Thursday, November 19, 2015

On Friday's events

Again I sit to write a post in which the first thing I have to do is apologize to my little, neglected blog for keeping away for so long. I don’t really have a readership (apart from my husband and my father—thanks guys!) and sometimes it’s hard motivation to sit and write my thoughts when I have no idea if anyone is reading them or why they are doing so. Apart from that, just the act of sitting and writing does not come as naturally to me as I thought it would which perhaps proves that my teenage dreams of becoming a writer were pretty ridiculous and idealistic--but then what teenage dreams aren’t?

The events in Paris however, have forced me to return to the blank page and say something. Since the attacks last Friday, I’ve been glued to my television and online news sources trying to learn the latest information in a strange and probably obsessive way in order to try to turn my thoughts in a productive direction.  At the same time, whenever I’ve ventured elsewhere on the internet this week, I’ve been disappointed in the American blogs I read for not even mentioning the events, instead preferring to concentrate on Thanksgiving recipes, fall fashion, and other frivolous things. While I totally understand that many prefer not to dwell on current events because they find them depressing, frustrating, or disillusioning, it somehow feels so wrong to me not to acknowledge major tragedies like these. The silence seems so much louder than a quick acknowledgement would be. 

When I learned of the attacks, I was actually on the point of heading to bed (I know, I’m a geezer who tucks in at ten).  I ended up not sleeping at all that night not only because my eyes were glued to my phone watching the latest developments unfold but also because I had a sick toddler in bed with me with an ear infection. My sweet little boy was tossing and turning and crying and tugging at his ear in pain. And as I held him pressed to my chest, soothing his hair and trying to whisper comforting things in his non-infected ear, I was overcome with sadness to think of how many people were not warm and snuggled next to their loved ones that night. My heart breaks for the people of Paris who are mourning the loss of their family members, neighbors and perhaps their way of life.

I am so sad to learn that after the attacks, there have been so many statements of fear mongering, vilification, mistrust and hate from people in the media, politicians and acquaintances on social media. Perhaps these feelings are a natural outgrowth to a tragedy like this. It’s instinctual, perhaps even visceral to respond in such a closed way. But I think we can only counter the hateful actions of these terrorists by showing a unified, loving, and humane response to all, no matter where they hail from.  It is tremendously generous to include the people of Paris in your prayers tonight. But spare a thought as well for all of the other innocents all over the world who are facing terror, tyranny, famine, isolation and desperation. And be kind to your fellow humans today at the very least. At the very most, endeavor to be loving.

(Photo: The New Yorker

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Three Years Old!

Life with a toddler can be pretty monotonous. Feeding them yogurt, peeling apples, wiping noses and bottoms, giving baths and brushing teeth amidst much protest. You get lulled by the normalcy of the days and then one day you wake up and poof! your little boy turns three years old and you think to yourself: how on earth did that happen?! Well, it's happened friends. And with the passing of another year, here I sit, writing every thought I've had about him for the past 12 months, or so it will seem to you, patient reader, from the length of this post. In a deviation from past annual updates, I've decided to make this a post about him and not a letter to him and I added categories. Since the post is so lengthy, I think I was better able to organize my thoughts this way. 

So here it is, a rambling summary of my little boy's life at age three:


Living in Barcelona, Roman is exposed to two languages on a daily basis plus a third at home with the Professor and I. In the public daycare that he attends, Catalan is the official language but Roman does hear Spanish from the other kids, from TV shows, from our family members and occasionallly, from us. For the most part, he understands that in different environments, a different language is spoken. So at home when he’s finished eating, he’ll give me his plate and say ‘No more’ but at school, he’ll say ‘No més’.  Sometimes, just to cover his bases, he’ll use more than one language at a time just to make sure he’s understood. I used to joke that he sounded like a hotel concierge, ‘Hola, hello’ and ‘goodbye, adiós, adéu!’ I think that he uses language in a clever and lazy way, picking the word that’s easiest to say in one of the three langauges he knows. So he’ll say the Catlan word for bread, ‘pa’ since it’s easier than saying both ‘pan’ and ‘bread’. He’ll also say ‘milk’ instead of ‘leche’ and ‘gracias’ instead of ‘thank you’ and ‘allá’ instead of ‘over there’. 

