Category Archives: Estepona

They say Andalucia steals your heart…

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It’s official – the grey sky, Mum’s cooking and the fact that I’m wearing more than 2 layers of clothing proves it – I’m back in England!

Naturally, I’ve found myself reflecting on my time abroad and thinking about all of the things I enjoyed and have begun to start missing.  So here are a few of my favourite things about Estepona and Andalucia, Spain.

The Weather

As British as it may sound, the weather is something I will miss greatly.  Living on the southern coast of Spain was a treat of hot weather, light breezes and pleasant nights.  I’m sure that the more I reminisce, the more I’ll forget about the crazy weekend down pours and even the random day of hailstones (‘granizo’) in April!

But it’s true what they say – a sunny day can improve your mood, even if I did constantly complain about the tan lines!

The Views

I saw some wonderful things during my 9 months in Spain and I was lucky enough to experience many of them daily.

Estepona is a beautiful coastal town, and every morning I would begin my day walking along the promenade (‘el paseo maritimo’) in awe of the clarity and the majesty of the Gibraltar rock and Atlas Mountains.  In my office, located in the port of Estepona, we overlooked the marina and the luxury ships.  Lunch time meant wandering down to a relatively quiet area of La Rada beach, sitting on the rocks looking out to sea and with views of the great mountain in Marbella, named ‘La Concha’ the shell.  And in the evening, I could return to my flat, open up my window and look out into the bustling old town and the Sierra Bermeja Mountain that dominates the landscape behind Estepona.  Something I became quite fond of seeing every morning.

La Concha, Marbella – taken October 2011.

Sierra Bermeja – the backdrop of Estepona.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I’d recommend to anyone travelling around Andalucia would be the drive to Ronda.  It is the most breathtaking journey where driving along the mountain you see thousands of trees lining the rocky area, and you go higher and higher until you feel like you’re on top of the world!  It may sound like I’m on the verge of saying it changed my life… it didn’t, but it was AMAZING.  A definite must-see.

Andalucia

When I first reached Estepona, I shamefully admit that my knowledge of Spanish regions was somewhat lacking.  I arrived to learn that Andalucia was a more traditional area of Spain, rich in culture and proudly speaking the Andalucian dialect of Spanish –‘andaluz’ – the second most spoken dialect in Spain, but with a reputation of being notoriously difficult to understand!

But after only 9 months in the Andalucian region, I feel a great love for the area for many reasons.  There are so many great cities and monuments in the region with the rich culture of Malaga, the vibrancy of Seville and the Sierra Nevada in Granada.  Generally, the people are friendly – occasionally over-friendly, but the people are lovely and help you along with your Spanish.  But most of all, Andalucia –and Spain- have an amazing way of life.  At nights and weekends, the streets, cafes and restaurants would fill up with friends and families of different generations, simply enjoying life.  In addition to the processions and festivals, it seemed like every day was a celebration in Spain – and it’s an uplifting feeling to see such enjoyment of life.

The Food

It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t mention the food in my final blog.  As a great appreciator of food, it’s no surprise that Spanish food became one of my favourite things too.

Some Spanish delicacies that I tried and came to order again and again include:

  • Puntillitas – fried baby shrimp.  Before reaching Spain, I swore I hated shrimp but I was proven wrong by these tasty little shrimp in batter, with a generous squirt of lemon juice
  • Almejas y Mejilliones – staying with seafood, an important food group in Spain, I also tried clams and mussels for the first time.  The mussels are usually served in a tomato sauce, and are quite tasty, but my favourite are the clams cooked in white wine with a squirt of lemon.  They taste great, but are dangerously small that you can keep eating and eating until the whole ‘ración’ is gone!
  • Solomillo al whisky – the Sevillan delicacy that I tried during my time in the wonderful city.  There are no words to describe the mouth watering taste of the fillets cooked in whisky!
  • Patatas bravas – what I consider to be the Spanish version of chips, these small chunks of fried potato with chilli and garlic sauce and the perfect accompaniment to any tapa.
  • Tomates aliñados – the beauty of this dish is in its sheer simplicity.  Slices of tasty Spanish tomato in olive oil, parsley and garlic – both refreshing and delicious
  • And speaking of olive oil, I can’t forget about the typical Andaluz breakfast of cafe con leche and toast (tostadas) with olive oil and salt.  A very satisfying breakfast!

