CnLsnapping


2 Comments

Breakfast in Sevilla

I decided to post a teaser picture or two in each city! We arrived yesterday and rode our bikes around the city. Now we have another whole day here to explore. We had a traditional breakfast consisting of toast with olive oil, fresh tomato sauce, and a little salt. It usually comes with a coffee or juice. Casey loves this meal. The Spanish cuisine has been great to him. We also got a fun pastry dipped in a sweet glaze and chocolate.
“Sevilla” is the Spanish version of “Seville,” in case you were wondering. I like the sound of “Sevilla” better.

image

image

Advertisements


4 Comments

The Trip Back to Spain + Thanksgiving!! + Updates

Well it’s been some time since I’ve written because Casey and I have been so busy. Doing what? Relaxing? Yeah we haven’t done much here this week besides relax, shop, cook, and plan for another trip, but I’ll get to that.

Right before leaving Lagos, there was a rainstorm, and I have a couple cool pictures to show you. Casey was working, so we were both miles away from each other at the time. However, we both took a picture of the storm cloud from our vantage points. Mine is from inside the hotel when I first saw the dark storm cloud, and Casey’s (as you can imagine) is from the airplane looking at the storm from above!

IMG_20141118_142612IMG_20141118_162911IMG_20141118_142612 storm cloudIMG_20141118_162911 storm cloud

That’s my view from the hotel window. You can easily see the dark cloud brewing above me. Casey’s photo is a little more intricate. The whole, huge cloud looks like an anvil with a pointy end on the left side. This point shows that the storm is moving towards the left, as the green arrow indicates. Pretty cool huh!

Anyway, the next day we left Lagos and flew to London. Arik sent a van to pick us up, and we loaded all of Casey’s luggage that stays in Lagos (four bags and a bike!) into the car.  The hotel we were staying at didn’t have a storage room, so we went to the pilot compound to drop off his things. These bags hold all of his food, a piano, some clothes, and anything else he wants to leave in Lagos.

IMG_20141119_091205IMG_20141119_091214

On the way to the airport, we passed by a “Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery Mission.” The sign even says “FREE!” That’s pretty nice. You always see those cleft lip commercials on TV, so it’s neat to see an actual surgery center in person. I mean, it’s too bad we have the problem to begin with, but at least they’re doing something to remedy the situation.

IMG_20141119_095725

We checked into our flight and had a few hours to spend before leaving. We bought a meat pie and a chicken pie for lunch; they were tasty enough. We’ve had better meat pies in our day. There used to be a nicer restaurant that we’d eat at, but they changed it into more of a bar with smoking allowed, so now we don’t go there anymore. On the plus side, they are adding a KFC in the airport! So hopefully next time we will be able to eat there.

IMG_20141119_111142IMG_20141119_111201

I laughed at Casey and took a picture because he blends into the chairs!!

IMG_20141119_112618

We walked around the terminal and window-shopped. What cool Monopoly games! I was very tempted to buy them just for fun, hehehe.

IMG_20141119_113556

I was also tempted to buy this doll! It’s called “Queens of Africa” and her name is “Wuraola,” which is my Nigerian Yoruba name! I can’t remember who gave me that name, but I’ve been using it here for a couple years. No one remembers my real name, but they call me “Wura.” Cute! For the record, I didn’t buy the game or the doll.

IMG_20141119_113608IMG_20141119_113659

FINALLY, we boarded a very very very very hot plane. The APU (auxiliary power unit) wasn’t working, so they couldn’t turn on the air conditioning system until the engines started running. The APU provides power and cool air to the plane without needing to turn on the engines. It’s actually illegal to board a plane with the engines running, so they needed to get all of us on board first and then start the engines to provide cool air. Everyone was using a magazine or the safety information card to fan themselves. It felt like they had the heater on because it was so warm!

Luckily that didn’t last too long though. We had cool air after ten or fifteen minutes and then we took off. Casey and I treated ourselves to a Pepsi, and there was a baby in front of me who kept smiling and reaching out his hand to grab mine.

IMG_20141119_132815IMG_20141119_132820

The flight was about 6-7 hours long and it felt like it! We talked, Casey played a couple computer games, I watched him, and we ate the inflight meal (chicken with spicy rice). We were sitting in the middle of the plane, so we didn’t have a window to look out of, but he went to the bathroom and took a picture of the desert below. It was cool to see such a vast desert with sand dunes and all. I got bored and laid down. The flight wasn’t full so that was great. We had a row all to ourselves.

IMG_20141119_162608IMG_20141119_174734

While laying down, I looked up and noticed that there was no 13th row! It goes from 12 to 14. I never noticed that before. A normal picture was too dark and didn’t show the numbers, so we had to make it brighter. We landed at London Heathrow and checked into the Yotel – the airport hotel. The rooms are small and compact but super nice for a one night stay, mainly because you don’t have to leave the airport! I just love that idea. Anyway, we went to a restaurant next to the Yotel and shared a niiiiice BBQ burger, fries, onion rings, and a salad. Yummy!

IMG_20141119_181018IMG_20141119_195209

We got up early the next day for our flight to Paris. Breakfast consisted of a strawberry yogurt smoothie, an apple strudel, and a blueberry muffin. The bathrooms were nice and high tech with an air dryer above each individual sink. That’s convenient.

