To be honest after such a long time not seeing my daughter (China) I was a bit apprehensive; stupid I know.
To make matters worse the plane was 30 minutes late landing which made me even more anxious, finally when she walked through the door, OMG, she was so much bigger than I recall.
Spain is a radical change for her, she has been to France but nowhere else. I think it is a lot to take in for her. We have walked most of Madrid and visited the parques (parks) only to find they were closed and not due to open until the following day, yet it seems only the parques knew this as everyone else was turning up only to be turned away. (reason unknown; crisis?)
Worst of all though was the fact that posters everywhere saying what attractions are available, yet they fail to tell you when they are closed, needless to say we went to Faunia only to find it closed, so we went to Parque de Attractions only to find that too was closed, so we ended up in Retiro park; which is nice but not what we wanted.
This is typical of Spain, they are pretty bad at marketing; for example if you head to any parque or attraction - there are little to no signs or clues where you should go once you step off the metro, bus or car. Shame it's one thing that lets them down, as you want to know where you are going really and how to get there and this should be made clearer and simplier.
It is nice to have China with me and I miss our time together. I can see her education is slipping somewhat too, so I will speak to her about schooling as that really is the key to many things in life.
China is doing well, yet inevitably the topic of her mom and new family had to come up - I must say personally I am saddened to see her mom hasn't go on to do better things, as I know she is very capable of doing so, but as I am no longer in her life its no longer my place or problem.
We finally managed to get into Faunia and yes it was nice. It is kind of a zoo come petting zoo. Some of the animals roam free and others you get actually pet, but not as many as I thought. The price was expensive; especially considering it was the first day opening and about a third of the park was still shut to the public and some building work going on.
The Jungle section and the butterfly area for me were the best parts where the animals litterally roamed and flew freely around you. I tried to capture the moments on camera, but with the artificial rain forest keep throwing down rain, I was worried for my camera; I did manage to get some super shots though.
I also realised that zoos make wonderful places to practise your photography, so maybe more visits to come. Aquariums on the other hand not so good, due to the dark light and glass panels/flash issues. After going crazy taking so many photos my camera battery died and no I didn't bring it with me I left it at home :(
On Wednesday night China and I went to a wonderful little bar where Flamenco dancing took place and we got to see it first hand. They were very good I must say, sadly as I just mentioned my camera battery had died, but I was lucky enough to get a few before it died for good.
Lesson learnt, always have a back-up.
We are now back at my home in Palencia and on Sunday we are off to Asturias; which is a beautiful part in the North of Spain. Whilst here in Palencia we have relaxed a little more, she has enjoyed the Wii and PS3, surfed the net and played on her DS - I got her a whole bunch of games to take back to UK as she only had a few.
Pitu and China get on well, so thats good. Sandra was very nervous about meeting China, but I knew she would be fine. So far so good!
Just returned from Asturias, boy what a journey. We trekked up mountains, across meadows, chilled in a park, visited a beach, took a cable car and went shopping, now that's what I call a busy day! We had a blast, I was happy to climb mountains and take photos, but girls being girls wanted to shop, so we had to fit in as much as we could to make everyone happy. Besides there are no mountains in Leicester, so China may as well enjoy them.
It did highlight how unfit I have become, for the first time (maybe ever) I found myself short of breath, yes we were very high, but thats not typical for me, sometimes I find it hard going of course (I'm not really superman) but this time I had to stop and catch my breath.
Of course the whole trip was thanks to Sandra for driving the 4 hours or so then the additional few hours from place to place once, we had arrived in Asturias. Pitu slept through most of it - she also made climbing mountains considerably harder as she had to be carried.
We did a good few hours shopping and several hundred euros later we left, thankfully, my account couldn't handle more. More photos have been added to the album.
The last few days we spent together were full of excitement and adventure - every girls dream. We went to Warner Parque and China went on the most scary rides - I kid you not! The one that takes you way up in the air then drops you back down at stupid speeds; she loved it. I of course had to take photos so I couldn't join her on that one (an excuse), she really impressed me, very daring indeed, but the best was the superman ride! OMG!!!! This seemed to be our lucky day - everything conspiring for us for starters, we were given 2 for 1 tickets for half the cost, the queues were very small so not much waiting which meant all rides could be done, we got to the front of the Superman ride - which really made you feel like you were flying and to top it all the hotel we booked upgraded us free of charge to a brand new superior suite! OHhhhh yeah!
We spent some more time shopping and souvenier shopping and sat in a few chilled out bars - hey, it was hot! China had a few moments of realisation that her time was ending and the 16 days had flew by so quick and she was returning to her home life back in the UK.
We spoke at length about several things and some issues - I was saddened to hear her mom was still bitter and angry - but I told China that is 'our' issue not hers to worry about. I don't understand what she has to be angry or bitter about!?
China's idol is Hannah Montana and she would like to be a rock chick, although she is quite confused about her place in the world as most 10 years old, the devide doesn't help.
The hardest was the last night she refused to sleep - and tried desperately to keep awake as she knew once her eyes closed that was the end of her Spanish adventure, her eyes did close eventually. She was brave saying goodbye, but I watched as she went through the security check point upset, this is the hardest part - departing always hurts so much. I hope her mom will at least let China return in the future, time will tell.
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