Believe me when I say that the list goes on – and trust me, I could continue to talk about the amazing food that I tasted in Spain from ‘gambas pil-pil’ to ‘albondigas’, but I need to draw the line somewhere!

I haven’t even gone on to mention the excellent restaurants in Estepona, including:

Enjoying a massive mint chocolate sundae in Gelateria del Centro, Plaza del Dr Arce – August 2011.

  • La Pampa – a cosy restaurant with DELICIOUS food, all cooked to an excellent high-standard and somewhere I’d recommend without a doubt
  • La Taberna – excellent tapas in the port, a place with a great atmosphere
  • La Escollera – lots and lots of fish!
  • Sur – for a good grill, the Moroccan provides excellent dishes
  • Gelateria del Centro – best ice cream place!
  • Wang – good Chinese takeaway
  • La Taberna de Lucia – a chain of 4 restaurants in Estepona with great tapas dishes

And if you like to cook, the selection of fresh vegetables in the supermarket is fantastic with vegetables twice the size of those in England, extensive fish counters and an aisle solely dedicated to olives.

My year abroad has ended – but I’ll never forget it.  And now I’ve had my taste of Andalucia, I will be back, for sure.

Thank you for reading my blog.

I wanted to end with a song – and it took me a while to choose.  From Danza Kudoro (the song that every Spanish ERASMUS student now knows, I’m sure), the annoying catchy Ai se eu tu pego to the Juan Magan hit – Bailonda por ahi or one of Shakira’s many – Rabiosa.  In the end, I decided to go with the song that was Number 1 in the Spanish charts when I left Spain on 13th May 2012.

¡Hasta luego! 🙂

 

Sights of Spain.

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The last month has been pretty quiet in Estepona, with people awaiting the next celebration after El Dia de los Reyes Magos.  This, of course, means that shops and supermarkets are now lined with all things red and offers are prominent on boxes of truffles for ‘El Dia de San Valentin’.

These months are also key in preparation for the summer season before the holiday makers come flooding in from Spanish cities and England.  New water displays being built, railings and fountains are being painted and the ‘chiringuitos’ will open soon.

One day in the office, I saw a huge palm tree being put into the port.

Operation Palm Tree.

It made me think about how areas such as the Costa del Sol are built to look good.  The streets lined with palm trees are planned beforehand, all the areas are strategically made to look beautiful and I have watched the terrace where I now have lunch, being built from the foundations up.

My lunch spot on the terrace in the port, overlooking the boats and Gibraltar (unfortunately, out of shot)

A huge amount of effort is taken to keep places like Estepona  looking lovely, which is not really a surprise since tourism is so important here.

Another natural beauty.

But there is no doubting the beauty of the natural sights here.  The clarity of Gibraltar and the Atlas Mountains on a clear day in Estepona is enough to make the walk to work pleasant in the morning.

The following is, without a doubt, another of my favourite sights here.  Every morning, as I leave my flat in a rush to get to work, I always turn my head for a quick glance at the mountain.  Usually the sun is shining down on it from the blue ‘not-a-cloud-in-the’ sky.

Definitely makes me happy.

Estepona - so pretty.

 

El Dia de los Reyes Magos

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So Christmas may seem like a distant memory, with only the novelty of presents and an expanded waist line as a reminder of the festive time.  And yet, I returned to Spain January 4th feeling that post-Christmas gloom… only to celebrate it again!!  Well, Christmas in the Spanish style, known as ‘El dia de los reyes magos’.  Now, this day, January 6th was actually a while ago now, but due to poor internet, there was a bit of delay on this post, so we’ll just pretend I posted it last week, as I was supposed to.

So, I’ve put together a list of the top 3 things you can see during the ‘Three King’s Day’, as it is referred to in English.

3) PRESENTS

Alternatively celebrate with a dessert - though who knew Baileys, Tia Maria, Ameretto and chocolate would make you feel a little bit sick at night?