It could be because of all the languages and the fact that’s he’s still absorbing it all, but Roman’s conversational ability is not very advanced for a three year old. He knows the most words in English which is his mother tongue, but he tends to speak in sentences of mostly three or four words often omitting the verb, for example: ‘Look Mama tiger wet’. His favorite way to get your attention verbally is to say ‘LOOK AT THIS!’ which is his way of saying the following things: I want that, give it to me, help me, I spilled juice, I can’t find my lion, my foot is dirty. I could go on. You get the idea.

A couple of months ago, we became concerned about Roman’s language delay and started seeing a speech therapist. We weren’t sure if he was hesitant to talk because he didn’t know the words, or if he was physically having trouble forming them in his mouth, or because he just didn’t want to speak.  I was leaning towards the latter explanation because Roman will pick the easiest way to communicate with me, through gestures and pointing and the like, but will articulate a word when I feign miscomprehension. After weeks of sessions with his speech therapist (who he loves), Roman is now speaking more and copying almost everything he hears. Sometimes he says something we’re surprised he knows, for example the other day I asked him if I could have some of his peach and he very politely said ‘Of course’. Another time we were sitting together eating dinner and Roman looked up from his plate with a big smile on his face and said, ‘¡Qué bo! which is Catalan for ‘How good’ or in this context ‘Yummy!’ I think the greatest thing about this age is that we’re witnessing how he’s discovering and digesting the everyday things we say and to hear a normal sentence uttered in his sweet little voice is the best part. It’s hard not to smile when he looks at me solemnly and says, ‘no bath mama, ok? no bath’.

The Introverted Kid

We’d noticed for awhile that Roman tends towards introversion. He gets a little anxious and clings to us whenever we’re in big groups or meeting people he doesn’t know, he prefers to spend time one on one with children his age, he observes everything before he decides to engage and how much, and he can spend a lot of time focused on solitary games like stacking blocks, doing puzles, playing with his trains or Legos.  We never really spent much time thinking about Roman’s socialization skills until it was brought to our attention by his teacher and a school psychologist both of whom suggested that Roman’s lack of interest in playing as part of a group is something we should work on. Their concern is that when Roman begins pre-kindergarten in September where there is an even bigger student to teacher ratio (25:1), it’ll be easier for a loner like Roman to get lost in the shuffle. It’s not clear to Roman that when his teacher gives instructions to the group, they apply to him as well. Often, she’s told us, she needs to issue a personal invitation to him before he joins in. But after he does join the group, he’s happy to be there.  

As per the recommendations of the psychologist, the Professor and I are trying to work on Roman’s socialization skills which is a bit of an effort for us since the both of us are introverts too (albeit to different degrees). But lately, we’ve made more of an effort to invite one or two classmates of his to our home to play, or we meet up with our friends at the park and we always explain to Roman in advance where we’re going and who we’re seeing so that he’s prepared beforehand. We’ve noticed a big difference that could be due to what we’re doing or else just due to the fact that he’s growing up. When we celebrated his 3rd birthday with a party in our house, he played with all of our guests, sang along to the birthday song, and clapped and cheered as he was given presents. He even smiled and posed for pictures! It was such a big change from last year (remember this post?).


You can discover so much about a child just watching them play and seeing what their little imaginations come up with. Roman’s favorite toys are puzles, Legos, train sets and his animal figurines. Roman loves to pretend that his animal figurines or dinosaurs have feelings just like he does. One of his most common games is to pretend that one of his animals is the mommy and the smaller one is the baby. It’s so adorable to watch how he treats the baby animal and how he makes the mommy cuddle her baby. He also uses a soft, tender voice to talk to us about the baby. Indeed, Roman thinks that anything small is necessarily a baby version of something else and this extends to things besides toys (so for instance, apricots are baby peaches according to him). He also commonly uses his toys to reenact scenes from cartoons (like putting Mrs. Jumbo, the elephant on the train) or from his life. He’ll pretend that his dinosaurs have had a fight and the loser goes into the corner to cry. At this point, he’ll come to me and tell me that the dinosaur is crying and wants a kiss and I have to resolve the pretend dispute (normally it’s that one dinosaur hit the other or that the dinosaurs don’t want to share their food). 

