Thursday, June 23, 2016

The remainder of our days in Basque Country - 2016

Monday afternoon - shopping in Donostia with Emily, Tiff, Darrel and me. We got ice cream and shopped at Britt's favorite stores.
Tuesday afternoon - funicular in Donostia and kids swam at the beach there.
Wednesday morning we relaxed - spent the afternoon and early evening in Biarritz, France - after kids got out of school-went to the beach and played in the waves with boogie boards. Fun, fun, fun!! Went shopping and had ice cream while strolling the streets and looking at the beauty of the beach. Breathtaking! We ordered a special dinner from the bar below Jason's house when we got home since it was too late to fix dinner. It was so delicious....and fun!
Thursday morning we were going to take a hike but we saw the market in the Orio plaza and we got delayed. Tiffany and mom bought loose flowy pants and a shirt with a London scene for mom. We showered to get ready for our afternoon with Itsaso. We met her at The Good Burger where we had lunch, saw her university, walked along the Donostia beach (la concha), went shopping, bought clothes, ate ice cream, walked around Donostia a little more, had a pintxo, saw her apartment, then caught the 8:20 p.m. train back to Orio, where Emily and Jason had prepared a delicious meal-Basque salad and hake, a type of fish
Friday morning, we had pastries from the bread store, then Tiffany went for a run on the path toward Zarautz while Darrel rode Jason's bike and grandma walked. Played games with the kids. For lunch we had a delicious pasta and shrimp dish. Shopped in Orio and found the cutest top for Tiffany! Went to the store with Cooper and played at the park. Dinner - another delicious meal - steak and mom had her first fresh grilled tuna steak, with a side salad and Parmesan potatoes. Delicious! Colored with Brittney!
*(Blog about our time with Itsaso's family in Bergara and the farm we stayed overnight at - Saturday, June 4th to Sunday, June 5th.)
Saturday morning, June 11th, we took the 10:30 a.m. bus to Donostia where we hiked to Pasaia, Spain, where Victor Hugo lived and perhaps was inspired to write "Les Miserables".  It was a long hike! We walked over 10 miles that day, with the hike and walking in Donostia. When we got home, Emily whipped up a quick delicious meal of bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich all on a delicious baguette. The kids went to bed and Jason, Darrel, Tiffany, and I attended a concert in their town which included Basque dancing. It was a real cultural experience and extremely entertaining! We loved it! It started at 10:15 p.m. and lasted 2 hours. After such a long, full day, we didn't have any trouble falling asleep this night!
Sunday morning, June 12th, the kids do had their school program at 11:00 a.m. It seemed like the entire town attended because the auditorium was packed with families, strollers, grandparents, aunts and uncles. We were glad to be able to attend this school event. Again, it had a very Basque feel to the program. Afterwards, everyone stood around the school enjoying tortilla patata and txistorra and talking. The entire town seemed to be outside today. It is a delightful atmosphere. Afterwards, Tiffany and I walked to the bread store and fruit market together. This has become a familiar daily outing. We ate lunch and relaxed part of the afternoon, took the kids to the park, pulled Braden back home on Jason's bike while he rode his skateboard, πŸ˜„then finished the day watching the movie "Zootopia" together while eating dinner. It's hard to believe our time here is quickly coming to an end.
Monday morning (June 13) we hiked from Orio to Zarautz one last time, going a little different route so we could do some last day shopping for items to take back with us to the USA. We spent the afternoon and evening with Jason's family, taking the kids to the playground, doing last minute packing and trying not to think about leaving them again. It was a wonderful trip and we knew it would have to come to an end, but we are going home with wonderful memories, new perspectives and a greater understanding of life for Jason, Emily and their kids in Orio, the Basque culture, and the people who call themselves Basque.
Tuesday morning (June 14) began very early so we could catch our flight out of Bilbao. Jason drove us to the airport and we said our final (tearful) goodbyes.....again. Back to the United States, literally,.....using the words of Grandpa Coon.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Hiking Basque Country - Part Two

