We’ve made it to Europe!! – By Kelly

Crazy to think that we are here in Barcelona!  And to top it off, Dave’s mom met us at the airport and is spending the month with us.  We were all so happy to see a familiar face from home.  We are also thankful that her Spanish is so good from having lived in Spain a few years ago 🙂

Our journey from Australia to Europe had a couple of stops to make it shorter and the jet lag easier to deal with.  Our first stop was Singapore – such a great city that I wish we could have stayed longer.  It was weird to be back in an Asian city, but this one was so clean and safe and different than anywhere else we had been in Asia.  We spent 3 night and 2 full days and were able to enjoy some pool time as well as a trip to the Gardens by the Bay.  This was a really amazing, massive garden in the middle of the city.  We got to see  the Supertree Grove with giant “trees” that have large canopies and gardens growing up the stems.  We were able to walk along the skyway between the trees to see the gardens below and the city beyond.

The best thing was the Cloud Forest – an indoor conservatory with the world’s tallest indoor waterfall – very refreshing after the heat and humidity outside – and a mountain 35 meters tall covered with tropical vegetation.  The walk down from the top takes you in and out of the mountain – a really unique experience.


The best part of Singapore, however, was staying at our friend Anneliese’s house with her kids, Grady and Sophia.  We went to college with Anneliese and when she heard we were going to be in Singapore, offered to let us stay with her.  What a treat!



View from balcony

It was so nice to reconnect with her and meet her wonderful kids who were very cool about us taking over their home.  They took us to traditional Hawker food stalls our first night with stall after stall of delicious Chinese food (wish we took pictures).  We had pork and rice, duck, something called carrot cake that was not sweet, nor did it have carrots, but it was delicious!!  The next night we went to enjoy crab at Jumbo – spicy crab, salt and pepper crab, fried rice and no kids for a change 🙂


From Singapore we landed in Dubai.  A different place for sure – basically desert with tall buildings – amazing buildings, futuristic buildings, the world’s tallest building, the world’s largest mall.  When the sun was coming up, it looked a lot like a scene from Star Wars.


We didn’t see much of Dubai, not did we take part in the desert safari or the indoor skiing – it was more of a layover and a check it out to see what it was like kind of stop.  We also got to see Dave’s cousin, Elgin, who lives in Dubai and works as a Sous Chef at the Ritz Carlton.  We met him for lunch at the hotel – something special for sure.  We were treated to a delicious lunch, over the top desserts and a tour of the kitchen, which after all the cooking shows and competitions we have seen on this trip, was quite cool.


We finally made it to Barcelona where we have had to acclimate to the cold weather and shop for some winter clothes – all good since I am now tired of what I have worn the last 6 months.  We spent our first two days down in Plaza Catalunya – only a 15 minute walk from our Airbnb apartment – shopping and checking out Las Ramblas.


Las Ramblas


Oh, yes, and we also needed to stop for churros con chocolate.  Dave’s mom was able to ask directions to a good place for the tasty treat and we were not disappointed. Granja la Pallaresa on a little side street off Las Ramblas seemed old school with waiters wearing bow ties depositing plates of churros and chocolate so thick that it is just meant for dipping at tables full of tourists and locals alike.  It seemed almost  to me like Spain’s version of San Francisco’s Buena Vista, only here they serve up sweet treats instead of Irish Coffees.


We’ve had tapas and paella, jamon and machego and sangria.  Plus we have an amazing market across the street with different vendors – butchers, fruits and veggies stalls, a bakery and a florist.  We go everyday except Sunday when the city closes down to buy what we need for the day.  A bonus is that they like helping us with our Spanish.  Love this living!


I have walked the streets and walked the streets some more.  Yesterday I went to La Sagrada Familia in the morning just to take a look.  I was happy to be there before the crowds when the sun was just coming up.  I was one of only a few at the reflecting pool and had a chance to just take it all in.

I knew I was too early to go inside, so I continued my walk to the other two Gaudi buildings walking distance from our apartment – Casa Batllo and Casa Pedrera.  Both beautiful from the outside.


Casa Batllo


Casa Pedrera

The main streets are beautiful, wide, tree lined, with wide sidewalks for exploring. Dave’s mom and I walked Passeig de Gracia looking at all the beautiful shops, we hit Rambla de Catalunya one night for dinner.  Dave and I also happened upon Spain’s Arc de Triomf when we went out one afternoon walking down Passeig de Sant Joan.  There were mini parks and benches all the way down the street.


All of this is walking distance from where we are staying.  I could walk these European streets for hours.  It’s so different from anything we have seen on our journey so far, plus it’s been a long time since I’ve been here.  The other buildings along the way are just as pretty in their own way – wrought iron balconies, carvings and paintings on the facades, many showing their Catalan pride with flags hanging down.


