“Maman, wish we went to Spain,” a wistful little 3 year old voice tells me at least once a week. “How we get to Spain?”
“We would fly in an airplane.”
Konik heaves a sigh of exasperation and replies, “But you have to take a car to the airport.”
“Ok, yes, we would take a car to the airport and then get on an airplane and fly to Spain.”
He gives me a satisfied smile and then continues, “Wish we went to Spain and then I will unlock all the doors.” He holds up the large key ring that normally hangs on the back of the door.
The keys are really our only souvenir from our trip to Spain — long before Konik was born, but he has heard the stories and seen the pictures. And like the other two kids, he has developed a desire to travel and see places. The poor child has barely had the chance to leave the state, but he knows there’s more out there to the world. And he’s 3. I love that.
Mr. Gren, baby Rana, and I took our vacation to Valencia, Spain in February 2006. I had bought a Lonely Planet guidebook prior to going and had studied the few pages on Valencia, marking things that I thought we should try to see. One of those was the Plaza Redonda — a circular market place not too far from our hotel. We ended up criss-crossing through it quite often on our way to other locations in the Velle Ciutat (Old City). It was interesting, but I’m not sure it was worthy of a guidebook mention.
The Plaza Redonda, also known as El Clot (The Hole) is not an obvious place to get to. Despite being a decent-sized little circle with shops all around the outside, the only ways in are through narrow little spoke-like roads that aren’t immediately apparent when you’re walking down larger, more active streets. It gives the Redonda the feeling of seclusion, which is always fun in a secret sort of way when you’re in a big city. The shops and walkway near them are all covered, with the center fountain open to the sky (hence “the hole”).
Several of the shops sell sewing notions, fancy handkerchiefs and Valencian lace. Nowadays, I would probably be paying closer attention to those shops, but back then I wasn’t sewing at all. There was one shop on the corner of one of the little spoke roads that was quite different — a blacksmith’s shop selling all kinds of iron works. I don’t know if it is still there; I’ve read that a lot of the shops have changed in recent years. But at the time, it was a lot of fun to poke through. The set of antique-looking keys caught our eye.
Obviously, they are cast iron reproductions, but I loved them. The style of the keys (each of which are different in shape and size) reminded me of the key I used to open the door to my 500 year old apartment in Grenoble where I did my study abroad. We wanted a souvenir that was not too big, heavy, or awkward to bring home with us and these keys fit the bill. Little did I know that they would be so attractive to my children seven years later.
Today, Konik and I looked at some pictures from Valencia and I showed him a photo of an ancient door on the Torres de Serranos.
“Maman, when we go to Spain, I bring dese keys. I will open that door.”
“Someday, Buddy, someday.”