We may be almost three weeks into 2018, but I'm not going to let that stop me from doing a little round up of some top highlights from last year, with a little peek into this upcoming year tacked onto the end, too. Aside from the very first few days of 2017, which we spent in Colorado due to my brother's wedding, we spent the entire year abroad, mostly based out of Madrid, Spain. During the school year, we taught English at Spanish Catholic schools, and during the summer, we taught English at a summer camp in Istanbul, Turkey.
Last week we celebrated our third Thanksgiving in Spain, which sounds crazy and like we've been here for a really long time, but actually, it hasn't even been two full years yet. I got out my journal and decided to do an official count - we actually just passed the year and a half mark last month (a few days before Thanksgiving in fact). Like it is with so many American expats worldwide, we went about our normal life on Thanksgiving. It did so happen that neither of us had a class first hour, though, so we made muffins, but we probably would have done that regardless of the holiday. After school, we made dinner and cleaned up quickly because, as we do every Thursday evening, we had Spanish at 7pm. After our lesson (which takes place at our kitchen table), we Skyped with both our families, and then got off to bed, because on Fridays Danny has an early teachers class where he usually has to leave for school around 7:30am.
Near the end of our time in Turkey this past summer, Danny and I took a long weekend to visit Pamukkale (which I recently blogged about here) and Ephesus. We spent mid-day Friday through mid-day Saturday in Pamukkale, and then drove the roughly three hours it takes to get to Selçuk, the modern-day town near where the ancient ruins of Ephesus are located. Our drive was fairly uneventful, but still peppered with enough assertive drivers and literal roadside fruit and veggie stands to keep us both on our toes and remind us that we were still in Turkey! ;)
Nothing ever goes exactly as planned in life, does it? Nobody's perfect, and the same is true for life. Travel is no exception - plans must change at times, people you meet and travel with won't be perfect, and because you're in new environments and places, extra doses of flexibility, kindness, and the ability to choose laughter over anger are helpful.
So we spent two months this past summer in Turkey (end of June through end of August). Let me enlighten you if you missed me mention it 39 times over the past six months - we spent our weekdays working at an English summer camp in Istanbul, and our weekends exploring the city. Two of those weekends, though, we planned ahead and went a bit further afield - in July we went to Cappadocia, and in August we went to Pamukkale and Ephesus.
Well it's that time again. We're in our third apartment in three school years and so for anyone who may still be interested, I think this one may just be the best yet (the photos are some of the worst, but try to see past the lighting situation we're dealing with here). Our place was about as clean as it's ever been yesterday morning (we'd hosted people the night before) so I seized the moment and the wee bits of morning light we get to snap these pictures.
My parents came to visit us in Spain this past summer (all about their time with us in Madrid here!), and like I mentioned earlier this week, spending nine straight days in the city just felt like a bit too much. About a year ago Danny and I spent one of our extended weekends off of school in the south checking out a couple places that are kind of "must-sees" in Spain (Granada and Córdoba), as well as a few others (Ronda and Setenil de las Bodegas) that seemed interesting. While in Ronda, we decided we really liked it (our first trip here!), as well as the place we stayed at while in Ronda and after spending weeks (okay, months) this past spring tossing around where to go and what to do with my parents, we finally decided on my first thought - an extended stay at Finca la Guzmana just outside of Ronda with a few day trips from there.
Last Christmas break we went back to the U.S. for my brother's wedding, and at the end of our trip, my parents told us that they intended to come visit us in Madrid, so as soon as Danny and I decided on the best time for them to visit, they said, they would start planning their trip. They booked their flights not long after the initial conversation, and after that point, it was like we were on a countdown - see you in three months...two months...six weeks...etc - June 17th couldn't come soon enough (see, I can still remember the date!).