A time for too many feelings

Looking back at the post I wrote for his second birthday, I can see that I wrote about Roman’s difficulty managing and expressing his feelings. This is kind of a continuing theme, unfortunately. It seems that sometimes, he just feels too much and his feelings overwhelm him (us too, actually). Whenever he feels frustrated or thwarted or overwhelmed or lonely, he likes to find a sad place and goes for self-appointed time outs. He’ll normally crawl under a bed or a table or else find some small, inaccessible corner where he’ll pout softly. In the beginning we’d go after him immediately and try to find out what was wrong. Now we’ll just kind of let him hang out there for a minute and then instead of trying to pull him out, we’ll ask if he’s finished crying or if he wants some more time. Normally he’ll scramble out and join us, troubles forgotten. However, there are times when time out is something we impose on him. If Roman is being disrespectful or aggressive (for instance, hitting someone or throwing his food on the floor), one of us’ll escort him to time out and tell him that we don’t like his behavior and when he’s ready to behave, he can come out. Then we’ll wait a minute and go ask him if he’s ready to come out. A humbled, ‘Sorry Mama and Papa’ normally puts an end to whatever happened.  We’ve also noticed that for discipline, counting to three works great. Often, I don’t even have to get to 3. He’s doing whatever he’s supposed to do by 2.


He’s not at all the adventurous baby he once was. He used to try anything no matter how weird looking or novel, now he certainly won’t. The only way I’ve managed to get him to try most vegetables is to trick him into it by changing the name of it. So broccoli are little trees, green beans are snakes, and asparagus are dragon tails. There are a few vegetables he’ll eat without being compelled, mostly those that are not green like sweet potato, carrots, red and yellow bell pepper.  He still eats a pretty varied diet though because he’ll eat things that have vegetables in them but he doesn’t know that they do. For instance, pesto (which I make with spinach or with green peas), kuku which is a Persian herb omelette, or zucchini fritters. In the colder months, he loves to eat pureed soups like broccoli and potato or cauliflower and leek. Strangely, he’ll eat things at school that he won’t eat at home, like lentils. This mystifies and frustrates me to no end but his teacher assures me that it’s pretty common.

Potty training

We began potty training Roman at the end of February and by the end of March we were done. That makes it sound like the process was pretty easy but believe me, it wasn’t.  A lot of people talk about the click that happens when a child suddenly gets it.  They’re supposed to recognize the sensation of needing to go and then be able to hold it long enough to communicate their need to a parent, find a bathroom and take off their pants and undies. To hear some parents tell it, this click happens overnight. For us, the click took a month and change. In the beginning, I felt that we were accident free not so much because Roman was potty trained but because we were. We watched him so closely, we could guess the second he had to go and immediately whisked him over to the potty.  What let us know that he did indeed get it, was that he was able to communicate with his teacher in school when he had to go or when he started going without being prompted. Now, he’ll let us know when he has to go by saying either ‘Pee pee’ or ‘Uh oh mama, big poop’ and then we race together to the bathroom. This summer, we feel he’s ready to proceed to nap times with no diaper and an adapter seat on the toilet instead of a stand-alone potty.


