What Goes Up the Great Wall, Must…

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You guys. This was SO FUN.

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Of course we had to pay extra.

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Of course it was a hassle to get the guys out of their warm building to get the little toboggan things set up for us. (I felt like the Jamaican bobsled team.)

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But it was so FUN!

My friend said it was the longest slide in the world. I just googled it and it’s not. But who cares? It was a solid couple of minutes of freezing wind rushing past my face while I laughed like a maniac.

The Great Wall in 13 Degrees

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An ominous frozen waterfall greeted us as we left the main road.

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And then there was the business of entering the park, paying the entrance fee, paying for the bus, then paying for the gondola ride up.

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In other words, bring your wallet. They’re going to squeeze you.)

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But once you’re there, the views are amazing, the wall is incredible.

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I was surprised at how uneven the steps were.

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I shouldn’t have been, because that thing’s been there for hundreds of years. Some settling is to be expected.

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We hiked for as long as we had time.

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It took effort to pay attention to my steps, because not only were the stairs uneven, they’re tiny, so you can’t walk in a normal stride. And the walk can be extremely steep. I can’t imagine running the Great Wall Marathon. (Which you know my husband would do in an instant, given the opportunity. Even if they gave him soap to eat.)

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I’d always pictured it as a smooth sidewalk up on top of the wall, but now that seems ridiculous, given how the wall hugs the ridges of the mountains.

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And while it obviously wasn’t the most pleasant time to be outdoors, it sure was worth it to be there when the place was near-deserted.

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So the wall was amazing, incredible and all that. But it pays to travel with local friends, because they already know all the tricks. Getting down from the wall might have been the most exciting part of the trip.

To Be Continued.

Bucket List: Terracotta Warriors

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I’m sure I first learned about these ancient warriors in some social studies class. For some reason, they stuck in my memory.

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I never really expected to see them in person, but when we found we had an extra day in Xian, it quickly made our agenda.

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I’m not sure what I expected, but it wasn’t a large covered warehouse. In fact, I think I always pictured them in a cave, for some reason. But instead, there are pits of unearthed clay warriors, poised and ready for the afterlife.

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And for whatever reason, I didn’t expect this great expanse of museum grounds.

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But the thing I learned about China is that they like to do it up grand. The train stations are always cavernous. So it makes sense that a museum dedicated to this key part of their history would be expansive, too.

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The detail is amazing. Each armor panel and hair bun are a little different.

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I was thankful we were there in January, when the crowds were thin and we could really see. Most of the other tourists were Chinese, which was interesting.

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Check one off the bucket list, I guess!

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#Milestone

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Ten years ago, I married this dude.

We drove to Mexico for the honeymoon, but one thing FP always talked about was going back to visit Portugal. He’d been, I hadn’t, and he always said he’d love to show it to me. So I made a mental note to make it happen for our 10th anniversary.

Fast forward 9.75 years, we were planning to visit the relatives in Holland. And I realize: time to make Portugal happen. We brought the kids to Holland, let them hang out with the grandparents and cousins, and then squeezed out five days in Portugal. Technically it was a couple of months early, but whatever.

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Lisbon was amazing.

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Who is surprised? Exactly no one.

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Old streets, picturesque corners everywhere you turn.

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We stayed in Alfama, on my husband’s recommendation.

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#bestideaever

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After a while, though, I was almost on overload because every view was so amazing.

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More to come on Portugal, obviously, but suffice it to say, life has been one grand adventure with this one. I’d marry him again.

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