I took the picture below at the Bergen Airport. Restroom symbols in Europe tend to be much cuter than those in the US:
The boys love spending time with their cousins, Monica and Cecilia, but we had to have many of our adventures without them since they were in school during the week (from 9:00 to 12:30, a long break for lunch, then back to school from 3:00 to 5:00[!]).
We spent our first day in Spain walking around Central Madrid. Even though Madrid is a huge city, its main cultural and leisure attractions are densely packed into a relatively small area, so we were able to see quite a lot on foot. We went to the palace and watched the changing of the guards, we saw the Prado (from the outside), and walked down streets full of great-looking restaurants, street performers, etc. We had lunch at a nice little place that served me an amazing torta with mushrooms and leeks.
|Jonah and Oscar in front of the Palacio Real de Madrid|
|This street performer was incredible. His marionette played the violin beautifully.|
|Jonah & Oscar at the Madrid Zoo. The twin pandas are wrestling behind them.|
Davin, meanwhile, was also having a great time in Barcelona. One of the highlights was seeing Sagrada Família, an astounding Roman Catholic church designed by architect Antoni Gaudí:
|Church of the Holy Family (Sagrada Família)|
The kids' favorite painting, by far, was Heironymous Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights. We sat in front of it for at least 20 minutes playing "I Spy" ("I spy a three-headed lizard"..."I spy a pig dressed like a nun"...etc.).
|The Garden of Earthly Delights, Heironymous Bosch|
Another painting that really knocked them out was Rogier van der Weyden's The Descent from the Cross:
|The Descent from the Cross, Rogier van der Weyden|
They couldn't got over how richly detailed it is. The artist painted the individual threads that make up the fabrics, the individual hairs that make up the fir trim on one of the figure's clothes, etc. All three boys kept asking me to lift them up so they could see up close how realistic the tears of the woman on the left are.
|Detail of the tears of the weeping woman in The Descent from the Cross|
Jonah and Oscar were so impressed that they said that Van der Weyden was an even better artist than Davin.
When Davin got back from Barcelona in the afternoon, his brother left him with me at the Prado and took the kids to his apartment so Davin and I could look around the museum for a few hours on our own. It was wonderful.
Madrid, by the way, has lots of great art outside its museums as well. We saw some really cool public art, like these giant baby heads:
|Awake Baby Head|
|Asleep Baby Head|
We all went to an amusement park called Parque de Atracciones de Madrid on Saturday. Jonah, Oscar, and Sergio had never been anywhere like it. I don't think they even realized such places existed.
Oscar and Cecilia are both super brave and were bonkers about the thrill rides, especially the scary roller coasters. The photo below shows Oscar on "Star Flyer." His is the smallest pair of dangling legs. He's 25 stories high and traveling at 45 kpm:
Monica, Jonah, and Sergio preferred the tamer rides.
|Davin with Sergio and Jonah on something a little less horrifying.|
Monday night--our last night in Madrid--Davin and Sergio (the grown-up, not the 2-year-old) made paella, a national dish of Spain, for supper. It was a really nice way to finish up our trip.
|Sergio and Davin's Paella with Chicken and Seafood|
We had such a great time, and Madrid was so wonderful. The first couple days back in Norway were a little difficult because we'd gotten spoiled with all that Spanish sun, and Bergen felt darker and rainier than ever. But it snowed yesterday, so that helped--it was a lot less wet and lot brighter. And the kids were super excited to play in the snow. Also, Bergen sets up "The World's Largest Gingerbread Village" every year in the City Center and it's open now, so that's also very cheerful.