TV is a pretty big thing in Roman’s life, not because he gets to watch it much (he normally gets an hour after dinner on a weeknight) but because of how much entertainment he gets from it. TV exposes him to worlds he would never know about without it. We suspect that the reason he loves animals so much is because they feature prominently in most of the shows and movies he watches (The Lion King, The Aristocats, Finding Nemo, Dumbo, Curious George, and Daniel Tiger are a few favorites). The reason he’s into dinosaurs is because of the PBS show Dinosaur Train, which is actually a favorite of ours as well (so informative! And the intro is so catchy!) It’s so funny to watch his reactions to his favorite cartoons. He giggles and shrieks, he sings along, claps, says ‘Oh no!’ when something bad happens and if the characters are dancing he’ll jump off the couch, hold his hand out to his papa or me and say ‘shake it!’. This invitation (or demand) to dance with him is equally adorable and frustrating mostly because Roman can’t really dance and really just wants to spin and jump around which is very nauseating and exhausting. Because of his love for Dumbo (I think we watched that movie every day for a month which was a good break from Frozen actually), he became enamored with elephants and began carrying an elephant figurine with him everywhere who is named, of course, Mrs. Jumbo. It’s also hilarious to watch his reaction to the Lion King. In the beginning of the movie during the ‘Circle of Life’ song when Rafiki holds baby Simba up for the kingdom to see, Roman holds up his stuffed lion at the exact climatic moment. I’ve realized that as entertaining as it is for him to watch cartoons, it’s more entertaining for us to watch him. He’s such a kooky little guy!

The tiger

Since he was little, he's had to always hold something in his hands. It’s like a security blanket for him. This has been a recurring thing since he was around a year old. I remember the days when he used to go everywhere with a toothbrush clutched in his fist (remember this post?). After the toothbrush phase had passed, he still wanted to hold onto something but it was usually a food not a toy. So for instance, he’d go everywhere with a cookie or a breadstick in each hand and carry these around for hours before he’d decide to eat them. Around September of last year, he moved on to carrying toys with him. The first toys he picked were these wooden dinosaurs that came from a puzzle he’d been gifted months earlier. We couldn’t leave the house for school, or the park, or a restaurant or a walk around town without making sure he had his dinosaurs. This obsession lasted a few months and then, seemingly out of nowhere, came his sudden, unexpected attachment to a stuffed tiger.

This stuffed tiger, which he had had for some time and never noticed and certainly never played with, was on the verge of being donated when Roman suddenly decided that he would never be parted from it. For MONTHS, Roman and the tiger were inseparable and their togetherness was somehow much more noticeable and much stronger a connection than he’d had with anything previously. Not only did the tiger go everywhere with him, but the tiger had to be with him no matter what he was doing. If Roman was sleeping, the tiger was laying down with him, if Roman was eating, the tiger was sitting beside him, if Roman was taking a bath, we had to put the tiger, who could not get wet, as close to the bathtub as possible so that Roman could see him as he was bathing and hold him as soon as he got out of the tub.  As an indication of how special the tiger had become, Roman chose to name it, something he had never done previously.  At first he chose the name Julie which was a bit of a puzzler because the only person we know with that name has neither whiskers nor stripes. After a month or so, he decided to change his tiger’s name to Big Tiger, probably because the word ‘big’ is one of his favorite adjectives.

Like all phases though, the tiger phase seemed to run its course. Recently, Roman’s moved on to animal figurines. Normally an elephant, a horse, a baby lion, a triceratops, a parrot finger puppet, Sully from Monster’s Inc. or a dinosaur with wheels accompanies him wherever he goes. He normally takes one toy in each hand but sometimes he’ll travel with an entourage of up to five toys. I don’t feel though, that anything is as special to him as his tiger was. He still plays with the tiger and asks for him often and the Professor and I make sure to bring him with us whenever we go out of town so that Roman can have a friend with him, but the attachment is not the same.  And even though it was so tedious to wash that tiger every week and drag it along with us everywhere we went during those months, I have to admit to being a little sad that Roman has moved on. It feels a bit like the end of his babyhood for one thing, and for another it just seems so wrong, like if Christopher Robin suddenly went to college without bringing Pooh. Oh well. Perhaps I'm being a little overly sentimental. 

