Sunday, November 30, 2008

Spain 2008-November 25th


Doug & I were very lucky that Brent & Lara's friends in Spain, Ana & Alfonso, have decided to loan them their car for the remainder of their time here. That meant that Doug & I got the benefit not only of Lara's knowledge of Spain, already having played tour guide for many friends and family that visited before us, but she also became our personal chauffeur. After she dropped the girls off at school, she came back to collect Doug & I, and we left for Segovia.

The roads in Spain are very confusing, and definitely not on a grid like in Arizona. Most cars that you pass have a GPS unit mounted in their windshield, and ours was no exception. TomTom guides the trusty Picasso car through the labyrinth of Spanish highways with only small delays and detours. As we got closer to Segovia, which is in the mountains, we watched the outside temperature drop to below 0 degrees Celsius. There was snow on the ground, but that only made the castle all that more beautiful. La Granja is based on Versailles in Paris, which I have also visited. We toured the gardens and fountains first, which was lucky because while we were inside a snowstorm began!!

We hiked through the snow to a local cafe, and had the traditional Spanish lunch of bocadillas, which are thinly sliced ham sandwiches on tasty baguettes. The hot chocolate in Spain is almost the consistency of pudding, and warmed me right to the core. After finishing lunch, we drove back into Segovia proper to tour the Roman Aqueducts, and Lara brought us all through the town and pointed out interesting sights and shops she had discovered on our previous trip.

We wound all the way through this fascinating town past an ornate Cathedral to El Alcazar, which is an old fortress that has been turned into a museum, complete with suits of armor and weaponry from the middle ages.

After returning home, we had the usual Alvar evening of a late dinner, followed by a game and movie!

Spain 2008-November 23 & 24

Traveling and Arriving

My good friend Doug (see Colorado posts) and I planned a vacation to Spain back in April. Our friends the Alvars are living in Spain for a semester, so we thought we would take advantage of the free room and board, and of course the wonderful knowledge they have picked up on while living abroad. On Sunday November 23rd I embarked on my Spanish vacation. Matt dropped me off at the airport, and I was pleasantly surprised that I had been upgraded to first class for the first leg of my trip, from Phoenix to Philadelphia. I made a few harried phone calls to let my credit card companies I would be traveling so I would not be cut off from my funds, then proceeded through my trip. The traveling portion was very good, and I remain satisfied with US Airways. I had a 4 hour layover in Philadelphia, where I watched the NY Giants beat up on the Cardinals. Luckily to counteract that disappointment, the airport was already decorated for Christmas.

I arrived at the airport, and waited with Brent and Lara for Doug's flight to arrive. Once we finally remembered where the car was parked, we were off to deposit our things at Brent & Lara's temporary home, then to collect the girls from school, which I had been looking forward to since Lara described Bryce's reaction to new visitors arriving. I was definitely not disappointed!!

We got to go to the local grocery store to pick up things for dinner, then met the two grad students still staying, Kelly and Chelsea. Both are absolutely charming, and I am glad to have met them! I brought the girls Thanksgiving dresses, and Doug brought them Obama Victory t-shirts. They enjoyed everything!!