We’re back for part 2 of my recap of 2013. You can find part 1 here. In case anyone couldn’t work it out, the event of the year was…
On the 10th of September, Andrea defended her Ph.D. thesis in front of a panel of doctors from Barcelona, Granada and Portugal. The beginning and end of the defence were in English and the middle was in Spanish. It was impressive seeing how Andrea, who had been understandably nervous leading up to it, fell into a perfect rhythm during the defence and answered all the panel’s questions impeccably. By the end of the day, Andrea had received the news that she had not only passed, but received the highest possible grade. It’s now Dr. Andrea Martínez Trujillo.
Of course, it wasn’t quite time to relax. At the end of September, Andrea was at yet another conference, this time in Germany. Since she had to fly in and out of Luxembourg, I joined her there for a weekend at the end of her trip. It’s a funny little principality squashed between France, Germany, and Belgium. Once again we had a fair bit of rain and we also discovered a fantastic restaurant on our first night. All in the name of moving up in the one-country-per-year game.
A week later we were in Paris with Andrea’s parents as well as her eldest sister Sonia, and her husband Toni. I arrived a day later than the others, after my very first calculus class, and we had an incredible long weekend. Neither Andrea’s parents nor Andrea had been to Paris before and I saw parts of the city that I’d not seen on any of my previous visits, including going up the Eiffel Tower this time. We saw just about all of the city, and had Andrea’s dad walking up more stairs than he ever wants to walk up again (we promised no more after the first 98, but this turned out to be a lie and he stopped counting after that). We all had an incredible four days.
Two weeks later we were heading off again, this time for Andrea’s first visit to Australia.
We stopped for a couple of days in Dubai on the way through. I’ve passed through Dubai half a dozen times before, but never left the airport. We saw the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world), the Dubai Mall (the biggest shopping centre in the world) and Dubai’s fantastic, if small, metro (we are pretty sure that they have the cleanest metro toilets in the world).
Then we flew to Sydney and spent four days there. We caught up with my schoolfriend Greta as well as seeing all the sights. We had to return to Circular Quay three days in a row to finally get a shot of the Opera House with a bit of blue sky behind it. We also went on a tour to the Blue Mountains, where we got to see a part of NSW that I’d never seen before and some amazing sights.
On to Melbourne to show Andrea my “home town”. We caught up with lots of family and friends while we were there, including an “intense weekend of family” which Thea had prepared for our first few days. My cousin Mike even flew down from Brisbane to see us, which was fantastic.
Along with lots of trips into the centre of Melbourne, we went with Thea and Bruce to see Healesville Sanctuary and saw penguins on the St. Kilda breakwater, which was a fantastic experience. Andrea’s favourite part of the trip was definitely our drive down the Great Ocean Road to see the Twelve Apostles. After a cloudy weather the whole drive there, the clouds parted as we arrived and we had perfect weather for photos. While we were in Melbourne, we also went with Thea, Bruce, Evan, and Steph to see Leonard Cohen in concert. It was incredible see how the 79 year-old crooner moved on stage. If I’ve got half as much energy as him when I reach 79 I’ll be thrilled.
Our last weekend in Melbourne we attended our third and final wedding for the year. Another friend from school, Chloe, and her boyfriend finally tied the knot (they’d only been going out for ten years). It was a great evening and great to see off all my school friends before heading back home.
Back in Barcelona and Andrea was back to searching for jobs and I was getting stuck into my research. I also had some driving lessons and took the practical driving exam (the theory exam I did before we left for Australia) and passed just before Christmas. I don’t have the physical license yet, but at least that’s out of the way and I’ve got a license to drive in all of Europe.
Now Andrea and I are in Granada for Christmas. Andrea’s nephew keeps growing and growing, and he’s started to sing some songs in English. In fact, he’s currently singing more in English than Spanish!
So, that was 2013. Here’s to a 2014 with just as many Ph.D. defences completed!