Well that turned out to be less of a summary and more of a deposition, wouldn’t you say? I guess you should never give a mama too much time or space to talk about her child (but it’s my blog so too bad!) :)

Your papa and I love you so much you cheeky monkey. 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Spring in the City

As a child growing up in Miami, I could never understand the reason for the big fuss about spring. My dad, who was born and raised in Tehran, would wax nostalgic about the flowers blooming and the trees slowly growing leaves again and I would just sit there listening to him and feeling very meh about the whole thing. Looking back, I realize that my reaction was totally predictable for someone who lived in a climate where the arrival of spring meant nothing more than that summer, that sticky, humid, rainy mess that is a Miami summer, was just around the corner. My lack of enthusiasm probably also stemmed from the fact that there aren’t many good holidays to look forward to in the spring (I think every child grows out of Easter at the age of 5, am I right?) and also because I have a strong dislike of pastel colors and as we all know, spring has not arrived until you walk into a CVS and see row upon row of baby blue, custard yellow, and Pepto Bismol pink.  

But now that I live somewhere where we actually experience seasons, I’ve been converted into a full-on spring enthusiast. I love walking around the city and seeing the first signs of spring everywhere: from the green leaves peeking timidly out of the tree branches to the tulips and ranunculus sitting prettily in their buckets at the flower market and of course, the long awaited debut at the supermarket of strawberries, raspberries, cherries, and asparagus! (P.S. Am I the only person who’s ever put an exclamation mark after the word asparagus? Probably). It makes me so giddy that I almost want to walk around town singing ‘Spring,spring, spring’ from that old movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. But I don’t because I don’t want people to think that I’m crazy. Both for singing out loud and for liking that movie.

Here are some pictures of spring in the city. 

Hope you're having a lovely, sunny day!


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Lost in medical translation

Roman had pink eye last week and as he and I were sitting in his pediatrician's office waiting for her assessment, I was reminded of something I noticed when I first moved to Spain and started going to the doctor: here they use correct medical terminology for illnesses and ailments whereas in the U.S., we tend to use descriptive names or non-medical terms. To give you an example, Roman was diagnosed with 'conjuntivitis' by his Spanish doctor, which is the scientific term for pink eye.

Here are some more examples:

1. The disease we know as chicken pox in the U.S. is called varicella in Spanish which is indeed its   scientific name.
2. When your child has an ear infection, he actually has a condition called otitis media. In Spanish, we would just say he has otitis.
3.  If you live in the U.S., you've probably never heard the term 'pharyngitis' before but it just means sore throat. In Spanish, they say faringitis.
4.  When most people fall down and bruise their knee, they don't say they have a 'hematoma' which indeed they do. But this is what they would tell their Spanish doctor.
5.  We use the word 'myopic' all the time in English, normally in the non-literal way to describe someone who has no imagination. But perhaps most people prefer to use the term nearsighted instead of myopic. In Spanish, there is no other word for this condition. If you can't see what's right in front of you, you are miope.

I'm not sure why American doctors use this soft, non-scientific language. Perhaps they're trying to not scare or intimidate people by using these terms and that's why they opt for lay language. Although when you think about it, some of these descriptive terms sound much scarier than the actual thing. Imagine that you were hearing the word chicken pox for the first time. To me, the term conjures an image of a bird pecking me to death. I think I'd be much more afraid of that than of being told I had varicella which sounds like a kind of pasta.

I remember when we first moved here, after every doctor's visit, the Professor and I would whip out our phones and quickly Google Translate our condition to make sure it was what we thought it was and reassure ourselves it was nothing serious. Oh how much we've learned in the three years we've been here. Between learning correct medical terms and mastering the metric system, we could do very well in medical school right now.

Anyway, I just thought I'd share. If you like this post, you may like these other ones I've written about language and cultural differences:

Avoiding embarrassing (but funny!) mistakes in Spanish
'Go fry asparagus' and other weird things we say

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Black day

Yesterday a flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf crashed in the French Alps, killing all 150 passengers aboard. I know that most of you probably already know this unless you've been living under a rock or something, but I felt I had to mention it and that to not say anything at all about it here on the blog would be an egregious neglect. The truth is, I've been trying hard not to think about it and to stop myself from reading all the news reports that come out about it, but as the city is in mourning and everybody's talking about it, it's pretty hard to escape. It breaks my heart to think about the families of those on board and what they must be going through. It's so devastating, I don't even know what to say or why I'm writing this post. I don't want to bring anyone down but I just had to acknowledge it. Keep yourselves well dears.

