Darlene Foster's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘moving to Spain

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.

It is coming up to six years since we packed up and moved to Spain. Recently at a writing group, we were given the prompt of – Screw it, let’s do it! I decided this would be a good time to write about the trials and tribulations we had as we prepared for this huge move. The group enjoyed my story, so I decided to share it with my blog followers.

Screw It Let’s Do It!

Retirement loomed. My husband and I often talked about retiring to a warmer climate. Many of our friends had bought property in the southern United States, Mexico, Central and South America. But hubby wasn’t keen on living in any of those places. His parents retired to Spain from the UK a number of years earlier, and we had visited them there a few times. We both liked Spain.

This will do.

It was a long way from Canada, but it had the appeal of being in Europe and close to other countries we wanted to explore. I loved the history, the beaches and the weather. It was affordable for people living on a pension., too. Paul imagined riding his Ducati on twisty mountain roads all year round, and I entertained thoughts of writing books and travel articles while sitting in the sun.

We booked a trip, and while in Spain, we found places along the Costa Blanca that could work for us within our price range. Once returning home, we did further research. Retiring to Spain became more of a consideration. When I told my children our potential plans, they said, ‘Do what makes you happy, mom.’ I mentioned to my daughter that I would give her my trusty Honda Civic. Her eyes perked up and she asked, ‘When are you going’?

With the blessings of the family, we began the process of clearing out the apartment and putting it up for sale. Having downsized from a 2500 square foot house to a 1350 square foot apartment fourteen years earlier, we didn’t think it would take much work. We didn’t realize how much we had acquired in that time!

Both of us still working, every weekend was spent clearing out closets, file cabinets and storage spaces, as well as painting and decorating to make the place look fresh and clean. We met with three different real estate agents, and decided to list with the one we felt would represent our place well based on her enthusiasm. There were many showings but no offers. As we had some wiggle room, we dropped the price a bit.

Over the summer, I gave away, donated and sold seventy percent of our belongings. Time was spent with family and friends as it might be awhile until we saw them again once we made the move across the ocean. There was one offer on the apartment. Way too low, we turned it down. There was still time. I knew the right people would come along and love our garden apartment in its great location as much as we did.

Retirement party!

I retired at the end of September and we booked tickets to Madrid leaving the first of November. I made one last trip to Alberta to ensure my mom was settled into her care home and to spend valuable time with my grand and great grandkids. An offer on the apartment came through while I was there. Although low, after some negotiating, we came to an agreement. They were to sign the papers the last week of October. For all intents and purposes, it was a done deal. Things were looking good. We went out for drinks with friends to celebrate.

I sold the rest of the furniture and organized a moving company to pack and pick up the personal belongings we would take with us.

On the last Monday of October, I woke up to a very upsetting message from my son. A good friend of ours had passed away in her sleep at the age of 53. I was devastated. I had just seen her two weeks earlier, a picture of health.

An hour later, I received a call from the realtor. The people who bought the apartment were to sign the papers for the sale the next day. Except, they decided to withdraw from the agreement, forfeiting their deposit.

What else could go wrong! I felt the walls crashing in all around me.

The furniture was all gone except for the bed. The dishes, pots and pans, and everything else were packed, ready to be picked up by the movers the following day. My daughter was coming for my car on Wednesday. Hubby had already sold his car and shipped his Ducati. It was already on the way to Spain!

Even if we stayed until we sold the place, we had nothing but an empty apartment. I was sick to my stomach. We sat on the bed, and in between my incessant sobbing, we explored our options.

Finally we decided. Screw it, let’s do it.

So with very little money and continuing mortgage payments, we flew out to Spain on November 1st, 2014 as planned. Well actually, we ended up flying out on November 2nd, but that’s another story, for another day.


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