A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about christmas

A Very Different Christmas

by Ben

semi-overcast 17 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

This was not the Christmas morning we were expecting. Muriel was getting up to catch a plane back home to Victoria to be reunited with family to mourn the passing of her Dad.

Again, it may sound odd from the outside looking in, but we were happy in a way that due to lack of flights we had our Christmas Eve together. It really brought a lot of comfort and a measure of peace . We placed stockings on the kids beds (actually laundry bags filled with treats etc--they were clean laundry bags!) before we woke them up. We shared an hour together before I took Muriel to the airport. Muriel's flight left on time and hopefully she will be in Victoria at 8:30 pm on Christmas Day.

A new reality has also emerged. Due to our location and the holiday season and other logistics we cannot get back home for several days. Muriel, her Mom and I have been talking about this since we first heard the news. We are facing at what was at first an unthinkable decision of not coming home. Mom said from the beginning that she didn't want the grandkids spending Christmas in the middle of the turmoil. She wants them to remember Grandpa in a happier and healthier environment. There is little to be gained in comfort and closure by moving heaven and earth to find a way home. She asked that we stay put. An additional time of remembering for grandpa can be held when the time is truly right. Muriel says the silver lining is that she can be totally devoted to her Mom and and stay with her over the next few weeks and work things through. There is no real handbook for such situations. After much talk that has fully involved the girls we are honoring Mom's request and accepting the reality of the formidable barriers to getting home and will remain in Europe. Muriel will stay in Victoria for as long as necessary and rejoin us at some point. It really sounds surreal when I put it in print but it seems the best decision for us.

45 to 49 Barcelona 234

45 to 49 Barcelona 234

When I got home from the airport I couldn't believe what was in store. The kids who did all the grocery shopping yesterday, knowing there was no prospect of us getting out of Barcelona in the next two days, had prepared hors d'oeuvres including croquettes and other Spanish takes on such snacks. There was some champagne as well. We then went for a walk along the beach-it was a comfortable temperature but a bit hazy. We had the beach mostly to ourselves--I think most of the population was feasting with family. It was a very pleasant time.

45 to 49 Barcelona 226

45 to 49 Barcelona 226

In the days leading up to Christmas Muriel had sourced supplies for baking shortbread and making chocolate mint bark with pistachoes. The girls wasted no time and started baking. They did their own twist on the shortbread by dipping them halfway into melted chocolate. We had plenty of sweets to accompany Christmas dinner.

Hannah then announced she was going to single-handedly make Christmas dinner. She had bought some very nice steaks and prepared them perfectly along with roasted small potatoes, green beans with almonds and a whole whack of delicious homemade stuffing (with bacon and onions-my fav).

All these ingredients along with the kid's attitudes will make this a Christmas dinner I will never forget.

Right after dinner we had a group Skype call with my Dad, Sister, Brother and my brother's family. It was one of the nicest calls I think I have experienced. There was some real warm words of comfort and support and some good laughter and sharing. It was made a bit awkward by the contant loss of connection and quality problems but when half the world Skypes at Christmas and they don't have to pay to not only hear but see each other from half way around the world who can complain. Thanks family for making the call possible.

In the evening, for a little bit of nostalgia we watched the movie Polar Express. It was a nice pleasant escape and brought the atmosphere of winter into the apartment which helped it feel more like Christmas. Just before we went to bed I read the Christmas story. It was an appropriate end to a day that we made the best of. It looks like we are all going to be okay.

Posted by KZFamily 13:33 Archived in Spain Tagged barcelona christmas Comments (4)

Barcelona Sunday

By Ben

sunny 18 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Barcelona: Gaudi Style

Barcelona: Gaudi Style

I had discovered in a web search that there was an International Church of Barcelona (ICB) that represented over 25 nationalities that held services in English. We thought it would be great to give it a go. We hopped the local metro (have we said how much we love subway systems) and within a half an hour were halfway across the city walking along warm sunlit streets. We still are no sold on Barcelona as it is dirtier and seedier than Valencia but the wide boulevards are nice.

ICB has a service at 10:00 am and a duplicate service at 12:00 pm. When we arrived in the foyer, the din was incredible with all the people milling about and talking. Much like our experience in Morocco the vast majority of people attending were from Africa. The pastor and his wife are from California and have been in Barcelona for 10 years and have been elsewhere in Europe for another 10. There were somewhere between 100 and 150 people at the service with visitors from the UK, Holland, USA and Canada in the mix. There were many Spanish speaking people there and they were the ones wearing the headphones to hear the English being translated to Spanish which was a bit of mind bender for us.

It was pretty much a Christmas service, which is what we were hoping for. All the young kids came up and sang and as a group we sang quire a few Christmas carols. The sermon was very interesting in that it compared Christ life to that of immigrants and refugees. Ninety percent of this church are immigrants and refugees who are starting from nothing. It is a community that is helping each other make a new start in a foreign land with no resources.

Barcelona: Catalan Christmas Logs

Barcelona: Catalan Christmas Logs

After the service a visitor from the UK asked us where we were from in Canada. He was quite excited when he heard we were from Victoria as he had visited relatives in Vancouver on several occassions. He had immigrated to the UK from Ghana 30 years ago and his daughter immigrated to Spain several years ago so he gets around. We had quite a good time comparing cultural experiences and observations (including North American addition to conveniences and very large portions). In no time Emmanuel and his wife gave us their name and telephone number in London and told us to call them for lunch when we got to their neck of the woods. It was nice to talk to several English speaking people and be part of a community for at least a short time.

After church we went to walk La Rambla, Barcelona's premier shopping and walking street. It seemed the whole city was out to do the same thing. There were many trinket stalls set up and a generous amount of stalls selling Christmas decorations and Catalan fire logs. We ended up buying a Poinsettia to add some more Christmas cheer to our apartment and picked up wrapping paper and a few other stocking stuffers on the way. Our biggest challenge was finding a store that sold cellophane tape. We took in a few more of Gaudi's creations during our walk and then headed underground to take the metro back. When we popped up again the streets were dark and we walked home quite contented with our day out.

Barcelona: Christmas Elves

Barcelona: Christmas Elves

In the evening we had a tree decorating party with hot chocolate and gave the kids Santa hats that we had secretly picked up in Portugal. I also gave the kids the three wisemen figurines to hide in the apartment (who knows where they will appear--freezer, inside coffee maker etc). We had the Christmas tunes going as well so all was great in the world as we took turns wrapping presents. We wound down with a little online television and went to bed well past our bedtime.

Posted by KZFamily 08:22 Archived in Spain Tagged barcelona christmas Comments (3)

(Entries 1 - 2 of 2) Page [1]