...is still traveling.
And both kids killed the test. Okay, maybe they killed the large majority of the test and both need a little more summer practice with spelling and language structure. I mean...they did grade level, but we will focus our remaining summer days working on these subjects. I have to say, as someone who firmly stated that I would NEVER home school, this has been a most-magical three years of home / world schooling ever.
It's record-breaking heat here and in most of the southwest, BUT the mornings and evenings are absolutely gorgeous. Kate and I get our walk in every morning and then we hang out in their beautiful backyard in the evenings.
Today was a 10-hour drive from La Jolla, CA to Carson City, NV. Then I drove another 30 minutes to Reno to pick up my new Jeep Wrangler. I have always had a love for Jeeps and have owned two Wranglers in the past. Well, while we were in Europe, Steve bought me a four-door white Wrangler, to be picked up in Reno, near where Steve's parents live. It's beautiful and I'm so incredibly excited...blessed...and grateful. I have the most amazing husband ever!
Leah and I have been friends, since the very beginning of our photography journeys. I'm so grateful for her friendship, which has not only stood the test of time, but also the test of numerous relocations (for me). Japan-US communication was NOT easy, but indeed, we survived. And every time we see one another, we always talk about how beautiful the kids get along and how they pick up right where they left off, even though it's sometimes years since they last saw one another. Grateful!!
Bye-bye Europe. Hello America.
Today was a very long flight (11 hours, 45 minutes to be exact) from Barcelona to LAX. Picked up our rental car and then drove to La Jolla, where Charley has been staying for the past three months. It was so great to see both Charley and Oma Terry. While we LOVED our European adventure, it feels awesome to be back in the US.
I was far from organized today, our last day in Barcelona, our last day in Europe. I guess I didn't realize how June would progress to be so touristy as April and May were, for the most part, non tourist months. So I looked (scoured) on the internet today for tickets to various sites and everything was sold out. We could have gone and waited in line for 2-3 hours, but nope, at this point, that is NOT happening. Finally, after more searching, I found tickets to the Park Guell fro 20:00 -- perfect. In the afternoon, we walked from Gaudi site to Gaudi site. Then I took Sky to do a bit of birthday day shopping. The time got a bit away from us but I thought, with an hour for dinner, we were still fine. Well dinner pushed things to the last minute and then when we couldn't find a taxi, we missed our damn 30-minute window. And so it was...we turned around and went back home. It's just the way things roll sometimes, especially when traveling for so long. We went back to the room, I did a few photos of Sky and the kids did some math. Tomorrow, with two months and 20 days of traveling is behind us, we fly to America. HOLY SHIT, I can't believe the time is here!
Took a three-hour bullet train to Barcelona today. Chilled in our hotel room during the heat of the day and then decided to explore the La Rambla area in the evening. We found the area quite crowded and touristy, but had an absolutely fantastic dinner off-the-beaten-path. One of my biggest tips for traveling -- turn right or left, from any main tourist path, and explore (that is where the magic is). By the time dinner was done, it was 21:00, so we walked home and went to bed.
P.S. I'm in love with our hotel, which is filled with mid-century everything.
More wandering to start my day. I love being outside in the morning because it's the only cool time here in Madrid. Around 13:00, it's in the 90s and it's been at least 100 each day we've been here. In the heat of the afternoon, we went to The Prado Museum. If I'm being completely hIonest, I've been feeling a bit burnt out and longing for home, so I wasn't overly excited at the thought of The Prado but OH MY GOSH, I am so happy we went. That museum was mind-blowingly amazing. The museum is huge, so I researched the most important masterpieces to see and read about each of them, to ensure we saw and were familiar with those pieces.
