So I know this is uber late, and I know I’ve got a lot of catching up to do…(I think this is how I’ve started every blog post since arriving to Spain…oh dear) but let me backtrack a little bit and get you fantastic people up to speed.
So…Christmas. As I alluded in my pre-traveling spree blog post, Christmas was good–very different and at times very bittersweet, but it was still enjoyable and I’m sure an experience I will always remember.
To start, Jake and I threw a pre-Christmas Christmas party about 2 weeks before the fact that also served as somewhat of a going away party for our dear Dani, a fellow American teaching at the academy who decided to return home permanently for various reasons. We tried to put aside our homesickness and sadness at her leaving and have a good old-fashioned fun time, and we succeeded. Between giving our German friend and Irish friend their first experience of the movie “Elf” (such a classic) to dressing up in our finest and drinking good wine (I have to specify “good” because we are most often drinking “bad”, basically cheap wine that we mix with either Coke or lemon Fanta) and cava (Spanish version of champagne), it was perfect. We had initially considered making a big fancy dinner, but ended up landing on the decision for doner kebab, a type of “fast-food” that was initially brought over by the Turkish people and is sort of similar to a Greek gyro, but with spicy sauce, too. It was a rather laughable sight, seeing the 6 of us all decked out in nice clothes strolling along the old town of Logroño only to get our “Chrstmas kebab” and come right back. Jeje, whatever it takes to make the occasion special I guess.
Ok, so now for what we actually did for Christmas. We had all these grand plans for a night with friends and some of the old traditions from the States, and some of it worked, some not so much. Going to a Christmas Eve service is a really important part of both of our Christmas traditions, and we’d wanted to attend in Nalda, the town where we had lived for a while, but found out the buses wouldn’t run late enough for us to return back to Logroño. Then we attempted to go to a service at the beautiful cathedral in the Plaza Mercado (the site of which, you might remember, is kind of significant to us)…we “thought” we read correctly that there were services every hour and then a big mass a midnight, so we dressed up, got to the church with our friends Jason, David and Miriam, and waited. And waited….and nothing actually happened. We later found out that the only real service was only at midnight, but it was nice to just go in, pray for a while and enjoy the beauty of the cathedral. Aside from that hiccup, the night was still good. It was clear, crisp and cold and as we walked outside a man was playing Silent Night on the accordion, just the perfect moment.
Next, we went to the Plaza Ayuntamiento (town hall plaza) to see the huge “belén”, an almost life-sized nativity scene…but not just the Mary, Joseph, Jesus, sheppards, angels bit you usually see…this was almost an entire village created around the actual stable scene to make it feel like you were walking into the story. Very very cool…hadn’t ever seen anything like it.
So after browsing through some of the Christmas markets near the Belén, we headed back to make our night as “merry” as we could. Jake accompanied us on guitar as we sang our favorite Christmas carols, then we ate a special Christmas Eve dinner of salmon, asparagus, roast potato wedges and Reserva wine (the oldest “type” of wine you can buy, extremely high quality). The boys managed to whip up some incredibly good eggnog from scratch and we spent the night being goofy, reminiscent and full of thankfulness for being together. It was kind of nice, though, while we did get each other one small, inexpensive gift, to focus less on the presents and more on togetherness and the reason for the holiday, the birth of Jesus. All in all, it was terribly hard to be away from our families, but we made the best of it and had a unique Christmas with who and what we had.
Coming soon: updates on the Rome-Cologne-Munich-Paris trip!
Happy New Year and talk to you soon.