Archive for October, 2011

Girl’s Weekend in Italy

Posted in Travel with tags , , on October 31, 2011 by grandersons

My mom, Erin and I have a tradition of taking a weekend a year to run away and enjoy some time with just the three of us.  We’ve escaped to a spa in Stanley, Idaho; a gorgeous waterfront hotel in Bellingham, Washington; and even enjoyed a few ‘stay-cations’ in Seattle and Boise over the years.  But this year was different…it was the first time in my life that my mom, sister and I wouldn’t be physically in the same place for over 14 months, so my mom ended up taking one trip with me and another with Erin – way to go mom!

I was lucky enough to spend an incredible weekend with my beautiful mamma in Italy!  It was a whirlwind trip with a night in Rome and a night in Tuscany before catching a flight back to Madrid.  I think Italy suits my mom quite well, don’t you?

Walking, walking, walking… We started at Il Vittoriano and made our way to the Pantheon, stopped for a cafe freddo in Piazza Saint Eustachio, then dinner in Campo de Fiori, gelato near Piazza Navona, and a stop by the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps.  We honestly felt like we were in a dream.

The next morning we woke up and hit the road in our little black Fiat – yes, I was crazy enough to drive in Italy.  We took a worthwhile detour to dip our toes in the Mediterranean on our way to Assisi.

A highlight of our quick stop by the sea (that we failed to capture on camera) was when we came back to find a parking ticket on our windshield.  Apparently it’s not a good idea to park in an open space that just happens to be in front of the local police station and completely blocking a cross walk – oops.

We had a fairly uneventful drive to Assisi but let’s just say mom and I were about ready to throw the GPS out the window by the time we’d driven in circles through a scenic Tuscan (well, Umbria to be exact) village hillside in search of our hotel.  After maneuvering an impossibly bumpy dirt road, we managed to find our hotel and you’ll see from the photos below that the stress in the car was well worth it for a night at Le Madrie de San Paolo.

We explored the actual town of Assisi, famous as the birth place of St. Francis (a saint my wonderful Grandpa Jim has a particular fondness for) and the gorgeous church constructed in his honor.

This was definitely a girl’s weekend for the history books.  Literally the only thing missing – and by missing I mean TERRIBLY missing – was Erin.  Here’s to planning a real girls trip with all three of us next year!


The Fergs

Posted in Travel with tags , on October 16, 2011 by grandersons

The countdown was on from the day we left Seattle until Erin and Matt (my twin sister and brother-in-law – the Fergs) landed in Madrid at the end of June.  After living with them for three months before moving to Madrid, we missed them terribly after not seeing them for over eight months and couldn’t wait to have them visit.

Over the course of 10 days, Erin and Matt got a taste of Madrid, flew off to Rome to celebrate Matt’s birthday, and joined us for a weekend in San Sebastian – I think it’s safe to say that they had an amazing trip and so did we!

We introduced them to our Madrid friends, starting with a drink on the Chopra’s patio and ending with a few tapas.

We also enjoyed a little sight seeing in Madrid before Erin and Matt left for Rome.

We saw the famous bear statue in Puerta del Sol, the center of Spain, and walked through Plaza Mayor towards the palace.



And their visit wouldn’t have been complete without a Sunday spent wandering through the Rastro (huge flee market) and tapa hopping with our wonderful friends, Cesar and Karina – also the best tapas tour guides in all of Madrid!

After our fabulous weekend, Kyle and I spent the week working and studying while Erin and Matt spent a few days in the amazing city of Rome – we missed them but were glad they could get another taste of Europe and that they would be back soon for our weekend trip to San Sebastian.

And San Sebastian was the perfect getaway.




We happened upon a festival and enjoyed some basque dancing and enjoyed the pinxos that San Sebastian is so famous for.

We couldn’t resist the gorgeous sunsets.


And our hike to the statue of Jesus overlooking San Sebastian was a definite highlight.

Ahhhhh…relaxing and gorgeous!

We topped off the trip with one more night of tapas with friends at Mercado San Anton.

And it wouldn’t have been complete without a hard cheese.

Our last night was celebrated with an amazing dinner at Bar Tomate, but now I miss my sister and Matt and we just can’t wait to get home to Seattle and see them all the time, not just on vacation!

Feria de Tapas

Posted in Food & Cooking, Life in Madrid with tags on October 8, 2011 by grandersons

While I must admit that Spanish food is not our favorite and has surprised us with it’s overall lack of variety, no one can argue that Spanish tapas don’t deserve to be celebrated in all their tasty glory.  Hence why we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to attend Feria de Tapas – a tapas fair held in Madrid’s basketball arena with booth after booth filled with tapas to try.  Let’s just say our friend Josh was totally jazzed about this idea.

We all bought our tokens – each cana (small beer) and tapa was a token or two – and headed into the crowds to sample the best of the best.

Ahhh…happy and full, a feria de tapas success story.

Partners and Picnics

Posted in Life in Madrid with tags , , on October 8, 2011 by grandersons

Kyle’s school, IE or Instituto de Empressa, formed a “Partners Club” for all the wives, girlfriends, partners, and supposedly husbands (though we’ve yet to spot one) of students who might otherwise be sitting at home alone for a year while their partner is off at school for 8+ hours a day and has social activities planned for nearly every night of the week.  While it may sound a bit cheesy, I can honestly say that I don’t know how I would have survived this year or enjoyed Madrid as much as I have if it hadn’t been for all the amazing partners I’ve met!

One of my favorite “partner” activities is picnics in the park.  We started planning picnics last spring and they’ve continued here and there throughout the summer and now into the fall.  There are a few ‘regulars’ that show up every week without fail and there tends to be at least one ‘newby’ at every picnic as well.  We all bring something to share and spend a couple of hours lounging in the shade, catching up on each other’s lives, helping each other with “where can you find x in Madrid” questions, and enjoying the down time.

These photos are from a particularly fun picnic when we celebrated my wonderful friend Rachel’s birthday!

I’m going to miss these incredible women and our afternoons in the park desperately when we head back to Seattle!