So sorry for the prolonged absence. But I finally have my beloved mac back with me, have uploaded my pictures, and am set to regale you with stories of my Christmas vacation back in Spain.
I’ll get it out of the way and just remind everyone that it was 65F on average and while it rained a few times, was mostly beautiful. And I came back to the current tundra environment, a decidedly less self-advantageous event than when it was the other way around last year.
Christmas in Sevilla was beautiful, as to be expected. The city, as with everything, goes all out for holidays and Christmas was no exception. Lights and decorations everywhere. Absolutely everywhere. Even in Ale’s little suburb/town there were lights all through the center district’s streets and roundabouts. Love it.
Side note that men do not appreciate the beauty of Christmas lights quite enough and I got a lot of flack for my (and I do quote) “thousands of pictures” of them (there were less than 100 ok). But it’s ok because I know all of you will enjoy my careful documentation. Someone’s got to be appreciative of the work the city did.
I slept a lot the first two or three days I was there (jet lag hit me hard), but then things ramped up!
The first night we went out to eat we went to the same restaurant we had gone to for my birthday last year that I had loved. We got almost the same meal (still as delicious as ever) and were going to try out a new place for dessert, but decided against it as it started to pour as we were leaving the restaurant.
(The aftermath of running in the rain. My hair survived because Ale let me be the one to run–in heels–under the awnings of buildings. Such a gentleman).
We spent a lot of time trying out new places to eat when we weren’t eating with his family. One of my favorite nights there we’ve also both decided is one of our favorite memories together period.
So on the night in question, we had planned to go into the city center so I could see the aforementioned lights, walk around, and get dinner and dessert (at the place we missed earlier in the week). In short, a very nice romantic date night.
His dad was nice enough to drop us off in the city center so that we didn’t have to walk to/from the metro or wait for the bus (an iffy prospect in the evening). About 2 seconds after jumping out of the car and his dad speeding off, Ale realized he had left his phone at home. As I couldn’t use my data and Ale didn’t know his dad’s work phone number, we were stuck without any way of contacting people. Or finding the restaurant for dinner as the directions were on Ale’s phone.
Adventure started. Because of the phone issue, we ended up getting dessert first because we knew where that was located. Guys. This dessert was life-changing. I’m pretty sure our waiters were making fun of us for ordering dessert at 8:30 p.m. (an early dinner time anyway) without any accompanying “real” food but it was worth it.
Ale got a triple chocolate something or other. I got what this “sevilla orange” concoction of deliciousness. And we both got champagne (the specific Barcelona kind “Cava,” though Ale won’t cop to it. The Catalonians are a taboo topic around his house). I also want to point out that I took close-ups of dessert but he made me delete them because he wanted you all to know that he did, indeed, buy me champagne as well. I’ll admit that it would have been a sin to not include it in the picture so there you all are.
We spent some time wandering around looking for the actual restaurant before walking all the way to Alameda de Hercules where we had had our first date. Let me tell you that is a hike in heels, no matter how short or comfortable they were when you left the house. To our horror, the bar we had met at changed the decor (how dare they) but we still got to see a light show and wander a small Christmas market.
We saw more lights: Las Setas all lit up (top right); the light show set to the Barber of Seville (bottom left. The poetic nature of our location was not lost on me and I giggled my way through half of it); a Christmas tree made of beer bottles (#OnlyInSpain); and a Nativity display at El Corte Inglés.
By this time it was 9:30 or so and we were hungry. So back into the main center we went.
We wandered street after street. Went through several plazas. Followed rabbit trails. Asked numerous people since we knew the name and general area it was located at. And still couldn’t find this restaurant. We were both starving at this point, around 10:30, and my feet ached so we started walking down a final street to take a shortcut up to the main avenue to get to a restaurant he did know about near the bus station.
Lo and behold on that tiny side street was the restaurant we had spent about two hours looking for. To this day we aren’t sure if God was bored and just messing with us or wanted to teach us a lesson about perseverance. I’ll get back to you on that. But the food was excellent and so was the wine.
