So a few days after I published my last blog post I had what can only be described as a meltdown. I can honestly say that I spent an entire day crying. I told Jason that I was “done” and just wanted to go back to Seattle. I don’t really know if it was homesickness, my frustration trying to learn a new language or missing the creature comforts of our house in Seattle, but whatever it was, after a few days it passed and I was able to put things back in perspective (with a little help from Facebook messages and my fellow expat friends – thank you!!!). We didn’t move to Spain for a year because we expected it to be easy and fun all the time. We did it to challenge ourselves, to live more simply and to learn about and experience a different culture, which is definitely happening.
Views from the 16k hike Jason and I took this month from the village of Beas de Granada all the way back to Granada city.
That being said, so much of this fifth month turned out to be just plain fun! The first lively event was the Thanksgiving celebration planned by a fellow expat family at El Higo restaurant in the Upper Albayzín. With turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, great wine and even better company it really gave us all a taste of home here in Spain.
Thanksgiving with all the fixings, and really good friends!
After that it was off to the races, as Jason finally competed in the Spartan race he’s been training for over the last four months. We travelled to Valencia the first weekend in December and the kids and I cheered Jason on as he pulled himself over walls, crawled under barbed wire, hauled logs uphill, climbed rope ladders, and jumped through a fire pit during a nine mile run. That night, since Valencia lays claim to being the originator of a certain famous Spanish dish, we celebrated by taking a paella cooking class as a family and had a great time and fabulous meal…with paella leftovers for days! Valencia is a lovely city and we enjoyed our time there visiting the Aquarium and the city’s Central Market.
After Jason competed he was able to enjoy all the amazing food Valencia has to offer.
Because the kids had two days off of school the following week, we decided to make it an extended trip and head from Valencia to Barcelona, a city that has stolen my heart again and again. If you haven’t yet read Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruis Zafon I highly recommend it. If you have, than you probably understand my fascination with the city of Barcelona. Its variety of architectural styles, the dark, winding streets of the Gothic Quarter, the views from atop Mt. Tibadabo and its location on the Mediterranean combine to make it one of my favorite places in the world. Luckily for me, after this visit, my family feels the same way. We had a great time with the kids wandering the city streets, touring La Sagrada Familia and spinning our way through the amusement park. We have already decided we will return once more before we leave Spain.
There is just something about Barcelona…
From Barcelona we traveled to Zaragoza, which was a winter-wonderland without the snow. With its Christmas market in full swing the kids were able to sled and ice-skate in the plaza right in front of the Basílica del Pilar. We were only there for one day, but enjoyed it immensely.
Zaragoza shows off her history and traditions.
The next day, after a quick stop in Calatayud to take some pictures for our friends in Connecticut, the Calatayud family, we ended up in Cuenca, a town know for its “hanging houses” built into the cliffside. It is a stunning site, and the bridge that crosses the gorge from the old town is not for the faint of heart!
Cuenca: don’t bother visiting if you are afraid of heights!
We have been so lucky to be able to travel as much as we have, but we have also had good experiences in our hometown of Granada this month as well. Robbie is happy at his new school and has already made some new friends. He’s definitely learning more Spanish than he was before, but it’s still quite a challenge. Matthew and Gabi have both started extra Spanish lessons after school, which are going well, and Jason and I are plugging along with our private lessons three days a week. With the Christmas holidays coming up and making more travel plans for the two-week school break, Jason and I have been taking it a bit easy on the studying, but have plans to amp up our Spanish work even more after the first of the year. I’ve promised my instructor that my very last blog post from Granada will be all in Spanish…I have quite a ways to go!
We are thinking a lot about our family and friends this time of year, and hope that everyone has a wonderful Holiday Season and that 2017 brings you much joy and happiness. ¡Feliz navidad y próspero año nuevo!