My lovely family and I spent eight whole days together. Leave it to three months away to make you welcome a family visit. After all, running around Europe is fun, but nothing rivals time spent with family.
I am far from calling myself an expert, but I do know a little about Madrid, and I loved sharing. I kept my mom, dad and brother Andrew busy. When I wasn’t dragging them along to meals and activities, my dad took over to fill the schedule.
When they arrived on Saturday, I took them for a familiar American brunch at Carmencita Bar, where my mom and I enjoyed eggs bennedict, my dad French toast and eggs and Andrew, never one for brunch, a hamburger. I was a bit embarrassed to not have found something more Spanish for the first meal, but I miss breakfast food in Madrid, so I easily reconciled the choice.
Carmencita BarCalle de San Vincente Ferrer, 51 28015 Madrid, Spain
The next day we headed to Valencia, Spain. We saw the special Sunday market, the cathedral and a traditional dance festival. Then, of course, we ate paella for lunch.
We returned Monday and stayed in Madrid until Thursday. I brought my mom, an academic at heart, to university with me and to volunteer with me and the family visited the Prado, Reina Sofia and el Palacio Royal while I was in class.
We also fit in a flamenco show and lunch at my wonderful hosts’ home. They served a Spanish meal with some of my favorites, including salmorejo, paella and Spanish wine, making sure each food item came right from Spain.
Unfortunately, the Christmas lights in Madrid turned on the weekend of December 1, and my family left that Friday morning. Luckily, we happened to be in Plaza Mayor one evening when the lights illuminated the street for only a moment, just long enough for them to witness the magnificence. I’ve been enthusiastic about Christmas light tours my entire life, so yes, magnificent.
We ended our time together in Paris. We went to the top of the Eiffel Tower, visited Notre Dame and ate delicious food, including crepes on the street and Café Constant. While my parents viewed the art museums, Andrew and I headed to Disneyland. We are Disney fanatics, so we could not wait. With a giant tree, decorations all along Main Street and a special Christmas parade, we loved it all. We found the rides similar to those in Disney World in Florida. The big difference was the weather, since Paris was cold and Florida rarely is. Regardless, we loved it.
My mom, dad and Andrew left for Minnesota from Paris Sunday morning, and I flew back to Madrid. I loved (almost) every minute of our time together. It wasn’t too sad to say goodbye, knowing I would be home in 19 days!
Oh, one more thing: my dad ate the largest paella portion, I ate middle one and my mom ate the little part.