Whew, we made it :)

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A very late night in San Francisco, but we made it through our Route 1 trip!!

Yay!  It was absolutely gorgeous and so worth the extra time to go this way from LA to San Fran.

We stopped in Cambria, San Simeon and Hearst Castle.  Hearst Castle was surreal.  I cannot even begin to imagine how life was back in the 30’s and 40’s for these people who visited Hearst Castle.  We learned a ton of info about the family and the property.  It was a treat and I highly recommend a visit if you have the chance.

We then motored on to Elephant Seal Beach.  Those seals are HUGE!  It was funny to see them all lying around and tossing sand on each other.  Very cute, but I wouldn’t want to get in the way of any of them.

Then we headed to Monterey.  A very quaint town.  Fantastic seafood.  We did a walk along the fisherman’s wharf and had dinner there.  The crazy thing was that I could hear the seals very early in the morning from our hotel, which was further inland.  But it was like the birds waking you in the early morning hours, except that it was the seals yelping!

So we stayed overnight in Monterey and then headed to Carmel in the morning.  A little backtrack, about 10 minutes, but worth the visit.  Very charming town and gorgeous beach there.  The sand is so white and clean and the water was calm.  We had lunch at Hog’s Breath Inn…it was so so.

We then drove to Santa Cruz for a pit stop and then to Half Moon Bay for another pit stop.  Both beautiful beach towns, but unique in their own way.

We arrived in San Francisco around 4pm and had about 2 hours to see a few things before meeting up for dinner with the woman who owns the house in Spain where we stay.  We had never met in person before, only spoke by phone and email, so it was a treat to meet her and her husband in person after speaking for 3 years.

Headed home tomorrow 😦   🙂  We miss Coco, but could definitely stay in San Fran for a few more days.

The California coast has been spectacular!

On the road again…

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Oh dear, I have been in a fog since we landed in NYC.  My sleep schedule has been a mess.  Waking up at 2 am…going to sleep at 7:30 pm…

As good as it has been to sleep in my own bed, I really haven’t felt like we have been home.  It has just been comfortable to be in our own space.  this morning, however, we depart for California 🙂  It is my Dad’s 70th and our whole family is meeting up in LA to celebrate.  We always look forward to our trips out west to see our family and friends that live there.

There will, of course, be a day trip to Disneyland, can’t miss that, but we will also be doing something new.  Exploring Route 1 on the California coast.  We have never driven up the coast from LA to San Francisco, but will venture out on another road trip ( am I crazy or what?) Don’t answer!  I can’t believe I could actually think of getting in the car for a long road trip again with the girls, but it is a new experience and Route 1 is supposed to be one of the most scenic drives in the US. Looking forward to Big Sur, Carmel and San Francisco, which the girls have never been.

Coco is staying home on this trip 😦  We will miss her terribly, but she is in good hands.

I had better go wake the girls.  9 am flight.  Only 1 suitcase this time around though 😉

See you in California!

Sleepless in NYC

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So, we arrived home last night.  I fell asleep at 6:30 pm, then woke up at 2:00 am.  This is always the dilemma for me when we return from Europe.

We are going to be home for a few days then we head west to California.

I have so many mixed feelings about the last part of our trip in Italy.  SO much that I didn’t want to write for the whole week.  I just wanted to take it all in a process it.

It was the first time that we had “really” been back to the place that we lived in Tuscany, to stay, to sleep, to visit the local people.  We visited last summer to see our friends there, but we really didn’t stay in the place where we lived for a year.  So this time, it was very emotional for me, and the girls.  We all had different reactions.

We did have a fabulous time with our friends in Camaiore, Tricia, Nick and Sebastian.  They live in Virginia, but happen to visit the same places that we do in Italy and have a house there.  Georgio also was with us there and we all had a great time going to the beach in Forte dei Marmi, having dinners outside in the evenings.  Tricia and Georgio and I worked together 18 years ago and have remained friends.  Tricia and her family in Virginia, and Georgio in Cyprus.  It was really amazing to all be together again.