IMG_20141120_060638IMG_20141120_063329

Casey was happy and we were wide awake all day. The people across the row made us laugh with their sleeping positions :)

IMG_20141120_065558IMG_20141120_071637

The view was just beautiful as the sun was rising! I love the colors of the sky in the early morning and at dusk. Just gorgeous to see it from an airplane.

IMG_20141120_073743IMG_20141120_073604IMG_20141120_075019

I liked that Air France gave us croissants for a snack. Very French. The flight attendant asked us if we wanted tea or coffee and, when we both said no, he looked genuinely shocked! It was quite amusing.

IMG_20141120_074103IMG_20141120_075144

This next photo clearly shows a huge sun beam through the clouds! That was awesome! I said that someone was coming down and Casey said someone was going up.

IMG_20141120_075533

And then we landed in Paris. We were supposed to have about an hour layover, but our flight out of London was delayed, so we had 20 minutes to walk quickly through the airport and find our next flight. I snapped our journey through the airport, which was very modern and looked nice from what we could see. 

IMG_20141120_084514IMG_20141120_084744IMG_20141120_084954IMG_20141120_085512

We got to our gate in plenty of time since they were just starting to board. Whew!

IMG_20141120_085820IMG_20141120_093844

Casey was eating peanuts and I asked him to give me “just a few.” He started me off slowly with half a peanut…  how generous. We were hungry for lunch since we didn’t have time to grab food in the airport, so we bought food on the plane. I got some chicken-flavored noodles which were alright. I’m used to spicy, Korean-style noodles with kimchi so this didn’t have quite as much flavor, but it was filling. Casey ordered a bocadillo, his favorite sandwich with jamón, cheese, and tomato. It was satisfying for both of us.

IMG_20141120_105558IMG_20141120_095910IMG_20141120_101252IMG_20141120_101258IMG_20141120_122501IMG_20141120_122521

We landed in Valencia and Abel was there to meet us at the airport! Since our connection time in Paris was so short, our bag didn’t make it to Valencia. Abel warned us about this ahead of time though since he’s taken this particular flight from London to Valencia as well. We decided to come back to the airport the next day and pick up our bag. We were on one side of the baggage office and Abel was on the other side. You can see him in the window with the yellow arrow!

IMG_20141120_124340.5IMG_20141120_124517IMG_20141120_131817

At the airport in London, we bought some fun Italian chocolates. They are limoncello flavored, which is a lemon liquor. They were good, and they actually have quite a strong liquor flavor. I really just liked the tin that they came in, haha.

IMG_20141120_132010IMG_20141120_132358IMG_20141120_140115IMG_20141120_140538

Casey was happy to be back in Spain in a comfy apartment with everything we need. We were still a little hungry so we rode our bikes to that new Tex-Mex place called Tako-Away. Abel, Maria, Martina, and I went there right before I left for Lagos a few weeks ago. Casey enjoyed it too!

IMG_20141120_142931IMG_20141120_143930

That night, we went to Abel and Maria’s house for dinner and dessert. They made hamburgers from horse meat and ox meat! Horse and ox! Wow! What do you think about that? There is a special butcher shop that sells pre-formed hamburger patties, and they have all different kinds of meat: horse, ox, beef, bison/buffalo, chicken, duck, turkey, pork, and vegetarian. Then they have all kinds of seasonings and flavors too. Interesting!

IMG_20141120_205857IMG_20141120_212418IMG_20141120_213234IMG_20141120_213859IMG_20141120_215403IMG_20141120_220445

The ox tasted like typical beef, but the horse was incredibly lean and tender. It was probably similar to venison in the leanness and had an ever-so-slightly gamey aftertaste. I could tell that it wasn’t beef, but it was pretty good if you didn’t let your mind get the better of you.

It was Casey’s birthday, and they were so sweet to pick up two mini desserts for him! A blueberry cheesecake and a chocolate cake. Adorable and tasty!

IMG_20141120_222157IMG_20141120_222215IMG_20141120_222239IMG_20141120_222654

 

And thus began our past week back in Spain! We’ve been to my favorite restaurant, Las Lunas, a couple times… here are some more pictures of the amazing dishes.

IMG_20141121_153911IMG_20141121_154255IMG_20141121_154454IMG_20141121_154510IMG_20141121_160022IMG_20141121_160027IMG_20141124_151131IMG_20141124_152529IMG_20141121_162120IMG_20141121_162126

They are just works of art! With presentation and amazing flavor profiles and ingredients. All of their dishes are so new and unique but taste so good! They had THE best lemon tart too! I definitely need to recreate that dish. Wow. The lemon tart is the one on the left.

We went to McDonald’s one day because I was craving a fish filet, and we discovered that they have easy order kiosks here! How cool is that. You insert your credit card (you can’t use cash), choose what you want on the touch screen, pay, get a receipt, and wait for your number to be called. Super quick and easy. They should have those kiosks in the US! There were upstairs and downstairs eating areas but every single seat was taken. It was so packed. Luckily, we found one seat so Casey let me sit while he stood. How gentlemanly.

IMG_20141122_150335IMG_20141122_151106

He ordered a chicken wrap and the box made me laugh because they list the ingredients with pictures. What a cute little chicken! Afterwards, we went to a gelato café next door and got two gelato macaroons. They were like ice cream sandwiches with vanilla and chocolate brownie-cookies. Mmm.

IMG_20141122_152110IMG_20141122_155352IMG_20141122_155359IMG_20141122_183211

The picture above is funny because the elevator going to our apartment smelled like smoke, so we both covered our faces. Yuck!

