Hasta la Vista, Baby
(or how it feels when coming home)
Facing another lockdown, I really need something to keep the cheer going. It’s not that I haven’t been holed up at home for the last 6 months already, because I have… And I am happy I finally took the chance to write. In a way it’s been a life saver, or should I say, a mental health saver 🤪 But don’t think it hasn’t got me doubting sometimes 😉
One of the first things that came to mind when the first lockdown went into effect, was how this would effect people’s mental health. We humans might like our alone time – I know I do – but we’re not made to not interact with others. And I am not even speaking about the people who already were lonely before this whole mess began. It might be a long, lonely Christmas indeed.
So what can I write about that would send a little sunshine. I was kind of wrecking my brain – I guess I still have one – having done the previous article on request, which made the starting point easy. But I know it always comes to me one way or the other. I am not sure how to go about such a big feat in our life, but here we go, off to Spain!
Ever since I was a little kid, my parents took us on a holiday to Spain. I think I must have been about 3 or 4, when we went for the first time and took our Gran with us. Thinking about it now, it must sound crazy haha, my parents, 4 young kids and their Gran, in one car. Aaaw, people from my age know things were just a little different then. With our Indonesian background, taking Gran with us was normal and since she was still pretty young, it was fun for her too.
I still have a couple of very fond memories left of that first holiday to Roses. A place, just a little over the Spanish border, on the (by now very famous) east coast. We had an apartment at the beach, with just a street to cross. And although our view must have been pretty awesome from the balcony, that’s not one I remember. I guess at that age views aren’t that interesting, not compared to actually Being on the Beach.
It was a really quiet place, or we must have been staying outside regular holiday season, I am not sure, but we basically had the beach to ourselves for most of the time. And wasn’t that just glorious: every morning we were there, searching the beach, where the water touched the sand, for shells and little starfish. Yes, back then there were loads to find every day. The beach was basically where we lived. I mean, sand, water and sun… Make a kid happy lol.
The second memory is of a fire that broke out in the building we stayed in. I remember that my Mom and Gran started to gather our most important stuff in bags and took us outside, while dad was trying to figure out what was happening. Luckily nothing serious came of it and nobody was hurt. Although this is where this memory ends, I can still see some of the pictures that were taken in my minds eye. The amount would only increase over the years.
Spain captured our hearts. Of course the weather was very appealing to my parents, who grew up in a totally different climate than The Netherlands provides lol. And yes, the beach life was epic. When the kids are entertained and happy, the parents are too. (Y’all know I am not talking about entertainment in the criminal circuit). Then there was the food too. If you’ve read previous articles like 1000 Layer Therapy, you’re aware of how we feel about food.
Although we would cook (bbq!!) at home most of the days, we would always go for dinner a couple of times too. And of course there’s the discovering of all kinds of typical Spanish goods, like fruit, sweets, meat, cheese, desserts, you name it, whenever visiting their supermarkets. Every. Time. We get excited all over again.
Fortunately my parents always chose the less busy places to spend our holidays. Some places we went to a couple of times, until we noticed it changed and started to loose its charm because of the tourism and its effects. One of those places was La Pineda de Salou, kind of a suburb to the now ridiculously busy Salou. At that time it was a nice little place, with just the right amount of everything one might need and most of all a great beach. From there we would visit Salou, if the mood struck and when us kids got older we would have a night out. Yes I actually did dance the night away.
When Steve came into my life, he went with us and after we got married, our first choice was and is, still Spain, feeling like our (second) home. Whenever we do have the opportunity to go on holidays we play the same game: where should we go to this year… And though we would love to visit some other countries too, memories of Spain always tip the scale.
Our favorite drink there is Horchata, a milky drink that is best served with crushed ice. There seem to be multiple variations, but it wasn’t until we spent our holiday at Altea, that we found a little shop that mixed it with Granizado Limon, a lemon flavored lemonade also served with crushed ice, like a slush if you will. We were hesitant to say the least, I mean, we loved both drinks, but a mix? Well, it was heaven…unfortunately we never found it anywhere else, so it must have been a bold move of that local shop lol. Years later, Steve, the kids and I, returned to Altea and have lived there for little over a half year. It was the first winter in years there was snow. But Of Course.
