Tragic Train Accident in Galicia

I wish this didn’t have to be the comeback of Vadoaspain after a long hiatus, but this news is so tragic and shocking I just had to post something.

It’s been reported that over 70 people have lost their lives on a Renfe Alvia train traveling from Madrid to Galicia, and more than 130 are injured.


I’m not in Spain right now, but I can still breathe and feel the Spanish air and warmth. It’s like a second (or third?) home to me and I miss it dearly. So, naturally, when I heard the news, a wave of sorrow came over me. Not only is all of the above true, but I also have family and friends in Spain (one of them from Galicia) who could’ve well been on that train. Life is weird. And let’s not forget that me and my boyfriend were hopping on a Renfe train (coincidentally an Alvia or Avant) on a weekly basis, so it really gave me chills.

I am so, so saddened by the news. I’ve been able to see firsthand how families call their relatives when the train is approaching its destination and how they wait anxiously at the lobby. The thought that some of them won’t be able to see their daughters, sons, wives, girlfriends, etc. alive for a last time just breaks my heart in a million pieces.

So sad. Hope the survivors fully recover and the victims rest in peace.

Lo siento mucho, mucho España. Que descansen en paz.


What to see in Cartagena, Spain

Cartagena: a Spanish city port and a major naval station located in the Region of Murcia, by the Mediterranean coast, south-eastern Spain. It is the Spanish city with the most beaches: Cala Cortina, Islas Menores, Honda beach, Mar de Cristal, Cala del Pino, Cavanna beach, Barco Perdido beach, El Galúa beach, Levante beach and La Gola beach.


I didn’t see much of Cartagena as it was an afternoon stop on our trip to Murcia. Nevertheless, it’s a very interesting historic place. It has Arab, French, and mostly Roman influence.

The weather was really nice in Cartagena, about 21 degrees Celsius (approximately 70 degrees Fahrenheit). Cartagena’s climate is classified as warm and semi-arid. I asked a taxi driver whether it was typical for it to be so nice in January. He said it’s not “normal,” that it’s usually a little less warm. But if memory serves, the weather was about the same in Cartagena around this time last year…

It was off-season when I visited, but when compared to other coastal cities during winter time — like Alicante and Valencia — Cartagena looked pretty desolate. I went to the nearest beach, Cala Cortina, and spent an approximate of two hours in heaven.

Cartagena Roman Theatre

Cartagena: Cala Cortina Beach

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The city hall…

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Small groups of tourists still gathered at the city’s main sights, like The Roman Theatre and its museum. An ancient Roman theatre, which is said to have been built around 5 and 1 BC. (Read about it here)  Luckily, I took lots of pictures.

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Let me tell you about Murcia, Spain

To think that I almost skipped this city….

Teatro de Romea

Teatro de Romea

Last year, when most of my coworkers (all Spaniards) at the language school said that they had never been to half of the places I’ve been to in Spain, I was a bit shocked. It’s so easy to move around here that I expected them to have visited everywhere. Then again, I can understand why they don’t feel the need to visit every city in their country. Still, I trusted them with suggestions for what to see in Spain.

There was a lady, particularly, who had traveled all over and was very knowledgeable. Everything she described was always accurate. Like, when I asked for her opinion about Castellón de la Plana, for instance; she said it was a “ciudad muy fea” (very ugly city) and there was nothing to do. She was right. But, unfortunately, I found out only after I had already visited. Then, one day I asked her about Murcia. She said it wasn’t worth the trip; she said it’s not a pretty city, that there was nothing special to see. So, I basically crossed out Murcia from my to-visit list.

Well, on our eternal search for sunshine—it’s been rainy and cold in Madrid— we narrowed this trip down to Murcia and Cartagena and, what do you know…it was so worth the visit!

Sure Murcia is another major city of Spain (a lot of people prefer smaller cities), but there are still many historic buildings, so much art and culture to appreciate. The architecture around there is just as beautiful as it is everywhere else in Spain.

It is also a “university town” and the young atmosphere can be felt everywhere you move. Except for La Muralla, the downstairs bar at hotel NH Rincon de Pepe—it looks really nice in there, with some original Arab walls of Murcia and all, but we looked like babies next to everyone else. It was kind of odd. But yeah, going back to how fun Murcia actually is, take for instance this blunt approach:

Pharmacy vending machine with personal lubricants and sex toys

Pharmacy vending machine with personal lubricants and sex toys

Interesting, huh? I have not seen this type of vending machine anywhere else yet.  Have you?

