Another backtrack post! I know. And I haven’t really caught you all up on things as I promised. However, in my defense, I did have a week-and-a-half traveling spree in there that I am in the process of posting about….but first things first! This post is documenting the visit of some of my family during mid-March. Then I assure you, more travel tales!
Talk about a sight for sore eyes…
It had been about 7 months since I’d seen my Mom and sister (the longest I’ve gone without seeing them in my life) and my, was it a good feeling when I (finally) saw them walk through the doors in the Arrivals gate of the Madrid airport. And by finally, I mean after a two-hour flight delay and waiting about 45 minutes after their plane was supposed to land (their luggage had been lost and they were trying to sort it all out) all the while not even knowing if I was at the right gate, let alone TERMINAL (we had unfortunately forgotten to talk about that prior to me picking them), finally, I spotted the blonde and dark brown haired-combo of ladies I’d been so impatient to see for so long. Despite the ensuing travel delay/annoyances we ended up experiencing (missing our bus home, having to buy new tickets, having to kill time for 3 hours, waiting two more days for the bags to arrive, etc) the trip definitely improved from there.
Without going into every detail, we enjoyed a delightful mix of fun outings/experiences over the course of the week:
-A trip to the village of Nalda, of which I’m so fond, to see the old ruins of the convent, have a picnic, hike up to the mysterious caves and have the wonderful fortune to run into one of my dear sweet older friends, Maria Angelines (who, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, was one of the many wonderfully kind residents of the village who helped us in many ways when we had first arrived to the country and were temporarily living there). It’s not terribly exciting, just a pretty, quaint little pueblo, but they (my madre y hermana) loved it, I think. Loved showing them around a place where I spent so much time and that was so special to me!
-A wine tour! Later that day, we had the fabulous good luck to go on a wine tour with Alfredo, the boyfriend of my friend/coworker Aleksandra, whose family happens to be in the bodega-business (bodega is the Spanish word for winery, FYI). They gave us an entertaining, fascinating tour of the family-owned place, with tastings straight out of both giant holding vats and barrels…just delightful! FanTAStic wine. Check ’em out online to see if their wines are sold near you: http://www.cunadereyes.es/ On Alfredo’s insistence, we headed to a darling little cafe/restaurant in the same village only to be treated to more wine from his bodega, a plate of Spanish jamón, various delicious sauteed veggies and other tasty finger-foods. It was simply the best welcome in the world for my mom and sister. I cannot express how amazing it was for him to give them such an experience and how grateful we are for it!
-Next few days—shopping for them and working for me! As much as I wish I could have taken off the whole week to spend with them, I do have to hold down a job. Luckily I live in a great area of town with plenty of shoes/purses/dresses-shops/etc they could tempt themselves with!
-Their first experience going out for tapas/pinchos (both are used as names for the small, bite-sized ish portions of food served at bars usually with a small glass of wine or beer)! My mom fell in love with Bar Angel’s incredible stacked mushrooms and the pimientos rellenos (stuffed peppers) while my sis had more of a taste for the patatas bravas (small chunks of fried potato smothered in a creamy something-like-but-better-than-mayonnaise and the slightly-spicy-but-super-flavorful “brava” sauce). With my ultra-convenient flat location (Calle Laurel and the tapas bar streets are literally in my backyard) we definitely went out more than once that week.
-Friday/Saturday: a fun overnight trip to San Sebastian! Walking on the beach; “shuffling on the boardwalk” (don’t ask); walking through the lovely old quarter; enjoying the SUBLIME pinxtos (the same as tapas or pinchos, but in the Basque language– for example: a prawn skewered with a piece of bacon smothered in a scrumptious red pepper sauce); stopping for crepes for desert AND breakfast; hiking up stunningly green/lush/fascinating hillside path to get to the giant Jesus-statue-on-top-of-a-fortress; and just all around enjoying ourselves! Advice: San Sebastian may or may not be on your travel radar for Spain, but if it’s not….it’d better be. What a splendidly beautiful, beach-side city with fascinating everything, but among other things, food. You won’t regret making it a part of your trip!
-Saturday night: St. Patrick’s Day and a chance to show my mom and sis what Spanish nightlife is all about! Included but not limited to: healthy amounts of wine, obligatory Guinness-drinking, a great Irish band at Biribay Jazz Club and lots of dancing.
-Sunday: a short but fun daytrip to Zaragoza to see the astoundingly large/beautiful Nuestro Señora de Pilar cathedral on the river (absolutely worth a trip to the city on its own) and La Aljaferia, the striking fortress on the outside/incredible work of Arabic architecture on the inside. Owing to my own woefully-under-preparedness, it was not open for visitors that day (ERRRRRGGH! I was a smidge frustrated and still am) but my lovely Hake ladies graciously assured me that “the outside is still really awesome!” Such dolls they are.
-Last day: Madrid. Basically me just helping them find their hotel and spending a few hours seeing some sights…not enough time, (especially as the reality that they’d be leaving soon set in), but a fun afternoon seeing some big-city Spain. Also, an opportunity for them to get one last fix of Euro-shopping in. 🙂
All in all, a fabulous week with some of my favorite people in the world. It was odd and wonderful at the same time…odd in that I’ve never been in the position of showing them around somewhere they’ve never really been, nor been depended on so much for help with language, logistics, etc. Wonderful of course in that I got to spend hour after hour with these two incredible women: drinking wine, laughing, wedding planning, story-telling, tapa-tasting, drinking more wine, and just having a ball. Gah, I miss them. But here I’ve gone and wrote way too much again. You get the idea. Just a marvelous time all around. Next visitors: Jake’s mom and aunt!
Until next time…