“The High Stool 2”

Back in the day, maybe 2 or 3 years ago I used to finish work, hop on the high stool and, if I had things to do the following day, make a list. I love using the notes feature on my phone to log certain wee things that may come into my head, a shopping list, or even the name of a song! Since then, I have discovered ‘Shazam,’ which is an app that knows any song. All you have to do is hold your phone to the speaker, and it will tell you the name and original artist. It’s magic and I love it! Now, whether or not I actually commit to what I wrote on these lists remains to be seen, and for that I have to blame whoever was behind the bar that night for twisting my arm into having yet another glass of the fruity, crisp house white, but I digress! I had good intentions when I foolishly told myself I’d be productive the next day!

So today, I was thinking of all of the Irish home comforts that are out there, and the things we may yearn for when we are abroad. Some things just aren’t the same, things like sausages and bacon, if they’re not Irish, they have no place on a Full Irish, am I right? Otherwise it isn’t a “Full Irish”! Some people will only have a certain brand of ketchup or tea bags. I am partial to a bag of Tayto, but I’m no crisp snob – especially if they’re paired with that house white I was talking about!

So when I was thinking about Irish things we may miss, I flipped it on its head and thought, if I were to move back to Ireland, what would I miss about Spain? Or what would I wish I could buy in the supermarket? So here is my list below! If you agree or disagree, let me know, or let me know your own ‘home or away comforts!’

 

  1. The Cost of Living! I think that this is probably one of the things I would miss the most about Spain were I to move back home. Everything from taxis to tomatoes are cheaper here. Now, I am aware it isn’t everything by any means, but most things. Honestly, I have my mum’s head fried when we walk through Tesco when I’m back. “Mum, do you know this wine is only €1.70 in Spain?” She thinks I’m winding her up but I’m actually not! The weekly markets in Cabo Roig and Playa Flamenca sell lovely, fresh produce for keener prices than supermarkets also, and don’t forget you can haggle your way down and walk away with a bag full of rainbow fruit-and-veggie goodness for a fraction of the normal price!

 

  1.  The Weather. This is probably a no-brainer to most of you and I know I may moan about it when the weather is very warm here in July and August. 35 degrees and I’m pounding the terrace with half a can of hairspray on my face to keep my makeup on (It’s what they do in Hollywood, apparently) please don’t come near me with a naked flame – but I really just love our 300(ish) days of sunny, mild weather we get. For the most part, we can take for granted that we will get outside for a walk, and here is my Mammy side coming through – that I will get today’s load of washing done, and dried! Hallelujah! All I need now is the laundry fairy to come fold it and put it away for me and that would be fantastic. Predictable weather is a gift. It is proven the sun is a mood lifter, and Vitamin D is good for the soul! There is none of the pressure that we have at home where, if it is sunny outside, we must drop all tools and race for the nearest beach or garden to bake, because most likely it’ll be sunny again tomorrow! Winters are cold and summers are hot, and we can pretty much take that as a given. Although I have to say, we Irish do know how to make the most of a sunny spell. Was it last year or the year before Aldi saw the race for fire pits and garden furniture?

 

  1. The Food. Probably closer to number one now that I think about it, but can you blame me? The food in Spain is just amazing, no other way to put it. Food brings people together and  I love the pride Spain takes in their food culture. Spanish tapas is a perfect way to try new things, and gauge what you like or maybe don’t like. You can eat, drink, chew  and chat all with ease.  A couple of years ago, my partner and I travelled to a few different Spanish cities, and sampled some delights. In cities like Granada, a tapa is served along with your drink, so you can sample the local cuisine for very little. Morcilla, tortilla and chistorra are my personal favourites, oh and of course some Russian salad and patatas bravas on the side! Don’t forget the pan y aioli.  I’ll never be skinny living in Spain, but my goodness it’s worth it!

 

  1. How close everything is! In La Zenia, everything is a stone’s-throw away. The weather, coupled with pedestrian-friendly roads, mean that walking everywhere is a pleasure, just make sure your phone is charged, stick a good podcast, audiobook or some music on and you’re good to go. It’s also the best way to discover new places, and get some exercise while you’re at it. I have three beaches at my doorstep, and if I feel like visiting all three, there is an amazing, buggy-friendly coastal walk connecting them so there is no excuse! If you do need to go further afield, taxis are cheap, and in the summer there’s no feeling like getting into a lovely, air-conditioned taxi in the middle of the sweltering July heat! If I was to go back to Ireland, I would probably need to learn to drive, because everything is so spread out. Perhaps if I came from Dublin I would be alright because of the Dublin Bus service, but up here in Donegal, our public transport leaves a hell of a lot to be desired! So that does terrify me a little, I won’t lie.