Moving on… when visiting Spain, visitors tend to go for the cathedrals and things of that sort because they’re enormous and just plain gorgeous. I’m sure the cathedral of Murcia isn’t any different inside, but I just couldn’t bear to see one more church 🙂 It’s overwhelming! LOL. (We did sit down at Plaza del Cardenal Belluga—the place of the cathedral—for tea one morning.)

Murcia Cathedral, Plaza Cardenal Belluga

Murcia Cathedral, Plaza Cardenal Belluga


For me though, the highlight was the vibe of the city, the ah-mazing cuisine (lots of tapas restaurants), and the fact that it was warm even in the winter.

Also a highlight, the moment I could feel my face turn hot red when my dear boyfriend made me tell the bartender at bar La Muralla that she ripped him off. Well, I’m paraphrasing. I kindly told her that the change she gave him was short by 10€. She asked if we were sure while grabbing some money from the register. That’s when my boyfriend double-checked, realizing that he was incorrect. I was embarrassed, so I asked for a shot of tequila. Ha ha. She then gave me that drink free of charge… The reason? I’m still debating.

And finally, the menu translation of one of the restaurants where we ate (which was also, maybe inadvertently, showing a movie of cannibalism!) Yikes.

Chops or Sternum of kids, anyone?

Chops or Sternum of kids, anyone?

I also enjoyed walking through the city’s old town and its many stone and historic little roads and main spots, like Calle Traperia, Teatro Romea, eating at Plaza de las Flores (the hotel where we stayed is also around here), Plaza de Santa Catalina, and Plaza de San Pedro (all three next to each other).

The casino of Murcia, I’ve heard (and peeked a little), is stunning. Speaking of casinos, we tried to go up to the casino at hotel Rincon de Pepe but were not allowed inside because I didn’t have my passport or any identification on me. (Yup—the day I decide to leave my ID behind is the day I’m asked for it…) That being said, it is worth noting that ID is a must if going to the casinos in Spain!

Overall, I loved Murcia. I wish I had seen more, but our stay was short. Maybe it’s because it’s winter, but it was one of the least touristy places I’ve been to in Spain—and that was perfecto. Ignore travel books that haven’t given Murcia the credit it deserves. When in Spain, do go to Murcia!

Why I keep going back to Madrid

It’s been forever since last time I wrote anything on here. The good news is it looks like I still have readers! So here I go again.

I am back in Spain after just seven months and it feels as though I never left. I’ve been here for two weeks now. I flew here on New Year’s Day and settled in Madrid, once again, though this time I think I’ll be here for just less than three months.

Madrid on Christmas

The thing about Madrid is you live here once, you come back twice…or TRICE! (As Conan would say.) You just keep coming back. As much as I dislike the way certain things work in Spain, it is undeniably a great place to be. It’s almost stress-free for those used to the hectic life in the US. So I couldn’t say no to my boyfriend when he said that “we should go back.”

This time, I’m in a different part of Madrid, near the neighborhood of La Latina and Prícipe Pío. It’s a much quieter area compared to Ronda de Atocha, steps away from the train station Aotocha Renfe, and where I used to live before. It was nice stepping out of the door and being right there, where the “action” was. But the area where I’m staying now is not too bad either. It has its nice little encantos, like fruit shops, bakeries, the typical local bars, a big gym, and the mall Prícipe Pío is within walking distance!

Principe Pio

Principe Pio

Transportation around here is great also. But then again, it is one of the greatest things about Spain no matter the city. It is easy to get to and from places. My nearest metro lines are 6 and 10 and they connect to pretty much all the lines. There are a number of bus lines and connections of all sorts, as well, and taxis everywhere for speedy preferences.

It’s nice to be back. I like the fact that I came back just in time for rebajas (sales) which last until the end of February in most stores of Madrid. (Check out favorite places to shop in Spain) It’s a great time to shop! Also, next week, January 19, 2013, is the Madrid Gastrofestival—a culinary festival that is celebrated every year. There will be art, food, and wine… Can’t miss it!

