Aibarracin & Teruel (And Weekend Happenings!)

For the first three Saturdays of the program, there are planned excursions for the students and we were invited to join in. The first Saturday we headed to Aibarracin & Teruel.

Our first stop was Aibarracin, this town has been around since the period of Muslim domination in the Iberian Peninsula. This post has a great description of the history. It was in ruins after the Spanish civil war, and today it is a heavily-restored version of the village it was half a millennium ago.  We had a guided tour that was in Spanish but we got some translation from the institute team. K did great on the ride. The head of the institute was able to borrow  a car seat from his sister, and it had Mickey Mouse. She was so excited to ride on a bus in a Mickey seat! Thankfully Dustin was able to “rock” her to sleep in the carrier during the tour so she got a brief nap.

After the tour we had a little bit of time to each lunch and ate at Rincon del Chorro.  This restaurant was the best food we have had in Spain that has been Spanish style. The restaurant is beautiful on the inside too!  Dustin and I had the Sopas Tostadas (potato soup with bacon), Albondiguitas de Ternasco con salsa de Almendras, (a greek meatball with almond sauce) and an Ensalada de Jamón de Pato, Frutos Secos, Manzana caramelizada y frutos (salad with apples, ham peanuts, and duck) to share. Ashley and K split the a kids chicken meal ha! Overall a great experience, wish I didn’t have to eat it so fast to make the bus!

After lunch, the bus departed for Teruel. This city is has only about 35,000 people, very harsh winters and hot summers.  It refer to as the “town of mudéjar” (Moorish-influenced architecture) due to numerous buildings designed in this style. One of the famous ones we saw was the Mudéjar Tower of El Salvador (14th century).  All of them are comprised in the Mudéjar Architecture of Aragon which is a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. It is the only provincial capital in Spain that isn’t connected by Rail to Madrid.

One of the other sights we saw and toured as the San Pedro, a notable mudéjar church (16th century). Here houses the mummified bodies of Isabel de Segura (a wealthy woman) and Diego de Marcilla (a poor man who battled at Crusades to earn some money with the intention to return to get married with Isabel) whose love ended tragically. This story is known as los amantes de Teruel.  It’s similar to the Romeo and Juliet story. (source WIKI)

During the tour some of our students were asked by the tour guide to role play the story. We got back to Valencia close to 8pm and it was crazy windy!  So we took the bus home and arrived to find a band in our Courtyard. We thought it was going to be hard to get K to sleep because she was dancing in the living room in just a diaper to the music. Thankfully she got to sleep much quicker than expected.

On Sunday we went to the beach. It takes us about 30 minutes to get there, we have to walk about 10 minutes to the Tram (above ground Metro).  We got a late start since K and Ashley slept in due to our adventure on Saturday. K still hates walking or sitting in the sand, she is ok with sitting on a towel or cushion to play in the sand. This is in improvement from last fall. We’ll take it, it’s funny though how far she’ll go to reach things around her! We enjoyed a couple of hours of sun before we needed to get back for nap time. Thankfully we did come back for K’s nap because she slept 3 hours!

After that we took a walk to a park we saw earlier in the day in the “river” and then had dinner at a really cool festival called Palo Market Feast. They had all kinds of food trucks and it was awesome! I had some gluten free tacos with guacamole, Ashley had a bagel with bacon, cheese, and some type of hot sauce, Dustin had a Mexican Fajita, and Kenley had her first ever pork hot dog. Everything is pork here! She was super hungry so I let her eat the bun. Bad idea because now she wants to try any bread that is around. 🙂 Thankfully when we go back home that won’t be as much of an issue since we don’t have it at home.

They had a live band, and all kinds of art, and different booths set up selling items. It reminded me of something that could have been in Yellow Springs. They even had an old double decker bus turned food truck. That is something you don’t often see in the US!  It was a great week, we are excited to see what week #2 brings!

Living in Valencia Week-1

We have successfully lived in Valencia for just over a week now. This is really our first experience ever living in any large city and relying on walking & public transit to get where you need to go. It is a good reminder for me because I take care of many patients who are also in the same situation however many of them lack the financial resources to use the bus system and ours in Dayton is not as extensive. The institute is about a 30 minute walk from our apartment. Dustin found a co-working space that is about a 2 minute walk from our apartment, and a CrossFit box that is a 30 minute walk as well.

The Spaniards start their days a bit later than we do typically, so Dustin can’t head to the co-working space as early as he would like. I’ll let him blog himself about the people he is meeting and his international CrossFit experience later! At the institute my students are taking a Spanish for Medical professionals course which I am sitting in on. I have quite a few Spanish speaking patients so it’s nice to know a bit to communicate with them better. Since two of my students are fairly strong in Spanish and two are newbies he is doing a bit of review of the basics as well. Then I teach my two courses, one is a course created by one of my amazing colleagues called Health Behaviors and Beliefs, the concepts in that course fit so well with my Holistic Diabetes Management elective. My students have such unique backgrounds and it’s be really fun learning from them!

The whole city basically leaves work to have lunch with their families, kids come home from school, parents come home from work, then everyone goes back to work/school after lunch. My favorite part of my walk to work is seeing all the dad’s pushing their kids to school on scooters! Some have a hand on two kids backs moving them along.

Since the school shuts down Dustin and I come home, make lunch, then he heads back to the co-working space and I find a cafe nearby with faster wi-fi. It’s much more efficient than walking another 1 hour round trip to go back to the institute.And a lot of times it doesn’t re-open until 4 or 5.