Today we ventured into Casa Battlo and what an experience!  This is a building designed by the famed Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi.  He was an amazing architect and so different from anything else I’ve ever seen.  He uses curved lines, beautiful colors in glass and mosaic tiles, and creates almost fairy tale like structures on the rooftops.

It was a great tour we all enjoyed. Tomorrow we are  heading out to go to La Sagrada Familia. Our days here will be filled.  We are happy to be settling down in Barcelona for 3 weeks – one of which is already gone.  It’s nice to be able to get to know a city and neighborhood.  We haven’t taken to the Spanish way of staying up late, but the siesta is always a good habit to adopt. The twins and I are home right now for siesta –  taking a break, reading a book and catching up on our blog.

Australian Open Scenes by Dave

The ATP world tour/lets follow Federer around  educational round the world trip brought us to the Australian Open in Melbourne, an event that I’ve always heard good things about. The Happy Slam.  My cousin Lilia was on the WTA tour for 10 years and I’ve regretted not being her sherpa/hitting partner/travel agent (with my other cousin Ruben) for one of those years.

It couldn’t have been easier to get to the venue which is right next to downtown Melbourne and is serviced by a free street car which was 3 stops away from our airbnb loft. I wasn’t sure how the girls would like sitting around watching tennis for hours on end, so I made sure I got grounds passes for one day and tickets to a night session the next day to avoid the heat. Thankfully the weather was great, mid 70s and a slight breeze. But my secret weapon was buying the girls a giant tennis ball in order to get autographs.

We basically hung out around the practice courts, sometimes waiting for an hour for the players to show up and another hour to watch them practice and hope for an autograph.  It was great to watch the players hit in a relaxed atmosphere. The girls got really into it, which I was excited/relieved to see.  The girls liked it so much, we got grounds pass the next day to watch some more practice sessions.  They even ran to the practice courts in the morning and were front row to see Serena Williams warm up.  Claire also loved watching a lot of the girls juniors matches. As you can see from the pictures, we were pretty close to all the players. It was cool to see how hard and accurate they hit from a court level perspective. We did get a chance to watch the night match of Djokovic vs. Nishikori. Novak was just ruthless during that match and all the matches he played after that.

By Claire – I went to my first Australian Open.  We waited for hours to see people and it was really worth it.  We watched Ferrer and got his autograph.    We got to see Nishikori, Djokovic and Suarez-Navarro.  I was really excited when we got Madison Keys autograph and took a selfie with her.  Serena Williams was amazing.  The juniors girls were fun to watch, they were my favorite, especially Mina Kruijer who is Dutch and Bianca Andreescu who is Canadian.

The people we have met along the way – By Kelly

One of the great things about travel is that you find out how many good, kind people there are. 

– Edith Wharton

So I’ve been thinking about the last 6 months as we are about to embark on the second half of our journey.  We have covered Asia, Australia, New Zealand, back to Asia, the Middle East and our next stop is Europe where we plan to spend the rest of our time.

As I’ve been thinking about all that we have done and seen, one constant that always makes our stops a little more special is the people we have met.  This trip would have been much different in many areas if we didn’t have people who we met along the way.  Some of the people we’ve seen are relatives, others we’ve met through friends, and still others we have met at different points on our journey.  This is one of the best things about this trip.  I’m not sure if people realize what a difference a friendly face, a meal or drink shared with others, or someone showing you around their town or city means to us since we are so far from our home.  I wanted to give a quick shout out to those we have met since we started our trip 6 months ago.  I hope you know that we are thankful for you and each of you made our journey special.

Yoshi – Japan – Friend of a friend of ours from home who took the time to take us to Tokyo Skytree

China – Beijing – Julia – Friend of a friend from home who spent 3 or 4 days touring us around Beijing

China – Rafael – Tour guide friends of ours had used before.  Spent three days showing us the Teracotta Warriors and the Muslim Quarter.  And had he not picked us up at that train station, I’m not sure we would have ever made it out of that mayhem

China – Shanghai – Malcolm and Haeli – Friends of ours from San Francisco – Spent days showing us around their city of Shanghai.  Best food tour ever!

China – Hong Kong – Ralion and Des – Dave’s cousin and his wife – Met us for dinner and a walking tour of the night market

Vietnam – Hanoi – Cynthia and Justin – Expats from Canada who Dave happened to meet on the street our first day there.  Took us under their wing and showed us around.  Took us to lunch at a local street vendor and showed us where to get delicious Vietnam coffee and smoothies.  Cynthia even took me to the early morning local farmer’s market.

Thailand – Bangkok – Kevin Christison – Friend from Moraga who lives in Bangkok.  Was in High School with my brother.  Went to dinner at local Mexican restaurant on Halloween.  Had to endure me with one too many margaritas 🙂

Philippines – Dave’s dad came to visit.  Dave was able to see relatives he hadn’t see in awhile.  Cousin Eric, took the time to take us to Intramuros to see the old city.  Kris Mago, friend of Dave’s dad who lives in Manila, took care of us at hotel and invited us to an amazing wine tasting event.