End to that story.
So over the holidays in Spain, jamón ibérico and gambas (basically jumbo shrimp) are the norm in terms of food. I think we had both almost every day I was there so we made a point of eating anything but when we went out.
Funny story about gambas: So the first time I had them in Spain was last summer at his house when his dad brought out a huge plate of them…with everything attached. And I mean everything. It’s like at fancy restaurants with fish and lobster. The tail, legs, eyes (entire head really) etc…all attached. And staring at you with their small beady little horror-filled eyes.
I made the mistake of saying as much to Ale and his dad last summer and they have never let me live it down since. It came up every single time we ate gambas over the holidays and come to find out, it is apparently a story they have shared with the rest of his family. So for all I knew, to them I was the “American girlfriend who thought the food was looking at her.” But c’est la vie. His family was still very kind to me (I had three Christmases this year between my two sides of the family and his family so that was fun).
Ale and I got to do and see a lot over our two weeks together. We saw an adaptation of an Oscar Wilde play in Spanish, a giant Playmobil exhibit in his town, and I celebrated New Year’s Eve Spanish-style. Those of you who know me have seen the NYE pictures on Facebook. For the purposes of not having to ask everyone in the pictures if they care about being on the blog, I won’t share those. But here are a few I can:
Ok so in order of the pictures:
- We had a BYOB policy for NYE but we provided the snacks. So that his parents wouldn’t get into said snacks (as we bought them way in advance), we hid them in his room. And yes his parents did somewhat half-heartedly look for them.
- On NYE in Spain, it’s tradition to eat twelve grapes, one for each stroke of the clock at midnight. It’s harder than it sounds and quite honestly it’s a choking hazard, which is probably why our safety-obsessed American culture doesn’t follow suit. Ale’s dad gave me a long explanation for why this is the custom. It involves rich people in Madrid and also the French (they won’t admit it but the Spanish are fairly obsessed with France so this is pretty par for the course in terms of cultural explanations).
- Our incredibly awkward prom pose but I still absolutely love this picture (shout-out to my grandfather for picking out the dress for me for Christmas). Ale humored me and let me take a lot of pictures that night since we were so dressed up. I also want to point out that this was my first year being kissed at midnight (My timing with previous relationships did not coincide with this particular holiday) and it almost didn’t happen because as he said, “My parents will be there!” To which I said, “Ok so what?” I got my way.
- Side note about this: I have never really been the kind of woman to demand that I get my way in everything. Obviously I am always right and should, but most differences in opinion aren’t worth the argument. BUT. I am a complete sucker for traditions and so with those I do hold my ground.
Over the holidays we also went to see Star Wars VII. Ale and I had promised each since before I left that if we were still together, we would wait to see it until Christmas break. Kudos to him because he turned down several offers to see it with his best friends and I turned down an offer to see it for free with my dad (ok who am I kidding I saw it for free anyway because #chivalry). The wait was 100% worth it. I loved the movie, the old and new characters, and it was a great cinema experience. Also Ale left with a Darth Vader water bottle which I have it on good authority he still has.
Overall, it was an amazing two weeks. Anyone who has gone through a long-distance relationship knows it’s really quite difficult. But that reunion at the airport was worth it a thousand times over and I can almost cry on demand thinking about it. It’s very different to see a flesh-and-blood human being than a pixelated Skype version (don’t get me wrong. We would not have survived this without Skype). We talked about things that had gone well/poorly during our first stint apart and we realized that while it’s definitely not the arrangement we would choose if we had a say in the matter, being apart has made us trust each other more and better communicators. Overall, it has helped us grow our pure friendship, the base of all healthy relationships, without having the PDA couple-y physical part to use as a crutch for not growing as human beings together. Both of us are super pumped for his visit this summer, when I finally get to be the one to play tour guide to Indy/the United States (it’ll be his first visit stateside)!
Anyway. Here is the very much belated Christmas post. Thank you all for your patience ❤