A Lot of Catching Up to Do

It has been quite some time since I blogged. Adjusting to our new home, new culture, new language has been far from easy. We knew it would be difficult, but there are days I wish I could just wiggle my nose and return to our lives in Arizona…but only for a moment! My meltdowns seem to dissipate once the heat subsides, the breeze blows and we enjoy a meal or drinks with friends and an evening stroll.

We have met wonderful people, both locals and expats who are friendly, kind and helpful. When meeting locals, we receive nearly immediate acceptance by sharing that we moved to Valencia to study the language, we love their city and we despise Trump. The expats we have met are smart, fun and outgoing. We enjoy coffee, lunches, cocktails and get-togethers as often as possible.

Morning at the Mercado

Our trips to the Centrale Mercado for our groceries every few days are both fun and challenging. Our language skills have improved greatly due to taking the time to study at least one hour every day and our new language instructor, Cristina. Between my limited Spanish and lots of hand gestures we are able to purchase what we need to eat and drink. Oh, the flavors of the fresh fruits and vegetables. Peaches and cherries that taste as though they are dipped in sugar; the crisp cucumbers, sweet Valenciano tomatoes, fresh from the sea mussels, shrimp and fish that taste unlike anything we’ve ever tasted stateside.


Olives by the quart…can’t get enough of them! Along with pinchos, small snacking tapas.
The butcher filets the chicken into “wafer thin” slices that cook up moist and deliciouso!

Shopping for household items are another story. Our choices: IKEA, Amazon.es and El Corte Ingles (Spain’s major department store). Each has its pros and cons. Outside the old town about 15 minutes is IKEA. Moving into our new apartment, we made shopping lists of all the items we needed for our new home—sheets, coffee maker, kitchenware, vacuum cleaner, printer, storage containers, etc.

Our first stop at El Corte Ingles was fruitful, but expensive. The Spanish-speaking employees did their very best with our limited Spanish and Google translate. We stumbled through a very expensive excursion, returning home with more than we anticipated. Note to self—return policy is not as liberal as US.

Heading to IKEA with a specific list kept us on task and on budget. And for a 39€, they will deliver everything to your apartment the same day!

But Amazon…that’s a different story. We joined Prime here for 19,95€, much cheaper than US, but it is not quite the same. While we receive free shipping, items take anywhere from one day to three weeks to get here. And, many larger items must be picked up. We selected a location nearby our apartment, only to discover they no longer had a delivery office there and had to 1) first figure out where our items were 2) contact them (in Spanish) to determine how to get our purchases 3) walk 2km to another office 4) gather the boxes 5) call a taxi 6) taxi back home and carry everything three flights of stairs. We haven’t even been able to take advantage of Prime Video and we can’t figure out why!

Days & Nights

Our days are spent somewhat similar to home. Outside our window, the morning bells begin at 8 am and ring every quarter hour until midnight. However, here our timetable follows the church bells. While we go to bed and wake up later, we typically handle our laundry, shopping, emails, catching up on news in the morning. As I have shared in past blogs, the Spaniards work from 9-11, break from 11-noon, work from noon-2, lunch and siesta from 2-5, work from 5-8, dine at 10pm. While this took a bit of adjusting, we discovered having a large lunch, either at home or dining with friends is a delightful way to spend an afternoon.

Lunch is now our main meal of the day. Typically, the restaurants offer a luncheon Menu la Dia that consists of starter(s), entrée, drink, dessert and coffee for 8-20€. We have found these to be fresh, tasty and filling. The seafood—calmari, sepia, gambas, colchinas, continue to amaze us. I have learned to make a mean “drunken” mussels with lemon, butter and wine; curried mussels, traditional Basque bacalo stew and more. The paella, which I have not tried to duplicate, is a blog onto itself.