After the exhausting morning of hiking to see the flysch, and the scramble to catch the train, believe it or not, after lunch, Jason dropped us off in Zarautz and we hiked from that town to the neighboring town of Getaria, about a 3 to 4 mile walk. It was entirely along the coast, which was beautiful, and was completely flat, so that was helpful in convincing Darrel and Tiffany to make the trek. It was a beautiful I could easily do on a regular basis and hope to do again before we leave Spain. While in the quaint little town of Getaria, we ate our first authentic Basque Country pintxo and topped it off with an ice cream cone. Replenishing all the calories we burned! πŸ‘  We took the bus back to Zarautz where we experienced the house church that Jason and his family attend with friends. It was a good time of worship, Bible study, and fellowship.
Sunday, June 5th, we hiked the Orio mountain by the beach with Emily and the kids. I felt like I was walking on El Camino!! Monday morning we hiked from Orio to Zarautz, which took us to the beach in Zarautz. (about an hour hike) We enjoyed that hike so much that we did it again on Tuesday morning. This day, however, when we arrived at the beach, Tiffany took her shoes off and walked along the shoreline while I sat down for a brief rest (waiting for Darrel to catch up) and to enjoy the breathtaking view. However, part of that view included a new perspective on beach protocol......nakedness......that was a very unexpected "first" experience that was certainly NOT by choice. I have seen cute little kids running around in their birthday suits, but a grown man is a bit shocking! He had no inhibitions taking off his clothes and strolling in all his glory toward the rolling waves, feeling the exhilarating breeze and sun on every part of his body. He must have been in his 60's or 70's by the number of rolls of wrinkles along his waistline, although I couldn't tell for sure since THANKFULLY I only got a rear view. I only know he had a TERRIBLE tan line going on!
The best souvenir you come home with is a new perspective!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Hiking Basque Country - Part One

Many of my readers know how much I enjoy getting my daily exercise......and being on vacation is no different. (Just ask my children!!!!) There are some amazing places to hike here and we are exploring them one at a time. (Much to the dismay of my husband's knees.) On Friday morning, we took the train to a small town called Zumaia. This is the town where Tiffany lived for 10 days with the church group that traveled to Spain together. It is known for a coastal geological formation called the "flysch" which people come from all over the world to view. We spent the entire morning hiking up the precipice, exploring, climbing on rocks, etc. We were exhausted after all that exploring, so after a brief rest, it was time to head to the train station since we had planned on returning to Jason and Emily's for lunch. Tiffany assured us she knew the way back to the train station, since she had done it many times in the past 10 days........we had 20 minutes to catch the train.......she was certain we could make it there in problem......right??........wrong!!......Tiffany got a little off course and as the minutes ticked away, our walking turned to a brisk walk, which turned to a hustle, until we realized to make this train we would need to RUN!  For those of you who know Darrel,........he doesn't/can't run.......for here we are, cross-country runner Tiffany in the lead.....Alice, close enough behind to keep asking her if she knew where she was going......then telling her she doesn't know where she is going.....looking back to see if Darrel, hobbling along, was still in view.......Tiffany kept saying "We are almost there!".....and I kept saying "Are you sure?? This doesn't look familiar!"......Darrel kept saying "You can't get on the train if I'm not there!".....we must have been a sight,...... crazy foreigners running across town.......with no time to spare we blew past people in the station......arriving just as the doors of the train shut,......the train started to move.....however, I pushed the button that opens the door.....the train stopped and the door opened......but I didn't know if the train was going in the direction toward Orio, so I spoke to the person just inside the door of the train (who didn't speak English) and asked, "Orio?"......and he said "Bai" (which in Basque means yes).......but by then the door closed I pushed that green button again and the door opened and Tiffany, Darrel, and I collapsed into the train!!........Success!! Tiffany and I laughed,......Darrel didn't see the humor in it....πŸ‘

