We first visited the Maryland Renaissance Festival about seven years ago, before T was born. I found the whole place a little large and overwhelming - not particularly stroller-friendly and full of people who take RenFair super seriously (I pointed out a women in costume to F, saying "look, there's a princess." And was then told, in a not very friendly voice, that said woman was most definitely NOT a princess, but a lady in waiting. um, sorry? I think.). Plus, even after you pay a decently-large admission price, all activities cost an extra dollar or two, making me feel like I was being nickel-and-dimed out of all my money.
That experience, however, is all in the past. BECAUSE I NOW LOVE RENFEST!!
This year we had more than a few friends go and tell us how there's nothing more fun to do with the grade school crowd. Regarding the cost issue, one of my friends noted that when you look at the total amount of money spent, Renfest is still much cheaper than most county fairs and/or theme parks. So even though everything (games, rides, slides, mazes, animal houses) costs an extra few dollars, you'll still spend much less than you might at a comparable location. Plus, all performances are free, the food is cheap, and they serve alcohol.
So a few weekends a go, when Dan was on a guys' trip, the kids and I met up with some friends and had a fabulous afternoon. In fact, now they keep asking when we can go again.
The Renaissance Festival goes through October 25. Tickets cost $24 for adults and $10 for children 7 and over (younger children are free). Two day passes are also available. For more info, click here.
I am awful at girls' hair (hence why mine never grows longer than shoulder-length). And I have all sorts of mom guilt about the fact that I can't even french braid (P asked me to study on youtube, but I quit after a few "lessons"), so I splurged at the fair on hair braiding for the girls (P's braid cost about $20 and F's updo was closer to $30). Don't they look gorgeous?
Regarding the staged fighting, the girls found it somewhat boring, but T was entranced.
The maze could not have been very hard, but apparently we have no sense of direction. We spent quite a long time in there, which was sort of awesome.
HAPPY WEDNESDAY EVERYONE!! What have you been up to this autumn?
I love this photo of P exploring San Sebastian, Spain. Don't forget to check out everyone else's weekly images on Cherish This Day.
Have a good weekend everyone! Lots of links this week . . .
* The calendar roundups have begun. Love these 16 for 2016!
* Biggalyoga. Awesome!
* This ad makes me angry.
* Who wants to buy a village in Spain? Tempting. Very very tempting.
* 27 things to do before bed that aren't Netflix (though I'll probably watch Netflix anyway).
* 20 great Murakami quotes. I wish these were a poster.
* Possibly the best thing to happen to indie music ever.
* Coconut apple pie toddy. YUM (and easy)!!
* Interstellar Cinderella - this book looks fantastic! ("I'm far too young for marriage, but I'll be your chief mechanic.")
* Photography lies and so do I. YES! YES! YES!
We visited Bilbao in order to see/tour/experience Frank Gehry's architectural masterpiece, the Guggenheim. Apart from the art museum, Bilbao didn't have much to recommend it, prior to the Guggenheim's arrival the city had primarily existed as an industrial center and, according the the guidebooks, Bilbao still didn't have a lot to offer tourists. But we ended up falling in love with this town and considered our time there one of the highlights of our vacation.
First of all, we stayed in a gorgeous topfloor apartment in the city's old town (you can see it here). Up until this point, T usually slept on a pull-out couch, so having three bedrooms felt crazy special. Especially since Dan and I had a master-suite, basically a mini-vacation in itself.
As you can see, we spent a lot of time just hanging out - napping, playing chess and cards, watching movies together (yes, we all gathered for a family movie on the ipad, thank you Amazon Prime). Everyone loves a siesta.
When we finally ventured into old town (i.e. exited the building) we focused on the food. Like San Sebastian, Bilbao has tons of wonderful Basque eataries and pintxos are served everywhere, but the lack of crowds made it easier to discover new things. F and P gravitated toward a stand/restaurant that only sold french fries (um, so in retrospect, maybe we weren't as creative in our eating as I remember), I couldn't get over the windows and windows of salted cod. And T loved the "milk machine", he still says that Bilbao had the best milk ever.
And, of course, more pinxtos, though by this point, we were somewhat sick of eating meals made up of appetizers.
For our first (and only) full day in Bilbao we decided to walk the river to the Guggenheim, which was the perfect way to experience the building. Almost like a mountain sprouting out of nowhere. Plus, the river had tons of playgrounds and lots of art.
You aren't allowed to photograph Guggenheim exhibits, which made me super sad. Luckily, Jeff Koons's retrospective included a few designated photo spots, hence the photo of P with Popeye. I was also disappointed to learn that the museum does not house a permanent collection, outside of a few large sculptures. Oh well, I like Koons' large playful art, though after awhile it becomes redundant (Dan, on the other hand, did not care for Koons' quirkiness). And Jean-Michel Basquiat's work was on display upstairs, but he's never been a favorite of mine.
Another "fancy" lunch out. As this city was smaller, the waitress spoke no English and it took awhile to find the restaurant's English-translated menu. But the food was good, even T actually ate. Yay!!
We spent our evening touring various playgrounds along the river, which seemed like the perfect end to a wonderful day. Plus, the playgrounds were quite creative.
We woke in the morning to a cold, foggy day (which felt pretty wonderful after Italy's crazy heat) and walked the 2 miles to the car rental agency, passing the Guggenheim on our way.
HAPPY WEDNESDAY EVERYONE!! In a few weeks, I'll post the last of the Europe pics - our Spanish road trip and Disney Paris.