California 

Just remembering a few sunny days in California with a best friend, her best friend and their new best babe. Such a treat to meet Miss Piper and spend a few days with someone I wish I got to see way more often. We’ve been through middle school, high school and college graduations. Weddings. And now we’ve hit the baby stage. Grateful to venture through these life stages with friends by my side! Y’all are the best, Terry Family! Miss you and the sunshine!

We missed you, Brad!

For me, visiting Madrid was more about people than places. I’ve loved introducing Walker to some of my favorite sights and sounds of this city, but more fulfilling to me has been watching him get to know my friends. It had been 7 years since I’d seen these people who took me in as family one summer, and it was time to come back for a visit. So we did. And our Europe trip was born. The trip idea began because I wanted to see these friends, so there’s no place I would have rather been on our last night here than eating pizza and ice cream with this special group.

We started the day by visiting the Temple of Debod, an Egyptian Temple given to Spain as a gift. We followed it by churros con chocolate before a late lunch with Terry and his girlfriend. I was so happy to spend a few hours with Terry! Finally, we headed to church to watch the tail end of worship practice before we headed to dinner. Spain has been relaxing, nourishing and life-giving. Until next time, España.

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Alcalá de Henares

I was too tired to blog last night. Truth be told I was too worn out from laughing. So that’s a problem I’ll take.

We were able to spend some time with the Dixons yesterday in Alcalá de Henares, their home, the birthplace of Cervantes, and another Spanish town dating back to Pre Roman. Susie gave us a tour, pointing out the cultural contributions of the Christians, Jews and Muslims. It’s another town where all three coexisted in peace. We were able to see the longest columned road in Europe, the first charity hospital in Spain from 1722, and the college where the modern day university system began. Like always, google it.
Cervantes’ house.

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The famous storks and giant nests.

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The gate from Madrid to Alcalá.

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The church in the back of this main plaza is a site where Columbus begged Ferdinand and Isabella for money.

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The university where universities began. Some buildings at TexasTech are modeled after this one.

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A picture with David and Susie. I’m an idiot and forgot to get one while we had a better background.

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We had dinner plans for 9:30 with the Borras family. With a bit of bus trouble, as in we were completely lost, a nice AND bilingual pregnant lady stepped in to help. Once she exited, the entire front half of the bus suddenly came to our rescue. I was turning in circles while saying gracias to everyone I could make eye contact with as we got off on the CORRECT stop. Friendly Spaniards, we are grateful for you.

I’m not sure whether we spent more time eating or laughing at dinner.

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They wanted one just the two of them.

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Bea thought we were being too formal.

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Such a good day all because of the people we spent it with!

Retiro

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The family that goes gray together stays together. For some reason I was particularly excited for our matching outfits of head to toe gray today. Anyway, moving on.

After yesterday our bodies were begging for a day of relaxation, so off to Retiro Park we went. I intentionally packed a blanket before we left Lufkin because I knew I would be spending time at Retiro. It’s my fave.

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We ended up with pizza and ice cream for lunch and then headed back to our same spot to take a nap.

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Next up was the modern art museum, the Reina Sofia. Walker isn’t much into modern art, but it was fun to watch him see his first Picasso. He also snuck a few pictures of Guernica, but I’m not brave enough to post his contraband shots.

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We shuffled over to Cibeles to meet up with Bea. We headed to find some paella! We sure missed her sister, Marta, but she’s studying for a big exam she’s going to rock on Friday! Paella plus ice cream plus Plaza Mayor plus lots of blurry pics. And lots of laughs.

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Plus a stop by the oldest restaurant in the world. THE WORLD! El Botín founded in 1725.

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And finally this super blurry pic that I love for some reason. Thanks for the best ice cream we’ve ever had, Bea!

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Toledo

Sorry, Lufkin. Walker has decided he will be moving to Toledo. I haven’t agreed yet but I’m not sure there’s much I can do. Put the guy near a castle and he’s sold.

We got out of bed a little earlier than yesterday and caught a bus to Toledo, a city dating back to the Bronze Age. It’s a city still surrounded by walls where Christians, Muslims and Jews all lived together in harmony at one time. The cultural elements of the city are impressive and shockingly preserved. There was something so inspiring about being in a place where such religious peace once occurred. Walking through streets with so much culture still in tact transforms you back to an earlier time. I’d love to to write more about Toledo itself, but these two thumbs aren’t up for it. It’s definitely worth a Google!

Three noteworthy things happened today:
1. I went against all that is good in the world and wore tennis shoes with a dress. But my feet and back personally called me up to say thank you, so I guess it was worth it.
2. Walker tried mushrooms. And loved them! It was a milestone of our marriage.
3. We got in a fight. And broke up for a little bit. But no worries, we’re back together!

We trekked up and down the cobblestone hills, winding through narrow streets and alleys. On our way we popped in and out of mosques, churches, monasteries and synagogues, but the charm of the city, the taste of their famous mazapán pastries and the giddiness of my husband were not adequately captured by our iPhones. Maybe you just need to go see for yourself!

