FUN-travel: New 7 Wonders of the World Runner Up: La Alhambra – Granada, Spain

October 8, 2012 by · Comments Off on FUN-travel: New 7 Wonders of the World Runner Up: La Alhambra – Granada, Spain 

  • The Alhambra is the last and greatest Moorish palace in Europe.  The name Alhambra comes from an Arabic root which means “red or crimson castle” due to the hue of the towers and walls that surround the entire hill of La Sabica which by starlight is silver but by sunlight is transformed into gold. The Alhambra was an “alcazaba” (fortress), an “alcázar” (palace) and a small “medina” (city), all in one. This triple character helps to explain many distinctive features of the monument.
  • The alcazaba fortress, created originally for military purposes, was the first structure to be built dating to the 9th Century. It was followed by the alcázar Palacios Nazaries which is the jewel of Alhambra. This 13th century Moorish royal palace consists of carved wood ceilings, ceramic tiles, molded-plaster walls, stucco “stalactites” and filigree windows. It’s an incredibly impressive size with 9 different rooms and areas.  The medina consisted of residences for members of the court. The Generalife Gardens were the Sultan’s summer palace with extensive vegetable and fruit gardens.
  • The Alhambra became a Christian court in 1492 when the Catholic Monarchs (Ferdinand and Isabel) conquered the city of Granada. Later, various structures were built for prominent civilians, also military garrisons, a church and a Franciscan monastery.  Charles V’s Palace featuring Renaissance architecture was built in the 15th Century.

  • We stayed at the Parador de Granada San Francisco which was originally a Moorish palace and converted into a Franciscan monastery in the 14th century.

    Generalife Gardens

  • In the summer of 2007, more than 90 million people cast their votes to determine which architectural marvels in the world deserved to be one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. There were a total of twenty-one landmarks vying for that title.
  • Of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World, only the Great Pyramids in Giza, Egypt still stand. The pyramids were given an automatic spot after infuriated Egyptian officials said it was a disgrace to have to compete for something that had belonged to their country for so long. I agree!  We saw them in 2007.
  • It is our goal to see all twenty-one landmarks. Also, Chris and I have collectively seen a lot of the twenty-one, however, not together. So the rule is, we go back and see all of them together!

New 7 Wonders of the World we’ve been to:

  • #1 Chichen Itza, Mexico – 2005
  • #2 Great Wall of China – 2010
  • #3 Machu Picchu, Peru – February, 2012
  • #4 Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro – February, 2012
  • #5 The Coliseum – Rome, Italy – August, 2012

New 7 Wonders of the World Runner Ups we’ve been to:

  • #9 Statue of Liberty, New York – 2005
  • #10 Sydney Opera House, Australia – 2005
  • #11 Hagia Sophia, Istanbul – 2007
  • #12 Acropolis, Athens – 2007
  • #13 Angkor Wat, Cambodia – 2010
  • #14 Eiffel Tower, Paris – 2010
  • #15 Stonehenge, England – 2011
  • #16 Alhambra, Spain – August, 2012

FUN-travel: Summer 2012 – Trip Recap

September 26, 2012 by · Comments Off on FUN-travel: Summer 2012 – Trip Recap 

  •  Trip Recap – My travel mantra is, “I want to be surprised, but not pissed off.”  Travel is very personal! We are trying to figure the best mix of land and cruising for us. We specifically broke up the Spain trip because we didn’t want to constantly be driving. (lesson learned from last year in Ireland, Scotland, England and Belgium) And we don’t want to just cruise because you miss staying in the towns and cities and really getting the “local flavor.”
  • We take six to eight week trips because it is physically and financially expensive to fly out of the country. We only have so many airline miles left for our “free” tickets. (you still have to pay the taxes which get quite hefty when you fly to Europe) And we have decided that flying is no FUN! (Like it used to be in the “good old days” or unless you’re in 1st class, which we don’t want to pay for.) So the fewer flights the better for us. The baggage weight limits and charges are enough to make you crazy – even when you fly the same airline! We’ve encountered everything from Baggage Police to Baggage Nazi’s (those trying to take our carry ons at the boarding gate, when there was plenty of overhead space, seriously!)
  • Size does matter when it comes to a hotel/cabin. It needs to have enough room so that you can walk around the bed without the other person having to move out of the way. We now check out the size before we book. We are boycotting Marriott hotels because they still charge for internet in 2012! Really!


  • Rick Steves books have been an invaluable source of information for us. We have found places we never knew existed and have followed his advice on everything from tours to restaurant choices to hotel rooms. Just remember to make sure they have an elevator and A/C if that is a priority for you!
  • And last but not least, remember that when you travel as Rick says, “It’s intensified living – maximum thrills per minute and one of the last great sources of legal adventure. Travel is freedom. It’s recess, and we need it.  Of course, travel, like the world, is a series of hills and valleys. Be fanatically positive and militantly optimistic. If something’s not to your liking, change your liking.”

FF (FUN-fact) – In Pamplona during the Running of the Bulls everyone wears white pants & shirts with red sash belts and red kerchiefs.

