Monday, June 2, 2008

Spain, April 2008

I know this blog is sooo late in coming! For the last 2 months, I've gone nonstop with hardly a breather to stop and chronicle the fabulous events taking place in our lives. But, I'm determined to do my best to catch up in the next couple of weeks. Hopefully, you'll not tire of the many pictures and stories.

Israel and Isaiah waiting for our flight at the Frankfurt-Hahn Airport where we flew on RyanAir to Valencia, Spain. See that baby in Israel's arms? That's Mason. She took to this particular babydoll when she was 2-years old in the nursery at church. Of course, for those of you who know DeAnn, she insisted that Israel take him home. Now Mason has been to the top of the Eifel Tower in France, Spain, and many other places.

We arrived in Valencia and rented a little 7-seater car/mini-van-wanna-be which was perfect for our family plus our 7 compact backpacks! Then we drove 1 1/2 hours south to Denia.

Israel and her babydoll, Mason, on the balcony of our apartment in Denia, Spain. Yes, that's the Meditteranean Sea in the background -- across the street! Can you see the name of the apartment? "El Retiro." That's right...

Looking up at the massive fortress walls of the Denia Castle which diligently kept the Barbary Pirates from attacking the village!

This was so much fun! There was a tunnel that burrowed underneath the castle right through the rock over to the other side!

Isaiah and...


It's all about catching air!

We walked for several blocks looking for a good place to eat breakfast. One whole street is blocked off on Sundays for pedestrians only and this was a great place to peruse the menus as we strolled down this tree-lined avenue. Above, Isaiah reads over a menu.

We finally decided on No. 11 Cafe and ordered the "full" breakfast which consisted of a piece of toast or a croissant, orange juice, and coffee or tea. And, yes, we are finally getting used to Europe's light breakfast.

The law says: Wherever there is water, little people MUST play in it! (Of course, I've never seen this printed anywhere, but it must be so, because my children stop to play be it a fountain, puddle, pool, ditch, bathtub, or ocean.)

Ah! At last! The Meditteranean Sea!!

Zae and Israel in the water while Zeke and Eli fortify the walls.

Daddy and Israel assist in the task.

Cannonballing into the pool!

After playing for hours on the beach, the children wanted to check out the pool back at our apartment. Although they enjoyed the pool, it was unanimous that nothing beat the beach and the sand!

The front of the apartment complex where we stayed for the week.

My four arachnid-children!

Okay, I admit, I love to climb, too!!

Picture of the Village of Denia and the Village Castle down by the wharf and the beach.

Daddy and Israel.

I cannot begin to tell you how relaxing this trip was!! LeRoy and I would simply hold hands and stroll along while we watched our children explore! And there seemed to be no end to their explorations! Here, Isaiah and Ezekiel were fascinated by something down in the rocks on the jetty where we went for a walk. No doubt it was some unique stick or rock that "just had to be seized as there was certainly no other like it in all the world!"

The big city of Benidorm at night.

We strolled along the beach, meandering our way through various lookouts, music floating on the evening's humid sea air. As the lyrics, "My girl, my girl, talkin' bout' my girl," played from the doorway of a pub, LeRoy took me in his arms and danced with me. ...And Isaiah caught us on the dip!

Mmmmm! A crepery! And would you look at that gallon-sized container of Nutella!!

If Eli looks a little tired in this picture, it's because he is. All of us were starting to get really, really tired at this point!! The sun, fresh sea air, and then to top the day off with a relaxing walk through cobblestoned streets, music and the melodic crashing of waves lulling our auditory senses... yep, it was time to head for home!

...Right after some nutella crepes and some icecream!! smile.

Our Israelite!

This is the scene which we got used to at the end of each day!

The beach in l'Estanyo.

Can you hear the crashing of the waves mixed with Israel's squeals of delight, giggles, and made-up songs?

Zae and Eli working on another fortress while Zeke and Israel run in the water.

I know you're not going to believe this, but I actually told them not to get their pants wet... I know, I know... what was I thinking! I wasn't. After the first few little splashes and expressions of remorse on their faces, I apologized. Of course you can get wet!! Duh!

So they did. And they were stinkin' cute about it, too!

On day 4 we decided to climb this rock in Calpe.

See the highest point on the front of the rock? That's the goal!

