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Nana’s 70th Birthday Celebration in Valencia

Our second Valencia visitor was my mom, celebrating her 70th birthday in late July. Due to the intense humidity/heat wave and our temporary housing (which wasn’t as close to the old city center), we didn’t do much touring, but we did enjoy exploring the @jardinbotanicovalencia, seeking out the shade in the Turia and @ciudadartesciencias, and tasting and shopping our way through the @mercadocentralvalencia. We also had lots of great casual dinners out in El Cabanyal, the beach area where she was staying, and plenty of beach lounging/chasing after Jacob. We were especially grateful for Jacob’s four nights of sleepovers at Nana’s Airbnb so we could sleep in for the first time in months. Nana is the best! 

For her birthday we went to see some outdoor music (part of the Valencia Jazz Festival) and then a delicious vegetarian dinner at @restauranteoslo. Even with a 9:30pm reservation and finishing up around 11 p.m., most other diners were only beginning their evenings by the time we finished! I’m not sure we’ll ever quite adjust to the Spanish mealtimes/schedule, especially for dinners, but we are trying to embrace the afternoon siestas when so much shuts down and people just stay indoors due to the heat. 

Particularly with this European travel, and special occasions like milestone birthdays, we acutely miss Dad. I’m sure he would have pushed us to do more sightseeing and museums, and told us to stop complaining about the heat and just enjoy some more tinto de verano and a cold cerveza. Reflecting on how my evolving grief journey has shaped this extended travel experience and temporary move to Spain for our family is quite emotional and complicated. I know it was tough for Mom to be in Spain without Dad too, as its art and culture so impacted his work and brings back many memories of their travel together through the years. We try to keep him with us in these new family memories we are making, even with the heartache and longing for his presence that is always there.