Archive for November, 2011


Posted in Travel with tags , , , on November 16, 2011 by grandersons

After a whirlwind day in London, Kyle, Drew, Jenny and I landed in Dublin to start the next leg of our tour.  We rented a car and Kyle had the privilege of driving us around on the “wrong” side of the twisting roads of Ireland for the next four days – I don’t know how he did it, but he did an amazing job!  Jenny and I, on the other hand, were completely worthless as we literally passed out in the back seat every time the car was in motion…oops.

Let me start by saying that Ireland was truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever encountered – lush, green, and constantly changing from one landscape to the next.

We started by spending our first night in Blarney – yes, near the Blarney Stone.  While we had an amazing traditional Irish dinner in a local pub, we did not actually kiss the Blarney Stone.  According to Rick Steves it can get pretty slobbery and that thought just really grossed me out!  I’ll pass on that particular chance at good luck!

So, we visited the Woollen Mills on our way out of town instead.


From there, we took an abbreviated route of the Ring of Kerry that started with a stop in Kenmare.  We all fell in love with this charming, bustling town and especially with it’s perfect little bakery – Jam – where we enjoyed delicious scones, coffee and sandwiches.  Yum!

We also made a stop in Killarney National Park and took a short hike to a waterfall.

And then we got to take a car ferry – I just love ferries.

Our second night was spent near the Cliff’s of Moher at a lovely B&B.  We were up early the next day to make it to the cliffs before the tour buses arrived and it was a remarkable view to take in – so massive and stunning.  Apparently we were fortunate to get such a gorgeous view because the weather is often foggy and makes it difficult to even see the cliffs.


For the last two nights of our trip, we settled into a quirky house just outside of Dublin with our even quirkier hosts.  Those that say that Irish people were born with the ‘gift of gab’ were not lying!  With that said, they made us feel right at home and were so helpful as we set out to explore Dublin.

As all good tourists do, we hopped on a double-decker bus to get oriented in the city and figure out which sights we wanted to see in such a short amount of time.  After a full loop, we decided that Trinity College, the Guinness Factory and Christ Church were at the top of our list and off we went.

Notice that I’m “guinness-less” in this photo…let’s just say I had a feeling that maybe I shouldn’t be drinking…

Cheers to a fantastic trip to Ireland!










The Lingle’s Visit Europe

Posted in Travel with tags on November 13, 2011 by grandersons

Our good friends from Boise, Idaho, Drew and Jenny Lingle, planned their visit perfectly by coming to Madrid just as Kyle finished his third term at IE.  They took three weeks off to explore Europe and we were happy to join them on much of their adventure!  During their time here, we explored Madrid, London, Ireland, and camped across the North of Spain and Southern France.  Let’s just say it was nothing short of INCREDIBLE.

After a few days in Madrid, the four of us headed out to spend a day in London on our way to Ireland.  It was a quick trip – literally less than 10 hours in the city – but we packed in a lot of walking and sight seeing in a short amount of time.  We had a particularly successful trip thanks to our friends Rachel and Kevin Chu, who prepared us with the perfect walking and eating tour!

From Victoria Station we walked towards Buckingham Palace and happened to time it perfectly to see the changing of the guard.  We strolled through James’s Park through Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, and on to Covent Garden.

Covent Garden was at the top of my list of places to see.  I went on a month long tour of Europe by myself when I graduated from college in 2004 and was fortunate enough to stay with some friends-of-friends that I’d never met before at their gorgeous flat next to Covent Garden.  I have a similar picture to the one below from over 6 years ago!

After a walk along the River Thames we were ready for lunch, and Kevin had recommended the perfect spot – enter “Pieminister” for the most delicious pies with peas and mash you could hope for!

Our walk along the Thames continued and we saw the Millenium Bridge and London Bridge.  We also went up to the top of the Tate Modern to appreciate the view.

One of our last stops was at the Tower of London – we didn’t make it inside the tower walls, but were glad to have at least stopped by.