As a colleague of mine so eloquently explained, “In Spain, the Kings bring the presents, not the big fat beardy Coca-Cola man [Santa – wasn’t sure if I had to clarify that!]” As in the Bible, the Kings bring the presents, and this is the tradition that Spain follows.

Although this doesn’t fulfil Wizzard’s wish of “Christmas every dayyyyyyy”, it does mean that the Spanish can enjoy all the food, festivities and Christmas TV on December 25 and January 6th– pretty good deal!

2) ROSCON DE REYES

This can only be described as a big, sugary donut-like cake.  You’ll see these ‘Roscon de Reyes’ everywhere, they are the Christmas pudding of Spain.  I went to the supermarket on January 6th, and it was a similar sight to England, but with people making a mad dash for a roscon or two.

The roscon usually is suger-coated pastry filled with cream and topped with fruit (covered in sugar).  I did try the roscon with my colleagues, and it’s definitely something to try.  However, having a slice during my 10am coffee break meant that the by 11am I was on a considerable sugar high.

Spain also has a fun tradition where the cakes are filled with a little figure, either of Jesus or just a toy.  The person that finds the toy (in our case – a little Goofy) receives the toy and the title of king or queen.  This honour came complete with a gold card crown that we insisted Ana wear for a while.  The other ‘surprise’ in the cake is a bean – a somewhat unlucky surprise as the recipient then has to pay for the roscon!

The office Roscon del Reyes - I can taste the sugar!

1) CABALGATA DE LOS REYES

The biggest and most exciting thing you will hear about is the ‘Cabalgata de los reyes’ – the Kings parade, which usually takes place the day before the Dia de Reyes.  In towns all over Spain, kids will drag their parents to fill the streets and watch as the Kings go by throwing out sweets to the crowds of people.  Usually, this takes place after activities are held for the children somewhere in town.

I didn’t truly understand the excitement of the whole thing until I tried to walk home and ended up battling my way through crowds and crowds of people that had lined the streets an hour early in anticipation for the arrival of the Kings.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to watch the parade but caught glimpses as it passed me by enroute to the supermarket.  Worst of all, I received no sweets, but you can’t really fight a 5 year old though.  What struck me is that, such is the mentality of keeping things clean in Spain, the parade was followed by a line of road sweepers who swept up the sweet wrappers as they went along.  An efficient and effective way of tackling mess around town, I thought.

But that there is your summary to Spanish Christmas – El Dia de los Reyes Magos, a post somewhat delayed but festive all the same, just like January 6th.

 

Navidad, Navidad, Navidad.

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December – the most festive time of the year, has been a beauty of a month for me.  Celebrations for my 21st, visits from friends (shout out to Becca Reid and Jenny Barnes, much love), Christmas cheer, and I now write this post from the lovely, if a bit chilly, England after 5 months in Spain.

Still double-digit degree weather in Estepona, at least during the day, England’s bitter cold is shocking.  But exactly what I expect at Christmas.  Sunny days, palm trees and the beach, despite being wonderful, do make Christmas seem months away.  Only the odd Christmas advert and Bublé tunes remind you of the time of year when in the Costa del Sol – a sharp contrast to being smothered by the festive season as soon as you step off the plane (though this is one of the things I missed about England).  Despite my happiness that Christmas lights began to illuminate the streets of Estepona on my birthday, 8th December, this is somewhat later than lights would begin appearing in England.

And of course, with this festive season comes the office Christmas celebrations (with a Spanish twist).  Think less turkey, and more fish – though it was the tastiest sea bass I’d ever eaten!  A delicious meal at the Da Bruno restaurant in Marbella, with English touches including crackers – which then led to explaining the bad cracker jokes in Spanish, definitely made the festive cheer more apparent.  We replaced the English ‘Secret Santa’ with its Spanish counterpart – ‘el regalo invisible’, where instead of being buying for a specific person, you have to buy a unisex gift which is then passed around the table in a pass the parcel-esque game, accompanied by a story directing the present either “left” or “right”.  The meal was then followed by the universal “let’s go for drinks”, taking us around Marbella still wearing our Santa hats.

