Spain, in our words

I promised that you hadn’t heard the last of me!  Actually, the last of us.  We [my mom, Lydia, Bryn, and I] had an amazing time experiencing Spain together.  Here’s what we have to say about it:

What were your top 3 favorite experiences in Santander (Tess’ city)?


Mom:  “Meeting the many people in Tess’ life (tutees, friends, teachers); happening upon an adorable tricycle race in the plaza; worshipping at tiny church (even though I didn’t understand a word)”


Lydia: “Going out for tapas, going to tiny church, walking to the lighthouse”


Bryn:  “Eating out; taking the boat to beach/the beach in general; day trips; meeting Tess’ friends & tutees”

What was the best/worst of the art museums we visited?


Lydia: “The best exhibit was the one about playgrounds at the Reina Sofia in Madrid.  And I don’t know if you’d call it the worst, but the weirdest was definitely the Yoko Ono exhibit at the Guggenheim in Bilbao.  Leaving the museums was also pretty good.  But don’t put that on the blog.”

Did you meet any Olympians?  

Bryn: “Yes [we met an Olympic sailor from the Netherlands on the bus and later] I tweeted at him and he didn’t tweet back and I’m a little upset about that, not gonna lie.”

How about dogs?  Any adorable dogs?

Bryn: Oh my gosh. YES.


In your opinion, what was the lowest point of the trip: running through the Atocha train station to catch the train to Toledo or hauling Tess’ heavy luggage up 6 flights of stairs in Madrid?

Mom:   “My low point was realizing that my daughter has NO SHAME about cutting in line in front of other tourists (AFTER running through the train station).  She says ‘Spaniards all cut.'”

If you could fill a whole suitcase with one Spanish food to bring home with you, what would you choose?

Mom:  “Food – tortilla; beverage – the coffee”

Lydia: “Croquetas”

Bryn:  “If I had a heated suitcase I would bring back tortilla, a freezer suitcase- mint chocolate chip ice cream, and a regular suitcase – candy”

What was your favorite site that we saw?


Mom: “Gaudi’s El Capricho”


Lydia: “The city of Toledo”


Bryn:  “The big park in Madrid” [El Retiro]

What are you going to tell your Spanish teacher this fall about what you learned in Spain?

Lydia: “I learned the word pijo which is a word for fancy or stuck up people.  And also the slang word vale” [used as a filler word in conversation]

Bryn:  No comment


Describe, in 5 words or less, what it is like to have Tess as your tour guide.

Mom:  Organized, fast walking, knowledgable, FANTÁSTICO!!!

Lydia: A Googledoc-making, running, good guide.

Bryn:  Fun, running through train station.




How was Spain?

How was Spain?

It was exciting. At first, every day was an adventure. Setting up my bank account, exploring the aisles of the grocery store, figuring out the local bus system. And then the adventures continued, meeting my coworkers and students, exploring nearby towns and villages. Later on, traveling with friends to further corners of the country, like Valencia, Andalucia, and Santiago de Compostela.

How was Spain?

It was challenging. I moved to a new city, away from my family, friends, and boyfriend and had to do time zone math every time I wanted to talk to them. I taught at a high school where the students went on strike and classroom control was nonexistent. Writing paragraphs seemed to be an extraneous skill for most of the students and my job was to make them write a 3+ paragraph essay. In their second language.

How was Spain?

It was beautiful. I lived 20 minutes walking from the ocean in a pink palace with a spiral staircase. My town had beaches, a royal palace, and sailboats in the bay. In the distance, rolling green hills and snow capped mountains. Weekend jaunts to stunning cathedrals and impressive art museums were a regular occurrence.

How was Spain?

It was terrible. It rained almost everyday of the winter, and my clothes rarely dried. The crazy landlady told us that we were cultivating mold in the house by not ventilating, and every time something leaked, it was always our fault. And the peanut butter was obscenely expensive.

How was Spain?

It was delicious. Seafood paella. Good cheeses and meats. Rioja and Alberiño. Churros con chocolate. Fried eggplant with honey. Fried everything. And for a little balance in life, delicious and abundant produce in the corner market.

How was Spain?

It was disgusting. Olives. Anchovies. Sardines. Dissecting whole fishes bought from the market. One time, I ordered a baked potato and it came topped with tuna fish and big dollop of mayonnaise. Gross. And don’t even get me started on the salads…

How was Spain?

It was different than I expected. Did you know that you really do have to use the vosotros verb form here and that they laugh at you or tell you it’s cute when you speak “Mexican” Spanish? Or that Spain is comprised of 17 different autonomous communities, each one like its own country, and many of them with their own language? Did you know they play very explicit American music in the grocery store because no one understands the lyrics? And while you’re strolling the aisles listening to the unedited version of “Thrift Shop,” you can buy a whole cured leg of ham on sale for 75 euro.

How was Spain?
Beyond anything I could have ever asked for or imagined. It’s so, so hard to say goodbye, but only because it has been so, so good.


2 flights and 2 sleeps til I’m back in my homeland- and oh what a joyful reunion it will be!  But don’t think you’ve heard the last of me- I’ve just spent 9 days traveling with my mom and crazy sisters, so rest-assured there are more stories to come.

Signing off from Spain, with lots of love.


Tess & Nona’s Pilgrimage to Galicia: Another Guest Post

My wonderful friend Nona wrote this perfect description of our Galician adventures last weekend.  Our friendship began when we studied together in Santiago de Chile, so Santiago de Compostela seemed a fitting end to Chapter 2 of our international friendship. Enjoy!