Spain’s Spin on ‘Happy Hour’

Spanish bar culture gives a whole new meaning to ‘Happy Hour’ with small, delectable bar food affectionally called “tapas.” My husband and I were surprised to learn that the Spanish eat the small bites during the traditional dinner time in the States and hold off on dinner until almost 8 p.m. We actually couldn’t have a sit-down dinner until 8 p.m. It’s really the complete opposite of the restaurant culture in the U.S. where you can grab dinner from 5 p.m. onward and then around 11 p.m. it becomes bar food only. The Spanish enjoy eating their dinner late into the evening and it doesn’t seem to affect their waistline either! Maybe it’s because they fill up on apertivo first, much like that basket of chips or bread that inevitably send me home with dinner leftovers.


Patatas Bravas


Roasted Peppers


Stuffed Peppers



Preparing for a Family Adventure in Spain

Afton and PassportOur next European adventure is booked and we’re heading to Spain next week! This trip will be a little different as we’re bringing along our nine month old daughter. There are plenty of blog posts and websites that offer tips on traveling with infants, so I can’t say I’m unprepared. But, there is always the element of surprise with children. Take into consideration feeding and napping schedules and then toss on a five hour time difference. All the makings of entertaining “remember when” stories are there.

As we plan and pack, there is a lot more to take into consideration. It’s become second nature for me to pack my bag. I know what I typically use and what is not worth bringing. I have packing light down to a science. But, now we’re packing for our daughter who is not known for packing light. For the most part she always has diapers, wipes, toys, spare clothes, pacifiers, bibs, bottles, food, a car seat – and occasionally a pack and play.

As much as I want to bring everything she could possibly want in order to keep her happy and entertained, I know I have to pair things down to the essentials. She will survive. As my husband likes to remind me, “They have babies in Spain too.” Anything we need we can get while abroad.

Packing light was one of the lessons I learned on our first family getaway to Snowshoe Mountain this past winter. You don’t need as much as you think. Bring less and you’ll make do with what you have.

Family Photo

Other tips that have helped me prepare for this first of many vacations as a family:

Don’t prepare for things to go wrong. Allow for the possibility for things to go right.

Be flexible. Sometimes a baby’s desire to eat or sleep will take precedence. Mentally prepare for that now. I’m sure there will be evenings when we won’t be able to make a late-night tapas run.

Ultimately, it’s not worth over thinking it. The essentials will be packed, and we’ve left some room in our bags for lifelong memories.