One thing is for sure though; I prefer Madrid in the summer. Actually, I prefer any city in the summer! I was pleased with the weather when I walked out of the airport the first day as it was much warmer than it had been in Philadelphia. But that changed quickly because the following days it got very cold. Last summer was too hot. Now it’s too cold. The good thing is that it’s still Madrid, and it’s worth it.

One day in Oviedo: What to do?

Parque de San Francisco, Oviedo

My first stop out of the three cities I had planned to visit in one weekend (the other two being Santander and Bilbao) was Oviedo. Originally, I had planned to fly to Oviedo, Asturias, from Madrid airport. Two of the major economy airlines in Europe, Ryanair and EasyJet , occasionally promote prices as low as 9.99€. If flying to Oviedo, you can cut so much time; getting there in 45 minutes, rather than five hours on the bus.

Before I continue, do you want to hear something silly? I became interested in Oviedo only after watching a scene in the movie Vicky Christina Barcelona. It also implied that there’s an airport somewhere in Asturias, so I was like, “Hmm, I could fly there.” I know, silly! That’s how much movies can inform or misinform the viewer.

Cover of "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"

Cover of Vicky Cristina Barcelona

They showed Oviedo as a beautiful place—with the sound of the Spanish guitar playing on the background, wine drinking in the nice candle-lit green open space… Who doesn’t want to go to Oviedo after watching that scene? 😛

Well, I did. Oviedo made it to my travel wish list. I finally went (on the bus) and to my surprise it is very modern, and pretty! And just like the movie suggested, it is very green and clean.  Oviedo is the capital of the Autonomous Community of Asturias.  It is a modern, cosmopolitan city.

I stayed at a small, conveniently located, affordable and clean hotel called Hotel Carreño. (I’ll further review it later.)

The first thing my boyfriend and I did was sightseeing. Of course, monuments like cathedrals, museums and structures at the parks were prevalent. They all looked so good and so well-preserved, too. In early In June, the temperatures in Oviedo seem nice. I believe it was 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and afternoon when I was there. Very pleasant.

Downtown Oviedo is very much alive. There are a lot of people shopping and going out for pinchos. We searched for what to visit, and Calle Gascona—“The Boulevard of Ciders”—came up as one of the hot spots. We just had to go there!

They say Calle Gascona is one of the most traditional streets of the city of Oviedo, where a group of settlers from France arrived and chose these streets to live and trade products. Makes sense.

Today it still is a market street. There are lots of great Sidra-drinking (crowded) restaurants on Calle Gascona. Eating Fabada and drinking Sidra (cider) was one of my favorite experiences there. I knew they were into cider; I just didn’t know how much they drank it. There can be up to 10 bottles on a single table. People order it back to back (they do cost only 2€ after all).

It must be a culture thing though because there’s really not a lot of flavor to it. I had expected this sidra to be a little tastier. Or maybe I’d just have to get used to it? Either way, it’s great fun watching the servers pour the sidra in your glass from above, without looking, with so much precision! I’d get a bunch of bottles just to watch them do it.

Oviedo is a young city and the night life reflects it. I was only there for one day and one night, but I enjoyed it. I’m sure there’s so much more to see—parks, bodegas, museums, smaller towns, etc.—and I hope I can see them next time.

Some more pictures of Oviedo below.

One Year Anniversary

It’s been a year since I started writing Vado a Spain (which by the way has a new look today!) So, happy 1st year anniversary to it! 🙂

I don’t update this blog as often as I should, but I enjoy writing my posts when I do. It’s provided a lot of people with information, people who are normally world travelers, students and Auxiliares de Conversación (language and culture assistants). I think it’s important to share what we know, as long as it helps people in a positive way. Undoubtedly, this blog will also help me refresh my memories of time spent in Spain (which was the original reason for creating it) as I move on in life.

To celebrate my one year, here are some of my personal favorite archives. Read on and happy blogging!

Visa to Spain

A Teacher’s Work

Los Burócratas (Bureaucrats)

Que Difícil es Hablar el Español (Video)

My 2011 Christmas

What Customer Service?

The Bank You Should Avoid in Spain

Italy: an Adventure to Remember

Mi Aventura Parisienne

What I Have Learned, What I will Miss

My Top Five Favorite Places to Shop in Spain

There’s one thing that most Spanish clothing stores have in common, and that is— relatively—low prices and good quality. I had no problem finding cheap deals when I was living in Spain. Certainly, the best time to shop is during Rebajas (Sales). Let me tell you a little bit about the rebajas.

