Monthly Archives: December 2011

Feliz Navidad! – Spain

Author: Amy

Feliz Navidad! One of the customs in Spain is to have an extravagant nativity scene or Belén.  Yes, Mary, Joseph and little baby Jesus but then add on the whole village of Bethlehem; the shops, the farms, little fires roasting meals, whole neighborhoods, etc. They are fun to stop and look at as we wander about town.  Our Flamenco teacher’s family has one of the best we’ve seen and they open the doors to their home for two showings per day for anyone who wants to take a look. As Kendal and I left one day from one of our classes there were three classes of very cute five and six year olds waiting patiently in line to go in and see the Belén, they had walked over from a nearby school for this field trip. In the center of town, right behind the Cathedral, there is a large market specifically for selling the little figures that make up the scene.  Another tradition is that the Three Kings; Balthazar, Gaspar, and Melchior (Steve made me add their names, thought someone might be curious) bring gifts to the children on January 6th.  Christmas is for family celebration and the sharing of a large meal, not presents.  Some families are slowly changing and give gifts on Christmas but most hang on strong to the tradition of the Three Kings.  As we walk about in the evening the streets are filled with lights – each street has a different design  – we all have fun searching out these different designs.

We feel so blessed to be able to spend this holiday with my brother and his family.  My mom had to have an emergency open-heart surgery 2 days ago and all went well.  The blessings of coming from a large family where there are others there to look after my parents during this year is something I take for granted from time to time but I am so very grateful to my siblings for being there for my parents.

Wishing everyone a loving and peaceful Christmas. Merry Christmas to one and all!

We took a day trip to the city of Jerez and ran across this life-sized Nativity in the center of town.

They made everything very realistic in this Belén.

This Belén is close to our apartment and has a live mule, 4 lambs, 6 rabbits and 3 chickens.

This is the Belén in our flamenco teachers house, her parents put it together and are so proud to share it with everyone and anyone.

Here's another view, it's an L-shaped table and goes around to the left. They have a bright light up above on the ceiling that's on a timer. It dims on and off very slowly sending the scene from day into night and it's really beautiful. They have little lit up fireplaces and running water. They have to water the grass because it's real sod.

This guy comes every evening to the end of our street and plays Christmas music and displays his Belén from the back of his car.

Here's one section of the market that sells all the Belén figures and supplies you could ever need.

The Three Kings with their bags of toys of good boys and girls!

Look who's climbing up an apartment building with toys. . .

In Jerez Steve and Keegan got to speak with one of the Kings and he told Keegan to write down what he wanted and put it in his box. Then he gave Keegan a handful of candy.

This amazing display of festive lights is all throughout Sevilla.

That's my brother with my niece on his shoulders checking out all the sites. The blondie in the sea of brunettes.

Keegan and I under more festive lights.

Beautiful Christmas trees in front of the Cathedral.

Having a great night out with my brother and sister in-law before we headed to a flamenco show around the block.Feliz Navidad from Sevilla!


Posted by on December 25, 2011 in Spain


Advice for Parents – Sevilla, Spain

OK it is I the one who writes blogs (aka Keegan).

Parents do you have any trouble touring cities with kids??? Well I am writing this blog for you! Here is a list of steps you can do to keep your kids happy while touring!

The Happy Touring Guide For Parents With Kids!

Number 1. You have to identify the problem; are they tired, sad or mad.

Number 2. Give the kids their own money to spend for that day.

Number 3. Pass a local candy store on purpose but say to your kids “Oh look here a candy store. Do you guys want to go in here?” That will get your kids hooked!

Number 4. Once your kids have their OWN bag of candy they will most likely stay happy until they run out of candy.

Number 5. If they ever get a little cranky or mad or sad shove a piece of candy in their mouth!

I guarantee you that this method will work every time! If not, you did not do one of the five steps correctly, but if you did and they are still cranky or mad or sad then just get them home or… well I don’t know it has always worked for me.

The Glorious Sign - you have found the right place!

Ok so now that I have given you a list of steps to do I will tell you a story on how those steps worked in action.

My parents wanted to go to the Metropol Parasol in the Plaza de la Encarnacion ‬for the day, which is like a huge mushroom modern structure that was just built in the middle of town.  We went there and we took an elevator to the top. It was really cold so my mom and dad got a cup of joe and we got some hot coco to warm us up. Then we walked around on the top of it. After that Kendal and I wanted to go home but of course my parents wanted to walk around some more so Kendal and I looked at each other and knew what we had to do! We had to be cranky or sad or mad. Then our parents walked by our favorite candy store in Seville (Wonkandy) and then because we had some of our own spending money we asked to go in. We got some candy and then we were happy right until we got to our apartment! So that is one of the times the Happy Touring Guide With Kids has worked for us.