 

  1. The laid-back, Spanish attitude. “Manana, manana” is a phrase sometimes used in jest to mean sometime in the near future, although its literal translation is “tomorrow, tomorrow”! Although slightly stereotypical, it does ring true as the Spanish way of life can be lovely and slow, people don’t seem to be in any awful hurry to complete tasks or be in any rush, and for the most part, don’t mind if you’re a couple of minutes late for an appointment. Look at the Spanish siesta, still very much alive and well in certain cities – in Alicante, shops and businesses close from 1pm to 5pm. On the other hand, certain things take much longer than in other countries, and don’t get me started on the paperwork side of things. I always feel a lot less ‘pressure’ here compared to home, and I just can’t put my finger on how or why. I suppose I have learned in time to go with the flow, and to slow down and take the time to appreciate my surroundings.

 

  1. The Spanish Healthcare System. The Spanish National Healthcare System (“Instituto Nacional de la Salud”), founded on Spain’s General Healthcare Act of 1986, guarantees universal coverage and free healthcare access to all Spanish nationals, regardless of economic situation or participation in the social security network. I have to say, the Spanish healthcare system, in my eyes, I find little to no fault in. Things are run quickly, thoroughly and efficiently. A couple of years ago, I was referred to a specialist, and told to wait for an appointment. I expected to be waiting some months at least. The appointment was made in two weeks. I could not believe it and I am sure that if I was in Ireland, I would probably still be waiting. All of my experiences have been positive ones, most recently being the birth of my daughter in May last year. Although restrictions were in place thanks to the pandemic, we felt safe and very well looked after, and all subsequent paediatrician visits and check ups have been prompt and efficient. I have spoken to various people currently in receipt of their Covid vaccinations, and they too have all commented on the swiftness and how well-run the procedure has been. Free healthcare truly is a blessing, and I feel very privileged to be able to avail of it.

 

  1. Spanish Weddings. Spanish weddings are just amazing, simply put. They are so different to an Irish wedding, but just as good, trust me! For a start, speeches are made during the ceremony. After the ceremony, various canapes and drinks are offered, giving guests a chance to mingle and relax before all sitting down for the grand dinner – it’s called a banquete for a reason! It’s more than a banquet, it’s an absolute feast. Fresh seafood is a favourite, as it is for very special occasions. The bride and groom go from table to table, gifting detalles, or wedding favors, for those in the party who are the closest to them. After dinner, it’s party time! Cubatas are served at the bar, cigars are handed out, and the wedding lasts into the night! It is honestly so much fun. With our beautiful climate, most of the celebrations can take place outdoors, too!

 

  1. Fiesta! We Irish are famed for being able to drink other nationalities under the table, but have you ever been to a Spanish fiesta? See my point above about weddings! They know how to party. And with many bars and nightclubs staying open until 7 or 8am, it’s an all-night party at that! It’s just as well the beach is never too far away to sweat out the resaca, or hangover.

 

  1. Spanish People. Spanish people and Irish people just get each other. I remember way back, during my first summer here, I was trying my hardest to learn the language, so I would just go to a table which I knew had Spanish people there and try my best. If I made a mistake (trust me, I definitely did) they were patient and told me the correct way to say whatever it was I was trying to explain to them! I have a few funny stories of language-related gaffes I have accumulated along the way, but that’s for another day. I found as long as I showed them I was trying to learn, that was more than good enough for them and they were happy to let me practice. They would always seem interested and I’ll never forget their warmth when I was trying to find my feet. I find that Spanish people’s humour is very similar to ours also.

 

  1. Spanish Football. In Spain, the biggest and best sport of them all is football. It’s also a very good way to strike up a conversation, ask “De que equipo eres?”, which directly translates into “Which team are you from?” Football chat shows are shown nightly on Spanish television and they delve into everything, from transfer rumours to body language and lip-reading, something I’d never see on Match Of The Day! I was fortunate enough to visit the Bernabeu stadium in Madrid in November 2019, and the atmosphere was absolutely electric. I would almost go as far as to say it was close to Anfield in terms of fan presence. The Grada Blanca, Real Madrid’s answer to the Kop, sang and chanted their hearts out for the whole 90 minutes. It was amazing. Also, have you ever heard Spanish commentators on the television and radio? They couldn’t be any more enthusiastic if they tried, and I’m convinced they’re having a party of their own when the goals are being scored and they’re roaring into their earpieces!

 

So, there we have it, my top-10 things about living in Spain! Let me know your top 10 things about living wherever in the world you may be, and you never know, we might have something in common! Over and out!

One thought on ““The High Stool 2”

  1. Sandra Houston says:

    Brilliant yet again

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