It is one of the most anticipated shopping seasons (if we can call it that) by shopaholics—and I imagine retail stores look forward to the sales they generate, as well. Legally Rebajas are supposed to run twice a year: winter and summer. Some rebajas start early, around January, while others start around February. I think it depends on the region, city and store.

During rebajas, you can save up to 70% on brand new items. I literally got a new wardrobe just from the rebajas. Everything is so unbelievably cheap. I felt like I would be sinning if I didn’t buy something. And then something turned into some things…and more things. (Yeah, I paid the consequences later.) In other words, rebajas are like “black Friday” in the US—with the exception that they run for months. It is a great opportunity to save big bucks, especially when you’re living or traveling abroad on a budget.

Now that you’ve learned about rebajas, let me tell you what stores are awesome for shopping inexpensively in Spain.

Sfera: this is definitely a gem. Sfera sells fashion for women, children, and men. I’m not familiar with what goes on in the children’s department, but the women’s and men’s departments are very fashionable. Like most mainstream shops, they change their collection every season, so you’ll be looking at the “latest trends” every time.

Sfera is already VERY affordable, so in times of rebajas they might as well give out free stuff. I went to Sfera in Madrid for a last time before returning home. I was looking for just a pair of stylish earrings. By the time I was “done” shopping, I was holding a small bag with about six of them. They had incredible deals for amazing quality. Only in Spain…I miss it so much!

To find the nearest Sfera within your zone, you don’t even have to Google it; just go to the town’s plaza mayor or a major center of attraction and it’ll probably be right there. 🙂

H&M:  Fashion clothing for women, men and children. Not a lot of people like or can find what they’re looking for at H&M, especially men because their sizes can be a little tricky. But, for me…I love me some h&m. My liking for it goes way back when I stumbled upon one huge H&M in New York City. It was love at first sight. I wish I could tell you that I actually do my usual shopping at Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, etc. But, come on, who would I be fooling here? Ha ha! No.

I’ve liked H&M since day one because of their quality, price and style. My clothes that I have bought there have never ripped apart in the washer, unlike some clothes from higher-end brands. Their shoes aren’t the greatest looking shoes, but even they can last longer than overpriced designer shoes I’ve gotten somewhere else before.

I visited several H&M’s in Spain, as well as one in Switzerland. The prices, for the most part, are the same everywhere (although they seem to be hiking every year).

In Switzerland, things were a little overpriced. But then again, everything is overpriced in Switzerland.

They have an H&M almost everywhere in Spain—even in the tiny city of Ciudad Real, Castilla La-Mancha, where I once lived.

Zara: This store needs no introduction. But just in case, it is a fashion clothing and accessories store for women, men and children. Apparently, it is part of the same fashion group that runs Massimo Dutti (a really good store, actually, which is not on my Weekly List today only because they almost never had fashionable clothing for younger women, and I’m still holding a grudge over that).

I like Zara’s style, it’s very chic. I was just a little disappointed with their prices. The first time I lived in Spain, Zara fell under the same category as Sfera is now in terms of low prices. Now, not so much. But compared to most US retailers of the same caliber, it still has really good prices.

A Zara store can also be found all throughout Spain, there might be several retailers within a major city.

Shana: Shana is a simple clean and cute low-priced trendy clothing store and accessories. I’d probably compare it to the US chain store Charlotte Russe, with the exception that Shana’s quality is better. It is very, very, very low-price.

The first time, I ran across one of their stores by mistake. Then, I fell in love with their cute paper bags (and their prices!) and I just kept coming back to Shana. I guess I like the ease. There’s not an extreme selection to choose from—they sort of carry the same simple basic, but trendy, stuff—and their stores are not too big. So when you want something quick, Shana is there. It was what I call a “back-up” store. I loved it.

Stradivarius: I used to call this store the “Music Note Store” because I never remembered its name! Ha ha. I just knew their logo looked like a music note—which I later learned was actually a violin. Ironically, it was the reason I didn’t check it out sooner; I thought it was a music store.

Stradivarius is a women’s fashion and accessories store based in Spain. It has expanded over the years and now has several stores across Europe.  The style and feel of Stradivarius is almost the same as Zara’s, but with a younger look. They have really good-quality clothing, shoes and accessories for competitive prices.

