With only about 10 days to work with and a lot of territory to cover, and being the uptight person that I am, I came up with a schedule for my parents and I for their visit. However, given this was their first real vacation in more years than I can count, I also wanted to keep things relatively low key and fun without feeling the pressure of going from one place immediately to another. Plus, my dad had surgery on his knee this spring and has had a difficult recovery from the surgery and so we had his limited mobility to work with.
And so this is what I came up with:
Day 1: Chill out and relax – pick up the kids from school
Day 2: Gym AM, Sagrada Familia, lunch and if time some exploring
Day 3: Trip to Collioure, France
Day 4: Gym AM, Touristy BCN daytime, dinner out
Day 5: Tennis with kids, lunch on the waterfront
Day 6: Sitges
Day 7: Gym AM, Touristy BCN with kids (no school)
Day 8: Gym AM, Touristy BCN
Day 9: Spa!!!
It’s amazing how fast those days went! We had to make a few adjustments here and there to the schedule but overall we stuck with the general idea to do something fun in the morning, have lunch and then try to relax a bit in the afternoon before the kids got home from school.
In the last 4 years when I’ve gone home, I’ve stayed with my parents but never really would get a chance to hang out with them because as typical, I would way overschedule myself. And even when I would have a few hours to spend, I would be in a semi manic state because I was so overwhelmed. I feel like my parents haven’t seen the “real” me in over 4 years so it was so great for them to see that I am, in fact, ok and “normal” again.
I also wanted them to see all the things that I talked to them about so much on the phone. To see where I go to do my grocery shopping (which includes the grocery store, butcher shop/cheese shop, fruit/veggie stand and more depending on my needs), to see how we walk everywhere and only take the car when really needed, like to school. I wanted them to try new things, which they did. I wanted them to live outside their comfort zone for just a little bit and not only did they do it, they acted like it was no big deal, something I did not expect.
My dad, especially, acclimated well. He got his bearings pretty quickly and within 24 hours had found himself a little cafe that he would walk to in the mornings to have a pastry and coffee. I think it took me 6 months before I could bring myself to do that (I know, I’m crazy). But I loved that he just jumped right in and made himself at home. And it wasn’t just my dad that jumped in but my mom too. They tried new foods – various meats, cheeses, oils, sausages and turron – I think their favorite was dinner at Can Recasens (http://www.canrecasens.com/) where we were spoiled with traditional Catalan meats and cheeses til our stomachs were about to burst. They went to new countries – not just to Spain but to France as well. They had late nights, something that is definitely not the norm for them. They saw Spanish traditions that are unlike things we have in the States, like the Flamenco (Gina you would have loved this!). And most importantly, we had time for bonding.
I also love that they had some time to bond with the kids and even with Josh whom they had only seen for about 10 minutes in the last 4 years. We are on the go in the States and while they get evenings with the kids, it’s not always quality time after a long day of playing and visiting. I felt the same when Josh’s parents came – it was just a calmer atmosphere that promoted the chance to just sit back, relax and enjoy each others’ company.
The visit was all I could have imagined and more. It feels weird that it has only been a few days since they left – it feels like a lifetime ago already. It feels nice to know that instead of 12-14 months til our next visit, I only have about 8 this time and I know that time is going to fly by. And I love that now when I talk to my mom about the going’s on here and the people, she’ll have some faces and places to go with that conversation. I think this trip has made us even closer!!