Trips to the US

May 23, 2009 - Posted by Erin in Trips to the US

I am really, really lucky. I was able to spend the week before last in Seattle for a conference for work. But the really lucky part – I was able to go back home to SF, then go to Seattle – one of my favorite places on earth.

My trip started with a stop in SF in which I was able to spend Mother’s Day with my mom and my family…and even do a little shopping :). After my one-day-visit to the Bay, I arrived in Seattle, where my grandma picked me up. Having lunch one on one with my soon-to-be 90-year-old grandma (mother of six kids, 11 grandchildren, and now six great grandchildren – to be seven within a couple months), is special enough, but I was actually able to spend three days with her. A real blessing.

On Monday after lunch, we went to visit my cousins’ then six-day-old daughter (who is also their first child). My goodness what a treat that was. She’s absolutely miniature, but perfectly adorable. I feel so lucky to have seen her at such a fleeting stage of her young life. Later that night we had dinner back on the island, where my grandma lives, with my aunt and uncle (and newly anointed grandparents).

The days passed with me commuting to and from the island on the foot ferry, which dropped me off right in front of the hotel where my conference was being held. Each day I couldn’t help but look out the window of the ferry at the choppy water, just feeling so incredibly lucky to have somehow ended up with lifestyle that has allowed me to travel the world to such special places. Going for a run one night on the quiet little island full of lush green trees and views of the water at every turn, I just smiled the whole time, thanking my lucky stars for sending me on such a trip.

On top of it being my favorite place on earth, it is especially refreshing because it is so completely different from Spain. Being around the laid back, down-to-earth people there just made me want to throw on my Ugg boots, wear my fleece jacket, get my Northface backpack, and just get comfy – no more uncomfortable shoes, impractical purses, and skirts with tights. There’s something so relaxing about the lifestyle and mentality there. Between the people and the scenery, I found that despite my incredibly busy week, I was totally at peace.

Thursday evening after the conference, I made a quick jaunt back to SF before hopping back on the plane to Madrid to begin yet another adventure. The travel may get tiring, but it’s worth it!

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March 23, 2009 - Posted by Erin in Trips to the US

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for me. I spent a good portion of my time in the Bay Area running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get all the darn visa stuff taken care of. And yes, in case you weren’t certain, and because I know you were all wondering, I am officially not a drug addict, mentally insane, or a felon…these are all things I had to have verified in order to obtain my visa from the Spanish Consulate in San Francisco.

The trip home was wonderful though, as usual of course. I OD’ed on sushi and Vietnamese spring rolls, which was really the only smart and logical thing to do. On Friday, my colleague at work in Madrid suggested sushi, which basically horrified me – considering I was burnt out on yummy SF sushi, the thought of Madrid wannabe (fairly positive I haven’t used that word since the early 90s) sushi basically sounded like a crime. We went to my favorite California cuisine restaurant instead….ironic, I know.

Arriving back to Madrid is always bittersweet, and this last time was no different. It definitely helped though that the weather here has been just insanely wonderful. Better than in CA for sure. We spent last weekend roaming through Retiro Park (something we love to do rain, shine or snow), and even took a day trip about an hour out of Madrid yesterday with a group of people to a darling little pueblo nestled up against a lake. It was there that we had a traditional lunch in a rustic little cabin-like restaurant right on the lake. What a treat!

Now it’s back to work again, and back to trying to finish up all the visa stuff. I am about 95% of the way there, but there are still some last things that need to be done here. But, I am at least legal at this point! My days of rebellion are over. Shoot, I am even driving legally now (with my fancy AAA international driver’s permit) – this is no fun!

I have to end this blog on a somber note – while I was home I learned of the sudden passing of a dear friend named Katie Marsh. I worked with Katie at Perfect Petals (a family friend’s flower business where I learned pretty much everything I know about flowers), where Katie was the boutinierre/corsage guru. I simply can’t think of a memory of Katie in which she wasn’t smiling or laughing. She was just such a happy, joyful person to be around. She leaves behind two sons, one of which is exactly my age – Katie and I always used to chuckle about how I literally stole her son’s birthday because my mom took the hospital appointment for my delivery that Katie wanted for her delivery – thus her son was born the morning after me. Katie and her sunny spirit will be very missed.

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January 3, 2009 - Posted by Erin in Traditions, Trips to the US

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I can’t even put into words how nice it was to be home for the holidays. I mean look at those darling kids in the pictures above! They are growing too fast! They are my cousin Jen’s children, Marley and Donovan. So cute!

I made the trip back to Madrid, arriving last Monday. It was definitely hard to return after two wonderful weeks at home. I have started to get back into the swing of things though. I only hope I can return home again very soon.

The holiday celebrations here are still far from over. Christmas was just a preview of New Year’s and then Three Kings Day. New Year’s was spent at Jacob’s parents’ house, as is tradition. It entailed a big dinner as usual – aperitivos including cheese and my favorite, his mom’s tortilla! Then for dinner we had salad, fish and potatoes (which I suppose could be considered relatively light compared to the usual multi-course meals here). All very delicious! Then at midnight we all sat by the TV with our grapes prepared – grapes? Say what? Yeah, grapes. At the strike of midnight everyone eats 12 grapes consecutively with each chime of the clock in Puerta del Sol (the Time Square of Madrid). It’s one big race to consume your grapes and at the same time try to distract those around you. The grape eating on New Year’s Eve is a national tradition here in Spain. Wikipedia says that the “tradition has its origins in 1909, when grape growers in Alicante thought of it as a way to cut down on the large production surplus they had had that year.”

