Spanish newbie

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December 2, 2017

It was interesting reading Irena Bodnarec’s article the other day on ‘How much?’ after her visit back to the UK and I would like everyone to share my recent experience back to the UK.
My husband and I are fairly ‘new’ to the Spanish way of life and even though we have had a beautiful holiday home here in the Costa Blanca for the past four years and travelled back and forth the UK for fortnightly holidays and quick breaks through the year, we finally decided last year to give it all up (well, for six months anyway, let’s do it in baby steps first shall we) and live the ‘La Vida Loca’. Of course, when we did decide to spend more of our time here, we didn’t bargain on the ‘Brexit’ happening and the pound plummeting!
So what are we actually weighing up here? The Spanish way of life (the warm weather in winter compared to the freezing cold and wet in the UK) or the fact that Spain still has a much cheaper way of living as far as eating and drinking out than the UK?
Since ‘living’ here, the local Mercadona and Masymas have been our sanctuary for picking up good bargains and cheap groceries. Also, a Spanish week cannot go by without a visit to the local markets, where you can pick up fresh fruit and vegetables that stay fresher for longer (so what if a red pepper looks a funny shape and is twice the size). Recently, though, we have noticed our food bills climbing and wondered if this was due to the Brexit uncertainty. Eating out in the evening has also become a bit pricier, with menu del dias increasing from about €12 to €14 each per person instead of about €10 last year.
We visited one of our local restaurants a few days ago and the waiter offered the menu del día, which we accepted. This consisted of a starter of a tuna salad which could have fed about four children, a main, a dessert, a bottle of wine and also a ‘barra de pan’ and ‘alioli’ (and I was also given a gluten-free ‘pan’ which was delicious). We finished the meal off with a Cointreau and a whiskey to wash the delicious meal down with, and the bill came to a total of €35. ‘Completo’!
At the time, I mentioned to my hubby that I thought the meal seemed more expensive than before and meals out were getting a little more expensive than they used to be. That was until I went back to the UK two weeks later to see the wonderful arrival of my newest grandson to our ever-increasing family!
My son and his fiancée treated me to lunch out on my first day back in Corsham. The restaurant was lovely, very quaint with old-style oak beamed ceilings and a roaring fire and very friendly staff. I am missing the UK, I thought, as I sat and chatted to my son’s friend who had just arrived. We had a wonderful lunch, but I was disappointed in the size of the portions and wondered if I would be able to see my way through to dinner before my stomach started to rumble and would have to start snacking on something like chocolate!
When the bill arrived and my son paid, my lunch alone came to £18 for one small course with a drink.
Back in Wales seeing my sister for a coffee and a chat in town, I picked up the bill and had to look twice at it. I laughed and said that I must be already getting used to the Spanish prices as this bill seemed very expensive compared to a €1.50 ‘café con leche’ back in Spain. Two coffees and two cakes came to £16 (I was wondering if I had accidentally been transported to Harrods and didn’t notice).
As I was waiting in the departure lounge at Bristol Airport on my return to Alicante, I was feeling nostalgic and a little homesick about the UK after seeing all my lovely family and friends (despite the November weather). I decided to have a quick breakfast before boarding. It came to £6.95 in the Soho Café. I had to take a photo of it, as my husband would not believe that what I had to eat was the price I paid! This breakfast, if you could call it a breakfast, consisted of one small rubber egg and three pieces of undercooked back bacon and a small coffee. In Spain, in one of our local cafes in the morning, you can have a full English breakfast with bacon, sausage, beans, egg, hash brown, toast and a coffee for about €6! Oh and an orange juice, my husband points out!
The verdict is still out at the moment for us whether we make a proper go of it here in Spain and go the whole hog of moving out here. But while all the visitors come to Spain to enjoy the wonderful lifestyle of the warm weather, walking along the beach as the sun goes down or sitting in the nearby beach bar sipping a sangria or two (and that can be in November), the expat retirees here in Spain can carry on feeling healthy and happy and eating and drinking well thanks to menu del dias!

Wendy Price

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