Oranges at midnight: New Year in our old home

Feeling a little homesick for our first Spanish home, we accepted an invitation to spend New Year’s with friends in Vila-Real in the Valencian Community. The visit included a day trip, some jaunts into Valencia, and lots of oranges. Our first night in Vila-Real coincided with the San Silvestre run, an amateur event featuring a bevy of costumed runners. We were excited to sample some fresh-squeezed orange juice at this event, made in a giant orange and served near Vila-Real’s city hall. We even made a new friend, Andrés, who was kind enough to bring us some sweet new posters

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Christmas in Madrid

We spent our second Spanish Christmas in Madrid, a city that really embraces the holiday spirit. We were excited when we learned a Catalan couple living in Madrid was hosting traditional Catalan holiday dinners. We enjoyed the typical food and drink, but let’s be honest: our favorite part was singing the Caga Tío song. For our part, our stable of caganer were ready. Also in season? Nativity scenes. The kind a caganer might inhabit. They’re kind of a big deal here, in case you didn’t know. We went to an exposition featuring pieces from around the world, as well as a pretty

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Partying until dawn in Aranjuez

One of the best parts of living in Spain is getting to know Spanish people, and last July – shortly after our move – our Madrid family invited us to the wedding of Doer’s host sister, Ruth, and her marido-to-be, Julian (Juli). Host sister, you say? Well, Doer first met Ruth and her family in the year 2000 on his first trip to Spain, a high school Spanish class trip where they hosted this young American boy. And they have stayed in touch ever since. So we hopped on a train to the Aranjuez, a city in the southern part of

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Bonfires on the beach in Nules

As we work on updating our blog this cold, rainy winter evening in Madrid, we longingly remember watching Midsummer bonfires on a Valencian beach last June. Our dear friends from Vila-Real invited us to mark Saint John’s Day in the most Valencian way possible: FIRE!!! The Hogueras de San Juan (Fogueres de Sant Joan in Valencian) are bonfires, frequently set along a beach. The bonfires, which are lit around the time of the summer solstice, were originally meant to keep evil spirits away. People traditionally build the fires with old furniture and other wood. Revelers typically feed themselves in addition to feeding

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Giants, big heads spice up Corpus Christi celebration

We made it back from dropping off Mom in Madrid last June just in time to see the actual Corpus Christi parade through the center of Valencia – or so we thought. As this was a Spanish parade, it didn’t actually start when we thought it would, so we had some time to kill. More about that in our next post. The Plaza de la Virgen was a hive of activity, with all of the important parade figures waiting for the festivities to begin. Soon we got to see those gigantes in action! Imagine our surprise when one of the humans

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Look at all the Pascuals!

We’ve often observed traditional festivals in Spain, but usually as outsiders. We stand outside to watch parades, we go to museums to learn more, we stay up all night to see the bonfires. In May, we didn’t see any of the official festivities in honor of San Pascual Bailón in Villarreal, but we got to do something even better – we went to a party. The above is the only San Pascual-related photo we’ve got, because we were leaving for a trip the next day and didn’t see how the city marked the occasion. The rest of the post is

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