Our First Week In Spain

Joyful. Scary. Romantic. Confusing. Apolitical. Tapas. Peaceful. Vermut. Surprise. Walking. Acceptance. Running. Freedom. Anonymity. Future. Ancient. Pleasure. Idioms. Excitement. Colloquialisms. Savour. Kissing. Slow. Anxious. Delight. Excitement. Culture. 

Yes, we are in the honeymoon stage of life in Barcelona. And we are loving it. We have almost as many friends and acquaintances here in one week as in our twelve years together in America. Lorenzo, Natalie, Nelson, Leah, Les, Eva, Chris, Cheyenne, Simone, Gabriele, Arnau, Nuria, Coco, Maria and more. 

A completely different life routine. Sleep late until 10 or 11 am. Espresso on our tiny balcony overlooking the bustling neighborhood, light breakfast of Jamon ham, Manchego cheese, quince paste, crostini, and fresh grapes. Errands, groceries, fresh local market, and exercise. Lunch/dinner is the biggest meal of the day. Vermut (vermouth) rather than whiskey for cocktail hour. Stroll down a different ancient street (Calle/Carrer) at dusk and find a vibey bar or cafe for light tapas and a drink. Another walk, savoring the incredible Christmas lights. To bed around midnight. 

This new routine has been, by far, the most significant adjustment. Gina and I are creatures of habit, so this radical adjustment has been jolting. One evening, we made the mistake of trying to find an early dinner around 4 pm. Every restaurant was closed, and the streets were vacant. True Spaniards enjoy siesta time from 2-5 pm. And dinner/supper does not begin until 9pm. Crazy. 

We knew we would save a little money, but what we have discovered is astonishing. Even though we lose a bit on the transfer from the US dollar to the Euro, we still find that groceries are an astounding 50% to 60% less expensive. Home goods are 40% to 50% less, and restaurants are 30% to 40% less.

Wine is by far the biggest surprise. Our favorite Spanish wine is $4.50 per bottle, comparable to a $40 to $50 bottle in America. A bottle of delicious vermut (vermouth) or cava (sparkling wine) costs $2.50 and lasts us three cocktail hours for $7.50. In America, we drank whiskey, vodka, or gin ($46, $29, and $45, respectively), equating to around $50 every three days. 

We have no car; therefore, no depreciation, fuel costs, insurance, or maintenance. We have been told the average couple can live like royalty here for around $2500-$3,000 monthly. We’ll see. Amazing. 

Transitioning to a walking lifestyle has slowed us down and helped us admire the scenery and enjoy the journey as much as the destination. It has provided more exercise (we are quickly getting in 10,000 to 15,000 steps per day) and eating far more healthily. No fast food, no fast meals. One restaurant manager apologized because we had no reservation, and she could only offer the table for two hours. Ha! Meals can last three or more hours at a restaurant. 

We feel incredibly safe—even walking the ancient, narrow alleyways at midnight. The only theft precaution we have taken is being aware of pickpockets in tourist areas such as La Ramblas and the Old Town.  

As we read the daily news from the States, our certainty increases that we have made the right decision. It is so peaceful and happy here. There are no signs of the partisan division, police brutality, corruption, racism, and mass murders that have permeated and corrupted America. 

We had a startling illustration of how our former state of Florida (and America) is perceived when a local Barcelona server asked where we were from. When we said Florida, he formed a gun with his thumb and index finger, pointed it at his head, and mimed a gunshot. Gina and I looked at each other numbly, knowing he was right. 

Finally, we love our tiny but cozy apartment of 540 sq. ft. It has everything we need. Gina and I have been discussing how little we need to be happy. We are living the essential life, and it is good. However, we want more room for my art studio, and we are shipping a few pieces of our furniture overseas that we could not bear to part with, such as my cookware, spices, and my best-loved books. 

Our moving company notified us that our furniture is arriving six weeks early, and we have switched into overdrive to find a new, more permanent apartment. We think we have found it, but to make sure, we are looking at two more on Monday morning, and then, hopefully, in the afternoon, we make an offer on the beautiful home we have fallen in love with. It seems perfect and is in the most sought-after neighborhood in the city. The city of Barcelona is booming, and nice apartments are hard to come by, so we have our fingers crossed. More updates soon. 

6 responses to “Our First Week In Spain”

  1. Ray Hensley Avatar
    Ray Hensley

    Hello Randy and Gina. We miss you. Gina I was out shopping today and thought of you. Randy, I am enjoying your account of the transition to a new life in Barcelona. I’m crossing my fingers for you guys to find your forever home. I look forward to your next update!

    1. randy Avatar
      randy

      Oh Ray, I miss you!!! Gina misses you. But we are SOOOOO happy here. We do think we have found the perfect home, and I think you will love it! Thanks for your encouragement and comments. They mean so much!

      Viva Barcelona!!

      Randy

  2. Charlie Avatar
    Charlie

    So glad you are enjoying your new life. Love reading the updates.
    Laurie has said more than once how odd It feels knowing you and Gina are no longer across the street.
    Keep living and loving my friend

    1. randy Avatar
      randy

      Charlie, Thanks so much! We miss you guys. You both are the greatest neighbours anyone could ever hope for. This country and this city are magical. It has been stressful and challenging, but we would not trade it for anything. I hope your time at Disney is magical!

      Randy

  3. Judy Collins Avatar
    Judy Collins

    Love reading about your new life! Thank you so much for sharing it! Enjoy!

    1. randy Avatar
      randy

      Thanks so much, Judy! We are SO enjoying life here!!

      Randy