January 2, 2007 10:24pm
¡Feliz año! Yup, that’s right… Happy New Year!! (in Spanish!) Have spent the last few days in Spain and have experienced an absolutely tremendous time of friendship and fun. Now I’m back sitting in my apartment in Slussen, looking through pictures taken over the ten days I was away, and feeling very thankful and blessed for having such amazing people in my life.
After flying on four separate flights, I finally made it to Malaga. Actually the trip didn’t feel as long as I expected (must have been Garfield 2 that I watched on the plane!). Susan picked me up from the airport in Malaga. She looked just the same as always – full of life, excited, smiley, and just plain happy. It was SO good to see her. We immediately headed off to pick up Katie in Granada. How crazy is it that we actually made it there and were all meeting up?! Well, it’s not too crazy… but to me, the effort made for us all to get their and spend this time together is very special. Everything about this evening and lots of times throughout the trip, it almost didn’t even feel like we were in Spain because we were just spending time together like we would have back at Stanford – except, now we were in a very different place and we had tons more time just to be together (without practice, school, etc…). Anyway, after catching up during the car rides and back at Susan’s house, we decided that we wanted to try to go to Curtis’s game on Saturday. Only problem… well, it was an away game. Away in Madrid.
Madrid is supposed to be one of the very worst places to drive a car. Not only do the tour books give this warning, but locals say the same thing. Curtis did not want Sus driving to Madrid. So, we made a new plan : ) We did some research late into the night and found lots and lots of different options about how to reach Madrid from Granada. Not knowing exactly what would work best or what we should do, we just decided to get up early in the morning and start driving towards Toledo (a town about an hour-drive south of Madrid). Saturday morning Susan woke up Katie and I (my sleeping was already all messed up because of my trips back and forth, but poor Katie was really still on California time)… anyway, Susan drove the three of us to Toledo by following road signs (no more directions than that). When we arrived in the city we literally happened upon the train station within five minutes of driving around the outskirts. Walking into a beautiful station – ceramic mosaics, Spanish architecture, intricate colorful designs – we bought tickets for the AVE High Speed Train to Madrid. We had only to wait 15 minutes before the train left… we couldn’t have planned the morning any better!
Madrid was terrific! We visited the Prado Museum, walked around the Old Town/Historical districts of the city (Plaza Mayor, etc), saw the Royal Palace, ate some lunch at a tiny Italian place (only so-so food, but we were so hungry that it was quite satisfying), manevared the subway system and reached Madrid Arena in plenty of time for Curtis’s game. Watched the game (Katie and I barely could keep our eyes open in the first half, but both were hit with a second wind in the second half)… Curtis did great; it’s so good to see him playing relatively healthy (sort of) and with great strength. He looks good out there. And, the game was fun to watch. Plus, CB Granada won (always good!). That night we ate at another Italian restaurant (Gino’s = very good!) and spent the night Europa hotel in downtown Madrid (we called probably close to ten hotels, and finally were able to get two rooms in this one, as the rest were all booked!). The next morning we woke up, had some breakfast at Starbucks, and explored the Botanical Gardens and gardens behind the Royal Palace.
Oh, I have so much more I want to write about… but, I feel like I’m hitting that wall telling me Sleep! Sleep! Sleep! So here’s a quick summary of the rest of my time in Spain (though this will never do the trip justice and will only serve as a – hopefully temporary – way to share some of the great times we had).
- Katie and I were spoiled by Susan’s cooking. She makes really yummy food! I need to take lessons from her!!
- “Got our sweat on”: Sus is an amazing trainer… and she graciously invited Katie and I to take part in some of her routines (and let’s just say that going up and down stairs the next day required focus : ) ).
- Katie and I visited the Alhambra in Granada… including the Albyzin, Generalife Gardens, and palace of some King Carlos. Impressive. Very much worth the many stars that all guidebooks award to this tourist hotspot.
- Snuggled with Sammy.
- Ate at Curtis and Sus’s favorite restaurant: Yesterday’s
- Hiked up a mountain, saw vast stretches of seemingly untouched land and the occasional pueblo scattered throughout the countryside, slipped along some ice, crunched over snow, and were hurried away from the top by a “perro dangeroso” (dangerous dog… hmmm – forget how to say or spell that, but you get the point!). The countryside is beautiful. Pictures will not do it justice (though we tried).
- Starred at the Sierra Nevada’s again and again, continually pinching ourselves to see if these huge, snow-capped mountains were real.
- Were given a personal tour of downtown Granada by Susan.
- Tried to go out on New Year’s Eve, had our own party, and celebrated the Spanish tradition of 12 grapes with 12 apples instead : )
- Ran along a beautiful river path in Granada.
- Watched En Sus Zapatos and Spanglish.
- Slept about 30 minutes the night before driving to Malaga and then flying to Stockholm.
Obviously this is a rather random, unorganized list of some of the activities that kept us busy while visiting Susan and Curtis in Granada. However, the visit was so much more than the places we saw and fun activities that filled our days. I can’t remember the last time that I’ve laughed so hard, laughed so much, and laughed for so long. We built some great memories the last few days and also enjoyed reflecting on past times spent together. Friendship is precious and spending time with each other is irreplaceable. My time of Spain reminded me of how very blessed I am and how much I have to be thankful for. So, thanks God! Life would be nothing without You. And specifically, thanks for putting Katie, Sus, and Curtis in my life – cause we sure had a sweet time!!