Casey created a recipe for his new favorite breakfast that I make for him now. It’s two pieces of toast with jam and an over-easy egg. He named it the J.E.T. which stands for jam, egg, and toast. I use my dad’s steaming technique to cook an even easier over-easy egg and it turns out perfectly!

IMG_20141123_102624

There is an American store nearby called “Taste of America.” They have a lot of products from the US, and we went there to buy a plethora of ingredients for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner! We found canned pumpkin, StoveTop stuffing, and cranberry sauce. I’m sure you can tell what we ended up making the next day.

As for that night, Abel and I are standing in the regular market where he needed to pick up a few items for his house. THEN we ordered pizzas from an Italian restaurant called La Strega (which means ‘”the witch” in Italian) across the street from their house and they were phenomenal! Amazing! Delicious! Wow! They tasted like Nikki Lee’s and Grimaldi’s pizza with an extra flair of New York Style Pizza and Italian Goodness. Mmmmmm. I really really liked it!

IMG_20141124_195644IMG_20141124_205620IMG_20141124_214402IMG_20141124_214411IMG_20141124_214415IMG_20141124_214418

 

Thanksgiving!!

Yay it’s here! Casey and I went to the market to buy all the additional ingredients that we needed. I cooked the meal at our apartment, and then we brought all of the food to Abel and Maria’s house. They really enjoyed it! I made turkey from turkey fillets, sweet potatoes, stuffing, roasted asparagus (for something fresh and green), cranberry sauce, bread, and pumpkin pie! All of the dishes were new to them but they seemed to like everything a lot.

IMG_20141125_160811IMG_20141125_160819IMG_20141125_164049IMG_20141125_183421

Of course they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here, so they don’t have any whole turkeys. Our plan was to buy chicken instead, but we found these turkey fillets and decided to give them a try. They were pretty good actually. At least they had the same texture as when you roast a whole turkey, so they served us well and went perfectly with the cranberry sauce. (A shout out to my sister: Look at the Little Becky Marshmallows hehe. I didn’t notice it until I opened the bag.) Casey then snapped me a bunch of times while I was preparing the pumpkin pie.

IMG_20141125_192258IMG_20141125_180321IMG_20141125_182453IMG_20141125_182504IMG_20141125_183449IMG_20141125_183452

We didn’t have much room to cool the pies, and I don’t have a cooling rack, so we used the next best thing: the drying rack! Hey, it worked. We packaged everything really well in take-away containers and loaded up our bike bag like a delivery service. Then I bought fresh bread on the way to Abel’s apartment and we were all set.

IMG_20141125_191519IMG_20141125_203523

Casey was playing with Martina’s toys to try and make her laugh :D

IMG_20141125_211210IMG_20141125_211402

And here is the delicious meal! The ingredients were expensive at the American store, but it was well worth it. Even Martina enjoyed it, and she REALLY loved the pie. It was so cute seeing her gobble up the filling, and she asked for more whipped cream.

IMG_20141125_211926IMG_20141125_212014IMG_20141126_231132

I made some delicious homemade hot chocolate yesterday! Both of us agreed that it’s probably the best we’ve ever had.

IMG_20141127_195255

 

Updates

I had to blog about all of this before we leave for our next trip TOMORROW (Saturday the 29th)! We’ve decided to take a week off (per se) to explore southern Spain! We’re going to take the train and visit Seville, Córdoba, Ronda, and Málaga. We’re bringing our bikes to help us get around, and we’re going to stay in each city for two days. Once we reach Málaga around December 7th, we’ll decide if we want to visit a few more places or return to Valencia. It should be fun! We’ll take some great pictures for you all too! I’ll write if I can during our trip; otherwise, I’ll write once we’re back in Valencia.

Thanks for reading! Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! And ciao for now!


1 Comment

And Just Like That…

We’re back in Spain!!!!!!!!!!

I just wanted to shout it out and let you all know that we made it back to Valencia! I will have much to say, with many pictures to display, in my next post about the trip.

Also, it’s my dearest Casey’s birthday today! So we’re going to get lunch and then dinner and celebrate it in a fashion only suitable to him – THE BEST!

Stay tuned!

IMG_20141120_122521


1 Comment

London-Bound

Casey and I are at the airport waiting for our flight to London! We’ll arrive there in the evening, spend the night at the Yotel (the hotel in the airport), and then fly to Valencia tomorrow. We are looking forward to going back to Spain!

Our flight tomorrow takes us on a brief layover in Paris, so it’ll be fun to “be” in France, if only for a quick plane change. Now who knows what this next month will bring.

Ciao for now!


6 Comments

Football Anyone?

Casey looooves playing football, which is soccer as we know it in the USA. He’s like a kid in a candy store when he gets to play football. That’s good though, since it’s a really good workout and he gets to hang out with his friends. He’s played twice since I’ve been here, and it’s quite fun to watch! I’m fairly easy to entertain too, so plop me on the steps with my camera and I’m good to go.

 

Saturday, November 8th

Of course, the first step is getting there. Most of the “football players” stay at the designated pilot compound, but Casey and I are 10-20 minutes away at a regular hotel (depending on traffic). Usually he rides his bike to the compound, but since another pilot and I were going too, we opted to take a keke instead. A keke is this three-wheeled vehicle below. Some people don’t like riding in them, but we don’t mind. It’s cheap and fairly quick since they can go around cars in smaller spaces. We had to take two kekes in order to get to the compound that day because traffic was so bad. The highways are set up very inefficiently (in my opinion) because you usually have to go past the street you want and then make a u-turn. And when the traffic is really heavy (which is most of the time) it takes forever to get anywhere! So it was quicker for us to take a keke in one direction, get out, walk across the street, and pick up another keke on the other side instead of waiting in traffic to make a u-turn.

