Costa Brava is the area along the northern coast of Spain that is known for its beautiful (but crowded) beaches and rocky coves. August is essentially vacation time in Spain. Many of the shops and restaurants in Puzol have signs on them saying "closed for vacation - back in September." So, we decided to join the throngs of vacationers and do a loop through Costa Brava and the Pyrenees before the weather got too cold.
Our town, Puzol, is not a tourist destination. This isn't to say that tourists don't come here, especially from other European countries looking for a nice beach. But, the town itself is not maintained in a way that presents any contrived picture to outsiders. It is what it is - a town that normal people live and work in. Almost nobody speaks English, they don't have their church set up as an historical destination, there are no overpriced shops and cafes, and there are no hotels. Most people know each other, as demonstrated by two-cheek kissing that is seen everywhere, and the spontaneous street gatherings that happen in the evenings. One place on the edge of town we have named "the hang out" looks like a homeless camp, yet on numerous evenings old ladies in dresses set up plastic chairs to talk, and old men bring their bottles of beer. Uses for space are often unclear until they have been observed for a while. In fact, I have already learned not to assume what may be behind a door.
Holy Toledo!! Supposedly, this saying came into being because of Toledo, Spain. And, after choosing it as our first sightseeing trip outside of Valencia, I can certainly see why. Toledo was Spain's religious and political capital until 1561, when King Phillip changed the capital to the middle of newly formed Spain, attempting to also create more separation between church and state. In the eyes of early Spanish catholics, kings and queens were ordained by God, so their rule was holy. They appointed archbishops and priests to carry out their will. So, the Church was tied to the State and generated funds for the State. Subjects were required to make payments to the Church, hence to the State. Each monarch tried to increase the opulence of cathedrals and holy spaces during their reign to demonstrate their power and remind citizens of their connection to God. The cathedral in Toledo is a perfect example of this propensity for grandeur.
People tell you about the amazing food in Spain. So far, I have found that to be true, but it also depends on what you like to eat. As I have already mentioned, if you are a breakfast lover you are out of luck. The American fare of eggs, pancakes, burritos, etc. cannot be found. However, if you are a fan of big, filling lunches with lots of rice, seafood, and ham, you are in luck. I feel like every meal is like going to a fine
On our first trip to the grocery store I was amazed that all the brands were different, starting with the store itself. Consum is the name of the main grocery store chain in Spain. Buying anything pre-made forced you to experience something new because absolutely no brands are the same. The kids were thrilled to be trying all the seemingly endless types of chocolate cookies. Despite having orange groves throughout the valley, they have awful orange juice selections, and all the milk is sold warm. Now I am already getting used to these things and forgetting how foreign I thought they were originally.
Sally and her family have moved to Spain for a year starting July 2017. They are living in a little town called Puzol, which is about 12km north of Valencia. Her kids, Carson and Celia, are attending the American School of Valencia, an International School located in Puzol. The goal for the whole family is to experience another way of life, and learn Spanish. This blog tracks their travels and experiences.