Bali – Seminyak – Susan – Friend of a friend from home.  She owns an amazing massage studio, Jari Menari.  Treated us to not only massages, but to our first home cooked meal of the trip.  Plus she sent us pages of information on Bali before we even arrived.

Bali – Ubud – Sheila – Susan’s cousin who invited us to her house one afternoon.  We got to see her art studio and she gave the girls each art pads, which was such a thoughtful gift.

Bali – Ubud – Jean – Owner of Umujati where we stayed.  Happened to be a friend of Susan and Sheila – Ubud is a small place.  Enjoyed a glass of wine on our deck getting to know her.

Bondi Beach – Australia – Jenn – Friend of my friend Liz from SF.  Met us for a drink and her husband and daughter met us for dinner one night at Coogee Pavilion

New Zealand – Waiheke Island – Doug – Dave’s client who was kind enough to let us stay at his amazing house on the island.

New Zealand – Waiheke Island – Chris and Margaret – Caretakers of the house who invited us all over for a home cooked meal and some homemade olive oil that we used until the last drop – sad we can’t get more 🙂

New Zealand – Andrew, Kylie, Hannah and Charlotte – Owners of Rangitikei Farmstay who were kind enough to include us in their life at the farm and invite us over to decorate their Christmas Tree.  Such a treat since we were away from home for the holidays

Australia – Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast – Nikki and family – Met Nikki and her husband while we were in Vietnam.  She and her daughter drove up to meet us for lunch one day and then we were able to visit them at their house before we left Brisbane

Australia – Sunshine Coast – Brittany, Kelly and Dale – Friends of our friends in SF – Treated us to an amazing home cooked meal while we were in their neck of the woods

Australia – Melbourne – Chelsea, Paul, Poppy and Sam – Friends we met while we were in Vietnam.  Had the girls over to spend time with their children while the adults went out for an amazing dinner and night on the town that I might still me recovering from.

Singapore – Anneliese and her son and daughter, Grady and Sophia – Friend from college who lives in Singapore and was kind enough after all of these years to have us stay at her house for a couple of nights.  Enjoyed a delicious meal at a traditional Hawker Food Court and yummy crab from Jumbo.

Dubai – Elgin – Dave’s cousin who is a chef at The Ritz Carlton – Treated us to a delicious lunch at the hotel and gave us a tour of the kitchen.  Plus he spent the afternoon with us at the world’s largest mall.

Thank you to everyone I mentioned and those I may have forgotten.  Our trip wouldn’t be the same if we hadn’t met you or met up with you.

Now we we are onto Europe where we will visit more family and friends who are lucky enough to live in amazing places.  Plus Dave’s mom, my mom and dad, my best friend, Jennie, and my brother, Krieg, will come to visit at different times.  We look forward to each of these visits, plus the new people we will meet along the way.

The great difference between voyages rests not with the ships, but with the people you meet on them.  

– Amelia E. Barr

Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling – By Claire

The other day we went to the Great Barrier Reef to snorkel at three different sites! It was great.  The first boat ride was an hour and a half long and both of the twins puked, but the other two 10 minute rides between sites were uneventful. Now for the fun stuff.  In preparation for snorkeling we got masks, fins, and stinger suits!!!  The twins and I got them in different shades of blue.  Lauren’s was teal and she looked really funny.  Mine was a dark navy.  The suits had really tight hoods and even mittens.  Mom said we looked like speed skaters.


The first site was great, but the second one was better,  that’s because we got tours from marine biologists.  She pulled up a mushroom coral.  She showed us that it makes a self producing mucus so that it can protect itself from the sun.  I learned a lot about different corals, and creatures like giant clams and Christmas Tree Worms!


The last site was the best of all.  There was soooooooo many different types of coral and fish.  Grace saw a shark and we all saw a beautiful Blue Spotted Stingray.

After a while we went back to the shop and got free postcards.  I also got a blue shirt with the awesome logo on it.  You should do it someday!  It was a highlight of Australia.

Here is a video.  Enjoy!



The Great Barrier Reef – By Grace

Hello Grace here.  The other day we went to the Great Barrier Reef!!


It was an hour and a half to get to our first spot.  Unfortunately I got sea sick.  We got flippers and stinger suits.  Stinger suit are suits that protect you from getting stung.  The water was not really that cold.  The coral was beautiful!!

We saw so many fish and sea cucumbers too.

There was even a marine biologist on board!!!  The second stop I did not go in.  I sat and read on the boat.    Then the last stop we saw a sting ray – he had blue spots!!


I even saw a white tipped shark.  It was amazing!!!!


We also saw a huge fish about the size of two of me!

After you get out of the water they have hot drinks.  I liked the third stop the best because it had the most coral and fish. Did you know that coral is a animal?  I really like snorkeling 🙂

Ta ta!