Christmas Celebrations with the Office

Despite coming back to England for Christmas, there are certain Spanish traditions that I was able to experience.

1)      All over the streets of Estepona, not only are you warmed by the Spanish weather but also the smell of chestnuts roasting on street corners by the street vendors.

2)      What you will see as frequently, if not more frequently than Christmas trees in Spain, are traditional nativity scenes

Traditional Belén

, known as a ‘Belén’, which is the Spanish word for Bethlehem.      People put these in their homes, and can be found widely around Spain including El Corte Ingles.  Jenny and I stumbled across a huge ‘Belén’ in Estepona.  Walking around it, the whole of the Christmas story was depicted on this nativity scene, complete with angels, wise men and the baby Jesus.

3)      In terms of food, ‘turron’ is the Christmas speciality, which is a sweet made of almonds and honey.  Although I didn’t get a chance to taste it in Spain, there’s a pack sitting in my kitchen to be opened on Christmas day (as if we won’t have enough to eat on Christmas day!)  And one thing you can’t escape in Spain is huge legs of ham, which are usually enjoyed by families at Christmas, and range from 50 Euros to about 700!

Another Spanish Christmas tradition is ‘El Dia de los Inocentes’, otherwise known as April Fool’s Day, which takes place on December 28th, and throughout the Christmas season.

Some Christmas traditions are the same everywhere, whether in Spain or England, with lights and decorations and the general Christmas cheer/panic.  And unfortunately, even I couldn’t escape Bieber’s destruction of ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’.

Christmas isn’t even the biggest celebration in Spain; I can look forward to the day of the three kings (‘El Dia de los Reyes’) on 6th January.

But before all of that, whether it’s “Merry Christmas” or “Feliz Navidad” (or nothing at all) enjoy the rest of 2011 and I’ll see you in 2012!

Salsa, the Show and Spain

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There are certain things that you have to do when in Spain, for example, eat tapas, watch a Spanish movie and try a Spanish dance.

Earlier this week, we ticked off ‘Spanish dance’ with a taste of salsa – the dance, not the condiment.  (This blog is a bit of a shout out to Miss Becca Reid – the salsa lady herself! 🙂 )

After weeks of saying we’d go, Emma, Rebekah and I made our way to a bar in Estepona, Mambo, popular for its frequent Latin nights.  Arriving at the English interpretation of 8pm, we were sat in the bar waiting for the teacher to arrive.  When Spanish 8pm (8.15) came, Franklin – the teacher arrived and eventually we became a Salsa class with one other girl and two Spanish men.

The warm up was a bit of merengue (pronc. meh-ren-gay and not to be confused with ‘meringue’), a quite simple warm up that saw us stepping, walking and moving our hips to the Spanish version of Gyptian’s ‘Hold You’.  (I tried to find this version to post here but it turns out there are MANY Spanish versions!)  We then went on to the main event learning our basic steps of Cuban Salsa.  Successfully achieving these steps, I felt a great sense of achievement… until I started getting them confused with the other steps we were then taught.

What I couldn’t get my head around was the ‘Dile que no’ (otherwise known as the ‘cross body’ and translated as the “Tell him no” – which I should have been good at given how men are in the south of Spain).  So, I left it to the man to lead me (otherwise known as ‘let the man move me around him’).  I finally did understand the Dile que no luckily, but my basic steps remain a little rusty.

Spanish bluntness meant that we were told exactly how much practice we needed before we left!  However, it was a good bit of fun, definitely brilliant exercise and amazing to be able to understand the teacher speaking in Spanish.  Excellent!

Another big event this week was the ‘Over 50s Show’ – I have been organising our stall for the company over the last couple of months.  An event led by an Irish magazine, it brings together a range of companies from Spain and the UK to come to the Costa del Sol to advertise their businesses to people over 50.

We tried to have "a bit of fun" by taking people's photos and putting them in front of an iconic Andalucian background. This is me in Sotogrande - we tried to encourage fun ones too but they didn't really kick off.