Another delicious Spanish treat is Licor 43. well, yes, it has alcohol in it and it is very nice in a hot chocolate too, if you’re getting cold this coming winter, just top it off with lots of cream will ya. We were talking and wondering how a mix with horchata would taste. We didn’t get to that point, but whaddya know… On her flight home my daughter actually found it already bottled and for sale at the airport… missed chance indeed. If your lucky to find it somewhere, give it a try. Sure it won’t compare to a real horchata, but the alcohol should at least make you hum 😉
The same went for Sangria. We were staying in the outskirts of Calafell and when we went out for dinner, we noticed the table next to us was served a pitcher with ‘white’ sangria. Well, we had to try that of course. It was like nothing we ever tasted before and the same as with the special horchata, we never found it anywhere else either. It was always very funny if we asked for one of the two and we got that horrified look, that said: How dare you even mention it…
Like in most countries, recipes vary within every region and it is not really appreciated when asking for something that is from another region entirely. It was only years later I actually found some recipes for the white sangria on the internet and I cannot say for sure, they’re authentic. But then again, as long as it tastes great… Not to forgo the original sangria, which is a delight in itself. On my previous job an amazing Spanish woman and I became friends and we had the pleasure of her cooking Paella for us, which we celebrated with red and white sangria… Hmmm…
Back to Spain. We were never really people that enjoyed cultural sightseeing, sorry-not-sorry – however we did always take a couple of days to discover the environment. Cities around us were always visited and thoroughly inspected. Walking through some pretty amazing places, like Reus, Sitges and Tarragona, while staying around Barcelona. Barcelona we stayed in for about a week. More to the south, Valencia, Alicante, Almeria and so many more. I tried counting the times we’ve been to Spain, the places we’ve seen, but honestly, I lost count.
Acting like ‘true’ Indonesians, we visited every market in the neighborhood. In the early years we returned to Holland with the most ridiculous items, which hardly fit into the car. The donkey topped it all 🤣 as you would expect…But.Whyyy…
After a couple of years fortunately, we learned our lesson and our interests shifted. One of the things we would almost always try to bring back are some of the paella pans, though not the original shallow ones, because 1) I never attempted to make paella and 2) those wouldn’t be deep enough for our rich Indonesian dishes. Even last year we brought one home to Ireland…
Since we got married, we spend our holidays further south, still trying to find the less busy places to enjoy ourselves. Flying to Malaga and from there to the old part of Torremolinos, avoiding the tourists part as best as possible and staying in a very nice and affordable family hotel. They have been redoing / redecorating it for the past couple of years and it is more than enough to be comfortable.
Around the corner is a 24/7 grocery shop and a pharmacy. It was really fun to go to the latter when I was in need of new cleaning solution for my contact lenses. At this side English is not well spoken and my Spanish is…not good enough to explain what I needed. After some broken Spainglish I bought a solution, which I was pretty sure would be applicable for the soft contacts, but most definitely not mine… Never dared using it…aah well…
I’m really happy we were able to go last year and invited some of our kids, seeing how it is today. Memories are treasures and boy did we have fun. There is sooo much more to tell about our experiences there…regarding the food… Last year we had to look for a restaurant that would serve gluten free food as well as vegetarian dishes. We were in heaven when we found this place. Not Spanish, but authentic Italian, the waiter was The Best Ever and the food was Delicious for everyone.
But also the older memories: shared holidays with even more family and friends. How the holiday feeling starts as soon as we start driving. Finding ‘our’ Spanish bakery and ice cream parlor – who most of the times also sold fresh horchata – in every place we stayed. Learning how to swim in the pool that belonged to a very lush villa we rented, surrounded by a garden filled with plum and orange trees, we were free to eat from. Exploring nature as well as the cities and find treasures while shopping. The list goes on…
Whenever we go back and have the opportunity to visit one of the places we previously stayed in, we will. We’re kind of nostalgic fools like that, but hey, you never know when you’ll get another chance and it’s always nice to see if anything has changed.
Since French is kind of understandable for me – LOL – it’s sort of easy for me to read Spanish, a lot of words look alike so I’ll recognize them. Speaking is a whole other ballgame though. Through the years it gets easier, but not by much. Doesn’t matter how many times I intend to actually make an effort to learn the language… Well still not too old to learn I guess 😉
I guess all the above is just a random list of experiences and the things we love about Spain. Just like ‘If the Shoe Fits‘, I could go on, so maybe a sequel is not such a bad idea at all, since our love for Spain will never cease… For now, let’s keep it corny: Hasta la Vista, Baby!
Have a lovely weekend, Think Sunshine, relax your mind and we’ll meet again next week ❤