The elevator - going up!

A view from the top of the Metropol Parasol. They say it's the worlds biggest structure held together by glue.

Another view from the top. They say it's the worlds largest wooden structure. It's totally different than the buildings around it.

Once in a while my dad even likes to put a plastic glove on and grab candy too.

Oh how I love my WonKandy!


Posted by on December 23, 2011 in Spain


Castillo de San Jorge – Triana

Author: Steve

On a drizzling overcast day last week we decided to go to the Castillo de San Jorge Museum and it was well worth the 3 minute walk (it’s right down the block on our street, Calle San Jacinto, just before you head over the bridge into the heart of Sevilla) and free admission.  I personally loved this museum, it is laid out well with great information and because it’s free I can scoot over by myself and read about something that I didn’t quite understand the last time I was there.  You can see everything in less than an hour.  The museum is under the Mercado de Triana, when they started to renovate portions of the Mercado back in the 1990’s they unearthed some incredible ruins from the Castillo de San Jorge.  For almost 300 years, between 1481 and 1785 this area was the actual Seat of the Holy Inquisition in Spain. The Inquisition was an independent institution of the Church, supported by the Crown to prosecute false Christians and heretics.  The Inquisition was first implemented to remove the remains of Judaism and Islam but not only did they deal with heretics but also bigamous, blasphemers, usurers, sodomites, witches, wizards and clerics accused of sexual misconduct.  An ‘auto de fe’ was the ritual of public penance that took place on the condemned once the Spanish Inquisition had decided their punishment.  The punishment most notably was ‘burning at the stake’ but could have been a number of horrible sentences.  I looked up some of the torture and execution techniques used during this time and one can almost get sick just imagining it.  What is fascinating to me is that as I walk the streets of Sevilla I notice the areas where many of the ‘auto de fe’s’ took place, places like the steps of the Cathedral de Sevilla, the Plaza de San Francisco and the church of Santa Ana which is a few blocks from our apartment.  Places where people now gather to laugh, pray and have festivals; complete opposite reasons to gather than ‘auto de fe’s”.  As I stood there the other day in front of Santa Ana (we went to see a beautiful nativity scene with live animals in front of the church) I tried to envision the terrible atrocities that took place there (I don’t know why) and I imagined all the people that would come and watch these punishments/executions and cheer on the process . . . scary times.

I feel humbled to be in an area with such incredible history right outside my door.

As you start the walk in the museum they have a phrase on the wall that really sticks with you, “Value judgements, abuses of power and the victims of both have always existed in the past, and will continue to exist in the future. This place is part of you. This is part of your history”.

Castillo de San Jorge - Triana

This image became the sinister iconic symbol of the Spanish Inquisition

Inside the museum of the Castillo de San Jorge

A view of one of the Bodega's in the Castillo

Here's a shot of the Mercado on the left and as you can see the Museum entrance is straight ahead. The building behind the entrance with the ceramic dome is the Chapel of the Virgen de Carmen

Catedral de Sevilla - the largest Gothic cathedral and third largest church in the world

Iglesia de Santa Ana - build in the 13th century, its construction began in 1276. Santa Ana was the mother of the Virgin Mary and grandmother of Jesus


Posted by on December 19, 2011 in Spain


Parque Maria Luisa – Sevilla, Spain

Author: Amy

While in Sevilla we are getting around town by foot.  It is a condensed area and we are able to get around quite easily.  Every day we get out and explore, today we headed to Parque Maria Luisa.  After walking about 40 minutes to get to the huge park, which is part of the Plaza de España, we decided to treat ourselves with the four person bike.  It was a lot of fun and Kendal was definitely our motor.  It’s a great way to enjoy the park because there is so much to see.  There are statues, ponds and fountains throughout.  We even went into the two museums that were there; the Traditional Arts and Customs Museum and the Archaeological Museum.  Beautiful buildings one had all sorts of tools used throughout time and the other was full of marble statues from uncovered ruins. The park is just gorgeous. One of the ways to know you’re in Sevilla is the orange tree’s – they are everywhere! Our timing of cities is often in the “off-season” to get better rates on lodging, etc.  The weather really hasn’t been an issue as good locations are nice even in the “off-season”.  The afternoon was cool but very pleasant.  The streets are full of people enjoying the outdoors.  The parks always have an outdoor café that serves coffee, beer and snacks.  The cafés are full of well-dressed people enjoying themselves.  The Plaza de España has a waterway in front of it that you can rent rowboats and row around, it is an outing we have saved for another day but are looking forward to trying.