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Why mention the fight? Because I like to keep this blog based in reality. And all these posts seemed too much like a fairytale. Life is still life even on a dream vacation! Now serious, go google Toledo!

We got out of bed at 1 today

And it was glorious.

We headed to El Mercado de San Miguel for lunch and were super impressed. We’ll be back there in the next few days. It’s one of the oldest markets in Madrid renovated now to an energetic eatery.

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Next stop…the royal palace. Get ready for lots of archway and door pictures (and us looking up at them). No photos allowed inside 😦

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We took a quick break at La Central, a cute bookstore and coffee shop that Bea told us about.

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Later in the day we strolled to the Prado Museum followed by dinner and ice cream in Sol. Oh, and Walker got giddy in a huge Apple store.

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Tomorrow we catch a bus bright and early to Toledo! Must go to sleep!

Hello, Madrid!

We find ourselves relaxing on our terrace tonight in the city I’ve been longing to show Walker for years. We left a rainy Paris this morning and were greeted by a most wonderful friend who gave us a ride from the airport to our apartment. It’s been seven years since I’ve been in these streets I fell in love with over the course of two summers. Our apartment is more than we could have asked for. I’m obsessed with the floors and our terrace is lined with potted flowers and ivies dancing down the walls. Plus we have an elevator!

We went for a short walking tour around the area and when we got tired, we laid ourselves down in some grass and took a nap. America, we need more places to take public naps! After grabbing some groceries we headed home for a night of much needed relaxation. There’s a slight breeze fluttering through the pages of our books (yes, Walker is reading), and we are about to whisper goodnight to a day much adored.

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Finale

Our final day in Paris!

We started the day by paying a visit to our old friend Mona.

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Having trudged around the Louvre like zombies, we decided it crucial to get se food in us so we stopped by Laduree, the famous tea and macaroon place. I wouldn’t say it was a home run, it fact it was our least favorite meal in Paris for many reasons, but hey it’s a memory we’re already laughing about.

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Our goal was to make it to the Musee d’Orsay but decided we didn’t have time. Next time, right? We realized we never really took any pictures in front of the Eiffel so we headed that way to grab some pics in the rain. I think the exhaustion of day 4 had gotten to us, as I’m not sure we took but one serious picture. One man even said “what is that guy doing?” about Walker as he passed by. Ha. I think I’ll have to make another post with the ridiculous shots we got.

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And then. AND THEN. The most beautiful alignment of traveling destiny happened. We met up with a seminary friend, D-Mac, who we hadn’t seen since he was in our wedding. He was there with his wife and some friends so the 6 of us headed to a restaurant to watch the French play in the World Cup. Happy July 4th to us!!!!

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Just an inadequate picture to describe the masses gathered to watch the match on a big screen at Hotel du Ville. So much fun watching people line the streets with French flags and face paint. And a little intimidating to see cop after cop dressed in riot gear.

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We parted ways with our friends and headed over to the bookstore the famous writers of the 1920s frequented. We loved it, but sadly obeyed the rules not to take pictures inside.

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We ended the evening with a final dessert picnic on the river with some famous Berthillon ice cream and reflected on our four days.

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Tomorrow we say goodbye to Paris and hello to Madrid. Paris was so so good to us. Thanks for following along!

K: What should the title be? W: Paris Day 3.

It’s 2:30am and somehow my dedication to this post a day thing is winning out over sleep. But barely, so here’s our wonderful day in pictures!

Are these the cutest little artists you’ve ever seen?! We exited the metro and found this group of what, kindergarteners, sketching the Bastille. We almost died.

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Then we wandered over to a hidden treasure called Rue Cremieux! It’s a small side street made of the most colorful buildings. I could have spent another hour there.

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Next up was Cafe Pause for lunch. Loved the pasta. And it’s a good thing because penne and linguine were the only words we could read on the menu.

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We walked around and loved the Le Marais area and then stopped by Hotel du Ville and Saint Chapelle Chapel on the way home before our daily nap. Saint Chapelle!!

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We headed up to Montmartre to wonder the same streets as Hemingway, Picasso and Van Gogh once did. We loved this area!

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We hiked up the hill to the Sacre Coeur to visit the basilica and view the city. Our thighs were saying no but our hearts were saying GO!

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We walked next door to the St Pierre Church, one of the oldest churches in Paris believed to have original Roman columns and a place where Dante prayed.

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54 Rue Lepic. Van Gogh’s home!

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Finished the night with the best meal we’ve had so far. Le Relais de l’Entrecôte. So. So. Good. Followed by a walk to the Arc de Triomph. Oh and laundry. Walker washed our clothes when we got home. I iced my feet. He wins. Although his Polaroid didn’t. Such a good day in Paris!

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Midnight in Paris…Literally

We just walked back into our apartment at 1am while the rest of Paris is still out and about. We love how Parisians use and appreciate their city. Every green space is filled with picnic goers and the banks of the river are lined with dances and laughing friends. We are convinced these people don’t work, but if they do, it’s even more impressive! We checked out Notre Dame, the Pompidou and some other sites before our night ride through Paris with Fat Tire Bike Tours. And now we’re going to sleep. No Dramamine necessary tonight!
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