Beginning the climb. Don't we look so... happy?! Sure we can climb a ginormous rock and smile all the way to the top! (Okay, maybe we do appear a bit naive.)

Maybe the experts look this way because they know the reality of the formidable climb ahead!

Admiring the view from a particularly windy standpoint.

Every climb has time to hang upside down from trees.

The men.

Looking down at a portion of the Costa Blanca Coastline a little ways up the rock.

Summit pictures are always so fun!

(I think the land jutting out into the sea in the background is a place called Moraira.)At the peak.
Looking out over the southern part of Calpe.
Later, I sat on the beach below pondering the climb. It was one of the toughest climbs I've done in a very long, long time because most of the time we were on a 3 to 4 foot ledge with the rock wall on one side and a drop into the sea on the other side. And I have a huge fear of heights. All the way up I kept coaching the children (myself?) to stay near the wall, go slowly, pay attention, be careful. My family was extremely tolerant of the ordeal, coaching me not to give up when I suggested it was too much (translate: Fear!) and we ought to go back down. Sitting on the level ground and looking up, I was following the path with my eyes up the rock when suddenly there was nothing but sheer cliff, no path. I searched for a few moments thinking maybe it went behind shrubs or we had gone a different way at that point. Then I asked LeRoy, "See how your eyes can follow the path up until the other side of the tunnel? Then where is it?" He squinted up at the rock for a moment. "Oh, that's the place where the path was really narrow and we had to hang onto the rope attached to the rock as we walked along. Remember?" Right. That's when my fears had kicked into high gear. (translate: Freaking out!)
When all was said and done I told my children they would simply have to take me on many more climbs to help me overcome this fear. Now that I'm 36 years old, I'm way too old to allow fears to hold me back from seizing moments and living life. Yep, I talk a grand talk... "living life on the bleeding edge..."

Isaiah and Ezekiel at the Peak of Calpe Rock.

On the way up we met an elderly couple from England on their descent down the rock. They encouraged us that we were only about 30 to 45 minutes from the top and to keep going because "the view makes it all worthwhile!" I'm not sure if you can see the white specks in this picture, but those are seagulls. It was nesting season and there were hundreds of seagulls! Toward the top we passed right next to several nests with the mother sitting on her eggs. These mother seagulls screeched out their aggressive warnings as she sat with solid resolve protecting her eggs.
Making the descent.
See that stick in Israel's hand? It looks just like Yoda's (from Star Wars) stick. She found it on this hike, used it all the way up and then down the rock, brought it home with her in her backpack, and has it in her bedroom. Now she's earned another nickname from our family and I imagine that one day as an adult someone will hear one of us call her 'Yoda' and ask, "Where did she get that nickname?"
Ezekiel standing with the peak we conquered in the background just over his shoulder.

More sea and sand... and cute babies.

Israel was sitting cross-legged on the sand, waves intermittently splashing up over her knees, as she sang at the top of her voice and "strummed" her blue plastic shovel "guitar."

Enjoying watching the water babies.
Zeke and Israel never tired of the waves.
Eli and Zae never tired of building up fortresses.
Why don't they make a CD for spas with the sound of crashing waves, calling seagulls, and children's jubilant voices and laughter in the background? Total therapy!
Zeke and Israel were always trying to catch a "big one."

So here's the story. We each had a small backpack of all we needed for a week's worth of vacation, right? The website said our apartment had it's own washing machine so we each brought 3 outfits: the one we traveled in plus 2 more in the backpack. No problem. We arrived on Saturday evening and so by Tuesday morning we needed to do a couple of loads of laundry. This is when we discovered that the door on the washing machine was broken. When we told the receptionist at the main office, she said matter-of-fact, "There is nothing we can do. The door is broken." Then she just looked at me. Nothing more to say. I smiled.

When I went back up to the apartment everyone was eager to know how we were going to get clean laundry. I smiled again. I held up the sea-blue bottle of "Azul Mediterraneo" I bought at the store on the first day of our arrival. "Who wants to be the first agitator?" I asked. We did a load of laundry in the bathtub every day after that. The children all took turns being "agitator," I rinsed, and they all took turns hanging the clothes on the clothesline on the balcony. It turned into a grand team effort and oh! our clothes smelled divine!! I've always enjoyed the smell of clothes-lined dried laundry anyway, but to have the heady aroma of Costa Blanca flower blooms and fresh sea breeze on our clothes! Mm, mm, M!
Originally, our apartment was listed as a four-star accomodation. We joked around about how after a little elbow grease here and there, we made it a five-star accomodation!