After a two to three-hour lunch with friends we return home for a siesta in the heat of the day. Upon waking we return to business, emails, etc. As the heat begins to subside around 8 pm, we take an evening stroll to people watch or discover a new barrio. We return home to read or watch TV until we hear the final bells at midnight. Funny, when we are chatting on the phone or FaceTiming back home, folks will inquire about the bells they hear…we hardly notice them anymore!

Interesting folks on our evening strolls


Summertime and the livin’ is easy…but hot!

We continue to adjust and are planning a few getaways over the next weeks to relive us from the hot, muggy days and the opportunity to discover new places. This week we head out of town 45km to Cofrentes to explore a natural park and spa. At the end of the month we travel north, almost to the French border to the Dali’s museum and home, parks, kayaking and more.


15 thoughts on “A Lot of Catching Up to Do

  1. What an amazing story and great read. You Truly inspire me to reach for my goals. Thank you for sharing your amazing story and journeys can’t wait to hear about your upcoming travels and love to see more pictures.


  2. Sounds like you have been busy in a wonderful way! Thanks for sharing your ups and downs of the adventure! We look forward to meeting you in Valencia in October! In the meantime…stay cool 😎


  3. Thank you so much for your blog. I am so happy when you add to your blog. Just love the pictures, your special attention to detail.


  4. Appreciate your sharing; thank you! Hot here, too, and humid recently, but usually no walks at night 😉 Glad you are soaking up local culture. And hang there with the language. One of these days you’ll look back and it will surprise you how far you’ve come.


  5. Alisa, more please! Jeff and I just spent five too short days in Barcelona. Loved it. Would move there in a minute. Best,


  6. It sounds like your both adjusting very well! How delightful all the new experiences you are learning. Nothing like a full blown immersion lession. Miss you both!


  7. Lisa, it is so wonderful to hear of your adventure. I share it with my husband as a MAJOR hint of us going to Lisbon (less expensive but close to Spain). You are missing NOTHING here except freaking out whenever I hear the news (which I can’t but it still gets though sometimes). Is this the wonderful man you married the one you told me about a long time ago at a HS reunion? Be sure to visit La Granja where I used to live as well as Avila and Segovia, they are breathtaking and cooler. We used to go to the post office and stand in 6 lines to get a letter off and say ‘oh SO SPANISH!’ Yes, how to get through the days are always an interesting adventure! I miss it so much and I hate it hear so much. So glad you are in your element….did you have Sra Acosta? I am so glad I did because I learned vosotros! I was tongue tied when I was there for three months and am bilingual. The ‘hasta luegos’ sounded like they had sore throats…but I finally caught on and you will too. Keep blogging! Love hearing about EVERYTHING! Love, Bev


  8. You must continue onto catechist and Port Litges to Dali’s home. Cadeques is definitely worth an overnight stay. Enjoy the museum and Girona.


  9. Just saw msg from the 6th, glad to hear you’ve been acclimating! Pics amazing! Still, miss you guys & look forward to 1st visit back to AZ. Mom sends her best, asks after you all the time.


  10. We just discovered your blog and I have yet to go back and read past posts, but thank you for explaining the details of moving to Southern Spain. Matt and I just retired and are venturing off to Hawaii to volunteer for two months. Then we will spend Christmas in London with family and stay till March. Here’s the connection to your blog, we are contemplating a move to Spain. We’re going to start with a 21 day overview tour in February, based on Rick Steve’s recommendations. For our next trip back to Spain, we hope to stay at least a month in one place to see how that goes. We’re pretty sure we want to end up in Southern Spain, but not sure where. I have so many questions, but I won’t ask until I’m caught up on my reading, just in case you’ve already answered them. Can’t wait to learn more!


    1. I hope our blog will help you in your retirement. Have fun! Valencia is a lovely city. However, if we had to do over again, we would have moved just outside the city to one of the smaller towns with easy access to the city by metro or bus. Feel free to reach out with any questions. We certainly learned a lot! Enjoy retirement.
      PS What type of volunteer work are you doing in HI?


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