There’s a Stradivarius store almost anywhere there’s a shopping center in Spain.

Let the shopping begin!

Being Back in the States

Well HELLO my readers!

It’s been a week since I returned to the United States from Spain and so far it has been great. I miss my short-lived life in Spain at times, like the other day sitting outside at a restaurant here in Philadelphia and it was so quiet. I guess I was getting used to the casual alborotos (uproar) of bars and restaurants in Spain. I miss seeing the beautiful architecture, and most of all, I miss the inexpensive way of living!

But there are also times when I totally enjoy being back, like the other day when I walked into a cell phone company to get my service re-stored and it took the representative about five minutes to complete everything and send me out the door. I was like, wow, that was fast! Has it always been this fast? And just yesterday, when I went to a CVS pharmacy—for the first time since I’m back—and I was ready to stand in line when I spotted a sign that read “Self-Check-out.”  I remember this! In and out, I was. Feels good to be back.

There’s a list of things that I forgot about, it’s so funny. You may think you weren’t even gone for that long and that you’re just going to pick up where you left of, but turns out the world has changed a whole lot since you’ve been gone. I will talk more about that later…

This note is actually to say thank you for following me on my adventure! I spent a total of 286 days in Spain (I counted it), not 280 as I thought I would. (That’s six more days of glory!) Also, I realized that I haven’t written about my trip to Oviedo, Santander and Bilbao, Valladolid and my time living in Madrid, which happened in my last month in Spain. I will write a little bit about my experience on here, but for the next few days I will focus on detailing everything I have posted on Vado a Spain plus a load of new information in a different kind of form:

I am writing an eBook.

English: A Picture of a eBook Español: Foto de...

There’s a whole lot more information that I feel I can pass on, information that others can benefit from, too. If you notice, there’s not enough information about hotels, hostels, restaurants, food of places I visited in Spain, airlines, the Auxiliares program, etc. And Lord knows I have a lot to say about that. That in part is due to 1) lack of time and 2) I didn’t want to make my posts so long (which might’ve turned boring) and send the readers to the next click! 🙂 So, I thought, hey let this be my first eBook (the first of a couple other projects I’m working on). Hopefully, I will be able to provide free copies of my travel book to the readers of this blog, but for now I’m still working on it and can’t wait to get it out to a broader audience!

This blog is still going to be here because I will keep traveling; not necessarily to Spain, but I will keep traveling and I will keep writing. I have enjoyed it a ton!

Some of your questions and comments have inspired and helped me, so I’d love some feedback; what you’ve enjoyed about Spain, what you’d like me to include in my book…I don’t want to forget anything!

Thank you all.

¡Hasta luego!

Visit to Salamanca in Spring

Salamanca casts a spell on all those who have enjoyed its peacefulness, awakening the desire to return.

—Miguel de Cervantes

Very true. Salamanca, like Segovia, is one of those Spanish cities that resemble a Roman town — and to me that is beautiful. This is no surprise as it was founded by Romans during that time period when the Roman Empire basically “conquered” everything they could, and the Christians and kings fought to take over cities like they were a bouquet of lollipops, an obsequio. Anyway, the different styles of architecture in the small city look pretty amazing.

View from the Bell Tower

The city of Salamanca is part of the autonomous community of Castilla y León. It is a 130-mile drive from center Madrid, approximately, and it also borders northern Portugal. We got there by bus. The bus company usually offers two types of services: express and regular. I accidentally booked us on a regular bus, and instead of 2 hours and 30 minutes, it took five hours! We were a bit cranky by the time we got to our final destination, lemme tell ya… But I made sure we got the right ticket for the way back: express.

Chris and I visited Salamanca on the weekend of May 25 (so I might forget a few things by now). This was my second time there, but it might as well be my first because, again, I could only remember what one or two buildings looked like. Salamanca’s winters tend to be long, but thankfully temperatures weren’t so bad for May. During the day it was sunny and warm enough for us to sit outside on a terraza, having a cold drink and watching the crowd (it’s always entertaining). At night, it got a little chilly but bearable.

