A week ago my ENTIRE family was able to come a visit me here in Spain! My Mom and youngest brother Scott were in Paris the week prior where Mary Duncan, Alex and I got to see them the weekend that we visited there.
Mom and Scott arrived in Cordoba Thursday night and the roomies and I cooked them a home cooked meal. Friday we woke up early to meet Fernando and head to my little school in Puente Genil. We ate breakfast at my favorite cafe by the river where they tried the famous tostada (toasted fresh bread with olive oil, tomato sauce, and cured iberian ham) This was the first of many breakfast tostadas… they loved it! Oh how I will miss the jamon (ham) when I come back to the states. After breakfast we walked to school where they met all of the teachers and went into each class, 4 years old to 6th grade, and got a tour of my little school. The kids were beyond excited to meet them and practiced their basic English asking them several questions like “What’s your favorite color? Favorite food, Favorite sport? etc…” Scott and I played at recess with everyone where Scott showed off his basketball skills and dunked for everyone. After that, he was the coolest (tallest) kid they had every seen. After recess, Mom and Scott were able to watch me teach the first grade class where each kid drew a picture of the three of us for Mom to take home. Overall, the day was definitely a success and I was so happy that some of my family got to experience a day in my shoes teaching precious little spanish children and now I know they understand my love for it.
Brittney and her hubby Bo arrived that Friday evening where we all went out for a nice dinner along the river and took it easy for the night.
The rest of the Barlow crew (Dad and Matt) came in on Saturday afternoon. We all went for a beer and snails before the big bull fight. Tents are up all over Cordoba during April and May where it is really popular to mingle with friends on an afternoon, eat snails and drink wine. Everyone was up for trying the snails and for the most part enjoyed it. Brit opted out of the bull fight after hearing how grotesque and bloody they are and went shopping with Audrey and Mary Duncan. The bull fight was quite the experience for all of us- we had no idea what to expect! The first bull was killed- we are all in shock and Alex is crying… after the 6th bull is killed- Bo and the boys are cheering on the matador. We decided that the atmosphere was somewhat like a baseball game, but the sport itself doesn’t compare to anything American. I think everyone was really glad we went, although I think one bull fight is enough for me. We all went out for tapas after and everyone could not get enough of the spanish style eating and food. It was so fun!
Sunday we visited the Mezquita and since it was Palm Sunday, we watched the first procession of Semana Santa (Holy Week) take place. Through out the rest of the week we were able to experience a daily procession in each town, which was really neat to see the differences in tradition. Each day of Semana Santa there are parade walks where locals wear something quite similar to the KluKluxKlan attire and carry candles in silence. There is a different float that is carried each day, representing a different story in the bible and bands march and sing with the floats. It’s unlike anything you have experienced and I’m so glad the family was here to experience something so traditional and really live the Spanish culture for a week.
We spent next 2 days in Seville, 2 days in Marbella, and the last 2 days in Madrid. Seville was a fun place to show them since we lived there for a month before moving to Cordoba. I was able to take them around to all the tourist spots, cathedrals, palaces, parks, my favorite restaurants, and even a Flamenco show! It rained both days we were there, but that didn’t stop us. We had a great time!
In Marbella we stayed in the most amazing villa palace! Michelle Obama and several other famous people have stayed here, so you can imagine, I felt like a pretty big deal :) Marbella is a huge tourism spot for Europeans and is absolutely beautiful with the mountains along the ocean. We walked around the city center and over to the marina and beach which was lined with shops and restaurants. It was here that we ate one of the best meals of my life! (I’m sure everyone else would agree with this statement also.) Although it wasn’t as warm as we had hoped, it was the perfect mid-week vacation stop to relax and enjoy the beauty around us and each others company.
We were off to our final destination on thursday- Madrid! Madrid is full of museums and history and restaurants and millions of things to do. We were able to visit all the main sights: the Prado museum, Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, The Royal Palace, cathedrals and beautiful buildings and parks all over. We stayed at another beautiful hotel in the heart of the city and crammed in all we could in the short amount of time there. I was able to take them to one of my favorite restaurants and we just had the best time. It was an early flight home Saturday morning and the end to an amazing week.
I am so blessed and happy that my whole family was able to visit me and experience my life here in Spain. We had a great time traveling together and nothing will beat the laughter that Brit brought us as she tried to speak “Spanglish” to everyone we met. I love my family more than anything :)
Allie and I were rushing to the car this morning for school because we had to pack our bags for a night in Puente Genil for Renee’s birthday. Allie had baked a cake the night before to celebrate which she brought to school today. After being in the car for about 30 minutes Fernando asks, ”Is today a special holiday in America?”
Allie: “No?? I don’t think so.”
Me (interrupting Allie): “Yeah! It’s Holocaust Day.”
Fernando: “Que es eso?” (What is that)
Sabrina: “Ehhhh olocosto…you know es cuando los Nazis mataron las judias…” (It’s when the Nazis killed the green beans)
Fernando: “No entiendo.” (I don’t understand)
Sabrina: “Ehhhh es cuando las judias fueron matados por los Nazis.” (It’s when the green beans were killed by the Nazis) Note: Neither me nor Allie are catching this mistake and chiming in saying things like, yeah, you know…the holocaust…??
Fernando: “……Los judios? Ahhhh!! Los Judios! Celebran esto??” (You mean Jews? Ahhh! The Jews! You celebrate that??)
Me: “No no no….es un dia de la memoria” (It’s a day of memory)
Fernando: “Oh hehehehe, pero porque teneis dulces” (with his chuckle that I need to record and put on here or on youtube)
Allie and Me: “Ohhhhhhhhhh it’s Renee’s birthday!”
None of us caught the difference and it made a hilarious start to our rainy morning. Not to say anything with the Holocaust is funny, but this miscommunication error was.
Allie and Mary Duncan
We went to Ireland for St. Patty’s day! Ten of us met up in Dublin and just spent the weekend hanging out with a bunch of crazy leprechauns. The entire weekend was amazing, nonstop laughter and bucketfuls of guinness. Would go back to Ireland in a heartbeat.
The weekend after that Allie, Alex and I went to Paris. I had always heard that Paris is a beautiful city, but I was blown away by it. I don’t know if it was the atmosphere, the buildings, the museums, or that famous ice-cream I ate, but I was entranced by Paris. While we were there we got to meet up with our friend Lee Anne, who was a Chi-O with us at Auburn! She is an au pair there, and she is living quite an extravagant life. She lives in a very nice part of Paris in a four story house and nanny’s two precious kids…her life is about as difficult as ours right now.
This weekend Allie’s entire family came in to town and they went to a bull fight last night! Brittany, Allie’s older sister, hung back with me though and we went shopping instead. We didn’t really want to embarrass ourselves by crying in the arena so we just opted out. Allie actually just left to go to Sevilla with her family for two days and then from there they are going to Marbella-a beach in Malaga- for a few days and then after that they are going to Madrid to finish off the trip. I am heading to Budapest tomorrow until Thursday and then I will head back to the U.S. to meet my perfect little nugget niece and go to Emily and Josh’s wedding!!! No school this week because it’s Semana Santa (Holy Week). And no school for me the next week either. Allie counted the days I would be working in April and it added up to a whopping 5 days. The real world is going to hit us hard in June when we get back.
We are going to post some pictures of what we have been doing and will update again after all of our travels!
Allie and Mary Duncan