So what is the above image about? I wasn't exactly sure either, at first. There was a young man painting and shortly after we starting watching him, he left to take a break. I took this picture and then was scolded by security, "no pictures". So I asked her what this painting was all about. She said that students are allowed to spend a month on a painting within the museum. They have to apply and be recommended by a professor. After they are done, some keep the painting, other sell it. I asked why people can paint but no pictures? She said that photographs were banned 15 years ago because people weren't abiding by the 'no flash' rule and they were getting in people's way trying to take pictures. We saw four other easels, while we walked through the museum and one other young man painting. One of the paintings we saw looked pretty much identical to the masterpiece (I know it really didn't, but damn, it was close). So interesting, huh?!
After the museum, it was home for a bit of siesta time and then dinner. Hard to believe that tomorrow, we leave for Barcelona, our last stop on this dream-come-true European adventure. I am so blessed!
My day started with you guessed it, getting lost. I really do love wandering. I kind of have an obsession with street art, so that's part of the fun of it too. But I also love looking at the architecture, the windows, and of course, people watching. Madrid has some awesome window shopping too.
After lunch, we decided to visit the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, one of the world's largest museums of contemporary and modern art. Featuring Picasso, I absolutely loved it. The kids both declared that they aren't the biggest fan of Picasso, but I am absolutely fascinated by the man and his works of art.
Averaging around 10 miles a day, we are always exhausted by the afternoon, so siesta time it is until dinner. Dinner time has been around 19:30 or 20:00 lately, so by the time we are done, it's home and off to bed.
We flew very early this morning from Venice to Madrid airport and then trained it to Madrid center. Dropped off our bags at the hotel, but first we walked to the wrong Far Home Hostel, which was rather frustrating, but they were lovely and offered us cold juice and a place to sit to cool down. The thing about Madrid is...it's hot as shit here right now, with highs between 100 to 102 Fahrenheit. A military friend hooked us up with his friend, Bea. We met her after lunch and then walked with her all over Madrid, while she showed us some of her favorite places and sites we need to visit during our stay here. We parted ways after about five hours. Absolutely exhausted, the kids and I headed back to our hotel room, where I almost immediately fell asleep for a couple hours. At 21:00 Sky and I went back out to the square to pick up some sandwiches and off course, the city was just beginning to come alive, although I considered it still very hot at that time. We did a little window shopping and then back to the room. It's funny because I have one early riser / morning child and the other is an absolute night owl / miserable morning person. That is making things rather tricky in Madrid, where it is best in the mornings and evenings. Sky is painful to wake early and Ryder is miserable in the evenings. Fun-fun.
We are not in Venice anymore. That is the first thing that came to mind as the taxi dropped us off at our hotel near the airport, our hotel in the middle of the corn fields**. So today, we pretty much did nothing. Lunch, electronics, a walk for me to get some exercise in, and dinner. We have to wake at 04:30 for our flight to Madrid, Spain, which is going to make for a very cheery morning of waking the kids. From here on out, we are in standard one-room hotels, so we are basically on top of one another for the next five days.
** Okay, there may have been one random river in the middle of the corn fields.
Today started early (not Sky's favorite, especially after getting no sleep because of a buzzing-in-her-ear-all-night mosquito), with a tour to Murano and Brurano. We absolutely loved visiting both islands and Ryder said that watching the men make glass art was his favorite thing of our whole trip. After looking at all the Murano glass art, the boat taxi took us to the rainbow island of Brurano, known for it's delicate lace art. There's only seven women left, who make this lace art by hand. Sadly, a loom and machine have taken over the lace making. I so wanted to purchase a piece of glass art (about $2000 USD) and a very small piece of lace art ($250 USD), but I did neither. Maybe one day, when Steve and I return to Italy. And to be honest, I have to sort through our household goods and figure out exactly what art I already have before buying any additional art. Art collecting definitely holds a special place in my heart and is something that I hope will one day be passed down to my children. I talked to the glass art salesman a lot about that.