This beach in Gandia, about an hour north of where we were staying in Denia, was our favorite beach. But we all agreed we still like the city of Denia the best and would definitely want to stay there again.

The sun was so warm... after the chilly cloudburst passed over. We spent our entire day here playing in the sand and water.
We were pretty much the only people on this massive stretch of beach so we really felt like we had it all to ourselves. (Which was kind of nice considering the beach across from the apartment back in Denia is more populated, which means many topless sunbathers! So... this is the nude side of Europe we've heard so much about! So many new sights and experiences...!)

Ezekiel with his crab collection.

The boys dug this big hole and then had some kind of game going on where Zeke and Eli were bringing Pringles Chips containers full of water over as quick as they could and pouring the water into the hole. (??)
LeRoy with the Gandia Resort City in the background.
The girls.

No beach vacation is complete without proper sand burials.
Israel and Zeke were first.
Daddy got artsy and made sand sculptures...

Eli's next!
The lines across his tummy are his "ripped abs."

At last, Zae's turn. Daddy decided Zae would make a nice gargoyle.

Zeke even adorned Zae's neck with one of his crab "medallions."
"You killed my father, prepare to die."
I just had to include this picture because this is oh so typical of how the boys spend 95% of their energy!

Toward the end of the week I told my family that I thought it would be perfectly romantic to go out on the beach and watch a sunrise the next morning. As usual when I come up with ideas like this, they all just nodded and agreed... on the outside at least. So, the next morning, I awoke at about 4 o'clock, warmed croissants in the oven, put jam inside them, grabbed juice boxes, and then quietly shook each family member and whispered, "I'm going down to the beach to sit and eat croissants and jam and watch the sun rise. Wanna' come with me?" Now you have to know that we played hard all day everyday and were going to bed rather late. Plus, my family loves to sleep in whenever they get the chance... which isn't too often. However, every sleepy head cheerfully roused from sleep, put some clothes on, slipped on a jacket, and padded across the street with me. And... it was perfectly romantic!!
This is a picture of me sitting with my four most favorite people in the world, plus the photographer, Isaiah!
Me with my most, most favorite person in the world!

"Mom, take a picture of me doing a taekwondo pose."
Family at sunrise.

The children and I found our best shell collection on this morning!

The white-washed village of Altea, a little ways south of Denia.
So romantic!

Me and the Zekerdoodle!
Our tribe.
Clowning around on our walk up to the cathedral at the top of the hill.
This quaint cafe was at the top of the hill next to the cathedral. Of course, Europe is full of quaint cafes, pubs, and "hole-in-the-wall" hangouts. So this is just one in the hundreds that I see everywhere we go.

Me and Israel.
My sweet girl.

Our family found this little redneck Alaskan Bar and Grill Restaurant down by the water. LeRoy was so excited! The sign said, "We serve real American food." All those quaint cafes that serve up delicacies like seaweed on toasted bun... Um. No. LeRoy looks for the sign that announces cuisine like steak... (though I think LeRoy's about to start a major European-wide campaign to spread the knowledge and awareness of A1 Steak Sauce.) So fun!
See that car right behind us? That's our rental car.

Playing tag with the waves in Altea.

Tired babies...

Zeke fell asleep mid-snack. He managed to get the bread stick to his mouth but was evidently too tired to chew.
Each day, filled with so much wonder, awe, and discovery. Moments of complete meditation on God's glory, His faithfulness, grace, and love.

It seems each country has its' own version of orange soda. Spain's is Trina. Not our family's favorite! But it was an experience.
On the beach in Valencia before going to the airport to fly home. Israel wrote out her name with stones.




1 comment:

  1. Hi, dear Olson Family! It's Jess! I wanted to let you know that I stop by regularly for updates on how you guys are doing and what you're up to! I have been waiting for the post about your Costa Blanca trip FOREVER!! I was so excited tonight to see it at last! You outdid yourself with the photos, Sharon! Lovely! The family is beautiful and very happy! I'm so glad you had a wonderful time! I smiled the entire time I read because I have a special spot in my heart for Costa Blanca...particularly Calpe, where I stayed last summer...I love that area. Hugs to all of you! I miss you guys!