Thursday, April 30, 2015

Seamus the Beagle

Seamus, the oldest of our two fur babies. He is 7 years old. He is a Sheltie-Beagle Mix, but takes after the beagle side. One of his nicknames is Beagle! Drew has had him since he was 5 weeks old.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Marbella, Spain & Malaga Round 2

I'm not sure why I've slacked on finishing up our Southern Spain trip, maybe like when we were on our trip I didn't want it to end. No, seriously, on our last day in Spain, while we were soaking up the sun laying on the beach looking out on the Mediterranean, I got mad because it was our last day on vacation. Usually I don't get mad when we have to go back to the real world, but maybe it was the fact that this would be our last vacation for a while. Or maybe because it was just such a great vacation. (IDK if anyone really noticed how "luckily" was the word I used the most in writing the Southern Spain posts, but everything worked out on it's own.)

After leaving Ronda, we headed down to Marabella, a little town in the heart of the Costa De Sol. We headed down to Marbella for the soul purpose of going to the Hard Rock Cafe. I'm not sure why, but Drew loves the Hard Rock Cafe. Every big city we go to usually has a Hard Rock, and we find it so he can get his picture in front of the sign that says Hard Rock.

The drive down from Ronda to Marbella, is an interesting one. All down hill, since Ronda is in the mountains. I found a video on youtube that shows the windy turns around the mountain. Drew loved it. He says he just wishes we were in our SUV because it handles way better than the little Toyota rental car.

This isn't my video, I got it off of youtube, just to give you an idea of what the road was like.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Regensburg, Germany

Back in March, Drew's mom, Gwen, came all the way from Canada to visit us for a week! She has been our first and only visitor here. Which we understand, flights are expensive and taking time off of work is hard. But we were so thrilled to FINALLY have someone else here to experience what we get to.

 Drew and I got a day off in the middle of the week so we decided to use the time to take Gwen somewhere we hadn't been yet. We had taken her to Wurzburg, and Prague, but wanted to do another day trip somewhat close to us, Drew and I were debating over Bamberg and Regensburg. Both are fabulous cities, but after doing lots of research we chose Regensburg for it's History.

Regensburg is located about an hour South from us, it was founded by the Romans in 179 AD as Casta Regina (meaning Fortress by the River Regen), Regensburg is one of Germany's oldest towns. It was relatively spared from Allied bombings during World War II. Today, many flock to see the wonderfully intact old city and its many medieval structures. The 12th-century Stone Bridge was used by Crusaders en route to the Holy Land.

We started off our day heading the the Walhalla Memorial just outside of Regensburg.

Once we were finished at the Wahalla we headed off into Regensburg. We found a place to have lunch around the corner from the Thurn and Taxis Palace. Our plan was to get some food and head over and explore the Palace. Only we couldn't find the entrance! Instead of continuing to walk around in circles we decided to cut our loss and head into the Old Town of Regensburg.

Downtown Area

Gates leading to the Palace

We knew we wanted to see the Regensburg Cathedral, so we found parking semi-close by following the signs that said Parking. (Bigger cities are much better about having places to park.) The Regensburg Cathedral is the bishop's church and the principal church of the Regensburg diocese. It is also the home of the Regensburger Domspatzen ("cathedral sparrows"), a choir rich in tradition. The structure is considered the most significant Gothic work in southern Germany. The Cathedral is also the burial place of important bishops, including Johann Michael von Sailer (1829-1832, memorial built by Konrad Eberhard in the south chancel), Georg Michael Wittmann (1832-1833, memorial also by Konrad Eberhard in the north chancel), and Archbishop Michael Buchberger (1927-1961, likewise in the north chancel). In the western part of the central nave stands a bronze memorial for the Prince-Bishop Cardinal Philipp Wilhelm (d. 1598), the brother of Duke Maximilian I of Bavaria.
There is so much History in just this little place!
Selfies in front of the Cathedral.

We continued on exploring the town, and of course stopped off for some Eis (Ice Cream)!

Our next point of interest was to find the infamous Stone Bridge. The Stone Bridge (Steinerne Brücke) is a 12th-century bridge across the Danube River linking the Old Town with Stadtamhof. For more than 800 years, until the 1930s, it was the city's only bridge across the river. It is a masterwork of medieval construction and an emblem of the city. We maneuvered our way through town and finally found the river, only to find out that the bridge had scaffolding all around it because it was being renovated! Grr!!

