Day 2… unpacking and our first trip out!

So today is day 2 in Spain! I’m still alive and kicking and we had no major incidents to report since last night. I would like to put in a link from my new friend Cristy’s website that has a different perspective of our move yesterday: http://abroadabroadinspain.com/archives/date/2010/01.

Last night I realized just how much jet lag affects children. They were crabby all evening and then went to bed around their normal time, maybe a little later. We shut the black out blinds (more on those in a second) and they were out like lights. Or so I thought. Aidan was out – Liam, not so much… of course he didn’t decide to wake up til after we went to bed. He woke up a few times and seemed a bit panicked about his surroundings. I can’t say I blame him at all. However, being dead tired myself I finally convinced him to come into our room before he woke up Aidan. Of course Aidan sleeps like the dead so I’m not really sure why I was worried. Anyways, Liam proceeded to kick Josh and I alternatively in the head ALL NIGHT LONG. Oh and Jake (the dog for those who don’t know) took up a good ½ of the bed. Let me back track a sec here – did I tell you about the bed??

In Spain they must like being close to each other unlike in the US. From what I understand, the average adult bed is a double. Yes, a double. Now Josh and I have a queen bed at home so it’s not huge but definitely bigger than here. So here we are, Josh, myself, Liam and Jake (who weighs a good 80 lbs). Not a fabulous night sleep. On a positive note, the children slept til almost noon today. A feat never even closely accomplished in the past (ave wake time is 6:30AM).

Now to those shades I referenced. I have no idea if this is common beyond Spain, but here they have these amazing blinds that are outside the windows – they could be in between the window panes, but I’m not quite sure. They are multi purpose and ours are metal. And thankfully they are electric. We looked at a few places that had manual ones and they looked like they were a bit of a pain. These blinds are good for keeping in the heat/coldness, security and they are totally black out blinds. I feel confident that it was not really the jet lag that kept those children sleeping but the fact that it looked like it was midnight in those rooms at noon today!

Speaking of the dogs, I apologize to those that were worried that I didn’t mention them last night. They apparently had a fabulous flight (for the cost it had best have been luxurious!). They ran into some slight complications at customs since their paperwork was lost. Glad we hired a service for all this because I can’t imagine having to deal with that yesterday. They arrived around 6ish all excited. Well, Jake was excited. Sailor was her usual freaked out self. She ran into the living room and other than going outside (the door being at the side of the living room), she has not left this room. She has not ventured upstairs, to the kitchen, office, anywhere. I expect her to pretty much stay in this area for her 2 years here other than when we go for walks. I do have to point out that one of them is not taking to well to new Spanish food and is extremely gassy. There are moments where you can hardly breathe. Sorry…had to be said! As I write this Josh and I are both holding our shirts to our noses so we don’t have to breathe in.

Side note… Josh just took Sailor out as I was typing. She was resisting the whole time having to go thru the door from the living room to the front of the apartment. You would think he was killing her – she sooo didn’t want to leave the comfort of the living room!

Today was mainly spent unpacking. Last night we were about 70% there, today about 90-95. Really just some clothes left. I really want to spend tomorrow exploring before Josh goes back to work on Thurs. Today we hit the grocery store and it was a very interesting experience – more on that in a moment as well. And tomorrow is Three Kings Day. As I mentioned last night, this is a big deal in Spain. It’s a very Catholic holiday and taken much more seriously than Christmas here. Apparently the adults get off very cheap in Spain when it comes to Christmas. Gifts are small and few – Three Kings is where it’s at. And even then, it’s more about candy than gifts. Last night while I was watching the parade, they were tossing candy from the floats. I hear there is a big parade tomorrow – I think we are going to try to catch that with the kids.

I did a little more research on Three Kings – thank you Wikipedia: In Spain there is a long tradition for having the children receive their Christmas presents by the three “Magos”, (the figure of Santa Claus only appeared in recent years) during the night of January 5th (Biblical Magi Eve). Almost every Spanish city or town organize cabalgatas (rides according to google translate) in the evening, in which the kings and their servants parade and throw sweets to the children (and parents) in attendance. The cavalcade of the three kings in Alcoy claims to be the oldest in the world, having started in 1886. There is also a “Roscón” as explained below. In Spain in the Biblical Magi Eve is also represented the Mystery Play of the Three Magic Kings. I also had a friend fill me in a little bit on the traditions – Lorena I hope you don’t mind me copying and pasting here. “. You’re right – it’s a much bigger celebration in Spain than Xmas. It’s THE celebration for the holidays. There was never Santa Claus in Spain. Kids set out shoes instead of stockings and if they get coal in them, they were naughty. If they get candy in them, they were good. Milk is set out, but you need to put 3 glasses because there are 3 kings! You may see more about Christmas these days, due to US influence, but the tradition is really 3 Kings Day.” Josh said he also saw cakes similar to the funnel cakes of Mardi Gras (the ones with the little baby inside). It’s interesting to see traditions from a different perspective than the US.

