Monday, May 28, 2012

May 21st-27th

Monday was Nick's first day at clinic and the kids were still adjusting to the time so after Nick left we just all hung around watched some movies and took our time getting ready for the day. Nick was able to come home for siesta and we all took naps and lounged until it was time for him to go back to work. His main clinic that he'll be at is only 10 minutes away using the metro so when he is there he will have plenty of time to come home for lunch, which is a great perk. Since we hadn't gotten out of the house yet we decided to take him back to clinic after the siesta was over. Instead of going back home via the metro (which would've been the smart thing to do) I decided to walk home, and I got lost. I was so proud of myself thinking I was going in the right direction when in fact I wasn't anywhere near our apartment. But all is well! I noticed that I was lost when I hit the Retiro Park, but thankfully there was an awesome playground filled with Americanas, so I was able to ask for directions and found our way home after the kids played. Nick really enjoyed his first day and is looking forward to learning lots from that doctor.

Tuesday I took the kids out to Casa De Campo which is a 1700 acres of wild land. It used to be the royal hunting grounds, but it now is home to the zoo, aquarium, amusement park and an honestest to goodness Egyptian temple. Because of the size I really had no idea what metro station to get off at but figured that the Casa de Campo station was a safe bet. I found that that is where the zoo is (although we didn't go, I'll have to plan a full day for that) but that was about all that was there except for a playground, and with a 2 and 3 year old that is all they really care about anyway.

Wednesday was fun. I had the royal gardens on the itinerary but when we got there across the street was the most awesome playground (are you sensing a theme with my life?) and I had one very whiny boy so we made a detour. It is in such a beautiful setting and the play area had an abundance of trees so the bench in the shade was very welcoming to me on the hot afternoon. We never did make it to the gardens because Andrew made a friend with Valentina, a little 5 year old Spanish girl who spoke pretty good English. He was in heaven and I couldn't break up the love fest that was going on between them.

Unfortunately, this was a typical sight of Sadie this first week. Tantrums galore!

Thursday I tried out an English playgroup that I found on line. It was just ok, I was a little disappointed but I think it was mostly due to the fact that I didn't meet and connect with anyone like I'd hoped I'd do, although I did meet someone who was in Westlake for a wedding last year (random!). The kids had a blast and although a little farther than I'd like we'll probably go back this coming week. Nick came home for lunch with a surprise that he had the rest of the day off along with Friday afternoon. We were pretty excited and pretty much headed straight out the door. Andrew asked to see Valentina again even after we explained that she wouldn't be at the park he insisted on going and Nick hadn't been down to the palace yet so we gave in. Unfortunately Valentina wasn't there although Andrew being the social kid that he is quickly made friends. (who needs to speak the same language when you play tag?)Afterward we grabbed some empanadas at the Mercado de San Miguel.

When Nick got home on Friday we decided to explore our neighborhood a bit more and in doing so discovered just how crazy Spaniards get on game day. It must have been a big game but we left the house just after it had finished so we were walking around in a mob of Athletic Bilbao fans, it was so funny to see them burst into song especially when a person wearing a Barcelona jersey walked by. We walked all the way down our street and found a Dahlia garden attached to a beautiful cathedral, it had some amazing views of the city. From there we followed another street and ended up at the palace, Andrew knew exactly where we were and sprinted for the playground. He made friends with an American boy and played for quite a long time.

Sadie has a new obsession with park benches.
Racing each other, watching Sadie in this thing makes me scared that she's going to give her self whiplash she goes so fast.

Saturday we planed on taking the bus out to Toledo for the day, unfortunately the directions to the bus that I got online were outdated and we missed our bus. BUT at least we know for next time. We decided to head out to the Parque de retiro (Madrid's central park). It turned out to be such a great day. We explored the entire park (my legs are paying the price today) and had a blast.

One of the only statues of the devil

Seeing this made us feel at home, and miss Boston a bit.

Andrew doubled over sleeping and Sadie pretending to sleep.
Sadie being a sweet girl and patting her brother on the back.

Sunday was our first day at church, in the Madrid 5th ward. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly. We met someone who is in the military who grew up in Thousand Oaks (we even spatted about what high school was better, although everyone already knows that Westlake is the best). We also met a guy from Santa Barbra who we found out lived in L.A. at the same time we did (he was in the singles ward) and he literally lived down the street from us. I love how small of a world it is. Every Sunday starting on our block is the Rastro, it's Europe's largest and oldest open air flea market (half a century old). We walked around a bit even though everyone started packing up about 5 minutes after we got there. Next time we need to remember to get there by two since they all close at 3.

Sadie asleep in sacrament meeting, I guess having to sit still and listen to someone speak in another language for an hour isn't very entertaining, ;)

The kids and their new shades.

Besides the park Andrews favorite pass time has been standing on our balcony and yelling Hola! to everyone who passes. Well, that's our first week in Spain and we love it so far. Especially because we found software called Hide My Ass that lets me watch Hulu and Netflix from here. So in between the sight seeing I can still keep up on the Bachelorette. (I know you were all losing sleep over it!)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Getting Settled

Thankfully our flight from Dublin to Madrid was uneventful and fast. We decided to take a taxi into the city instead of the metro because with the amount of luggage we had we would've been a circus act. So we go out to the taxis and one guy says that he will only take two of us and we'd have to get two taxis but another driver heard that and said that he could take us, we were able to fit all the luggage, two car seats and two umbrella strollers in the trunk with the four of us in the back seat. We made it to our apartment in about 20 minutes. I was getting the 38 euros from my wallet to pay the driver when a fight broke out between Carlos (our landlord) and the taxi driver. I was so confused! I obviously had zero idea of what was happening, all I could make out was that Carols had called the cops, and I turn to Nick and he just kind of shrugs. So, here we are in front of our new apartment smack dab in the middle of Madrid each with a sleeping kid in our arms and two Spaniards having at it, needless to say everyone on the block stopped and watched the whole thing go down. I am really surprised no one got hit, it was that intense. We were ushered upstairs while Carlos is telling us not to worry and he'll take care of everything.Finally when I have a chance I ask Nick what the heck just happened. I guess the taxi driver was trying to charge us for two trips (sense that's what the other driver at the airport said we would have to do) even though he took us and all our stuff in one. So, he wanted an extra 38 euro from me. That wasn't going to happen but I'm glad I wasn't the one that had to deal with it. Carlos got the cops on the phone and told them that this driver was ripping us off. Finally the driver left (with only his 38 euros due to him). So basically you can tell that Carlos is pretty awesome. He was so upset that our first experience in Spain was that guy but everything after has been great.

That first day we were all so exhausted that we didn't do much other than eat some lunch in a near by cafe and run to the market to pick up a few necessities, we were all in bed by 6pm. It was so nice to know that we'll be here for such a good amount of time that there was no need to rush out and do anything.

The next day we had planed to get some phones and explore our neighborhood but right before we left the house our door bell rang. It turned out to be my Uncle and Aunt (my mother's half-brother) who I'd never met before. They live about 4 hours north of Madrid but happened to be in town that weekend. The previous night I had facebooked my cousin letting her know our address and telling her that if her parents are in town to have them stop by, and I am so happy they did. Lino is my Uncle and was so nice immediately treating us as family. We walked around town with them and saw where Nick would work, they also showed us how close we were to Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol. It was the best way to spend our first full day in Madrid, it felt so nice having family close. But I don't think I have ever regretted not speaking Spanish more than that afternoon,they both don't speak any English so it was a lot of translating for Nick and and a lot of hand gestures and broken Spanish for me. :)

Sadie playing nicely on the plane
Sadie sleeping under Andrews bed
View from our balcony
Us with my Uncle Lino in Plaza Mayor
Sadie taking a break from our walk around the city

Monday, May 21, 2012

Methinks this is Ireland

Well, we're here and it wasn't easy but we're happy to have made it across the Atlantic safe and sound. We left Wednesday night at 9pm. The red eye was the cheapest option so I never thought of not doing it and I figured that since my kids go to sleep at 7 every night they will be wiped out by the time we're on the plane and would fall asleep shortly after taking off. First off lets just say that I was wrong, dead wrong. It wasn't that the kids were bad, because they were actually quite good, considering. Sadie fell asleep about 2 hours into the flight, the flight attendants took so long to do the rounds (they were very attentive, but is two or three rounds of coffee and tea and little much?) and so the lights were on for about the first three hours which was half of the flight. The kids were so tired but couldn't fall asleep due to the cabin being so bright, so when I asked when they were going to turn off the lights the flight attendant had the idea of making a tent out of a blanket for the kids to make it darker for them. We did that and it worked for Sadie but I think Andrew was way past tired at that point and didn't fall asleep until about 20 minutes before we landed. Nick was able to get some sleep next to Sadie but even though Andrew was being good I couldn't fall asleep knowing that he was awake not to mention every time I had my eyes closed for more than a minute he would ask me what I was doing and tell me to open my eyes. Nick switched with me but it didn't matter at that point. Oh, and the last 20 minutes that Andrew slept were not peaceful, poor Andrew had a night terror that lasted for a good five minutes although it felt like 20. Kudos to Nick for trying so hard to get him to clam down and being so good about it. Finally, we get to the hotel, change and head into Dublin at about 10:30am. It was chilly and rainy but we were still able to enjoy the city quite a bit, it actually reminded me a little of Boston with the old buildings mixed with new modern architecture. We didn't have any plans and we even left our Ireland tour book back home so we just walked the whole city, going sign by sign. I think we missed some of the things that are "must sees" like the Trinity Library and St. Patrick's Cathedral but it wasn't for the lack of effort. They have a ton of signs pointing the tourists in the different directions of the historical sites but some of them we just couldn't find, probably because we didn't know what they looked like and I'm sure a map would've been helpful. We had a blast and I think for one day and literally zero sleep we saw a lot of the city. We had rented a car so the next day we drove out to the country to the county of Wicklow. It is known as the garden of Ireland so you can imagine how beautiful it was. The day before we went into a tourist office and grabbed a brochure about a bus day tour through the area, so we just followed the tour that the bus does, we missed one or two spots but considering we didn't have a gps we did really well. The first town was called Enniskerry, it had the largest waterfall in the country and around the waterfall were nature walks and parks. The kids didn't want to leave and if we had had more time in Ireland I think I would've been tempted to spend all day near the fall, it was truly breath taking. Then we were off to Sally Gap (or Sally's gap as I referred to it until Nick corrected me after I had said it wrong for the millionth time) we had no idea what Sally Gap was at the time and we didn't know we'd even gotten there until we had seen a sign indicating that it we had passed it. :/ We later read that it is the highest crossroads in Ireland and the place where St Patrick is said to have died. Continuing our drive we went to the monastic city in Glendalough. It was founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. The story goes that there was a monk (St. Kevin) who lived in solitude in a cave in this area and somehow word got out and monks started coming to him to study. Soon there came such a following that they created this city. We then drove to some other places on the bus tour that we couldn't quite understand why they were on the tour. the Meeting of the Waters, and the town of Avoca. They were pretty but the towns themselves were not noteworthy. But we did enjoy the ride and it gave the kids much needed nap time. Due to the lack of gps (not even a good old map) and lack of signage in this country we had to rely on our gut instincts and luck. But to our great surprise we were going the right way and eventually made it to signs of life! Take that guy at the airport telling us that whatever we do we MUST get a gps because we will surely get lost. I didn't take his advice because I had over heard him saying to the woman at the counter how he put unleaded in his clearly marked diesel, he was clearly not qualified to tell me what to do! I told him that we're coming from Boston where signs basically don't exist and the streets were made by the way of cows so I think I can handle Ireland. (don't judge me, I had zero sleep at this point) We finished the day with a very nice dinner even though I threw up in the parking lot just before(I was a bit car sick). Ireland will also be remembered as the place where Sadie learned how to crawl out of her crib. There was no keeping her in there and the both of them just played and played when they were supposed to be sleeping! The next day was our 6:20am flight to Spain and the kids didn't fall asleep until after midnight.
Chapel in the Dublin Castle
Memorial for patriots who lost their lives for Ireland's freedom
A portrait by Andrew
This is Andrew after zero sleep. Chasing birds like a crazy person! I wish we could bottle that energy!
Dublin Castle
Sadie has a new bag obsession! We can't walk by a store with bags in it without her dying to go and look at them all.
Driving through the country side
Planking, toddler style
Sadie had a very disturbing relationship with this poll, but at least we got her to stop humping it!
The masonic city of Glendalough
Sally Gap
Powerscourt Waterfall
We had to take a picture of the "no antisocial behavior" sign
Family picture on top of this awesome climbing structure, this is one of the main reasons why Andrew didn't want to leave this place.