Darlene Foster's Blog

Spain Chronicles, Part 2

Posted on: October 2, 2020

As promised, here is the next installment of our crazy move to Spain. I wrote this based on a writing prompt provided by my writers’ group.

Those That Don’t Believe in Magic Never Find It                                              

It looked like it would take a hefty dose of magic to make our dream of moving to Spain come true. Things went from bad to worse and I began to think that it was a terrible idea. However, since it poured rain for the entire last week of October, we were more than ever determined to live where the sun shone most days.

Everything in the apartment was gone, including the bed, so we stayed overnight at a hotel on October 31, our last night in Canada. Hubby had a terrible cold, oh joy! I walked to the mall in the rain to pick up cold tablets and take-out food to eat in the room. My runners filled up with water, and even though I was wearing a raincoat with a hood, I was totally drenched by the time I got back. I threw the runners and the clothes I was wearing in the garbage. I imagined the cleaning staff would think we had been involved in some sort of crime or undercover op.

The next morning, after a goodbye coffee with an old friend, we headed to the airport more than three hours before the flight. We were eager to check-in and get rid of our six large suitcases. No one was even at the British Airways check-in yet. As we made our way to Starbucks, I teased hubby about always being ridiculously early.

My phone pinged. A text message from BA indicating the flight was delayed 24 hours. Whoa! I must have read that wrong. I looked again, then showed it to Paul. Yup, that’s what it said. We returned to the check-in where a line was starting to form as staff opened up. When we got to the booth, it was confirmed. There had been a bomb scare at Heathrow, cancelling all flights.  Ours would leave tomorrow at the same time. It was suggested we go home and come back the next day. We explained we didn’t have a home to go to. (In fact, we did, but it was empty.)

British Airways was great. They provided a room in the Fairmont at the airport, a 5 star plus hotel, gave us a voucher for dinner at their fabulous restaurant and one for breakfast as well. Of course, we still had our six extra-large suitcases and four carry-ons, but the room was large and we could store them there. This delay had a domino effect. The hotel reservation in Madrid had to be changed, as well as the train tickets to Alicante and the car rental upon arrival. Fortunately, we were able to make the changes on our computers from the hotel room. To calm my frayed nerves, I had a lovely soak in the huge tub.

 The next day after an excellent breakfast we said, “Let’s try this again.”

The flight to London went as well as a nine-hour flight could. Sadly, poor hubby´s cold had taken a turn for the worse in spite of me filling him with medication. After a few hours in Heathrow, we caught the flight to Madrid. All we wanted to do was sleep, but that was not to be as the plane was full of soccer fans going to a Madrid/Liverpool match. There was much drinking and partying going on, and many trips back and forth to the lavatory. On another occasion, it would have been funny. Once we landed in Madrid, the shuttle bus picked us up and delivered us to our hotel room where we collapsed into bed. We were in Spain at last!

The magic was working, or was it?

The next morning after breakfast, our pre-ordered cab arrived. The driver informed us he could not take both of us and six large suitcases. We had to order another cab, one for me and three suitcases, and one for Paul and the other three. Double the cost! Oh well, we’d been through worse. We just needed to get to the train station so we could get to Alicante, pick up our car and drive to Orihuela Costa to begin our new life.

Atocha train station in Madrid
Inside Atocha, beautiful but no luggage trolleys

At Atocha station, we looked for luggage trolleys as the station is three floors below the front entrance. There were none to be found. Hubby stayed on top with the bags while I went down the three flights of escalators to see if I could find a couple of trolleys. No luck. WTH! There was no way we could take all six bags and four carry-ons down in one trip. Leaving some behind would be taking a huge risk that they would be stolen. Paul went to look, as I had obviously not looked in the right places, but came back empty-handed. As the time for our train to depart got closer, panic set in. I went downstairs one more time. When I could not find even one trolley, I burst into tears. Why was this happening?

There is always an angel. And one appeared by the name of Mercedes. She asked me what was wrong. I explained everything to her and she offered to help. We went upstairs to Paul. With an extra set of hands, we were able to get all the luggage down to the train and board on time. Never ever underestimate the kindness of strangers.