  We walked along the river's edge for a while and found a place where we could get a decent picture of us and the bridge. So we got a quick picture of the bridge and decided to head home.
When we got back to the parking garage we noticed something we didn't when we first got out, a part of the original Roman wall. In the underground part of the car park Dachauplatz the former Legionary fortress wall is accessible.  It presents in impressive staging the remains of this imposing fortress and fort wall of large square stones.

All in all it was a good day. It was nice to have a day off to show Gwen around, and we've been wanting to do more little day trips. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Normandy, France

In November 2014, we took a trip with Explore Europe Travel to France. It was our second trip with them, our first long weekend trip though. I've heard mixed reviews, but all in all it was a good trip. It was a combined trip with a day in Normandy and Honfleur, and 2 days in Paris (I'll save Paris for another post.)
We had wanted to go to Normandy for the longest time and had actually planned out the trip in October. But when I saw that Explore Europe Travel (EET) was offering the trip for 279€ per person, we decided it was smarter to take the trip with them. Gas alone to get out to Normandy would have been 200€, then the hotels in Paris! HA. Don't even get me started.
We left Grafenwoehr Friday night, after waiting an extra hour because people were late. (That's what I hate about bus tours, minus the uncomfortable seats, there's always those people who ruin it for everyone else.) The plan was to have an overnight drive by motor coach from Grafenwoehr to the Normandy Coast in France.
We usually do a lot of trips on our own, 1. Because we can do things for cheaper by ourselves. 2. We're not on anyone's schedule. 3. I HATE sleeping on a bus.
I am completely AWFUL on a bus tour. Drew will readily agree to this and then will probably go into detail about how I make his life a living hell on bus tours. But like I said the price was fantastic and I need to learn that sometimes I can't always plan things out.
We arrived bright an early in Normandy Saturday Morning. We met up with our tour guide to see the D-Day Museum in Arromanches, only to find out that the museum was still closed! It didn't open for another hour. No big deal, our guide gave us a little history about Normandy.
The view once we got off the bus

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Ronda, Spain

I feel like I've said this in every single post, but I loved Ronda! 
Maybe it was the history, or the fact that I just had the best time in Spain, but every single place we traveled to was AMAZING.

Some information about Ronda; Ronda sits in the heart of the Serrania de Ronda, about 100kms from the city of Malaga and with a population of approximately 35,000 inhabitants. Surrounded by lush river valleys and sitting above a deep ravine, it is a place that literally takes your breath away when seeing it. Anyone who has been lucky enough to visit Ronda will understand its appeal. It is one of the most beautiful and visited cities in Spain (the third most visited city in Andalucia). Ronda was first declared a city by Julius Caesar. One of the first routes they followed was the old Roman one, linking Gibraltar with the Roman settlement of Acinipo. Ronda’s most striking feature is the Puente Nuevo, which spans a gorge over 300 feet deep. Can you guess when the "new bridge" was built? 1793. That should give you an idea of how unchanged Ronda has been over the years. It’s also known as the birthplace of modern bullfighting. The town’s bullfighting ring is only used once a year, at the Feria Goyesca, but it’s also a museum where you can learn about the history of this traditional sport.

It was less than 1.5 hour drive from Seville to Ronda. No highways, just 2 lane roads where you are able to see hills, and even castles! 
Roads like these don't have gas stations, so if you're driving, make sure to fill up. We eventually found a gas station, but it was when the gas light had gone on. So just be prepared. Better safe than sorry right?
When we got to Ronda there was construction and the GPS didn't know how to get to our hotel. -_- Thank God for smart phones! Even when they're on airplane mode.  My phone is smarter than me and the GPS was still tracking us so I could just follow the little blue dot to our hotel. (Not sure if that's always a good thing. Guess Big Brother is always watching...)
We finally made it to our hotel! We stayed at the Hotel Sierra Hidalga 3km outside of downtown Ronda. It was nice hotel. The receptionist didn't speak English very well and my Spanish consists of being able to count to 10 and ask if they speak English. Our hotel was 44 Euros, which included parking, and WiFi. The room even had a balcony!
I did my research about Ronda and I know that there were 2 things I just HAD to see. the Puente Nuevo Bridge and their Toro.
Side Entrance to the Toro.
I googled a place to park which took us the long way into the center of town, and about 15 mins away from all the sites. What I loved about Ronda was the fact that all it's sites were right next to one another. I wish I would've known where we were because I would've found parking somewhere closer since we got caught in a thunderstorm halfway through our day. :(
I would suggest if you have a car, first find the sites, then searching for parking by following the "P" signs.
We followed the map we had got from the hotel and found the Plaza de Toros de Ronda. Rick Steves suggest we tour the Ronda Toro museum. Of course I had to listen to Rick.
What I loved most about Ronda were the Bulls! There were real size bull statues everywhere! I got my Bachelor's degree from the University of South Florida, home of the Bulls! The year before I graduated a new student center had opened and they had real size bull statues all over the court yard. The story is that the University paid someone to go and study the movements of Bulls and build statues of them. The statues in Ronda are just like the ones back in Tampa! (Maybe they came to Spain?)

