The Rain in Spain…

…falls mainly in Bergen. And I got to escape it for a week during this past Christmas season.

My Christmas traveling started in Norway. More specifically, the smallest town I have ever been in: A mountain town two hours northeast of Bergen where the population is around 150 and you can recognize all of your neighbors. Needless to say, this was a very new experience for me, and to be honest, I loved it. I was adopted by a lovely Norwegian family for the weekend preceding Christmas. The time was filled with Christmas songs, baking, and eating! Three of my favorite things! Not so different from Christmastime in the U.S.

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There are some traditions that are quite different though. Most all families eat a dish called pinnekjot or ribbe on Christmas Eve. Norwegians also open their presents on Christmas Eve after Santa delivers them to the house. Here’s a funny thing…in Norway (or at least in the households of the friends I made) Santa knocks on the door on Christmas Eve and delivers the Christmas gifts directly to the children. He often times bears an uncanny resemblance to a relative that mysteriously left the festivities half an hour before. How odd! I only saw Santa at the mall when I was growing up. I guess the Norwegians have more of an “in” with Santa since they’re closer to the North Pole.

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My time in Eksingedalen came to a close as I headed to my next destination for my Christmas Vacation, Barcelona! DSCN1909

I loved Barcelona. I loved that the sun came up at 8:30 instead of 10. I loved the fresh fruit. I loved the olives. I loved the architecture. The Sagrada Familia….it was LITERALLY awe-inspiring.

 DSCN1829 DSCN1889   DSCN1981  What I loved the most was being able to see Steph again. While I do have to say Christmas did not feel like Christmas this year, being able to spend it with a close friend made it much more special. We managed to get ourselves to a midnight mass that neither of us understood (it was in Catalan), and on Christmas day we made our way to Madrid and! made one of our favorite dinners, spaghetti. We even did some Christmas cookie baking to get ourselves in the spirit. DSCN1948    Madrid reminded me a lot of Chicago for some reason. I think it was just because it’s a big city and there were  a ton of people there…something I got NOT used to living in Norway. It was almost overwhelming, the amount of people. Also, the public transportation system in Madrid is pretty robust…also quite intimidating when first gathering your bearings in a new place. Wow, listen to me! Now I’m just a small town girl….(sing it with me!)…living in a lonely world! Took a midnight Renfe going anywhere. (Renfe is one of the big train companies in Spain).

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While in Madrid, we also went to Segovia. Segovia is one of those really old, cool cities that is protected by a wall. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a city that was surrounded by a wall and it was pretty cool to see! So many of the structures in these old cities are just amazing because they didn’t have the equipment back then that we do now and you just sit there thinking, “how did they do this?” I’m sure there’s lots of books in my local library where I can look up early architecture of Spain methods…but until I read up, I’ll just marvel. Especially cool things were the Roman Aqueduct, Segovia Cathedral and Alcazar (castle). Fun fact, Alcazar de Segovia is one of the inspirations for Disney’s Cinderella Castle.

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My last day in Spain was spent in Madrid visiting the palace, eating tapas, drinking sangria and savoring churros and chocolate.DSCN2106DSCN2207

A special thanks to the Mr. and  Mrs. Kornatz for all of the fun things they took us to while we were in Spain together.  Also a very special thanks to Steph for being such a great hostess and having me. I am amazed at how well she has mastered the city of Madrid. DSCN1874

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