Tag Archives: justmoved

summer holiday ‘casals’ in Spain

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We are now in our 4th week of in total 11 weeks of summer holiday. Eleven?? Yes, 11! While the summer school holiday in the Netherlands is 6 weeks, here in Spain the kids are roaming free in the summer for almost 3 months. I have to admit they have a reason for it, since the summer months are just too warm…we reached 40°C last week and the average is between 32-35°C. So it’s often too hot to do anything, especially in the midday hours (that’s why Spanish people are having ‘siesta‘ between 2 and 4pm, or simply stop working and having an extensive lunch). I think going to school with this temperature would not be such a good idea.

But 11 weeks…first time hearing it I had a shiver and inevitably came into my mind: What should we do in those weeks??
I know the summer break should be used to relax and recharge. I know that we should not entertain our kids too much. I know that being bored every now and then is good for our kids’ creativity. And in-between those long weeks we could also spend 2-3 weeks to have our family holiday. But still…11 weeks seem so endless!

Now, in our 4th week, I must say we are going good. Time flies indeed. And my girl has grown more like a friend rather than a child I should entertain all the time. She could create her own play or project and I feel like walking alongside instead of pulling or pushing her. We go out together and discover new places, but also stay at home having a chat or other cozy moments. That’s so nice! Still some long weeks to go, but I’m sure we will survive, haha!

For those who needs some activities for the kids, one thing I learned this summer in Spain is that there are lots and lots of summer courses organized in the summer months. It’s called “casal“, and you can find them in all sorts, activity types, prices etc. From sport to dance, from art to technics…in Spanish or English or Catalan (or mixed, like most)…only in the morning till lunch or the whole day…the offers are almost infinite. If both parents have to work (or the kids simply want to join the activities), it’s a perfect way to have fun. The signing up often starts months earlier and the popular casals get full very quickly. Almost all casals are held in June, July and the first week of September, but not in August. From what we experienced last year, in August the whole city seems to be asleep…

Since this is the first time for Sky to join a casal, we only chose two. She did an art casal two weeks ago and this week a theatre casal. And she loves them!! She even already said next year she wants to do these two again…at least, but probably more! And we even just prolonged the theatre casal because she’s just so curious what theme they will be doing next week and she asked me if she can come for another week. Of course!
I’m so happy to see that she enjoys the casals so much. At the beginning I was a bit worried about the language, since the official language is Catalans, and that’s her least strong language. But apparently it’s not a problem at all. When it’s needed they will talk in Spanish, and joining casals means her Catalans is improving a lot! A win-win situation to maintain her foreign languages during this long summer holiday.

So here are some photo’s of her casals results. The theme of the art casal is ‘journey to Paris’, so they made a 3D Louvre and Eiffel tower, sculpted a clay Gargoyle, painted themselves as Mona Lisa, drew like a Monet, painted Notre Dame, the Thalys high speed train and the tourists’ boat along the Seine river…

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And at the theatre casal the story goes about the wolf. But instead of being the big scary wolf like in the Red Riding Hood, the 3 little pigs and the seven little goats story, this wolf is lonely and wanted to make friends with all the characters in those stories. I really beam with pride watching the video of their performance. My girl really seems to have fun. She did a great job playing her role, and speaking her dialogue in a language she didn’t know at all one year ago!

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She is one of the 4 (instead of 7) little goats.

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The star of the end dance at the party of the wolf!

About last Saturday, ear piercing and Xmas concert

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I forgot my key this morning. As usually we went out of the house together and Joop dropped Sky and I off nearby the school, on the way to his work. After making sure Sky was in her classroom I went home by train, and just in front of the gate of our house I realized I did not have my key with me.

So here I am, sipping a cup of ‘cafe con leche‘ at a cafe at the commercial centre, about 20 minutes walking from our home. Waiting for Joop to ride home during his lunch break to lend me his key. Writing a blog post to kill the time, about our weekend. Because last Saturday was one exciting day for Sky.

She had her ears pierced!!!

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She was never as sure as now. In the Netherlands she was one of the last girls in the class without earrings. One by one her girlfriends got theirs, but Sky wasn’t really eager to get one. Interested in, yes, but it’s not before we’re in Spain that she mentioned her will to get pierced. We waited till the approaching Christmas holiday. Because she won’t be allowed to swim for 3-4 weeks. Next week she will have to miss one swimming lesson at school, then followed by 2 weeks holiday. So in the new year everything will be just healed and well.

