Memorable Moments (good and bad)

Miami

  • going through our mail and finding a 50-euro speeding ticket from Spain for going 62 mph in a 55 mph zone

Great Britain

  • WB Studio, Harry Potter set, outside London
  • “Inflatable Dreams” ball pit/art installation in the lower level of Melissa Shoes, Covent Garden
  • seeing where the code-breakers worked in Bletchley Park
  • going into Inner Circle at Stonehenge
  • going on the London Eye
  • dragonfly maze, Cotswolds
  • hunting for bats with a bat-detector kit in the Lake District
  • Beatrix Potter sites, Lake District
  • staying in a yurt, Lake District
  • ropes course, Lake District
  • ferret racing, Teweksbury
  • climbing “Arthur’s Seat” in Edinburgh to find that they were filming a sequel to Trainspotting, which we will probably be in (in the background); seeing Danny Boyle and Ewan McGregor
  • getting a members of a piping band to do our < 3 intro in Inverness, Scotland
  • Highland Games and hairy cows, Inverness

France, Part Deux

  • TOO MUCH RAIN
  • seeing the hounds being fed at Cheverny
  • fencing class (can’t wait to see fencing in the Olympics now)
  • death-scene at jousting re-enactment where vultures attack dead guy
  • live cat sleeping on Renaissance bed in Leonardo da Vinci’s bedroom, Clos Lucé
  • going to the dentist (for free) after Lucy broke her permanent front tooth while swimming in a pool
  • staying in a tree house for two nights
  • seeing a cave-dwelling in the Loire Valley and the silkworms that the owner raises
  • going to the Versailles gardens at night to see the fountains and fire displays
  • making our own perfume in Saint Germain-en-Laye
  • lunch at the Eiffel Tower

Belgium

  • family chocolate tour in Brussels that somehow included a 40-minute stop to drink beer at a bar before noon
  • visiting the Atomium and seeing the Dinner in the Sky cranes in front of it
  • hearing knocking on the door in the middle of the night and finding that Lucy had been sleepwalking (thanks to some cold medicine from Amsterdam?) and had wandered out of the room into the hotel hallways and lounge and couldn’t get back in the room

Netherlands

  • learning all about cheese and seeing cheese market in Alkmaar
  • passing under some very low bridges on a boat tour in Alkmaar
  • eating cheese and bread with wine for dinner by candlelight on houseboat in Amsterdam
  • watching boat full of drunk teenagers who were peeing off the side in the middle of the afternoon, Amsterdam

Germany

  • staying with Bonoan family, Stuttgart
  • making chocolates at Ritter, Stuttgart
  • Mica’s surprise visit, Stuttgart
  • F3 Water Park, Stuttgart
  • meeting up with Gundula and Werner, Rothenburg
  • meeting up with Richter family, Münnerstadt
  • going to the East/West Germany border and checkpoint near Münnerstadt
  • Hercules Fountain, Kassel
  • toboggan, trampoline, and “flying boat,” near Kassel
  • seeing “black and white cookie” goats (also known as Valais Blackneck goats)

Austria

  • getting ticket the moment we entered Austria
  • being with Camila and Morgan, who were both good sports about recreating Sound of Music scenes
  • Hellbrunn Palace trick fountains and playground
  • going in a salt mine
  • staying at the von Trapp villa and going on a Sound of Music bike tour (Camila only fell off the bike once)
  • cable car breaking down in Innsbruck, being evacuated with a ladder and walking to nearest exit
  • Swarovski Crystal World art installations and indoor play space

Adriatic Cruise

  • being with Mami
  • the ruins of Pompeii
  • having pizza in Naples
  • cocktails of the day, cruise
  • old town Dubrovnik
  • blue and white houses in Santorini
  • daily visit to the kids’ club
  • hearing call to prayer, Turkey
  • dancing on a table at restaurant in Olympia

Italy

  • eating lots of gelato
  • making frescoes, Florence
  • making pizzas, Florence
  • horrible haircut, Venice
  • running into Georgetown group in hotel in Rome and meeting Nancy Pelosi
  • “adopting” Tichero, the cat, Rome
  • colorful houses in Burano
  • gladiator school and Colosseum, Rome
  • gondolas, vaporettos, traghettos and all water transportation, Venice
  • running around over bridges to keep up with gondolas in canals, Venice
  • rowing in Venice
  • breakfast outside on the Grand Canal at Gritti Palace, Venice

France

  • walking in van Gogh’s footsteps
  • sound of the waves pulling back on the rocks on the beach in Nice

