spreadsheets and suitcases

organization + travel = family fun

Europalooza Trip Report Part 10: Hola España

A note before I commence with the Trip Report: I was of course deeply affected by the fire that destroyed the roof and spire of the Notre Dame.  DH and I feel honored to have visited it so recently, as, even with renovations, it will never be the same again. The kids will always have that memory, too.  Travel is important!  Ok, let’s proceed.

After a nice evening in the Star Trek-themed Paris airport hotel, we woke up at what felt like dark o’clock.  Our nonstop flight to Sevilla (SVQ) on Vueling had a listed departure time of 7am.  It took less than 5 minutes to go down the elevator, drop our room keys at the front desk (which was this hotel’s checkout policy), and enter the terminal.  This hotel was definitely very convenient for early departures.  Read the rest of this entry »


…and we’re back, baby!

So, we had a great time in South America, and visited 11 out of 24 provinces in Ecuador.  Not too bad.

On the way there, we had a tight connection in Panama City, and were delayed on the tarmac, meaning we had to run through the terminal to get onto our last flight.  We were the second-to-last group to board….the last group being my parents, who had also been delayed on their flight from NJ.  At least we made the flight….our suitcases didn’t.  But we were able to pick them up the next day, though one of my mom’s bags didn’t make it until 2 days after that.

We had a fantastic time seeing family and friends, and OMG eating the food.  I lost count of how many ceviches I ate.  SO fresh and yummy, and CHEAP.  And I didn’t have to make it myself- that was the best part.

Lessons learned on this trip:

  • Follow my own advice!  I always tell people to keep a spare shirt and undergarment for each traveler in their carry-on just in case the luggage doesn’t arrive.  I packed stuff for my kids but nothing for me or DH!  Had to borrow pajamas to sleep in and clothes to go back for my suitcases at the airport.  DH stayed home in his borrowed pajamas until I got back with the suitcases.
  • Prepare in advance for altitude sickness:  I know all about acclimating, but that wasn’t possible.  However, I could have asked for meds in preparation for our bus ride from Guayaquil to Cuenca.  Going from sea level to over 10,000 feet in less than one day had me throwing up and feeling very poorly all night.  A quick call to my cousin’s doctor and a 10-minute visit to the pharmacy meant I felt much better after a few hours.  But I would rather have avoided it altogether.  Luckily, the kids did fine.  And I learned the lesson quickly.  For the next road trip up to Ibarra, I was prepared and felt fine the whole time.  DS did get carsick, but I blame it on the curvy mountain roads, since once we got to a flat and straight area, he was fine.
  • More like a lesson confirmed: family time is great, and part of the reason we travel to Ecuador is to become enveloped into the family fold, with all the craziness, crowds, people talking over each other, 24 people trying to make decisions and suggestions and plans at the same time.  We’re used to a quieter home, so the hustle and bustle is fun.  But…we’re used to a quieter home, so sometimes the 4 of us need a break, and “4 of us” time.  I had scheduled an outing the Puerto El Morro, to do a boat ride through the mangroves and see river dolphins.  Not that I didn’t want everybody to come along, but I planned it so that it was just our group of 4, plus my cousin’s wife (who was driving), and my niece (who is the same age as DD).  It was a relaxing hour-plus ride there, a great time seeing many, many dolphins and pelicans, and a nice almuerzo (bigger lunch meal) afterwards.  A perfect break from the 4 dozen other relatives, and we were refreshed and ready to get back to the noise and fun.  I’ll continue to choose some activities on vacation that are reserved for our smaller group, should we decide to travel en masse again in the future.
  • Expect the unexpected: Remembering my last Christmas-season trip, I was prepared for an invasion of grillos, (gross flying cricket-type bugs). They come out during the summer, and especially after the torrential rains that happen in the summer.  I think I saw a sum total of 10 grillos over 3 weeks, and it only rained (lightly) 2-3 times while we were there.  Also, I expected to be able to use my credit cards at more locations…but wound up having to conserve the cash I had brought to make it last until the end of the trip, since most places either did not accept cards, or would be obligated to add the IVA tax on top of the purchase price to use the card (approx. 12.5%).  DH had brought more than I said he needed, which was good advance thinking on his part 🙂 So we were OK while there, and I even came home with a bit of leftover cash.

Overall, I think we all had a really excellent time.  I felt completely at home, and got the sense that all the traveling we did to get there and back, plus the road-tripping within the country, continued to add to the kids’ life experience and general awareness of how people live in other parts of the world.

My DD mentioned more than once that she’d love to travel back and live with family members for a time- while that’s not likely, since I’d miss her too much, I’m more willing to entertain the notion of her doing air travel on her own within the next few years because of the maturity and responsibility she showed while traveling.

DS formed a nice bond with my grandfather (his great-grandfather).  I got some great pictures of them yanking on each other’s ears!  Long story on the ear thing.  He also loved watching all the año viejo/año nuevo burning and fireworks…from the relative safety and silence of the car, lol.

DH enjoyed seeing other parts of Ecuador.  We had mostly stayed in Guayaquil, with just a short jaunt to the beach at Salinas on our last trip in 2009, since we only had 10 days.  On this trip, being able to see the Sierra (mountainous area) and visit the Mitad del Mundo monument was great for him.  Plus he got to go on a short train ride (Baños del Inca route on Tren Ecuador).

On our next trip to Ecuador, I’ll be planning to visit the Galápagos Islands.  DS will be old enough and mature enough for all the walking and touring.  DD will be in college by then (!!!).  I already can’t wait.

I’ll share some trip pictures in another post 🙂

I always say that in order to get past the “vacation is over blues” you have to plan another trip.  Now that we’re back, and I have some additional information about our physical whereabouts for the next few years, I can confidently say that we are going to Disney World this October!  Already set our trip dates, and will be rescheduling our hotel reservations tomorrow (moving them from July to October).  Also researching flights, and trying to decide which day to attend Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, and what family costume to wear!  Got many other things to plan and decide, including what restaurants to eat at, and how to organize our FastPass+ choices.  Busy, busy, busy.

love to plan

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