So this picture shows our second keke. A woman was getting out of it as we were getting in. It worked out well.

IMG_20141108_164159IMG_20141108_163439

The guys play in the middle of the parking lot, and this truck was sticking out much further into the “field.” They put it into neutral and pushed it out of the way.

IMG_20141111_201647

Warming up in a circle. Everyone is a pretty decent player too, so there are good passes and entertaining goals to watch. Here are some pictures for your enjoyment.

IMG_20141111_201539IMG_20141111_201821IMG_20141111_202202IMG_20141111_202241IMG_20141111_202329IMG_20141111_202658

I like how Casey is leaning in the next two photos. Kind of funny!

IMG_20141111_202751IMG_20141111_202818

Bring it in! They were tired! You can’t tell how sweaty these guys get, but it’s a lot. Trust me. Whew!

IMG_20141111_202916

They were kind enough to listen to me and pose for a group photo! Those are the steps that I sat on to watch them as well.

IMG_20141111_203411

We came back to our hotel and Casey decided to go for a swim. He enjoyed it!

IMG_20141108_115238IMG_20141108_115514IMG_20141108_115522IMG_20141108_115732IMG_20141108_120026

 

Sunday, November 9th

We decided to treat ourselves today with good food! And ice cream! But I’ll get there, I will. First off, we walked to the end of the street, hopped in a keke, and took a 5 minute ride to our favorite store, Goodies. There is a bridge we have to cross and underneath it is a huge jungle area. This picture doesn’t do it justice, but it is deep and green and probably extremely hard to get out of.

IMG_20141109_132855IMG_20141109_133630

Casey snapped a picture of me inside the keke. It’s almost fun like being at Disneyland and sitting in the two-seater cars to ride Snow White or something. Almost.

IMG_20141109_133649IMG_20141109_133654

You might remember Goodies from one of my many previous posts. It’s owned by Middle Eastern people and has tons of American products that we are familiar with. Casey was thrilled to find his favorite cereal here! Basic 4! They did not have this cereal when we lived here a year ago. They have remodeled a little bit and have many new products that I would have loved to have when we lived here. Alas.

IMG_20141109_154232

We went upstairs to the new restaurant to order lunch. Sometimes their English vocabulary isn’t the best in Lagos, so it always cracks me up to see how they spell words, such as “broasted chicken.” Is it braised? Is it roasted? Is it just spelled wrong? They have new placemats with a new motto too: “When it’s that Good, it’s Goodies.’’ It’s catchy though!

IMG_20141109_135422IMG_20141109_134405IMG_20141109_140333IMG_20141109_140357

Anyway, Casey ordered a yummy frappuccino, which he usually orders at Goodies. Then we decided to try a chicken fajita (spelled “fahita”) and a “fish burger.” We were pleasantly surprised!! We’ve had chicken fajitas at another restaurant and they never come in tortillas, so it was normal to get this in a sandwich roll. The flavor was delicious though with chicken, peppers, onions, and cheese. They put mayonnaise on it which was unnecessary, but I would gladly order it again. Casey’s fish sandwich had a wonderful piece of thick, breaded fish with tartar sauce, lettuce, tomato, and sweet pickles. He could have used more tartar sauce, but the flavor was still very good. We were quite happy to get such high-quality meals! We also found out that Goodies delivers, so we look forward to ordering something when we’re back at our hotel. Nice!

IMG_20141109_135039IMG_20141109_141555IMG_20141109_141559

After that, we walked across the street for some ice cream at COLD STONE! Yeah! You might remember that we’ve been to Domino’s Pizza and Cold Stone before in Lagos, but it’s about an hour away in Victoria Island. When we lived here last year, we heard that they were opening up a Domino’s Pizza in Ikeja/GRA which was close to our apartment, but we didn’t know when it would actually open. As luck would have it, they opened up right after we moved back to the US! I was greatly disappointed, but I had to remind myself that we have Domino’s and Cold Stone in the US… so life wasn’t that bad, right. Just unfortunate timing. Anyway, Casey has been able to enjoy good pizza and ice cream for the past few months now, and he’s been anxious to take me to this location. [It’s within walking distance of our old apartment! A long walk, but still capable of walking to it. Amazing! I need to let it go that they opened up this location right after I left.]

So we came here to treat ourselves to some good quality ice cream. Yum! Casey got his favorite cake batter with brownies, and I got my favorite mint chocolate chip with brownies… mmm. We could not have been happier. I would say that it’s the little things that make one happy in Lagos, but ice cream always makes me happy in any country, so I guess that cliché doesn’t fully apply here :)

Oh and Domino’s Pizza delivers! That’s great! Unfortunately Cold Stone doesn’t deliver… wouldn’t that be grand?

IMG_20141109_153442IMG_20141109_150446IMG_20141109_151104

I have been meaning to show you our hotel, but I haven’t taken many pictures yet. The funniest part is the staircase. We are on the third floor, so we have to go up a few flights of stairs. But it’s like a dollhouse! These are Leanna-size staircases and Casey is a giant. I don’t need to bend down at all, but poor Casey needs to be careful so he doesn’t hit his head. He said that he’s actually hit his head a few times when he forgot. It’s quite whimsical in a way because the staircases are narrow, the ceiling is low, and the stairs themselves are all different heights, so it reminds me of Alice in Wonderland going down the rabbit-hole. You never know what to expect.

