and once she woke up we went back out again.  It was around 7pm or so, and, believe it or not, the sun stays up until about 21:45 or so.  We went out to an open area and ran around and pet some dogs, then descended to Main Street, which was largely abandoned today since it was Sunday.  We went to the plaza in front of City Hall and walked around on the white tiles like a train with Eliora.  We then crossed out to the main road and were able to enjoy the sun and some palm trees for a while.  Even though we didn't really do that much it was still so satisfying to be out and enjoy the city...even if it's just sitting on park benches and playing hide-and-seek with our daughter.  I'm glad Olivia likes to travel too--otherwise we would be a disaster.



Gibraltar - Caves, Cliffs, and Crazy 'Caques

We began our morning by heading to a plaza where we took a tour taxi to see some of the famous sites of Gibraltar.  I know you're probably thinking that a tour taxi sounds a bit touristy but the alternatives are not really plentiful.  The alternative is to take the cable car to the top and walk a lot up and around winding one-way roads on cliffs while dodging cars and threatened monkeys.  We have a baby, so, sorry folks, we didn't do what the average 20 year old does with no responsibilities.  Moving on!  So, we went up with an English family of 4 which had two boys, and a fifty something couple which could have been from Germany or something, not really sure.

We made the following stops:

  1. Pillars of Hercules
  2. Saint Michael's Cave
  3. Top of the rock / Upper Apes' Den
  4. The Siege Tunnels

1) Our first stop was not really worth mentioning other than the views of Algeciras and the city below, which made it worth it, but we're not much for pictures in front of random statues or odd things.

Saint Michael's Cave
2) Saint Michael's Cave, however, was quite worth the visit.  We hopped out and went right past the crowds watching the monkeys, although I'm not certain who was really watching whom.  The monkeys seemed equally interested in the humans and what they had brought them to eat.  Speaking of eating, don't feed them!  One monkey walked right up to a man's backpack and tried to unzip it causing him quite a shock.  Another girl was eating an apple at the entrance and a monkey tried to jump her for it.  The caves house an auditorium which is used for concerts and was also used as a makeshift hospital.  The caves were quite impressive and open with large stalactites and stalagmites all over the place.  The lighting was added which was of varying colors and gives our photos a 3D effect which was a nice surprise when we got home.

Top of the rock
3) By the time we got to the top of the rock the temperature had dropped and the wind had increased noticeably.  We were shown a monkey which had just given birth the day before and was holding its offspring in arms with the umbilical cord still attached.  There was a concrete structure and some stairs behind it which housed the monkeys while many were on the road, on the railing, or jumping onto the taxis.  They were quite entertaining to say the least.  From the stairs we could catch a glimpse of the Mediterranean / Alboran Sea side of Gibraltar while looking to the other side we could see the Straight of Gibraltar.  On the Mediterranean side we caught some glimpses of a beach which were quite beautiful.  The views of the rock were stunning, although it does it little justice.  It's quite incredible to be able to look around and see so many worlds converging.

Barbary Macaques
4) We saw only a small portion of the siege tunnels, but it was enough to get the general idea.  We walked in and there were many cannons placed into the holes on the sides of the rock and we were able to catch some great views of the city and imagine ships coming in only to be surprised by cannon fire from the rock.  I bet that was a nightmare.  It reminded me a bit of the tunnels I visited in South Korea near the DMZ only these were in a mountain instead of underground.  At the end of the tunnel was a bit of
Siege Tunnel view
light which gave us a glimpse of the Mediterranean side.  It was exciting looking out at the airport as well.  After coming back out there is a deck with excellent views of Gibraltar and Spain.  It's a great chance to see the airport in action and watch the cars back up.

Sandy Bay
Following the visit to the caves we descended to the plaza where we had begun.  We were relaxing and Olivia and my sister-in-law started asking me if I could ask about the beach... Our taxi driver was still around so after he had eaten we asked him about the place.  It was called Sandy Bay, which is home to an apartment complex called Both Worlds.  We conversed for a few minutes and thanked him.  A few minutes later he called us over to his taxi and said that he would take us there--his wife had joined him and they were going to be celebrating her birthday the next day.  He just offered to take us there just because.  He drove us past Europa Point and was really friendly towards us.  They dropped us off on the other side of the rock and told us how to get down to the beach and where to catch a bus home.  The views were something for which I have no real comparison.  On one side you can see the rock towering above you--all the same sites we just saw but from below, and the we have Mediterranean and some ships just floating about in the sea.  It was quite a different sort of beach from what we have in Wilmington, NC.


Gibraltar - Europa Point

Europa Point in front of the mosque.
For the first time since we came the weather was amazing--the way it's supposed to be here.  We normally sleep in a bit because of my schedule, then pack some light lunch, then hit the road.  We walked down to Casemates Square and out towards the buses.  We caught bus number 2 and paid 2.25 pounds for a round trip to Europa Point.