I am grateful to be home in my own bed, even if I am on the sofa now 🙂

The last week in Italy was unbearably hot and we are all bitten up from the mosquitos and we had a terrible time sleeping, so I am so looking forward to a few good night’s sleep in my bed with AC!!!

More to come.

Fauglia was very emotional, more than I expected.

We left Milan yesterday and I just couldn’t believe we were leaving Italy. The view there of the snow-covered Alps in the backdrop of Milan and then arriving in Manhattan.  Very different.

Part of me is always there.  My girls do not feel the same way, but for me, I have another life there.  I miss it, every day.

Limone, Piemonte, Italia

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All of the photos here are from Limone, Piemonte

Ahh, a little crisp, cool, clean air in the mountains of Italy.  We had a 2 days drive through Spain and france and arrived in a little village in the mountains of Italy, Limone, Piemonte.

http://piemonte.italiaguida.it/en/storia/default.asp

It is a ski town, but is just gorgeous here in the summer.  It is a great break from the heat of Spain.  I have been waiting for Italian food and now we can indulge in all of our favorites over the next 10 days.

Morgan was able to visit a friend of her’s from school in NYC, that lives here part of the year.  It was also a great break for Maddie and I.  She stayed at her apartment and played all afternoon.

Coco and I have had great morning hikes each day in the hills.  It is so cool that I have needed a jacket!  I love it!

Georgio went to visit some vineyards a little further north of here yesterday, in Barolo.

Our friends that live here recommended this adorable hotel, L’ Artisin, and it was just perfect.  The owner makes the best coffee in the mornings and has a little breakfast out. It is very quiet here, we were the only guests staying here, besides Georgio, the night before.  We watched the stars last night from our balcony that looks out over the mountains.  The best part is that it was only 50 Euro per night!

We will visit more friends in Tuscany and Liguria in the next few days and cannot wait to eat at some of our favorite restaurants in our old village that we lived in.

Maddie and I felt a little under the weather the last day or so, so we are taking it slow.  Trying to enjoy the moment 🙂

A-OK in Altea, Spain

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Oh my Lord!  What is going on with the train derailments?  Very scary and sad.  I feel very comfortable driving in our car everywhere. Maybe it is a control thing, but I felt so uneasy on the train from Amsterdam..  Anyway, we are okay.  Safe and sound in Altea, Spain.  We are staying in a home that we have several times and we just love it.  It is comfortable, near the beach.  We love the food here and it is a place to relax and take a breather.

We have been gone almost 3 weeks and I feel like I have been gone for a whole summer already!  I have needed a few days to unwind here in Altea since we have been on the go so much since we left New York.

What I love about it here is the people are so friendly.  The local Spanish people are great and many of the people who come to visit are from all over Europe.  A lot of Northern Europeans are here also.  In fact, some of the local store have Dutch and German foods, to keep their customers happy.  The days here have been lazy.  The girls have been reading, fighting, swimming, playing “ToonTown” on the computer, fighting, catching up on FaceBook, watching synchronized swimming on TV ( World Championships in Barcelona), fighting, practicing their synchronized swimming routine they started last summer in the pool here, sleeping 10 + hours, eating gelato & popsicles multiple times a day, fighting some more and eating fresh fruits and veggies that we find here.

It is hot for sure.  Kelly and I have been getting up in the mornings to do “Sworkit” ??? Some new exercise app on Kelly’s iphone that kicks our butts.  And man are we sweating in 2 seconds!  Then I take Coco for a walk before it gets too hot outside.  By 10 am it is sweltering and you do not want to be in the direct sun.  Thankfully, there is shade on the patio and a pool to jump in.  But even though there is the pool, it is too hot in the middle of the day to be out there.  The girls have been mostly swimming in late afternoon until evening.  They love being in the pool and I want them to enjoy it as much as possible while we are here, which is only 2 more days, then off to Barcelona.

