Welcoming family to our home

Welcoming family to our home

Todd is the youngest of three brothers, and the first to retire. When his oldest brother made plans to come visit, he made it clear that they didn’t want to sight-see; they wanted to see how we live. Four days wasn’t enough, but we managed to jigsaw together some of our favorite places.

We met them at the airport and rode the bus back into town. They immediately got a taste of life in Alicante: the day they arrived was a holiday, which meant a parade through the main square by our apartment, so the bus couldn’t run its regular route. Todd talked to the driver, and he actually managed to get us to our corner before he reached the police blockade. We still aren’t sure how the got through—or if the driver had back up a block to take a side street.

Fortunately, we didn’t have to take jet lag into account: they came to us from a week in Paris.

We dropped bags and headed through town to the beach and our favorite summer hangout: Xiringuito. As always, the staff welcomed us with hugs, and they welcomed our family as family, too. A pleasant afternoon of sangria for the girls and beer for the boys and lunch from the kitchen, and all was right with the world:

us with Giaccomo

Score: Little Brother – 1

On Wednesday morning, we headed to the Mercado. With Tuesday being a holiday, there wasn’t much seafood, but everything else was as beautiful as always:

Girona 

We ended the visit with lunch at Katana, creating our own sampling menu:

Katana - us

Score: Little Brother – 2

Wednesday evening, we invited friends to join us for a jamon tasting. Todd put together a beautiful spread of jamon, cheese, and fruit, and we opened several bottles of wine.

Score: Little Brother – 3

Thursday morning, they walked up to Castle Santa Barbara to explore and enjoy the views.

Score: Little Brother – 4

After they returned to the apartment, we headed back toward the Mercado for the tasting menu lunch at To-Bar with the locals.

Score: Little Brother – 5

Dinner Thursday was in Old Town at Taberna San Pascual, where we visited with some visitors from Ireland who were in town looking at properties to buy for a vacation home. Just another evening in Alicante.

Score: Little Brother – 6

Friday we opted for something different and took the tram up the coast to El Campello. Even though it was May, the town was still quiet. We walked the beach and window-shopped, stopping to admire a sand castle, then stopped for lunch on the promenade:

sand castle

Score: Little Brother – 7

We finished their visit with dinner at Casa Mia Italia, where Andrea put on his usual great show and directed us on what to eat and drink.

Score: Little Brother – 8

Saturday came too soon, and we walked them to the train station to head to Madrid, where they had a few hours to explore before the day ended and they took their flight home to Texas the next morning.

They’re already working on plans for a return visit later this year.

Vale!

 

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best of 2017

best of 2017

Our first year in Spain has been all that we expected – and more.

We saw London dressed in her best for the Christmas season:

We wandered through Christmas markets in Germany:

We admired the snow-topped Alps from our hotel window in Murren:

We watched our oldest propose to his girlfriend at Sagrada Familia:

We explored the Alhambramore than once:

We roamed the Mezquita and the old quarter of Cordoba:

We enjoyed seafood on Mallorca:

IMG_1325

We immersed ourselves in culture in Italy:

We investigated the past in Cartagena:

We revisited Prague, one of our favorite cities:

We tasted wine and tapas throughout Spain:

We spent the weekend in Paris:

We became regulars at Xiringito:

We shared our new home with friends from home:

Best of all, we made really good friends in our new home:

what we’ve learned after a year in Spain

what we’ve learned after a year in Spain

People back home ask us what’s different than we expected. Nothing, really.

We’ve learned a lot, though.

We’ve learned that paperwork takes time. And multiple trips to multiple offices. And prepayment of fees at the bank.

We’ve learned that a smile and a positive attitude go a long way toward communication.

We’ve learned to shop for just what we can carry.

We’ve learned to appreciate fresh foods that actually have taste.

We’ve learned to slow down and enjoy meals. No more 20-minute lunches.

We’ve learned to just chill at the beach and watch the waves – and the people.

We’ve learned to spend all afternoon – or evening – nursing a drink.

We’ve learned that ex-pats – no matter where they’re from – automatically have enough in common to become friends fast.

donde vive la corazon

donde vive la corazon

We’d lived in Spain just over a year when we took a trip back to Texas.

We caught up with our doctors (even though we’re healthy, getting older sucks).

We overdosed on our favorite restaurants and foods that we can’t get in Spain (Tex-Mex and Ruffles with Borden’s French onion dip and Velveeta-and-Rotel queso).

Most importantly, we caught up in person with family and friends. Facebook is a godsend, but nothing beats face-to-face with drinks in hand!

I expected to feel a bit torn between the two worlds. But, while it was great to spend time with family and friends, I missed our life in Spain. Spain had become home.

I missed our Mercado, with all of its fresh seafood and fruits and vegetables:

I missed our pedestrian lifestyle with convenient public transportation.

I missed our favorite cafes and bars:

I missed our frequent parades and fireworks:

I missed our Alicantino friends.

Texas will always be Home with a capital H, but my home now is in Spain.

Vale!

 

through others’ eyes

through others’ eyes

In our first year in Alicante we had five sets of visitors, and it’s been interesting to see our new home through their eyes.

They love our sunny apartment, with our view of the Med:

view - Mediterrean

They love our Mercado, with all of its sights and smells and our favorite stop-in: Katana.

They love our beach, with its lack of body shaming and our favorite stop-by: Xiringuito Postiguet, with its views, drinks, music, and friendly staff:

They love our castle, accessible by elevator:

They love our old town, with its sidewalk restaurants, including La Taberna San Pascual, run by our friend Antonio:

They love our neighborhood park and its outdoor bar: Sotello:

They love our sangria.

Our olives.

Our tapas.

Our paella.

Our parades:

Our fireworks:

IMG_0582

Vale!

How Italy is different from Spain

No judgment either way, just general observations, and not universal:

·       Women are either dressed stylishly, or really not.

·       Women don’t wear hose.

·       Men don’t wear socks with suits or dress pants.

·       Parents push strollers, but carry babies.

·       Small children cry and scream – perhaps related to the point above?

·       People move with more purpose.

·       People don’t stop and block sidewalk traffic just to chat – perhaps related to the point above?

·       While many shops also close in the afternoon, they close for good by 8:00.

·       Lots of bicycles.

·       Pay phones and condom machines on the streets, but no mail boxes.

another weekend – another parade

another weekend – another parade

Sunday afternoon. Music wafting up to our apartment from the street. I look out. Just another parade. Mostly women. Mostly dressed in highly ruffled flamenco-style dresses. Two carts pulled by festively adorned mules. Two more floats pulled by cars. No idea who. Or what. Or why. Just another day.

We see 2-3 parades a month. And 4-5 protests. Most of the time, we have no idea what they’re about. Such is life in Spain!

And Sunday evening, all hell broke loose on the plaza. Car horns, air horns, yelling, singing. Real Madrid won la Liga, and the local supporters were out in force.

Vale!