A Learning Experience

We don’t call it failure; we call it a learning experience and a lot of fun…

Note to self and others who may be considering moving overseas—

  1. Give yourself time to settle into retirement. Leaving 45+ years of employment, clearing out your home and moving to a new country should be tackled over a multi-year period—not a matter of months.
  2. Try living in the new place for 30-60-90 days over two to five years. Check out the culture to be assured you click. Does smoking bother you? What are the things you can adjust to, which are deal breakers?
  3. Does your lifestyle fit with your new home? We came from a large, clean, quiet, private home to a noisy, city apartment with neighbors on top, below and ten feet across from us. You can hear your neighbors sneeze. The Spaniards love to celebrate and do so with gusto and fireworks! Partiers revel down the street until dawn.
  4. Are you a light sleeper? City life can be extremely noisy. Besides the revelers coming home at all hours, three dumpsters (full of glass) are picked up outside our window every night between 2-3 am–this goes on for 5-10 minutes every night (not kidding!) They say that lack of consistent sleep is tied to wellness. After four months of interrupted sleep, I believe it. Craig and I have been under the weather more than we wished.
  5. How well do you handle noise? It’s come to the point, where we hardly hear the church bells anymore. However, they do start ringing at 8 am and the last bells are at midnight. The bells have become our guide to when to sleep. We can live with the bells, but the constant construction noise has us going bonkers. With a city that is more than 700 years old, there is ALWAYS a lot of repair and remodeling going on around us.
  6. Do you have a plan for post employment? Are you really ready to quit working? I have devoted the past 30 years of my life to helping others. I had no transition plan from work to retirement to make me feel that I was contributing to society. This was extremely difficult for me. I miss working!
  7. Love, true love? Going from spending 8-10 hours a day to 24/7 with your spouse is difficult in the best scenarios. However, it is quite different when you have only each on which to rely. Back home we have our escapes from one another through friends, sports, hobbies. While we have met lovely folks, it’s not the same after a lifetime of friendships and ability to getaway when necessary.

The Good We Discovered

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Spain has so much culture, art and history—we could spend the next ten years here and never see it all. We stayed pretty close to home, but took some amazing holidays.

A restaurant with a chef, server and four tables can serve up gourmet food as well as any four-star restaurant.

Our local bodega sells thousands of varieties of wine as well as vermouth stored in old wooden kegs!

We found the Spaniards are very open and warm if you respect their culture and try to speak their language. Even when we didn’t speak the same language, we found ways to communicate and made some lifelong Spanish friends.

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The history, art and architecture are mind-boggling. Its sense of history is different. Unless something is more than 500 years old, Spaniards don’t consider it “old.” Funny, a 100-year-old home in US is historic, here that’s considered new.

From small villages to large cities, there is great emphasis on local customs and culture. Their pride is evident in their music, dancing, food, festivals more.

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This is one of dozens of fabric stores where locals shop to create the traditional dresses for Fallas. Valencianos prepare all year for Fallas, a celebration each March that lights the city ablaze!
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Towards the end of our holiday, we contacted last year’s Airbnb host from Vila Franca to reconnect and take to lunch. Next thing we know, we are back out at their organic farm for two days of pure delight! We visited his family’s farm and horse ranch, 800-year-old homes, picked grapes and blackberries and visited a wonderful winery. Ferran’s Airbnb listing: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/3738382

It has been wonderful relying on our feet or bicycles to get around Valencia, and it shows! Craig and I both have lost considerable weight. This is from much more exercise that we were getting in the US as well as eating fresher, healthier foods on the Spanish schedule of a large lunch between 2-4 pm and light dinner.

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While we used electronic communications like wifi calling, instant messaging, Facetime and Duo, and were truly grateful for them, none replace the warm embrace or kiss from a loved one or friend.

So with heavy heart, we have made our decision to move back home. We want a “do over!” I plan to go back to work fulltime, Craig may go back to his health clinic a few days a week, but begin to enjoy retirement back home—painting, tennis, golf and bicycling. We’ll be refurnishing and restocking our home—but plan to do so with a minimalist frame of mind.

First things first…visit the families! Ben and Gabby had their little boy on July 1. I can’t wait to meet Mr. Mason! Ruthie turned one year on September 1 and is getting ready for her first steps. I want to be there to see her milestones. Craig and I both miss our 90-year-old dads and our kids. Craig plans to go back to Michigan to play golf with John and visit his sister and family. I already booked tickets to take Al to the symphony.

Starting over (again) is very exciting. It is our hope that we will spend four weeks each year getting away to a new place—in the US, Canada, Europe or who knows where. We’d like to spend time in many places that we might revisit for our “real retirement” down the road.

We depart Valencia in three days. The past four months have been a roller coaster—lots of splendid memories of new friends, great food, wonderful discoveries of art and culture. We’ll be sure to add our last few trips with pictures on the blog, as we still have many entertaining stories to tell about Spanish wines, cava and vermouth; tasty tapas and much, much more.

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We Did It!

We picked up our visas from the Spanish Consulate yesterday. The woman who assisted was lovely (as was the previous) and was delighted for us. She asked where we were planning to live and when we said Valencia, the gentleman next to us said, “That’s where I am from! Valencia is the best!” The Consulate employee said, “Yes, Valencia is lovely, but San Sebastian is best!” We all chuckled and told them we were looking forward to exploring all of Spain and San Sebastian was high on our list. This pleased her very much! Their warmth reminded us why we chose Spain and the kindness of its people.

But the best part of the day was spending time with our LA kids and beautiful granddaughter! Thank goodness for FaceTime! It would be a lot more difficult without being able to connect daily if necessary to see her and our newest addition (due this July in NYC) regularly, as well as our son and daughter here in Arizona. While it is very emotional to be moving far away, we know Ruthie has competent, capable, amazing parents–who promise to bring her to Spain every year!

Our singing sweetheart serenaded us on the way to dinner! 

As the final days tick by, we are reminded of lots of work still ahead–sorting, packing, selling, cleaning, storing. The saga continues…