Monday, October 30, 2023

Valencia, Spain

Click here for pictures.

Day 1: 10/26/23

Today we got up and had breakfast at a little place (El Gallo de Oro) outside the Central Market. We had coffee, orange juice, fried eggs, potatoes, and bacon for 10 euros each. It was delicious (I noticed there was no tipping involved). After breakfast, we walked to the Quart Towers (free with Valencia Tourist Card) and found a yarn shop along the way! The tower was a steep climb but beautiful views.

We walked by the Botanical Gardens but stopped at the San Sebastian church first. A mass was going on and it was open, so we wandered in. Next, we went back to the Botanical Gardens and decided to stop. Tickets were discounted with VLC (4.20 euros for two of us) and it was very pretty.

Next, we walked to the park and continued to the mall. We found a supermarket there and bought some snacks. We brought them back to our hotel room and then we went to the post office to mail some postcards. This was a stamp collector’s paradise! Don found lots of collectible stamp treasures. After that, we went to Hard Rock and bought a magnet. Then we went into another museum (free with the VTC) which used to be the stock exchange in the 1930s and then later it was the Spanish Parliament.

We went back to El Gallo de Oro for lunch, and we had a starter, entrée, dessert, and a drink for 16 euros each. Don had codfish croquettes, grilled squid, crepe with chocolate, and whipped cream with iced tea. I had Bolognese Lasagna, Chicken Paella, crepe with chocolate, and whipped cream, with a beer.

Then we decided to try to find the cruise port terminal. We found a C1 bus, but the bus driver wouldn’t take our Valencia card which we thought was good for the metro and buses. We found a tourist office to check and were told the bus driver should have let us on. They told us to take the #4 bus to the port, so we found the stop and rode it on its route. We saw the port but went back to where we got on the bus and got off there. Then we took the C1 bus (I didn’t ask, I just tapped our card and it worked). We rode it to a stop near the Quart Towers and walked around town.

We ended up at the Valencia Cathedral and it was open for mass, so we were able to wander in and see the beautiful architecture. Since it was a Thursday evening mass (8 pm) was considered a Pilgrim Mass and was presided over by Cardinal Cañizares.

Before returning to our hotel, Don had a small gelato at the same place he got it last night.

We put in a full day and walked over 10 miles.

Day 2: 10/27/23

We ate at El Gallo de Oro for breakfast and then headed to the Serrano Towers. It didn’t open until 10 so we walked across the bridge over the park and headed towards the mall. When we got to the mall, we stopped at the supermarket again for snacks.

Then we went to the Turia metro and rode it to a transfer station so we could see how close to the port we could get. We decided that this was not the best way to get to the port. We eventually got off at the Alameda station and walked in the park towards the Arts and Science Centers.

From there, we took a #13 bus to a stop closest to the Central Market and walked back to our room to drop things off. By then it was time to eat an early dinner. After that, we decided to walk the route we planned to take in the morning to get on the #4 bus to the port. We rode it along its route and found out which stop we needed to get off the bus tomorrow. At one end, we had to get off one #4 bus and get on another bus.

We returned to the old section of town and walked around. We stopped for another gelato before returning to our room to pack. We put in another full day and walked almost 10 miles.

Original photos by Pat Hensley

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Flying to Valencia, Spain

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We flew out of Ft Lauderdale on 10/24/23 and our neighbor Bob drove us to the airport. We arrived at 9:40 but was too early to check in. Since our flight didn’t leave until 2:09, we couldn’t check in until 10:09. We flew to Philadelphia, and it was pretty uneventful, and we arrived on time around 4:52 pm. l. Then we flew out of Philadelphia to Madrid at 7:03 pm and expected to arrive at 8:10 am. The flight attendant moved us to a 2-seat row across from the bathroom which we were happy about. Then Don told me when we landed that his seat was very uncomfortable. We had a long layover in Madrid because we arrived at 7:30 am and our flight didn’t leave until 11:55 am. We arrived in Valencia at 7:30 am.

I was shocked at how unwelcoming and unfriendly the airports were in Spain. When we landed in Madrid, we had to take a bus to the terminal. Then we went through customs and had no idea what to do next. There were no signs or TV screens telling us how to find the gate for our connecting flight. We got on a train shuttle to the next terminal where we found a TV screen. Of course, it said that we couldn’t find out our gate number until 10:25 so we just hung out for a couple of hours. The flight to Valencia took about 40 minutes and when we got there, no one knew how to find their luggage. I asked one of the workers and he said he didn’t know and walked away. We ended up walking down 2 longer hallways (which we thought were exits) and found more luggage carousels. That is where we found a screen telling us which one would have our bags.