Some things I’ve learned that are different than the US – and this is just from one day:

1. Most doors open in, not out… that’s going to take some getting used to.

2. In order for the heat to work effectively (also the AC) you need to close the doors to the individual rooms. For instance, the living room has a door and even though my office was just 4 feet away each room was completely closed off for heat. This is very weird for communicating when I’m used to an open floor plan. This is also going to take a bit of getting used to. Supposedly this is more efficient but I really don’t understand how – if you left all the doors open and left the heat running in each room, wouldn’t it all really just merge together in some way??? I don’t know…

3. Because I’m using a Spanish internet service, many of my websites come up in Spanish now. And so I need to find out on each website where the language preference is. It’s getting to be a bit of a pain in the ass.

4. Light bulbs are even different here. Not to mention the light switches and of course the plugs. We have adapters galore. I have yet to see a fire alarm in here – and this is a new build…hmmm…. Should I be concerned? Children are fascinated with light switches – more at their height. Little Bear just stands there turning them on/off, on/off, on/off. You can imagine how fun that is for us.

5. There are dumpsters on every street and they aren’t your traditional wide open ones. They have them for various forms of recycling as well as general garbage. There are NO alleys in Barcelona which is pretty nice – all the space is utilized – so these dumpsters are in spots where you may normally park a car – right out in the street. They aren’t the eyesore you would expect though (not that they are pretty). We have to walk down the street to our dumpster – there is no trash service here or any kind of trash chute. I think this might help in our going green campaign because it’s going to get old having to walk down the street to dump the trash.

6. Everything is in military time. So not only do I need to think about the words I say or listen to, but I also need to think about translating time. Even our cable box is in military time… for instance right now it is 22.35. After careful thought… 10:35PM.

7. Food – obviously different here. Things that I thought were simple as far as food goes, not so simple. Even the grapes – we got simple green grapes for the kids. Turns out they don’t have seedless grapes. At least at the fruit stand we went to. When was the last time you had a grape with a seed (or multiple seeds as was the case) in it? And ketchup? Josh and I spent a good 10 mins trying to figure out how to open the ketchup. Simple task? I think not! He finally had to take a knife to it and open it that way. I’m assuming that’s not the way it was supposed to be opened but nonetheless, we now have ketchup (which smells a lot like bbq sauce).

Speaking of food, as I’ve known from day one, it’s going to be an obstacle for me. I’m already (happily) down 2 lbs. I made a sandwich this afternoon and the bread here is significantly smaller in size (may not be a bad thing) and to me it’s texture is more dry, almost stale like. It took a lot to take that first bite of pbj – yes, that’s how picky I am. I’ll have to adjust or make toast more often! I made spaghetti tonight and used my prince pasta, the sauce we bought at the market and some hamburger (which by the way smelled different than the hamburg at home.

My final thought for tonight is regarding our venture out this afternoon. We went to the grocery store. Who knew what excitement lay ahead??? The grocery store here is not like those at home. First, significantly smaller. I think there were maybe 5 or 6 aisles. Many of the items I recognized, others not so much. A few things I’d like to point out:

1. You bring your “granny cart” with you. You have to pay to get plastic bags if you need them.

2. You leave the granny cart at the front of the store and grab a big blue rolling basket – think basket like in the US x 2 with wheels and an extendable handle.

3. Jamon, or ham, is HUGE in Spain. You see it EVERYWHERE. They even had jamon flavored Pringles!

4. There were many brands that we have in the US – Nestle, General Mills, Proctor and Gamble… some items had different names and even different mascots (like coco krispies – there was no snap, crackle, pop but a monkey on the box).

5. At the end of your shopping, you put your items on the belt like in the US, but there are 2 lanes at the end – one for you and one for the person before you who may still be bagging their items. Once the items are at the end they ask you if you have your own bags or not so they know if you are to be charged or not for them (this took a moment to interpret) and you go to the front of the store, grab your granny cart and fill it with the items. No plastic bags (going green again).

Some more photos from our trip to the grocery store.  Maybe a trip to your store isn’t as much of an adventure but I’m excited that we conquered something today!

We may have found peanut butter!      Aidan’s psyched at the Simpson’s crackers!
Large stand of pig legs                      Urs, they are really good about gluten here!
Eggs are shelf stable…                          and so is the milk!  This is the milk aisle..

This was an odd one.  It’s in the refridgerated section and looks like some kind of yogurt, you know because it says Dannon on it.  But it has a picture of a candle and shows it being inserted into the jar???  The one on the right is also Dannon and I think it’s chocolate pudding but it’s in a glass jar, no candle image so I think this is edible.

Final picture of the night.  This is bread… sin corteza or without crust.  I know many a parent in the US who would love this!!!

Well, it’s pushing 12:30 now here so I’m heading to bed – images took a good hr to upload…grrr. Will let you know how it goes tomorrow on our first day venturing out as a family goes!!
Julie

3 thoughts on “Day 2… unpacking and our first trip out!

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