Playing Tourist – Our First Visitor!

My friend, Brenda, was my first friend in Barcelona.  We were introduced before we even moved by our husbands, who worked together.  She was already in Barcelona for about a year before we got there and prior to our move, was my go to person for questions like “Do I bring my baking sheets?”  and “Is there a GAP or should I just buy clothes for my kids for the next 2 years here and bring it all with me?”.  I know, kind of ridiculous questions in hindsight, right?   Continue reading

Remembering

In the few days that we’ve been back in Barcelona, I’ve noticed a few things and as a result, I’m remembering a few things. Things that I’m hoping will help me when we get back to Amsterdam Sunday night.  First off, we’ve been seeing Barcelona through rose colored glasses – we are remembering it as it was when we left, not for the hard times we had in the beginning. It’s about remembering that things here weren’t always all that great.  I have to remember that we didn’t always love it here in Barcelona either, especially in the beginning.  Things were tough, really tough.  But we persevered and made it through and in the end, we fell in love with Barcelona.  But it wasn’t until we were visiting school that these thoughts really hit home.   Continue reading

Perspective

While considering ideas about how to revamp this blog, I got to thinking and re-reading my old blog. While it had a lot of fun stuff about all of our travels that we’ve been doing the last 5 years, I really haven’t done a great job about focusing on the positives of expat life itself. Sure there have been some entries about good things, but their numbers have paled in comparison to those about the challenges that we’ve faced on thus journey. And while there has definitely been a challenge or two (or fifty), I would really like to think that there has been more good than bad. Otherwise why would we still be doing this crazy expat thing?

So it’s time to change perspective, or at least attempt to do so.  Maybe just in my attempt to find the brighter side of expat life, I’ll find myself doing better each day.  And while I don’t expect the blog to suddenly become light and fluffy, I do hope that you’ll start to see at least a little bit more of the light and fluffy stuff mixed in with the trials and tribulations that go hand in hand with expat life.  it’s a start and I’ve got to (re) start somewhere!

Quick Weekend in Amsterdam… Never a Dull Moment

This is a total first world complaint but I’m going to say it anyways.  I’m sick of traveling lately.  I’m just exhausted.  I mean, don’t me get me wrong, I love it at the same time.  I’m just tired of getting to the airport, waiting for hours, flying to a destination, doing the touristy thing and then back to the airport, waiting, flying home, etc etc.

So when Josh said that he wanted the kids and I to visit him in January one weekend instead of him coming home, I balked.  I really didn’t want to go.  I booked the flight though because I knew it meant a lot to him and honestly if I’m tired of traveling, can you imagine him?  On a flight every week – flying home on Thursday night or often on Saturday morning, only to fly right back out again on Sunday.  It’s exhausting. Continue reading

Big Changes Ahead

Life is full of changes and when you are an ex-pat, it’s pretty much par for the course that things are going to change and change often.  Just when you get settled or finally get into a groove, BAM! Change!  You either roll with it or get run over by it, but it’s going to happen no matter what.  I’ve never been a big fan of change but in the last 4 years, I’ve learned to while maybe not totally roll with it, at least be more accepting of it. Continue reading

The Time We Almost Moved to Amsterdam

In the world of an ex-pat there is one thing that is predictable and that is that nothing is predictable. We came here for 2 years then said, what’s one and a half more which them turned into 3 1/2 more.   So it’s no surprise to me that even with a committed time frame here in Barcelona that it was possible for things to change, yet again…

I delayed this post for quite some time (as in months and months!) for obvious reasons as it has to do with Josh’s job.  And so it’s stuff that I didn’t necessarily want to make public until the time was appropriate.  However, as it’s important to our experiences here, I kept a journal as we went through the process so you could experience it “first hand” when the time was right.  And since it’s now been months, I think it’s “safe” to post 🙂 Continue reading

Vodelpark and Dead Bodies (never a dull moment!)

Amsterdam, like many cities, doesn’t have a whole lot of green areas.  But we’d planned to take the kids to the park to run out some of their energy and hopefully to rent some bikes.  We’d hauled their bike helmets all the way to Amsterdam in the hopes they could ride there.  Vodelpark is one of the bigger parks in the area and was very pretty overall.  Lots of different paths, water features and of course, several playgrounds for the kids to play on.  Unfortunately we never found the bike rental place much to Liam’s disappointment 😦  I think they still had a good time though!

The boys climbing a cool tree
Running in the grass!!!!
I love GRASS!!!
Cool playground area – reminds me a bit of the climber in the Childrens Museum Boston
I will climb anything I see!
Me too!
I think this is the highest I’ve ever seen Liam climb!

After the park we decided to hit Hard Rock – we know the kids like it and we might as well try to hit one in each country we go to… kind of like McDonalds and Burger King, right?  Thankfully Hard Rock was right across from the entrance to the park.  However we were surprised upon our arrival to see the bridge that would lead us to Hard Rock closed off with police tape and policemen guarding the tape to make sure no one passed.

Yum – vanilla shake!
Giant chess game going on across from Hard Rock…the boys were fascinated and sat there for a good 15 minutes!

Initially I didn’t ask what happened, after all I wouldn’t want to be nosy ;).  However I did ask her when the tape would be opened because we really wanted to get to lunch.  She had no idea but suggested we go down to the next bridge and cross over – duh, makes sense!  So we went around the back of Hard Rock to get in and saw police tape on that side as well.  People were gathered by the tape and curiousity finally got the better of me.  I finally asked the waitress what was going on.  Her response… “they are looking for a body.”  Ugh, really???  Of course, Josh had to go over and look.  He told me there were divers in the water but no body while we were there.  Turns out the waitress was right – a friend of ours googled it and this is the article she found.

Never a dull moment when you are out with the Marcus family right?
But all ended well for us.  The waiter at Sara’s the other night had suggested an ice cream place to Aidan and I – only he didn’t know the name of the street it was on or the name of the restaurant but just pointed us in the general direction.  On an evening walk after our adventurous day, we stumbled upon it!  Or so we believe – after all, they had blue ice cream just like he had told us!  Aidan was super excited that after all our wandering around that we had found it.  And for me, I was excited because we strolled thru some beautiful parts of Amsterdam that seemed immune to tourism and the noise of the city.  The buildings were beautiful and the streets were clean and everything just seemed calm given the chaos of city life just one street away.  All in all a great end to a really fun family trip!  Can’t wait for the next one!
Just love all the unique looking buildings!
Another canal – such a pretty view!
More cool buildings
House boat
I thought this sign in the wall was just very interesting…
A few bikes
This house in the center was built in the 1600s…might explain why it’s leaning a bit too
Love the red shutters!
A crane or similar type of bird hanging out on a car – Aidan thought this was very cool
Self portrait
Cute little street
Finally – ice cream!!  Aidan had bubble gum and cotton candy (called Smurf) ice cream – yum!
Julie