IMG_20141109_161707IMG_20141109_161718IMG_20141109_161732

While at Goodies, we found our absolute favorite candy: Sour Patch Kids! They are truly hard to find outside the US. Only this time, they were made in Britain by the brand “Maynards” and were in an unusual soda-pop flavor. Of course we had to try them. I was a little disappointed to be honest. The flavors were just okay, but not nearly as good as the original flavors. And the texture was more rubbery and waxier than we’re used to. I’m not sure why though. They weren’t passed the expiration date so I don’t know if they manufacture them differently or if it was just a fluke thing. They were still fun to try though.

IMG_20141109_165128IMG_20141109_165138

I can just see my mom thinking “look at all the sugar these kids eat!” and Casey’s mom thinking “I hope these two are brushing their teeth regularly,” but I assure you both that we’re taking care of ourselves! I only blog about the interesting things like candy and ice cream, but we do eat nuts and rice and steamed veggies. But who would want to read about that? Hehe.

 

Tuesday, November 11th

Casey worked on Monday so that is when I wrote the previous blog post. Other than that, there is not much to say about that day.

Yesterday was more eventful because we went to The Office! It’s always a big deal when we go to the office because we have to get transport and wait around and search for people and get papers signed and whatnot. We had to go this time because I needed to get my Arik Air tickets purchased and confirmed. First, we only have one week left in Lagos before we head back to Valencia on November 19th/20th. We bought my ticket coming here which is why I didn’t fly with Arik Air, but going back I will want to fly with them to have the same flights as Casey. I needed to fill out a discount ticket form which gets me a discounted ticket, as you could infer. They’ve recently instated this discounted ticket policy so that’s quite nice for us. Secondly, I am coming back with Casey for a month in December-January, so for that ticket I needed to fill out the family travel form. This gets me a free round-trip ticket. I am entitled to one free, round-trip ticket per year.

It sounds like a fairly easy process, but everything takes longer in Lagos. We had to get the papers, fill them out, and then hunt people down for signatures. As I’ve said before, they love leaving a paper-trail in this country, and they love having management sign paperwork for no obviously important reason. We just have to get “approval” from management for these tickets, when management really could probably care less about it. I don’t know. It’s a weird system. So we spent a couple hours walking back and forth between three buildings trying to see who was available to sign or who could sign in place of someone who wasn’t there! Oy!

Finally, we got what we needed and had to go to the bank to pay for the discounted ticket. Luckily, there was a branch within walking-distance of the office. We also stopped off at KFC for lunch! We’ve been to this location by the airport’s domestic terminal many times. It’s still good for a quick, filling meal.

IMG_20141111_150619IMG_20141111_151027IMG_20141111_151047

After we ate and paid for the ticket, we went back to the office to show them our receipt from the bank and to get a new receipt from Arik Air. Efficient, huh? It was a long process but we did get the ticket at a great price, so that is ultimately what matters. (Here I am filling out the deposit slip at the bank.)

IMG_20141111_153847IMG_20141111_162619IMG_20141111_162611

And then… Casey’s favorite part… more football! He has a What’s App group on his phone which includes all of the pilots who care about football, so they can easily text each other and see who wants to play that day. We went back to the hotel, changed, and quickly went to the compound to join the game. Fortunately, this time we had an Arik Air driver who could take us and pick us up.

IMG_20141111_180036IMG_20141111_181129IMG_20141111_195824

Casey had fun changing the colors and effects of these photographs.

IMG_20141111_195500IMG_20141111_195659IMG_20141111_200223

He’s been using the same soccer ball for a long time now, and it finally had enough! The outer layer was falling apart so he ripped it off and retired the ball.

IMG_20141111_184857

And that’s that! You are updated! Casey is working today but should return fairly soon. I’m just relaxing here and keeping myself busy. Thanks for all the recent comments as well! I love them!

P.S. I forgot to mention that the third Q400 aircraft finally arrived last week! We’ve been waiting for that plane for years, and that’s not an exaggeration. Supposedly the fourth Q400 is expected to arrive this month, so we’ll see!


8 Comments

VLC–CMN–LOS

The title is using the airport codes, but it actually means “Valencia to Casablanca to Lagos.” What a trip! This is a long post, by the way.

Maria was kind enough to drop me off at the airport, so that helped out a lot since I didn’t have to take a bus and a train to get there. I arrived nice and early with plenty of time to check in and get some lunch. I was one of the first to check in too, so it was super fast and easy. Going through security is much easier in Spain as well, since you don’t have to take off your shoes, and they don’t seem to stop as many people as they do in the US or London to go through their bags.

IMG_20141106_115337IMG_20141106_130508

After I checked in, I went to Starbucks to get a bottle of water and relaxed for a while in a comfy chair. I decided to find my gate before having lunch in case it was far away. That was quite funny because the gate was about 50 feet away. Valencia is a SMALL airport! I think they have 12-16 gates, if that? So I laughed to myself and went back to Starbucks for lunch. There were a couple restaurants in the airport, but nothing looked good to me. I was craving some fruit, so I bought a fruit salad and an orange loaf (which is very similar to the lemon loaf that is sold in the US, except this one doesn’t have icing. Mama Rose would like this orange loaf!)

