Well we’re a week and a half into our trip and I think things are going really great so far. As I write this we are on the plane from Dublin to Madrid and have checked the first leg of our trip off the list.
Ireland was really amazing. Our trip there (as Amanda documented) was eventful to say the least, but in the end we arrive legally and without too much fanfare.
Ireland had a beautfy about it that I can’t explain really. The ruggedness of the geography and the landscapes were things that constantly amazed us all (even the kids). Our last few days were in the western part of the country, north of Galway in a town called Clifden. The working sheep farm we stayed on was really great for us all. It gave the kids a much needed bit of rest from the bustle of the city and gave Amanda and I some wide open spaces to walk, think, and just soak up the essence of Ireland.
We got really lucky with the weather this past week, with just one rainy day, which is pretty much unheard of in Ireland, much less on the west coast. Imagine Seattle, but rainy, is what they say there.
In Madrid we’re not really sure what to expect, if we’re honest with ourselves. We so enjoyed our time in Barcelona last year, but Madrid will be an entirely different experience. It’s one of the largest and most cosmopolitan cities in Europe, and with that comes a lot of the good and the bad.
The good is that they are super “green” in that there are loads of parks and areas for the kids to play. Cars in the city center where we’re staying are evidently highly discouraged which gives the area a very walkable and family friendly vibe. That’s great news as one of the few criticisms I had of Dublin was the traffic was horrible and I think the kids felt a bit like they couldn’t run around too much. We were at a few great parks, but certainly not like they’re used to…but I think that’s to be expected. I’m planning on our time in Spain in general to have a lot more running around time and room for everyone.
Just sitting at the airport listening to everyone around us talking reminded me pretty quickly how rusty my Spanish is, and I think we’ll all be getting a crash course in the language over the next month or so. I think mine will come back pretty quickly and I can already tell the kids will pick it up quickly, so I have hope for us all. When all else fails we’ll just point and purse our lips. Seemed to work ok in France last year.
A question that lingers in our heads after Ireland is how we can continue to slow down and just enjoy the time we’re spending together. So often we find ourselves going, going, going, with another item on “the list” and another thing to do. If we’re able to truly settle in and live life like a local in Spain then I think we’ll have achieved one of our big goals for the trip overall.
It’s certainly against my personality to sit back and just “be”, but I think that’s what we have to do. If we spend 3-6 months traveling like tourists we’ll wear ourselves out, no doubt burn the kids out on travel overall, and wear our bank account down to the nubbin. So I’ll be checking in with myself and with Amanda to make sure we’re not being overly ambitious with our travels and really soaking up the time we have together and in these wonderful places.
We’ll be in Madrid for 2 weeks then it’s off to the northwest corner of Spain to Santiago De Compostela, the finale of the pilgrimage route that is so popular in this part of the world. It’ll be super interesting to see what life in a small Spanish town is like. Much different than life in Madrid I’m sure, which is sure to be bustling with lots of excitement.
Next week is a huge Football (soccer!) game between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. Imagine the Patriots and Colts for you AFC fans, in what is their Super Bowl of La Lega, which is the Spanish football federation. It’s the day before my birthday so we’re already scouting out places to watch the game. It’s on a neutral ground in Italy, probably by design to avoid any mass chaos here in town.
Well, back to the flight and our collection of Legos. Will be back soon with a few more updates.