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!).
This past Monday we started school, which means that, for us, summer is over. We're also feeling fall in the weather here in Madrid - it's been in the 50's when we wake up and my choice of skirts and dresses everyday so far this week has seemed a bit unwise until late afternoon hits. As we talk to friends and new coworkers about our summer and relay a similar story each time, I get a chance to think a bit about the past three months - what went well, what didn't, and even, what I learned.
The past four months, while they may have started out in a fairly ordinary manner, certainly didn't continue that way for long. In May we carried on teaching at our respective schools but saw classes very rapidly take a more...relaxed turn, shall we say? In many ways the last two months (ever since returning from Semana Santa/Spring Break) in the middle of April felt kind of like we were on the downhill, especially since just nine days after our 11-day break, we had a four day weekend. Kids and teachers alike took cues from the weather and started checking out a bit.
Making: plans for the rest of the summer before school starts - it'll be here before we know it - but before then we have some exciting things coming up!
Cooking: honestly, absolutely nothing. Living in a kitchen-less dorm room for two months means we eat every meal at the cafeteria or at a restaurant and while not having to cook sounds fantastic, there are definitely pros and cons.
Reading: sporadically. I've gotten into listening to podcasts while we're out and about in the city, riding buses and metros, which means I've gone from reading a couple books a week to maybe one a month :/
This summer has been unlike any summer I've ever experienced before...more on that later though. It's August which means the start of school for some but for us it means our time here at camp is just halfway over, and we still have seven more weeks till school starts in Spain (don't give us too hard a time - we finished school in mid-June and the students went even longer than us). Most of our weekdays look pretty identical, and just like the reasoning for the posts I did during the school year in Spain (last winter's post here and spring 2016 post here), I want to remember these days: some parts fun, some parts challenging, some parts great, some parts frustrating, some parts just, well, normal and ordinary and little bit boring.
A couple of weeks ago we spent our Saturday off on one of the nine islands near Istanbul, Büyükada. Büyükada is the largest of the islands, is currently home to about 7,000 residents, and cars (aside from service vehicles) are forbidden on the island, so most people get around by foot, by bicycle, or by horse and buggy. Visiting Büyükada had been recommended by friends who've spent time in Istanbul, as well as by blogs and our guidebook, so with some advice from our boss on how to get there without having to take the 7:30am ferry, (there seems to be two incredibly early ferry times leaving Istanbul and then a few much later in the day, like around 5:30pm, so we took a catamaran instead - slightly more expensive but it has a better schedule and takes a shorter route as well) we set off and arrived on the island mid-morning.
I would say that by now most people have found out, whether from us directly or from social media or from word of mouth that we're spending the summer in Istanbul, Turkey. For a variety of reasons, we decided that it was best that we not go far from Madrid until we start school again in mid-September, and after finding that the jobs available to Americans sans European Union citizenship were pretty few and far between, we ended up with the first job we applied to back in January, a summer camp held at a university on the outskirts of Istanbul. We're both working as English teachers every weekday from 8:30am - 2:30pm for (primarily) Turkish kids, all the while living in the university dorms and eating our meals in the university cafeteria.