IMG_20141106_135113IMG_20141106_143347

After lunch, I went to the bathroom and noticed that all of the stalls except one were out of toilet paper. That seems to be one common problem in foreign countries: they are always short on toilet paper. So I decided to be smart and selfish and load up on a few small wads in case any future bathrooms didn’t have any. I already knew that Lagos very rarely has toilet paper, so I figured Casablanca was probably the same, especially if Valencia had this issue. 

IMG_20141106_150257

I was flying out of gate B6, and here are the four B gates! You can see all of them (B5-8) between the two pictures. When I first passed security, I saw a sign saying that they have A, B, C, and R gates, so I figured the airport was larger and I’d have to walk further. However, I realized that each group only has four gates! C1-4, B5-8, and A9-12. I’m not sure what R has, but it’s quite funny nonetheless. The flight was about 20 minutes late, but that was okay with me. I had a LONG layover in Casablanca ahead of me, so I didn’t mind waiting longer in Valencia. We got our exit stamp from the customs officer and then took a bus to reach the plane.

IMG_20141106_150756IMG_20141106_154159IMG_20141106_155256IMG_20141106_155311IMG_20141106_155416

It was a beautiful sunny day out there on the tarmac/runway. Being so close to the plane, and not having to stand in the jet-way, reminded me of our Cessna flying trips. I had the urge to start packing up the baggage and doing the before-start checklist like Casey and I used to do.

IMG_20141106_155633IMG_20141106_155641

I had a nice seat by the window in view of the propeller. I didn’t know they would give us a meal either, but I got a chicken sandwich! It actually wasn’t bad. The seasonings were vaguely reminiscent of Indian spices which I absolutely do not care for, but luckily it wasn’t very strong. The bread was a bit stale though so I didn’t eat the whole thing.

IMG_20141106_160726IMG_20141106_164534

The flight was about two and a half hours, and I hardly took my eyes away from the window! I was just captivated by the scenery. First of all, it was fun to see the terrain change from the rugged mountainous regions of Spain, to the water in the Strait of Gibraltar, to Africa! I found this picture online. The text isn’t very clear, but you get the gist of what the area looks like. Secondly, it didn’t seem like our cruising altitude was very high, so I was anxious to see if we were going to climb higher or not. We never did, so the land and the water were very easy to see.

Strait of Gibraltar

The terrain around Valencia is more flat and less mountainous, so I didn’t start taking pictures until we were further south and the land began to change. I was surprised to see such craggy hillsides and even snow on the mountains! There were also a couple of towns tucked away in very random spots. One was in a deep ravine, and the other was near a snowy mountaintop. I circled these areas so you can see them too. Quite funny spots for a town I would say.

IMG_20141106_164845IMG_20141106_165409IMG_20141106_170151IMG_20141106_170158.5IMG_20141106_170534

The pictures above and below are the same mountain with a “standing lenticular cloud” above it. Casey loves to point out these solitary clouds that like to hover on top of a hill or a mountain. 

IMG_20141106_170632IMG_20141106_170749IMG_20141106_170805.5

And then we reached the coast. It’s interesting that the land is so steep right up to the end. By the way, many passengers were taking pictures too. I was surprised since not many people seem to take pictures on a plane in the US. But here, I heard a *click*click* every five minutes. Maybe that was because we were flying close enough to the ground where you could see everything!

IMG_20141106_171148IMG_20141106_171344IMG_20141106_171400IMG_20141106_171611

I was deeply engaged while we flew over the ocean because I don’t particularly like flying over water. Of course, the flight itself feels the same whether you’re flying over land or water, but it’s just a mental thing for me. I couldn’t see much besides a few cargo ships, and I was anxiously waiting to catch the first glimpse of Africa. Here you can see the red mountains of Morocco! There were a ton of clouds too until we got further inland.

IMG_20141106_173621IMG_20141106_173553IMG_20141106_173758IMG_20141106_174033IMG_20141106_175111IMG_20141106_175935

Overall, the landscape was very flat with farmland, besides being more rugged near the coast. Another thing that intrigued me was how the shape of farms greatly differs between countries. In the US, the crops are organized more into circles and squares. In Spain, the farms look like triangles and are packed so tightly together to use up every inch of space. In Morocco, the farms were in rectangular shapes, as you can kind of see in the photo below. The sun made it hard to take good pictures.

IMG_20141106_175335IMG_20141106_181541

The sunset was just beautiful behind the clouds as we descended into Casablanca. The photo below is the actual town of Casablanca, but the airport is a few miles away. I wish I could have taken a better picture for you. It was neat to see how the city sprawled out into a sort of sunburst shape.

IMG_20141106_181711

And here is the airport! I was looking forward to getting inside because I read good things about the airport online. They said it was one of the biggest international hubs in Africa with lots of shops and restaurants and wifi. Little did I know… but we’ll get to that.

IMG_20141106_182232IMG_20141106_182352IMG_20141106_182354

We landed and took a bus to the main building. I filled out my landing card on the plane but didn’t need it because I never passed through customs. I didn’t know which terminal I was in or which terminal I needed to go to, so I just followed the crowd and went to customs. The officer said that I didn’t need to pass because my flight to Lagos was in the same terminal I was in – the international terminal. I just needed to turn around and go through security to get to the main area. I was secretly disappointed because I wanted a stamp in my passport from Morocco!