Gibraltar

  • the Barbary apes

Spain

  • learning about Tió de Nadal (pooping Christmas log) and the caganer in Barcelona
  • making paella in Barcelona
  • all things Gaudí (including the organ playing at the Palau Güell)
  • Airbnb cancellation with less than 24 hours notice
  • walking on the Cuenca bridge–at night
  • great playgrounds in Madrid (El Retiro), Sevilla (Parque de Maria Luisa), Barcelona (Ciutadella/paella swing), Valencia (Gulliver)
  • the fallas, including the ridiculous crowds
  • playing count-the-Osborne-bulls driving around
  • napping in the evening, so we could get up in the middle of the night to go to the fallas and to Holy Week processions
  • spending time with the Wesoloskis and Ortegas in Sevilla
  • collecting wax from the Nazarenos
  • Spending a long time driving around Valencia looking for a parking spot, then, after having found one, walking with our suitcase and heavy backpacks for 20 minutes to get near to our hotel and another 30 minutes trying to reach the hotel (due to road closures for fallas festival)

Japan

  • Not seeing Mt. Fuji in Hakone
  • Warm and multi-functional toilets
  • Sleeping on futons on tatami mats in traditional ryokans
  • Staying in a COLD ryokan, Kyoto
  • Seeing snow monkeys in Nagano
  • Bathing in a HOT onsen (spring) in Hakone
  • Dressing in kimonos (including Grandma and Grandpa!)
  • Origami class, Samurai class, Taiko class, and tea ceremony
  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial, museum and monuments

China

  • Strangers asking to take photos of the girls
  • Crowded West Street in Yangshuo
  • Helen, our guide, getting out of the car and stopping traffic so we could make a left turn, Yangshuo
  • Using Chinese toilet for the first time and laughing so hard with the girls that everyone in the restaurant laughed, too
  • Seeing cormorant fishing demonstration in Yangshuo
  • Impressions light show in Yangshuo
  • Touching pandas in Chengdu
  • Seeing the terra-cotta warriors in Xi’an
  • The woman behind Natalie throwing up on the plane every time we hit turbulence on a very bumpy airplane ride
  • Being warmer in the ice sculpture exhibition tent than outside in the Olympic Green, Beijing
  • Girls playing in an indoor playground with a little boy who introduced himself as “China boy” and “Xavier with an X”
  • Getting “medal” for climbing up to the last accessible guard tower on Great Wall
  • Delicious Peking duck dinner where Todd ate a scorpion
  • Bird pooping on Todd’s head in the Forbidden City, Beijing
  • Fireworks everywhere in Beijing on the last day of the New Year celebration
  • Dinner in Shanghai without a guide:  some of the food didn’t come, we couldn’t communicate to complain, and figuring out the bill was not fun

Hong Kong

  • Being served a chicken with its head on the plate as well
  • New Year’s parade
  • New Year’s fireworks
  • Stanley Village
  • Bird market
  • Walking up the 200+ steps to the Big Buddha

Cambodia

  • Crazy driving
  • Donating a well
  • Seeing Mandy Patinkin at Angkor Wat
  • Biking to Angkor Wat through crazy streets and unpaved paths

Thailand

  • Seeing the Golden, Reclining and Emerald Buddhas
  • All the signs that say not to use the Buddha as decoration
  • Patara Elephant Farm
  • Riding in tuk tuks
  • Fish pedicure
  • Watching The King and I
  • Riding river taxi
  • Going to the beach from The Beach
  • Feeding monkeys on the beach
  • Going into hongs (cave-like rooms in the water)
  • Zip lining with gibbons

Singapore

  • Supertrees
  • Playing with Rafael, Nicolas and Albi
  • Adult dinner at CE LA VI for Todd’s birthday
  • Singapore Science Center, body exhibit, where you go in the mouth and squeeze out the bum

Australia

  • Seeing hundreds of flying foxes (bats) at dusk in Cairns, Australia
  • Fireworks display on NYE in Sydney
  • Surfing lesson in Noosa
  • Sydney Opera House
  • Pulling leeches off Nati’s and my legs, Blue Mountains
  • Great Barrier Reef
  • ATVs on sand dunes in Port Stephens
  • Girls hanging out on net by the side of the boat watching dolphins swim close by in Port Stephens
  • Lake Mackenzie on Fraser Island
  • Driving on beach highway on Fraser Island
  • Motorhome and long drives
  • Railway with the steepest incline, Blue Mountains
  • Hearing kookaburras “laugh”
  • Touching koalas and kangaroos
  • Ted, the sheepdog, walking on top of the sheep

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