Spain- Vitoria, day 4

Isn't this beautiful? I used to live just a few minutes walking distance from this...& I passed it every day. This catedral was to be a replica of the catedral of Notre Dame, but money ran out & they had to finish short of original plans. Still, isn't it spectacular?
And some close-ups of some of the detail put into the exterior.
I remember initially thinking it was odd that someone would adorn their church with skeletons, devils & demons, but it was later explained to me that it was to symbolize that the world & evil was to be kept outside & holiness within.
La Virgen Blanca.  I lived just across the street from this statue/plaza. I even taught people about Jesus Christ here on a park bench. The statue pictured below is a memorial to a battle fought in Vitoria.
This is just above the plaza.
Part of the original city wall.
Catedral Vieja (it was under construction 10 years ago when I was there too!)
A museum that I can't remember the name of. :)
This is the entrance to my old piso (apartment). We lived above a dentist office, so in the mornings I was able to exercise in our apartment and not worry about the pounding :) I also did some running in place on the little balcony to try and thwart (unsuccessively I might add) weight gain (which I'm sure was from the emotional eating you do as a missionary.  The mission is full of ups & downs. haha).
And speaking of emotional eating...this panadería was just down the road from us. So tempting! Chad and me stocked up on a few things while we were there :)
There's a story to this statue. One day my companion, Adrienne Rumsey, wanted to take a picture at this statue. I was really down that day for some reason & just didn't feel like faking a smile for a picture. "Smile Hermana!", my companion said. "I can't. I don't feel like smiling." And she laughed at me & took the picture anyways. Well, I eventually smiles...and laughed after I saw how ridiculous I looked! Man, I miss that girl!  This picture is partially for her!  Look, I'm smiling this time! :)
Parque de Florida...also just a short walk from our piso.  During Christmas time, they turn this whole park into a mini replica of Bethlehem.  It's pretty cool.  We thought it was comical that included in the city of Bethlehem was a predominant butcher shop that showcased a butcher slaughtering a pig.  Maybe they should brush up on Jewish culture a bit more :)


Spain- Vitoria, day 3

Sunday was our 3rd day in Spain & we got to go to Vitoria. I spent 6 months of my mission in this city. It's a special city to me. It felt like a pivotal point for me as a missionary and as a person.

It was so awesome to get to go to church & see a lot of familiar faces! Some remembered me. Others didn't. It has been 10 years, so I can't blame them.

 Chad and me saw some pretty amazing things while in Spain, but both of us agree that this day was our favorite.

Below- us with some members of the ward in Vitoria.  Sadly, some left before I got my camera out. Maitane (rt. of Chad), Javier (left of me, who is now married to a wonderful girl- Marcía (who looks so familiar to me...but we were having a hard time figuring out if she was there when I was), & I can't for the life of me remember the other name right now & I keep forgetting to ask Chad!
Javier's family, Rafa & Beni (Oh, I hope I'm spelling their names right!) invited us to lunch at their restaurant.  Oh my goodness!!!  It was soooo good!!  And it was soooo fun talking to them!! They just make people feel so welcome & comfortable around them.  Chad & me still talk about how cool they were.  It's people like that that make us want to move to Spain.

Pan & Alubias
Flan & Arroz con Leche
I'm so sad that I didn't get another picture of all of us there eating! I just got this panoramic which kinda distorts everyone...
...But I did get a video of them explaining how to make arroz con leche. This may be the most entertaining to those who know anyone in the video or that have a love for hearing real spanish like I do.
While visiting, someone asked me who I had taught while I was in Vitoria.  I mentioned a woman named Miorara (once again, I hope I'm spelling it right!).  She was from Romania, so I figured she was long gone & back in Romania.  To my surprise, she was still in Spain!  Next thing I knew, Marcía was on the phone arranging things with Miorara so we could meet up! 

We met in front of the Catedral Nueva (a place that I'd literally pass every single day!).

Below- me, Alexandra (who was only 7 or 8 when I first met her), Marian, & Miorara.

Miorara & Alexandra were both baptized, but it was the transfer after I left Vitoria.
Once again, great food & great company!!
Antonio was an addition that I met for the first time this trip.  He's such a cutie with lots of energy like our Liam.  He made us miss our boys!
Does anyone else see Vanessa Hudgens?  Alexandra is a beautiful girl!
Miorara.  Another beauty.  Oh, how I love this lady!  It was sooo good to see her!!
The family...minus one that had already gone to bed :)


Spain- Day 2, Bilbao

Warning! Long post ahead! When we first got to Spain, I was so trigger happy with my camera. I wanted to capture every little detail so that I could remember it all. The below picture- I wanted to remember the apartments and all the people in the calle (street).
Somehow we wandered into a farmers market thinking it was a mall. I can still remember the smell of the fish. Pew! But Chad thought it was pretty cool. And actually, it is pretty cool. I love how important food is to the Spanish culture. They love food...but in a different way than us Americans. Food is more of an art. Meals take time. Time in the preparation. Time in the eating. You know the scripture/prayer, "Give us this day our daily bread", for them it's a more literal thing. Whereas I have a freezer stocked full of bread, they might go to the local bakery everyday & get fresh bread. I love that. I think there's lessons to be learned there.
This was the first cathedral or church that I took pictures of. If only I knew how many I'd be seeing!
Plaza Nueva
Empanada de Atún (Tuna Empanada)
Pixtos...translated, umm, how to describe it...finger food with, in this case, anchovies, octopus & squid?? It was an experience. I'll say that much. But I'm not super big on seafood. But oh, we also had Spanish tortilla! Yum! For those wondering, spanish tortilla is basically an omelet of potatoes & maybe onions. Sounds simple, but it's sooo good!
Napolitanas & something that I don't remember the name of that resembles a chocolate covered pretzel, but tastes nothing like that!
And if you see a store with a bunch of pig legs hanging, what should you do? Make your husband stand in front of it so you can take a picture of coarse! No, but really, this is such a common food in Spain. I remember thinking it was such an odd thing that one of my neighbors had a pig leg sitting on her window. Ever wonder where Jamón Serrano comes from- this would be it.
Near...far.  (I don't know about you, but I can't help but hear Elmo in my head when I say that phrase). 
Funicular that took us above the city...
...so I could get some amazing panoramics...
...and so we could take pictures by this sculpture thingy!
Then off to see the Guggenheim museum.
And we finished the day off with a chorizo sandwhich & paté. (Man, I feel very cultured saying I ate paté!  But I must give credit, where credit is due.  I was initially exposed to paté by my very cultured, Danish mission companion- Anna Brock.  And with that said, maybe I am very cultured- I have a friend in Denmark!  How cool is that?!)