Surf’s Up!

This is yet another post I drafted weeks ago. Busy days continue.  Not sure if I mentioned it in an earlier post, but Lilly has started practicing with the only lacrosse team in all of Cataluña, the Barcelona Dracs.  She is the youngest player out there but totally crushing it in practice.  Most of the women are bilingual, native Spanish speakers.  David and I are both so proud of her for just jumping in to join the team when she doesn’t speak the language, knows absolutely no-one and is so young.  Most of the girls learned the game while studying in the United States, fell in love with the sport and came back to a country that doesn’t even know lacrosse!  We have been told that basically every woman in the area who plays is on the field with this team…all 16 of them.  Several girls have never even picked up a stick and are trying it for the first time.  It’s amazing to see their energy and enthusiasm.  We take the metro to the field they share with the men’s team twice a week.  On Tuesdays practice runs until after 10:30 pm when the women, without Lilly, head to grab a beer. *November update – sports practices are cancelled, bugger.

Lilly leads the way as we go to practice – soon she’ll be able to ride by herself.

Kids are doing great with our crazy, unpredictable schedule.  We know that if we want to travel we need to double up on schoolwork some days.  This means Cameron and I spend extra time side by side working through math and grammar, among other subjects.  We have fun linking together the topics of world history with landmarks here and in France.  I think his exposure to architecture, world history, art and geography are proving rewarding and interesting.  Maybe more so for me… but Cameron seems rather engaged. We’ve also watched movies and travel shows set in cities we’ve visited – cracks us all up to see so much look familiar on the tv.

September 17 – 20:

We made good on a promise to get Cameron his first surfing lesson – in San Sebastian. Man, I had not been there since college and it was so much better to explore and dine when you aren’t a broke college student.  Cameron had the good fortune of an awesome instructor, Borja, who gave Cameron a few minutes of pointers on the beach and within 15 minutes they were in the water.  Cameron caught the first wave and was up like a champ.  It was amazing!!!! We sat on shore watching two dudes chatting and reading waves.  To see Cam have such success so quickly was an added bonus.  I don’t think Cameron stopped smiling for hours.  He did such a great job and had so much fun we got him another lesson the next day.  As luck would have it, they had slightly bigger waves that were just right for Cameron to try.  Sitting on the beach I knew Cameron was completely safe out there; Borja was always nearby, coaching him on which waves to take and which to pass on.  It was another great morning.

As tends to be the case, we then wandered the town and hit up a few local shops and restaurants.  San Sebastian is known for their pintxos

and the world-renowned food scene did not disappoint.  We didn’t book any fancy pants spots or Michelin starred establishments but rather stuck to the tried and true pintxos bars where we would pop in, grab a few bites from the bar, enjoy a glass of local txakoli

and then would move on.  One night we let the kids have pizza in the room while we barhopped (think spaced tables, no one actually at the counters, and mostly snacking outside).  It gave us the chance to sample some local delicacies and catch up.  David continues to work on our excursions so we hit the town after his workday is done after about 10:00/10:30.

We left San Sebastian behind and headed up the coast of the Bay of Biscay to enjoy lunch in the sweet little town of Saint-Jean-de-Luz.  Rick Steves, my favorite guidebook author, told us about free parking and it was right where he promised.  Found one of many restaurant-lined streets, plopped down and lunched.  Wandering the town for a few minutes after lunch was nice, but the rain rolled in so we took our leave.  Next stop: Biarritz, France.

I understand why the rich and famous like to vacation there – it is absolutely stunning.  Our hotel was centrally located so we dropped our bags, grabbed the map and walked the striking promenade for a long time.  Cameron gleefully watched the hundreds of surfers braving the much bigger waves, explaining which waves were good and which would break short.  He’s hooked.  It was breezy and a bit chilly and rain was sputtering, but it didn’t dampen our spirits or our drive to be outside and watch the waves crash into the shore.  The old town offered more shops, food, drink and shelter from the now pouring rain.  Sampling the local craft brews under a portico where we could watch the world pass by was a treat.  The hotel suggested a nice little spot for dinner.  The place was buzzing, and a couple of small birthday celebrations at neighboring tables told me this was a place for locals.  We took our lead from the owner who picked the perfect meal, including some tasty squid that the kids surprisingly liked.  *note:  I just read this to Lilly and her quote about the squid was that she “more or less tolerated it!” Another full day was behind us and our beds were calling.  We had another “family” room where our bed and the pullout for the kids were side by side with almost no room to squeeze over to the bathroom. Chatting is easy when you’re inches apart as we fall asleep and reminisce about our day’s adventures.  My brother, Quinn, can probably recall all the silliness and laughter we shared as a family on our European adventures in our tight quarters.  We would have been close to the same ages as Lilly and Cameron on one such memorable trip! 

OK. So that brings us up to around September 21. I know, I know. I’m on it.

*Covid update from Barcelona (as I type this on November 9): restaurants have been closed for in-person service for a little over 2 weeks. They are allowed to offer take-out and delivery. Shops are restricted to lower numbers but still open. Malls are closed (doesn’t matter to us). Sports teams cancelled for now – no tennis lessons or lacrosse. This one stings. We were traveling for the first couple weeks of the restrictions in Italy (another post coming when I get to it) so we were not too affected. Now that we are back we still do our wandering and shopping and takeout. On the plus side, I have more time to get these posts done.

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