At Alicante train station, I watched the pile of luggage while hubby walked the two blocks to pick up the rental car. He was gone a long time. I started to get worried. He finally arrived, very agitated. Poor guy, his cold was still terrible. Although he had contacted the car rental company about us being a day late, head office did not let the Alicante office know. So they didn’t have a car for us. Paul, who is always a gentleman and seldom swears, swore and demanded they come up with a car for us. Which they did. The Fiat almost held all the luggage. I held one bag on my lap and another was stored under my feet.

We looked at each other and said at the same time, “Whose stupid idea was it to move to Spain??”

One hour later we arrived in La Zenia, where we collapsed into the arms of my in-laws. That was almost six years ago and we are loving our life in Spain. Of course, it hasn’t always gone smoothly, but what does?

We made it! Two days after landing in Spain.

It’s true, as Walt Disney said, “Those who don’t believe in magic, never find it.

101 Responses to "Spain Chronicles, Part 2"

I loved getting to read your story (I did read part one as well, but didn’t comment).

Wow. You guys seemed to have everything working against you – so glad everything finally worked out! Lovely pics!

I kept thinking, is this telling us not to do it or is it a test to see how badly we wanted to do it? Glad we persevered. xo

When in doubt you took a leap of faith and moved forward through the obstacles to success.

That was a neat story. You battled all the ups and downs beautifully.

Terrific post, Darlene. I’ve moved 2000 miles across the USA 3 times. Relocating to another country is a huge thing! I hope you can rest on your laurels now, because you deserve them. Hugs.

Thanks, Teagan. Moving is tough no matter what. It is not for the faint-hearted. But we manage and it makes us stronger in the end. I´ve written 4 books since we moved here so all is good.

What an incredible tale, Darlene. I’m so glad that you and Paul persevered and pursued your dream. 🙂 When we moved to Sudan, James had to go in advance because his job was starting (that’s another story). I was left alone to sell the house, car, stuff and pack up. I’m glad that you two were together. 🙂 Were you able to sell your house later? ~Terri

Doing it alone would have been even worse! Yes, we eventually sold the apartment but it was a tense few months that required some creative budgeting. Thanks for reading. I thought you would empathize.

Brilliant tale! Life is never smooth. Some of the politest and most helpful people we have met have been in Madrid, especially at the airport …. passengers holding doors open for you, offering seats on transit trains, stepping out of lifts to let us in. Staggering, just not seen in England any more! Isn’t it time to show your expertise on Spanish Wine now ……?

So true, life is never smooth. I have no expertise on Spanish or any wine for that matter. I will leave that to you! I do enjoy a nice sangria and have developed a good recipe to serve guests.

I can see 3 other commenters who live on the other side of the globe! Either that or they have mastered the art of time travelWhat a nightmare that must have seemed at the time. Your photograph tells me you quickly recovered. Both of you clearly have great resilience.

It was a bit of a nightmare but as soon as we saw the sun and the gorgeous Mediterranean Sea, we recovered quickly.

Things going wrong make the best stories.
I know La Zenia, it has a terrifying shopping mall!

My dad always said that! Yes, we like La Zenia Boulevard and shop there often. It´s only 10 minutes from us by car.

My sister lives nearby, Kim always insists on visiting. I generally make my excuses. I only buy on line!

Hubby enjoys the coffee shops and people watching so he waits, along with the dog, and looks after the shopping bags while I do my shopping. It´s a good system.

I expect you now look back and think it was all worth it, Darlene…We didn’t have anything like the trouble you had when we moved from the UK…Not so smooth when we moved from Phuket to Northern Thailand but like you we managed and the rest is history 🙂 xx

It was worth it and as you say, part of our history and a good story to relate. xo

Wow, Darlene, what an adventure – just getting to Spain – never mind starting a whole new life. Great post.

It was quite an adventure for sure. Glad you enjoyed reading about it!

Like in a movie, often things go from “bad to worse” before we eventually gain our equilibrium, especially like yours adapting to a foreign culture. . . or just getting there.

I noticed that your hubby likes to get to the airport ridiculously early, just like mine. Just a quirk, not a deal-breaker – ha!

Yup. The good thing is that we have never missed a flight. But we have arrived at parties while the host was still in the shower which is embarrassing. Once we came a day early!! But that could have been me writing it on the wrong day in the calendar. Oops.

It didn’t break you, it only made your stronger. I imagine there were other challenges too, but you had in-laws and friends in Spain to help and guide you once you got there. Fun story to look back on.

