After a perfectly marvelous trip, with the small glitch of a cancelled flight we had no notice of, I made it home last night from our cruise of the Western Med, tour of Barcelona, and ministry trip to the Canary Islands. Whew! I may need a couple of "robe days" to recover!
If anyone is considering a cruise, I highly recommend the Norwegian Gem...we were treated like royalty and I don't think a came across one surly crew member while we were onboard. The food was great, a creme brulee with chocolate ganache that I would kill for...and I don't even really like creme brulee! We took tours of Malta, Pompeii, Rome, Florence and Monaco and all were extremely interesting and well organized. I need to go back to Rome and Florence, though...just not enough time to see everything in a 3-4 hour tour, of course.
Barcelona was amazing. I was all geared up to use my Spanish when I realized we were in Cataluna-where they speak Catalan, a mixture of Spanish and French, which is totally out of my range! I could read some menus, but even the street signs stumped me! But the city was fantastic. We bought 2 day passes on a tour bus line and spent the first day riding all over the city looking at amazing architecture and hearing little snippets about museums, etc. The second day we used our pass to get to the Museum of the History of the City in the Bare Gotica. It was a museum unlike anything I have ever been in. It is built on the site of some of the Roman ruins of the original city. You go down an elevator which shows you "2008" as your beginning floor and "5 BC" as your destination! Our trip to Pompeii was helpful in understanding some of the architectural elements found there. We got to spend a few evenings with our friend, Felix, from Texas A&M, who is studying there for this semester. He had lots of great ideas for places to visit and wonderful restaurant recommendations.
The Canary Islands are a group of 7 islands, I think. I never really got it straight in my mind...we landed on Gran Canaria and spent one day at the airport waiting to fly on to Las Palmas...that is another story altogether. Our time in Las Palmas was so special. Michael and our friends Doug and Rita and Lanny ministered to a conference of pastors from all of the Canary Islands. I was the designated prayer!
We were scheduled to fly out of Gran Canaria at 11:30 pm on Sunday night. One of the participants in the conference arranged for us to be picked up at the airport Sunday morning about 10:00 am when we arrived from Las Palmas and we were entertained royally! We had a great tour of the island, some of which we were sorry to say, we did while sleeping! We ate at a restaurant that is carved out of the side of a mountain...it is a CAVE. Great food and fellowship. Then the guys spoke at 2 church meetings before we left...Our hosts took us to the airport about 10:15 and left us. We walked into the airport and discovered, to our amazement, that there was NO flight to Barcelona that night. After discussions with airport information, crew chiefs, etc. we got hotel rooms, then returned to fly to Madrid, then Barcelona, missing our connections to New York and home.
I have always wanted to go to Madrid, but I really would have liked to have seen more than the airport! Following the extremely hard work of an American Airlines agent in Barcelona, we were booked on the flight home for Tuesday. Doug, Rita and I were disappointed that we would not be home in time to vote, but were glad to get home. Michael had voted absentee before he left the states, and he was going on to Munich and Florence before returning...he's going to be tired, I think.
So, after all of this, I got home last night around 11:00, tired, facing a mountain of laundry and several little things that must be done before I get back on the road to retrieve the Queen from her vacation with my Mom. I think it is time for a rest!