Cueva del Valle – Rasines, Cantabria

October 27, 2014 By: erik Category: Photos, Spain, Travel, Videos

Dad! Can I keep it?After an exhausting Saturday caring for the kids and doing housework, we decided we really needed to get out of the house on the unusually warm, sunny late October Sunday. Searching through some Cantabrian tourism websites, my wife found Cueva del Valle, in nearby Rasines (which I’ve decided to pronounce “raisins” because it’s funny). The place is called a Paleolithic Park, because evidence of human cave occupants has been dated to over 9,000 years ago. To help you grok that number, that’s temporally as far away from Ancient Egypt as Ancient Egypt is from us. Grok, incidentally, was one of the cave’s more notorious occupants back then.
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Toledo at Night

October 07, 2014 By: erik Category: Photography, Photos, Spain, Travel

Toledo At NightThere is something really romantically charming, especially for Americans, about ancient medieval (or older) cobblestone streets in European city centers. The American cultural psyche is nurtured from childhood with tales loosely based on European history. After living in Europe for over a decade now, I’ve built up a tolerance to cobblestones and cathedrals, but every now and then a place is so thick with history that I can lose myself in it. Toledo was one of those places, with an endless labyrinth of stone passageways inside the city walls. The streets of Toledo were extremely photogenic during the daytime, but at night, the way the lights and shadows played off the stones was just spectacular. With a proper tripod and free time, I could fill a thousand blog posts with images, but I’m afraid I was only able to capture these somewhat blurry images. You’ll have to focus them with your imagination.
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The Fourth Mask: Parenting Airline Travel Tip

September 28, 2014 By: erik Category: Funny, Musings, Parenting, Travel

Airline Family SelfieThis weekend my family and I took a one hour flight to the other side of the peninsula. It served as sort of a dry run for next weekend when we will fly ten times further. My 17-month-old son is still allowed to ride on a parent’s lap, and doesn’t yet require his own seat, which is great, especially for our transatlantic hop, where the prices are non-trivial.

For those of you that have never had the pleasure of flying with another human on top of you, the airline provides a little baby belt that has a loop in it to put the adult’s seatbelt through so your offspring isn’t offsprung during extreme turbulence.
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Ampuero 2014

September 10, 2014 By: erik Category: Bulls, Family, Offspring, Photos, Spain, Travel

Ampuero 2014This past weekend we went to the annual festival in Ampuero. The best way to describe it is that it’s a mini-San-Fermín, the enormous annual festival in Pamplona known worldwide for its encierro (running of the bulls). San Fermín is seven days long, and the festival in Ampuero is only three days, but they do have a running of the bulls and they do party for all 72 hours for those three days. There is also a well respected dress code of wearing all white with a red scarf and optional other red accessories. The Ampuero festival is perhaps slightly more kid-friendly than the one in Pamplona. It’s also not as overrun by foreign tourists, which might make it closer to the San Fermín that Hemingway fell in love with. It might make a good destination for some cheap holidays in Spain. We had a great time, going out until the wee hours on Friday and Saturday night, and then going to the bull run on Sunday.
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Condado de la Mota – Mogro

August 31, 2014 By: erik Category: Food, Spain, Travel

Condado de la Mota, MogroOn Sunday morning, our last weekend day before our children return from summer vacation, my wife and I realized we had total freedom to do whatever we wished. As we were contemplating our options, my stomach rumbled, so I picked up an iPad and went to Mule Carajonero, far and away the best food blog in Cantabria, to check out potential restaurants we could experience. When I marveled aloud at how many “We’ve eaten at” posts there – roughly 750, 610 of them in Cantabria – my wife came over to look. One of them immediately popped out because she’d read an article recently – probably this one – and had stored the name “Condado de la Mota” on a mental restaurant todo list. We liked what we saw, so I called them up to make a reservation.
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Comillas – Día del Indiano

August 30, 2014 By: erik Category: Photos, Spain, Travel

Mojito and PostcardOn our final weekend before our children come home from summer vacation with their grandparents, my wife and I decided we should take full advantage of our kidlessness and do some traveling tourism around Cantabria. We discovered this excellent website that details upcoming events in the region, and we decided to drive an hour to the west to a town called Comillas to see their annual Día del Indiano festival. We visited Comillas eight long years ago to scout out potential wedding venues, but we have not been back.
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Business Idea: Airfare Limit Orders

May 12, 2014 By: erik Category: Musings, Travel

toy planeEvery time I shop for airline tickets, I find myself thinking about how little sense airfare prices make to me, and I’m reminded of the variability of the stock market. There are so many forces and variables acting on the price of a stock (or an airfare) that prediction becomes a matter of guessing probabilities where even the experts don’t really have much of a clue. The frustration at checking airline prices reminds me very much of that of playing the stock market. Prices seem to fluctuate for no reason and deciding when to make a transaction is painfully difficult…and the price seems to always go in the wrong direction right after you buy.
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Visiting El Greco – Toledo 2014

April 08, 2014 By: erik Category: Art, Photos, Spain, Travel

Gentleman with hand on breastFor many years now, my wife has expressed interest in visiting the Spanish city of Toledo. Although she’s not much of an art aficionado, if you ever ask her who her favorite painter is, she’ll reliably respond “El Greco”. So when we saw on the news that there was a big exhibition to celebrate the quadricentenary of El Greco’s death in 1614 (yesterday, April 7, was the actual date), in which his greatest works would be shipped from museums around the world to Toledo, it was not a matter of if, but when we would go. When we got an opportunity to leave the kids with my in-laws, we took it!
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International Travel With Kids

December 06, 2013 By: erik Category: Complaining, Reviews, Spain, Travel

FlightsWe just got back from our first transatlantic pond hop as a fully formed family of four. The offspring were very well behaved, considering the adventure we went through. I’ll be using this post to vent some of my frustration with our voyage.

It began when my mother dropped us off at the curb of the Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Just like she was for the first fifteen minutes of our car ride to the airport after saying adiós to her grandfather, Nora was wracked with inconsolable grief for the first fifteen minutes. She’s not good with goodbyes.
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Interview with InterNations

May 08, 2013 By: erik Category: Internet, Spain, Travel

Colindres and Laredo from aboveRecently I was contacted by InterNations, an organization I registered my expat status with several years ago and have since been diligently ignoring all their newsletters about meet ups in Madrid. They asked if I’d like to do an interview with them and to be featured on their site. I agreed, but then life got complicated, and they ended up having to nag me several times, but we finally did the interview and they published it. They’ve given me permission to re-post it here for your enjoyment. Some of my regular readers might not know my answers to some of these basic questions.
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