Later in the afternoon, I found a Starbucks to hunker down in so I could get some work done while Kyle, Drew, and Jenny made their way to Westminster Abbey and actually attended an evening service to get the full experience of this beautiful church.

We ended the day with dinner in a pub and caught a train to Stansted where we’d catch our early morning flight to Dublin the next day – this was where we hit a few bumps in the road, but now I’d like to think of it as all part of our grand adventure!  Next stop…Dublin!

Happy Birthday Lalit!

Posted in Life in Madrid, Special Occassions with tags , on November 13, 2011 by grandersons

We celebrated our wonderful friend Lalit’s big 3-0 in July with  a weekend of festivities – what could be better to kick off your 30’s than an outdoor movie, a big brunch, and an afternoon in el Retiro!  We hope you had an absolutely fantastic birthday Lalit!!!

The Open Air theater was AMAZING with rows and rows of beach style chairs to enjoy the show.  We got their early enough to grab dinner and score some free fleece blankets to keep us cozy during the movie.  Fun!

The guys enjoyed lounging on the Chopra’s gorgeous patio before we all dove into Kyle’s delicious breakfast sandwiches and my tasty apple cinnamon cake.  I think Lalit was pleased with his birthday brunch!

And the day was topped off by a gorgeous afternoon in the park, complete with cake, friends and champagne!  I think Abby particularly appreciated Lalit’s choice of birthday celebration spots.

Wishing you a feliz cumpleanos from the Granderson’s, Lalit!!!

Survival of Term 3

Posted in Life in Madrid with tags , on November 13, 2011 by grandersons

Kyle wrapped up his third term at the end of July and couldn’t have been happier!  This was a particularly celebratory day for Kyle and his section – “N4” – since it was the last term they would have all of their classes together and everyone was preparing for a month of vacation before starting classes again in September.  Congratulations N4!



Birthday Celebration for “Keelay”

Posted in Life in Madrid, Special Occassions on November 6, 2011 by grandersons

Kyle celebrated his 28th birthday (yes, he’s a baby) on July 7th…but this year, he celebrated as “Keelay.”  Little did you know that Kyle has a new identity in Madrid and he has come to be known as “Keelay” – the phonetic pronunciation of Kyle for Spanish speakers.  Slowly but surely the name stuck and now his IE friends endearingly refer to their friend, their class representative, their group member, and their classmate as Keelay.

In honor of Keelay’s bday we invited a few friends over to our tiny little apartment to celebrate with a little cake and a toast to my favorite person in the world.  My mom and Randy were even here to give him an in-person bday hug and Abby was happy to help blow out the candles on his delicious bday cake.

We also celebrated over the weekend with a night out in honor of Kyle and his friend, Oscar, who’s birthday was on July 8th.  Feliz cumpleanos Kyle and Oscar!



Feliz Cumpleanos mi amor!

Mom and Randy in Madrid

Posted in Life in Madrid with tags , , on November 6, 2011 by grandersons

After my mom and I spent an amazing weekend together in Italy, Randy came to meet us back in Madrid after working for several weeks in Greece for the Special Olympic World Games.  He was exhausted, as you can imagine, but we were so happy to have him join us to explore the beautiful city of Madrid – our home for the year!

Nothing makes me happier than to see my mamma happy…don’t she and Randy make great European travelers?!?!

Kyle and I took them on a walking tour through Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor with a top at one of our favorite markets for some paella, olives, wine, and of course, gelato.

The highlight of their visit was an outdoor concert with the inspiring group, “Playing for Change” – a collection of talented street performers from around the world who perform together with an incredible mix of cultures and styles.  Our favorite was the finale – “Stand by Me.”

The other highligh, coming in at a close second, was going to the Madrid Zoo.  We may have been sweating profusely in the heat, but it was definitely worth it to see the dolphins, meerkats and baby pandas!  Oh, and Randy enjoyed saying hello to his friend, Chip, as well 🙂

Thank you, thank you mom and Randy for coming to visit us in Madrid!  We’re looking forward to many more concerts, trips to the zoo and other adventures with you…even if they are a little closer to “home” next time!