Chelsea’s Christmas in Spain

For the past two summers I’ve worked at a small camp in Watkins Glen, NY. It’s a super fun job and I have meet some amazing friends by working there and got to have the camp experience that I never really had as a kid…

Now what does ANY of that have to do with how I spent my Christmas this year? The answer, my friends, is everything! At camp we had an international camper… a high school aged girl from Madrid! She was super sweet and I was excited to have a little taste of Spain in Middle-of-Nowhere, NY. She stayed for a few weeks at camp and then went back home. And the next year she came back again!!! I was so excited to tell her that I was actually MOVING to Spain and that I would definitely be coming to visit her at some point, which was super exciting.

Fast forward to this fall. She and I were talking on facebook and one day she invited me to spend Christmas with her family! I of course had to say yes to this! My flight (to Istanbul) was out of Madrid on December 28th, but I was getting there on the 23rd. I had 5 days to spend in Madrid and though I was totally looking forward to having a Spanish Christmas, I didn’t think I would really enjoy the city itself… glad to say I was wrong!

December 23rd- CeCe and I arrived super early in the a.m. (after our overnight bus, fatal). As a Christmas miracle, we didn’t have to wait until 3pm to check in to our hotel, we were able to go up at 7am. We napped and showered and then went out to explore. CeCe had 2 free movie tickets so we went to the theater to see if they were actually valid, and they were! We bought 2 for Noche de Fin de Año aka New Years Eve. After getting a little snack at VIPS, we went back and watched the movie… in Spanish. Pat on the back for me for understanding it, too! After, we went to explore the Christmas lights of Madrid, saw the Cortylandia giant puppet show, ate at a delicious and cheap restaurant (I think it was called Costa Rica), and headed back to the hotel for some good old Christmas movies and sleep.

Cortylandia, the large puppet show on the side of the Corte Inglés… they sing and move

Hello Kitty in Sol, and of course the Christmas tree

The famous bear statue in Madrid

Plaza Mayor with Christmas market and lights

 December 24th- I went with CeCe to the airport where Marta and her dad picked me up. We went to Marta’s house and then went with her sisters and her mom to Retiro park. We walked around there for a while (longer than we wanted, we got lost…) and then headed back home. We got some belongings together, and then drove about 20 minutes away to her grandparents’ house. It was so beautiful! The house had a huge yard and lots of room…. enough for the whole family to sleep in! We got there just in time for lunch, a delicious meal of soup and salad. At that point I went to take a little siesta and later on, we played Just Dance on the Wii. After, we went caroling (traditionally the little kids go to the neighbors and sing and get some money), and then returned home for a literal FEAST. Platters upon platters of seafood and meat, plus salad and lots of wine. Everything was good once Marta taught me how to eat it. Christmas Eve (or nochebuena) is the big deal over hear, not so much actual Christmas. It was strange… although I was in a completely different country with people I had only just met, I was struck by how similar Marta’s family and mine are! I could almost person by person match up all of the members of her family with members of mine, and then when you add in the fact that we were singing and dancing on the Wii, and it really felt like Christmas at home.

Marta and I in Retiro park

Our Christmas Eve dinner…

Hi there lil guys…

 December 25th- Merry Christmas! Martas 9 year old sister woke us up at 9 to tell us that Papa Noel  had brought gifts! Of course we went out to the living room and opened a few presents by the tree. Traditionally Spaniards give gifts on January 6th, el día de los Reyes Magos,  but I think some families have adopted a bit of western culture and give a few gifts from “Santa” on the 25th, too. I got an awesome warm scarf, which I was sooooo thankful for! After gifts, we had churros for breakfast, and then showered and headed to another family member’s house for lunch.They were super nice people, too. We had another type of soup, some sort of meat, delicious cheese (I can never get enough), some wine, and then I sat on the couch with the grammas and napped a bit. After a while, Marta’s family and I went for a drive through the city. We drove around saw lots of amaaaazing lights, and then went to the mercado de San Miguel. I was so stuffed I couldn’t eat more than a truffle and sip on a martini, but it was such a cheerful atmostphere, full of people and warmth and good smells!

El mercado de San Miguel on Christmas night

 December 26th- In the morning Marta and her mom took me to meet the girl who I was going to be staying with. Another auxiliar, Amanda, who lives in Madrid was so kind as to let me stay on her couch for a couple nights before I left Madrid. She was super nice, and we got lunch together and then relaxed for a while until my friend Joanna arrived and was ready to play. Later, Joanna, Amanda and I went on a Christmas light tour on this bus that drove all around the city. Sitting on top was cold, but worth it! Then Joanna and I went to the famous chocolatería San Ginés for some churros y chocolate which was warm and delicious.

Can’t get enough of these floating boxes…

I literally gasped so loudly when I saw these for the first time that Marta’s parents
pulled the car over so that I could sit in the front seat and see them better…

Whizzing by lighted buildings on our bus tour

Gran Vía… doesn’t it remind you of New York City?

Puerta de Alcalá

Can’t get enough of the Plaza de Cibeles and the Ayuntamiento building

Shadows and silhouettes

December 27th- I spent the morning playing on the internet on my iPod (I love technology) and then went to the plaza de España where I found a giant artisan market! I walked around it for a bit, and then got some lunch at 100 montaditos which is a Panera-like food chain that has 100 varieties of mini-sandwiches and 1€ beers. After, I went back to the market to meet with Joanna and ended up buying these beautiful sparkly glass earrings. Then we went to get napolitanas (chocolate filled pastry) and coffee to warm up a bit. At 6pm we headed to the Prado museum, which is free on weekdays from 6-8pm. We saw some art, then skedattled out of there in search of Thai food. We ended up finding a place called Phucket Thai (yep still can’t forget that name) near Atocha, which was adorable, clean, delicious, and for ordering a whole meal, wine, and dessert, relatively cheap. Then we parted ways and I went home to sleep.

December 28th- I woke up early because I had to head to the airport to catch an 11:30am flight. On the metro I saw an American girl (no, not Felicity or Mollie) who was wearing the same high school class ring as me! Small world. Anyways, got to the airport and had no problems there. I boarded the plan and I was off to Turkey!!


One thought on “Chelsea’s Christmas in Spain

  1. Pingback: A Guide to Spending Christmas in Spain - Andalucía Bound

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