I can’t believe I’m typing these words: we have reached the halfway point in our Spanish adventure. This realization has made me a bit anxious lately. I’ve started to feel a certain urgency about things. I want to study Spanish more intensely, I want to spend more time with the new friends we’ve made here in Granada, I want to explore the city more, I want to just sit at a café, drink some café con leche and soak up my surroundings. For now though, I am taking a very deep breath and reflecting on the amazing month we’ve just had.
The temporada de Navidad kicked off with a fabulous party hosted by our friends, the McKendry family. It was a wonderful mix of Granadinos and extrañeros, with good food, lots of conversation in both English and Spanish and a crazy white elephant gift exchange.
The following week brought an extra special holiday gift. Our friends from Avon, CT who we hadn’t seen since we moved to Seattle in 2011 were visiting Spain, and came to Granada for the day. We were able to have a nice dinner with the Huber family and catch up on the past six years.
Good food, great friends!
The very next day, our family set off on our own trip, this time leaving Spain and exploring Europe over Christmas and into the New Year. I have to give a big “thank you” to Jason who planned the itinerary (airline tickets, bus tickets, train tickets, AirBNBs and hotels), made dinner reservations and scouted out activities for us at each destination. I supposed if all else fails, he can get a job as a travel agent when we return to Seattle.
Venice was magical.
Our first stop was Venice, Italy. We flew from Granada and arrived in Venice after dark. We chose to take the water bus from the airport to our rental apartment, and we are pretty sure the language barrier caused us to be dropped off about a thirty minute walk from where we needed to be. Walking through the “streets” of Venice at night was an experience we won’t soon forget. It was dark, a little creepy and reminded me in no small way of a setting in an Edgar Allen Poe story. Daytime, however, was a different story. I could not get enough of the canals, the bridges, the architecture, and the Venetian glass. Oh, and the food! It’s our family tradition to make our own pizza on Christmas Eve, but this year, we went to the source and let the Italians make it for us. Christmas day in Venice was wonderful. The owner of our rental made sure we had a Christmas tree (with three gifts already under it for our three children no less). Santa had no problem finding a place to put the kids’ gifts (right in the new slippers they had received as part of their Christmas Eve pajamas). We made a really good breakfast, but unfortunately no one really liked the traditional “yule log” cake that Jason and I bought to replace our usual monkey bread that we have on Christmas morning. Ice skating, feeding the pigeons in St. Mark’s square and a gondola ride were some of the memorable activities from our stay in Venice.
From Venice we took the train to Milan, Italy and spent just a couple days there indulging in even more Italian food and wine. We did get the chance to see Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, which was pretty amazing.
The kids got the hang of train travel very quickly!
Another (ok, three) train ride(s) took us to Wengen, Switzerland for the New Year. Jason and Robbie spent three days skiing in the Alps, but surprisingly (or perhaps not, thanks to global warming?) all the snow there was manmade, so the runs were a little too advanced for Matthew, Gabi and me, who prefer nice wide runs that we can ski across, rather than the narrow runs that require much tighter skiing and snowboarding. But there was enough snow for snowball fights, more ice skating and a train trip up to the glacier of Jungfraujoch to more than make up for any missed skiing. The food in Switzerland was pretty delicious and we enjoyed a fondue dinner on New Year’s Eve.
We couldn’t go to Switzerland without having fondue.
Our last stop on this particular adventure was Paris, France. I was looking forward to seeing Paris, but I didn’t expect to fall in love with it as much as I actually did. We took an electric bike tour the first day (electric bikes are awesome, and I highly recommend trying one out), and were able to familiarize ourselves with the city’s layout in a few hours. Over the next few days, we spent an evening at the Louvre, an afternoon in the Montfortre neighborhood, visited the Eiffel Tower, and Lori took the kids to Disneyland Paris. (Looking back on the food poisoning experience Lori had at Disneyland, Jason definitely made the right decision by staying in the city center and exploring more of Paris’ charms!) Paris is a beautiful city and we are so glad we were able to visit.
Best photobomb ever by our bike tour companion. And just a few Paris icons.
When we got back to Granada after all of our travels, Robbie was the one who actually said, “I really feel like we live here now.” It only took about six months, but even Robbie is starting to feel like Granada is home. It helped that shortly after we returned we visited with a family from Australia who had just recently moved to Granada, whose son is now in Robbie’s class at IES Albayzin. I think it’s given Robbie some confidence to be able to show Cal around and to have someone with whom he can commiserate with as he navigates the rest of this crazy experience.
I’m a little sad that we’ve reached the halfway point in our year in Granada. However knowing all that we have done and learned thus far, I’m terribly excited to see what the next six months hold.