Looking back we can now laugh about it and yes, it made us stronger. Navigating the Spanish bureaucracy was challenging but we managed.

A great story and while Paul had a nasty cold and was left with 6 suitcases I can only imagine how sad you felt arriving in that beautiful train station in Madrid on finding there were no luggage carts! I would have been teary eyed too. I know you are settled in Spain and can see after all your trials and tribulations that you did make the move at the right time….six suitcases and 4 carryons! That wouldn’t be allowed now with or without Covid19 pandemic happening. 🙏🙏🙏🙏 Thanks for sharing my friend.

We did have to pay for the extra luggage but we factored that into the cost of moving. I would do it differently now though. But everything is clearer in hindsight, isn’t it?

Your persistence is admirable, and I’m glad you’re enjoying your new life so much 😊

Thanks, Clive. Stubbornness can be an asset at times.

Oh, my goodness, what a rough start! I’m glad it all worked out in the end (hopefully, hubby got better soon after arrival).
Funny story; we left Alberta for the coast with the dream of escaping snow on October 31st!

LOL. That was our first big move, from Alberta to the BC coast in 1989. It took hubby about 6 weeks to finally get rid of that cold.

It’s not something you ever forget, lol

Oh my heart! That is a lot of challenges and of
Course you would have so much luggage because of the move. The kindness of strangers is a magical thing. Your angel Mercedes warms my heart. What a relief it must have been to finally arrive. You did it!

I know, right! It was a relief and I couldn’t believe we finally got there, in one piece with all the luggage. I will never forget Mercedes. She told me many people had helped her out while travelling and she was just paying it forward.

You and your husband are troopers. Those challenges were just making sure you wanted to move.to Spain.

That’s my take on it too. Thanks, Diane.

Wow. You look fantastic after such an exhausting trip. And you made it!!

Thanks, Christa. I was tired but excited as well.

What a story! I’m so glad you got there successfully in this episode.

There was a time there when I thought we wouldn’t get to Spain.

And no wonder! It was uphill most of the way.

Darlene, I am loving these stories! You managed to have almost every single complication you can have, but guess what? You still ended up in paradise, and you have a better story to tell! So happy for you both!

Thanks, John. It´s amazing what we can go through to get to the goal in the end.

And as frustrating as it was at the time, it makes for a riveting story!

This is such an incredible story — with many great gems.
Never underestimate the kindness of strangers and If you want magic to happen – believe!
Thank you for sharing this with us.

Thanks, glad you enjoyed it!

I’m glad you gave us the second installment of this tale, Darlene. I wanted to hear how it turned out, although I never dreamed there would be so many hoops to jump through. The kindness of a stranger, your guardian angel, was a sweet moment. You made it happen. The cliche, “where there’s a will, there’s a way,” comes to mind.

That timeless cliche is one my dad instilled in us years ago. It certainly helped get us through this. Thanks, Pete.

Despite the problems, this is a great story, Darlene. When Terence and I went on our honeymoon to Italy, our flight from SA was delayed so we had to run through the whole of Heathrow to get from Terminal 4 to Terminal 1. It was exhausting and upsetting, but we made it. We also had similar problems when we flew to New Zealand and nearly missed our Sydney connection and also when we flew back from Budapest and nearly missed our SA flight home. I think the agents book the flights to close together.

I have had to run through airports many times, especially when they change the departure gate and I´m at the other end. The hazards of travel! Not for the faint of heart.

I loved this – when all the things that can go wrong when you travel DO – well not quite, at least no planes crashed! Cyberspouse’s 30 years as a policeman at Heathrow encompassed many bomb scares and passengers barred from the terminal buildings would never believe they would not miss their flight because No flights were taking off!

These things happen but you never think they will happen to you, especially in the middle of a big move. It could have been worse, we lived to tell the tale. xo

Goodness the gods were being capricious when they decided to play with you two weren’t they? You must have walked under a black cat or something

We must have! Something was conspiring against us but we did it anyway.

Looking at the lovely, smiley photo of you it’s hard to believe what you’d bee through only days before. Well done for persevering 🙂

That dogged determination usually carries me through.

What an adventure! I think I would have lost it with the six bags of luggage. I so enjoyed this story, Darlene!!

Thanks, Jennie. I will never risk travelling with that much luggage ever again. I should have shipped a couple of the suitcases with the 96 boxes. Why did I think I needed all of those things??

