As we begin our second year living in España, it only seems fitting that we take a minute to thank the people who traveled half-way around the world to visit us during our first one. It is a long and expensive journey to travel to Europe, and we are incredibly grateful for some of the very special visitors we had over the past year. 

In March, one of my oldest and dearest friends, Jim Woodring, traveled from Washington, D.C. I met Jim in Madrid where we toured the Spanish Capital for a couple of days before heading to Granada. 

We packed quite a bit into a short time–touring the Royal Palace, Plaza Mayor, the Santiago Bernabeau, and even sneaking in a peak of Picasso’s Guernica at the Reina Sofia Museum. More than that, we had the chance to catch up, share lots of laughs, and spend time together. 

In Granada, Jim was reunited with KB, Jackson, and Cassius. After all these years, he really is part of the family. We celebrated his 40th at our home in LA when he was working there and Jim and Karen even took in the WWC Final in 98 at the Rose Bowl. The boys love Jimmy, and we had a blast taking him to the Alhambra, Cathedral, out for tapas, and to watch Granada battle Atlético Madrid in hard fought 1-0 defeat at the Estadio Nuevo Las Cármenes. We really just enjoyed every minute, and it was special that Jim made the trip. He is the kind of friend who always does. 

Not long after Jim departed, my sister’s family came to Granada for spring break. This was their first time crossing the Atlantic and this is no small effort with small children. It was also Matt’s first trip to Europe, and we wanted to make the journey well worth it. 

The week in Granada with them was very special. Getting together with my sister’s family always provides KB with the opportunity to buy gifts for little girls–and she relished the opportunity to get them everything from magnets to flamenco dresses. Their flamenco dance performance for us was one of the absolute highlights of their visit. 

Since they were in Granada for a full week, we conquered a lot here–even taking the small city tour bus we had never taken during our entire time living there. We toured the Alhambra of course, visited the Cathedral, and ate ice cream at our favorite spots. We introduced them to chocolate and churros, saw an authentic flamenco show, got my sister paella, found the cool coffee shops, and Uncle Matt tasted every cured meat he could find! Neko introduced “beautiful Granada” from Mirador San Nicolas and the girls even tried playing Padel for the first time. 

There is a lot to see in Granada, and since Granada is known for its many beautiful plazas, we also made a “Plaza scavenger hunt” for the girls who completed it by week’s end. Matt and I managed to go on one hike, and we were fortunate enough that there was still plenty of snow on the Sierra Nevadas and the two of us even made it out for tapas one evening. 

At the end of the week, they had seen a lot, but much of our time was spent strolling through the beautiful city, eating great meals, and being together. We even managed to get in a movie night with the girls and watched SING at our apartment. The 8 of us so enjoy being together. It isn’t frequent enough but we work hard to make it work a couple of times a year. 

Our final visitor of the year arrived just before we departed for our summer travels, when KB’s college roommate Millie flew to Spain. Millie and Karen have been friends for 30 years, and it is always great to see her. She has spent Christmas with our family in years past and, like Jimmy, is really another member of the family. The boys always enjoy seeing Millie, and Cassius had fun showing her the video game Injustice while Jackson got her hooked on Prison Break. 

Beyond our time with Millie in Granada, we all traveled to Toledo together, and Karen and Millie spent a few days on their own visiting Segovia, Madrid, and El Escorial. Millie loves Churches and Palaces, and there aren’t many places on earth with more magnificent ones than Spain. It was just a great visit for all of us, and it’s always fun to see Karen and Millie together, as there friendship is one of those that is impervious to time and distance. 

There are so many different aspects of living abroad for a family. But the most obvious one is exactly that. You are truly abroad, living many miles from what you have known and who you have known for many years. And while new challenges bring new opportunities and new people into your life, they also help illuminate all that you’ve left behind. Karen and I have been fortunate to build so many special relationships throughout our lives and our family dug some solid roots during our years in Los Angeles. Those relationships remain strong to this day, and social media and technology help keep us connected. But there is nothing like real time, time in person, to hear a laugh or see a smile up close and personal. That can never quite be replaced by technology, and we are very grateful for the friends and family that made it all the way to Spain to visit last year–forging new memories we won’t soon forget. 

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