On a side note – you may have noticed the +follow tab that pops up on the blog.  If you are interested in getting an email each time we have a new post (so you don’t have to check the site randomly) just click on the follow button and it will tell you what to do.


A pretty hill with a gazebo on top.

The Traditional Arts and Customs Museum

Enjoying the ride!

Archaeological Museum

One of the MANY orange trees. We didn't really pick one - we don't know the rules but people don't seem to pick them.

Mother, daughter moment in the park.

The Plaza de España - see the rowboat behind us.

1 Comment

Posted by on December 15, 2011 in Spain


I Want To Be A Stuntman! – Sevilla, Spain

Author: Keegan

Hi it’s me again, today I am writing about an awesome stunt.  On Sunday after church we came back to our apartment and tried to open the door, then we remembered that the other set of keys was in the key slot inside the apartment so we couldn’t get in!  BIG MISTAKE!  The windows all have bars on the outside of them and were locked. Luckily we left the bathroom window open just a crack the problem was it was about 6 feet off the ground and the only person that could fit through the bars and maybe the window is . . . yes, you guessed correctly, me. We thought that might be our only option that we could do because everything is closed on Sunday and the locksmith would have cost a lot of money and who knows when he would have got there. Our landlord, José Manuel, was really nice but never heard of someone doing such a thing – crazy Americans.  He was going to try to contact a locksmith for us but my dad told him we had one more option, to see if I could fit in the window.  José Manuel told us to go for it and he would start looking for the locksmiths’ number.  It was our only hope – my dad wasn’t a big fan of the plan.  Wait before I start to tell you any more you have to remember that there are bars on the outside of this window as well. Once I got through the bars I would have to open a window that was about the size of a . . . um oh yes I know the size of 4 small toaster ovens 2 by 2 next to each other and on top of each other. OK on with the story, my dad helped me get up closer to the window and then he held my leg so I didn’t fall backwards. So I got to the window with only my stomach and up inside of the very tiny frame. Then I had to move a latch that held the window open and make the window fall down but still be attached to the window hinge. Then I had to turn my body all the way around (I was all tangled in a ball) so I was feet first and my stomach was on the windowsill. At that time I was holding on to the bars with my feet inside of the bathroom. Hopefully you will see some of the action because my sister video taped most of my Mission Impossible stunt.  My mom tried to hook my long sleeve shirt that I wasn’t wearing so I would have a hold but at the time I was really stressed so I didn’t get the message. Have I told you yet how scared I was! I was panting and I was crying inside of my head! BOY I was scared! But in the end I got inside of the apartment and let them in and from now on we will NEVER leave the other set of keys in the door while all four of us are out and about. I really hope the video turns out!

Note: the video turned out really good but we decided not to post it because we don’t want to teach people how to break into this apartment. If you want to see it remind me and I’ll show you when I get home.

Here's my dad helping me get started.

The space looks bigger than it really was.

Here's my first disguise in the next Mission Impossible movie.


Posted by on December 9, 2011 in Spain


Flamenco Dancing – Sevilla, Spain

Author: Kendal

Last week we went to the Flamenco Dance Museum in Sevilla. We were able to see the museum, take a flamenco dance class and watch a show. The museum was, well . . . a museum.  The class was really cool because our teacher was also the lady in the show; she was really nice and an incredible dancer.  She kept telling Dad to stop shaking his hips so much.  In Flamenco women move their hands a certain way and lead with their middle finger and men lead with their pinky fingers.  The show was really fun to watch because the sun had gone down outside and all the lights were off inside except for a few candles.  It was a very romantic ambiance.  It was really amazing when they were dancing, they got so into it and their sweat was flying off of them into the crowd – that was a bit gross! Sometimes it even hit you so the 3D for the show was a thumbs-up.

Mom and I started taking Flamenco classes this week with a nice lady, who I think used to be a professional when she was younger.  The classes are at her house which is also a cool ceramic store and flamenco studio, it’s right around the corner from our apartment.  We are learning the local folkloric dance ‘Sevillanas’ and it’s really a fun time . . . me, my mom and the teacher laugh a lot.

Bye and thanks for checking on us!

This was on our way to the Flamenco Dance Museum. There are so many cool streets and neighborhoods to walk through.

While we walked through the museum we didn't realize that this was going to be where we took our dance class but it was.

This was my favorite dress in the museum.

Our teacher was nice enough to take a picture of us, she told us to yell olé!

This is on our way back to the apartment . . . that's the back of the Catedral de Sevilla and the Giralda Tower. It was such a pretty night.


Posted by on December 4, 2011 in Spain