Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Perfect Roman Respite: Frascati

You might have assumed that this would be a holiday recap post, since Monday was the final day of the epically long Spanish holiday season, but no! Because Graham and I aren't even finished celebrating Christmas. Although it may seem like we're trying to out-Spanish the Spanish by waiting to open gifts until after Three Kings Day, really it's because it's taken until now for all of our packages to be delivered (with one still unaccounted for, ahh, the mysteries of the military postal system). So, our Christmas will be happening Friday night. Take that, tradition!

In the meantime, let's get back to Rome!
Our first two days in Rome were spent taking in the city to the fullest, since it was Graham's first time there. In exchange for being an enthusiastic second-time tourist, I wanted a day to do something outside of the city and hoped it would involve sipping wine in the countryside. The rest of our group was interested too, so the day also needed to be kid-friendly, which is not something I normally have to take into account, but it turned out there was a perfect solution.

After a bit of internetting, I came across the wine tour at the Old Minardi Farmhouse, which seemed to be just what we were looking for, but unfortunately wasn't open on Saturdays, the day that we had set aside for our excursion out of the city. I figured it was worth a quick email inquiry...and it most definitely was! I received a reply from Dominique, an American who had married into the Minardi family, and she was more than just accommodating, she was enthusiastic! 

On our last full day in Italy, our big group, littles included, headed for the Alban Hills southeast of Rome. Our destination was the small town of Frascati, one of the Castelli Romani, the historic refuge and playground of well to-do Romans for centuries. And now ours for a day!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Hola 2014

And adios 2013. I won't say good riddance, but honestly, I'm not sad to see you go.

 The past year is probably best summed up with these famous words...It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

Truly a year with the highest of highs and lowest of lows. I lived and loved another year of Spain, falling more deeply for its charms, enjoying its lifestyle more than ever before. We indulged in all things la buena vida - food, drink, travel, experiences, quality time with friends, lazy days of leisure. 

But it was also a year of challenges and heartache. We lost two dear family members. Our car was totaled in an accident. Graham was not chosen for an opportunity that we had both pinned our hearts to. And that is just the worst of the bad. Like most people, for every happy snap on instagram or excited update on facebook, there was always more to the story, life behind the scenes. 

So, this year, I'm hoping for a more even keel. It's our last year in Spain and I want to make it count, to focus on life here in El Puerto and to plan for trips throughout the country and Europe. I have no idea what my world will look like this time next year. But for now, I have my lovely life in Spain, a great husband (and two little dogs) to share it with, wonderful friends and family flung far and wide, and a long list of travel dreams. I am grateful and I am optimistic.

I spent New Year's Eve with Graham and several close friends. At midnight, I ate 12 grapes, chased them with cava and kisses. On New Year's Day, we had black-eyed peas and greens. I'm hedging my bets with both Spanish and American traditions for a happy 2014!

And I'm wishing you the same. Besitos and best wishes!