We’ve been super busy over the last few weeks designing some amazing trips for clients and planning our own summer road trip along the coasts of Spain and Portugal. The fact that we can hop in the car and drive to the Douro Valley to sip port is still 100% mind blowing. Moments like these, along with our second Spanniversary last month, naturally result in some reflection. So, to kick off year #3 in Spain, we’ve come up with our second list of things we love and things we miss. (See Year 1, Part 1 here).
We LOVE - Vermouth
Starting the list with a very important and new found love affair…. Vermouth. Specifically, vermut rojo (red vermouth), served on ice with a slice of orange and three olives. Yea, we also thought that vermouth was one of those mixer spirits that belonged as a splash in a martini. But here, cafes make their own and blend in herbs like cloves, cinnamon, citrus peel and cardamom for a very delicious cold drink, best enjoyed on a sunny streetside patio. We also recently learned that it’s gaining popularity in the UK, with vermouth bars popping up and Spanish bottles lining the shelves. So, heads up America, you’re next.
We MISS - American beer (options!) and tequila
We’re from Colorado and California, so needless to say, we’re spoiled when it comes to good beer. Spain, and Valencia in particular, has a few great microbreweries, but we still fantasize about the beer aisle from home, with every type, flavor, and strength of beer you could possibly conjure up. Oh, and tequila. It’s available, but pretty expensive and sometimes in summertime, you just want a goddamn margarita, amIright?
We LOVE - very rarely getting in the car
City living, hombre. This city allows us to walk, bike, metro or run just about anywhere within half an hour. And with our four flights of stairs, our booties are strong enough to do it! We’re lucky to have access to a company car for Ryan’s job so we can escape on the weekends, but never have to worry about insurance and maintenance. It’s the best of both worlds, and feels oddly liberating to rarely drive.
We MISS - getting things done online
Remember when Papa Johns introduced online ordering, so you didn’t even have to call and (gasp) speak to someone to get your pizza? That technology may hit Spain in 2028. Everything is done by phone, or in a meeting with a printed paper and a (yes, you’re reading this right) rubber stamp.
We LOVE - socialized health care and inexpensive drugs
We’re 100% on board with socialized health care. Doctor visits are free, specialists are free, and the same drugs we buy at home are a fraction of the price here (Megan gets her $600 life saving epi pen for 4 euros at any pharmacy). Spain is known to have great doctors and quality of care, so we feel taken care of. And the percentage of taxes we pay to enjoy such a benefit is basically the same as what we were paying in the U.S. This security provides us the freedom to work part time and/or for ourselves and know we’re covered. Amazing.
We MISS - mac n' cheese, corn tortillas, and hot tamales
You really don’t know what you miss until you can’t get it and, especially on a weeknight in winter, we miss mac n’ cheese! Although the funny thing is, we’ve had our friends and family bring us a box or two of Annie’s White Cheddar and it’s never as good as we remember it. Maybe it’s nostalgia? On the other hand, we’d probably each sell a kidney for a lifetime supply of decent corn tortillas. And Megan strangely misses hot tamales, an odd new obsession since we moved.
We LOVE - cheap, locally grown fruits and veggies
We don’t eat meat so access to good fruits and veggies is imperative to navigate the ham heavy Spanish cuisine. Luckily, there’s a fruit stand on almost every corner and the produce is fresh, local and cheap. Sure, we miss blueberries and raspberries (they don’t grow in our toasty climate), but we’ve gotten accustomed to seasonal eating which unsurprisingly delivers exactly what you want, when you want it. For example, it’s currently watermelon season and 90 degrees (we have literally purchased a ½ of a watermelon for 70 cents every single day). The best.
We MISS - TV in English and sports in the right time zone
We can stream a lot of our favorite shows and sports but we’re always at least one day late. This has proven to be difficult at times, namely during the NBA playoffs when Ryan has to avoid all news and social media until he can watch the Warriors play over 24 hours later.
We LOVE - the beach and the Mediterranean Sea
Cue eye roll. Of course we love the beach- it’s one of the main reasons we chose Valencia. And despite what you see on TV (um, House Hunters International, specifically), Valencia is home to a pretty nice stretch of sand, especially for a city. But possibly the best part of living here in the summer is the Mediterranean. That water heats up to 75-degrees by in July, and nearly 79-degrees by August. It’s like floating in a big ‘ol salty bath. Add in the caribbean-style turquoise water, rocky coves, friends and a few cold beers and it’s literally the stuff dreams are made of.
We MISS - driers and fluffy towels
First world problems, eh? We’ve really gotten used to carrying all of the wet laundry from the washing machine in the kitchen (yup, in the kitchen), to the office, and clipping each piece of clothing on the line hanging four stories above the ground. Now that it’s summer, clothes dry quickly, but the whole process is rather time consuming and results in stiff and crispy clothes. Line drying is far better for the environment, which makes us happy, but we do miss the ease of throwing everything in the drier and waiting. And we do REALLY miss those warm fluffy Downy-smelling towels.
And the list goes on! Each day it seems like we remember something about everyday life in the U.S. that we yearn for and find something new about Spain that we adore. So, on to year 3... the adventure continues.
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