Our stall was opposite a bowling green team.  I think it’s fair to say that you’ve spent enough time at the Over 50s show when you begin to understand the game of bowls.  I did enjoy the food though – it’s quite the rarity to get your hands on some ‘hog roast, apple sauce and stuffing’ in Spain – trust me!

And finally I think a quick note about the weather is worth a mention.  We enjoyed a standard Costa del Sol winter weekend with a toasty 22 degrees.  Lovely (and yet I’m still excited to come home for Christmas)!

That’s all, folks 🙂

Snapshots of Spain

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I mentioned in an earlier post that there was a bank holiday.  Normally in Spain the holidays are for some religious purpose.  August 15th was a normal day, but it was by night that the festival began!  I live in a flat overlooking Estepona ‘old town’ so I luckily had a brilliant view of the whole parade that went down ‘Calle Real’.  After a quick wiki search, I found that the Spanish, along with many others, celebrate the Assumption of Mary – otherwise known as the Virgin Mary’s heavenly birthday when she was accepted into heaven.  It went on for over an hour and the news showed that similar festivities occurred around Spain.  Some highlights (which you can see in the photo) include two brass bands, the men holding the statue of the Virgin Mary shouting “guapa, guapa, guapa” and women dressed as brides.

The statue of the Virgin Mary being carried through 'Calle Real', where people had lined the streets. and the second band following behind.

The whole street was full of people and there was an amazing atmosphere that was great to be a part of.  And that wasn’t even the biggest celebration – that happens in July, can’t wait to experience that one!

More recently, a few sales meetings took me to Gibraltar.  For those of you who may not know, Gibraltar – commonly known as ‘the rock’ is found between southern Spain and North Africa.  It is a British territory, so I was very much considering my little trip to Gibraltar as a potential cure for my home sickness.  After crossing the border, with lots of flashes of your passport, you pass the Gibraltar airport runways.  Literally, you can walk straight past the runways and you see the planes take off from the island very closely, which is pretty cool.

As soon as you look around you see ‘Winston Churchill Road’ and English signs everywhere.  The Gibraltarians have their own accent, something difficult to describe but interesting to hear.  And of course, you can see English everywhere – a language I understand with ease! J

After the sales part of the day, we treated ourselves to fish, chips and mushy peas from one of the many fish and chips places in Gibraltar.  It did feel a bit like home – with Burger Kind, McDonalds and Subway all in sight – but sitting in 37 degrees heat!  All followed by a cheeky visit to Morrisons to pick up things that are missing in Spain (big box of cereal, chilli sauce and a massive pack of Typhoo tea) and catch up on the English headlines (and I may have aww-ed when I saw the British currency – I do miss the Queen on my money!).

I took this trip with one of the directors of the company who’s also a photographer. This led to my next destination of Sotogranda, Cadiz where ‘locations’ were looked at, lighting was discussed and I suddenly felt quite glamorous.  We drove into Sotogrande on a road lined with palm trees – more LA, less promenade style.  At the end of the road was a roundabout with a Porsche sat on it – bit of casual advertisement of a PORSHE on a roundabout!  And I got to see some of the most amazing houses, flats, buildings, yachts, boats and views I have ever seen!  One of the things that particularly

The Burger Bar.

stuck out for me was an American style burger bar that you’d think would be out of place, but for some reason was completely fitting despite the luxury of Sotogrande.  A very glamorous place – I’ll remember it when I’m a multimillionaire looking to buy my third house…. well, we’ll see!

My first sight of Sotogrande which wow-ed me, near the 'Hippy Market'

And to top it all off, a sighting of a Spanish A-List celeb ended the

trip.  We saw the daughter of the Duquesa de Alba, who was the subject of the Flamenco show I saw see post ‘Tans, Flamenco and early starts’.  Like I said, Spanish A-list, so unfortunately I didn’t make the most of the experience, nor did I know who she actually was until we left.  But a brush with fame all the same!

A day of British treats, Spanish luxury and a touch of glamour – and all part of work!  A brilliant day which renewed a fresh burst of Spanish enthusiasm in me!

Another beautiful view of Sotogrande.

Table for one & a generous drink.

