Friday, November 6, 2015

Halloween 2015

Getting ready to go trick or treating.I think that Halloween is one of Arosha’s favorite holidays. He was waiting for it impatiently, counting down the number of days for the last week.

When we were deciding what costume to get, he first suggested a Spiderman or someone from Star Wars. I told him that while I am fine with whatever he chooses, there will be plenty of other Spiderman-dressed kids, and he won’t be as unique as in the past when he was a green bean and a lemon. Right away Arosha has decided that he wants something more original and we started looking through different costume websites to see what’s out there. When he heard that there are dragon costumes, he got really excited and that’s what we ended up getting for him.

Little puppy Anna with her grandma.Anюta had no say in the costume choice since I used one of old Alex’s costumes which Erica kindly offered to us. It was a very cute costume of a dog, which Anna loved from the first sight.

Halloween.The Halloween fell on Saturday this year, but Arosha started it early in school. On Thursday they had a small party in class (no costumes though), which I was able to attend. It was nothing special — they ate some sweets and snacks, danced, played a few games — but I think kids had fun. And then on Friday they went to a nearby junior high school for “Safe Trick or Treating” all dressed up. The teachers and students of that school prepared a whole bunch of activities for them — from trick-or-treating in the halls to playing different games in the gym to watching a spooky cartoon. I was one of the parents accompanying the children, and I had lots of fun too.

When the actual Halloween came, we dressed up kids in the morning and went in the direction of the nearest subway station since they have a lot of shops in that area. My mom went with us — it was very interesting for her to see trick-or-treating in person. We spent about two hours going from store to store, and kids had so much fun! We let them eat quite a few candies too — after all, Halloween is as much about candy as it is about costumes. We even went to two private houses — in one of them two old ladies noticed us looking at their Halloween decorations and started to waive to us vigorously inviting to come for some candy. I think they love seeing dressed up children almost as much as children like to get candies.

Arosha's class.And in the afternoon we met with Erica and her kids and also another mom from the playground and her two boys Vladik who is 5 and Kirill who is around 3. We went trick-or-treating on our street. It was also fun, although by that point I got tired of going to stores over and over again. And some stores had notes that they were out of candy, which is fine.

Kids.After that we went to the playground and children played for a little bit, and then it started to get darker and the groups of loud masked teenage boys started to gather on the playground, so we decided that it was safer to go home. Our last trick-or-treating stop was grandparents, who prepared special treats for us. All in all, it was a very enjoyable day.

Arosha with friends. Anna refused to be photographed.Arosha was teaching Anюta to say trick-or-treat, and she tried to pronounce it right, but it came out as “кути-кути”, which was very cute. I think we have enough candy to last us a year until the next Halloween.
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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Spain & Portugal

Spain, PortugalAt the very end of September we have booked ourselves a new vacation to Spain and a little bit of Portugal. This one is just for Alёna and myself. Alёna’s mom and my parents are going to look after the kids. The plan is again simple — Barcelona, Madrid, Seville in Spain and we finish our vacation off in Lisbon of Portugal.

Right after we booked our hotels and our flights we left things off for a bit. All the hotels are Hilton’s as always except for Madrid where there was no conveniently located one. We assumed we’ll just book trains later on. Imagine my surprise to find out that there are no trains running between Seville and Lisbon. Shock even.

We were left with three options — rent a car for an insane amounts of money, fly, or take an overnight bus. Overnight bus was the cheapest bus, but it would ruin the next day because of a lack of good sleep. Luckily for us because we had to get to Lisbon on Saturday there was an extra trip available throughout the day. Of course the bus will take over 6 hours. Far from stellar, but decent enough of an option.

We fly1 to Barcelona directly from JFK leaving on the evening of November 19th. And we fly back from Lisbon with one change of plane. Both flights are serviced by Delta. I want to write down the highlights of the trip for each city so we could use it as a bit of guide for ourselves.

We arrive to Barcelona on the 20th. We’ll be staying2 here for 3 nights. The points that we want to visit are Catedral de Barcelona and the Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic); La Sagrada Família and Parc Güell. Everything I read about Las Ramblas scares me. We’ll have to figure out public transportation as our hotel is not as close to all these locations this time.

On the 23rd (our anniversary) we’re taking a train to Madrid. We’ll be staying3 here for only 2 nights. On the first day we want to walk through Plaza Santa Ana, Puerto del Sol and Plaza Mayor. We also have to find an interesting place for our anniversary dinner. On the second day we could possibly take a side trip to Toledo.

On the 25th we take a train to Seville where we are going to be staying4 for 3 nights. We plan to see Catedral de Sevilla, Alcázar and climb Giralda Tower. Apparently portions of the 5th season of Game of Thrones was filmed at Alcázar.

And on the 28th we take a BUS which takes approximately 8 hours to get to Lisbon. As I said earlier, if I knew of this beforehand we would’ve probably excluded Lisbon altogether. We’ll be staying5 in Lisbon for 3 final nights of our vacation. We plan to visit Castelo de São Jorge among other things.

And that’s our plan. Looking forward to another memorable adventure. And all that starts tomorrow!

  1. Round trip tickets came out to $895 per person. []
  2. Hilton Barcelona — 90,000 points total. []
  3. AC Hotel Carlton Madrid — €248 in total. []
  4. Hilton Garden Inn Sevilla — 60,000 points total. []
  5. DoubleTree Lisbon — 90,996 points in total. []
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