Saturday, December 3, 2011


We just got back from Madrid, Spain a few days ago.  We traveled there to spend Thanksgiving with Davin's brother, Sergio, and his family.  We went from Bergen to Frankfurt, Germany, had a 6-hour layover in Frankfurt, then flew to Madrid.  Sergio met us at the airport.  We took a couple of subways to reach his apartment, then got to bed around 1:30am, totally exhausted.

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.
The next day was Thanksgiving, but Davin had a conference in Barcelona, so we postponed celebrating it until he was back.  Instead, we went with Uncle Sergio to the Madrid Zoo.  There we watched a seal show, a raptor show, a dolphin show, and a birds of paradise show.  We also saw some really, really cute twin panda cubs.  

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)
On Friday, I took the kids to the Prado, one of the world's great art museums.  Before we left for Spain, we researched some of the pieces we'd be able to see at the Prado and talked with the kids about them, so they were really looking forward to seeing the works in person.  They showed an especially keen interest in gory paintings, like Francisco Goya's Saturn Devouring his Child, which both repulsed and fascinated them (it does the same for me, actually--Goya, after apparently losing his mind, painted this picture directly onto the wall in his dining room).  It's super gross so I won't put an image of it here, but you can click on the link (above) if you want to see and learn about it.

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
On Friday evening we had our Thanksgiving celebration.  Mary prepared the dinner pretty much single-handedly.  She did a fantastic job.  And it was so good to be with them for the holiday.

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.
On Sunday morning, we all went to a children's mass, and afterward, to a puppet show in Retiro Park.  Retiro Park is a huge public park with tons of activity and lots and lots of play areas.  The boys and their cousins played in at least half a dozen of them.  Then we went to the movies and saw Puss in Boots.  The kids loved the film, and I was surprised by how much I liked it, too.

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.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Carrie and gang,
    Just wanted to let you know that I'm really enjoying reading your blog (Ava and I just read the Spain post together). The pics are great, and it's fun to enjoy your adventure vicariously! Thanks for making the time to share.