Christmas Break 2015

To say that this break was a total cluster would be an understatement. It had nothing to do with the people that I was with it had everything to do with travel and getting to my destinations. This may seem like a bit of a gripe session but these are the facts and what happened. To start out the trip my flight was cancelled from Bahrain to London via British Airways. They said it was because of technical problems which is fine by me because I prefer to make it one piece. The problem was how they handled getting an entire flight to their destinations. It took me six hours and five minutes to get my new ticket and itinerary. My 1:35 a.m flight was cancelled at midnight and at 6:05 a.m. I had my new ticket. I was to leave that night at midnight and connect in Germany to end in Chicago. I landed in Chicago at 10:45 a.m. the day after I was originally scheduled for. It could have been much worse but when you are only home for a week and have events scheduled, every day counts. After Chicago I was headed to Spain. My route in Spain was Madrid to Malaga, which is in southern Spain. Upon checking in for my first flight I found out that my last flight had been cancelled. I called the British Airways representative to reschedule my flight and there were no other flights and no reason for the cancellation of the flight. Luckily the train system in Spain is quite effective. I ended up meeting Autum in Madrid and we took the train to Malaga. We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas in downtown Malaga, Spain. In Malaga we took a carriage ride around the city and saw the bull fighting ring, contemporary art museum and the cathedral. There was also a huge Ferris wheel that we rode and it gave us a great city view at sunset. We also stopped at the contemporary art museum which had a permanent and temporary exhibit. This was by far the best art museum I’ve been to. It was defiantly contemporary and had some off the wall art. Autum didn’t like it as much as I did but that just shows the differences in our tastes. Picasso was born in Malaga so there was a lot of his work there, who I really like. I was sick on Christmas so we just hung around the hotel. Autum went and walked around a little but I had some sort of stomach bug and stayed in bed.

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Malaga city views

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The day after we Christmas we met up with other friends to spend the rest of our break in a villa in another part of Malaga, Spain. We met up with Jessica, Jake and Issac who are still teaching in Egypt (Issac doesn’t teach he just hangs out). Jessica’s parents have a timeshare and that is what we staying at for the week. Heather, Luke, Myla and Mike also joined us for the trip. We rented a van so we were able to visit other areas of Spain with ease.

Seville – about a two hour drive from where we staying was Seville, Spain. I’ve never heard of Seville before but it was a nice day trip. Autum and I took a carriage ride (I really enjoy carriage rides they are comfy and you get to see a lot) around the town which brought us through an amazing park as well as around to many other sights. One of the coolest places I saw was the Hotel Alfonso XIII. It was a perfect mix of creepy and elegant which reminded me of the Haunted Mansion ride and Tower of Terror ride at Disney. We met back up with the group and had some drinks on the river then walked around a little more. On the way back to the car we stopped for tapas and sangria.

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The Hotel Alfonso XIII

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I do enjoy carriage rides.

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Plaza de Espana

Gibraltar – fun fact: Gibraltar is a UK territory so you have to pass through customs from Spain in order to enter Gibraltar. There are many British people living there and they use the British pound in addition to the Euro. I’ve heard of the Gibraltar Straight and the Rock of Gibraltar but had no idea about anything else. Once we passed through customs we had to wait for a few minutes because there is a runway as soon as you pass through customs. A plane was landing so we had to wait a bit for the plane to land. We walked around a bit and then decided to take a van tour with a tour guide. This was a great idea because he brought us to all of the spots that we wanted to see with a lot less walking. After we were done with our tour we asked out guide where the best fish and chips were. He directed us to Ray’s and he wasn’t kidding, it was amazing.

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Royal mail box

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There were monkeys all over and we are able to get really close to them.

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Overview of the city.

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The Rock of the Gibraltar.

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Gibraltar bookstore on the main street.

Malaga – the second time I went back to the Malaga city center we headed to the Picasso museum. The Picasso museum also had a temporary and permanent exhibit. I really enjoyed the museum and got to see some other works of Picasso’s that I’ve never seen before. After that we ate at Cheers restaurant and bar. It was right in front of a huge cathedral. We had lunch and sangria. For New Years Eve night we planned on going to dinner then some drinks. Since most of the restaurants had a set menu we decided to cook spaghetti at our villa then stay in and have drinks. We counted down the New Year, played drinking games, and rang in the new year with good friends.

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Downtown street art.

I had hoped that the trip home would be uneventful but no chance. I left Spain on January 2nd. The day before Heather and Luke were scheduled to fly out with Turkish Airlines at 1:40 same flight I would be taking the next day. The weather in Istanbul was really bad so they closed the airport and Heather and Luke had to wait seven and half hours to get rerouted to Madrid then Abu Dhabi and finally Bahrain – sound familiar? For this reason all flights in and out of Istanbul were delayed. Right now I’m writing this on my flight to Istanbul from Spain. We left an hour late and will land at 8:10 p.m. in Istanbul. My flight and the only flight to Bahrain leaves at 8:35 p.m. I’m going to try and make it but I’m not so hopeful. The guy who checked me in as confident that all flights from Istanbul would be delayed but my trusty Turkish Airlines app tells me different. So we will see….I’m finishing up writing this on my last flight headed home to Bahrain. Even though my first flight was an hour late my second flight luckily was also delayed although I didn’t know it right away. As you can imagine flights were backed up all day on all airlines. When I landed in Istanbul there was no information about my second flight to Bahrain on the information board so I had assumed it left on time. I bought a visa, went through passport control, checked for my luggage (it wasn’t there), bought a SIM card, and headed to the ticket counter. As my phone was gathering all of my messages I see that Emily, a teacher who was on the same flight back to Bahrain, messaged me to tell me that they were delayed and still there. Shit! Wtf! Those were my first thoughts. I called her to verify that were still delayed and they were and so began my amazing race back through passport control and security then run to the gate. The passport control guy was very confused and after I explained myself he said – hurry up. Needless to say my flight to Bahrain was delayed three and half hours but at least I was on it. It wasn’t just me who had cancelled and delayed flights – it seemed a common theme among my teacher friends. Peggy was stuck in Cairo and spent the night at the airport so she didn’t get home until the next day. Having flights delayed for all of my travels is really a first world problem. I’m fortunate enough to be able to go to all these different places on my breaks and having to put up with a few flight delays I can handle. Although, I should be good for a while now.

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Lots of sangria to enjoy.

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Besides the travel it was a great break. I got to see my BFF, my monkey and Chubba bubba, family and friends. It was a quick week at home but absolutely worth it. Spain was beautiful and had great weather. I love spending my birthday and new year in a new place each year. I’m lucky enough to be able to do so and am very grateful for those opportunities. It’s back to school right away and it will be a long and bust semester. We get a week off for spring break at the end of March and the Bahrain Labor Day is May 1st, other that it school all the days. In teacher world that is a long stretch. In that stretch I’ll be busy helping with soccer tournaments, basketball tournaments, coaching basketball, taking a basketball team on a tournament, professional development trip and many other duties. I’ll be busy but it will go quick then summer will be here before I know it.

Later skaters

-B

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