Here we go! Tomorrow is D-Day. We are off on a one-year adventure. We designed this trip in our hearts and minds and now we finally get to live it. Although the name of our blog is “Our Year in Spain”, prior to our arrival in Spain we have planned a two month trip to retrace our family’s history in Europe. The map below shows our itinerary and if you zoom in and click on the pins or lines you can read why these places are significant to us.
First Stop: Singapore
What was meant to be a relaxing two days in Singapore to cushion us from the stress of departure and jetlag has turned into us preparing to enter a zone of hazardous smoke haze from Indonesia’s intense forest fires. We have been told not to leave the hotel.
Second Stop: Paris and Versailles
Paris has captured the imaginations of the boys in our family and will be our only purely tourism-inspired destination. Our soon to be 9 year old son begged us to go to Paris and so we will be exploring the romantic sights and streets of this famous city. Versailles holds a visit to the famous chateau that made such an impression on me when I was 9 years old. We will also spend the day with my late uncle’s “adopted family” – the family who took him in when he was stuck in France from 1948 until 1957 after the Russians closed off Hungary via the “iron curtain”.
Third Stop: Geneva and Crans-Montana, Switzerland
The town where my Swiss school friends live. In 1990 I spent a year in the French mountainous part of Switzerland (Valais) as an exchange student. Now my school friends mostly live in Geneva and Lausanne so we will be having a reunion party in Geneva hosted by a lovely Swiss friend I have not seen in 17 years. Crans Montana is the ski resort town where I spent my exchange year in 1990. Here I will show my husband and children where I went to school in the nearby city of Sion, we will go for mountain walks and swim in the lakes and visit friends who still live in the mountains. This is where where I learnt to speak French
Fourth Stop: Helsinki, Finland
The birthplace of my husband’s mother and her family. This is where my husband spent his summer holidays as a boy, travelling from Mexico to the Finnish summer cottage to spend time with his grandmother and cousins. My mother-in-law, brother-in-law and his family will fly from California to meet us here and we will have a family reunion with the rest of the Finnish relatives. My husband also lived in Helsinki for three years in his twenties and he can’t wait to show us his old stamping ground.
Fifth Stop: Budapest, Hungary
The birthplace of both my parents and where they lived until their mid teenage years when they escaped the communist regime as refugees. My parents will fly from Australia to meet us here and embark on a trip into our family’s past. We have commissioned the services of a wonderful professional genealogist in Budapest who, in the last five weeks, has traced back seven generations of our family in Hungary and has collected newspaper clippings, official documents and the locations of gravestones throughout Budapest. We can’t wait to learn more about our past, teach our children about what happened to our family and why they left Hungary. And after all the historical journeying, our wonderful friends from home will meet us in Hungary for the Sziget Music Festival and also for a holiday by Lake Balaton – the place where my parents used to holiday when they were children.
Sixth Stop: Granada, Spain
And finally we will arrive in Granada, Spain to start “our year in Spain”. The children will start school on 2nd September at the local public school close to our home in the Albayzin (moorish quarter) of Granada that dates back to the 9th Century. We do no know yet whether we have any formal connection to Spain other than a love of the language and culture however we do know that my husband’s paternal Mexican family were originally from Spain. Perhaps this will be our next exploration…in between enjoying the spoils of this beautiful city.