(Photo found on Panasonic Lumix website)

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Palo Alto Market

Last Sunday we did something we've never done before. We went way out of our way to a neighborhood we barely know and stood in line for 45 minutes. We weren't there for the opening of a hip club (us? ha!), a trendy new restaurant or a concert. Nope. We were there to check out a new market that opened in December in the up and coming neighborhood of Poblenou. If you've never been there, Poblenou has a very industrial, almost gritty feel to it (I can best summarize my first impression of the neighborhood by saying that I somehow felt very aware of concrete) but it's recently become the home of many youngsters and hipsters, artists and innovators (watch this video if you want to learn more). Thus, it probably comes as no surprise that it's also the birthplace of the Palo Alto Market.

The Palo Alto Market seeks to create a different kind of open air market in the city, one that highlights local businesses and focuses on art, vintage fashion and home décor and handcrafted goods. But they also want the market goers to have fun as they're exposed to these new vendors so there is live music, workshops for adults and kids, gourmet food trucks and a general ambiance not unlike attending a garden party with 1,000 other people.

Here are some pictures from our visit:

At last the food truck craze has made it to Barcelona--and with such panache too. Isn't this truck adorable? You'd expect it to serve cotton candy or strawberry shortcake, but indeed it serves piadina (Italian flatbread sandwiches). 

I think that, in fact, most people came here to eat. That was certainly a major factor in our visit (plus a 45 minute wait in line certainly works up one's appetite), so I sampled the goods from this vendor (yummy) and then had dessert at the Çukor stand where they sold a wonderful dessert, kurtos, which taste very much like the cinnamon toast I used to make as a child. 

A picture of my lunch. Calamari on a bun with a spicy, Japanese mayonnaise. Not too shabby. 

You can see now why I said it's like a large garden party right? The foliage, the strings of lights, the pebbles crunching under your feet. A very beautiful setting for a market.   

These guys weren't the live entertainment I was talking about but they had some wonderful music and it contributed to the beauty of the surroundings. 

This market had many vendors that sold antique furniture and vintage pieces and we saw a lot of incredible pieces. This particular vendor had so much great stuff that I actually got really angry that my place is already furnished. 

I actually debated buying one of these enormous letter R's for Roman's room but the idea of carrying it on the metro stopped me. And how cool/terrifying is that big clown head? 

If you'd like to visit, the Palo Alto Market is located on Carrer dels Pellaires, 30. They are open on the first weekend of every month. Entrance is 2 Euro a person, children enter free.

Go, explore, eat, shop, and have fun! And let me know what you think!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Scenes from Palma de Mallorca & Valldemossa

Shortly before our trip to Miami for the holidays, the Professor, the little one and I visited Palma de Mallorca and the nearby hillside village of Valldemossa. Mallorca is one of the Balearic islands and is a popular tourist destination for many Europeans, especially the kind who like to party and get trashed--but that's not why we were there. Seriously. The Professor is a casual (mostly beer) drinker, my limit is two glasses of rosé, and Roman can just do a bottle of milk before he passes out (what a baby!). The Professor was there to attend a conference, and the little one and I were there to keep him company (aren't we so supportive? Wanting to explore a new city had nothing to do with our decision whatsoever).

Apart from being a party destination, Mallorca attracts people for its mild Mediterranean climate, beautiful beaches and breathtaking nature excursions. But since it wasn't the right weather for most of that stuff while we were there, we mostly got to know the capital city of Palma. Palma, with its beautiful churches and stately palaces, was definitely worth seeing and was especially charming during Christmastime with all of the lights up everywhere and winter carnivals taking place throughout the whole city.

