Friday, January 11, 2013

Hola de Madrid!

So we've been in Spain now for 3 days, all of which are blending together with a deficiency of sleep. And I will now bore you with every minute detail that my foggy brain can remember.

We left Michigan on Tuesday afternoon...

The flights went fine, no weather or delays. The final leg was a 7 hour flight from New York to Madrid, which took off around 8pm. Once we got off the ground, I took an ambien and waited for sleep to come.

It did not.
I think I'm immune to it's effects.
And I can't sleep on airplanes, hence the ambien plan.

So when we touched down at 3:00am eastern time, 9:00am Madrid time, I hadn't slept at all, Josh got maybe 30 minutes, and the kids had gotten between 3-4 hours of sleep on the plane.
We were tired.

We found a shuttle van to take us to our hotel, since a cab wasn't going to fit all the luggage. Actually, our hotel room barely fits all the luggage. I think I overpacked.
(side note, moving in the winter is no good. Coats, boots, sweaters, scarves, everything takes up so much space!)

The radio in the shuttle was playing all American pop songs.
Also, I'm not sure I'll ever be brave enough to drive in the city. It's a little crazy-- cars just do what they want, and women wearing high heels while riding mopeds dart in and out of the traffic.

Thankfully, when we got to the hotel our room was ready even though it was quite early. We dropped our things off and walked to a nearby grocery store, grabbed sandwich stuff and had a quick lunch in our room.
Then the family nap commenced, and lasted about 3 hours before we decided that any more sleep would be regretted that night.
After waking up and getting showered, we met briefly with our sponsors who welcomed us with some treats and answered some of our more pressing questions, like how to use a bidet.

Kidding. But there is one in the bathroom. Just in case I want to freshen up.

The hotel is quite nice-- we have a suite, so we don't have to sleep in the same room as the kids. But the kids do have to share a bed, which leads to lots of giggling and hushing from our room to theirs.
It's very modern, has several teeny balconies, and serves the best coffee I've ever had at their breakfast buffet. It's what gets me out of bed in the morning.

Back to our first night-- after our get-together, we headed out to find some food. We were all so hungry that we didn't make it too far. There was a buffet across the street from the hotel which promised some more recognizable food for the kids.
We want to expand their palates, but not while functioning on 3 hours of sleep, ya know?

Josh and I did share a pitcher of sangria though, for our inaugural meal.

We walked around a bit after that-- the streets are alive and kicking at all hours of the day and night. It was around 10pm local time when we decided to try to get a night's rest.
I thought for sure that the limited amount of sleep we all had would ensure a full night of snoozing, but I thought wrong.
Derek was a champ and slept from 10pm til 9am, but the rest of us were up for a couple of hours between 2 and 4 in the morning. We all might have slept longer, but we had a meeting set up at Alex and Derek's new school.

So we dragged out of bed, ate breakfast, and then strolled through the city center to the school. It's almost exactly a mile from the hotel, through twisty narrow streets that open into plazas with statues and fountains. There's no lack of things to see as you walk through the city.

The school meeting went better than we had hoped; the staff was very friendly, though they spoke much less English than I was anticipating. Thankfully, the English-speaking man we've been corresponding with over email was there to help us along. We saw both of the kids' classrooms, were able to discuss Derek's allergies, and got all of our questions answered.

I had been in touch via Facebook with another American military family here whose kids attend the school. They put both Alex and Derek into classrooms with their 2 children to help ease the transition. I think it will help so much for them to know that there is at least one friend in their class who will understand them from the start.
We can't wait to hear them speaking Spanish as the weeks go by!

We arranged for them to start on Monday, which meant we had to rush off to buy their uniforms after leaving the school.
This was not easy.
They are sold at El Cortes Ingles, the big department store chain here. Big, and not cheap. When we finally found the uniform section, there were only a few pieces there, and even those few weren't the right size. So Josh went off to find help, and thankfully Consuela was nice enough to decipher our broken Spanish and pull out all the things we needed from the back room.
She helped the kids try on the clothes, proclaiming Derek to be muy guapo, which let's face it, is totally true. ;)
Alex looked super cute in her skirt.
Josh and I were trying to smile and make polite chit-chat, but were really in a serious state of sticker-shock.
The first tag we saw was on Derek's pants. 47 Euro.

That would be sixty-two dollars. 62.
They don't even look comfortable!

I have to stop feeding him so he doesn't outgrow them for the next year and a half.

I'm going to block it all out and go to my happy place now.

Everything seems to be quite pricey here. I'll be doing a lot of shopping on Amazon, I think.

After all that excitement, we dropped off our purchases and headed to our first menu-del-dia restaurant. At lunchtime, many of the restaurants offer a set-price meal that includes a drink, bread, 2-courses of food, and a desert for a reasonable price. We ordered a bunch of things that we had no idea what they were, and really enjoyed it all! The kids were good sports about trying new things.

That night, Derek again slept like a champ, while Josh, Alex, and I were up until 1 in the morning. I had to pull everyone out of bed around 10:15 because the breakfast buffet closes at 11 and I wanted my coffee. ;)

Today was more relaxed because we didn't have to be anywhere at any particular time. We've hired somone to help us find an apartment, but we aren't meeting with him until Sunday evening, so we couldn't do anything with that.
We did research on cell phone plans, metro passes, and a bunch of other little things, and we explored some more parts of the city. We walked miles and miles and miles.
Our legs are tired.
This evening we went to the Prado, the famous art museum, but it turned out to be a mistake as Derek was just exhausted and whiney. We'll try again sometime.

And that brings you up to date. It's 11:30pm, Derek's sleeping, and the rest of us are not. Hoping it doesn't take quite as long to fall asleep tonight!

I will try to get some pictures on here tomorrow!


Heather and Scott said...

I hope you guys get some rest -- traveling, walking, and spending lots of money are all very exhausting! :) So excited to see pictures and hear more of your adventures! Love you!!

Corie said...

Exciting!! Minus the lack of sleep :)

Jennifer said...

Sounds like you guys are making such progress! Yay! Love hearing all about it! And I promise the jet lag will get better! I always count on one week -- and it would usually take less. Hang in there!! And I can't wait to see where you guys end up living!

Sandy said...

maybe you should add a donation button to your blog =o)

js said...

Drive down to Gibraltar. Madrid driving likely won't seem as crazy.

Anonymous said...

Let the fun begin!

Jen mcd

Karla said...

Sounds like you guys are super productive to me! Nice job! :)

As a friend now living in the most expensive city in the world, I suggest ordering things from walmart.com. We've been very unimpressed with how little amazon ships to APO/DPO addresses.... though you're on your own with those uniforms!!

Anonymous said...

Awesome update! Been looking forward to hearing about your traveling and settling in experiences.

What an adventure for your family! Can't wait to hear/read more and see pictures!

Many blessings to you and the family!!

Anna in NC

Anonymous said...

So, are you making Derek wear the same pair of pants all week? Poor kid! Mimi will buy him some more. Miss you guys! Love, Mama

Taylor said...

So crazy! I cannot believe you are in Spain!! :)