The last two weeks took us to Spain, Gibraltar, Morocco and Portugal. It was a busy couple of weeks with the highlight being a visit from Grandma and Papa Mitchell. There is nothing better than living with your parents again, to remind you of the importance of independence, getting a good job and moving out on your own. More importantly, there is nothing like living with your parents again, to remind you just how lucky you had it living at home, and how much you are truly loved! This visit from Grandma and Papa was a big deal. It was not easy for them to travel half way around the world via planes, trains and automobiles. Their visit also reinforced the importance of taking this trip around the world now, when our bodies and minds can handle it, not later, when finances and time allow it.
Our visit to Barcelona was spectacular and it has moved to the top of our ‘favourite city’ list. After coming from Rome, a clean and active city was a welcome change. There was little graffiti, and despite the tough economic times in Spain, everyone seemed busy. There were even people cleaning the street lights, and it was encouraging to see all of the youth involved in organized sports in the evenings. Perhaps it was the influence from hosting the Olympics, but whatever it was, it was fantastic to see such an active, vibrant, community. The waterfront was amazing, with the roads hidden underground, long boardwalks and green space. The city planners for Barcelona certainly knew what they were doing. Although we loved Barcelona, there was anticipation in the air to move on to Marbella, Spain, where we would pick up Grandma and Papa, from the airport.
We were thrilled to see Mark’s parents, and the girls were over the moon with excitement. We knew how special this visit was. The mere fact that they actually made it to Spain was amazing. You see, Papa really doesn’t like to travel, although you can’t tell from the look on his face in the pictures! He is content and happy in the comfort of his own home and bed, in South Cayuga. He doesn’t even like to sleep at the cottage, which is just ten minutes away from home. He is truly the poster child for ‘home body’ and ‘stay-cation’. He has even been known to suffer from terrible accidents before heading out on vacation. Before they left for an Arctic cruise last year, he fell down the bank at the cottage, and banged himself up pretty badly. Even before we left for our trip, he toppled off a chair and needed stiches. All to avoid a trip to the airport, pretty extreme measures to avoid travel, I’d say! We wondered what shape Papa would arrive in. Would there be crutches, casts, stiches…would he even make it?
He made it safe and sound, but make no mistake, it was only to see his grandchildren, which we had taken away from him. If he had thought of it before Grandma booked the flights, he would have just paid to fly the girls home for a visit. Grandma, on the other hand, would venture to all ends of the world. The fact that we were away for a year was the perfect excuse to get Papa on an airplane, and I think she had her flights booked before we even left! The unfortunate part about travel for both of them now, is that it is quite hard on them. They must consider their health, medical insurance, medication, routines, energy levels, transporting luggage, customs, mobility, comfort and the list goes on. Sure, we considered some of those things when venturing out on our trip, but in a much different way than our parents might. There is also risk and change involved in travel. We thought of it as adventure; to others it is scary, uncomfortable and not worth the stress.
|The real reason for Papa's visit!|
|But we squeezed in a little adventure too!|
Despite all the worry, trouble, inconvenience, and upset that travelling to Spain may have caused them, ‘love’ won. If there is one thing for certain, Mark’s parents live for their family, and their grandchildren are at the top of the list. They would do anything for them, including suffering through two days of travel just to see them. We are fairly confident, ‘love’ was the only thing that brought Grandma and Papa to Spain, and we sure were thankful for that.
We quickly realized that our routines would need to change a bit, and we wouldn’t be able to pack into a day what we were used to. That was just fine, we could slow our pace down a bit and relax. The only priority on our list, while in Spain and Portugal with Grandma and Papa, was to spend time together. That we did, and enjoyed every minute of it.
|We worked out in the pool!|
|Meg even went in the pool outside, and it sure was chilly! She didn't want Ally to miss out.|
After a couple of days, Grandma and Papa had their energy levels back up and the jet lag had subsided. We ventured off to Gibraltar and spent the afternoon with the monkeys. Who knew there were monkeys on Gibraltar? They were cute and adorable. Well… that was until one jumped on my back, stole my prescription sunglasses and ran away! I chased after him, put my teacher voice on, and believe it or not, he threw them back at me! (I guess I still have my teacher voice HSC friends!) Meg and Grandma had a turn with a monkey on their back too! We also enjoyed a climb up to the peak of ‘the rock’, what an impressive view! It was a marathon getting out of Gibraltar, as they checked the trunks of each vehicle and scooter at the border. After a two hour wait, they finally let us back into Spain.
We also ventured to nearby villages, to the beach, to the markets, out for dinner and to a cork factory. We celebrated Papa and Meg’s birthdays and got caught up on everything that was going on at home. Grandma spoiled us while she was here. She is a mom, through and through. Although she was on vacation, she found comfort in the routines of home, the things we call luxuries now… like laundry! I think we did laundry everyday. Another luxury was maid service – no Grandma was not the maid! We were living the high life in our timeshare resorts with Grandma and Papa. We had traded our Florida timeshare for a week in Switzerland, Spain and Portugal, and still had some time left over for New Zealand. Our accommodations had moved to 5 star, golden crown ratings, probably not the best thing to do right before heading to Africa for 5 weeks! Although, we did get a taste of what to expect in Africa, during a day trip to Morocco. What an experience and far too much to tell you about in this post!
|Grandma, trying to steal the oranges in downtown Marbella! The orange trees were everywhere.|
|Papa and Ally enjoying a game of tennis.|
|Meg's birthday dinner. She was serenaded by a trubador!|
We said goodbye to Papa and Grandma, two days ago, and it has taken a couple of days for us to recover. The hardest thing about travelling around the world, is saying goodbye to our visitors. None of us want to give up on our trip and head home early, yet we ask the question regularly to make sure everyone is still happy. The answer is always a quick ‘no’, but Mark and I have to wonder sometimes, especially when we see the girls suffer through a day or two of tears. We know we are doing the right thing with travelling around the world, right now. Our bodies and minds are in the right place to handle whatever the adventure throws at us. Sure it has some consequences, like missing our family and friends terribly, but it just makes us realize how lucky we are to be loved, as we are.
Thank you Grandma and Papa for making our trip around the world even more memorable, we love you so much! And…. no we are not coming home yet.
|The Mitchell's were here, and we certainly were grateful!|