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It’s a wrap.

We’ve been home (Washington State) for almost 2 weeks, so I’m past due closing this out (Rita! ūüôā ) .

The trip is definitely in the “I’d do it again” category, and we will some day, taking in more of this beautiful country. No real negatives to report, and it exceeded our expectations.

One tardy photo: In the smaller towns & villages, older car are stretched to their limit, and motorcycles and scooters are most popular. And why stop at just one or two passengers? A ‘few’ is common, and an occasional “entire family” of five.

As seen in Mongue – my favorite stay.

The most memorable event for me (Laura) would be the chance meeting of the family of Louis Carlos Galan in Villa de Leyva on Dec. 30.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luis_Carlos_Gal%C3%A1n

Mr. Galan would have been the president of Colombia after the 1990 election (he had a significant lead – 60%) , had he not met a spray of bullets from associates of Pablo Escobar – famed drug lord and politician.

In the 70’s, Louis’s parents & grandmother (from Bogota) build a family vacation home in Villa de Leyva before it became the ‘it’ spot – he would have been a teenager. Eleven siblings survive Louis, and their families have grown such that they are each building their own vacation home in Villa De Leyva. This left a vacancy (for us!) in the beautiful classic original home, which sits on about 2 acres – almost on the town square! A bit of the back story: We were scheduled to leave town the day of Dec. 31 – not having a room for that evening. Little did we know, New Year’s Eve is a huge event there, with two fireworks companies lighting up the town square at midnight. Eating pizza in a local joint on the night of Dec. 30, we met a nephew and brother-in-law of Louis when they sat next to us and started visiting – both in fluent English. (Come to find out, we were the only people in the tiny restaurant – their favorite – that weren’t part of their family!) They were aghast that we would miss the festivities by one day, and quickly went about securing one of the 2 vacant bedrooms for us for the evening of the 31st. At this beautiful 5 bedroom home we met more relatives and some friends of the family, and were a 1/2 block from the fireworks that evening. No one lives there full time except the house manager, and it will soon be on the market. It’s the only home on this prime real estate block that does not have a commercial operation of some sort in it. A bit of History and Hospitality, both of which abound in Colombia.

Our room, with photos of the parents and grandmother on the wall. It was the grandmothers room.
We were in one of two bedrooms on one side of this courtyard – 3 on the other. To Dave’s delight, he had a hot water shave. The ONLY home we stayed in with working hot water taps.

Until next time….

Four months, 3 countries (plus 2 days in Italy), 11 cities, 7 flights, several train rides, and too many bus and subway rides to count.

I’m having a little trouble wrapping up this blog!¬† I think it’s because it¬† signals the official end of this adventure, and who wants a good time to end!¬† And a good time it was.¬† No incidents or accidents, and both of us noted¬†that the world just got a little smaller.¬†¬†¬† First time blogger, and not knowing how¬†this would pan out, it made me more attentive, looking for that daily tidbit that would hopefully be of interest to you.¬† So, it’s been my pleasure to share these last 4 months with you.¬† There is surely another adventure in our near future.¬† If we’ve never met and you’d like a heads up when we start a new blog, please drop us a comment.¬†¬†¬†And any feedback on content, format, etc is welcome.

’til next time, follow your dreams.

Laura & Dave

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Between our 9 hour flight from Milan and our 5 hour flight to Seattle.

 

Airbnb.com

Thought I’d give a little review of our experience¬† with Airbnb, which has hosts in 190 countries.

We used the Airbnb website to book 9 of our 11 lodgings.¬† The shortest one was 2 nights, the longest was 30.¬† The site allows you to filter exactly what type of place you’re looking for:¬† entire apartment/home or¬† just a room.¬† You can filter¬†by price, location and¬†a whole host of amenities.¬† The homes are¬†marked on a map, so you can¬†easily pick a specific¬†street or neighborhood.¬† Typically weekly and monthly rates are significantly lower than those of less than a week.

We didn’t find any¬†discrepancies between the listing’s photos and descriptions, and what we actually experienced.¬† It’s a self-policing application.¬† At the end of each stay,¬†Airbnb encourages¬†you¬†to review¬†aspects of your¬†stay, such as the host’s responsiveness, cleanliness,¬†actual-to-advertised items, and overall experience.¬†¬†These reviews are¬†attached to the listing where owners can respond to them publically, and where other potential renters can¬†read them.¬† Hosts of course take this serious.¬† Even though you’re in contact with them throughout your stay, you can also¬†leave a private message for them.¬† Though not required, many will help you with arrival logistics.¬† We were picked up at several airports, train stations and bus stops.

On the flip side, the¬†host can review YOU.¬† Since we always left the home as we found it, we have quite the string of positive feedback comments.¬† These aren’t public, but I suspect that¬†all hosts have access to them, which can¬†help them screen out¬†troublesome renters.

Airbnb personnel are readily available to act as a go-between, via email or phone, if any issues or communication problems arise between the two parties.¬† We used this once when we called an owner (after she didn’t reply to emails) with arrival details,¬†but she spoke no English.

So there ya go.¬† I’d definitely recommend the company.¬† No cost to sign up, but they tack on a small daily¬†fee.

Oh yea – a photo:-)¬† Our laundry wasn’t drying quick enough for Dave’s liking, so he rigged a ‘dryer’, which worked quite well. – Laura

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Fountains

With fountains in even the smallest of European towns, making a collection of their images was a no-brainer.¬†¬† The ones below made the cut for the most beautiful or unique.¬† Enjoy!¬† My next post will be a wrap-up, as we’re back on U.S. soil. – Laura

In Fuengirola, Spain
In Fuengirola, Spain

 

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Dave snapped me in a downpour in Valletta, Malta. The dancing water spouts behind me were timed to some beautiful classical music broadcast from the pillared building in the background. It was very moving – and wet.

 

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Popular photo background – in Oporto.

 

In Lisbon.  Note the Monument to Discoverers in the background right.
In Lisbon. Note the Monument to Discoverers in the background right.

 

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Pectorals in Seville, Spain.

 

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In sunny Malaga, Spain.

 

In Granada
In the Alhambra, Granada, Spain

 

In Evora, Portugal.
In Evora, Portugal.

 

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In Lisbon.

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Also in Lisbon.

 

The prize for the simplest fountain - a single stream into the basin. In Lagos, Portugal.
The prize for the simplest fountain – a single stream into the basin. In Lagos, Portugal.

 

GO HAWKS!

Bet¬†everyone is settled in for the BIG GAME!¬†Would love to see Super Bowl party photos if you have them (email them?).¬† Dave found a local sports bar that said they would show the game,¬† but we don’t want to leave it to chance – the game starts at midnight here –¬†so we purchased it and will watch in on the laptop.

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