IMG_20141106_174345

I turned around and found the dinky international entrance. Going through security was even more lax than in Spain! They let me keep my water bottle and I didn’t even need to take my laptop out of my tote. He just looked at my passport and boarding pass and that was it. Super relaxed. I went up the escalator to find a long rectangular terminal with duty-free shops coming out of your ears! There was one restaurant/bar and the rest were souvenir shops or duty-free shops. I walked around the whole thing looking for food and finally found an incredibly small “fast food” area. It looked like a small food court that you would find in a mall, except the food did not look appealing. They had sandwiches, pizza (at least what they call pizza), and probably their local food of chicken and rice or something. I immediately was unimpressed though and turned around to find something else. I went back to the singular restaurant/bar which looked like they had better food, but I didn’t like the vibe in there, so I decided to buy a bunch of snacks instead. I know, not the best dinner, but it was still something. They had two Hudson News stores where I went for snacks. You probably don’t know this store by name, but they are in virtually every airport in the US. You might recognize the blue bag below.

While walking through the airport, I discovered that they had an airport hotel called Fly Hotel where you can rent a room by the hour. I had a six hour layover ahead, so I decided to check out the hotel and possibly get a room. It had to be more comfortable than sitting in the chairs by the gates. The front desk clerk was surprised to see me, and he said that in the seven years he’s been working there, he’s never seen someone like me at the hotel. I’m not entirely sure what that meant, but I assume he meant a young Caucasian woman by herself. Maybe he only sees Africans and not many Europeans at that hotel. Who knows. The rate was reasonable, so I got a room and set up dinner.

In the meantime, I could not connect to the wifi at all! So much for what I read online… The airport had two wifi choices and both would not work. There was a business center at the hotel with two computers but the clerk said that they didn’t have internet. He was nice enough to give me a hotspot from his phone though so I could text my family and let them know that I arrived safely. Casey sent me a picture from his phone that showed where I was in the world. As you can probably gather by now, I was incredibly disappointed by this airport. The articles online made it sound a bit better than what it actually was. Sigh.

IMG-20141106-WA0015IMG_20141106_231332IMG_20141106_191048IMG_20141106_195921IMG_20141106_200530IMG_20141106_200537IMG_20141106_200554IMG_20141106_202724

After I ate, I tried to get some sleep but it was just too noisy. (The dark photo above shows my shoes against the light coming through the door.) People were talking loudly, slamming doors, and children were running back and forth. I’m not sure what was going on out there. I didn’t end up sleeping at all, but it was definitely nicer to lay down than just sit in a chair for hours on end, so it was worth it to me to get the room after all. My mom is probably horrified by the looks of the room!Granted, it’s not up to her standards in the least, but it was decent and well-kept. Keep in mind that my standards are lower now after having lived in Nigeria, so I wasn’t expecting a hotel room like we’d get in the US. The room was very small and didn’t have a bathroom, but it was comfortable enough to relax.

I decided to check out around 10 PM since my flight boarded at 11:45 PM. I wanted to have enough time to find the gate. I also had to go to the bathroom so it was a good time to leave anyway. Just like in Valencia, the gate was not far away, so I sat down and people-watched for an hour. I took a couple photos of the insignificant terminal. You can see the Hudson News store now which probably looks familiar. As I said before, there wasn’t much good food but there were way too many duty-free shops, so if you wanted to buy anything BUT food, you were set.

IMG_20141106_232353IMG_20141106_232342IMG_20141107_005519

The other passengers and I waited and waited and waited for our flight. It was about 20 minutes late again, oddly enough. I flew with Royal Air Maroc which I think is affiliated with Iberia and/or Turkish Air, but I don’t know if their flights are always a bit delayed. Anyway, they finally started boarding and we had to take another bus to get to the plane. It was rather cold at night since it was now after midnight on Friday morning. It did have a neat, eerie vibe though climbing up the stairs and boarding the plane in the middle of the night with dew in the air and spotlights all around. I wanted to take more pictures but the Nigerians were quite pushy. They are some of the most anxious people to board a plane and get off a plane that you will ever meet.

IMG_20141107_010804

Upon boarding, they gave us these little flight kits with socks and an eye mask. I was also impressed that there was a lot of leg room! And the seatbacks felt like they went back further. I don’t know if it was the type of plane or whether it was just an old design, but I was quite comfy already even without moving my seat back further. VERY fortunately, it was not a full flight, so there was an empty middle seat between me and a Nigerian man. I had the window again.

IMG_20141107_014921IMG_20141107_014950IMG_20141107_021140

And here are a couple photos of the inflight dinner! I was thankful that they served a meal since I was still a bit hungry. They had beef with orzo pasta, a roll, yogurt, some vegetable, and dessert. The beef was decent with a good sauce. I think the vegetable was artichokes but I didn’t like the smell, so I didn’t try it. I always eat the bread. The dessert was like an angel food cake with a pistachio, honey, and citrus filling, and it was quite good. I didn’t eat the yogurt either because I was full enough. I usually enjoy the inflight meals. They have a certain not-high-quality yet comforting aspect like school lunches probably have, where the food isn’t very good but you eat it and you’re satisfied anyway because you are reminded of the present moment and past memories: my moment being that of traveling and having a new adventure or experience on yet another flight. Does that make sense?

