Thursday, June 9, 2011

My family's visit to Spain! (Part 1 of 2)

Wow. Where to begin? About a week and a half ago, my mom, my sister, Paige, and my brother, Kaicer all made a trip to come visit me in Spain! So many great memories were made (along with some not so great ones) which made this one of the best family adventure's we've ever shared together.

How do you like those patatas alioli, Paige?
On May 30th, I made my way to the airport to pick up my family. I was waiting outside their gate for about an hour and they still hadn't shown up even though the monitors said that their plane had landed. There were only about 3 or 4 other people waiting at that gate, so I started to get a little nervous. Not only because they hadn't shown up, but because I didn't have a phone and we didn't have a backup plan! I decided to wait a little longer and just a few minutes later, they came walking from the other end of the hallway! We took the metro to our apartment that we decided to rent and while they showered/rested a little, I went to get my bags from my hostel. Then we went to find some good tapas down the street. I had them try tortilla patata, croquettas, patatas ali-oli, and some Spanish salad. I didn't realize how many potatoes I had ordered until after we got our food.

The next day when I woke up was when I realized how much Paige had missed me. She and I slept together in one bed, and Mom and Kaicer slept together in another bed. Throughout the night, she had about 3 different sleeping positions. 1. with her arm around me. 2. with her leg wrapped around my body. 3. with her head on my stomach. We've slept together hundreds of times and not once has she slept in any of these three positions. It was weird... but cute? She also liked to hog the entire bed, but I already knew that.

That day, I walked them to the Royal Palace. While they toured that for about an hour, I set out to find a grocery store to make bocadillos for lunch. We met back up and took the metro to Retiro Park where we had a picnic with the pigeons. Kaicer played on the playground for a while and then we went to ride the rowboats. Kaicer showed us how strong he is by rowing the rowboat and Paige showed us how smart she is by playing with a water balloon that we found in the lake and having it pop and spill water all over her lap. We all had a good laugh... well, minus Paige. While I was documenting this moment with my camera, I looked at the photo I had just taken and said "Wow, Paige, it looks as if you're picking your crotch." Then Kaicer says, "what's a crush?" Then we all had a good laugh about that one... minus Kaicer.

On top of the Cibeles Tower
From there, we walked to the Palace of Communcations where we could climb the Cibeles Tower and see the entire city of Madrid. Kaicer didn't really enjoy climbing up and down the glass stairs; he also has a fear of heights. Then we took a long walk back to our apartment where we had to turn around and leave again to go see a bullfight! This was my first bullfight, along with everyone else in my family, and we didn't particularly enjoy it. It was fun sitting in the big arena and being surrounded by so much energy of the Spanish people, but I didn't like how they slowly killed the bull, all of the blood, and then stabbing a long sword down its neck/back area. Then if they didn't kill it on the first try, they would keep stabbing it 3 or 4 times until it fell over and finally died! I don't think any of us enjoyed that part, and Kaicer was the only one who wanted to stay when we decided we were going to leave early. After we left, we went to find some dinner. We ate close to Puerta del Sol (the heart of the city of Madrid) where we shared some more tapas including chorizo, chicken wings, salad, and pasta. I went to go ask for the check, and our waiter must not have been paying attention and he just gave me one of the four checks that were laying on the counter. It ended up only being about 25 euros and we knew that wasn't right so we looked closer and saw the check he had given us was for a few orders of churros with chocolate. So we paid for someone else's churros and went to go find our own dessert. We all ordered some ice cream and I had a hard time deciding what I wanted since they didn't have my favorite (hazelnut) so my mom told me to be brave and order their new one - some raspberry and chocolate yogurt with nuts. It looked delicious but it did not taste that way. It was probably the most disgusting ice cream (or yogurt?) I've ever had. That will be the last time I listen to my mom's advice.

At the bullfight!

Every last drop
The next day was one of my favorite days. We took a bus from Madrid to Caceres to visit my host mom and my host sister! We got to Caceres around noon and we had about 5-6 hours there before we had to take a bus back to Madrid. 8 hours in a bus all day, but it was definitely worth it. When we first got there, we went to the library to find out what time our flight to Barcelona left in the morning, and then we walked around the old city of Caceres for about an hour. We climbed the towers of the church, which I hadn't done before, stopped to pick up some flowers and wine for Lola and Maria, had a quick drink at a tapas bar, where Kaicer found out that he loves Batidos (Spain's version of chocolate milk) and then we made our way to Lola's!

Are those eyes?!
Lola and Maria were preparing paella, tortilla patata, and salad for us when we arrived. It was so great to see them both! When we sat down to eat, Lola served Kaicer some of the shrimp from the paella, and his face was priceless when he saw that it still had eyes. After a few minutes, he was playing with the shrimp by holding it up by its antennae and saying, "ewwww! look at it's eyes!" Maria and Lola were loving it. Kaicer watched Spongebob in Spanish the rest of the time, while Paige practiced her Spanish by reciting her speech for Lola and Maria. We were having such a great time that we didn't even realize that nearly 3 hours had gone by and it was time for us to leave already! After another 4 hour bus ride, we arrived in Madrid exhausted. We went to bed for a few hours before we had to get up at 5 am to catch our plane to Barcelona.

Early the next morning, we took a taxi to the airport and then flew to Barcelona. We took the "aerobus" from the airport to Plaza Catalunya, where we decided to hang out for a couple hours until our apartment was ready. Since we had all of our baggage with us, we decided to go over to the McDonald's to get something to drink, sit down, and use their WiFi. This is where everything went wrong. We were all running on a few hours of sleep, Mom went downstairs to order, I was on my computer, Paige was zoning in and out, and Kaicer was tuned into his DS. Mom came back up and was going to take Paige and walk around the Plaza for a little bit when she noticed that her small backpack was missing. We searched and searched and realized that it wasn't with the rest of our things. She thought maybe she left it on the bus, but then knew that she didn't because she took Kaicer's DS out of it so we were sure that it was with us in McDonald's. Other things that were in that backpack included the following: Mom's, Paige's, and Kaicer's passports, my mom's digital camera, one of her credit cards, her car keys (which we didn't know until we got to the Sioux Falls airport), all of our flight confirmation papers, and Kaicer's ADHD medicine and his DS games. We grabbed all of our things, made our way to the police station where we cancelled the credit card and filed a report. While mom was at the police station with Kaicer, Paige and I went to our apartment where we were supposed to meet the key-holder at a certain time and check in. Paige and I came back to the police station and Mom said that we had an appointment at the U.S. Consulate at 9 am the next day to get new passports. We spent the rest of this day at our apartment where we all took a much-needed nap and then went out for dinner.

We ate at a tapas restaurant/pizzeria where we all shared some pizza, salad, and gazpacho (which nobody liked except for me!) We also had a pretty wide variety of conversations here; we found out that Kaicer had always thought that the word "boobs" meant your butt and this is also when Kaicer randomly asked Mom if she was Santa. She told him the truth, he took it pretty well, and then threw in a few things that he would like for next Christmas. Now that Kaicer knows about Santa, this next Christmas will be the first Christmas in my whole life where we won't be getting presents from "Santa"! This is a little upsetting.

After dinner, we came back to our apartment and played one of the board games that was in our cabinet. After a very long and exhausting day, we finally went to bed. The following 4 days were spent in Barcelona, which I will write about in my next post. There are so many more great stories to come including Kaicer finding dead lizards and live cockroaches, Mom trying to drive a stick-shift for the first time in a few years, Kaicer finding a Spanish girlfriend, Mom not knowing how to turn off a shower, and us all missing our flight back to the U.S.!

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