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Bathrooms - a new perspective

This may sound like an unusual title for a blog post, however, I just had to devote an entire post to the  new perspective that I have gained on bathrooms since I left the USA. Bathrooms, no big deal, right? Wrong! It all began in the airport bathrooms where I first discovered that flushing a toilet uses different techniques internationally. There were buttons, toggle switches, and levers. Some toilets had two circles to push - a small one and a larger one. From my personal deduction, I assumed the small one was for small "jobs" and the larger one for.....well, I never asked anyone if this is the case, but that is what I have been doing whenever I encounter the double circle flush. So, I find myself pausing before I flush as I figure out how things work. No, I'm not talking rocket science, just interestingly different. But it doesn't stop with the flushers.....we have experienced some interesting European outdoor bathrooms. In France, in the first small town we visited, we approached the small tourism office and on the way we passed an outdoor bathroom (sometimes called a water closet - WC) The women's stall had a door, however, when I walked a little further, approaching what was the men's bathroom, there was an open-air 8 foot long trough-like stainless steel apparatus on a door......and there was a man standing there facing the wall.....nothing between him and the wide open spaces......relieving himself. πŸ˜† I was a little surprised, since this was a very unexpected first for me and the man apparently had no inhibitions whatsoever!! (Although he wasn't looking at me! πŸ˜‰) I tried not to act surprised, however, it did crack me up!! When I got over the shock, I decided it would make a great three generational picture.......Grandpa, Jason, and Cooper, all using the urinal simultaneously. Jason didn't agree, so you will just have to use your imagination! πŸ˜„
Another experience happened on the beach in Zarautz. They have outdoor bathrooms that look like stainless steel vaults. Large, square boxes....big enough for 8 people to stand inside, however, they were only single occupancy. I went inside this nice, spacious bathroom, thankful for an easy, convenient location to use the bathroom. When it was time to leave it, though, I couldn't find a handle to open the door. There were 2 red buttons on the wall, but no door handle. So, I pushed on the door. It didn't budge. Sealed up nice and secure and tight. I continued to search for a handle but there was none to be found. Panic mode began to set in, so it was time to push the red button, thinking that would sound an on an elevator. The only thing that did was flush the toilet which was across the room. I pushed the lower red button....same thing, the toilet flushed again. I kept pushing the button, but that just kept flushing the toilet. Now, I went into yell mode, "I can't get out!!" I called to Tiffany who was waiting for me outside the "box". She told me to push on the door after I pushed the red button and sure enough, out popped Alice from the bathroom jail, more ways than one!!! πŸ˜‰  Traveling......the best souvenir you come home with is a new perspective.

A day in France - another very memorable first!

On Thursday, June 2nd, we took a day trip to France, partly to get to experience France, but most of all, we wanted to give Tiffany an opportunity to try speaking in French since she has taken 3 years of it so far in high school. We set out early morning, after taking the children to school, and drove to the quaint little towns of Ainhoa, Sare, and finished the day in the largest of the three, St. Jean du Luz. We strolled the unique streets. Many of the shops were closed when we arrived....schedules are very different here....most stores close for several hours in the afternoon, except restaurants. They have long lunch "hours"....... I don't even think that term is in their vocabulary because it is way longer than an hour! (We are enjoying this culture, though. Much slower pace than the USA.) To curb our appetites and hold us over to the larger midday meal, we stopped for coffee and Basque pastries in the second little town before venturing to St. Jean du Luz where we spent the remainder of the day. Most stores were closed when we got there, but we enjoyed window shopping and strolling the quaint streets, enjoying the ambience! Tiffany wasn't afraid to speak with the people in the shops where we made purchases. She also helped us navigate the menu at a very French outdoor restaurant where we ate our big meal for the day. I even tried out a phrase that I learned from a restaurant we went to often while in London. It is called 'Pret A Manger' which means "ready to eat", so when our waiter served us our food I said that phrase and he smiled and replied, "Oui!" I guess he understood me! 😊 With trying to learn words from four different languages, sometimes the language we know best gets all jumbled up. Today, when I asked Darrel a question about something, his reply was "Go,.....(pause)" πŸ˜„ It has given us a greater appreciation for what Jason, Emily, and their kids experience on a daily basis. They are navigating the three languages amazingly well, just within a year's time. (English, Basque, & Spanish) It has been good to experience that firsthand and motivates me to learn another language..but it would take moving to another country....hmmmmmmmmm!!! πŸ˜‰ Agur!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Thursday, June 2, 2016

