Monday, August 4, 2014

Preparing for the summer exodus


When the little one was born in July two years ago, I was so grateful that the Professor had the month of August off so that he could stay home with the baby and I. I was even more grateful when I found out that my in-laws would be coming to visit for the entire summer. But when August rolled around, we realized the big downside to having a summer baby in Barcelona. Basically, the city shuts down for an entire month (and sometimes the first two weeks of September) as everyone takes their summer vacations all at the same time. So if you're here in August, you're stuck in the hot and humid city with a bunch of tourists and many of your favorite shops and restaurants and cafes are closed for a few weeks. (Note: this doesn't apply to all businesses of course, just the small ones like bakeries, butchers, clothing boutiques, small bookstores, and the like). 

As if that weren't inconvenient enough, schools are also closed from mid-July to mid-September so you can imagine how parents feel about summer vacation. There are of course day camps you can put your kids in but most of those end on July 31st. After that point, you're on your own. The Professor and I were still working through July so for a few weeks, it was a revolving door of childcare around here as the Professor would stay home while I worked and I would stay home while he worked.  Because there's no school, Spanish parents don't have much of a choice except to take the month off work and take a vacation with their families. After two years here, I still kind of marvel at this. For Americans, the idea of such a long vacation is a little overwhelming. You're almost thinking, but what will we do? Just go to the beach every single day? To be totally honest, the Professor and I were a little panicky as summer approached imagining Roman cooped up in the house watching TV all day and playing all by himself (he has no family here and all his friends are on vacation). But we're doing our best to make sure that he has an enjoyable summer. During the day, we try to keep him busy with trips to the park, pool, library, mall and other places around town. Sometimes we just hop on the metro or a local bus and get off at any stop we want just to indulge Roman's love of all modes of transportation. Hopefully he'll remember this summer as a time where he learned how to color on the sidewalk, chase bubbles, squash water balloons and build sandcastles.

We are going to be taking a mini-vacation to France this week (only five days. But still!) and then we'll get back to exploring our adopted city with our little summer boy.  

Stay tuned!

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