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.
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.
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!
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.