An Ex-pat Monthly Experience of Moving to Gandia, Spain - Part 25

13th May 2024
Home > News > An Ex-pat Monthly Experience of Moving to Gandia, Spain - Part 25

Just an ordinary day ....

Just an ordinary day……..

When you decide to move over here to the sun and start to wonder how your life will change on a day-to-day basis, there are different ways to approach the answer. The question remains the same (Oh Lordy, here we go on a Mastermind trip – Ed), but the answer can vary greatly depending upon the way you approach it.

You can, as some ex-pats still do, feel that you are part of some grand spreading of the empire, Englishmen living abroad and all that, don’t ya know, eh, what! Or you can be of today and throw yourself into accepting and adapting to a different part of the global village that this planet has become. These are two radically different viewpoints and can shape everything about living here, rather than holidaying here.

For example, if you treat it as moving to a foreign land, mixing with johnny foreigner and all that, the sun will feel the same (possibly hotter – Ed) but you may feel much more that you have embarked on a hugely extended holiday and therefore somewhat alienated from real life here. Picking up the language, for example, can be harder. Learning the new rules that you will be living by may seem much more alien than they need. Becoming used to dealing with the incredibly slow and at times downright obstructive bureaucracy will badly taint your general life and leave you with a rather negative view of your decision to relocate.

If, however, you decide to throw yourself into this new adventure and decide to be a part of your new surroundings and local life, it will be a very different experience altogether. For a start, by getting out there and investigating, you will quickly pick up the ability to ‘get by’ on a day-to-day basis in Spanish. Friendly as the Spanish generally are, you will still receive more smiles and assistance when you get a smattering of the local lingo under your belt. It will also encourage you to get more involved. Just last week, here in Gandia, it was Andalucia Day. We’re miles from Andalucia, but obviously a lot of ex Andalucians live in Gandia. So mid evening (nothing happens early evening in Spain) a small group of us neighbours (three Brits, a Brazilian, A Pole and an Italian) traipsed off onto the Wibbly Wobbly bridge side of Gandia to attend the festivities. There were copious food and drink stalls, which we initially sampled as that was what everyone else was doing. This was followed by various celebratory speeches and awards (we had little idea what was going on, but everyone was very enthusiastic) and various flamenco dances from the region performed by ordinary folks doing their thing. All on a huge stage with the obligatory extremely loud sound systems and huge light display. Overall, a thoroughly entertaining evening.

Similarly, just a few days before was Oliva Day, which again, we attended. Oliva is just down the road a few miles and regularly visited as an alternative to Gandia. There, a raucous (and I mean RAUCOUS!) local band followed by a large number of what appeared to be somewhat inebriated locals in local dress ….. OK various stages of local and non-local dress, paraded/danced/staggered around the narrow-cobbled streets of the old town, all conducted by a strange chap, who reminded me particularly of a kind of Pied Piper of Hamlyn. This procession reached the central square of ‘San Roque’ where countless chairs and tables were set up ready to receive the supper. We all sat to a bowl of soup and rice, which was actually the broth that the meats were cooked in. These meats followed in a tray along with a variety of simple veggies, all followed by biscuits and accompanied by many bottles of wine and large bottles of beer. We understand that the festivities died off around three in the morning!

We have now been living here for three years and have picked up the ‘sufficient to live’ language, but now we find that we want to TALK to the non-English speaking locals, rather than just get by. We have started lessons with a delightful Spanish lady, Nuria, who we meet once a week at a coffee shop in town. She provides lessons for us to work on and then we practise them with her at the weekly meetings. It’s all very informal and not at all like going to school. We pay the equivalent of £65 for five one-hour lessons and the homework. That covers both of us! Basically about £15 a week! And we get free history lessons thrown in! We have already learned so much about how the Spanish language works and is changing today with new generations of younger Spaniards changing the original male dominated language as it has been for so long. All this in addition to enjoying a nice cup of coffee (the Spanish make good coffee, generally) in the sunshine in the centre of Gandia. What’s not to like?

There are many, many British musicians and retired musicians in this area of Spain. There is always music on somewhere, usually free.  I’ve actually become more involved in music myself, forming a soft rock band and playing gigs in the town, outdoors and inside. I’d never even played bass guitar before arriving!  You can soon become immersed in the music scene, which, of course, also opens up new towns and villages to you, that you can then go back and explore. It’s quite normal to drive three quarters of an hour or more to a café/restaurant venue or similar, to listen to a band. If you like them, you end up following them around the various venues, which quickly enables you to spread your geographical knowledge.

Shopping is also very well supported with a huge indoor shopping mall (how very American! ….. Ed) just half an hour away, surrounded by other major stores and restaurants, just outside Denia. Talking of which the array of cafes and restaurants in Denia is mesmerising. One of our favourite areas is Els Magazinos. A slightly surreal covered avenue of restaurants, cafes and pop-ups serving a vast selection of cuisines. At night it is particularly attractive, all lit up and extremely festive at any time of the year.

If you delve into the local area/people, can you feel an outsider? The honest answer is yes, you can. There are those here as in any country or area, who would rather Johnny English didn’t move into their little enclave, but it is a tiny percentage of the population and tends to be in little villages where ‘immigrants’ have had, as yet, little impact. Again this is where it really helps when you blend in with them rather than take ‘Little Britain’ with you.

There are areas of course, where the English language has an almost embarrassingly high profile. A pretty little ex-fishing village called Moraira comes to mind. It has lovely cafes again, a very pretty seafront with beach and rocks, all incredibly clean and smart. The old town (Pueblo) still retains much of its aged charm and has many independent shops hidden in its narrow streets. But look back inland at the hills surrounding Moraira and the villas layered there are countless. Most of the street signs and almost all the café menus are clearly subtitled in English. German is a growing language heard too. But do you know what? It really does make you feel good to hear food orders being given in English around you, and then making your own orders in Spanish and maybe just a few words of greeting or a simple passing comment or joke.

There will be many potentially irritating and frustrating times ahead when you move to another country and Spain can be extremely so in both. But actually, most of the time it doesn’t matter too much. For example, currently the ITV (Spanish MOT) centres in this region have been privatised. As is usual in these circumstances, the first thing the private company does is to shed staff to create bigger profits. This has resulted in huge waiting lists for ITV tests, to the point where you can have to book up six weeks in advance. Quite often you are told that you have to wait two months. “But my ITV runs out in five weeks!” Don’t worry, the Police know what is happening and as long as you have your paper showing the booking, they will not take any action against you. Or, if you speak that bit of Spanish, you can go to your local Taller (servicing garage) and ask them to put your car through for you (highly recommended), It will cost about fifty euros more (about £45) but they are adept at getting the appointments that they want – and your car will pass without issues. A bottle of Jack Daniels for the boss always goes down well too!

So, what kind of resident do you want to be? Either way the dual language guys at ''For Sale By Sally in Spain'' will set you off on the right foot.

See ya!

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