GO Bulls!

Before heading into the Toros we checked out the court yard area next to it, the Mirador de Aldehuela and Balcón del Coño Viewpoints. One of the most popular viewpoints of the city and with good reason. The views of the gorge, the Puente Nuevo and the surrounding countryside are spectacular. The viewpoint has been named in honour of the architect José Martin de Aldehuela. The same architect who built the bullring, the Puente Nuevo and finished Malaga's cathedral amongst other projects. We got some beautiful shots of the city. At the time it was a beautiful day!

City is literally at the edge.

It was windy! I had to hold my hat

The Sidles' in Ronda April 2015.

From the Viewpoints we headed into the Toro museum. Ronda is said to be the home of modern day bullfighting. The Real Maestranza bullring is one of the oldest and most picturesque in Spain. It was built in 1785 by the architect Jose Martin Aldehuela - the same architect who built the Puente Nuevo. The ring can hold up to 5000 spectators. Francisco Romero, born in Ronda in 1695, is credited with giving bullfighting its modern day rules with the introduction of the cape and the muleta. His grandson, Pedro Romero (1754-1839) became one of Spain’s greatest bullfighters. He founded the Ronda School for Bullfighting, it is still known today for its classicism and strict adherence to the rules. There’s a museum and guided audio tours around the bullfighting ring. The price of entry is 6.50€ per person or 8.00€ with an audio-guide. Drew got the audio guide, he was walking around talking my ear off about what this and that was, it was pretty adorable.
What a view!

This is where they kept the bulls the day of the match

The Royal Booth

Ronda's Toro

Our day in Ronda got cut short. It had started to drizzle, then out of no where it started to pour down. When we checked our weather apps, it said the rain would continue throughout the night so we cut our losses and headed back to the hotel (Not before buying ponchos, I will never travel without one again. They're even better than umbrella's)
Reminds me of Florida. Must be all that Spanish Influence 

A while later Mother nature decided to be kind and stopped raining. We ended up back in town for dinner. We ended up at the cutest little restaurant next to the Toro. I had the best Sangria, I had to take a picture with it!
It even had a little lemon drink garnish.

The next morning before heading off to Malaga, we headed back into town to find the pathway down the gorge to get a clear view of Ronda. Before it started to rain we saw people down there and planned to head there too. We ended up down the Puente Nuevo which offered unforgettable views over the El Tajo gorge. The Puente Nuevo – new bridge – was actually completed in 1793 and took forty two years to build. The bridge joins the old Moorish town and the newer, El Mercadillo parts of the city.

Sidles' down the El Tajo Gorge April 2015

We were up there the day before! Thats a picture of the View points!

The "New Bridge" of Ronda

On our way our the city, we passed  the Arabic walls and city gates. It is said that Ronda has been one of Andalusia’s most impregnable cities. Mainly because of its geographical position, but also to a series of city walls and gates which were built by the Moors throughout the Islamic era. These walls and gates were continually being added to as the city grew.

Arabic city gates

Today, they provide a unique glimpse into Ronda’s past. Visitors in Moorish times to Ronda would have entered the city via the Puente Arabe, eventually entering the city centre by going through the now decrepit Puerte de la Cijara. The largest and most protected city gate was the Almocabar one. It took its name from the Arabic cemetery (al-maqabir) which stood in this section of the town. The Almocabar gate faces Gibraltar and the sea and would have been a main point of entry for most people.
All in all Ronda was everything it was built up to be. Honestly, if you are ever in Southern Spain and you don't go to Ronda you are seriously missing out.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Seville, Spain

Ever heard the saying "Seville = Love"? Because it does.

