Friday, June 10, 2011

{Flashback}: Day 1/Day 2

Looking back we could call our first trip to Europe a major trip full of 'Live and Learns'. In fact, after we arrived home Tim and I came up with a long list of things we would have changed and things we learned for our next family trip in this crazy place they call Europe. :) So here begins the tale of 'Live and Learns'...


The morning of the day we were to travel to Barcelona seemed to take forever. We weren't leaving until kinda late afternoon and I was so anxious to travel the whole day. I was nervous about traveling with two young kids for the first time in Europe, I was nervous and excited for myself because this is the first time I have even traveled in Europe, I was also so excited to visit Spain, a place I have always wanted to go since a young teenager. I was so full of so many emotions that morning.

Luckily, we arrived to the airport with no problems and checked-in with no problems. Whew! We flew on RyanAir out of the Stanstead airport which is not the nearest airport to us, but it is usually where the crazy cheap flights fly out of with RyanAir. You can find flights as cheap as $30 round trip to various countries. Crazy, huh?

One of our first 'Live and Learn' lessons happened in queue while checking our baggage in.
Tim said, "Look around. We are the only ones with big suitcases."
If you were to take a picture of the inside of the airport at that moment and say, "Find the Americans", you would have easily pointed us out.
Our suitcases, I'm not kidding you, were so MASSIVE compared to everyone else. We were the only ones with suitcases that can fit both our children in each one. In fact, I have never seen anyone else in London, Spain, France, or Andorra with suitcases the same size as ours. Mind you, these are normal sized suitcases in America.
Everyone either had carry-on sized suitcases or these small/medium bags just slighty bigger than a carry-on. It was kinda funny because we totally stood out, but I felt kinda stupid too. Lesson learned.

We flew RyanAir, which, like I said, is a cheap airline here. We flew to Zaragoza which is nearby city to Barcelona. It was interesting to find out what these cheap airlines were like. In the states, we all fly with assigned seating so it was to our surprise as we walked up the stairs to enter the plane that seating is on a first come first serve basis!
It was chaotic.
People trying to save seats, people scrambling to put their carry-ons somewhere, people blocking the aisle, people coming from the front and back and all different directions, everyone speaking in all different languages, stewardesses trying to help all sorts of people! Man! Luckily, we all got to sit next to each other on the same row.
Another tidbit, the seats do not recline either on these airlines and the space between you and the seat in front of you is even smaller than the states. No fat person could ever fly these airlines. Seriously. I'm 5'2'' and 98 pounds and I was like, whoa...claustraphobic.

The flight was only 2 hours long. Can you believe it? Only 2 hours and I'm in a different country!
Marisa was so excited to be at customs and show her passport to the man as they stamp her first passport with her second country stamp of Spain!
We arrived late at night so we took a taxi to a nearby hostel that we booked ahead of time. And I guess you can say this is where bad luck started creeping in ever so slowly. That night this small hostel was housing 100 high school french students. The room right next to us held 8 male teenagers. Do you think we got sleep that night?

I had promised myself before hand that I was going to have a positive attitude about things abroad so I didn't let it get to me. I just told Tim absolutely no more hostels from now on.  :)
Because it was late the girls immediately crashed despite the very, very thin walls and echoing noise in the hallway until the wee hours of the night. I'm glad they got to sleep well even though Tim and I didn't.
I made Tim get us a private room so no strangers were with us, (that is just so weird and creepy), so we had 4 bunk beds to ourselves in our room. The girls loved sleeping in their own top bunk.

The next morning we woke up and headed straight to the bus station to take us to Barcelona!
The bus was practically empty so it was great for the girls to lay around and have space than having to sit still in one spot like on an airplane.

A taxi drive away from the bus station to our apartment and we finally arrived to Barcelona! A co-worker of Tim told him about this website called where people rent out their apartments for great deals. We thought it would be great to have multiple rooms and space for the kids and we also thought it would be cheaper than one hotel room. (Later on we found out that there are GREAT hotels for cheaper! Even really nice two room hotels for cheaper. Again, 'Live and Learn'.)
Anyways, the place was a 4 bedroom apartment with a kitchen, living room, washer/dryer, etc. The girls loved it! In fact, Marisa kept saying it was our new home. The poor girl thought we were moving to Spain. My poor children...

At this point it was later in the afternoon and I had booked a ticket to see flamenco dancing by myself at Palacio del Flamenco that night! That is what I wanted for Mother's Day.

So we just bought groceries for the next few days and I got ready for the evening.

All the while it starts pouring rain and I didn't pack my umbrella or stroller rain cover thinking it was going to be sunny and hot all week! 'Live and Learn', again. We walk out to try to find a restaurant on the way to the flamenco place which was just a few minutes walk.

