What better high school graduation gift could there be then a trip to Europe with your grandparents. In January 2019 we took an amazing trip to Spain with our grandson Aiden. As he was still in school we did not have unlimited time to spend and had to keep things tight. We flew in and out of Madrid and spent all our time touring in the Andalusia region. Even though it was January the weather was fairly mild and as a bonus we did not encounter crowds at any of the sites. Unless your going for some beach time or just crave the heat, we highly recommend this off-season timing to others.
First stop Seville. Highlights for us were tours of the Plaza de Toros (Game of Thrones), Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos once the home of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand and horse carriage ride through the Plaza de España (Star Wars)
The biggest attraction in Córdoba was literally a 5 minute walk from our hotel. The Mezquita is truly a must see building. It’s a massive former mosque turned cathedral with an amazing forest of columns topped by red and white striped double arches that have seen over 1000 years of history. It is not only the largest mosque in the world, but the largest temple in the world as well. It occupies an area of over 250,000 square feet or almost 6 acres.
The Mezquita with Red and White striped arches
The focal point in the prayer hall is the mihrab – which identifies the wall that faces Mecca
the dome above the mihrab
Originally built in 786, the initial construction lasted for about 200 years. After Córdoba was recaptured by King Ferdinand III in 1236, the mosque became used as a church. Currently in the very middle of the Mezquita is a stunning Renaissance cathedral, which was built in the 1500’s. Although some parts of the original column hall had been destroyed to make room for the cathedral – the building is still a remarkable and dazzling example of Moorish architecture.
sun streaming in through stained glass
ceiling in the cathedral between the organ pipes
The Mezquita is certainly a signature attraction in Córdoba and visitors should plan on spending at least a half day to see everything.
Recently we sailed aboard the Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas on it’s inaugural voyage from Miami, Florida. She is the reigning queen of large ships with so much to see and do on-board that it would take several vacations just to experience it all.
Here’s a sample of what we experienced: water slides, robot bartenders, world class fine dining, high energy Vegas show, Broadway show – Hairspray, Water show with high diving into an ever changing pool , fireworks, balloon drop, wine tasting, fresh seafood lunch, organic italian pasta, laser tag, a real boardwalk carousel ride, a musical staircase, a bar that’s also an elevator, mini-golf, the international space station, and the Wright brothers flying a plane above the theater audiences heads. I’m sure i’m forgetting something – and we were only there for 4 nights!
As there is so much, we’ve created a photo & video gallery if you wish to see more
Christmas is upon us and that means traditions. What are your holiday traditions? When did they first start, did you create new ones when you left your childhood home or did you carry on those of your parents and grandparents? Well I did a little research about the origin of some of our Christmas traditions and I have to admit, I learned a few things….
Do you send Christmas cards as a part of your tradition? We still do. As a matter of fact, we send both personal Christmas cards and cards to our clients on behalf of our Travel Agency. Did you know that the first Christmas card was sent in 1843? Many people today have given up this tradition but we still love to both send and receive a card at Christmas. We write a somewhat witty Christmas letter (haha, at least we think its witty) to send to our friends and family each year. I am the author and Paul is the decorator, putting photos on the letter from our years activities. I don’t think it is a tradition our children will carry on.
What about the Christmas wreath? When I was growing up we harvested the pine branches to make our own wreath which my parents always hung on the front door. It was typically decorated with a bow, some pine cones and perhaps some red berries. But where did that tradition come from? Well since you asked…. Since the Roman times the wreath has been a symbol of power and strength. Kings and Emperors wore them as crowns. To Christians the wreath symbolizes tenacity and everlasting life. Now I can’t honestly say I’ve ever thought of the wreath in that regard, nope just always thought it was pretty. How simple we are 😊. Today we buy our wreath from the local boy scout troop, and we hang it on the front of the house, just like my parents did.
Mistletoe, hmmm, now that is an odd one. I mean think about it. The mistletoe is basically a parasitic plant that attaches to a tree and sucks nutrients from the trunk. What is romantic about that? Yet mistletoe as a tradition has been traced back to ancient Greece (not as in kissing under it) where it was said to have been carried as a golden bough by Aeneas, the ancestor of the Romans. In other pre-Christian cultures mistletoe was believed to carry the male essence and by extension, romance, fertility and vitality. It was hung in homes because it was believed to protect from fire and lightning (again not for kissing under). So, where the heck did the kissing under it come from? Well truth be known, no one knows. The first kiss under the mistletoe was recorded in the 16th century in England. I’m thinking some young squire had a little too much grog and grabbed the first pretty girl he could find and gave her a kiss and it just so happened to be under the mistletoe! So do you hang one? And really how many kisses do you get? I don’t know about your house but we don’t hang one, unless you count our mistletoad (green frog dressed in English finery holding a sprig) because after all, its cold and flu season and no sense sharing with just anyone who walks in the door!
And with that, we’ll leave you to your Christmas traditions, where ever they came from. Enjoy your Christmas holiday and best wishes for the New Year!
Six months ago you booked a special family vacation at an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean. You love to travel and fully understand what a special time this will be – so much so, that you enlisted other family members to go with on the trip. Mom and Dad, Brothers, sisters – everyone was excited.
Did you know that 3 days before you departed on your much-anticipated family vacation, the resort determined they were oversold. Did you know your name was added to a list of people who were moving to one of their sister properties an additional hour drive away from the airport.
Did you also know that they were only moving some of your family? Some of you would stay at the original property and others would stay at the sister property.
Did you know this?
Of course you didn’t know. You use a travel agent. In fact, you have a great travel agent that works diligently on your behalf. An agent that solves problems before you ever even know about them. GetAway Travel LLC – solving problems that their clients didn’t even know they had since 1999.