Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The adventures of Mom and Dad Mouchon, part deux

So, my parents have now seen Calatayud. C-town. Good ol' pueblecito. They stayed in the very nice, Hotel Castillo de Ayud, which coincidentally happens to be right next to my house. On Monday, as soon as we got into Calatayud, I took the parents right up to the old Castle on top of the mountain. As always, the view is beautiful, and dad, being the kid that he is insisted on climbing the tower. Can't take him anywhere anymore. We still had fun though.

Dad on top of the tower
Hotel Castillo de Ayud
The main drag in Calatayud
On Tuesday Mom and Dad got to see one of the schools where I work. They met my director, Rosa, and some of the teachers that I work very closely with. Of course, I had to work, but they were able to walk around the city and check things out. That morning we also got the chance to drive over the Roman Forums that are just outside Calatayud. This town is from the 1st century when Augusta Bilbilis was the leader of the Roman town. All that really exists is the original amphitheatre, the town's forum, and the hot and cold public baths. It's incredible to see, especially that it still exists after 2000 years! There is a museum here in town dedicated to the forum that contains all of the artifacts that were excavated from the site....truly incredible!!

The Roman Amphitheatre. That sucker can hold over 5,000 people!
Part of the old Forum
Bahhhhhh! the sheepies were down in the ravine!
On Wednesday we drove up into the Pyrenees to a town called Jaca. It is mainly a ski town, however it used to be the seat of power in the province of Huesca a long time ago. Also, it is one of the first stops on the Camino of Santiago. (The famous route of passage for the catholic followers in Northern Spain. It spans from the Pyrenees to Galicia and stops in over 100 churches along the way, named for Saint Santiago who was originially from Spain.) The city was so cute; tiny cobblestone streets, lamposts from like, the 1600's, and a cathedral from 1263. Only about 16.000 people, everyone definitely knew everyone in this town. With the Pyrenees looming overhead, the city was just beautiful.

The Pyrenees

The Cathedral
The roommates!

Thursday and Friday, me and the 'rents had some fun just hanging out, drinking wine, and making food. It was fun to have them around. I must say, Dad easily got used to the idea of the siesta, I think he started taking a longer one than me! Ha. Thursday night we took mom and dad out on the town! We went and played cards in Baviera and then we took them to the famed Australia bar in town and mom got to meet some of our friends. Give her two glasses of wine in Spain...and you get a silly mommy. hehe!

On Friday we set out again for Madrid, this time we walked to the Royal Palace (built in 1738) where mom and dad could see where the courts of Spain used to sit. (Now the official residence of the monarchs is el Palacio de la Zarzuela, in Madrid). We also decided to have one more go at paella before they left, we found an amazing place in la Plaza Santa Ana (ha! didn't realize the connection until just now!) where we just spent the night in true spanish style: eating, drinking and being merry.

The next day, the parents left for the airport and I met up with my good friend Christina, whom I studied with in Granada. She is currently doing her masters here in Madrid and it was the first time I had been able to see her in three years! We had a nice chat and I'm sure it's not the last time we'll be seeing each other this year.

well until next time...not sure what's in store for me next. We shall see! Au revoir!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

We'rrrrre off to get my parents! To Madrid I go!!!

Well, mission accomplished. The parents are in Spain. Spain has the parents. All is right with the world again.

Again....let me just put it out dad, in Spain, is one funny site to see. Ok, now I can continue...

Well, my parents have finally seen more of Madrid than the airport. On Saturday night we walked all around Madrid. La Puerta del Sol, La Plaza Mayor...the subway system, everything you could imagine. Mom ate a spanish tried spanish beer. It was definitely a day of firsts. However, it was pretty crowded downtown, do to the fact that it was Halloween. I find it hilarious that the Spanish have no real concept of why we have halloween, but they still partake in the festivities. (I bring this up because the Plaza Mayor was complete with Mickey & Minnie Mouse as well as one of those tables where 3 people poke their head through the tabletop to make it look as if they don't have bodies. Oh, Spain...) Another thing that is pretty funny is that if you DO choose to dress up on Halloween, it is unacceptable to be anything except something scary...while I was in Madrid, my roommates dressed up as Indians, and I guess comments were made!

Even so, Mom and Dad seemed to like Madrid...I mean, dad had to stop in every ham shop on the a kid in a candy store that one. He also wanted to buy enough wine for the whole week in that one trek....tip of the iceberg. It was a gorgeous night in the plazas though. The clouds were out...and it was super warm! Mom couldn't believe that it was almost novemeber.
Me and the ma dukes!

Dad and his ham

I guess I tired them out, eh?

The next day we went on our three hour journey to Valencia. Now, let me tell you. It is very hard to navigate in a car when someone is driving that doesn't understand Spanish. The outcomes are VERY interesting. I'm just starting off with that point....haha. Anyways, Valencia is about 3 hours away from Madrid and Sunday morning we headed in that direction so Dad could see his fish. Oh, the fish. There were many fish. Red ones, blue ones, big ones, and little ones. Sharks and dolphins too! Ohhhhh, my dad couldn't get enough. I have to admit, I did like the penguins though. They are suppppper funny. Ahh, but dad dragged us to the dolphin show, and made us look at every fish in the place....(let me just let you know, that there are over 15,000 kinds of fish at this place....) Over all, the place was pretty cool. But ohhhh....words can't describe...

The park of Arts and Sciences
The Aquarium, el Oceanografico
Some fish.
Some more fish.
Even more fish. Actually, these fish were call "Sweetlips" which is why I took a picture of them....
Hey look, a tunnel of, what are they called again? Oh that's right, fish!
Couldn't go to the aquarium without going to the dolphin show, now could we? It's Sea World memories all over again....

Well, after the aquarium we tried to find out hotel. Good times, especially with no map of the city. Have no fear, we found it. Nice hotel too. It was called Medium Hotels Valencia. Definitely recommendable. (A very 'Yuriy' hotel!) Dark colors, very chic inside, very nice overall. That night me and mom figured that since we were in the place were paella originated from, we had to be sure to try it. Well we found this little outdoor cafe in the middle of some side street in the casco viejor (old part) of Valencia that had AMAZING paella valenciana....the saffron was golden yellow, the meat cooked to perfection, just the right amount of vegetables....geez, this is making my mouth water. Anyways, the setting was great, people walking by on their way to their own dinners, a gorgeous night....all we needed was an accordian player to show up, and voila, you have the perfect setting.

After that, we had a chance to walk around old Valencia, espeacially its gorgeous cathedral, that we actually got locked inside of. (It was like a sign from grandma telling me I should go to church more, I just know it!) When we finally found our way out of the spooky cathedral, we stumbled upon this cute little plaza where we enjoyed a nice cup of tea and the full moon. I love people watching, and for some reason these Spanish plazas are the perfect settings. It was defintely a gorgeous night for it.

The Valencia Cathedral
La plaza de la Virgen. And that's right, the Basilica is right NEXT to the cathedral..
The next day, the three of us ventured over to the port of Valencia. Oh, it was almost 70 degrees outside! Absolutely incredible. I had to practically hold mom back from jumping in the water. The beach really was gorgeous, I couldn't believe that it was actually November. Well after we perused the port for awhile, we decided to get going on our hike to Calatayud.

The Port of Valencia, not too bad for November, eh?

She really didn't want to move....
Look how happy there are to be in Spain!

In our next chapter of 'The parents are in Spain": how the parents climbed the Castle of Calatayud, Dad continues to say thank you instead of gracias, and Karli and Emily learn a new card game.....will they make it?