Tuesdays are market days in Altea and we LOVE, LOVE ,LOVE going to market here.  The fruits and veggies are so fresh and gorgeous and delicious and cheap!  We load up and feast for the rest of the week.  In fact, we have been out to eat only 1 time since we have been in Altea.  This I love, because when you are on the road and staying in hotels, you don’t eat the best and cannot easily prepare your own food.  So while we are here, we are eating well at home and enjoying dinners on the patio, and having the most delicious peaches and cherries and cantaloupes.  We even made fresh watermelon juice.  It makes the body feel good for sure 🙂 There is the fruit and vegetable market and then there is a separate market where you can find just about everything else.  Clothing, spices, hats, shoes, jewelry, pots, pans, ceramics, etc.  I was fortunate enough to find a pair of raspberry suede boots a la Kinky Boots, the musical, for 50 Euro!  They were so nice, they reminded me of the Italian boots I find in Forte Dei Marmi, but they are way more expensive there.  I have never seen anything remotely interesting clothing or shoe wise at the market her in Altea for me, so these boots were a gem to find.  And there was only 1 pair and just my size 🙂

As far as the girls…. I love the summer time with them and get stressed being around them 24/7 all in the same breath.  Yes, they argue and it drives me crazy!  I think the fact that they are also around each other 24/7 which is a far cry from the school year, makes tension rise between them sometimes.  However, it is pure joy to see them goof off and relax and have fun together and do things they really enjoy without the stress of school.  I see the need for them to sleep a ton to recharge their batteries. I also am aware of their need to be KIDS and enjoy being kids and doing kid things without stress of school.  School is way too stressful these days, so I am very happy to see them unwind.  Sometimes they just need to unwind in separate rooms though 😉  It is fun to watch them practice their synchronized swimming routine in the pool.  Last summer they started after watching it in the Olympics and it is funny to see them try to do it, but they so enjoy it and have to work together.

For me, I am going to enjoy these last few days in Altea and relax and get my rest, because the rest of the trip we will be on the road, but I am so looking forward to the places we are going and the friends we are meeting up with.

This train accident in Spain is devastating. The death toll is climbing.  It really makes me think about how lucky we are in each moment and I need to remember to be grateful each moment, because one never knows what comes next.  Stay present, I must remind myself.  It is not always easy, but I will try.

Sorry for those lost 😦

La Cote Basque

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After a glorious day in Saint Jean de Luz, we are heading for Madrid by car.  It is about 4 ½ hour drive.

Saint Jean de Luz has been a perfect rest stop.  We relaxed on the beach, swam in the ocean and ate well 🙂

There are 2 other popular destinations right near here, San Sebastian, Spain and Biarritz, France.  I thought we would stop in and check them out as well, but we were so happy and comfortable here, that I just wanted to enjoy our short time here.  I have had friends that have been coming here for years and I have no idea why we never came before. I  preferred it to Nice and Cannes.  The beach was calm, sandy, not rocky.  The water was warm and so easy to swim in.  The beaches were very kid friendly, with plenty of activities for them to do.  It was not pretentious. A mix of elderly people and the young families.  The town was adorable.  Shops everywhere.  The architecture was very appealing as well.  It almost looks like a mixture of Swiss and German architecture, but I am not an expert on that.  It definitely didn’t look French or Spanish.

I guess the main point is that I want to come back for sure.  I walked Coco along the promenade each morning by myself, a quiet escape  from the girls 🙂  Road trips are challenging for sure and Coco brings some peace to me 🙂  Mom has been dealing with all of the walking, girls and moving around quite well.  She is a trooper! Thanks Mom for joining us.

We even went to a restaurant that our friend Jeff recommended , La Bar Basque, and a waiter that he recommended as well, Nikola, took very good care of us. It was delish!

More to come later, but I absolutely LOVE Saint Jean de Luz.

Now off to Madrid.  The girls cannot wait for croquettas de jamon and Maddie is planning our itinerary in Madrid for tomorrow.