Friday, June 10, 2011

Friends & Family

The past two weekends we have stayed close to home. We are trying to enjoy as much time as we can with family and friends and visiting some of our favorite places. I can't believe how quickly five and a half months can go. In the remainder of our stay we will balance our time spent with family and friends, with seeing and doing as much as we can in the short time we have left.

Weekend 1: May 28-29
Saturday we spent shopping as the girls have outgrown many of their clothes. I suspect there is a little more shopping to be done before they go off to summer camp here as well. I didn't really plan for away camp when we packed for this trip. My guess for their growth spurts is the good nutrition in the school lunches. Coming from the states I never thought it was possible to have "good nutrition" and "school lunch" in the same sentence. Hopefully upon returning to the states we can maintain at least some of the habits and routines we have picked up here.

Sunday, Beatriz and family invited us to Nando's parent's house in Gorliz. Gorliz is the neighboring town to Plentzia. Andrea, Bea and our gang took the metro to Plentzia and walked along the ocean to the Gorliz beach. The girls always love spending time with cousin Andrea.  It was a beautiful day, perfect weather for the beach and ocean. We also happened upon a collector's car show. Nando met us a little later as he rode in on a vintage motorcycle.

The sand was great for playing and the water, well, it was more like ice but that never seems to stop the kids.

After a few hours at the beach we headed up to the house for lunch where we were joined by Nando, his mother and his aunt. Lunch was followed by some time to relax,  work on an enormous puzzle, and give the kids rides on the vintage moto around the abandoned tennis court.

Weekend 2: June 3- 5
Again the weather was perfect despite the predictions for rain. We started by pulling the girls out of after school activities and went with Viviana, Raul and Fernanda to a beautiful park in the woods of Leioa. The girls played, we all ate and then played some more..

Saturday was very spontaneous but worked out quite well. We started our day with a bike ride picking up Morgan and Maia's friends, Eugenia and Alejandra, along the way. We headed to Las Arenas where we found La Feria de Movilidad Sostenible, a festival on green transportation. They had some learning games the kids participated in about different kinds of energy, various electric cars and bikes, and other literature to fill our backpacks.

From there we continued our ride through Las Arenas to the path that goes along the ocean. We stopped for a drink, to climb a tree, and enter a cave... because we can...

Our return of Alejandra and Eugenia evolved into lunch at a Cervecera in Berango to which we were able to bike. Cerveceras are very common in this area of Spain. Typically they offer both indoor and outdoor seating and most of them have a park or similar to entertain the kids. The idea is to go with a large group of people, order roasted chicken, fries, salad, and other options including tortilla patata, croquetas, pimientos verdes,... You order at a counter and bring it all to the table to eat family style. We arrived around 3:30pm, a pretty typical time for the biggest meal of the day in Spain. We stayed until after 8pm as the kids enjoyed the park and we were enjoying the company of our friends. Fun for the kids never stopped as the evening ended in a sleepover. All in all it was a long but great day.

Sunday was a day of putting together some puzzle pieces. I learned in January that some colleagues of mine from Wisconsin, north of Madison, have roots in the Basque region. Cristina, a Spanish professor is from San Sebastian, about 1 hour from Bilbao. More recently I learned that she and David, who is on the committee for the program I direct, have two children, very close in age to our girls. We decided it was time our families meet so they came to Bilbao.

We began at the Museo de Bellas Artes.  It's perhaps a bit crazy to think that 4 kids between ages 8-11 are going to truly appreciate and want to hang out in an art museum so we introduced a game. They had a list, a scavenger hunt of items to find in the paintings, about 25 or so, and they got points for what they found. The items had different point values depending on how hard I presumed it would be to find them. We inter-mixed the kids, the 2 oldest and the 2 youngest. They were totally engaged and did quite well. In addition to the regular exhibition there was an exhibit by Daniel Tamayo, an artist from Bilbao, whose work is imaginative, colorful and busy so a great option for the kids to study as they looked for objects. I don't think I have ever enjoyed an art museum so much with kids in my life. Morgan and Maia were clearly more entertained there than they were at the Guggenheim.

From the museum we headed for lunch where we met Begonia. (Spanish speakers, I know it is typically spelled with an ñ but everyone that I have seen write her name spells it like the flower.) Anyway, Begonia has been a friend of my sister MaLuz for a long time, as well as a friend of Cristina's from back when they were both studying in Cincinnati. She is also connected to people at the Universidad de Deusto in Bilbao, with whom I have made connections. So, the world is small and it was nice to finally place that piece of the puzzle.

After lunch we headed to the park by the Guggenheim where the kids could burn off some energy before going for ice cream.

We finished our day with a visit to the Alhondiga, an amazing building both in its beauty and its contents. It combines, cultural exhibitions, with a beautiful library, and a recreational sports center with a pool. There is also a cafe, gift shop, money machine, cinema, if they had beds, one could live there and never have to leave.

We arrived home a bit after eight, exhausted but happy. Our kids now have another Wisconsin family with whom they can connect on many levels as their new friends also lived and studied at an elementary school in San Sebastian during Spring 2010.

1 comment:

  1. Jocelyn Vande VeldeJune 10, 2011 at 4:03 PM

    Wow you guys, the girls look so incredibly happy. What a great experience you've given them and yourselves. Kudos to you all!