Sunday June 30, Donostia to Madrid
6+ hours on a train, make it to the hotel, take a nap because everyone was exhausted, then dinner at Botin's.....a bit of a splurge, but the last night in Europe isn't the time to save ten bucks. Botin's is (arguably) the world's oldest restaurant, and they are famous for their open wood oven. Their two most famous dishes are roasted suckling pig and lamb. This is also the restaurant that Jake and Brett go to at the end of The Sun Also Rises, so it has gotten a bit touristy. But the food is still good and the service exceedingly traditional.....and if you manage to get reservations in the wine cellar (the oldest part of the restaurant) you won't mind the tourists. Afterwards we knew we should get to bed early, but it was our last night. So we wandered to the main square for a drink, a snack, and watching Europe turn dark. One of only 3 or 4 times the entire trip we even saw "dark" because a) it doesn't get dark there in summer till after 10, and on the Camino you tend to be in bed before 9.
|Outside the famous Botin's. Not a bad way to say adios to Spain|
|On the left, Mary and and Brittany descend down the stairs under|
the bar and into the cellar.....the best spot in Botin's. Above, Kepa
chews on a cookie given especially to him by the waiter while
wearing a new outfit purchased in San Sebastian
|The Plaza Mayor twinkles as the sky turns to night.|
Alarm set for 620, 2 hour flight to London, 3 hour layover, then an 8 hour flight to DC, get to the rental car, and drive two hours to a hotel. Fun, fun, fun. Not. Kepa did pretty darn well on these flights, but by the time he got in the car in Virginia he was DONE (and screamed for two hours). He loved the Camino, but he doesn't seem as much of a fan of the getting there and back. Join the group! We told him when we hit London that he'd heard his last "hay que guapo, hay que rubio, hay que simpatico", and that he was no longer "The Famous Camino Baby Kepa". I guess we all take the end of our stardom hard. But we all have to learn when it is over:
|Check out the hair!!|
We helped move my mom's stuff out of one storage spot to another, picked up our car in Lexington, ate a quick lunch at Lexington House Restaurant (of course!), and headed back to New Orleans over these days. A long trip home, and only to find that it had rained more than we expected and our back yard is a jungle. Plus all of the normal just-back-from-a-trip house work (multiplied because we were gone so long). Plus my summer course has already started, so I'm already back to work (yeah!). Someone's gotta pay for all of this somehow!
The good news is that we did make it back to NOLA in time for the fourth of July fireworks on the Mississippi River.....a family tradition every July 4th (at 9 PM) and New Years Eve (at midnight). A very solid fireworks display in one of the best settings for it in the world.....dueling barges parked in the middle of the Mississippi. You can't beat that. It was a little melancholic to be back suddenly for the 4th of July.....not because of any negative American feelings (at all).....its just that when you are already a bit melancholic about being back from a great international trip, it is hard to suddenly get up for the most American of all American days. Some beignets and fireworks helped. The K-man was mesmerized
|The fry man can, the fry man can. A batch of beignets being dropped. Yes please!|
|Kepa staring at the fireworks to the left as the fireworks to the right go off in the background.|
So, it is over. Hard to believe. In the end, it was one of the best trips we ever took, and definately one of the most important. Part of it was the challenge, and the sense of fulfillment in accomplishing something so difficult. Part of it was getting to see parts of Spain, a culture we love, that we'd never otherwise get to see. Part of it was being able to be gone so long (without a Camino, how could one ever afford such extravagant length?). Part of it was getting to meet so many random people you'd never otherwise meet, and then see them day in and day out without staying in one location (and we enjoyed that aspect more than we imagined we would). Part of it was getting to immerse ourselves with so many local Spaniards (a luxury created by Kepa coupled with Bri's language skills, I actually think many peregrinos feel very isolated from the culture through which they walk. Sadly, many of them don't mind that). Mostly, however, it was having so much time to spend together as a family, removed not from pressure and struggles (there were plenty of those), but removed from the types of pressure and struggles that make up our normal, day to day life. We felt like the first year with Kepa flew by and disappeared. This Camino really gave us the chance to slowdown and enjoy our wonderful child. We may not be "baby people", but we really love our baby.....and we are only getting one crack that the baby stage (since there will not be a Kepa 2.0)......so the ability to slow down, savor, and remember this fun stage is priceless.
We have a couple more blog posts coming before this blog gets officially retired (middle of July). So stay tuned (or, if you have good taste, you already stopped reading months ago! :) ).