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It has been a very mixed week.  It was only a matter of time before home sickness kicked in.  And oh, has it hit.

English dialling tones, chunky chips and TV that isn’t dubbed – it truly is the little things that you miss!  Oh and on top of that… the people, of course!

Work keeps me busy during the week.  Writing up proposals, making sales and my mind’s constant translation into Spanish – a brilliant distraction, and a good use of time!  10.30 coffee breaks are a highlight to get that morning kick, soak up some Spanish – and I’ve always wanted to have a ‘usual’, even if it is my daily ‘cafe con leche’.

As I become settled in Spain, routines form, even with TV.  My second year at uni was a blur of Friends episodes, but this year a dramatic Spanish ‘telenovela’ followed by ‘Bob Esponja’ (Spongebob Square Pants), The Davincibles and ‘Sexo en Nueva York’ (Sex and the City) is all part of life in Spain! 😛

Though, home sickness really kicks in when you treat yourself to a meal out and the waitress asks ‘Una?’ – and yes, you that you do in fact want a table for one and yes, you are alone.  Now this didn’t seem like it would be big deal.  However I don’t know whether it’s the fact that it’s tourist season so everyone is eating with their families or friends or because generally in England, I usually eat out with friends or family, but eating out alone really emphasises the home sick feeling.  Oh England!

HOWEVER, Spain is still providing me with happier topics to write about in this blog (luckily – no matter how home sick I am, I’m still being sure to make the most of Spain!!)  The port is the hub of entertainment/nightlife in Estepona.

Just a few things about an Estepona night out:

  • Drinks are expensive, but with generous servings of alcohol at the same time
  • Happy hour is 8-9
  • After 9, bars are deserted while Spaniards eat, and they return much later
  • The Spanish enjoy Pitbull and J-Lo… a lot
  • Vodka caramelo is one of the nicest shots that you can get post-meal
  • Spain rains at night but you never realise in the morning
  • Restaurants/cafes stay open so a late night, freshly baked pizza is available for all

The rest is to be experienced yourself.

For now, a magnum and a dubbed movie wait for me as I enter my first of twelve months in Spain.

All things Spanish.

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Every country has its own traditions, its own customs and its own habits.  It’s only natural that when you spend time in a country you notice them.  When living in a country, they become even more apparent as you try to adjust to them.  Here are a few things that I’ve noticed about Estepona, Spain.

Siestas:

When you think of Spain, siestas are something that comes to mind.  The siesta falls between 2pm and 5pm – generally considered the hottest time of the day.  Although, it does seems hot ALL the time here in Estepona!  Lunch falls within the siesta.  As I have already mentioned in other posts, lunch at 2pm is something rather difficult to adjust to when a 12pm/1pm lunch in the UK is the norm.

I might add here that contrary to popular belief, I DO NOT get a siesta.  If I’m honest, I get more of a siesta at uni, even if this does mean having a nap in the library :P.  However, siestas do mean that a LOT of shops, banks etc. are not open.  Which leads me to my next point…

Opening times:

Opening times take a lot of getting used to, and until you do, they may seem completely random.  With a massive break in the middle of the day, most places are open early morning and/or late into the night.  On Sundays you will find that most things are closed other than the big supermarkets.

August is the holiday season in Spain.  As you’ll find in England, many people will take their summer holiday at this time of the year, as in Spain.  However, you may also find here that some shops will close for the whole month or people will be out of the office for ages!

Hello:

Standard greeting in the UK to answer the phone: Hello?  Can I help? etc.

In Spain, ‘dígame’ is widely used.  Grammatically, this is an imperative – so some may consider it a bit abrupt.  I had to think about it the first time I heard it.  However this greeting, used for answering phone calls to working on the fish counter at Mercadona, is used everywhere.  Literally meaning ‘tell me,’ this custom, which does seem to make things more efficient, is a common understood greeting in Spain and something I’m getting used to.  Eventually, I’m sure I’ll be answering my phone ‘dígame’ instead of ‘hola’.

