Saturday, July 27, 2013

Third Time is the Charm - Michelle is Back to Visit!

This is the "year of the visitors" for us and I, for one, couldn't be happier.  First Josh's parents, then Caryn and Urs and now Michelle has been here (and we still have more visitors to come!).  With this being her third visit, it feels more like she's coming home rather than coming to visit.

While we were always busy with things to do, the pressure was off since she's been here before.  That doesn't mean we didn't have adventures though and it doesn't mean that we didn't keep busy.  And the little over a week that she was here absolutely flew by.

I love that when you are with close friends how easy things are.  There is no pressure.  You pick up where you left off and where you left off could have been weeks, months or years ago, but it doesn't matter.  And while talking on the phone is great, there is nothing like seeing each other face to face and spending quality time.

And of course, when Michelle is here, we always have some kind of adventure.  The cool thing, for me at least, is that as the years have gone by, I'm less fearful of what those adventures might be - I'm ready to face them head on.  I remember her first visit 3 years ago.  We had never rented a car here (we'd lived here 6 months) and I just had no idea how to do it.  Seriously.  Did not know how to rent a car.  I know, I'm an idiot.  It's not that complicated.  But having her here pushed me to go outside my comfort zone and not only did we rent a car, but we drove to France, something that has now become old hat.

So while our adventures didn't include any fear inducing car rentals ;) we still had a great time!  Our first few days were totally low key and mellow with Michelle recuperating from a whirlwind trip to Rome and Munich before coming to Barcelona.  And on my end, I was semi stuck around home because of a leaking hot water heater (which eventually became more of a river of water instead of a little leak).  But once fixed, we hit the ground running.

Speaking of hitting the ground running, one of the things we did that I really loved was work out together.  It was a challenge getting her set up with a membership for just a week but we did it - and now at least I know how to do it when my mom comes this fall.  She got to meet a bunch (though not all) of my friends at the gym and it was fun having someone to compete with - motivating in fact.

Before coming to Barcelona, Michelle and I had talked about a get away trip just the two of us for a day or two.  However, I will admit, I'd been in a bit of a funk and wasn't super motivated to organize anything before her visit.  So I felt bad that we were kind of scrambling to find something to do but in the end, it was Josh who came up with the winning idea.  Andorra.

Now Andorra isn't top on my list usually for places to visit.  Unless you are going to be focused on outdoor activities in the mountains, it's not really a place to just go explore.  Not like going to Prague or Granada or San Sebastian for instance.  However, Josh reminded me of the awesome spa he and I had gone to a few years ago for our anniversary.  And we were sold.  Who says that we had to go explore a new city to get away for a few days?  Why not go and spa for 2 days instead?  So I looked up the hotel on and booked us a room for Friday, just 2 days away.  The next day we booked our spa selection.

After dropping off the kids on Friday morning we headed up to Andorra.  Now the temps have been in the upper 80s here (I know, nothing like home so no, I'm not complaining, just stating a fact) so it was soooo nice to drive just 2 1/2 hours north into the mountains and find temps barely at 70.  It was fresh and clean and so incredibly green this time of year.  Not to mention super cheap compared to the peak season!

Ahhhh spaaaa!!  It doesn't get much better than spa time with your best friend.  Just total relaxation and pampering and lots of catching up.  It felt like a week rather than just 2 days and we were sad to leave on Saturday to head back to the heat of Barcelona.  And while the rain slowed our journey down just a little bit, it was a time that was well worth it.
View from our room - you can't see it but behind the first row of trees there is a small river rushing by.

Another view from our room

Our balcony overlooking the mountain

This is pretty much the town... yup, it's small...

Our hotel, the size is deceiving as the rooms go down in the back along the mountain so only the top floor is visible on this side.

We debated taking Michelle to France for the day on Sunday or perhaps up to Cadaques in Costa Brava, a destination we still have not made it to.  But after almost 3 hours of driving the day before, I really wasn't in the mood to head back in the same direction again for even more car time.  We decided on the beach, or so I thought... Aidan decided that we would not be going to the beach but instead to go zip lining.  And so off we went on another adventure to Jalpi Adventura.

Now, I know this seems wimpy but in a way this was our big adventure.  Neither Michelle nor I are fans of heights.  And I admire her for taking the bull by the horns and climbing right up with Aidan and Josh.  I, initially, opted to "help" Liam out, who for this time didn't need as much of my help as before - apparently all that fine motor skills tutoring is paying off!  So after Liam finished his course, Aidan asked me to do it.  I'll admit, I balked and tried to find an excuse not to do it... but in the end I did.  And I'm glad that I conquered that fear.  I also managed to fall as I finished my last zip to the net, falling off the net with less than a foot to go, yes, barely one foot from the ground.  Pathetic I know :)

This is sooooo not fun....

Monkeys in the trees

He makes this look so easy

I love zip lining!!

Here's Michelle!!

Michelle about to get to the rock wall while Josh just climbed it

Josh doing the course

Conquering the rope wall

What I thought would be the hardest part of the course was actually one of the easier ones...


At this point almost a week had gone by and Michelle and I had yet to hit a beach.  On Monday we rectified this with a trip to Gavà, a beach town just outside the city that we had actually never been to. And it was a great beach, slightly reminiscent of our beaches at home - not over crowded, little to no amenities and significantly better sand than the Barcelona beaches (though still not as nice as you get further out from the city).  Parking was easy and free and this will definitely be a beach we try again when the kids and I get back from the US.  We capped off the day with a great dinner out with Josh at Boca Grande, a restaurant he had been raving about but I had yet to join him at.

Peaceful beach in Gavà

Tuesday was our last full day and we hit the gym and then we were off to Sitges, one of Michelle's favorite places.  I was only able to stay a few hours since I had to get back to get Liam to an appointment but she spent the whole day and got quite a bit of shopping in too!  We had dinner at Da Greco with some of my friends - I love that she was able to meet more of my friends before she left. And the fact that she remembered Da Greco was impressive too since it had been 2 years since the last time she was here.

Wednesday sadly, I had to say goodbye for now.  The good news is that I'll be home next week and we'll catch up on American soil.  It made the departure a little easier for me knowing that I will see her in the immediate future.  But like everyone who visits, I hope she knows how much it meant to us that she came to see us again and how much I'm looking forward to the next visit :)


PS - we were terrible picture takers this week...

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