Alicante, Spain

We hopped on our first train and headed west from Barcelona. We knew we had wanted to go to Seville and the train trip would have taken all day, so we picked a city in the middle to spend the night. In the end, we basically put our finger on a map and ended up choosing Alicante. I knew nothing about it, but it looked pretty in pictures and it had a medieval castle so it all sounded good to me! So on to our second stop we went.

Our train ride was pleasant. The trains in Spain were nice, and this one even had a movie playing, (although in Spanish), and they handed out free headphones. Aly and I visited the cafe car and got some delicious croissant sandwiches which were made fresh and warm as you ordered. We were excited to get to Alicante and explore this once thriving Mediterranean port. Little did we know, that we would run into more than one problem while there!

We arrived in Alicante at about 2 PM, and needed to get to our Airbnb by 3 PM to check in. Thankfully, getting around was much easier on this trip because I actually had cell service, (it was well worth the money to pay for it!), and I figured out the bus line we needed to take to get to our place. Unfortunately, an incredibly nosy woman decided it was her mission in life to help us get to where we were going, and insisted we follow her off the bus at a particular stop. She made us get off at a bus depot, which was not where we needed to be.  Jess kept trying to ask her in Spanish why we were there, and she would just say over and over : “Bush!” (bus?) and gestured to the bus depot. She then waved us away and laughed maniacally while snorting when we asked her why she made us go with her there. We collectively decided she was insane, and then got back on the right bus and headed to our apartment and laughed about the twenty minutes we had just wasted.

We found the lock box which held our apartment keys, and walked another block to find it. It was a lovely little apartment but it wasn’t quite what we had signed up for. It was a studio apartment, and the queen bed that Jess and I slept in was literally right next to the front door. Aly’s “couch bed” ended up being a poorly made couch from wooden pallets put together with hard cushions on top, which was about 5 feet from the queen bed. As soon as we walked in Aly yelled: “Sleepover!” Aside from the odd sleeping arrangements, the apartment had everything we needed for one night. There was a full kitchen with dishes, pots, and utensils, and a washer. The bathroom was very nice and had a good sized shower with plenty of hot water this time! Adjoining the bathroom was a door to the patio where we could sit and hang up our wet clothes to dry. The main room of the apartment had plenty of natural light, since it was lined wall-to-wall with floor-to-ceiling windows with large wooden shutters. We were on the ground floor though, and we were directly across the street from a Kebab restaurant that was very busy and loud. There was a group of men and a barking dog who sat outside talking, drinking, and laughing until at least midnight. One man in particular, desperately needed to put a shirt on but thought the opposite. So, we mostly kept them shut when we were there to maintain our privacy.

Once we unpacked we washed some clothes, taking a quick cat nap while waiting for the cycle to end, and then hung them up to dry. The adventure of the day was to venture to the Medieval Castillo de Santa Barbara which seemed an easy 10 minute or so walk from where we were staying. Little did we realize, that the castle sits atop Mount Benacantil which is 544′ up. Doesn’t sound so bad, but once we started hiking on the only pathway that wound around instead up straight up with a very steep incline our legs were all but completely dead when we weren’t even halfway to the top. When we finally made it to the front gates we were out of breath and incredibly sweaty since it was about 82 degrees that day.

That view from the top though! It was breathtaking, and you could see all of Alicante, and beyond. It was sunset by the time we got up there, so we stayed and enjoyed the beauty of it for a while at the top. The castle itself was very old, and artifacts have been uncovered therefrom the Bronze, Iberian, and Roman ages which is pretty impressive! The origins of the castle itself dates back to the 9th century.

There was even a little museum of ‘Game of Thrones’ which got us all excited thinking this was a site from the show, but it turns out that HBO wanted to use the Castillo de Santa Barbara as Daenerys Targaryen’s castle on the show, and the city of Alicante said no (for whatever reason), but they still had this little museum. It was like a “We could have been on the show and said no, but still want tourism” museum that was really strange and pretty comical.

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We made our way back down to the city, and decided to hit up a local grocery store. We purchased items to make some spaghetti and made it at our apartment, which ended up being quite good. The food in Europe is so much better than what we have here in the states! As we were cleaning up dinner, Aly and I noticed some of the shutters were opened, so we proceeded to shut them. A few moments later we noticed they were once again open, and after shutting them again a few more times and finding them open we decided we had a ghost. We named him Ferdinand and apparently opening the shutters was one of his favorite hobbies. After dinner we were pretty tired, and all took turns showering and got ready for bed and Ferdinand’s antics kept going throughout the night. Jess is the deepest sleeper so he was not aware of any of it, but Aly and I kept waking up to the kitchen lights turning on and off, and objects being dropped in the kitchen. Between that, and the loud group of men who hung around outside until after midnight, and then seemed to come back at 5 AM, it was not a great night of sleep for anyone.

