Family Matters

After our winter adventures in Finland, we headed back to Spain to meet up with my brother and his girlfriend Lauren. To say I was excited WAS AN UNDERSTATEMENT.  I was so excited to share with them my life here and all the things I loved about Spain.  We started our adventures in Madrid and ended them in Torremolinos.  There were many lessons that were learned during their travels here.

Lesson #1: Tapas

Ain’t nobody got time to deal with jet lag when there are tapas to be eaten.  Literally, we met up, went to our hostel to drop our bags, and then we set out for TAPAS, TAPAS, AND MORE TAPAS.  Here they encountered their first tastes of Cuzcampo (ufff que terrible) and tinto de verano (wine and lemon fanta).

P bravs were defs included.

P bravs were defs included. Little did they know how much food they would be consuming here.

Later in Torremolinos, we went to our favorite Mom and Pop tapas place called El Tapeo (here they do the traditional tapa with each beverage you order):

Grabbing some delicious grub with our friend Claudia!

Grabbing some delicious grub with our friend Claudia!

Since Spain is in a crisis (La Crisis) there are always many different food deals.  For example one of our favorite restaurants to eat at is 100 Montaditos (100 sandwiches), and on Wednesdays their WHOLE menu is 1 euro.  I am serious.  EVERYTHING:  Jaras de cervezas o tinto de verano, todos de montaditos, ensaladas, postres, ES MARVILLOSA!

Honestamente, that isn't even half the food we got.

Honestamente, that isn’t even half the food we got.

Lesson #2:  After tapas, you search for the best delicacies of the country your visiting.

In Madrid, there is a very famous restaurant se llama el botín.  And it just happens to be the oldest restaurant in Europe!  For New Years Eve, we got to eat there.  AND MAN DID WE FEAST ON SOME GREAT FOOD:

FEAST OF MEAT EN EL BOTIN!

FEAST OF MEAT EN EL BOTIN!

El Botin was great, just as amazing as I thought it would be.  However, my favorite place to eat is the San Miguel Mercado which is basically like a fancy food market.  BUT WITH ALL TYPES OF TAPAS Y OTRA COMIDA!

Aceitunas on Aceitunas

Aceitunas on Aceitunas

Queso en todas comidas

Queso en todas las comidas

Lesson #3: While traveling you love activities that are gratis (free).

While we were in Madrid we did a walking tour of the city center.  I have done this tour before (shoutout to Sandaman’s tours!) and I am always impressed with the amount of information you get.  The tour is technically free, at the end you are ask to pay what you think the tour is worth (as a group of 4 we paid probably 10 euro).

Andy got to participate in an little play about the past kings of Spain.

Andy got to participate in an little play about the past kings of Spain.

Playing the tourist role

Playing the tourist role

Lesson #4:  When the activity isn’t gratis…hopefully it costs under 5 euros.

The great part about having visitors is that it gives you the perfect reason to go to touristy things in the city you live in.  While Lauren and Andy were here, we explored the cathedral in Malaga, and of course with the typical annoyance of gypsies outside the entrance.

IMG_3136

Inside the Cathedral

I also made sure they got to check out the birth house (literally en español: la casa de nacio) of Pablo Picasso.

Chilling with Picasso in Plaza de Merced

Chilling with Picasso in Plaza de Merced

Lesson #5:  Always look for day trips that are worth the money and time.

30 minutes outside of Madrid, is the old Spanish capital of Toledo.  I personally LOVE Toledo, and love sharing it with everyone who has visited me.  I love that it fits in with lesson #4 and they have a wristband that costs 8 euros to see 6 different sites within the historical center.

TOLEDO

TOLEDO

Never too much love.

Never too much love.

Loving the views of the city.

Loving the views of the city.

Chillaxing with Cervantes before lunch.

Chillaxing with Cervantes before lunch.

Lesson #6:  You can never avoid being a tourist.

Even though I try so hard to not look like a tourist, it just can’t happen.  You always have to go to the super touristy places each city you visit.  There you have to fight all the other tourists (many who are plainly making it known they are tourists) to see some small painting or old castle.

Specimen: Tourist

Specimen: Tourist

It isn't a true trip to Madrid without a visit to Plaza Mayor.

It isn’t a true trip to Madrid without a visit to Plaza Mayor.

And of course you have to stop at the one of MANY Starbucks.  Here the ratio was 100% tourists - and 0% Spaniards

And of course you have to stop at the one of MANY Starbucks. Here the ratio was 100% tourists – and 0% Spaniards

Gotta get that Christmas card worthy photo at Puerta del Sol!

Gotta get that Christmas card worthy photo at Puerta del Sol!

Lesson #7:  If you are visiting a country during an important holiday, try to celebrate with the locals.

One very very Spanish thing to do on New Years Eve is to eat 12 grapes at midnight.  One grape for each clang of the bells.  In Madrid, its the thing to do while counting down the new year in Puerta del Sol.  So we purchased our grapes and headed to Puerta del Sol thinking we could easily accomplish eating our grapes before the last clang.  BOY WERE WE WRONG.

Fail.

Fail.

Ringing in the New Year together!

Ringing in the New Year together!

In Spain, there is always an occasion to support the separation of Cataluyna from the rest of Spain!

In Spain, there is always an occasion to support the separation of Cataluyna from the rest of Spain!

Lesson #8:  Show your family off to your new friends and family.

While Andy and Lauren were here, they met EVERYONE.  They probably made more friends here in the 2 weeks they were here than I have made in my whole year here.  But that is what traveling to your sister’s new home is like:  meeting all of her new friends and family.

While in Madrid we met up with my friends Mary Beth and Vince as well as my coworker Ana and some of her crazy friends from home.

While in Madrid we met up with my friends Mary Beth and Vince as well as my coworker Ana and some of her crazy friends from home.

We celebrated my roommates 24th birthday while they were here.

We celebrated my roommates 24th birthday while they were here.

We took them out Spanish style (starting at midnight!) with our friend Marina and our fearless bar crawl guide Annie!

We took them out Spanish style (starting at midnight!) with our friend Marina and our fearless bar crawl guide Annie!

Lesson #9: When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

So when in Spain, do as the Spaniards do! There are many Spanish things one can do while they are here: eat tapas, go flamenco dancing, stay out until 8 in the morning in the discotecas,  and of course siesssssstaaaa.  Along with all the touristy things we did while they were here, I did try to include many non-touristy, VERY spanish things:

Having a nice merienda por la tarde with some really good people watching.

Having a nice merienda por la tarde with some really good people watching.

Churros con chocolate=the most spanish thing ever

Churros con chocolate=SPAIN

Lesson #10:  Even though your brother is all they way in Spain, some things will never change.

Yep, I got him to change the lightbulb.

Yep, I got him to change the lightbulb.

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