Thursday, September 30, 2010

Europe 2010 - An Overview

Now that we've been home for 10 days I feel slightly recuperated from our whirlwind tour of Spain, France and Portugal. We had such a great time and really saw just about everything we wanted to see. We bought our tickets into and out of Madrid since that was what was cheapest at the time.  It made sense to do a circle and this was the way we decided to break up and the order of our two weeks.

Itinerary:
Madrid - 2 days
Paris - 4 days
Barcelona - 3 days
Seville - 2 days
Lisbon - 2 days
Madrid - 1 day

We talked about trying to get to Granada and Cordoba in Spain, Porto in Portugal and some of the smaller towns in the French Rivera like Nice and Cannes.  With only two weeks and wanting to cover as much ground as possible we realized that without a car it would be really hard to go to the smaller areas without major transportation networks.  We turned our focus to the major cities in those countries. 

At first we were all about taking overnight trains from city to city to save on hotels since we had always heard the train was cheaper and the timing was so convenient.  On the surface those were true statements but when we started crunching the numbers and realized that it was actually significantly cheaper (read over $300) to fly between cities and pay for the extra couple nights hotels.  The base train tickets you purchase do not include the booking fees for each segment or fees charged for overnight train accommodations.  Instead, we ended up taking two flights on both Vueling and Easyjet, airlines which are both low cost European carriers. 

Easyjet was most similar to Southwest in the USA except we had to prepay about $12-15 per bag we checked instead of paying the $25 at the airport.  They also had general boarding with a sit anywhere policy but we just lined up at the airport like southwest used to be.  Vueling had the same baggage policy but you could choose to get assigned seats by paying more money for them.  We opted not to pay the additional money and they just assigned seats to us.  One time we were across the aisle from each other and the other time we were next to each other.  Both airlines had a strict 1 bag carry-on limit, which included even purses, but they were not as strict on size as RyanAir.  RyanAir ensures that all carry-on bags fit in the carry-on bag sizer you see at the airports and if it doesn't fit, it is required to be checked and pay the extra fee to do so.

We still kept one overnight bus ride in our schedule between Seville and Lisbon since the bus was significantly cheaper than both flying or taking a train.  Of all the travel arrangements or hotels this was the worst thing.  The bus was what we would consider a standard coach bus but it barely had enough leg room for me when the seats were up.  When people leaned the seats back I was squished and poor Darren, he was far worse off than I was!  We made about 5 stops between Seville and Lisbon, turning on the lights every time, and fortunately a few people got off a couple hours into the journey so Darren ended up with his whole row and I ended up with a seat the the back of the bus where I could stick my legs into the aisle.  At least then we were both able to sleep a little.  We both said within an hour into the journey that we have had an overnight bus experience and next time we will splurge and just fly or take the train!

Well that is a little (or a lot!) of background on planning our trip, I can't wait to share all of our pictures with you! Stay tuned an onslaught will be headed your way over the next couple of weeks!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bryan & Carolyn Are Getting Married!

But first they have to find a place to have a wedding! 

Bryan and Carolyn came up for Labor Day weekend to look for wedding venues and Darren and I got to spend the evening with them.  First we started off with dinner at an East Nashville place called Batter'd and Fried.  It was tasty but a little too heavy for a regular meal! I have the fish basket with clam strips and shrimp.  LOVE some clam strips! :)

After dinner we rotated through Nashville's typical haunts giving Caryoln a lay of the land.  We had drinks at Rippy's, the Stage, Tootsies and Legends.  What a fun night!


We had a big group for once.  Adam and Kristie joined us.


And even my cousin Heather and her boyfriend Marc stopped by for a couple minutes just to say hi!


We should really have nights like this more often!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Brooks & Dunn's Final Hurrah

Before we left on vacation, Sarah and I were able to score tickets to Brooks & Dunn's final concert together!  It was billed as an "& Friends" concert but aside from a brief appearance by Reba, Kix and Ronnie appear not to have any other "friends."  Even without any surprises the concert was still really great and I was so glad to finally be able to see them before they retired since I've been listening to them since gradeschool!  In fact, their tape (yes TAPE!!!) Brand New Man, released when I was 10, was only the 2nd tape I had!

Before Brooks & Dunn took stage a 16 year old kid, Tyler Dickerson opened up the concert.  He is a kid with a terrible need for a haircut!


And the concert begins!


A salute to America's Soldiers during "Only in America."


Reba's "surprise" appearance.


Great night with Sarah!

Monday, September 20, 2010

HOME!

After 2 weeks in Europe, Darren and I have returned home! Our trip was excellent and way more details to come.  Hopefully I'll jump back on the blogging band wagon soon!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Kids Say the Darndest...

1.  HOW  DO YOU DECIDE WHOM TO MARRY?
You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming.  
--  Alan, age 10 


No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with.  
--  Kristen, age 10   

2.  WHAT IS THE RIGHT AGE TO GET MARRIED?  
Twenty-three is the best age because you know  the person FOREVER by then.  
--  Camille, age 10 
 

3.   HOW CAN A STRANGER TELL IF TWO PEOPLE ARE MARRIED?   
You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids.
--  Derrick, age  8
  

4.   WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR MOM AND DAD HAVE IN COMMON?   
Both don't want any more kids.
     
--  Lori, age 8   

5.  WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE DO ON A DATE?   
Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough.  
--  Lynnette, age 8


On  the first date, they just tell each other lies and that  usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date.
--  Martin, age 10
  

6.  WHEN IS IT OKAY TO KISS SOMEONE?     
When they're rich.  
--  Pam, age 7


The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn't want to mess with that.
--  Curt, age 7

 
The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It's the right thing to do.
--  Howard, age 8
   

7.    IS IT BETTER TO BE SINGLE OR MARRIED?   
It's better for girls to be single but not for  boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them.
--  Anita, age 9


8.  HOW WOULD THE WORLD BE DIFFERENT IF PEOPLE DIDN'T GET MARRIED?     
There  sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there?
--  Kelvin, age 8   


9.  HOW WOULD YOU MAKE A MARRIAGE WORK?     
Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a dump truck.

--  Ricky, age  10