Archive for October, 2010

Kyle’s 1st Day of Pre-School

Posted in Uncategorized on October 27, 2010 by grandersons

Kyle hasn’t had his first official day at Instituto de Empressa (IE Business School) yet, but we couldn’t pass up a ‘first day of school’ photo op when he headed out for his first day of pre-courses last Monday, October 18.  He signed up to take a week of optional classes on Financial Accounting and Quantitative Analysis since he has never actually taken business courses and thought it might be a good way to jump back into ‘school mode.’  He learned a lot and got to know a few of his classmates.  A post-class Spanish lunch captured the essence of the international program he’s entered into – a table surrounded by students from Mexico, Venezuela, Japan, Columbia and Brazil.

IE student life is off to a wonderful start.  Kyle is looking forward to the launch of his program and to meeting even more amazing people from around the world next Tuesday, November 2nd!



Posted in Uncategorized on October 24, 2010 by grandersons

It’s been almost 9 months since Anne became a vegetarian.  It wasn’t a huge life-changing experience since she didn’t eat a lot of meat to begin with, but it has made her feel so much better about the food she eats that it’s unlikely she’ll ever turn back!

Besides, living in Seattle made it easy…there were vegetarian and vegan options sprouting out of every grocery store, restaurant, and especially her favorite – PCC.  So what’s it like being vegetarian in a region overflowing with all things meaty and cured?  Let’s just say that Anne has been eating a lot of bread, cheese and tortilla (delicious egg and potato dish)!

After two weeks, things are looking up.  Here are just a few highlights:

Vegetariano restaurant in Chueca – Karina and Cesar took us to this fantastic little place in the lively neighborhood of Chueca (much like Seattle’s Capitol Hill).  Anne had a veggie lasagne with lentils and Kyle had something called Tumbet Mallorquin. Delicious! 

San Wich – We were walking along when we spotted a window with a shadow image of our french bulldog friend, Lou, on it.  Not only did we love the little corner space with white floors and black counters, but we noticed hamburgesa vegetariano highlighted on the chalk board menu and made a note to come back.  When we did, we were not disappointed.  We enjoyed a lunch of cervecas (beers), patatas fritas (chips), and amazing hamburgesa vegetarianos (veggie burgers made with quinoa and other tasty ingredients on a homemade roll with a kind of spicy, dijon/aoli) – yum.  We will be going back here for sure!

And we’ve been cooking as much as possible too…

Yakisoba: This was a challenging one to find ingredients for with our limited Spanish vocabulary at the grocery store, but we ended up with chinese egg noodles (similar to soba noodles), peppers, cabbage, onions, soy sauce, garlic and prawns.  What we thought would be a disaster turned out to be really good!  This meal was inspired because Cesar talked about how much he missed Seattle’s abundance of good Asian food.  We are now on a mission to find thai food and pho in Madrid!

Eggplant Parmesan:  You can’t go wrong with breaded, fried, eggplant baked in marinara sauce and smothered in cheese!  Especially when it’s paired with roasted cualiflower in lemon and garlic, bread, red wine and good friends.  Me gusta mucho!

So far so good on the vegetariano front.

Homeless in Madrid

Posted in Uncategorized on October 22, 2010 by grandersons

Our Plan: Stay in a nice, pricelined hotel for 5 days and move into a decent apartment within walking distance of Kyle’s school.

Our Reality: Stay in a nice, pricelined hotel for 5 days, stay with our wonderful friends – Cesar and Karina – for 2 weeks, and move into an amazing apartment within walking distance of Kyle’s school.

All in all we’re happy with our reality despite being VERY ready to be settled in our own place!

