SEVEN DAYS IN HEAVEN. SLASH, SEVEN DAYS IN SPAIN!

Monday, January 30, 2017
SPAIN. We've been home for just over a week, and luckily, everything about our blessed time there is as fresh as the Valencia oranges were at that corner market beneath our piso. The time away together was perfect. But really (if only this novel post can prove that! How can it, though??)

Ry served a proselytizing, two-year mission for our church in Spain, so returning to the motherland has always been something he has wanted to do - me, too - but so soon in our marriage/lives? We didn't expect to see Spain till our 50's, let alone during a Christmas break in law school. But when Life gets crazy - like by offering airline tickets to Espana that are cheaper than tickets to Utah (?!) - you run with Life and thank her for being as happy as she can be hard. :)

We did a lot, and yet we took it slow. We wanted to see Spain, and after two bullet trains, buses, cars, bikes, metros, and miles of walking, I thiiiink we saw it. We also just existed, walking the length of Barcelona more than once, grabbing two tapas here, two more tapas there, and a napolitana there. Ryan planned out every day and the man could not have done a better job. He was so happy to be home...SO happy. His eyes would erupt with fireworks at the simplest things: the tiled sidewalks, the Mercado, the jamon, the Marias, the tortillas. He flipped into Spanish mode immediately and spoke so well. All this American girl did was hold on to the arm of her Spaniard husband, floating on a cloud as he floated along on his.

There are 100+ photos in this post (ay caramba!! JK don't worry, it goes fast πŸ˜„), plus that little video below. Our iPhone video clips are choppy and imperfect, but video freezes memories in a different way, you know, so we still love it. Footage includes (and almost in order!)...

- The view looking up to our 5-story walk-up in Barc
- Ry's Spanish love, Jamon
- The market at Las Ramblas
- Street performers, bell towers, town squares, cathedrals
- Biking the city
-  A castle and cobblestone streets
- Food, glorious food (probably 1/50 of what we ate and not nearly enough)
- Rowboating
- HAPPINESS
And what wasn't trapped on filmed was frozen in photos...

FIRST DAY IN BARCELONA! CITY STREETS, THE MARKET, AND A FUTBOL GAME


Except FIRST of all, the first photo we took: me + this blessed yellow mailbox...

Ryan and I wrote letters while he served his mission - calling home wasn't/isn't something these proselytizing missionaries do (they can call home to family twice a year - on Mother's Day and Christmas). So his letters were gold to me, which is why my face exploded with joy as we're walking along and Ryan tells me that he'd drop his letters to me in that big mail box above. Our letters were infrequent enough that every time something from Ryan came, I secretly clung to the letters about like I did that mailbox, packing them to school in my backpack and reading them when I needed a pick-me-up. I say "secretly" because I wasn't very loud about my love across the seas - I wouldn't be able to get to know other boys at school otherwise. But deep down my heart was with my Spaniard - via those letters. Love you forever, Correos!!!

We kept walking the city from there, stopping at shops, like to get some famous Spanish ham...
Jamon! Dry-cured Spanish ham (go read the tiny "preparation" paragraph here)! It's delicious.
The first bakery we saw of about 1 billion (I swear!) in sweet Barcelona...
La Boqueria! We eventually  made it to the Market on Las Ramblas (a busy street in Barc). Most of the photos here were snapped for the sake of the color, and to show our girls the masterpieces that are European treats...
Rule numero uno in Spain (and I say Barcelona, especially): look up and soak in the beauty of the buildings. This was just a regular apartment building...
And look up and wave to Christopher Columbus! πŸ‘‹ So cool to think of that incredible man living and breathing in Barcelona.
Made it to the soccer game! I have to admit - I snapped this sunset pic and then fell asleep (jet lag 😴). But just for the first half!
Ry Guy did not fall asleep - I mean, Barc won 5-0, it's insane that I was sleeping - but tired eyes were winning him over by the end...

