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!