Our first few days at NH Sanvy

To start with, let’s just say that apartment hunting in Madrid is a challenge in and of itself, but when you don’t speak Spanish it becomes an entirely new beast! We spent our first two days in Madrid walking the entire city (I believe we walked over 10 miles a day according to our pedometers) checking out apartments for rent or “piso se alquiler.” We had several appointments made through online resources and even started asking doormen to show us apartments where a ‘for rent’ sign was posted. Most of the places we saw were okay, one we really liked but it was a little farther away from IE (Kyle’s school) than we were hoping. We were feeling somewhat discouraged…

On the second evening of hunting, we stopped at one building to ask (as best we could in broken Spanish) about a ‘se alquiler’ sign and the doorman gave us the keys to go up and look at the 10th floor apartment. It was already dark out as we took the tiny elevator up to see what we mind find, hoping that we would stumble upon the perfect home. When we opened the door to the apartment we both looked at each other and started laughing. In front of us we saw the perfect home – the perfect home if we were independently wealthy and a family of 6!!! A lovely chandelier hung from the ceiling, the entire place had gleaming wood floors, high ceilings, crown molding, and large windows opening up to a wrap around terrace and views of the city. Um…amazing, but not exactly our ‘single income, starving student, 1-year in Madrid apartment.’ Further exploration led to a four bedroom, three bathroom apartment unlike anything we had ever seen. Oh what the doorman must have thought handing us the keys…I’m sure he quite enjoyed the thought of our reaction. Needless to say our hunt continued.

The next day we got in touch with an agent who was recommended by some friends we’d met through Facebook from Deleware – it was definitely time to bring in an expert (and someone who spoke Spanish)! We met Loreto – a fabulous mother of 5 from Venezuela who wore converse and must weigh less than 100 pounds – and went to see our first apartment. We loved her from the moment we met her and loved her even more when we fell head over heels for the very first apartment she showed us! I wish I had pictures to share, but the place is gorgeous. High ceilings, big windows, everything white and tan, and incredibly well decorated. It turns out the apartment was featured in a home design magazine! Oh, but did I mention it’s tiny? I suppose we could say ‘cozy’ but really it can’t be more than 350 square feet – the best use of 350 square feet you’ve ever seen though! It’s basically a studio with a seperate bathroom and kitchen and a dividing wall between the bedroom and living area.  There’s a table to seat four, a fold out couch (waiting to be slept on by visitors), two huge closets, and a full sized bed. The full size bed was a definite plus since we’d slept in twin beds pushed together since our arrival and were getting a little tired of waking up falling through the crack in the middle!  Kyle saw the look on Anne’s face, realized it would take only 10 minutes to walk to class, and knew we had found our home on the 4th floor at Diego de Leon, 61.

The only problem was that the owners were still living there and needed time to move out. This is when we became even more grateful to have friends in Madrid. Karina and Cesar welcomed us into their home and told us we could stay as long as we needed. They have been absolutely incredible and made us feel at home. We’ve enjoyed dinners together almost every night and have sat around laughing and solving the problems of the world. We’ve talked about having a weekly dinner night once we move out so we’ll be sure to keep in touch!

We had to steal this cute pic of Cesar & Karina from FB - a sign that we need to take more photos!

The other good thing about not being able to move in right away (besides getting to spend time with Cesar and Karina) is that Kyle’s student loan money was lost in cyberspace and we didn’t have money to make a deposit quickly! We had money in the US but had no way of transferring it internationally and the Spanish bank account we had set up before arriving in Madrid sat empty, rather than holding the student loan money that should have covered our living expenses for the year! Let’s just say we were a little panicked until we realized how slow things move at Kyle’s school and that the money would be deposited by the end of this week. Thank goodness for Anne’s mom who ended up wiring us money (on her birthday none-the-less) so we could make our deposit and sign the contract – making it official. What would we have done without her help?!?!?

We have a home! And we get to move in on November 1st. Pictures coming soon…


Posted in Uncategorized on October 18, 2010 by grandersons

Kyle starts school on Monday and we’re still homeless, so we decided to take an impromptu trip to Salamanca – just a 2 ½ hour train ride west of Madrid.  We found a pet friendly, budget hotel online and packed our backpacks for the weekend.  Abby wasn’t sure what to think about having to take the metro and a train, but she settled into her little orange bag and made the best of it – bueno perra.  Our “cosita” – little one.

