Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Lisbon, Portugal

The day after our visit in Malaga, we ended up in Lisbon, Portugal.  We didn't port until around 1 in the afternoon, but we were going to be docked until about 11:30 pm.  We were a little unsure about how that was going to go with the kids.  One of the biggest things we learned after going on this cruise, was to pay close attention to the port times before booking a cruise next time.  Honestly, this day in Lisbon was probably our hardest.  The kids were out of control, the city was much harder to navigate (steep roads and lots of cobblestone and narrow sidewalks), and it was just too late.  We had to remind ourselves throughout the day that we were lucky to be here :).  Looking back now, I see that we did have some good moments and got some fun pictures out of it, so I guess it was worth the stress!  

Pulling into the port we went right underneath the a large suspension bridge, the largest of its kind in Europe.  It is called the Vasco da Gama Bridge (named after the Portuguese explorer who discovered the trade route from Europe to India).  It bears a huge resemblance to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco (in fact, it was designed by the same architect).  We learned that there were LOTS of similarities between Lisbon and San Francisco.  Built on several steep hills, they still use an old school street car to get up and down...just like the ones you see in San Fran.  Lisbon was also devastated by an earthquake back in the 1700s. 

They had some special shops set up for the Easter Weekend...I was excited to find some fun souvenirs  as we entered the city.  I love Isla's face as she spotted Daddy in the distance!

Where's Waldo?  lol...taking a breather on the cathedral steps.  Those rotten kids were wearing us out!

We finally made it to the top of the hill!  We had planned on taking a tram but they were so jam packed full of people, there was no way we were going to squeeze ourselves, our kids, and our stroller on one of those suckers.  So we just walked instead.  Poor Nate had to push the stroller up those impossible streets.  He even wore Isla on his back some of the time!  Super man.  At the top, we were grateful to get priority access (one benefit of dragging our kids along!) to the front of the long line for tickets to the Castle of St. George.  It was so nice to finally get there and take a break.  We enjoyed the views and let the kids sit and play in the dirt for awhile (so weird).  

I pulled this picture of the castle off the internet so you could see what it looked like from below

tree climbing...

Crack, anyone?
I think this is so funny...sawyer looks like he is about to chuck that rock, as violet protests!

Across the Tagus River, a statue of Christ stretching his arms out.  They say he is blessing the city.

Nate is up in that tower with Isla and Sawyer...hard to see

We came across some people taking a fencing and spearing class...the kids are trying to act it out for you

Another fun street performer...let the kids have a try

One of the funnest parts about Lisbon, was their use of tile as decoration.  Many of the buildings are covered in tile. 

More gelato, of course.  And a glimpse of Nate booking it up those hills.

Saw this random hodge lodge of tiles as we were walking back down.  The cookies were a little bribery for the kiddos.  I may have eaten a few too ;).  

We kept hearing that these pastries were amazing.  It was true.  If you ever make it to Portugal...have some Pastels de Nata!  You won't regret it!

As we were walking back to the boat, we were commenting on how dark the city square was.  And suddenly we realized that it was because some sort of show was about to take place.  We were so glad we happened upon it!  It was a video type light show on the buildings.  I don't even know how to describe it.  But we loved it.  And that was the end of our adventures in Portugal. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Malaga, Spain

Malaga, Spain was our first port city on the cruise.  This was definitely our favorite day of the whole trip.  I don't know if it was the nice weather, the ease of navigation, or the kids' moods (probably all of the above)...but it was just a good day.  When we arrived it was suddenly overcast and misty.  But by the time we were away from the ocean a bit it had cleared up.  The kids had fun looking at all of the boats docked as we walked into the city.  It was a busy day in Malaga.  There were a lot of vendors and celebrations going on, because it was Holy Week.  Holy Week in Spain is a big deal.  At one point we happened upon a procession of a huge golden Saint from a church and down through the city streets.  Nathan said he remembered seeing this all over Peru during Holy Week while he was on his mission there.  It was kind of shocking to me, to see the blatant worshipping of idols, especially during such a Christ centered week.  Aside from watching religious ceremonies, we just wandered through the town and tried some different foods, etc.  It was a fun city and we had a great day.

 Its always nice to find a playground along the way.  Sometimes we feel bad dragging the kids all over the place to see 'boring' things.  A few minutes on the playground rejuvenates everyone every time!

 It's nice to share the load of Isla with Nathan now that we have the backpack carrier.  She won't sleep in it, though, so we still have to trade off with the Ergo Carrier.  I also decided that this stroller might as well be a member of our family as it is in 90% of our pictures.
Another attempt at something fun for the kids--who doesn't love a big bucket of cotton candy?!

                        I love this little bum!!!

 Gelato--seriously one of the best things about Europe in the spring/summer!  Can't get enough!

We loved this cathedral.  It had such a pretty garden around it.  The kids had fun looking at the fishies...

 This drinking fountain had a food pedal.  Nate had his foot over it the whole time and was telling the kids that it was a 'magic fountain', doing little tricks with it and what not...he totally had them fooled.  They LOVED it.

 This was the kids trying to catch a glimpse of the golden saint being marched through the streets.

 We see a lot of different street performers on our travels.  The kids always love to drop a few coins into their hats.  I had no problem paying this guy!  He was pure entertainment for the kids.  So fun!

Sight-seeing is definitely exhausting (and probably pretty boring for the kids)
Poor Sawyer--he had to go pee forever and it finally got to the point where he was flipping out cause he had to go so bad.  So I took him into some bushes near this playground.  I had Isla on me so I couldn't help much.  Anywho, as soon as he got it out of his pants he released!  It was like a firehouse gone loose!  Totally out of control. :(  Needless to say, he ended up with wet pants and shirt.  He was SOOO embarrassed and uncomfortable.  I had no extra clothes, so we just let it dry!  It took him about 5 minutes to forget about it.  The good thing was we were on our way back to the boat at this point, so he didn't have to stay in his pee clothes very long.
We found a perfect little hut next to this playground to try some tapas.  I had been wanting to try something all day, but all of the restaurants seemed too complicated or crowded with all the kids.  This was PERFECT.  Glad we ran into it on our way back.  We ate some chorizo with breadsticks, and some kind of spanish rice and sea food.  I was not excited when I pulled out the shrimp and saw those eyeballs still intact!  Yuck!

My cute, patient boy...tuckered out from a long day.