Friday, June 26, 2015

PART 2: Alhambra Gardens

After the tour of the inside we headed outside to the Gardens.  We were both tired from mountain biking in the heat all day so we busted out some Spanish candy we got at the store that Tyler remembered loving as a kid. That perked us right up! From then on we started taking goofy pictures and laughing our heads off!

 Jumping Pics
 See Tyler in the background through the fountain
 Now my turn!
 Not sure what this was...

Tyler found a Horse in the rocks so he decided to pose like Man From Snowy River as he's riding his horse down steep mountain.
 I was really hoping to pick an orange from a tree sometime we were here in Spain but at least I got a close-up picture with one! We had some DELICIOUS oranges and fresh squeezed orange juice while we were here.
 This was a cool place. And remember all these fountains were working due to manipulating water pressure!
Our stroll out of the gardens.

 We were INCREDIBLY hungry and ran into a guy advertising for this restaurant.  They had an awesome promotion going on so he walked us over and of course Tyler has a conversation with him that somehow turned into a short gospel discussion.
We had some delicious Paella and Guspache for starters.  I can't remember what our main dish was.  A few places we went to the first course they brought out was so much tastier than the main course! The deal also came with a free appetizer of fried fish and some Sangria...oops! We didn't realize Sangria is their "Spanish Wine".
 While we were eating there was a religious procession that came down the street.  There were people underneath carrying this huge float looking thing.  It had to be so hot under there!
A short while later this came down the street as well.  There are a lot of Catholic Cathedrals around here that were gorgeous!

PART 1: Alhambra

After mountain biking we went to a major tourist attraction called the Ahlambra. For a more historical accurate description on the Ahlambra feel free to click this link:
 The short version is it's an ancient palace/fortress that is HUGE!!! You could spend an entire day in this palace and not see everything.  Unfortunately we only had a few hours. A lot of restoration has gone on to help preserve this history.  Our tickets were to see a special closed off portion of the Ahlambra and they only let a certain number of people go through every half hour.
 Every part of this building has an incredible amount of detail and design.  I can't imagine how many hours were spent chipping away at all that stone.
This was one courtyard we saw with a really cool fountain.  The engineers of this age were brilliant!  They used waterflow and aquaducts to cool the palace.  You can see a straight carved out line coming from the fountain on the ground.  This was filled with water and it flowed very slowly throughout the palace.  Wherever there was water, the rooms were significantly cooler. 
This is a picture of one small portion of a wall close up.  This is how intricate the designs were ALL OVER!!! Every. Single. Wall. and Ceiling!

Again all this is carefully carved out stone...We didn't take the time to actually learn how they built this place. So they may have cut out the stone and then glued it to the walls somehow...but either way, it took a lot of work. And it was beautiful!

 Example of an archway between two rooms and you can see the ceilings on either side.
This was the King's room.  Tyler is standing where the Royal Bed used to be.

Pretending to be a goofy monk

Tyler has a picture next to these cannons when he was little so we HAD to take a picture here. :)

These looked like lion door knockers, but they were HUGE and all over the outside of this wall of the palace.  I thought they were pretty cool.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


 My next favorite place we stayed was Granada.  We rented a room from a lady in downtown and it was super nice!  Here is the door to enter the building.  It was a pretty cool door.
 All over Spain the streets are sooo narrow! And cars DRIVE down these streets.  Some are so tight you have to jump inside the doorways so you are flush with the walls so you don't get hit. Keeps things exciting.
 Tuesday night we ate at a nice place.  I had Salmon with a citrus sauce and veggies...notice the food is not overtaking the plate. Everywhere we ate in Spain, we did not go away hungry, yet we did not have any leftovers.  The people of Spain are very slender.  We did not see a lot of extremely overweight people/obesity...They don't eat a lot of red meat or fried food...Lots of fish!   
 Tyler's first Paella!!! It was really good! We also had some Croquetas as a starter and those were AMAZING!
 For dessert we headed to Los Italianos for some all natural ice cream. Half pineapple and half chocolate truffle.  That was THE BEST pineapple ice cream I have EVER tasted. It tasted exactly like pineapple! Who'da thought?
 Wednesday we ate a big breakfast and headed out to meet our mountain biking tour guide.  He was so great!  Originally from Scotland, but decided to start his business here in Spain.  He lived off the grid in a self sustainable home with no electricity provided by the city.  They use solar panels and batteries. Tyler had some great conversations with this guy.  We spent 4 hours on the trails going up the mountain, then going up and over a small village, and riding down STAIRS to the bottom of the town.  YES I SAID STAIRS! I'll be honest I hopped off the bike a couple times when it got really narrow and tight and I lost my balance. But I survived without any scrapes or broken bones!
 We stopped at the top of the town and got a great picture with the Alhambra in the background which is a famous Castle and major tourist site which we would go check out later that day.
Here is a picture later that same day at the Alhambra pointing to the town we rode our bikes over! So cool!  I remember seeing that rock wall that used to guard the town.

Happy 30th Birthday To Me!

 After breakfast with the Ponce Family we headed out on a 5 hour drive to Granada.  Tyler had planned a couple stops along the way and the first one was this secret Pirate's cove (Cala Concha)...Not so secret after all.  Tyler was super excited to swim at this beautiful beach with gorgeous Mediterranean sea water and white sand, surrounded by incredible structural geology...
 As we started hiking down we saw a man sitting in a chair facing the we got closer we both asked each other..."Does he have any clothes on??"  I stayed behind the rock wall while Tyler went to scope things out...Tyler confirmed this 60+ year old man was indeed naked, but told us we were welcome to swim at the beach. I was less than excited to proceed, so we decided to go the opposite direction.  We waded though some rocky water and rock climbed up the backside and sat and enjoyed the ocean view from the rocks.
 We started getting creative with some jumping pictures!
 And yes, this is as far as Tyler's legs will go...
The rocks we were on had teeny tiny conch shells all over!
  They were so cute!
Tyler was pretty bummed about the beach but we made our own fun!