I can only imagine! I’m sure you thought it was a good idea at the time. Thank goodness for the angel savior who help carry the bags.

Brilliant! It was such a series of disasters that it made me laugh, I’m afraid – though I guess it wasn’t funny for you at the time. I’m glad it worked out in the end. The only comparable travel disaster I can remember is when, years ago, we’d sold our cottage in Cornwall (without anywhere to live in Spain) and it wasn’t until we arrived at Plymouth to catch the ferry to Santander, with all our luggage on board, that I realised that my passport had expired!

Oh my! That is another good one. It’s a good thing we can laugh about these things later and they make good stories.

Loved the telling, I was right there along with you! Can’t believe this was almost six years ago, Darlene!

Thanks, Irene. I can’t believe it either. Time flies. Take care. xo

What a horrendous experience! Yet two days later, you and Paul were beaming in the sun. No regrets, eh?

No regrets! Thanks, Liz.

What a nightmare, but glad it all ultimately worked out and life is good in Spain. I felt awful for you with the 24 hour flight delay and yet it just got more challenging at every turn….thanks for sharing Darlene!! My best to both of you!

Thanks, Kirt. You know what doesn´t kill you….

Wow! What a adventure😊. Now I must go find part 1.


I was looking for adventure. Be careful what you wish for I guess. Thanks for stopping in.

Wow, it sounds like a travel nightmare, but at least there’s a happy ending 🙂

Travel nightmares are never good but even worse when making a big move. Makes for a good story though. xo

I got overwhelmed at your first mention of 10 pieces of luggage! I can hardly stand to have 1 checked bag when I travel, instead wearing the same clothes for days on end. But it’s so great that you both are living the dream!

I know, whatever was I thinking. I usually travel with one carry on now. But, we lived to tell the tale!

After reading part one, I wondered if the move would happen but then of course I already knew the end of the story. 😊 It was certainly a rocky beginning but then “they lived happily ever after” happened.

Thanks, Karen. Anything worth doing is seldom easy!

Love your stories, Darlene. However, to show respect for the people of your adopted country, I’m surprised you have not made a point of learning their language. Get with it Girl!

I manage quite well with my limited Spanish. But I would love to be able to communicate with my Polish neighbours as well as my Dutch, Swedish, Danish, and German neighbours in their language. Oh to be multi-lingual!!

I loved reading this. I’m thinking of a continental move myself so I’m more enlightened now. Never travel with more luggage than you have hands. 😉 Things NEVER go according to plan. I’ve learned this a long time ago and I agree with you. You can never underestimate the kindness of strangers. I relied on them all through my travels through Germany and they never let me down. Except for one French woman in Germany when I was trying to find out if we were on the right train platform. She looked at us as if we smelled badly. We have been talking about Portugal if this election goes badly. I don’t think I can afford Germany. ;(

Yes, never travel with more luggage than you have hands! Perfect. Good luck with your impending move. Portugal is a good choice from what I understand.

Rocky start, but happily esconced in Spain! Olé!

Thanks! All´s well that ends well.

Admirable choice to retire in Spain!

How lovely of Mercedes to have helped you with all the luggage at the railway station. And I’m pleased to hear that British Airways were good with their customer service. However, I’d not have wanted to have been on that flight to Spain with those football fans. But at least it got you to Spain.

There is always a silver lining. I did happen to sit beside a boy on the flight who was traveling with his father to see the match. (a birthday gift) He was so excited as it was to be his first out of the country match. They were the only ones not drinking and partying besides us. The boy liked reading and was interested in my books!

Good to hear that you had somebody who was quiet sat next to you on the flight.

Every time you needed a big of magic, it showed up! Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers and your determination. Apparently this move was meant to be. 🙂

That is how we feel. Thanks!

Darlene what an amazing adventure. I have now read 1 & 2….

Thanks. Travel always comes with some problems but this one was fraught with them. xo

Wow! What an adventure!!! I love how kind strangers helped you. You certainly did find the magic.

It was quite the adventure. Mercedes said that many times people have helped her out while traveling. xo

That was a great story. You both are troopers and I think we share a certain, what would you say?, reckless abandon based on careful research. Good for you! Enjoy.

Thanks! That is a good way of putting it. Thanks for your comment.

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