One day is running into the next....we are doing so many new things that it is hard to even remember what we did yesterday. No, that has NOTHING to do with my age, in case that is what you are thinking. πŸ˜‰
My blog left off saying we would be going to Zarautz Wednesday after the kids were out of school, which is late afternoon, 4:30-ish. All of us went except Jason. He stayed back to do work and to have dinner ready for us when we returned. πŸ‘  Zarautz is a beautiful place. We took the train there and walked to the beach. It was the most amazing and beautiful coast we have ever seen. The kids played on the sandy beach and we sat and watched the wave runners with their kites and a few surfers trying out their skills on the waves, and to top off the experience, we just had to order something hot to drink and sip on the veranda. It was a beautiful, relaxing setting. What a great place to vacation in case any of my readers need any suggestions. 😊
Upon our return home, as if that beach wasn't enough wonder for the day, chef Jason had the most amazing delicious glazed salmon ready for our dinner. Talk about fine dining!!! Salmon is my favorite and I savored every bite. Perfect ending to this day!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Tuesday morning, Jason had a class in Donostia (San Sebastian) so we took the bus with him there and he printed a map so we could explore the town while he was in class. Darrel and I enjoyed walking along the coast and walking down the old town section. It is a beautiful and interesting city and we hope to visit it again during our time here on a day when we can stay longer. We did take our first 60 euros out of a bank machine so we can learn to use them while shopping. We took the train back to Orio where Emily was preparing another amazing midday meal. I am really getting used to eating like this. . .
The children come home at 12:30 for a 2 hour lunch break. At 2:30 p.m. we walk them back to school and they stay there until 4:30 p.m. Today (Tuesday) after school we took Britt, Taye and Cooper to the park at the beach. It was sunny but windy. When we got home, chef Jason made dinner while Darrel and I played with the kids. He is becoming an impressive cook here in Basque Country. So we enjoyed a relaxing dinner at around 7:30 p.m. Emily wasn't with us because she had driven to Bilbao to bring Tiffany back to Orio for the remainder of our stay. The rest of her group departed from Bilbao, Spain, early Wednesday morning. It was nice to see Tiffany again after 10 days being apart. Brittney was especially happy to see her!  (No surprise there!)
To top the evening off, we were able to skype with (the original) Emily Coon who is in Washington, D. C. It was fun being on this end of the world skyping with her. It was a fun time laughing and catching up a bit.
Wednesday night we will skype with Abbie, Kevin, and Lucas and find out how things are going with them. This is one instance where we are very thankful for technology!
Today, (Wednesday morning) we (Jason, Emily, Darrel, Tiffany, and Alice) went to an outdoor market at the plaza in Ordizia which was amazing. . . fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meats, fish, flowers, breads, olives, candy, etc., etc., etc. It was something like the farmers' markets in the USA ........ but VERY European! We made it home in time to pick up the kids at school for yet another amazing midday meal. However, today, Jason and Emily's neighbor made the meal for us. Potato and chorizo soup. . .  Deliciouso!!! It was very kind of her.
Back to school at 2:30 p.m. For the kids. Tonight we are going to another neighboring town called Zarautz to continue our adventures in Spain. . . . . and to add to my 60 new adventures for Alice! πŸ˜‰