Sunday Miracle

When people ask what I liked most about Spain, I don't have an answer because all of it was so amazing! But this always comes to mind.  On Sunday after we visited his old house, school...etc...we drove downtown to find the church building.  The address we had for it was incorrect, and although Tyler recognized the area we still could not find the church building! And we were running out of time.  Tyler wanted to attend a service so he could reconnect with the people he knew 20 years ago.  

After an hour and a half or so of driving around, trying to find wi-fi, and asking people if they knew where the church was, we finally hopped out and asked a family nearby if they knew where the mormon church was. They didn't know but they tried searching for it on their phones. I couldn't understand what they were saying specifically but it was taking forever!!! Then we looked up and saw the Sister Missionaries crossing the street!  ANSWER TO PRAYER! We said a quick goodbye and took off running after them.  They were so nice and gave us this card with the correct address on it and told us what time they were meeting.  Church was just about to start so we took off and hurried over. 

Throughout Sacrament meeting, Tyler was looking around and recognized faces here and there.  One in particular was a girl who used to babysit them and now she had 4 kids of her own.  After the meeting we went over and Tyler asked her if she remembered him (all in Spanish of course).  At first she was thinking a missionary who had served there in the past possibly...and then he said his name and her face LIT UP and she started talking really fast and excited like they do in this culture and tears started coming and she was soooooo excited! That right there just warmed my heart!  People started coming over to check out the scene and soon everyone was talking fast and giving hugs.  It was a great reunion! I was so glad Tyler got to reconnect with these people and that they still had so much love in their hearts for the Hair Family!

We also got a dinner invitation with Maripaz (the first girl we met) and her family for Monday night and a breakfast invitation for Tuesday Morning.  We spent Monday morning at the beach just down from his old house.  And around dinnertime headed over to Maripaz's home.

In Spain they eat dinner super late! 8:30 or 9:00pm most days, and they teased us about eating at 6:00pm since that seemed so early.  She had made Tortilla Espanola and ensalada rusa for us! And of course, bread. Both soooo delicious!  They don't eat salad dressing in Spain.  It's usually iceburg lettuce with a bunch of veggies (always has tomatoes in it!) and then they drizzle olive oil, vinegar and salt in it.  Which is exactly how she made the salad and I loved it.  I don't like tomatoes but in Spain I loved them! I think it was the olive oil and salt on them.  They were heavenly!

 Tyler had some fun playing soccer with the kids and neighbor kids outside, I got to talk to Maripaz in English, and we spent a lot of time just talking and visiting with each other.  They are an AMAZING family! 
 Here we are with Maripaz and her family
 Tyler playing Thumb War with one of her boys
 Maripaz had also invited her parents over that evening to have dinner and chat with us.  They were a great couple!  He also made us tortilla espanola so we got to try both.  It was so fun to have a home-cooked meal since we'd been eating out the entire time.
The next morning we ate breakfast with the Ponce Family.  Tyler's dad served with the father in a leadership position in the church while they lived there.  For breakfast we would take the bread and spread a fresh piece of garlic over the surface.  Then drizzle it with olive oil.  Then spread some pureed tomatoes over the top and sprinkle the top with salt.  Again, I don't like tomatoes but this was sooooooo Amazingly good!  And that is all they ate for breakfast! So. Much. Bread.

I forgot to post this snippet earlier... Monday morning, before the beach, we stopped by Tyler's old soccer school he and his brothers used to play at. The old dirt field had now been turned into a really nice turf field.  We poked our heads in and Spain's National Women's Soccer Team was practicing right at that very moment! We headed in and ran into this guy, Carmelo, who ran the soccer school 20 years ago and remembered Tyler and his brothers playing! Seriously??? What are the odds!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Reliving the Past!

 After the Parador Alarcon we drove toward Murcia where Tyler's family lived for 2 years when Tyler was 9-11 years old.  Every now and then you would see this same silhouette of a bull off in the distance in different areas so I wanted a picture of it! 
 We made a stop at a Go Kart place where Tyler's dad took all his brothers when they lived there. The Go Karts there have barely any substance to them and no governors! So they are light and you can go as fast as you want.  The track they had was really big so we had a lot of fun cruising around on it for 8 minutes!  
Tyler was MORE than excited about this stop.
He definitely beat me but I gave him a small run for his money :)

 Next stop was visiting his old house!  They lived in government housing and since no one lives in these houses right now the yard looked a bit run down...But they were beautiful homes! Too bad we couldn't go inside and take a peek.
 This is the backyard and Tyler is pointing at the tree that used to pop all their soccer balls!  He said the tree is HUGE now.  Wasn't that big 20 years ago!
 We then walked to his elementary school.  He's doing a ninja jump on the field he used to play at whenever he had a free moment.  They only lived a short walk from the school so we got to walk the path he used to take!
 We came on a Sunday but we got lucky because the school was open to voters for voting day!!! So we got to go inside and take a look around.  Tyler found his old classroom.
 This other half of the school was where Chandler and Spencer went :)
 The gate was open today but he remembered having to press in a code to get inside everyday to go to school
 When they first arrived in Spain they lived in this apartment while the movers brought all their stuff which was just down the road from the house.  I was amazed at how much he remembered. 
 We then rode an elevator up to a super tall building that also used to be a castle and walked around for a bit.  On our way up there were two peacocks in the tree calling to each other.  It was very impressive seeing them perched on a limb. And if you can't tell, I'm pointing at the tail of one of them.
At the top taking in the view. Just beautiful! The water behind me is where Chandler was baptized. Pretty awesome!