All was well as we rolled into Salamanca train station around 7pm, ready for a relaxing weekend in a beautiful town.  Apparently we were a little too relaxed already because what happened next was something out of a comedy!  As we gathered our things and made our way off the train, we were in no rush – Salamanca was the final stop after all.  However, as Anne stepped off the train the door slid closed behind her with Kyle still onboard.  We pushed buttons and looked around in confusion before the reality set in that Kyle was trapped.  Confusion suddenly turned into disbelief as the train started to pull away!  Anne and Abby on the platform, Kyle on the train, no cell phones, no plan, and no idea where the train was going.  We would give anything to have captured the looks on our faces as that train rolled out of the station.  Great way to start the weekend J  Fortunately for us, Kyle wasn’t destined for some far off village on the coast of Spain…just a small train stop 3 minutes down the track.  Unfortunately, Anne forgot the ‘stay put’ rule – the number one rule for when you get separated – and started walking towards where she was told the next stop was.  Kyle was relieved to get off the train and start walking back to the station and expected to find Anne waiting.  Somehow we missed each other in passing and it wasn’t until Anne realized that she should have stayed where she was and went back to the original station that we found each other.   A big hug , lots of laughing, and re-enacting our train platform scene left us feeling relieved and ready for a copa de vino (glass of wine)!

We found our hotel – Hotel Ceyan – in the heart of the historic center of Salamanca, right next to the gorgeous Plaza Mayor.  It was certainly not the four star Pricelined hotel we’ve become accustomed to, but it did the job and didn’t have too many ‘cooties.’  We dropped our bags and set off in search of the perfect place to settle in for a bite to eat.  We ended up having a wonderful dinner (Rissoto funghi for Anne and Paella for Kyle) at a café on the romantic Plaza Mayor.   The night was complete with gelato and a stroll through the chilly, glowing streets of Salamanca.

We woke up to find that it was much colder in Salamanca than it had been in Madrid.  We set out for breakfast and found a little café that welcomed Abby before returning to the hotel to grab our coats.  We spent the day walking the town, taking in the beautiful cathedral, bridges, university, parks, fountains, and especially Plaza Mayor.  The best part of the day was sitting at a café with Abby curled up in the sun next to our table, sipping cerveca and people watching.  We realized at that moment that we had been so focused on finding an apartment and taking care of all the things that needed to be done in Madrid that we hadn’t really stopped to enjoy where we were.  Salamanca reminded us to slow down and enjoy.

We started the next day with the best croissants we’ve ever had, thanks to the recommendation of our friend Tiffany Courtnage who had studied in Salamanca during college and was nice enough to tell us about some of the ‘don’t miss’ highlights.  Croissanterie Paris was certainly one of them – yum!   Next was enjoying a coffee at a little table on Plaza Mayor before we headed to the train station and made our way back home to Madrid.   

Listo? (Are you ready?!?!?!)

Posted in Uncategorized on October 17, 2010 by grandersons

On October 4, 2010 we managed to carry our life in four very heavy bags on the first part of our journey. We had met our dear friends the French’s, the Bishop’s and our brother Matt for a quick farewell coffee before picking Erin up from work to take us to the airport. Erin and Anne barely made it through hugs goodbye and laughed to avoid tears. I suppose we provided plenty to laugh at with our bags that weighed more than we did and our little dog in a bag!


 Abby survived her first cross-continental flight to Washington D.C. and    won the hearts all the flight attendants and several fellow passengers in the process. We landed in Dulles just before midnight, caught a cab to a nearby hotel, and crashed for the night. We had planned to get up and head into D.C. to spend the day with our friends Krysta, Eric and Lou (the French bulldog), but we were having second thoughts after realizing that we broke a sweat moving just 50 yards with our oversized luggage! Luckily we were able to leave our bags at the front desk of the hotel overnight while we went into the city and pick them up again before our flight the next day. We would never have survived the metro with 250 lbs on our backs!

We finally got off at the Eastern Market station in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of D.C. to find Krysta and Lou waiting for us. It was SO good to see Krysta! She had moved from Seattle to D.C. in June to get her masters at George Washington University and we had missed her terribly. We enjoyed lunch on a patio and went on a walking tour of the Capitol Mall with Krysta as our tour guide. We were also lucky enough to celebrate Eric’s birthday that night at a fantastic little Italian restaurant nearby. We finished the day by meeting our long-time Boise friend, Kellee Hardesty, for a drink in Dupont Circle. Overall, it was a great day spent with good friends. A perfect way to spend our last day in the US for the next year!