A Very Spanish Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving in Spain was, on all accounts, a complete success.  Truth is, I had my doubts, but somehow it all came together and I am pretty sure I celebrated one of my most memorable Thanksgivings…ever?

It started off with a small celebration at my school.  An important part of my job here is not only helping the kiddos learn the English language, but teaching them important aspects of the American culture as well.  Hence, we spent the week making turkey hands, learning the story of the first Thanksgiving, and arguing about whether or not a pie made from pumpkin can ACTUALLY be delicious.  Alas, they are still not convinced. :/

My co-worker Carolyn and I spent the day making treats which, by some miracle, actually turned out decently.  Looking back, I have to say it was quite funny to see us stumped over the conversions between Fahrenheit and Celsius, cups to milliliters, and so on.  In the end we just started eye ballin’ it and were thankful our food ended up being edible.

My favorite Thanksgiving celebration arrived in true Spanish fashion….late. I went with a couple of friends from Malaga to celebrate with a friend (Caitlin) in Almuñecar, a town about an hour away by car.  There, we met up with some of Caitlin’s friends and co-workers and proceeded to celebrate one of the coolest Thanksgivings I’ve ever experienced.  Allow me to highlight some of the main differences between an American Thanksgiving and a Spanish one:

We celebrated on Friday instead of Thursday.

We feasted at the “Spanish hour”… 10 PM!

The turkey was uh…fresh.  As in it needed to be PLUCKED.  True story.  (Thanks Caitlin!)

Not one person in the room was related, in fact, half were complete strangers.

Dinner conversation was in Spanish, not English.

The combined price of the 10+ bottles of delicious Spanish wine we drank was probably still cheaper than the cost of 1 of these bottles in the USA.

Nobody knew how to carve a turkey.

In all seriousness, it was a fabulous celebration and it reminded me that while traditionally this holiday does center around family, that term doesn’t always have to mean the people who you share a blood line with.  Sometimes, when your family is what seems like a million miles away, other people (even strangers!) can step in and fill the void.  ❤

In other news, I am leaving for MOROCCO in 2 days!  I will be spending 6 days touring Fez, Rabat, and the Sahara Desert.  “Excited” doesn’t even begin to describe the way I am feeling right now. Expect a full report upon my return!

 

Nerja

On Sunday my Friend Amy and I hopped on a bus to Nerja, another coastal town about 56 kilometers east of Malaga.  Sunday is basically the worst day to travel anywhere in Spain since just about everything is closed, but luckily (?) there isn’t much to see in Nerja and we wanted the chance to do something different for the day so we went for it.

It seems to me Nerja is much more lively during the summer.  The beaches in Nerja are beautiful, and for such a small town, I was quite surprised by the number of hostels I saw…there was probably one on every block!  I imagine that during July and August these hostels are brimming with young travellers making their rounds up the Costa del Sol…is it bad that I already miss summer?

If you come to Nerja during the off-season, there are basically three things for you to enjoy; La Cueva de Nerja, eating, and el Balcón de Europa.  Of course, like the good tourists we are, we did just that.

First, La Cueva de Nerja.  About 3 km north of the city center lies the ancient (we’re talking 5 million years old) cave of Nerja.  While the cave is quite impressive, I am not sure it was worth the €8.50 admission fee…my roundtrip bus fare didn’t even cost that much!  Since flash photography is not allowed inside the cave, here are some of the best photos I could capture:

After the cave we found a cheap spot for lunch and then rounded out our trip with a visit to el Balcón de Europa- a popular lookout point and perhaps the city’s second most popular tourist attraction.

Followed by a siesta on the bus we were home by about 6 pm which left us plenty of time to gear up for the week of teaching ahead.  I can’t believe Thanksgiving is only 2 days away!  So far the kids both in school and my private lessons seem a little confused by the holiday…I am going to do my best to sell them on the idea of pumpkin pie, although I don’t think it’s going to work.  While the thought of missing out on turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing this year is a bit depressing, I still have so much to be thankful for.   Most importantly, I am thankful for my support network- my family, my boyfriend, and my friends.  These people have helped me in more ways than I could ever imagine and I don’t know where I would be without them.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Oh, and can someone please eat approximately 5 bowls of mashed potatoes and cold pumpkin pie for breakfast in my honor?  🙂

48 Hours in Malaga

Last weekend my best friend’s sister, Alissa,  and her flat mate, Karrie, came to visit me.  They are both going to vet school right now in Scotland and since neither of them had been to Spain or mainland Europe before it was the perfect opportunity for a weekend getaway!

Even though we were crunched on time, I made it my duty to show the girls as much of Malaga and Spanish culture as I could.  Basically this means we did a LOT of eating. 😉

If you are ever travelling through Spain and only have 48 hours to spend in one city…Malaga would be a perfect choice!  Here’s what our itinerary looked like:

Friday:

Friends arrive at 3pm.

Catching up and conversation over a long, leisurely lunch

Watch the sunset from my rooftop

Tapas y vino at Pepa y Pepe

I wanted the girls to try a lot of typical Spanish tapas, so we ordered a little bit of everything.  Tortilla Española, patatas bravas, albóndigas, calamares, croquettas, champiñones…the list goes on.

(PS:  pay attention to the sign…it’s hilarious)

 

 

Saturday:

Typical Spanish breakfast of churros con chocolate

Visit to El Mercado de Atarazanas

I don’t know what it is, but I LOVE food markets.  They are so interesting to me, I love to just walk around, people watch, and talk to the vendors!

Visit to El Museo de Picasso

Did you know Picasso was born in Malaga?  It is perhaps this city’s biggest claim to fame.  I am, however, largely disappointed by the museum here.  There is also a Picasso museum in Barcelona, where the painter spent much of his life, and in my opinion it is much better.  Still, the museum in Malaga seems like a “must-see”, so of course, we paid our respects.

Visit to La Casa Natal de Picasso (the house Picasso was born in!)

Thankfully this is free for students (otherwise I think it costs somewhere around 1 euro), because it is also quite disappointing and unimpressive. Meh…

Visit to La Plaza de Toros

It’s no secret that the Spanish love their bullfights!  The girls wanted to see what the inside of a Spanish bullring looked like so I took them to the Plaza de Toros and told them everything I knew about bullfights!  I’m no expert but I did attend one in Madrid two years ago…glad I crossed it off my list because I have no desire to ever see one again.

Paella lunch

Siesta on the beach in La Malagueta

Tapas y sangria at La Taberna Restaurante Dos Gatos


Clubbing until 5 am….

Sunday:

Climb to the top of one of Malaga’s most famous look out points

12 pm: friends leave.

In all it was a fabulous weekend!  I loved playing tour guide, and being able to see a familiar face was just what the doctor ordered.  I can’t wait for my turn when I get to visit Alissa and Karrie in Scotland!