It's been nearly a year since my family has hopped over the pond for a visit, and for a change, we went off to meet them in Spain!
As the week-long visit with my brother Dean was coming to an end, the excitement of seeing the rest of my family began to sink in. My parents and younger brother were set to join Sinéad, Dean and myself one hour north of Alicante, along the Costa Blanca, in Moraira. We had rented a beautiful villa in the Spanish hills, overlooking neighbouring towns and the Mediterranean Sea where we could escape from the hustle and bustle and spend some solid quality time together. Unfortunately, it got off to a bit of a rocky start. Sinéad, Dean and I landed in Alicante and swiftly made our way by car to our destination, while the rest of the Brodts fell prey to airline incompetence and cancelled flights. Our reunion would have to wait until the next day.
The following morning, while awaiting my Mom, Dad and younger brother Michael, the three of us headed to Benissa to stock up on fruits and vegetables from the market. On the checklist: Valencian oranges, olives, lemons and strawberries. Of course, that wasn't going to feed six people for a week so a stopover at the local supermarket was also in order. We filled our cart to the brim with the necessities (you know, wine, beer, meats and cheeses) before rushing through the rain back into the car and up into the hills once more. The rest of the Brodts joined us shortly after, unfortunately without their luggage (damn airline) but we won't get into that. We were all together now and we happily chatted the night away eating and drinking on the patio.
The next day we woke up slowly, before setting off to Moraira to explore the marina and beaches. The town was quaint, the streets filled with delicious smelling restaurants and little tourist shops. After a wander around the fishing boats and yachts, we stopped off for a long lunch. Eager to try some seafood, Michael and I shared a delicious plate of grilled prawns and a pot of mussels, with some necessary cervezas of course. When our tour of Moraira had finished, we went back to the villa to enjoy some sun by the pool. A big bowl of pasta and large glasses of wine topped the night off.
On Monday we decided to take a trip down to Denia, another coastal city. As there were six of us we had decided on two cars, which proved to be a good choice as it allowed us to travel all around the Costa Blanca with ease. Our first stop was Denia market, a tented village full of knock-off clothes and accessories. It may not have been pretty but it had exciting energy, and it had a churro stand so Sinéad and I were happy. After wandering Denia marina we stopped for lunch before setting off to do some much-needed shopping for Mom and Michael, whose luggage still hadn't arrived.
Tuesday, May 21st was a special day in Spain. It was the main reason we were all together. A momentous occasion. My Maman's birthday! We awoke to a wonderful email letting us know that the lost bags were on their way but at what time in the day, you ask? They had no idea. So we waited at the villa, enjoying a long breakfast and sunbathing by the pool. The ultimate lounging day. At long last, the bags arrived, just in time too as we had a reservation at a wonderful shoreline restaurant to celebrate. Sipping wine and enjoying paella by the sea, it was a wonderfully relaxing day and one I won't soon forget.
Wednesday we set off to Calp. Known for the Natural Park of Penyal d'Ifac (Calp Rock) the town could easily be seen from our villa and so we figured it was worth a visit. We strolled along the beach, grabbed a delicious 3-course lunch (sangria included) and Michael and I even had time to take a dip in the ancient fishing pools. Properly drained from our day out, we sank into the couches back at the villa and enjoyed some snacks and movie. All in all a fantastic day.
The next day the Brodt boys headed off on what was a definite highlight of the holiday. Early in the planning phase of the trip, my Dad had suggested we go on a little fishing trip. The problem was, none of us knew how or where to book a charter boat. After a few days of sleuthing, we got in contact with a local fisherman and for 5 hours we trolled the coastline looking for a big catch. Unfortunately as my Dad so eloquently said, "if it was so easy they'd call it catching not fishing”! That proved to be the case as we caught only a few fish but honestly, the catch didn't matter, as it was a great experience hanging with the guys, drinking beers and taking in the sights. We returned home with the spoils of our labour and Dean and Michael were patient enough to gut, clean and fry them for dinner. Delicious!
Friday was Dean's last day with us and we were determined to squeeze one more outing before he left. Off we went to Valencia, rain pouring down as we drove the scenic toll road north. Once we arrived we stopped for a quick coffee at a small cafe before setting off for St. Nicholas Church, referred to as the Sistine Chapel of Valencia. It had a stunning gilded interior worth marvelling at but before long we began to get hungry and the Mercado Centrale market was calling our name. Dean set off for the airport and the rest of us set off for market delights and pizza. We strolled through the beautiful medieval streets, stopping off for a classic glass of horchata at the beautifully traditional Horchatería Santa Catalina, before setting off back home for another glass of red wine and a movie.
Our final full day in Spain started off with a thud as the rain had settled into the hills and didn't appear to want to leave. So we sat and watched movies into the late afternoon when, to our surprise, there was a break in the weather! Eager for some fresh air we journeyed down to the beach where we strolled along the promenade. We finished with dinner at Guras, an absolutely delicious Nepali and Indian restaurant serving some seriously hefty portions. Absolutely stuffed from dinner, Mom, Dad and Sinéad headed back up to the villa, while Michael and I decided to take one final stroll along the cliffside and beaches. The setting sun was the perfect backdrop to a very fond memory for me. Spending a little one on one time with my brother proved difficult over the week what with all the visiting to do, so I was happy for that couple of hours together.
Sunday we said goodbye. Goodbye to Spain, the villa and each other. It was time to head home and, though I did my best to make it a quick departure, it was truly the hardest time I've had leaving my family. It's sappy I know, but being away from them and then spending a week of seriously intense quality time only to have to pull away again was hard. But I suppose that's better than the alternative! I had such a fantastic trip, one that will sit with me for a long time. And as you can see from this monologue I don't intend on forgetting a moment of it. On to the next adventure... where to next Brodts?