Here are some scenes from our trip:

We arrived in Palma a few weeks before Christmas and, as you can see, the city was ready for it. This is the Plaza Mayor in the city center with strings of light hung all over the place. So beautiful, right? If we ever move back to the U.S., one thing I will miss most about Spain is the way the whole city sparkles during the holidays. Inflatable Santas on your front lawn just can't compete. 

Apparently kids are not excited enough about Christmas, or so think the people of Palma. Kids shouldn't be able to walk more than a few yards without seeing a balloon seller, a clown, a carousel, a fun house, or what have you. The whole of the city center was like a kid's paradise, or a parent's nightmare. I had to put down more than a few tantrums when the little one wanted this balloon or that balloon or that really, really big balloon that only barely resembled Hello Kitty. He also wanted to ride every single ride (and some more than once) and as he doesn't understand the concept of money and that mommy has to pay 3 euro per ride, he thought I was just being mean to him. Cue the melodrama. I did give in occasionally, as you can see. I guess I'm just a sucker for a happy baby.

More beautiful lights on beautiful streets. Are you starting to understand my fascination?

Of course, there's more to Christmas than lights. There's also fried street foods and this one is one of my favorites. Bunyols are a typical doughnut-like sweet but the dough is made from potatoes. Sounds weird, tastes delicious. 

After they are deep fried, the bunyols are immediately rolled in sugar. Then, they are immediately consumed

No trip to Mallorca would be complete without sampling the most popular of Mallorcan desserts, the Ensaïmada, which is a sweet, egg bread that can be filled with cream, covered in powdered sugar, or my favorite, topped with apricots.

The postcard image of Palma is this building, La Seu Catedral. Definitely one of the most impressive cathedrals I've seen and the major tourist attraction in Palma. On the day we visited, it was chilly and kind of grey but the beauty of this building wasn't diminished at all. 

If you have kids, you could make a visit to La Seu fun by hanging out at one of the cafés by the water and letting your kid feed the ducks. If your child is as mischievous as ours however, you might find that you're actually just restraining your child from chasing the ducks into the water. There's also a surprising number of people with really high tech, expensive, remote control boats who come here to play and that's fun to watch too. 

When we travel, we always try to find a nice spot for Roman to run around and burn off energy. We visited two great parks in Palma. This was one of them, located right next to La Seu and the other one was the Parque de las Estaciones by Plaza España pictured below.  

On the third day of our trip, we decided to explore a little mountaintop village near Palma called Valldemossa. We originally wanted to take the little, vintage train to Soller, but alas, the train was down for maintenance. So we took a less scenic bus ride to Valldemossa after hearing about its beauty from a few of the Professor's colleagues. Here it is:

It was only an hour's ride away but when you arrived, you felt you were in a different place entirely, totally removed from buses, taxis, shops, people, noise, and everything. It was just so beautiful and so quiet and so peaceful.

Even the shouts and laughter of the children playing tag in front of this church seemed muffled and distant. I'm telling you, this place was magical. 

This is a bust of Chopin, who came to live here with his lover and reportedly called Valldemossa the most beautiful place in the world. And, really, who are we to disagree with Chopin?

All of the houses were beautifully kept and for some reason, all of them had bright green trim. It seemed to be fitting of a place where verdant green trees and hills surround you

It's a tiny village so there isn't much to see but if you do visit, definitely plan to stay around five or six hours, long enough to enjoy a leisurely lunch by the fire and then some coffee and coques de patata, another Mallorcan sweet made of potatoes. And don't worry about any of the calories you consume because all of the super steep streets will definitely provide enough of a workout. 

Walking around the village, we spotted this ceramic pig outside a shop that sells jewelry and pretty things for your home. We decided to roll Roman over so he could say hi to the pig but Roman thought it would be more fun to caress the pig's butt. My little weirdo. 

So that was our trip to lovely Valldemossa and Palma. I'd definitely want to return some day. How about you guys?

P.S. For pictures of our last trip, to Aix en Provence, click here.