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Actually it goes really well already. She has got almost no pain. We could clean the ears, drip a bit of alcohol and turn the earrings around without any significant problems. And her excitement…it’s so amazing to see. How happy and proud she is. Beaming and glowing like a grown-up girl. And she is! Those small shiny things in her ears make her suddenly looks more mature…. Oh my mother’s heart…. ❤️

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Where in the Netherlands it’s usually the jewellery stores that do ears piercing, in Spain you will have to go to a Farmacia (a pharmacy/drugstore). We went to a big Farmacia nearby our house on Friday, but were asked to come back on Saturday morning, because the lady specialized in piercing children’s ears will be available by then. So we did, and we were very satisfied with the unbelievably proffesional and super friendly service.

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Sky was asked to choose which earrings she liked most; pink flowers it is. The lady drew two black dots on her earlobes and before we knew it she already punched one ear. One minute later the other one. So quick, and almost painless (according to Sky)! Mission completed and another milestone achieved!

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But the Saturday was not over yet. While Sky was still hyper-enthousiast about her new look, at 4 she had to be at school, wearing her full uniforms. For the grand rehearsal of the yearly Christmas concert! At 6 we, the parents and other guests, were welcomed at the school’s Auditorium. After some instrumental performances by senior students and music teachers, all the first grade students (well, not all, about two third of all students because participation is not obligatory), wearing Santa hats (so cute!) came onto the stage and performed the Christmas songs. 2 English songs, 2 in Spanish and 2 in Catalan. It was so entertaining. We had such a fun and memorable night.

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Watching her singing those songs, in 3 languages she barely knew 4 months ago… I was so moved. This whole adventure, we can’t be sure of anything. But one thing I’m sure of: it will bring many more beautiful moments like this in our path. 🙂

Festa Major; big party it is!

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It won’t be a surprise if I say we love to see and experience other cultures. We’re so lucky we now live in a beautiful country with a rich history and an unbelievable grandness of culture. In these 2 months of time, we have witnessed so many things and those are just a small part of what this country has.

blog16The “Festa Major“, for example. It’s Catalan for “fiesta mayor/big party”. Celebrated once a year, but it seems like we could find one every weekend, haha…partly because every area in every city in Catalonia seems to have one and because it is summertime. There are festa major’s in the winter though, but mostly are held in the summer. We have been to two of them, one from our own city-part where we live and the other is from the neighbourhood next to ours.

Festa Major usually lasts for 3 or 4 days (up to one week, in Barcelona for example). And it’s full of music, dance, children’s amusement, food (eat together!), sport (bike together or color-run), sometimes a funny competition (who eats the most puddings) but can also be a “serious” one (who cooks the most delicious paella), and sometimes you can also witness Spanish magnificent heritage like the castell (human tower) or the gegantes (parade of giant costume figures). Here below some video’s and photo’s of our “Festa Major” experience:

It’s always started, and accompanied, by music. The opening of the Festa Major (it’s also like an announcement for the whole neighbourhood):

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The castell (human tower):

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The gegantes (it’s not a very big one, nevertheless a wonderful experience to see especially because it’s our first one! The two biggest gegantes and their ‘child – girl’ usually stand at the Monastery Museum of Sant Cugat. It’s great to recognize them on the street):

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Children are mostly entertained during the whole ‘party’:

Foam party:

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Water slide:

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Bubbles:

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A magician show:

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Zumba dancing (this is mostly for ladies):

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Remote-Controlled toy car race (and this one is mostly for big boys!):

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Eating super yummy paella with 180 other neighbours. The paella is cooked for hours in a giant paella-pan. A specialist paella catering made it (they are known for their world record in making the biggest and the smallest paella in the world!). They started early in the morning and finished at around 2 pm. Before that we had to buy tickets for a package of paella, salad, water and wine (per table), for a very small amount of money. It was finger-licking delicious…and so cozy!! A lady of the committee came specially to greet us, knowing we are not Spanish and very new in the neighbourhood. She welcomed us and said that everyone is part of the big family…so sweet! 🙂

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This is just a small impression of the Festa Major happening. We can’t be in all places for all days, but I hope you get the idea. About how fun this festival is. About how people are coming together to celebrate, to eat and drink, to meet other neighbours, to entertain the kids, or just out of curiousity but were surprised by the hospitality… like us! 🙂