Ashley and K hang out in the apartment, go to the nearby park and today they took a walk to the Mercado Central for bananas, if you know K, her favorite food is most certainly a banana! Every time we go to the store she calls it the “Banana Store.” The Spaniards typically work late and then eat dinner round 8:30 or 9pm. Since we like for K to get 12 hours of sleep, we are still operating dinner on a normal 6ish schedule and then I work again after she goes to bed.

On Friday night we walked the Río Turia, the river is famous for its floods. The flood which occurred on the 14th of October 1957, known as the Great Flood of Valencia, flooded a large part of the city of Valencia. To prevent this from happening in the future, the river was divided in two, and the old part of the river has been turned into a green space for the city, which is know as the garden of the Turia.

We walked all the way to the “City of Arts and Sciences,” these buildings hold an aquarium,  IMAX Cinema, planetarium and laserium in addition to many other arts and cultural buildings. On our walk back we ate dinner out at Gordon’s which his an Argentinean Steakhouse.We had dinner there on our brief stay in Valencia last year, and were happy to return. We are going to go to the aquarium in a few weeks with the students one afternoon. (Group discount!)

Overall week 1 in Valencia was good and we are getting into a rhythm!





Arrival and Denia, Spain

We can’t believe it’s finally here. We’ve been talking about and dreaming about this opportunity for a few years now. I am going to Spain to teach two pharmacy study-abroad courses. As a pharmacy student myself I always wanted to study abroad and could never fit it in with the required course load & sequenced science courses. Many of my students felt the same way. So after writing a proposal, and planning, here we are! We decided since we were taking the whole family (including my little sister Ashley!) we would take a few days vacation before the course starts.
We left on Tuesday afternoon & arrived Wednesday morning to Madrid. Then we navigated to the Madrid Atocha train station to take the train to Valencia. We arrived in Valencia around 1pm on Wednesday. All in all K was a pretty good traveler despite only getting 3 hours of sleep on the overnight flight. We couldn’t get her back to sleep, so out of respect for those trying to sleep around us she watched quite a few Daniel the Tiger episodes. 🙂  She finally fell asleep again for the last 30 min of the train ride. I was able to pick her up, put her in our Kinderpack, and she slept all the way to our apartment (this never happens!)
 Our apartment is in the central part of the city near Valencia Cathedral. Arturo, who is director of the Institute of Spanish Studies graciously offered to show us around that evening. It ended up raining, so since he has a car, he took us to Carrefour which is like Walmart to get the essentials! K was asleep and stayed with Ashley but ended up waking up upset. Daniel the Tiger saved the day (again!) and she went to bed early.. We found a place we liked in Madrid for dinner that is also here called Lemongrass… Nothing like Thai take-out as your first meal in Spain!
On Thursday Dustin walked back to the main train station to pick up a rental car, unfortunately he needed two forms of ID and I had to meet him half way with his passport. We finally got in the road to a resort near the Costa Blanca where we cashed in our Marriot points for 3 nights. Our plan on the vacation part was rest and relaxation! The resort was beautiful and with our gold Marriott status we got free breakfast daily. Unfortunately the pool water was very cold but we still enjoyed it and k still loved the baby pool.
That night we found a playground for K and headed into Denia for dinner. We ate at the Amazing Restaurant.  We didn’t do much research, but we read the menu outside and they had something for us to feed K (grilled chicken and veggies!). It was pretty good.  I had a whole fresh fish which was “amazing” minus picking around bones. 🙂 Ashley had her first patatas bravas… with many more to come! And Dustin had Paella. Our first true Spanish meal.
We missed the “sleepy time” window and combined with jet-lag it took us 3 hours to get K to sleep that night, 😦 but finally a sleepy time YouTube video did the trick. All in all she has been a great little traveler. Sleeping in a hotel room with everyone was a little challenging but she did great the rest of the time!
The next day we headed to Arenal beach in Javea! It was beautiful. We enjoyed the beach for a few hours, then had lunch and headed back for a nap. I think we all had burgers, Dustin had the Ohio burger at a nearby cafe. It was essentially a BBQ burger. We headed back to the resort with a stop at the grocery store for K’s essentials, yogurt, berries, and avocados! She could live on that if we let her! Dustin and Ashley enjoyed the sun while I rested with K. Unfortunately I caught a cold on the way here but I still enjoyed it all.
On Saturday we enjoyed the sun poolside and ate dinner in Java. The first place we tried we needed reservations so we ended up at our second choice which was an authentic Italian restaurant called La Casa della Pasta, if you can’t go to Italy.. next best real Italian! Dustin and Ashley enjoyed homemade pasta, my gluten free pasta was great too. The kids menu was mostly pasta so I ordered K a pork and apples dish which she loved. She has good taste for a toddler!
On Sunday we had breakfast and enjoyed a little time by the pool before we headed back to Valencia! We made a family trip to El Corte Inglés for some groceries, some unbreakable kids dishes and found her a little chair that on sale. It was the only place open on Sunday.  It’s pretty amazing, a grocery store in the basement, and upstairs a department store, hardware store, bookstore, Target type store all in one!  We tried to stop at IKEA on the way home to get her a small chair and a few plush toys but they were closed. The Spaniards are serious about their family and Sabbath days! Anyone with a girl this age knows they love sitting in their size furniture at a table! It’s perfect with the coffee table in the apartment.
The students all arrived on Sunday and made it to their host families homes. Monday was orientation and classes started on Tuesday. It’s been a crazy week of getting used to the schedule here, catching up on work, and teaching.  Hopefully I’ll be more timely with blog posts in the coming weeks!  My students will be blogging as well about their experiences at if you would like to head over there and follow that blog too!
Hasta luego!