Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Año Nuevo Resolutions

from Meghann:

Since Nochevieja (New Year's Eve) and Dia de los Reyes Magos (Three Kings Day) have passed, it's officially the end of the holiday season and time to think about the year ahead.

Our time in España is halfway* through (it breaks my corazón to even type that). We've been here a year and a half and according to Graham's orders, have about that much time left. So instead of the usual new year resolutions (eat better, be healthier, read more - those are all good ones) I thought I'd list things to do (I do love a list) before we leave.

Not necessarily places to go (that list could go on forever, since there's pretty much nowhere that I wouldn't want to see at least once) but experiences, specifically Spanish ones. As much as we love to travel to other countries, we really want to soak in and appreciate the place that we are lucky enough to live in right now. Being here for 3 years is such a privilege and an opportunity, but sometimes it's easy to think that we'll have plenty of time to do things later - next month, next year. Sometimes it seems like we just got here... The reality is, this is, as far as we know*, our last full year.

See Spanish snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains, outside of Granada. We've seen the white-capped mountains from the Alhambra, but we want to actually visit.

Go to a soccer game futbol match. The excitement of following Spain through the Euro Championship this summer was amazing and futbol here is such a big deal. We probably won't make it to see Real Madrid (or that other big club), but would love to cheer on a local team, like Sevilla's Real Betis.

Party it up at Carnaval (Spanish Mardi Gras) in Cádiz. It's supposed to be the biggest and best Carnaval celebration in the country and it's coming up in February! Time to get our costumes together and make this happen, no excuses since it's so close.

Learn how to make paella and tortilla - two very typical and delicious Spanish dishes. This is mostly my resolution (and I have plans on Friday with an amiga to learn to make a tortilla - a typical Spanish omelette) but Graham will obviously benefit.

Spend a night in Ronda. It's one of our favorite towns and we've been many times (great place to take visitors) but we've never done an overnight. I want to see that lovely bridge all lit up...

Taste more sherry. We love the dry sherries produced in this area, like the manzanilla and fino that we had on Christmas Eve. But I've only been to one sherry bodega (winery) and Graham hasn't been to any, even though they are all around.

Hike in Grazalema and/or Zahara. These areas are known for their beautiful landscapes and in the spring they should be decked out in wildflowers.

Wine tasting in La Rioja. Obviously, we've had a glass or 1000 of Rioja since living in Spain (it is so cheap here it's ridiculous) but there's nothing like visiting the source.

Go all out for feria season. Last spring it rained a bunch and we were traveling for part of it, so we missed a lot of the biggest town festivals of the year (although we did see a bit of Rota's and Jerez's). This year,  I want to do it up right - get a dress and all the accessories, take dance lessons, then party like a local all night.

Tapas hop in Jerez de la Frontera. We had such an amazing time celebrating New Year's Eve there and every time we go, we love it. This town is full of history, charm, and good places to eat, and it's only 15 minutes away.

Be a tourist in Sevilla. We've been to Sevilla multiple times, mostly passing through while on our way to somewhere else. And of course, we've toured the cathedral. But we really need to dedicate a day or two and really see the city.

Camp on the beach for Noche de San Juan. We stumbled upon this summer solstice celebration last year while taking Chloe for a late walk. Everyone builds bonfires and stays on the beach all night.

Take another cooking class in Vejer. I loved the Moroccan cooking class I did last year and want to go back for a Spanish one. This would be a fun group activity. 

Learn all about olive oil. The olive oil here is the best in the world and a source of Spanish pride (rightfully so). I want to learn about the harvest and production, and luckily, there are tours designed just for that.

Go surfing in one of the little beach towns to the south. Okay, this one is mostly Graham, since he's the resident surfer, but while he would go for the waves, I want to check out the hippie beach vibes that these places are known for.

Participate in one of the unique Spanish festivals. There's the Tomatina (tomato battle), Batalla del Vino (wine battle), and of course, the Fiesta de San Fermin (running of the bulls - of course we would never actually run with the bulls, just watch other idiots people do it). Don't think we'll make it to all, but just one would do.

Go to the famous Jerez horse show. Horses are part of the culture of Andalucía (I even take classical riding lessons once a week) and the Real Escuela del Arte Ecuestre (royal riding school) in Jerez is world-renowned for its horses and training.

Take a million pictures of Puerto and Rota. Admittedly, I already take a metric ton of photos, but I'm more likely to do it when I'm traveling. Sometimes it's a good thing to play tourist a little closer to home (like I did in DC this fall) and I want to be more committed to capturing our daily life here.

So, there you have it, our (some just my own) Spanish resolutions for 2013. It's a lot to see and do, but I hope we can make it happen. I have a feeling our remaining time here will go by in the blink of an eye (the first half certainly did).

What do you think - anything that I should add or any tips from Españoles? Care to share some of your resolutions?

*This is what we call "the Navy asterisk". We never know anything for certain, we just go with what we know right now. Because Graham is in the Navy, anything (and everything) could change and our time here could be shorter or longer. All the more reason to do things now!


  1. I'm desperate to partake in la tomatina someday!!

    1. Hola, Robin! I've heard from people that have gone that La Tomatina is crazy fun, emphasis on the crazy. I think it would be my top choice of random Spanish festivals, but getting doused head-to-toe in cheap wine also has its allure...really hoping I can make it to one of these.

      p.s. Your Prague/Budapest trip looked amazing!

  2. Everything you mentioned sounds amazing, but a TOMATO BATTLE? That definitely sounds the MOST amazing!

    1. Seems like La Tomatina is a popular choice! I really hope we can make it happen!

  3. I did not see "Get Graham a pair of red pants" on this list, but I think it should be if you want to be more like the natives. Also, Tim and I booked a room in Cadiz for the night of the big Carnaval there - we should coordinate if you guys are going the same night! (I can't remember the date, but Graham can get from Tim) - Melinda & Tim

    1. Ha! 2013 might have to be the year of red pants for Graham. If you noticed, I'm already a proud red pants owner and wearer.

      And yes! Let's coordinate for Carnaval! Do you have costumes/masks picked out?


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