Now we just await the final holiday celebration of Three Kings Day, or Los Reyes Magos, which falls on January 6th of every year. That day we will be heading to Jacob’s parents house again where the Three Kings will have left gifts for us by each of our shoes. Sounds a bit strange, I know, but then again I suppose a fat man sneaking in your house through your chimney and leaving gifts in a sock while eating your cookies sounds a bit strange too ;). Regardless, Santa and the Three Kings all have the same opinion on what to leave naughty boys and girls – coal!

Tomorrow we’ll be heading outside of Madrid about an hour away to visit a monastery called El Paular. I am still eager to discover new places here, I seem to never tire of it!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and wish you all a very happy new year!

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December 13, 2008 - Posted by Erin in Travels in Europe, Trips to the US

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Wow it’s been an exhausting couple of weeks. Two weeks ago I headed off to Bucharest again to visit eRepublik’s other office. I was there for three busy and productive days. I then headed back to Madrid to finish off my preparations for a big event in Paris.

For the last couple of months I’ve been doing tons of planning for this show called LeWeb in Paris. It’s Europe’s biggest Internet event and eRepublik was to have a booth there. As a result, all of the planning was in my hands. Events are not unfamiliar territory for me – big Internet events on the other hand are.

I headed off to Paris last Monday nervous as h, e, double hockey sticks. My first stop in Paris was the event location to make sure that our booth vendors had indeed shown up to build our booth. Sure enough two very friendly Germans were there and ready to go, telling me to return in five hours. With that taken care of I decided to go to my hotel (which is a story I won’t go into detail about – let’s just say I slept in my daytime clothes and switched hotels the second night). My hotel room wasn’t ready though and was in the middle of no where, so I decided to take a quick jaunt downtown to find a Starbucks (and get some Internet connection) and enjoy the city. On my trip I was able to make a quick stop at the Notre Dame. To my surprise, it was free to enter, so I figured why not! For some reason, I don’t think I had gone inside the last time I was in Paris, so it was a special treat to do so this time.

Later that day I returned to the event location to discover our beautiful booth nearly complete and ready to go. After that, another team member of mine and I decided to head to the Champs-Elysees to pick up something for the booth, but also to enjoy more of the city. My goodness is Paris beautiful during Christmas time! The Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Elysees were lit up like nothing I’ve ever seen before – it was stunning. The Tower was all blue, and the trees of the Champs-Elysees were covered in lights. A yummy dinner, and a crepe with nutella later, and I was one happy camper (until I returned to my hotel, but again, not worth discussing…I am such a hotel-phobe).

The next day was the big day. I headed to the event, managed to get the computers set up (two to register people and three to run on the screens with video), and set out all of the necessary handouts. We were ready to go. Over the course of the next two days we received so many compliments regarding how our booth was the very best at the conference and also how clever our little giveaways were (eRepublik passports with LeWeb visas in them). We had a packed booth pretty much the entire time. The event truly couldn’t have gone better. Everything just turned out perfectly. I even did a couple of interviews for different bloggers. It was all very fun and exciting. But SOOO exhausting. I returned to Madrid late Wednesday night and have pretty much been in a coma since.

Now it’s time to travel to my third country for the third Monday in a row – but this will be the best trip of all! I am so excited to go home to the US and celebrate Christmas American-style! I hope to see everyone while I am home!

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August 12, 2008 - Posted by Erin in Trips to the US

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So Jen’s wedding weekend has just come to a close, which means it’s about time for me to head back to Spain!!! How time flies!

The wedding was so perfect. It took place in the backyard of my aunt and uncle’s house (Jen’s parents). Nearly the entire family was there which made it an even more special occasion – not only because it was of course great to see everyone, but let’s be honest, the Campbell Clan knows how to have a good time! Cheers!

We couldn’t have asked for better weather for the afternoon wedding. Jen looked absolutely gorgeous. Her two little ones, Donovan and Marley, were a little piece of heaven as usual – both remained pleasantly distracted during the entire ceremony. The celebration went late into the night and could have easily carried on into the morning hours if we didn’t have to shut the music down. Good times!

And now I must return to Spain! It has been so incredibly refreshing to spend the last month and a half in the States visiting with all of my friends and family, getting things done, and most importantly, appreciating how fantastic the Bay Area is. As if I didn’t already love SF enough, I know now more than ever that it is truly the best place on Earth. The people, the culture, the landscape, the fresh air, the food, the variety, everything – it can’t be beat. No place on Earth has a better mix of all things wonderful than we do. Don’t get me wrong, Spain is amazing in a million different ways – the country is insanely beautiful, the culture so rich, the history so impressive, I can go on and on – it’s just that the Bay Area has a little bit of everything. My lesson learned that I now pass on to you is please don’t take it for granted!

I will be heading back this coming Monday with lots to look forward to in Spain. Two days after my arrival, my good friend Kim will be arriving for several days. Then, two days later, my other good friend Robin will arrive for another week. Then Jacob and I head to an island near Ibiza for his friend’s 30th birthday. And finally, the vacation is over my friends – I will officially begin working! No more teaching English classes (no way Jose!), I will be jumping back into the world of marketing (thank goodness!) and start making some use of myself again.

So, my adventure is evolving. I am sure I will have plenty more stories upon my return to Madrid, so keep an eye out for my regular blog updates again. I hope to stick to my once a week post for as long as possible. Don’t be strangers – email, call, come visit! I hope to see you all in December….tear :(.

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