Tag Archives: Christmas

la cabalgata de los reyes magos

        

I’m sorry for the lack of substance in my posts as of lately.  Between exams, birthday celebrations and starting new classes today, I haven’t quite had the time to sit down and write.  However, Jackie did a fabulous job of describing the Three Kings Parade that we went to in the beginning of January, so for now… here you are!

While in the United States and other parts of the world Santa Claus brings the children their gifts on Christmas, in Spain Los Reyes Magos or The Three Kings do instead. The kids write to the three kings, and on the morning of The Epiphany January 6th the gifts arrive. People still celebrate Christmas, but more as just a day with their family. The tradition says that just like the Three Kinds brought Jesus his gifts after he was born, they bring gifts to the good children of Spain each year. The night before the Epiphany, there is a huge parade in Madrid called La Cabalgata with tons of floats and the three kings at the end. Colette and I went with my roommate Raquel to experience our first Cabalgata and see the kings. There are some notable differences between this parade and your average American parade:

  • The parade is at night. I have never been to a parade in the US and I certainly can’t imagine parents bringing their children into the city for a parade on Christmas Eve.
  • Parents bring actual ladders to the parade and then let their kids climb up them to see the parade better. Clever, but definitely illegal in the United States. Also Colette and I were constantly anxious that some toddler was going to fall of a ladder and get hurt.
  • El Cartero Real literally translates to “the real postman”. The three kings have a postman that receives all of the letters, sorts them, and then gives them to the kings. Colette and I both loved this and wondered why Santa doesn’t have a postman. All of the kids were excited when he rode by, and hoped he had their letters.
  • Most importantly, there are no other three kings like the Santa’s at every shopping mall in America. If you want to see the real three kings you have to go to the Cabalgata on the eve of the epiphany, that is your only chance. What this means is that the children go CRAZY when the three kings go by on their individual floats. It was really awesome and adorable to see.

Overall La Cabalgata was really cool, and I am so glad I saw it. Parades here are a really big deal, and it was so fun to see all of the little children excited.

I’m off to a FIVE HOUR class about “Creating a Business,” but look forward to updates this week about a day trip to Segovia and my birthday weekend:)  Ciao, amores!

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madrid por la noche

madrid por la noche

After my parents left, I had a siesta and then explored Madrid with Dan’s cousin Michael, since Dan and his parents weren’t going to be home until around midnight. With all of the Christmas lights, it was really a great first impression of the city for him. And I snapped this fun photo on Gran Via. Ciao, amores:)

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January 8, 2012 · 2:24 pm

las navidades en praga

{Christmas markets & cathedral in Old Town Square}

One of the places at the top of my list to visit while living in Madrid this year was Prague.  So when my family and Dan’s parents began to entertain the idea of travelling a bit while they were in Europe visiting us for Christmas, I automatically jumped at the chance to persuade everyone that Prague was the best place to go for Christmas.  The good news is that I was right!

I started planning our trip to Prague over Christmas weekend back in November and was just about finished just before el Puente de Navidad when I posted about the itinerary I was working on.  We got to see nearly all of the greatest sites in the city in the three short days that we were there.

Friday night (December 23) we arrived around dinner time to a concert in the square outside of the apartment we were renting.  While everyone else changed and settled in, Dad, Dan, and I went to the grocery store with the hopes of buying all sorts of ingredients for Christmas Eve hors d’oeuvres and Christmas morning breakfast.  However, we realized very quickly that not knowing a word of Czech made it a little difficult to know what exactly we were buying.  Instead of our original plan, we opted for things we could actually tell what they were by looking at them: oranges, eggs, milk, cereal, tea, coffee, etc. and of course the ingredients for Mom’s legendary Christmas breakfast, Pear, Raspberry & Mascarpone Bruschetta (click for recipe… you MUST try it).

Sorry for the digression, but if you try that recipe you will understand that it was completely worth it!!  Dad had found a restaurant that looked good, was open later than most other restaurants in the city, and appeared to be right by where we were staying.  After wandering around the New Town for about 30 minutes with Czechs giving us directions like 50 meters that way, 100 meters that way, etc. we realized it was literally directly behind the apartment.  We toasted to Dan’s birthday, a wonderful Christmas, and that we were all celebrating together, but retired early since I had a long day planned for us.

Saturday morning, Christmas Eve, we woke up a little later than expected, but weren’t bothered since we were all on vacation and were really there to be relaxing after all!  There was a little upset over Dan realizing he had lost his coat between the airport and that moment and his watch also breaking, but we put it behind us and had a really fun-filled day.  (If you’ve been following my Twitter feed, you saw that it actually miraculously appeared in our apartment when we got back from being out all day!)

We headed into the Old Town Square where the largest and greatest Christmas markets are in the city.  There we bought gifts for the yankee swap we had planned for Christmas morning and tried all sorts of sausages, cheeses & hot wines.  When it began to rain we headed into a café for tea and cookies to warm ourselves up.  Afterwards we explored the Jewish quarter and caught a glimpse of the Charles Bridge on our way home.  We had dinner at a great old beer brewery which served 1 liter beers (Oktoberfest status) for the equivalent of 4 EURO!

 

Sunday, we enjoyed a relaxing morning of the already mentioned amazing breakfast along with pastries Dad bought at the only open bakery (Starbucks, haha!).  We also had a great time of doing the yankee swap, with gifts including marionettes, beer steins and giant Christmas ornaments.  Despite the rain, we decided to walk to the Prague Castle (not my idea).  It was about 30 minutes of uphill in the rain (read: miserable), but it was really cool to see the other area of the city and the entire fortress where the royals used to live.  We stopped to have some soup, beers and pretzels afterwards, which made Rina very happy since she had been dying to try these pretzels since we had seen them.  On the way back to the apartment we took a detour to the John Lennon Wall, which may be my favorite part of the entire city.  It’s just covered in beautiful Beatles and John Lennon quotes about peace and love.  It was a great way to end our touring for the day.

Rina and I had made a reservation for Christmas dinner at COMO Restaurant about a month ago before even realizing that it was directly across the square from where we were staying!  We had a leisurely, delicious meal; the perfect way to end our short but sweet holidays together.  I even got a pink martini (nom) and tiramisu, my absolute favorite!

All in all, the weekend was jam-packed with site-seeing, but we still managed to fit in some quality relaxation time of Christmas movies, cheese and crackers and afternoon naps whenever possible.  It always makes me a little sad to be visiting such amazing cities that I know our families would love, so it was amazing to be exploring a new city with them, especially during Christmas time.  Thank you guys so much for everything, and I hope you had just as much fun as I did!

Feliz navidad (de nuevo y un pocito tarde!), amores:)

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¡feliz navidad!

   

{2010: NYC; 2011: Madrid}

Seeing the Christmas lights, tree, and windows in New York City must be one of my favorite things in the world; it just always gets me in the Christmas spirit (as if I wasn’t already!)  But this year it has been a little harder to get into it, since I’m not at home or anything!  Instead of leaving it at that, a year without infinite Christmas joy, Dan and I treated ourselves to a night of Spanish Christmas lights and a few out of the ordinary treats at Mercado de San Miguel (think oysters, a bottle of good wine, and a fabulous dessert coffee) for our official one year anniversary last week.  I’m happy to say I am certainly in the Christmas spirit after that night, and absolutely CANNOT WAIT to see our families this week!!

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