Archive for August, 2011

In a last hurrah of summer before school starts (finally!) we headed to Nerja, Spain in Andalucía.
It is about 80 km east of Malaga, on the Mediterranean.  We rented a house at the last minute and felt very lucky to get anything semi-decent at such a late date. All of Europe goes on holiday in August it seems. Once we got to the house, we saw that we were indeed lucky, as the house was not just semi-decent. It was fabulous.  The entire front faced the ocean with an amazing panoramic view. There was a large pool, tiled deck area with chairs and even a very beautiful garden with grass and palm trees to
the left. The one odd thing about the house was….the décor. The house itself was mostly white, very south of Spain. But the décor was every color of the rainbow. Literally. The master bedroom had what I guess was a jungle theme going on. The bed was zebra striped, including the bedcovers and the headboard and footboard. There were also zebra rugs, chairs, lamps, knick-knacks, etc.

Zebra bed

There was also what can only be described as an African princess chandelier, obviously a homemade jobby. Basically, it was a normal chandelier that had been festooned with about a dozen black Barbie dolls in matching apricot sparkly swimsuits and some beads, to keep them aloft. Creepy galore.  Ironically, Noah had a pair of zebra booties, that even had a little stuffed zebra head on the toes of each foot. We left them in the room as our donation to the place. Although, a funny thought occurred to me after…what if the owners had just like the zebra bed. But then each person who rented it kept leaving zebra-themed items, thinking that the owners must REALLY love them. It would be a vicious cycle. Everytime they came back to the house, they would be like “Jeessshhh…..ANOTHER zebra thing. Enough already.”.

Each of the other rooms was equally as “colourful”. One morning, as I was sipping my coffee on the deck looking at the view, Lincoln insisted that I go inside with him while he watched some tv. (Spongebob in German. All the tv channels were in German and about half of them were porn). I said no, that’s ridiculous, the door to the TV room is right next to me and its’ open. What is your problem? He wails, “Everything in that room has eyes! The chairs, the couch…everything!”. He was right. The room has about four
large pieces of furniture and they each had eyes. I am pretty sure that they were custom-made. One was made to look like Mickey Mouse, one to look like Donald, one like Goofy, and there were some Minnie Mouse throw pillows for good measure.  He got over the furniture watching him after about two days, but he was right. The room had eyes.

Beaches in Europe are very laid back when it comes to the showing of flesh. All the women wear a bikini from the littlest toddler to the oldest, saggiest abuela. I was literally the only person on the beach each day in a one-piece. Many of them are also only wearing the bottoms.  After the first couple of days, the kids really got into the spirit of the place. They would swim naked in our pool and then wanted to move that action down to the beach. I had to explain that some naked is fine on the beach, but all naked is
not.  Nerja is set up on a cliff, so the price we paid for our amazing view was a very steep, arduous walk up and down some stairs to get to the beach. I had a heart attack about three times each trip, as Lincoln flung himself down the steps and almost went headfirst over the side. We finally took to letting him walk barefoot, as the flip flops just added to the insanity. Once on the beach, we would pay to get some nice chairs under the palm trees and stay the whole day. And when I say whole day, I mean the WHOLE day. Spanish time management is very different from that in the States. The restaurants along the beach would get crowded for lunch around 3pm, with everyone lining up for a plate of paella made over a wood fire. Since Nerja faces due south, it gets sun from sunup to sundown and that’s how long
beach time is for most. Dinner in Spain is not until about 10pm at the earliest, so we would pack it in around 7 or so and make the long climb back up to the house. There would be some more swim time in the pool and then if we were not going out, dinner would be around 9. If we went out to eat and headed
for the town center, dinner would be around 10.

The town center was a busy, charming little place with lots and lots of crap to buy from a million souvenir shops. The kids were in hog heaven, especially Sophie. They each get allowance weekly, but she is the only one who manages to hang on to hers. She diligently carries it around with her in a little black velvet change purse with her name on it in gold thread. You never know where there might be a
shopping opportunity, in her mind. We’ve taken to calling her Sophie of Gringotts, as not one centavo goes unaccounted for with her.

It was amazing to get to share my love of Spain with my kids.( John had his first taste a couple of years ago, when we did a trip sans-kids to Barcelona, Rioja, San Sebastian, so he was already a convert.) The first day that we were there, Sophie looked at the house, looked at the view and then said, “Why don’t we move HERE??” John John loved the late nights, as he is a night owl, and the beach. Big John would toss him high into the waves as he made a Superman stance, “flying” into the ocean.  Lincoln was less stoked about the ocean, as the waves and current could be fierce for a four-year old. But he loved the pool and getting to share a bed with John. (Sophie and John often have a lovely little club of two that conveniently leaves Lincoln out.).

The kids in el centro de Nerja

By the time it was departure day, we had all gotten a nice fill of beach, sun, and Spain. I think we all could have stayed on another week or two, but best to leave while you’re still having fun I guess. Plus, autumn in Dublin was beckoning……

August 30, 2011 - Posted by gothamfamily

Just a couple photos. These are from the view at the villa. A walk down the cliff to Burriana Beach, but worth it for the view! Would send a picture of the pool on the deck but it’s full of naked Gotham kids! No wifi at the villa so doing this from the phone! Will write more when we get home.

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August 21, 2011 - Posted by gothamfamily

As these last days of the longest summer of my life tick by, I am trying to balance out the park days (days we just make some sandwiches and head to Herbert Park in the hood) and days of outings where we try to do some new activity in Dublin. Today, I decided to take Soph, John, and Lincoln to Dublinia, the Dublin Viking Museum. It’s got some pretty good exhibit areas, showing how the Vikings lived, fought, and even went to the bathroom. (The expression on the wax figure they have sitting on the Viking toilet is priceless. Someone at Dublinia has a sense of humor). But, as Sophie pointed out several times, the wax figures were “creepy” and she was not a big fan. Can’t really disagree.
Dublinia is connected to Christ Church. So, we bought tickets to check that out, mainly to see the mummified remains in the crypt below the church. Someone had told me about these and the kids seemed keen to check them out, especially Lincoln. Sophie was the most hesitant, especially after the wax figures. We wandered down under the main knave of the church to the crypt, which sounds spooky. In actuality, it was like a very well lit wine cellar, minus the wine. It had beautiful arches and several display cases of some of the church’s treasures, like gold plates and goblets. Turns out that there are no mummified people remains down there. However, it is home to a mummy cat and mummy rat that were found trapped in the organ in the 1860’s and were immortalized (even more!) by Joyce in Ulysses.
In the cheerful and weirdly cozy crypt there is also a small café to one side, with tables and chairs and puffy red velvet couches. The kids insisted that this was the perfect spot for lunch, so we sat and ordered some sandwiches and drinks. Lincoln was the first to finish his food and start acting the fool, as his babysitter might say. So I tried to sternly tell him, “Do you know whose house this is? It’s God’s house. And if you misbehave in God’s house, he is going to be very upset with you”. Normally, I NEVER pull out the “God is watching you” card. But he had just been talking about Santa and being very despondent about his chances for presents this Christmas, based on his own self-assessment that “I am always bad. I hit John.” So, I had been about to say that Santa was watching him, but then the God thing popped in my mind because of the locale. As soon as I gave my “This is God’s house…” etc. speech Soph and John looked at me and then both burst out laughing. I couldn’t resist and started laughing too .I guess dogma is more effective when the person delivering it at least believes it themselves.

August 12, 2011 - Posted by gothamfamily