Adventures with my Mom

Living abroad means that you can’t always wish your mom a happy Mother’s Day in person. Luckily for me, my cup still runneth over with the memories of our most recent visit.

There she is, on a wild and crazy Garcia adventure this Spring.


This is the second installment of the photos and experiences from our trip to Portugal and Northern Spain last month. The time in Northern Spain marked many firsts for all of us, an increasingly challenging task when traveling with Mom. She’s one well-traveled little lady! Thankfully her travels often bring her to us. Unfortunately, we’re now solidifying a reputation for not being able to deliver good holiday weather.

The alternate title for this post was No Style in Spain. Never in my life have I packed so poorly for a trip. Both mom and I packed with hopeful ignorance for the weather we wished it would be. No preparation whatsoever for the weather it was. This meant that in order to find any warmth or comfort, we needed to wear all of our ill-chosen articles, all at the same time, in bulky, poorly coordinated layers. Using any toilet was an effort.

Turns out that “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain” is a bit of a lie. Darn My Fair Lady liars. We found rain all along the coast of northwest Spain. Lucky for us, we were traveling in our over-sized American style van, well protected from the rain. Most people arriving in these towns are arriving by foot, pilgrims of the Camino, headed to Santiago de Compostela.

The bad weather resulted in this:

It was unavoidable.

I can hear what you’re thinking, “socks in sandals is ALWAYS avoidable.”

Let me tell you people, it was not. I only packed one pair of covered shoes and they were soaked. We were in the van so I had socks on when Manolo pulled over at yet another beach that “had to be seen”. Dry socks felt like nirvana to my freezing toes, I couldn’t take them off.

It was simply another step on the shameful path of poor fashion in Spain.

Poor G’ma was equally ill prepared for the hostility of the weather.

Channeling my inner unicorn.

We began our tour in Spain with a visit to a replica of the Pinta, one of the three ships in Christopher Columbus’s historic voyage.

Elegant display of the history of this part of the world.

The pretty interior at the Paradore, a beautiful hotel we did not stay at…

The drink cart of my dreams, one that every home needs.

G’dawg (as Manolo calls her) and Manolo at the Paradore in Baiona.

D by the sea. 💙

One of MANY pretty trees we stopped to marvel at. Manolo has declared that our next home needs to have a bottle brush tree in the yard.

Pretty boats on a dreary day.

Looking over Baiona from atop the fortress.

An ode to that feeling when you’re having a very bad day.

We arrived in Santiago de Compostela. This is the symbol of the Camino trail. It can be found everywhere hear, leading the pilgrims to Santiago.

The square at Santiago de Compostela. Usually full of excited pilgrims, having reached their destination. The weather seems to have dampened everyone’s spirits, quite literally.

A food market in Santiago de Compostela – a brief reprieve from the rain.

Amazing sushi served in Northwestern Spain to a family of Canadian/Mexican/Swiss made by a Brazilian Japanese chef. The world is a weird and wonderful place.

A perfect symbol for the end of the Camino trail. This was the one place G’ma had been to before when she finished her epic Pilgrim journey a few years ago.

A pretty Spanish scene.

The grand cathedral that greets the pilgrims.

A trio of beautiful women adorned in traditional Spanish costumes in Santiago.

Stories say that many a ship have been lost in these seas.

Finisterre or Fisterra, it is called both and was once considered where the earth ended and the sea began. Don’t let the blue sky and palm trees fool you. It was COLD here.

Deceptively calm seas.

Cold and windy weathers makes for great hotel lounging.

We discovered a funny Michelin restaurant at the end of the earth. The paella was worth enduring the snooty waiter who clearly believed that HE was the Michelin star. And the bathroom had a coin operated hair straightener…classy!

A beautiful Spanish old soul.

Dangerous. I’ll say. The ocean is angry here at the end of the earth.

G’ma and Helena. Never turn your back on the ocean…or just this once for a photo.

Pretty but so very wild!

