What A Gift

This trip, a long planned graduation present for Skye and Caroline, was intended to be the old fashioned kind where one introduces a young lady to Europe and fine art.  Yet, in reality, this adventure ended up being such a present to me.  After the rigors of high school, the college application process, as well as the many challenges that come with teenage years, this vacation was such a respite, an oasis of happiness, a joyful completion to the circle of raising a child.  We laughed, we cried, we toasted to the future and we enjoyed each other.  We learned from the stories each told and we learned how to travel at different paces,  with different interests, and with a variety of expectations…and those differences and that variety created a rich tapestry as told by the blog entries and the photos.

Our planes traveled to the dizzying heights of 40,000 feet, but I would have to say that my heart today soars as high as the stars.  I am home (at the farm), but the memories we created continue to stir my soul.

Our daughters are loving, intelligent, and beautiful.  The world is their oyster and they will surpass my wildest dreams.

I was truly blessed by this experience and I look forward to a bright and exciting future.



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Skye’s Final Photos

sorry for the huge delay! I was too busy enjoying Europe I fell behind on my uploading. These are the best from Spain. There are many more to see which will be on facebook when I finish editing all 5,000. I hope you enjoyed seeing our trip through my photos.

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We’re home

My body tells me it’s 11:00 pm but my watch only says 7 pm…. It’s good to be home, doing laundry, unpacking treasures, filling the refrigerator. Unfortunately, Peter and Matt headed off to Pennsylvania for a lacrosse tournament tonight, so for the first time in two weeks, I’m alone for a bit.

We spent the last two days in Madrid, a beautiful, busy city. All of the buildings were gorgeous on the Gran Via. You know when you go to downtown DC and you look for the occasional beautiful building…the Mayflower Hotel, a favorite embassy on Mass Ave, or the Cosmos Club. Well, on the Gran Via in Madrid, every single building is like that.

We stayed in another good hotel–the Hotel Arosa–which had the world’s smallest elevator in it. This was fascinating: it was trapezoidal, only about 12 inches deep on one side and maybe 24 inches deep on the other. Only two people comfortably fit in it. Suitcases were almost impossible to fit!

The only event worth mentioning is the Prado Museum. They have an incredible collection of paintings, especially Spanish ones, but including many Rubens, Titian, and Rembrandt works. We saw gorgeous Velasquez and Goya paintings. This museum is not to be missed if you’re ever in Madrid.

Thanks for listening in on our trip. Skye has promised an upload of photos this weekend, so enjoy!

love, Beth

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Trains, Buses, and more walking

As Beth has posted, Hotel Amadeus (once we found it since the Sevilla is a maze) was lovely;  quaint rooms with freshly ironed sheets, roof top terraces with wonderful shade umbrellas, a hot tub (which was really a cool tub in order to cool us off from the hot sun) and wonderful views of the Santa Cruz neighborhood of Sevilla.  We learned to love a meal that is comprised of french fries (or small white potatoes sliced and baked) covered with two or three fried eggs and fabulous Spanish ham (bacon).  Yummmm!  Other dishes that captured our tummies were those same small potatoes topped with a green aoli sauce and small chunks of chicken.  Also incredible.

As I mentioned, the Santa Cruz neighborhood of Sevilla can be a maze, but we quickly learned our way in our small section and then sometimes took walks just wandering to see where each small street would lead us.  It was great.  Often we found shoe shops.  It seems that women all over the world like shoes and Sevilla shop owners aim to please in that area.   Beth found two adorable pairs here and Skye found a great pair in Barcelona.

Today we took the train from Sevilla to Cordoba and then took the bus from the station to the neighborhood of the Alcazar and the Mezquita where we walked in the sweltering heat to the magnificent cathedral (once a mosque) and the Alcazar.  The buildings were magnificent and Skye captured some beautiful architecture in her photos.  We keep promising to post them but we only have one plug converter between us and the charging of two computers and her camera seem to take inordinately long compared to the USA.

Tomorrow we head out from Madrid to Toledo and then we will be home on Friday. It continues to be an amazing trip.  Time flies when you are having fun!

xo Tracey


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Seville at 110 degrees

Whew it is hot here! And incredibly dry: the hotel keeps lots of containers around full of water, just to humidify the place. I feel like I’m drinking liters and liters of water and still getting roasted. We had breakfast on the rooftop, which was blazing at 9 am, but still lovely and not quite so hot. Then we toured the city on foot with Tracey’s friend/guide Concepcion, who was excellent. Here are some more photos:

A typical square in Seville: notice the sidewalk cafe, the palm tree, and the cobblestone streets (narrow).

Don't you wish we could all ride around on motorcycle/scooters?

A hidden square in the Santa Cruz area of Seville. Orange trees (with oranges on them!) and tiled benches to sit on.

At the end of a really nice dinner (those are the waiters!)

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Seville in Summer

It’s hot and dry here in Seville. The sky is clear blue and there are beautiful towers all over town set up against it. Colorful ceramic tiles are everywhere–on walls, under balconies, on roofs. True terra cotta walls… the streets are narrow and cobblestoned. Curvy and hard to follow. A lot of tourists here–the locals don’t give Caroline much of a chance to speak Spanish!

We had to wake up at 4:15 am this morning to catch our flight, so we’re all moving pretty slow. Tracey and I are heading for bed now at 11, but the girls heard of a true flamenco show very nearby, so we’re letting them stay out til midnight.

Our hotel is called Hotel Amadeus and the theme is music performance. Here’s a photo of the lobby:

Lobby of the Hotel Amadeus. The instruments are all available for playing!

I thought of the Elkans–you guys could come here and just pick up and play together! There is an amazing rooftop terrace (including a jacuzzi) that we spent an hour on after dinner watching the sun set. One of the photos is the view of the cathedral from the rooftop. Here are my photos from today (Skye’s will be much better):

Lunch today

Moorish influences

Cathedral square

Seville cathedral from our rooftop terrace
























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Catalunya protests

Being the child of a union organizer I was curious this weekend to discover the reason for the discontent of the Spanish populous as evidenced by the camps of protestors in Catalunya square just two blocks from our apartment.  We visited the park yesterday as well as today, looking at the posters and listening to the youth living in tents with banners asking the government to listen to their requests for jobs, sanitation and equality with the rich.  Google searches educated me to their plight… 45% of the Spanish youth are unemployed.  Elections last month have replaced the socialist government with representatives who want more economic reform, pitting the business investors who want to make cuts against the public who require jobs and services.  Peaceful protests have been waging today with growing numbers of people marching towards the square near our building.  Thousands of people… old, young, families with strollers and bicycles, college students… all walks of life are congregating in Catalunya Square this evening to raise their voices to the government to listen.  They do not want the government to give away public education and healthcare.  Police quietly line the streets.  It appears they will let the people speak as long as there is no violence from the protestors.  As we in the United States face economic decline it is refreshing to see a public alive with passion.  The Spaniards are awake, not sheep lead by the media.  Perhaps Socialism can no longer provide a safety net for everyone, but here, in the heart of this protest one feels vitality not apathy for the future.  May God bless and keep us all!


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