Good morning? :

A quick guide to polite greetings, but more importantly, WHEN to use them –

Good morning = Buenos días (from early morning until about 2/3pm)
Good afternoon = Buenas tardes (3pm- around 9/10pm)
Good evening = Buenas noches (onwards)

Andalucía accent:

The accents and slang of the UK will widely differ from formal, ‘proper’ English taught in foreign schools.  Similarly, the Andalucía accent, from what I’ve heard, is a much more relaxed version of the ‘school-taught’ Spanish with shortened words and strong accents (e.g. you can’t tell the difference between a ‘b’ and a ‘v’ in speech).   This is what I’m trying to adapt to.  That and the speed of naturally spoken Spanish!

Roads and traffic lights:

Generally, a little confusing.  Not as strict or structured as the UK but certainly not the challenge faced in countries like India.  Though they do like to use their horns here, a lot.

The view.

Here are just a few observations about Spain that I’m adapting to – things to bear in mind if you are in Spain.

Though generally, what a brilliant lifestyle here!  I’m sitting in my flat, my windows well open.  They look out onto the streets of the ‘old town’ in Estepona, which has been buzzing all day, full of tourists and locals.  Especially at this time, the siesta, when the smell of food is wafting in.  Lovely!

Another point, people look much younger than they are here.  Whether it’s the climate, the way of life or the siestas, they’re certainly doing something right here in Spain.  As my high school Spanish teacher used to say, and a phrase he very much liked to use (shout out to Mr.Gough)

“Que vida más buena que tenemos” – what a good life we have!

Tans, flamenco & early starts.

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My first ‘official’ week has been crazy.

My job has obviously been a major feature of the week with 9am til 6pm days just being spent at work – VERY different to the summer holidays.  Harder still is the adaption to a 2pm lunch and a 10pm dinner.  It’s only natural that by 12pm, the Brit in me wants lunch!  However, no matter what the time is, being able to walk just a stone’s throw from my office to the wall of the beach is brilliant.  I have never had lunch on an ‘ordinary’ day, feet dangling just above the sand looking out at the views of the sea and Gibraltar.  A beautiful accompaniment to the amounts of chorizo I’m munching on at lunch!

Work is a challenging and interesting experience.  At the moment there’s lots of training and when speedy Spanish dialogues start in the Andalucian accent… quite a bit of confusion!  I hope I get better at that!  I get to do real work, which is great and there’s lots of variation.  If my year continues like my first week, it will be brilliant!  Due to a few meetings, I have had sneak peeks of nearby places including Marbella and Puerto Banus, two of the most exclusive and expensive places in Andalucia.  This I noticed, when stopped in a petrol station in Puerto Banus, there were 3 porsches around me at one point in time.  Not bad… not bad at all.

Although most of my week has been filled with my main job of sales, I have also had the opportunity to do some writing.  I attended a press release with a colleague for a flamenco show coming to Estepona.  Cecilia Gomez, the flamenco dancer, was very nice, very talented and an honour to meet and write about.

http://www.andalucia.com/flamenco/dancers/cecilia-gomez.htm

This flamenco show, about the Duchess of Alba, a very important figure in Spain is meant to be amazing.  Luckily, I have the opportunity to go the Estepona’s bull ring tomorrow to watch the show for myself.  It has been reported to be a ‘microcosm of Spanish culture’ so I hope this gives me such an insight so early in my year abroad.

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The flamenco show was fantastic!  Cecilia Gomez was as amazing as I thought she would be.  The dancing was incredible and every intricate move was faultless and done to perfection.  And of course, the outfits were beautiful!  Just being at the bull ring was an exciting feeling.  There was something about the atmosphere there and watching the hundreds of ladies with their ‘abanicos’ –fans, as they all moved together in unison.  We went to the port after and it most definitely is true what they say – the Spanish are a lot more generous with their alcohol measurements!

Today I also stepped onto the beach for the first time.  Shockingly, it has taken me this long!  I was the very definition of a tourist – writing my name in the sand, getting excited by being in the sea and getting a lot of sun.  I tan incredibly easy though and am already significantly darker in just a week… a year is going to be very interesting.

All in all, a very enjoyable week.  My 366 days are off to a great start! 🙂

'Cayetana - su pasión' flamenco show at Estepona bull ring