The boardwalk to the Atlantic ocean. Amazing how much Northwestern Spain reminded us of Canada’s east coast. We stopped at ALL the beaches. Manolo is a passionate tour guide, not to let a spectacular sea-scape go unnoticed.

After freezing at the end of the earth, we were seeking less hostile civilization so we booked two nights in A Coruña. Such a delightful surprise.

The harbour front in A Coruña.

Pretty old buildings.

The harbour view.

The square which is named after Maria Pita, who is believed to have defeated an English soldier to prevent an occupation. Good girl-power town.

Many of the buildings here all shared the same white framed facade.

I notice the beauty of boats much more than I used to.

Our hotel here was the only one we found on the whole trip with a pool. It was 13 degrees here. The water was warmer than the air. Crazy kids.

Exploring in A Coruña. At the surf beach.

The Camino symbol followed us everywhere on this trip.

Manolo & Helena in the Maria Pita square.

Where the cool kids play.

This colour IS Helena. Bright, vibrant, unique and beautiful.

When Spanish balconies live up to your stereotype imagination.

A Coruña is known for the Tower of Hércules, dating back to the second century.

At the centre of our world.

It really was windy everywhere on this trip.

My Honey, connecting with his Spanish roots.

The view from the Tower of Hércules.

There are moments when these two really do have fun together. Usually at a volume the rest of us do not enjoy…

Finally, socks & sandals redeemed.

A famous beach here, The Cathedral, only open during low tide. G’ma and I were not brave enough to race the waves.

Unpredictable water down here made for very tricky photo moments. A great place for schadenfreude watching people lose the race and get drenched.

These two, they share a deep love of the ocean.

Experimental photos of the kids.

I find myself sneaking more and more photos of the kids. They are changing so much at this age.

Such a pretty setting for a wedding if only the wind weren’t so insane here. A poor bride would take off like a kite!

Beautiful lighthouse warning sailors of another ragged, raging coastline.

Manolo will pull over for every beach and every undiscovered flower, tree or bird. I’m quite sure that in a past life he was a horticulturist/arbourist/ornithologist.

We tried to balance coastal days with old city exploring too.

Pretty, old & colourful buildings.

The lively lunch hour in Lugo. The people watching in this town was fabulous. Far more stylish than their neighbours to the west.

More of the white facades.

Pretty views from the wall.

A stroll along the 2km wall that surrounds Lugo. The Roman wall of Lugo was constructed in the 3rd century and is the only remaining wall completely intact.

The cathedral in Lugo.

Lunch in Lugo. A lovely old town.

If there’s a pretty bike, you know I will photograph it.

One of our favourite stops on the trip. Oviedo.

A gorgeous big park in Oviedo.

So many lush trees and flowers.

Beautiful, ornate old buildings.

Oviedo felt like an undiscovered, uncrowded Florence. Bliss. Shhh, don’t tell the Internet.

The blue sky is the perfect backdrop for these old towns.

City hall at Oviedo

Oviedo cathedral.

Manolo and G’ma admiring the market flowers.

Love the vibrant facades.

These cala lilies grow like weeds here. So pretty.

Such pretty facades in Oviedo.

G’ma asking for directions on her old-school paper map. I don’t know if we can really trust this pair, they look a little shifty.

I like big butts and I cannot lie…

The real spanish steps – not in Rome.
Always need to capture a flag shot.
We also explored the town of Gijon, another pretty city on the coast of Northern Spain.
Gijon G’ma. Cappuccino to keep us warm (and for entry into a free toilet!)
An increasing height difference between these two.
These two, always happy at a beach. Whose ready to surf?

G’ma ready to watch her grandkids catch some waves. Notice the bundled layers – not all of us would agree that this was surfing weather.

The face of a very happy surf kid. The photo doesn’t do justice to the chattering teeth.

Contemplating the waves.

G’ma on surf-support duty.

Always in support mode, this little lady has been steadfast in her support for all we do, even when it was the big move across the ocean. Though our distance is far, our hearts are always close.

Happy Mother’s Day Ma. Thank you for all that you are. We love you.


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