The good ol' Honda Pilot drove on its 3rd continent over the holidays- Europe! At first, a 5 day trip that includes four toddlers, 2 continents, a blood test, a long drive and a ferry ride may seem daunting, but when that trip includes the developed world, Manchego cheese, Rioja, and some of your best friends that you haven't seen in 2.5 years, it's actually a DELIGHT.
For our Christmas holiday this year we drove to Granada, Spain with our visiting friends, the Bs. We rented a house south of the city center with plenty-o-bedrooms for everyone, brought plenty of toys and hit up the nearby grocery store toute suite for all the goodness that Spain has to offer (quality cuts of meat, cheese, wine,etc). Our only regret from the trip is that we didn't have a few hours to just walk leisurely around the Carrefour (French Wal-mart), although that in itself probably saved us many, many Euros.
Before we could get to the fun portion of the trip, we had to get a specific blood test for G that is not available in Morocco (or so our health unit tells us). This required an enormous amount of pre-planning with the embassy in Madrid, who found a doctor in Granada that was willing and able to do the test. Joe, G and I struck out the first morning to find what turned out to be a 2ft by 2ft sign with the doctor's name on it in the middle of a downtown we were certainly not familiar with. The office was near a college campus and as soon as we exited the parking garage we were somehow swept up in the middle of a student protest. I still don't know what the fuss was about (probably about how there won't be any jobs for the soon-to-be graduates) but there were plenty of signs, whistles, and a bullhorn. Once we made our way out of the demonstration we stopped in a bookshop to ask directions. This was a fail. Joe and I assumed that being a European country, near France, that Spaniards, if they didn't have any English, would speak French. WRONG. I am sure that some do, but this proved to be the case in Granada.
Anyhow, the doctor turned out fine. It was an old cute man with his wife as his assistant. He didn't speak any English but we were able to communicate through her with a bit of French and English. They were absolutely lovely and afterwards she took us to a place to order french fries for G as a reward. She even told the chef why G was getting them and the entire placed fussed over him the rest of the meal. Very, very kind of them all.
Joe, G and the doctor's wife at the restaurant. Someone has obviously forgotten about the horrors of the previous 30 minutes of his life.
With our combined knowledge of traveling with children (especially out of the United States where there is no access to luxuries like high chairs and restaurants that open before 8 pm) we limited family outings to one/day.
One stop was the Alhambra, a beautifully preserved fortress/palace built for the last Muslim Emirs in Spain. In fact, the place looks like it belongs in Morocco. The buildings are wonderful, but I could not get enough of the manicured gardens.
Gotta love family photos.
This part of the garden made me feel like I was in Alice in Wonderland.
G has recently grown taller and therefore skinnier. Even if his pants do fit around the waist, it has become a habit to hold them up while he runs.
Me and the Woo
Be still my heart
G loves his "Uncle Joe"
The neighborhood where we stayed
One day we took a drive up to a cute mountain town. Most everything was closed. We asked a local when the restaurants would open and he responded, "February". Great. Luckily, we found a playground.
Downtown Granada. This was an especially brave outing considering it was about 7pm when we arrived. The flash makes it look like daytime.
Our one meal out, downtown. It didn't open until 9pm, and even at that we were the only people there. Which, really, was better for all involved.
One last cheers at noon in Spain before boarding the ferry (which is totally acceptable on vacation)
Surviving the ferry with the help of the iPad
That's all for Spain (we miss you). A good time had by all. Proud of the kids for being great sports.
(Thanks Bets for donating some pics. Great as always.)
P.S. Kudos to the Joes for giving Bets and I a night out in Spain. There are no pictures because we were WAY too busy having fun.