Salamanca has a lot of historical buildings and monuments, such as the famous University of Salamanca and the Old Roman Bridge, and we visited most of them…in one day. This was probably the most productive we’ve ever been at a place with plenty of things to see. Well, the city of Salamanca is not too big—everything is within walking distance. The religious influence is obvious everywhere in Spain, and Salamanca was not an exception. (It’s funny because I have been saying lately how almost everything we see at the different Spanish cities we visit, the thing that is most celebrated, is normally a bunch of churches / cathedrals. Not that they aren’t incredibly astonishing and just ridiculously majestic, but it is refreshing to see something different every now and then.)

And how can I NOT mention the Plaza Mayor of Salamanca! Definitely the most beautiful square I’ve seen in Spain. I think Baroque architecture just makes everything look, I don’t know, fancy? And so grand! It is beautiful.

Pictures of Salamanca.

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What I have learned, What I will miss

As my time here is coming to an end, I’ve been thinking: what have I learned about this experience? What will I miss most about Spain? What will I not miss? Or will I miss this at all? Undoubtedly, I will. Some of it, at least.

But first, what have I learned?

Apart from having gained amazing experience in teaching, one of the things I’ve learned is that no matter where the world takes you, no matter the culture, education gets you ahead. It is the same everywhere in the sense that it is encouraged, it is vital, it is a very powerful tool. The yearning for learning is very much alive in these children (maybe they’re just a bit lazier and not pushed hard enough by their parents, but they’ve been really good kids). My experience has been unique because I was thrown at it with no formal training at all — it’s been very raw — and I have had to learn some things on my own because most of these teachers for some reason thought that I was already a teacher. Yeah, that’s part of the charm of Spain: disorganization.

Still, I keep learning. I have learned so much more about the Spanish culture; having visited about 20 regions—and counting—you may feel like you already know Spain like the palm of your hand. Working with Spaniards has made this whole experience a lot better and more Spanish (compared to the first time I lived here). Also, the time I’ve been living here, I always wanted to be surrounded by locals. I always wanted to go where the locals went. What is the point of mingling with tourists from my country? I mean, sometimes it is fun. But I came here for a reason. I wanted to emerge in the culture as much as possible, and it has paid off.

The Strait of Gibraltar (North is to the left:...

The history of Spain still fascinates me. I work with people who are full of knowledge…although most of them haven’t been to as many regions as I—a non-Spaniard—have, but they are knowledgeable of their country’s history (and may I add, very patriotic) and they have passed along some of that knowledge to me. The principal assistant, with whom I carpool, has been like the “Spain Bible” to me; she knows absolutely everything, from wine to places visit, to history of the smallest towns. I’ve learned a lot from her.

I’ve learned about the country’s geography and its climate. For example, I can tell you that the south will be an inferno in the summer. How do I know that? Because it’s only May and Ciudad Real, which is not even deep in the south, is hot as hell right now, at almost 2AM! Geographically, I love Spain because most of its boundaries are the ocean. It is a giant piece of land on water. (I’m really trying to keep this elementary.) You can find a beach in Spain in any of the cardinal points and of course they have the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean and Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean. That’s pretty cool for its citizens—there’s always that option to easily move to an island to escape la rutina.

Those are some of the things I’ve learned. Now on to what I will miss the most. Or should I list what I will not miss first? Yes, here it goes.

I will not miss:

  • Ciudad Real
  • Banco Santander
  • Spain’s customer service system
  • La bendita Siesta Time!
  • Mercadona’s theme song
  • Talking and watching Fútbol (soccer) 24 hours a day
  • The neighbors slamming their door, day in and day out
  • The apartment’s paper-thin walls
  • My Flintstones’ mattress
  • The bathroom faucets
  • My cell phone company, Vodafone
  • The washer
  • Carpooling (too tight of a ride!)
  • Not being able to take the trash down until past 7PM

And now what I will miss:

  • Living abroad
  • My students
  • The good times spent here
  • Spain’s tipping system
  • The plentiful and cheap good wines
  • The easy cheaper weekend travels
  • Mercadona’s cheap, good-quality groceries
  • The restaurants and tapas bars!
  • Madrid’s nightlife, Sevilla, and the Mediterranean Sea
  • Shopping at Sfera and all the chic inexpensive lines
  • The mostly-quick Renfe rides
  • Transportation punctuality and efficiency
  • The relatively pleasant weather
  • Leaving work at 2PM
  • The crazy amount of holidays and days off!

I’m sure more will be added to these lists as I continue my life here, because I’m not done yet! 😉