This is where things begin to get even more interesting I guess you could say. I tell this story because this is how we started our holiday and you all know how our holiday ended. I also tell this story in detail for Tim's family because I can picture their reactions...:)

So, as we try to find a pizza restaurant or the like we stand under a porch for a moment to keep dry. It was actually like a outside reception area of a private apartment building. Hard to explain.
At this point, Marisa fell asleep in the stroller and Natalie was standing by me holding my hand. It was raining pretty hard and we were kinda cold. I had only packed warm clothes for everyone. I felt really bad. ('Live and Learn', again. Never trust European weather.)
Tim and I are now discussing where to go when an old man, who is the doorman of the building, says we can't stand there. We are half way on the public sidewalk and half way on this marble step of this building. I didn't realize what the big deal was for the old man, we weren't blocking anybody, the porch was massive, we weren't even inside the building really, and just a few seconds ago there were a lot of people just standing right where we were. But Tim pretends to not understand and in English says, "Sorry. I don't understand", and keeps looking at his map to figure out where we should head.
A minute later as Tim and I are talking again the old man begins to shoo us out.  Tim again in English says, "It's raining, dude. We are trying to find out where to go. We have kids."
All the meanwhile the old man in Spanish is talking over him trying to point us out.
Then suddenly the old man starts to get aggressive because Tim won't move. In English Tim says again, "We have two kids, one is asleep, the other is a year old, you are going to kick us out into the rain? Kick out a 1 year old!"
Tim and the old man go back and forth. One in Spanish the other in English. Neither is refusing to let go.
Tim looks back down at the map again and the old man then starts to push Tim! Holy cow. It got ugly really fast from there.

Tim immediately turned around, looked him in the eye, and in SPANISH firmly says, "NO ME TOQUES."

The old man stops suddenly and is now furious. Why? Because we obviously won't leave and we had totally mocked him thinking we didn't speak Spanish, but we obviously do.

The rest is kind of a rebuttle mess. Both are arguing loudly back and forth, old man threatens to call police, Tims says go ahead, old man "pretends" to call and keeps saying to us, "I'm going to call the police" over and over again, and Tim continues to say, "Go ahead and let me talk to them on the phone!"
Tim was totally calling the old man's bluff. Honestly, call the police and tell them what? Two parents and their sleeping child and baby need to put off the porch?? He obviously wasn't calling them. He was just a grumpy old man for what ever reason who wanted us off this small part of the porch.

At this point I'm holding Natalie's hand trying to yell over both men and telling the old man in Spanish , "Senor, tenemos ninos!!" and pointing to my 1 YEAR OLD!!
He didn't care.

The old man then tried pulling the rug from under Tim! haha This was kinda hilarious because this man is like in his 70-80s trying to pull this heavy rug like an angry child trying to get back at his older brother. And Tim just stands there.

hahaha the end we walk off with Tim almost saying mean things back and the old man cussing us out in Spanish and trying to slam these HUGE doors on us only to have them bounce back at him like an idiot.

Welcome to Spain.

It was hard to enjoy dinner after that because we were all soaked, shocked that an old man would put two children out in the rain like that without a second thought, we were hungry, tired from traveling, and just kind of out of our element. Tim wants me to add to this that during the argument I was the calm one out of the two of us. Which he claims has happened only 5 times in our marriage. I would usually have been the one in that guy's face. :)

I tried to brush it aside as I walked to the theater to watch my flamenco dancing and the old man was quickly forgotten the next day. Like I said, I was bound and determined to have a positive attitude and enjoy Europe, dang it!!

On the other hand, flamenco dancing ... it was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.
I know flamenco is a Southern Spainish thing, but I don't care. I was in Spain, the country I have always wanted to visit and I was watching flamenco dancing which is something I have always wanted to see since a little kid. (My mom danced flamenco so I was exposed to it as a young child.)

When the show began I was literally fighting back tears for at least 15 minutes. The music, the intense passion of the voices, the beating of the drums, the strumming of the guitars, the sounds of the dancers' shoes, man.....the feeling that over came body as I watched a beautiful dancer throw all her passion into every step, every stomp, every curve of her body, every moment of her arms, every entricate placement of even her fingers, the magical flow of her long dress...It. Was. Beautiful.  Beyond words.
Those of you who are dancers can completely relate with me. Those of you who aren't are probably reading this thinking I'm totally weird and crazy. That's ok. My description is for those who do understand my love for dance.

To gain a better understanding and appreciation for what I saw, check this out. You will not believe how fast those feet move and how they move for a very, very long period of time.

I had such a great time sitting off to the side near the front and taking it all in. I was totally in my element. I felt very intimately involved in the show the whole time. There was this one truly magnificent kinda older man dancer who blew a kiss to me from the stage after his shockingly beautiful solo performance. So cool!

Afterwards, I walked back by myself a few blocks to the apartment ready to kiss my hubby thanks for a wonderful gift, tuck my girls into bed, and call it a night in Barcelona...


The Lambs said...

Oh I wish I were in the audience with you watching that!!! Amazing! And I'm so sorry about that creepy man, but way to hold your calm. And way to protect your family Tim! Live and learn- a good motto!

Kari said...

Tim I'm proud of you! Too bad we can't all go back and stand on his porch. That would be fun.

Jenni said...

Tanya! I am loving your blog and adventures. I am really sad that you had such a bad time in Spain for pete's sake. I lived there for a year and a half, didn't have kids and was a lot more annoying than you and never got yelled at like that by an old man! Next time I'll come along and host you! :) If you ever want to go back again that is.... :)
Jenni Turley


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