 We arrived and were able to catch a glimpse of the Straight of Gibraltar and Algeciras, Spain, and also across the water we were able to clearly see Morocco and Ceuta*.  Absolutely stunning views.  Windy, very windy, but well worth it.  We saw the rock behind the Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque.  There is a nice playground and a cafeteria which gave us a place to eat lunch and let Eliora play for a while.

There was a call to prayer while we were there which initially frightened me a bit, then we realized what it was and laughed.  There are no mosques with calls for prayer on speakerphones where I come from.  This probably means we need to visit Morocco!

That's Morocco off in the distance.
Note: Ironic considering that Ceuta is a Spanish territory in Africa, much like Gibraltar is British territory stuck to the bottom of Spain--I don't know how many see the irony of Morocco wanting Ceuta back from Spain but not getting it back, while Spain doesn't recognize British sovereignty of Gibraltar and wishes it was theirs still.

Another Note: Coming from the USA we don't really know much about Ceuta--our taxi driver from Gibraltar had never visited and he was only an hour away.  While we didn't get to see it, nor will we this visit, it was fascinating to learn that it was Spanish territory in Africa.


Gibraltar, a bit of Llanito for all of us

This marks our fourth night in Gibraltar and also marks the fourth day of rain.  Fortunately for us we have time on our side.  We should have ample time for good, clear weather.  We met a French couple which attempted to take the cable car to the top of the rock but it was not in service due to poor weather conditions.  He described it as a disaster since they arrived and will depart today.  It's really an odd place here since I hear both English and Spanish all the time--sometimes in the same sentence which is interesting in and of itself.  I try to speak Spanish as often as I can, just because I can, and most address me in English since I guess I look like a tourist.  Maybe it's my sunburn?  I was also speaking a mix of Spanish and English at the Morrisons supermarket the other day who described it as a lovely place to live because of that.  I certainly find it delightful.

Near Marks & Spencer.
We are planning on visiting Europa Point, the Siege Tunnels, Saint Michael's Cave, the monkeys, of course, and perhaps a few other things.  We are a few blocks away from Main Street which is a combination of tobacco, liquor, and jewelry shops.  The liquor prices are quite low here, which makes me want to buy a bottle of something I don't really need because it is so cheap.  I don't think I can finish a fifth of liquor by myself over the next four or five days.  Perhaps if I could I should have something to worry about.

We walked around quite a bit today after the rain let up, heading down towards Grand Casemates Square, and then towards the airport.  The airport crosses the land entrance from La Línea de la Concepción, Spain, perpendicularly, which causes all incoming and outgoing traffic to stop when planes are landing or taking off.  It's quite interesting to say the least.

Lunch included a plate of fish and chips for me, Tandoori chicken for my sister in law, and Olivia had chicken pad thai.  After the baby fell asleep we walked towards Marks & Spencer and found a coffee shop--Costa Coffee, where we were able to enjoy a cup of Flat White.  We meandered about for a bit after until I had to come home to work.  Tomorrow's weather looks promising so we hope to catch a glimpse of Africa from Europa Point!


European Extravaganza

So last year I finally got a new job working remotely and it has allowed us some flexibility that we did not previously enjoy.  We were able to visit South Korea for a while but that's another story for another time.  I want to talk about what's going on in Europe.

Eliora enjoying Praça do Comércio.
Lisbon, Portugal.
Wait, wait, not quite there yet--we were working in Wilmington, NC, my hometown, asking ourselves why we were not doing something more exciting.  That's where I'll pick up.  So, we started looking into Hawai'i, Puerto Rico, México, Panamá, Costa Rica, and a few other places.  Finally, we just decided to go to Europe and pack up all our things and put them in storage.  Where to?  Portugal and Spain seem like great places to go, so that's what we've done.  It happened very quickly.  It was quite stressful with a baby and all, but somehow we've managed to make it happen.  All you have to do is pack up everything you own and put it into storage, or sell a bunch of it, pack up three suitcases and a couple of backpacks, spend your tax refund money, and say goodbye to all your friends and family.

First stop--Lisboa, Portugal.  I'll write more about this in particular soon, but that's where we landed first.  Approximately two weeks of enjoyment and we left for Faro, Portugal.  Just a couple nights and on to Sevilla, Spain.  After a week there we have now ventured south to Gibraltar where we'll remain for a total of nine days. *

After this we'll make appearances in Málaga, Córdoba, Madrid, and then back to Portugal for a period in Porto.  It's really the craziest thing we've done in a while.  It's not just crazy because we're married and doing it for a total of 97 days, but because we have a 20 month infant.  Olivia is doing well, and so is Eliora, and we even have a surprise visitor--my sister in law!

This is really the first post in a series which I'll attempt to share as we move forward with our journey, while I attempt to catch up from the past few weeks, and upload facebook photos so our friends and family will have definitive proof we're not dead and just faking it.  Stay tuned for some excitement!

* Note: Sorry about the names of the cities... I have such a hard time writing them one way in English when Spanish or Portuguese does them differently.  I'll just pretend that I don't know how to write them in English.