Next, we found the kiosk to get our Valencia Tourist Card (we bought a 72-hour. card for each of us online before we left home). It said I just needed to put in the information on my email and we would get the cards. We got our cards and decided to use them on Thursday instead of today, so we bought two single-fare cards for $5.60 each to get us to the City Central. But we had all these papers and couldn’t figure out which was the card. When we went to the office for help, the man tried to charge us more money. Finally, the lady came out to help us and told us that we didn’t get our cards out of the machine, and we just had receipts (one for us and others that people had left behind). She helped us get through and since we only had 1 card, she helped us get through the toll booth. I asked if we needed the card at the end, but she said no. She lied and we needed two cards to get out so we used one at the handicapped gate and we both slipped through.

So, we rode the metro to the Xativa station and got out. I didn’t realize we had to go up the really steep flight of stairs with our almost 50 lb. suitcases. 2 people helped me pick up mine and get to the top of the stairs. One man helped Don with his. I never saw an elevator! Then we had to try to find the hotel from my downloaded Valencia Map on Google. We were tired and hot, but eventually found the Valola Boutique Rooms (.6 km away from the metro station). There was no elevator, and I must have looked awful because the young hostess, picked up my heavy bag and carried up the huge marble stairs.

We are staying in Room 8 and it is a HUGE room. There is a bed area as well as a couch in the sitting area. Once we got settled, we went out exploring until 7:30 pm. We ended up eating at Burger King for dinner because we were too exhausted to appreciate a local dish. Don had a large gelato (3 scoops!) on the way back.

Things I’ve Learned:
  • Bring your own snacks for the plane ride.
  • Look for elevators in the metro stations.
  • Be Flexible when traveling.
Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Scrapbook Pages from October 2023

Digital scrapbooking is a great activity to use in the classroom. It can be used to capture memories, share important information, or focus on a specific event. This would be a great alternate activity for book reports and even group projects. Here are some examples that I made in June. I use the website Gingerscraps for ideas and even free digital kits.

Friday, October 20, 2023

Pumpkinseed Sunfish

The 45-cent multicolored Pumpkinseed Sunfish stamp (Scott #2481) was issued on December 2, 1992, at the National Aquarium in Washington DC. It is part of the Flora and Fauna Series and was distributed in panes of one hundred (ten down and ten across). The artwork was made by Michael Matherly who also created the 1-cent American Kestrel and the 3-cent Bluebird stamps.

When I saw this stamp, I thought this was such a beautiful-looking stamp. The colors in it immediately caught my eye and I’m not a big fish lover. Not only did the colors interest me, but the name even intrigued me and I had to learn more about this fish.

The Pumpkinseed fish is a freshwater fish native to northeastern North America. It can be found from New Brunswick to South Carolina. They read a maximum length of sixteen inches but are usually found six to eight inches and they weigh less than a pound. Its name reflects its shape which resembles a pumpkinseed. The orange, green, yellow, or blue speckles can be on its olive back and sides while its belly and breast can be yellow to orange. It has sharp spines so you have to be careful when handling it.

Pumpkinseed sunfish live in warm, calm lakes, ponds, and pools of creeks and small rivers. They like lots of vegetation for hiding and stay near shallow and protected areas. They feed at all levels from the surface to the bottom in daylight but mainly eat in the afternoon. They like to travel in schools that might include bluegills and other sunfish. At night, they rest near the bottom of the water or in protected areas in rocks or near logs.

Pumpkinseed Sunfish eat insects, mosquito larvae, small mollusks, snails, other crustaceans, smaller pumpkinseed sunfish, minnows, and worms. Their predators can include largemouth bass and pike perch, cormorants and herons, and fishermen.

I’ve never seen one in the wild but you can bet that I’ll be looking for one now.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Return to Florida

We returned to Florida last week and this is the earliest we have come down for the winter. Last week was unbearably hot and this week, it has finally cooled down. We came down early because of the postcard show and the stamp show.

Since we have been here, we have checked over the house and Don has trimmed the bushes. I have been trying to reset the irrigation system but I may have to call the help line. I can water it manually, but the auto program is not working.

Three of the cats have remembered us and are constantly coming over to visit. Squeaky is getting very old and I am not sure she will last another year. Little Bear, the blind cat, is over here all the time and if I’m on the front porch, she wants inside. Roadrunner surprised us by coming over to visit on her own. Usually, she comes over to visit if our neighbor, Donna comes to visit.

Thank goodness for our Nest thermostat which kept the house pretty comfortable until we arrived.

It feels good to sit on the front porch and knit in the mornings.

One day I went shopping with Donna. We went to Ollies, The Girls, and Western Beef. We had fun and got to visit while shopping. 

This week, we met my cousins Wayne and Lorraine for lunch at Flanigan's. It is our favorite restaurant but it is only in Florida. After lunch, we went to their house to see their new kitchen and floors. The house is amazing!   

Original photos by Pat Hensley

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Iceland No Longer Issuing New Postage Stamps

On a recent visit to Iceland, we visited the local post office to see what stamps we could buy for my husband’s collection. We were disappointed that there weren’t any 2023 stamps for us to buy. The postal clerk told us they don’t have any current issues because, in 2019, Iceland announced they would stop issuing new postage stamps.