The next morning, we were supposed to make our train that left at 10 AM. We made the epic mistake of hopping on the right bus line, but going the wrong direction. If we had just crossed the road and waited for another one going the other way, we would have been to the train station in about 5 minutes. After about 15 minutes on the bus we did happen to get on, we knew we were going to miss our train. So, we hopped off at a stop, and asked a local where we could catch a taxi. He was very nice, but took us on a really long walk to find one, and once we got it and rushed to the station we had missed our train by more than 20 minutes. Defeated, we waited in line to book the next tickets to Seville, which didn’t leave for another 5 hours.

With an unexpected half a day in Alicante, we decided to walk down to the beach and check out what was down there. The city was surprisingly colorful, with incredible architecture and colorful artwork on many walls. The beach, (at least the one we went to), was not super impressive, but being down by the water was fun and we sat and relaxed for at least an hour on some steps leading down to it. We shopped in a cute little market, had some gelato, and then made our way back to the train station.

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Even though we had to change our plans up, we made the best of it and still enjoyed our extra few hours in Alicante, and if you happen to ever be in this region of Spain you should check it out!

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

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Register Rock | American Falls, Idaho

A few weeks ago, we traveled from Boise East to a small city called Sugar City, Idaho. This is where my husband grew up. The drive was actually quite beautiful, as we followed the Snake river for part of it. When we drove through American Falls, there was an exit sign for “Register Rock”. Curious, I told Jess to pull over so we could check it out. I am so glad we did!

Register Rock, is a prominent piece of history for the emigrants who headed West, whether on the Oregon Trail, or the Mormon pioneers escaping for religious freedom. Apparently this rock was a place where those travelers would stop and make camp, would carve their names into. It’s basically like a guest book.

IMG_4572IMG_4571IMG_4569IMG_4568IMG_4565There were other rocks in the area that were also used similarly, but most of them have worn away, or maybe haven’t even been discovered yet.

The rock now is protected by a shelter, and is behind a fence so you can’t touch it. There’s a small window you can peek through to get a good look at the rock though, which was nice.

The oldest inscription I found was 1835! It was very cool to stop and see something like this, especially because I have many pioneer ancestors who made this journey or ones like it across the plains.

After we looked at the rock for a while, we decided to hike for a bit, and I was so glad we did! This area of Idaho is just gorgeous. It’s in Massacre Rocks State Park, which was called so by the emigrants because of the constant fears of being ambushed by the Native Americans above them on the rocks. I would love to come back here and camp!

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It’s amazing what beautiful things we have in our own backyards. I was so glad we decided to pull over when I saw that sign!

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

Idaho State Capitol| Boise, Idaho

The Capitol building in Boise was on the top of my list for our Boise bucket list. When our final week in Idaho came, I was getting a little anxious. Packing up and getting organized to leave took a great deal more time than I had anticipated. I swear, the small amount of stuff we brought from home multiplied by 3 by the time we left! Crazy how that happens – especially with kids!

I had wanted to schedule a full tour, which you can do here , but was not able to as you need at least two weeks notice. So, I opted to just walk in, which anyone can do during their business hours, and we gave ourselves a personalized tour. The website has tons of information, so I was ready to give my kids as best a tour as I could just by myself. There are also informational videos you can watch, as well as a printable scavenger hunt that you and your kids can do! It’s a very well done website.

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The gardens surrounding the Capitol were gorgeous!

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Memphis knocked but Butch was not there

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All the Governors of Idaho

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I loved this statue of Washington on the 3rd floor

There is so much to see! It’s best to start on the bottom floor. Inside there is a small museum about Idaho history, a gift shop (which I avoided at all costs with my kids. I didn’t want to hear “Can I have this? Can I have this?!”) , and some informational videos that you can view.

Since my children’s attention spans are about as big as a goldfish, we didn’t spent much time in the museum area. Instead, we went up one floor to the rotunda. This was my favorite floor! Why you ask? Because you had the complete view to the top of the dome. It’s gorgeous!

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There are 43 stars inside the faux oculus. Why? because Idaho is the 43rd state!

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The above photo was taken while I was laying flat on my back in the center of the rotunda. My kids ended up laying down with me, and this group of older women just thought it was hilarious. They all ended up laying down with us too and we gazed up at the dome together for a few minutes. I wish we could have gotten a selfie with all of us laying there. Ah well.

It really is a gorgeous building. It was built in 1905, and was recently rennovated and rededicated in 2010.

We had a great time exploring the House and Senate rooms. Thankfully neither was in session the day we went, so we were able to go inside. The kids were really excited about the soft chairs they could sit in.

 

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One of my favorite things about the building itself was the replica of the Liberty Bell outside of it! It made this Philly girl’s heart sing! The bell even works, (we tried with permission of the security guard who also snapped our photo).

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If you’re in the neighborhood and have some free time the Capitol building is definitely a must see!

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette