Monday, August 13, 2012

Cantabria, Juan Fernando and Maria Antonia

One lesson I've learned over the years is to take people up on their offers. Whether it be to babysit or to stay at their home, people won't offer unless they mean it. I know that when I offer something I'm always happy when people take me up on it. (like Nick's class mate Ting coming and staying with us here in Madrid) So it has been something that I am aware of, I like when people give me the opportunity to serve them and so when people offer something I try to see it as a way of them wanting to serve me. This lesson learned has come in handy while living away from home, especially here in Madrid.
 A few weeks ago a patient at Centro Boston told Nick that he had an extra apartment up north and gave us an open invitation to use it. We took him up on it and I'm so happy we did. Juan Fernando and his wife Maria Antonia were some of the nicest people. They live about 4 1/2 hours north and there isn't a high speed train that goes there so we headed out early Friday in our rental car.  The drive was really pleasant, zero traffic and sunflower fields dotting the highway the whole way. We got in at lunch time and we were lucky enough to have Maria Antonia make us an awesome lunch. They have two grandkids so the kids were so excited when we got to their house and were shown the play room, especially since they have had basically no toys for the last 3 months.

During lunch Maria asked what our plans were for the weekend and without even waiting for an answer went into the plans that she had for us. She told us some towns to visit and informed us that Sunday would be spent in Santander with them.

After getting settled at the apartment we headed out to a local beach town and even though it was 7pm decided to strip the kids down and let them play in the sand for a while. Then headed back to the apartment to try to get some sleep for our big day we had planned.

Saturday morning we went to Cabarceno Wildlife Park, it is on the site of an old Roman mine. It was so fun. Not only were the animals all so close but it was gorgeous. I've never seen landscape like it before. Then we headed a few miles north to the beach of Langre. Again so pretty and although it was a bit chilly in the morning as soon as we got to the beach it cleared up and the sun came out. Again the kids loved it, I think if they had it their way we'd be at the beach everyday (maybe all kids are like that). You drive through farms with cows eating grass and corn fields all around, you can't see the ocean until you come right up to the cliff,  and then there are two beaches on either side. We played for a couple of hours before hopping in the car (again) and heading to the most charming medieval village, Santillana Del Mar. It was perfect, you felt like you were transported through time. It has stayed this way because strict town planning rules were put into place in 1575, and now includes no one expect for residents can drive through town. It started drizzling shortly after we got there and about an hour in we decided to cut our trip short due to the rain (and tired kids), but it being a small town I still feel like we saw a good amount and got a feel for the place.

I saw this picture and cracked up. Nick said that when Andrew saw the van he had to get a picture with it.

There were 30 bears below and we spotted at least 5 roaming the hills above. The little cubs were the best.

Sadie, trying to share her flower.

We didn't go inside, but you can see some of the torture stuff hanging above the wall.

Of course Sadie knocked on every door in the town.

Sunday we woke up to rain which is not surprising in this part of the country but that meant that our  day at the beach in Santander would change. Instead of eating at an ocean front restaurant that they had planned, Maria Antonia decided that she would stay home and fix lunch while Juan Fernando and Nacho (their son) took us all on a tour through Santander and the country side. I felt like we should've been on a tour bus with about 30 other 70 year olds. It was awesome. Juan took us all around pointing out each sight and would pull over to have us get out for a quick photo op and then we'd get right back in the car. We stayed out of the car for more than 5 minutes 3 times the whole day. the first was to get the kids some food (and Juan a beer), the next was to play at a beach for a bit, and the last was to get us some food (and Juan a beer) before we went back to the house for lunch. At the time I was feeling sorry for the kids because although Nick and I would get out to take pictures they only got out for those three times. But afterward I was happy that Juan took us around the way he did. We definitely wouldn't have seen half as much without him.

Nacho and Juan Fernando with Nick and the kids

This is the valley that Juan has his vineyard. He was disappointed to find that we didn't drink because he wanted to give us some of his wine.

Of course when we got the the house Maria Antonia had out done herself and made a great meal and the kids loved playing with the toys before we headed back home that evening.

Us with Maria Antonia and Juan Fernando


Summer said...

Can you be a cuter couple? I think not...and those pictures are AH-Mazing!

Whitney V said...

Okay . . . how did I not know you were in Madrid?! I've scoured your blog but can't figure out why you're there. Email me! Update me! So glad you're still blogging . . . I'm just getting back into it . . . it's so fun to see your cute family and all your adventures! Wow! So jealous! What an amazing experience for you!!

Kristin Johnson said...

Wow. I can't believe that you have done so much! I would have been to shy to take them up and forever after wish I had gone. :)