LA SAGRADA FAMILIA + (MORE!) CITY STREETS 

This place! My heavens. Go read a little about it here. It's Barcelona's most famous spot and it's not hard to understand why. It's brilliant. The building itself tells the story of Christ's life. IE, the photos below are from the Nativity Facade and the joy over the Savior's birth in just the sculptures is amazingly palpable.  Like the sweet, happy faces of the figures below...we were smitten!! 
The interior of tells the story of LIGHT (which only bespeaks of Christ,  you know). It's amazing and we loved every inch of it.
The rear facade, the Passion Facade, features Christ's death. Harsh and cold and sad, it teaches the story perfectly. Art is amazing, isn't it? Art and architecture combined isn't a bad double-dose...
We cut back through the Basilica for one last look and a pic together...
And then we hit a bakery - had to get the best Spanish treat in existence, the napolitana, since our deal was that we had to buy at least one at least once a day (tough deal). Then we walked back through the city till we were home.
Rule numero dos while in Spain (especially in Barcelona): look DOWN. You'll catch as much charm beneath you as you will above you over there...
Pictures will NEVER do that treat justice. The lightest croissant with the most unreal chocolate inside (I don't know how they do their chocolate over there, but it's celestial). Please go to Spain for this baby alone! πŸ˜‹
Just another stunning apartment building, NBD...
This made us laugh. Barcelona, you need to seriously if you want peeps like us leaving anytime soon...
We were meandering home, you know, when we came upon this local-laden city square - orange tree lined and beautiful and bustling - and we couldn't help but stop and watch till the sun set (there's a couple seconds of if it in the video). Such a good day!

CASA BATTLO & eBIKE TOUR

Antoni Gaudi - that famous architect has his hand all over Barcelona - and on somewhat of a whim, we decided to tour one of his famous houses in the city, the Batllo House, before going on our very planned bike tour of Barc. BEST decision. What a place!

Remember Rule 2 - look down...
I wanted this mug soo badly - its pattern is the most common tile pattern on the sidewalks in Barc! - but it was too $$ so we settled for a couple pics...
The design inspiration was heavy in that city and I soaked it up. Especially the patterns and the colors. Luckily Ryan gets me and gets the beauty of good design so we could talk our ears off together about all the stunning things to see (and then possibly replicate at home?!) It was so much fun. 
Couldn't resist the pic of the tourists taking the tourist pic. No shame, I'd just stepped out of that crowd.
Couldn't resist a reflection of the baby bump(s) in a dirty mirror. Ryan knew how to join me for this one. We'd like to think he has a food baby or something but stiiiiill not really, haha!
Prettiest tiles oh, you know, just comprising the city sidewalk...
Rusty bikes and big scooters -- all over the city!
We eventually made it to our bike tour spot - it was a guided tour on electric bikes (those things are unreal) and it was perfect - and we stopped only a couple times for pics. Bikes are the BEST because you see nearly the whole city in an hour or two. We loved this adventure!!
A quick pic together outside the Sagrada since we didn't get one the day before...
Another Gaudi house, Casa Mila or La Pedrera. Terrible pic of a tremendous spot (that we didn't tour - next time)! Check it out here for two seconds. Everything Gaudi did was incredible.
And this house below - it's not a Gaudi house, but its neighboring competitor to Gaudi's Casa Ballot - it's called the "Chocolate House" since Barcelona's most famous chocolatier had it built for his family. It was designed by Gaudi's architectural competitor, Montaner; Montaner left his footprint all over Barcelona, too, in some pretty spectacular ways. We liked his work as much as Gaudi's, to be honest. He designed some remarkable places, like the...(see the next pic! Slash the next 500 pics, I swear)...

 SANT PAU HOSPITAL

It's one of the oldest functioning hospitals in history - up until just a few years ago it was still running - but it's now an Art Nouveau Site and a designer/artistic/storytelling JEWEL of Barcelona (read about it here). All the colors, ceramics, and patterns stole us away. Oh my...