Once we returned back to Venice, we decided to visit the 57th Venice Biennale and WOW, it was brilliant. I'm so excited we made the time and effort to visit, as exhausted as we were. To see the various country's interpretation of art was incredible. The funny thing is that I had no idea what Germany's pavilion was all about, so I googled it when home and learned that Germany won. Well I also learned that the art included a performance under the see-through flooring and in the open stalls, which spanned over five hours (I'm guessing during the judging). Man, it would have been awesome to have walked through on that day.
To anyone that questions world schooling, I am in awe of what the kids and I have learned and experienced on this trip. They are still doing proper math each day, but the rest, I am leaving up to our adventures and schooling by curiosity, for these past three months. Feeling so very blessed for this opportunity -- one that we will NEVER forget.
It's crazy how Felice and I end up meeting one another. First, in Paris. Then in Thailand. An exhibition at her gallery in Germany. And today, we met Felice and her family here in Venice. We joked that we are going to have to connect in the US next. We adore their family and are excited about any time we are able to connect with one another. We met them on the Rialto Bridge, which was hot and crowded, so I was grateful that we even found one another. Then it was a bit of walking and lunch. After lunch, we had to part but a few hours together is definitely better than no hours.
Home in bed with food poisoning. All day. All night.
Note: Photo from Tuscany because this is the only day that I haven't taken at least one photograph, but I thought it was rather fitting.
Left the farm at 9 AM to catch a 1:30 PM train to Venice. The trains through Italy have been pretty fantastic and easy to book online -- and any easy planning makes me happy these days. Once in Venice, we took a Ferry to our airbnb stop. I'm basically in awe of the beauty of Venice; it really doesn't even seem real. As usual, the first thing I do upon arrival is hit the grocery store. Luckily, I figured out my way back because when i tried to google map my way back, it wasn't taking me where I was supposed to go. Venice is all kinds of confusing with it's twists and turns and bridges and narrow pathways, all blending into a maze of similar-ness. After groceries, we went to dinner at a restaurant around the corner.
Woke up early, to change locations and stay a night on a Tuscany farm. Before heading there, we stopped in the village of Montepulciano and oh my gosh, what an awesome little town. We walked around a bit, bought four pieces of art from a street vendor, got some food to go and then got back on our way to the farm. If I had to do it all over again, I would definitely spend a bit more time exploring Montepulciano and probably even stay a night or two there.
We arrived at the farm around noon and I have never seen such incredible views. I mean truly spectacular, views that one might think only exist is the most beautiful of dreams. The farm runs a restaurant, where they serve everything organic and homegrown, with their specialty being goat and sheep cheese. The owners are originally from Switzerland and absolutely incredible. They have a staff of 20, with four people helping on the farm each day. They care for sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, two donkeys, three peacocks, four dogs and one guinea pig. Both the goats and sheep are milked twice a day for six months. All the cheese is handmade and wow, what a process that is. Sandra, one of the owners, took us on a super informative tour of the farm, which we all thoroughly enjoyed. After the tour, we took some time to just explore around the farm and pet the animals. Our dinners consisted of fantastic pasta dishes, ravioli for the kids and I have no idea what mine was (spelt something), but it was incredible. The farm also allows camping and they have an old trolley that they converted into a sleeping room -- that's where we slept. :-) What an absolutely fantastic way to spend our last day in Tuscany. I can't wait to bring Steve back one day.
...said the boy today, as we sat around the house and I worked on planning our travels back in the US. We basically had a chill day at the house. Gosh, after moving every three days and constant on-the-go, these days are quite cherished. And we are all getting anxious and excited about getting back to the US. So call it lazy if you wish, but I'm calling it a needed down day. Of course, we had dinner at our favorite local village restaurant (man, they make incredible food) and the owner even sent me off with a bottle of wine. If you ever happen to be in or near Castelnuovo Bearrdenga, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND eating at Bengodi - Enoteca Ristorante. Absolutely everything we ate there was fantastic, but you MUST try the wild boar pasta dish. After dinner, Sky was game to do some photos around the airbnb, which was super lovely and appreciated.