More FF – If you plan on going to any festivals in Spain or Italy, and like us, want to experience “being there but without the crowds” contact our new Tomatina friend Jacopo at We plan on seeing him again when we go back to Italy.

FUN-travel: Barcelona, Spain to San Diego

September 26, 2012 by · Comments Off on FUN-travel: Barcelona, Spain to San Diego 

Trip Day 55 – Tuesday, September 4 – Barcelona, Spain to London, UK to HOME!


Parc Güell

  • love spending money & hate wasting it
  • save $87 Euro on hotel room by staying @ airport
  • airport shuttle only takes 10 min
  • 7:15 – take off on time
  • British Airways Heathrow lounge has full buffet of hot & cold food items all day long – full bar too!
  • free, fast internet
  • non-stop from Heathrow to San Diego


  • 4:30 am wake up call for 7:45 am flight to London
  • have to take train to satellite terminal for flight
  • having 6 hr layover
  • taking so long to get home!

Parc Güell

FUN-travel: Barcelona, Spain – Day 5

September 25, 2012 by · Comments Off on FUN-travel: Barcelona, Spain – Day 5 

Trip Day 54 – Monday, September 3 – Barcelona, Spain

Casa Milà


Block of Discord

  • 8:00 – more good free coffee downstairs
  • pack up for noon checkout
  • Renaissance @ airport is only $90 Euro
  • 12:00 – lunch @ Nello’s next door – fried eggs with ham & French fries, tuna belly salad (their hamburgers look really good)
  • 1st stop – Casa Milà – Gardi’s 1906 residence – no senior discount – $20 Euro with audio guide –75 min tour well worth it
  • like 4 tours in 1 since it covers his other famous ventures in Barcelona that we saw
  • full tour includes:
  • 1. the rooftop – 30 chimneys on multi level roof with a roller coaster of melting-ice-cream eaves
  • 2. the attic – parabola-shaped arches – served as laundry & storage space for tenants – also used for ventilation keeping things cool in summer & warm in winter
  • also filled with photos, models & videos of his work
  • 3. the apartment – fully decorated – center atrium maximizes light in the apartments
  • 2:30 – back to hotel
  • 3:00 – taxi to Renaissance – good time to go – traffic is light – only costs $25 Euro
  • 4:00 – happy hour!
  • 7:15 – dinner @ downstairs bar – hamburger – really YUMMY! – curry chicken & rice
  • 10 pm – attempt sleep

Block of Discord


  • use Gallery computer to check in for flight – only problem it’s in Spanish
  • staying @ airport hotel
  • paying for internet
  • no siesta – need to sleep tonight
  • 2 & 3:30 am wake up – afraid to miss wakeup call

FF (FUN-fact) – Antoni Gaudi’s most famous work is his unfinished super-sized church Sagrada Familia. He labored over it for 43 years until his death in1926. Gaudi drew his inspiration from nature incorporating form, texture & color into everything he did.

Block of Discord

FUN-travel: Barcelona, Spain – Day 4

September 24, 2012 by · Comments Off on FUN-travel: Barcelona, Spain – Day 4 

Trip Day 54 – Sunday, September 2 – Barcelona, Spain


Placa España

  • 7:30 – Nespresso coffee in Gallery Hotel is free!
  • same as we had in Sevilla
  • black label is the strongest
  • 9:45 – hop on, hop off bus
  • 2nd route (orange line) takes in the west side
  • 2 hours covers the sites without getting off – main attractions are:
  • Olympic Stadium
  • National Palace
  • Placa España
  • 12:30 – Cathedral stop to see Sardana Dancers
  • special surprise treat – only happens on Sunday in August
  • locals dance Zorba the Greek-style – with arms raised, holding hands they hop & sway to the live music
  • 1:00 – hop off @ beginning of La Rambla to walk entire street
  • 1st stop – need food! snack break of Dürüm Kebab – giant flour tortilla filled with Gyros-style chicken & meat, lettuce, tomatoes, onion, cabbage & 2 kinds of sauces – heated pannini style – YUMMY! Best value going – only $4 Euro & enough for 2

La Rambla

  • 2nd stop – Palau Güell – one of Gaudi’s early works – features his trademark curvy style – rooftop contains 20 chimneys slathered in bits of glass, ceramic tile & marble
  • 3rd stop – take side street to venture into Barri Gòtic – Barcelona’s most historic, atmospheric, characteristic & colorful neighborhood
  • old walled, medieval part of city has narrow, winding lanes & courtyards – filled with shops, bars
  • 3:00 – lunch stop @ Las Mañanitas – having Mexican food craving – guacamole, chips, salsa – taco fiesta plate has chicken, meat, pork – Pacifico
  • Siesta
  • 8:45 – dinner la Tagliatella – really good for a chain restaurant (ate @ one in Pamplona) – 7 cheese pizza with paper thin crust, veggie stack of eggplant, tomato, mozzarella


  • had no idea how far Las Mañanitas was
  • 4th night @ Gallery Hotel cost $179 Euro vs $137 for the 1st 3 days

FF (FUN-fact) – La Rambla is the pedestrian-only Champs-Elysées of Barcelona. It’s great people watching (and watch out for the pickpockets) and includes the usual touristy things as well as a flower and bird market.

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