IMG_20141107_021439

The flight was uneventful and I was able to sleep for a few hours. The descent into Lagos was breathtaking actually and I am so disappointed that I couldn’t take pictures for you. It was still dark and the moon was out, so the lights reflected in the window and it was just not bright enough to take pictures. I’ll try to describe it to you though. There were little moving spots of light which I finally realized were cars. There were quite a few cars out so early in the morning! It was probably 4 AM at the time. Then as we got closer to the city, I could see little areas of houses with twinkling lights reflected in the thin layer of clouds above them. Each little area of houses looked like it’s own galaxy with moving swirls of light and clouds. It almost looked like the Northern Lights except these lights were orange and yellow and white instead of green and pink. I’m probably not describing it well enough for you to visualize it too, but take my word for it that it was a beautiful descent into the city. I have to say that Lagos is prettier at night because all you see are lights instead of the smog and heavy traffic and overpopulated shantytowns. But I digress.

We landed, I went through the health screening where they take your temperature with a thermometer gun, I passed customs, and then waited for my bag. It usually takes forever to get luggage, but it wasn’t too bad this time. Casey was already there waiting for me after baggage claim, since he’s not allowed into the baggage area. It was such a happy sight to see him after all that traveling! We walked outside to our taxi and drove off to the hotel. I already posted this picture but it’s a good one, so let’s post it again.

IMG_20141107_064549IMG_20141107_064534IMG_20141107_064540

There’s the Murtala Muhammed Airport Lagos that we know so well. They redid the entrance out front so there is a fountain with four dolphins now. It was still early in the morning around 6 AM so traffic wasn’t bad on our way to the hotel. The sun was still rising as well.

IMG_20141107_064818IMG_20141107_064824IMG_20141107_064830IMG_20141107_122617

Casey was sweet and made me oats for breakfast with his hotplate. That is one of the best purchases he’s made since he eats oats every morning. I haven’t had them in a long time, since I eat cereal all of the time, so they tasted quite good for a change.

IMG_20141107_121928IMG_20141107_122020IMG_20141107_123009IMG_20141107_123043IMG_20141107_123852IMG_20141107_124047

I brought Casey a treat from Spain called barquillos rellenos de turrón, which are very very thin wafer cookies rolled into a cylinder and could be filled with something. In our case, they are filled with a vanilla-almond cream. You can buy these kind of cookies in the US too, but I can’t remember what they’re called in English. He was very pleased!

I was still a bit tired, so I took a nap for a few hours and then he wanted to play ping pong when I woke up :) I’ve never been to this hotel before, and this is Casey’s first time here too. It’s pretty nice actually. They have three buildings with rooms, a pool, a ping pong table, and a gym.

IMG_20141107_151852IMG_20141107_152228IMG_20141107_152244IMG_20141107_152249IMG_20141107_152250

Casey took me on a tour around the grounds and I saw this by the kitchen. There are probably a hundred red onions on the top two shelves, and then there are huge yams at the bottom. You may or may not remember that there are only red and white onions in Lagos; they don’t have yellow onions here. Just some food for thought.

IMG_20141107_154148

We kept walking and went into the gym. I would venture to guess that some of the funniest signs in the world are in Lagos. It is a completely backwards country as you can clearly tell by this contradictory sign. “No jogging on the treadmills” huh?? What are we supposed to do? Casey jumped to be in the photo. Funny guy.

IMG_20141107_154439

This reminds me of a picture that Casey sent me a few months ago. He was staying at a different hotel, and he came across this sign on the door to the laundry room. Isn’t that hilarious? It makes complete sense right…

IMG_20140710_180909.5

Anyway, back to the gym. They have three treadmills and a couple ellipticals, and a few other things. They have a sign that talks about what regular exercise is all about. It’s a rather small gym, but I suppose you can still get a decent workout here if you really wanted one.

IMG_20141107_154501IMG_20141107_154530

We decided to ride bikes to a nearby food joint called Munchies for a small lunch. Casey has two bikes here in Lagos: an electric bike and a regular bike. He usually rides the electric bike but he let me use it instead while he rode the manual one. It was a quick ride to the end of the street where we popped inside for a meat pie! These are basically like calzones or empanadas, with a pie crust-like exterior and a ground beef and vegetable interior. I like the flavor though because they have some spice to it as well as carrots and onions. We bought two small cartons of vanilla and strawberry ice cream and came back to the hotel to relax.

IMG_20141107_172048IMG_20141107_175721IMG_20141107_175743IMG_20141107_190911

Arik Air pays a set amount for meals at the hotels so, since we did not spend our daily stipend on food that day, we decided to order a bunch of drinks instead to use up the money. That is why you see all those drinks laying on the bed. It works out well this way because sometimes Casey will order food but not have enough money left over for drinks, so this way he can save some drinks in the fridge for later. To sum up my first day, we treated ourselves to a nice Domino’s Pizza for dinner! And it was delivered! My favorite combo of pepperoni and mushroom. Yum!!

IMG_20141107_191207IMG_20141107_191248

Well that was my whole trip and day one in Lagos in a nutshell! Casey worked today so I had all day to write. He will probably work more this week, so I’ll be able to fill you in on some of our other outings. Hope you enjoyed this post! Until next time!


Leave a comment

Good Morning Lagos!

IMG_20141107_064549

I made it!! I just wanted to write a quick post and let everyone know that I am finally here. My trip was interesting and I will have a lot to say, but overall it was very smooth and uneventful. I am glad it is over though. Now I can relax and enjoy the days with this guy! We’re going to play ping pong at the hotel, so I will write a more in depth post soon with details about my trip!