(Real quick - for my future home inspo - I want this appple-green door and the white tiled wall around it for myself. It's perfect).
Snapped this pic from the brochure since it can explain the brilliance behind the beauty of the entire hospital much better than I can. Love so much so the priority they placed on beauty was embedded in the belief that people heal in congruence with the state of their surroundings: if your hospital is beautiful - facades, rooms, grounds, gardens - people will thrive...(I believe it!)
Again, the faces here in the sculptures, just like the darling faces on the Sagrada Familia's facade. They are precious!
We loved how this angel is either ushering people home or calling down heaven's help to keep them here (what's your vote??). ART, I tell you. It is the best, thought-provoker and teacher!
The details! And the yellow tiles that reminded us of candy. A sign that Montaner had been there - remember he designed the "Chocolate House" above, too!
This room functioned as the OR for a long time. Can you imagine? Look at that light. And that color!! It is all so refreshing.
And it's refreshing by design, actually. If you look closely above, you can see the flora + fauna pattern (rose bud + leaves) in the darker green tiling, and below you can see the flora + fauna again -- the combination symbolizes growth and rebirth, which is exactly what the sick here needed. Beautiful, right?
This PINK. A perfect shade.
More intricate, stunning flora atop the columns!
The most stunning light pouring in through "just" a doorway "just" down some hallway (no area was exempt from reflecting the goal for total beauty)...
The ceiling of that ol' hallway -- peeking through the glass!
Oh come on, it's just the ceiling! πŸ˜‰πŸ˜
The balcony showcases a prayer - can you see the letters making up the banisters above Ryan?? Oh and note the mosaics on the column Ryan's left. And the mosaic flowers right on the wall in front of him. Oh and the mosaics underneath the banister? 
Mandatory close up. I want to remember this pattern!
But, really, we just took pictures the whole time. And gawked. And talked about the splendor and gawked.
Adios, Sant Pau. This was one of our FAVORITE spots of all!
And this was/is our favorite tiled sidewalk of all - it's the most classic Barcelona pattern and it's found all over the city. We asked a sage local if there was meaning behind the pattern and/or having the tiled sidewalk, and she said "No reason. Just for beauty." I really don't think it gets better than Barcelona. πŸ’«
Poor Park Guell -- it got the camera shaft. Mostly because we got there kind of later, so the light was leaving, along with the heat of the sun. But there's no secret as to why that's a famous Gaudi spot, too. The crazy mosaics were perfectly colorful, and the overlook to the Mediterranean out there couldn't be beat.

 PALAU DE LA MUSICA

Another Montaner masterpiece, the Palau de la Musica is Barcelona's palatial music hall, and thanks to being tourists in the off-season, we were able to snag some tickets to an incredible classical concert one night for cheapcheapcheap. This experience was absolutely unforgettable. The sights, the sounds, the whole experience of being at a gorgeous concert, just us two -- were smitten with it all.
Blurry, but it still captures the awe, so it gets to stay. :)
What's the rule? Look down! ;)

 MEETING AMADA

CLEARLY, so far, we had a magical time, but Ryan and I both agree that the absolute cherry on top to the whole week in Spain was reuniting with our Spanish Abuelita - our Spanish Grandma, Amada.  After spending 4.5 days in Barcelona, we jumped on a bullet train to Madrid to, primarily, see Amada. Ryan was the lucky missionary that got to teach Amada about the Gospel of Jesus Christ in depth after she - on her own accord - walked up to a woman from our church just on the street and asked her what was different about her. "Why are you so happy?" The woman explained it was due to her faith, and that's where Amada and the missionaries, Elder Awerkamp and Elder Lammi met. Amada found a faith, a community, and a literal gospel that resonated with her deeply - and nearly instantaneously - and she was baptized. She and Ry haven't been able to get too far from each other since, so we can easily say here "the rest is history..."

Amada's darling daughter and granddaughter, Mayte and Irene, picked us up from the train station and took us to their beautiful home to spend the evening together. They are angels - the sweetest women I've ever met. Being with them all absolutely dipped us into heaven.
The typical, most delicious Spanish fare!
BFFs. But really. I say it all the time - "Love is what you go through together" - and these two went through something really special together. Amada thanks Ryan for helping her find a new life; Ryan thanks Amada for helping him fulfill his missionary life. They needed each other then (and still do now - Amada writes him letters and he calls her on the phone)! Their relationship is something truly, truly sweet.
We're keeping her for life. Love you forever, Amada!! 

 OLD SEGOVIA!

