Sunday, October 11, 2015

Family - Madrid, Segovia, Valencia, Barcelona, Toledo, and Baby Gracie!

This week I am thankful for family.  We had a wonderful week with my mother, Opal Womack, and my sister, Karen Paige.  I love being with family!  We were also together on my dad's birthday, October 7th.  How I wish he could have been with us during our wonderful week of sightseeing!  I have wished many times during our mission that I could talk to him and share with him the experiences that we are having.  How grateful I am for my mom and dad, and for the example that they have always set for me!

Monday morning we headed to the airport to meet my mom and sister.  I was so good to see them again.  It had been over 18 months since we had seen them.  It was a happy, tearful reunion.

These two ladies were troopers.  They kept going all afternoon hoping to adjust to the new time zone. They had their first cultural experience at our local bocadillo shop.  Mom wasn't too sure about the hanging slabs of meat! And then we did a little bit of shopping at the outlet mall.  Elder Larsen was happy to let us shop while he worked at the office.  And believe it or not, we didn't buy a thing!

Tuesday morning, I headed over to the mission home early to help with the making of breakfast burritos for the missionaries.

Hermana Pack had these two cute hermanas do a role play about dressing their best.  They were pretty cute!

Mom and Karen came over at 12:00.  They were wonderful helpers in the kitchen, and it felt like old times for us to all be in the kitchen working together!  We repeated the barbeque chicken sandwiches, pasta salad, baked beans, chips, and we delicious Chocolate Lush for dessert.

After cleaning up from the meal, we headed downtown to see some sights.  We went to Plaza del Sol and to the Prado.

Always interesting sights downtown!

It was nice to be together with Wednesday morning, we drove to Segovia.  I have posted photos of two other trips to Segovia, but I just have to share a few more because I do love this town and its beautiful setting!

Then we went to the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso.  This palace is on the forested slope of the mountainside, and the location is beautiful.  This site had been a favorite hunting ground for hundreds of years, where they had built hunting lodges.  But in 1721, Phillip V began the construction of the palace and gardens, fashioned after Versailles.  The palace is very beautiful, but no photos are allowed inside.  But, the gardens are amazing, with over 1500 acres.  I loved it! 

 Have I mentioned that I love trees?  And we loved the very large evergreens!

On our way home, we stopped at Makro, which is a Costco/Sam's type of store.  Mom and Karen were amazed at the selection of jamón. It is just hard to understand how there are entire sections of stores that carry a product that we don't have in the United States.  They do not like the smell of it any better that I do!

After we got back from Segovia, I met the hermanas at the chapel to practice Hermana Harper's violin part for our upcoming choir for Stake Conference.  These two hermanas are the best!

Thursday morning, we left very early to drive to Valencia.  We were able to take a tour of the Lladró Museum in English.  Mom and Karen loved it as much as we did.  I hadn't thought we would be back for a second visit, but we thoroughly enjoyed it.  

Karen bought this beautiful girl with flowers.  Grandma got this elegant Holy Family.

And decided that since Elder Larsen started collecting Lladró as a missionary almost 40 years ago, that we needed one that represented his love of fishing.  This could be him with our sons, or him with the grandsons.  That love of fishing seems to be carrying on to the next generation.
 We drove to downtown Valencia hoping to see the Ceramic Museum before 2:00 and the closing for mediodía.  We did not make it in time, but we saw some beautiful architecture.

Then we headed on the highway to Barcelona.  We were planning to stop and eat something on the way.  We finally decided we would have to pull off the highway into one of the small towns, Torreblanca, to find a place to eat.

We chose this restaurant and we were so pleased with our entire experience, lovely restaurant, the nicest waitress, and absolutely delicious food.

We loved the drive from as we were able to see the ocean most of the way.  

We got to Barcelona in the early evening and decided to head into the city on the train to see some sights by night.  Here we have Elder Larsen visiting with the passengers.  

Our first stop was the famous Sagrada Família.  Its construction started in 1882, by Antonio Gaudí. When he died in 1926, only a fourth of the project was completed.  Supposedly it will be finished in 2026.  It is a very unusual building!

We stopped for a little ice cream, chocolate and churros.

 We all had a greater appreciation for the Barcelona Cathedral by night and by day.

And Karen was very impressed with the gelato displays.

Friday we spent the day on the bus enjoying the city tour.  The weather was nice enough to enjoy being on top of the bus where we had a wonderful view of a beautiful city.  

And here we have Elder Larsen taking his first selfie.  He did this for us only because he arms are the longest!

More Sagrada Família by day.

I just loved this beautiful old hospital.

Beautiful buildings were everywhere!

                                                                                      I love these trees.  They have such an
                                                                                      unusual blossom on them.

Bullfighting has been outlawed in this region.  This bullfighting ring is now a shopping mall.

More buildings by Gaudí.  They are just weird to me!

                         Columbus Statue

For the Soccer Fans of the World

The torch from the 1992 Summer Olympics

We left early on Saturday morning so that we could arrive in Toledo in time to see the Alcazar museum and the cathedral.  It was a long drive, but we loved our visit in Toledo.  We started our afternoon in Toledo with a typical Spanish lunch.

Then we headed to the Alcazar.

And while we were in the museum, we received very exciting news.  Cale and Katie now have a second little girl, Gracie May, 6 lbs. 13 0z., 18.75 inches.  Isn't she just precious!

After the Alcazar, we toured the cathedral.  

And then we got lost on the winding, twisting streets.  It was horrible for my mother.  She was such a trooper the for the entire trip, but her feet had about had it.

We did get some beautiful photos from the back side of Toledo.

  And once again, I wish I had a good camera, but this will help me remember the memory!

 On Sunday, we had choir practice before and after church.  

Caroline will be singing a trio on the second verse of "The Lord is My Shepherd, " with Elder Ruiz and Elder Koeven.  Elder Regehr is our very serious-looking pianist.  I am very grateful that we have him serving here so that he can share his talent with us.

The Packs invited us over for dinner.  We enjoyed some yummy jambalaya.  Karen brought a guest book for me to give to the Packs.  I am sure that in the next three years, there will be many guests in their home that they will want to remember.   

What a busy week it has been!

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