The hotel was tucked away in a little alley
That's the best way to describe it. I absolutely loved Seville and cannot say enough great things about it. Friday morning we woke up, had something to eat, stopped off in Tarifa for a "quick" souvenir pick up. Finally after what felt like forever, we found our shot glass and magnet, got some gas and we were off to Seville.

Seville, or Sevilla as the natives call it, was the city I was most excited to see. Rick Steves had a snapshot book of Seville, so I knew it had to be great! It did not disappoint! We took the scenic route following the coastal highway to get up to Seville and saw the beauty that is Southern Spain.

We stayed at the Pensión San Benito Abad, this was the most expensive hotel we stayed at. The hotel is located on a busy street, but tucked away down a pedestrian street. Our GPS found the hotel easily, but we had no where to park! We had to look for the the blue "P" signs to find parking. Luckily there was a parking garage right around the corner from the hotel. Unluckily, was that it charged 22 euros to park there for 24 hours. YIKES! I thought we were getting the hotel at a steal for 45 euros. We ended up paying 67 euros for this hotel.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tarifa, Spain / Tangier, Morocco, Africa

After hitting up main street Gibraltar, filling up on Fish & Chips, tea, and homemade scones, we got our magnet and shot glass (Our MUST souvenirs) we crossed the border back into Spain. Everything I've read says that it's harder to cross back into Spain then crossing over into Gibraltar, maybe we were lucky, but we waited in the line up for maybe 15 minutes and drove back over without even getting stopped to see our passports. (We had to pull over on the way into Gibraltar to get our passports checked, but they didn't stamp them!)
The hotel we were staying at was located in Tarifa, Spain. Tarifa is about an hour away from Gibralter. Tarifa is where the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea meet. Pretty cool if you ask me. But that is about the only cool thing about Tarifa. It was a really nice city don't get me wrong, but it had so much potential to be better. Tarifa is the Southern most point of Europe. Here on a good day you can see across the strait of Gibraltar into Africa. The Strait of Gibraltar is what separates Africa and Europe. Wanna guess how far away the two continents are?
~32km! So about 20 miles!
How crazy is that? 
That's probably why Tarifa is the best place to ferry across to go to Morocco.
Where the Atlantic and Med. meet in Tarifa!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Gibraltar, Gibraltar

We woke up from a good night sleep semi-early (we're on vacation after all) and packed up our things to head down to Gibraltar. 

Costa De Sol
We packed up the car plugged in "Gibraltar" in to the GPS and we were off. We drove along the Costa De Sol, catching glimpses of the ocean. We stopped for gas up on a hill and could see the coast. I, of course, wanted to take a picture. Drew humors me a lot and drove up the hill to get a clear view of the top. But as luck would have it, it was windy and cloudy. Weather wise it was cloudy and raining, just plain dreary.  A rain storm had passed through the night and according to my weather app it was supposed to clear up by then. No such luck, I took a picture anyway.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Malaga, Spain

First things first, since I can't rewind 2 years and start this blog when I first got to Germany, I figured I would start with our most recent trip. Southern Spain. 

I can't read German but I guessed it was the equivalent to
"Share a Coke with your Soulmate."
I got a week off from work for Spring Break, and luckily Drew got to take some time off as well. :) Ryanair, I cannot keep quiet about how great it is, not the actual flying with them part--baggage restrictions, early/late flights, constantly trying to charge you for anything and everything they can--but the fact that they are incredibly cheap! I found RT tickets from Nuremberg to Malaga, Spain for $200 TOTAL. You really can't beat that.

Upon landing in Malaga on a Tuesday, we shed our layers from the 45 degree temperature we left back in Germany, first thing was to get our rental car. We usually book with Sixt but they wanted 300 euros for the week. No thank you. Luckily after scouring the Internet I found Malaga Care Hire. For a week they only wanted 56 Euros! I was skeptical at first, but turns out they were legit. The only difference between them and every other rental car company is that they only give you half a tank of gas (which you pay for. For us, it was 25 EUR), and you return it with an empty a tank of gas. Weird I know, but it saved us over 240 euros. I didn't have to put down a credit card to book a car so I figured worst case scenario we would have to find another place to rent a car from.


Welcome to our Travel blog! My husband Drew and I have been in Germany for two years now and we figured it was about time to start sharing our adventures in Europe. In our short time in Germany we have been to 22 different countries! Hopefully my posts are enjoyed and I might even get my husband to blog as well! :)