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Archive for the ‘spain’ Category

There are some things I will never get used to living in the UK, no matter how long I live here. First, in late Spring and early Summer the sky never seems completely dark.  At 1am, standing outside, you can see light on the horizon.  Its also light around the 4am hour. When we went to the airport in late May the sun was already rising as we drove to the airport at 4am. So strange to not have the sun rise the next morning until 7am in Spain.

The other thing that I will never get used to is that, on the last day of June, its cloudy. I am cold. Its been cold. Going out does not sound like fun. My poor son has not worn any of his Summer shorts since Spain. This is the second year in a row that has happened. And, as we head into the “hottest” months of the year, we are looking for more sweats for him to wear because I did not buy enough sweat pants for him to wear around the house to stay warm this SUMMER!

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Nerja, Spain

A few weeks ago we went on our bi-annual holiday to Nerja in the Costa Del Sol, Spain. I had never thought of going to Spain. It had never been on my list of place I must see. But when my husband, then boyfriend, suggested a trip, I jumped at it. Why not? I fell in love. Its all the best of Spain. Small town feel as it was a small fishing village in the past. Touristy enough that you can get by on my limited Spanish. (most of Europe speaks English I have found) And close enough to the Sierra Nevada, which is the mountain range I grew up next to in California. Seeing its namesake is quite a thrill to me in my own stupid way.

Spain feels like home. Spain looks like home. All the new communities in Spain could be anywhere Calfornia. If I would of woken up and told I was in CA I would believe it. As you leave Nerja and head up into the hills of the Sierra Nevadas and head towards Granada you really feel like you are driving between Reno, NV and Carson City, NV. Its strange. It feels familiar. Like home.

I am weird, I know. Its Spain. But when you are an expat you long for anywhere that feels like home. The sense of not belonging can be suffocating at times. You have moments where you just long for something familiar, something that brings you home. In Europe, its Spain for me.

We had a lovely time, my family. Traveling with a two year old was a challenge. Time flew chasing him. We where knackered and would of loved a bit more time. But my son loved it. He loves the Spanish lifestyle. Staying up late, eating tea (dinner) at 10pm, wandering the streets and looking in shops late into the evening. Warmth.  Warm into the night. Even in late May, with the wind blowing hard off the sea onto our apartment, it was warm when we walked the few blocks into town. Bliss. Such a change from our cold life in the UK.

I hope we get back. We thought of this as a sort of farewell trip as traveling from the West Coast of the US to Spain is an expensive and long journey. But it will always be my happy place. A place with some of the best memories of my life. Where we got engaged. Where we went on our 2nd part of our honeymoon.

The Sierra Nevadas from our apartment.

Sierra Nevadas from our apartment

The Med from our window.

the med

Nerja. Balcon de Europe

nerja

At night from our Apartment with a full moon

full moon

The little white town on the hill, Mijas Spain

mijas, spain

mijas, spain

From out of nowhere, two legs apeared out the window.

legs

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I was looking at the Mystarbucks site and I was struck, once again, how so many people have such a low view of children. A lot of comments along the lines of ” There is a place for mothers to get coffee with their children, its called McDonald’s” leave me frustrated, pissed off, and confused. Like Starbucks is a place for adults only. Yes, they sell coffee, but they don’t sell beer. I have sat many a time in a Starbucks with teens and twenties who are acting like loud mouthed idiots causing people to scurry out the door fast. But, as they are no longer ” children” then I guess that its fine. After all, I have a feeling that its these same people who make this type of comment. I do remember my twenties. The world belonged to us. We knew it all. Get out of our way. But I soon grew up.

The other comments that I saw quite often was “make Starbucks feel more like the European cafe culture”. Probably written by someone who has never been to a cafe in Europe no doubt. How you can make a Starbucks in Chicago with people coming and going in the fast paced busy lifestyle of America feel anything like the laid back cafe in Spain drinking a Cafe Con leche watching the world pass by is beyond me. The two worlds can not mix. Especially with the children not welcome attitude.

It did make me stop to think. Europe and its cafe culture. I have spent quite a fair bit of time in Spain. Home of the best coffee on the planet. The one thing you will see at any cafe bar in Spain is families. From grandma to the baby. Family is everything in this culture. You see children having their evening meal at 10pm with the family. Kids are everywhere. They don’t hide them away. Its one of the main things I love about Spain. Children are very welcome. They dote on them. They include them. When my step daughter was four she walked up to a Spanish family she didn’t know in Spain at a cafe bar and they pulled out a plate and fed her. They didn’t get upset and look around angrily for the parents who let their “brat” disturb them. What a difference. The one time it really really hit home the difference between Spain and the US/UK anti child attitude was when we went into a “Family” restaurant in Spain. This was when my son was 7 months old. We where seated and then noticed that everyone was British. Mostly elderly. We where the only “Family” there. From the moment we walked in we got icy glares. Dirty looks. Whispers. This was the first time on the whole trip that I felt uncomfortable because I had a child with me.

So I go back to the comments on the Starbucks site. How on earth does a child learn to be an adult without seeing how adults behave? If all we ever do is expose our children to the likes of McDonalds then that is all they will know. How will they know how to behave? As a small child my parents took my sister and my self to many very nice restaurants. We where expected to behave. You just didn’t become loud or run around. It just was not done. I clearly remember sitting in places eating things such as lobster or steaks and my parents having fancy cocktails. I had my Shirley Temple feeling very grown up. If a child is taught from very young how to behave, and it is expected then they will. Don’t get me wrong. Not all children are built for fine dining. But they are all built for better then McDonald’s as their only choice.

So if you think about it, Starbucks is the perfect place to take your child for a hot chocolate and sit for a while. The time is fairly short so the attention span lasts. They can learn how to behave in public by watching the adults around them. And, best of all, you can stop for a bit and have a chat with your child. What is more important then that?

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