In 1873, Iceland issued the first stamps when it was part of Denmark. On June 17, 1944, Iceland became an independent republic.

After 90 years in operation, Iceland Post’s Stamp and Philatelic Department (Postphil) was closed. The CEO states huge deficits as the reason for closing. In 2019, the CEO of Iceland Post cut back on everything that was not profitable for the company including Postphil. He said that the number of philatelic customers had decreased yearly, leading to a deficit for Postphil. He said they had a stock of stamps that would last many years and probably would have enough until the last letter was sent. But if more stamps are needed, it is possible to re-print stamps.

The exclusive right to distribute letters ended for Iceland Post in 2019.

We hope other countries don’t follow this trend. We like looking at the new stamps that are issued!

Original Photos by Pat Hensley

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Fountain Inn Quilt Show

Last Friday I went to a local quilt show. I’m always impressed with the creativity that I see at these shows. I like to look at these designs as well as the combinations of colors used. I like to look at them and reflect on what makes it appealing to me and the ones I don’t like, I like to reflect on why they don’t appeal to me.

Here is the link to all of the photos I took at the show. Below you will find the ones that I really liked.

Original photos by Pat Hensley

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Top 10 Favorite October Movies

I love watching movies and I thought I would share my favorite movies to watch in October. This would be fun to have students write their top 10 movies for Autumn or October and then share it with the class. Then using their lists, try to come up with the class Top 10 list.
  1. Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (original)
  2. Ghostbusters (the original)
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird
  4. Hocus Pocus
  5. When Harry Met Sally
  6. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
  7. Young Frankenstein
  8. Practical Magic
  9. Remember the Titans
  10. Coco
What are some of your favorites? Please share. 

Photo by Geoffrey Moffett on Unsplash

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

A Walk in the Neighborhood

This morning, some friends came over for an early morning walk in the neighborhood on the Swamp Rabbit It was fun to see some houses decorated for Halloween. It was also nice to see the plants along the trail too! What a great way to start the day! 

Original Photos by Pat Hensley

Monday, October 2, 2023

A Wonderful Birthday

Last week was my birthday and I had a wonderful day! The sweet little girl across the street sang happy birthday to me which absolutely was my favorite thing all day!

In the morning we went to the senior center where we walked for an hour. Then we have our exercise class and there are usually around 50 people who show up for that. A lot of my friends wished me a happy birthday there (and online).

Next, we went to Starbucks so I could have my free birthday drink. I love frappuccinos so that is usually the one day I can get Don to have one with me.  

When we got home, I was able to knit until lunchtime. Then we walked down to the pub that I really like called Wingnutz. They have an awesome lunch special menu so I got my chicken tender basket, fries, and a drink for $8.44.

When we came home, I knit and read until we got hungry for dinner. I had leftovers for lunch and Don fixed his own dinner so I wouldn’t have to cook.

It was the perfect day!

Original photos by Pat Hensley

Sunday, October 1, 2023

2023 Goals Review for September

September has been an exhausting month. It took 2 weeks for me to get over jet lag. Then we went to a knitting retreat on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Little Switzerland. 


1. Learn something new. - I learned Tunisian crochet to make a couple of dishcloths. I’m still practicing my watercolor painting and my ukulele.

2. Knit at least 1 sweater - I finished with my sweater. (Collins Tee)

3. Yarn - more out than in (use more yardage than I buy) – I’m so glad that I am not counting souvenir yarn (bought on our cruise) or yarn gifted to me! As of September 30:

●              Yarn used - 8871 yds.

●              -Yarn bought - 9009

3. Complete a shawl - I finished my Shawlography shawl

4. Try 4 new recipes. - Just didn’t have the brain space to try anything new

5. Stretch regularly (at least 20 days out of the month) - We are walking and exercising regularly

6. Create at least 2 scrapbook pages each month. - Made 0 pages in September but since I was shooting for 24 for th year, I’m way past my goal. (Total - 72)

7. Participate in the Photo a Day challenge – Completed through September

8. Read the Bible every day. - yes

9. Read 100 books - Read 14 in January, 2 in February, 6 in March, 5 in April. 4 in May, 3 in June,  3 in July, 12 in August, 20 in September,   (Total: 66)

10. Read 12 nonfiction books. – (total: 9).

-   Enough Already: Learning to Love the Way I Am Today by Valerie Bertinelli

-   Prince William: The Man Who Will Be King by Penny Junor

-   I Still Believe: A Memoir by Jeremy Camp

-   Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth

-  I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

-  Nowhere for Very Long by Brianna Madia

-  My Extraordinary Ordinary Life by Sissy Spacek

-  Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

- No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality by Michael J. Fox

What are your goals for this year? Please share.