The next morning, we day-tripped up to Segovia - an olllllld old, charming town in Northern Spain - to get a feel for "country" living and to see famed, Spanish landmarks. Like one of the longest, best-standing Roman Aqudecuts. Nothing is holding those rocks together but pressure - like no mortar, no nothing - and they've been balancing there all together since 112 AD...(NBD!)
And after getting our ancient-engineering-marvel fill, we took off on foot to see the rest of the enchanting town and to, eventually, find the castle...
Look down, even in Segovia (grassy cobblestones!)
We were told by an Asian tourist friend at the Sagrada Familia that just standing together and smiling for pictures was boring and that we needed to "pose!!", so for the rest of the trip, Ryan made sure I was posing...(bless me πŸ˜‰)
And no, this is not the castle but the stunning, stunning cathedral...
This is the castle! It's one of the castles that inspired Mr. Walt Disney as he put together Cinderella's place. I can see why, too. It is a CHARMER. 
That legitimate armor!!
Thrones. πŸ‘ΈπŸ‘Œ
I wanted to re-named this the "Candy Castle" due to the differing patterns on its facade - patterns that are on wafers and cookies and sweet things. Plus the turrets with dollops and everything else that was simply darling about the old place. It was impressive.
A Segovian "must-do" is eat the traditional fare there -- the totally baked (whole!), suckling pig. Like skin and bones and all, folks (but really, see the curling tail on Ryan's plate??) It was unforgettable, duh, and honestly --- good!

 MADRID

After our day in Segovia, we had one full day to really knock out the city of Madrid, and we hit it. Hard. And happily (what a beautiful place)! We ate our way through the city, really. We started off by getting chocolate con churros (churros and chocolate) at two different restaurants (they're cheap, we had to!), then we got "the best napolitana of our liiiiives" (quoting my dramatic self in that video. πŸ˜‰ But really, it really was), then we went to the Market and ate a couple tapas that were screaming at us and paella...

The tapa. Mmmm.
The classic, Spanish paella (a gironomo rice dish - it's amazing)!
And then we walked (luckily). And no, that's hardly a food baby down there, even with all that we devoured that day. That's just our Tiny Baby that we LOVE. We had to snap a pic of her since she was such a sweet part of this trip. She was kicky and big, and yet so small as she let me do so much. We love this girl. LOVE HER (cannot wait to meet her in seven weeks. ?!?!?. Time is flying)!
The Royal Palace...
We were there together! πŸ˜‰


And then off to Retiro Park - Madrid's version of Central Park - before catching the Prado (Madrid's version of The Met!) that evening. We were just strolling through the park as planned when we saw the brightest, bluest, happiest little rowboats on this lake, and when we learned that the price to ride was $6 for an HOUR, we closed our dropped jaws and grabbed a blue boat of our own. It was spontaneous and PERFECT. We were so happy. 
IπŸ’™ RYAN. Just PS.
And that, my friends, and our grown-up baby girls of the future - is that. This shot below was the last photo we took together in our Espana, we two, happy love birds.
I really don't have better closure to the adventure than that - LOVE. We loved every bit of that country, loved our time together, loved what we learned and how we were inspired, loved that we were filled up and ready to go back to our babies. However, I'll add a big GRATEFUL, too. Like I said in the beginning, we didn't think we'd see this adventure for decades (we don't think we'll see anything like this together for decades!), so to think that we got to squeeze this into our law school years is still making our jaw drops. It could not - would not - have happened without the help of our law school family back home. Three of our angelic friends loved our babies as their own - it literally took a village to care for Olivia and Claire. We are so grateful. 

And we are so excited to go back in a few decades, sweet Spain. This time with our little-turned-big girls in tow and an even greater love for that country that we're semi calling our own. Viva Espana! πŸ’›πŸ’₯

6 comments:

  1. We're sending my little brother off to Madrid for his mission in exactly one week :) this was a fun read! Love you! Your Baby girl is almost here-yay!!

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    1. Ah LUCKY Elder! He will be so happy and soooo OK. Madrid is wonderful. We've had more than a few friends serve in the Madrid mission and love every second of it. Give him all of our love and good luck sending him off (I imagine you're the one doing the sending, yes? You're amazing!) Love you!!

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  2. What a dream getaway! Y'all are an inspiration and now Spain is on our travel list.

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    1. You won't regret going in a million years. Go go go! Can't wait to see YOUR pics. :D

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  3. So fun!!! Those chocolate croissants look aaaaamazing. Have you had the ones from Trader Joe's you can get in the freezer section?? They are delicious and our friend who served in France said they are spot on... so if you get a hancoring for one before you go back someday you should try them :)... see if they are close to the ones in Spain! Love you, pretty girl. Xoxo

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    1. I had no idea about those gems before you told me here (of COURSE you would, Trader Joe's!) -- and I've honestly been avoiding them since because I'm pretttty sure I'd eat the whole box, haha. But there will come a day that I won't be able to avoid any longer and personally eating all 4 will be a no-brainer (maybe when I'm nursing??) Love you, Hailey! XOX

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