Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Feliz Cumpleaños a Chloe!

Happy 7th Birthday to our little Jack Russell Terror Terrier, Chloe! 

This is Chloe, the dia that we got her.  She's riding in the car with her buddy, Douglas, who she later decapitated.  So sweet.     

This is Chloe's first trip to the playa.  Graham was stationed in Pensacola at the time.  We had just started dating 6 months before.  A lot has happened in 7 years...

Chloe went from this:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hola! and excuses...

We owe you all a grande apology for disappearing.  Lo siento!  But we have a bueno excuse, actually a few.  The biggest one is that our household goods were delivered (hooray!) and our casa became chaotic (boo).  It really is crazy to see everything you own packed into wooden crates that you won't see for dos months.  Here are our worldly possessions leaving our townhouse in Norfolk, before their transatlantic journey:

And here are the crates being unloaded in Spain, looking pretty much the same.  Luckily, so did almost everything in them (with just a few minor exceptions - not bad for a Navy move.)

After the crates were emptied and the boxes sorted by room, this is what we were left with.  

Friday, September 23, 2011

Salmorejo is the new gazpacho

From Meghann:

Way back in July (can't believe we've been here for over 2 months) at the Philly airport, while waiting for the flight to Frankfurt, I picked up a few magazines.  It's a favorite airport indulgence, right up there with having an overpriced pre-flight cerveza or bloody mary at the bar.  This time I went with NatGeo Traveler and Bon Appetit (food and travel, these are a few of my favorite things, not so much raindrops on roses).  The cover of the August issue of Bon Appetit looked especially delicious - look at that pie!  Mmm... 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Graham vs. Agua

This post isn't historical, cultural, or geographical.  But it is comical.  

Ahh, the joys of home rentership.  When you don't know where the water shut-off is, or if there even is one.  Happy Thursday, everyone.  You're welcome.

p.s.  We did get the water stopped.  And "we" means Graham, but Meghann was there for moral support and the very important job of filming, of course.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Get thee to a nunnery!

No, it's not a Shakespeare post.  (10 dork points if you knew that was Shakespeare, 10 bonus dork points if you know which play.)  That hombre was English and we're sticking to Spain in this post.  We didn't forget that we had mentioned an "impromptu stop" in our Arcos post. Graham was driving and Meghann was snapping photos (as usual) when we spotted a church on a hill outside of Jerez.  Before a decent photo could be taken (hey, it's difficult to take decent pictures while going that fast, which we're sure you've noticed from our blog) we went around a bend and it was out of sight.  All of the sudden, Graham pulled off onto a gravel shoulder, which turned out to be the parking area for the church.  And the church turned out to be a monastery.  An incredibly beautiful, 15th-century, still actively used, monastery.  You can read mas about the La Cartuja de Jerez aqui.  We didn't go inside because we didn't want to get struck by lightning disturb any services that might be taking place.  Here are some photos that we took while (very quietly) looking around the grounds.  (Hamlet, by the way.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Graham's Trabajo

From Graham - 

So it's about time I write my own post, and tell everyone what I do on a daily basis.  It's not all tapas and tinto drinking, but I get plenty of that anyway.  I usually get up with the sun (although it's not that early -- sunrise here is about 8) and leave Meghann and Chloe sleeping.  And I usually get to leave around 3 or so in the afternoon, leaving plenty of time for fun Spanish activities like the beach, siestas, and golf.  

While at work, my official titles are "Air Operations Facilities Manager" and "Detachment Coordinator."  For facilities, I'm in charge of over 10 buildings' upkeep -- exciting, I know.  I don't actually have to do the work, just decide which jobs take priority, ensure we have money to pay for them, and make sure they are finished.  Most of the work is done by Spanish nationals, which is one reason I plan on taking Spanish classes.  But, I'm with you, and I'd rather read about fun travels in Europe than fixing leaking pipes and broken toilets, so I'll leave it at that.  For Detachments, I am responsible for any planes and their crews who come through Rota for operations, not just on their way somewhere else.  While I am not in charge of any of the day-to-day flying that the Air Force's AMC (Air Mobility Command), I do get to see them all the time.  AMC flies all the "MAC flights" you hear about, as well as moving military cargo, aircraft, vehicles, and personnel around the world on a daily basis.  I know, I thought it was funny that the Navy at a Navy base was in charge of the USAF, too.  I guess the government knows who actually is the better service.

Overall, it's not that exciting.  At least compared to landing on the boat at night.  But, it's a good job with great hours.  I get to live in an amazing place with my new wife.  I get to experience a lifestyle and culture that I otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity for.  I'd say I'm winning.

A shot of the base.

C-5 Galaxy - The USAF's largest cargo plane.  A lot of these come through every day on different missions around the world.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Ronda Roadtrip: Pastries and Puentes

No road trip has truly started until you have your fat-kid snacks.  In the States, we generally stick to swedish fish, sour patch kids, crab chips, and diet Dr. Pepper.  But since we started our drive in the morning (and because crab chips and Dr. Pepper are unavailable in Spain - we've been told that the delicious 23 flavors taste like medicine...que?!?) we went with pastries instead.

"La Perla" is Spanish for "shop around the corner that sells baked goods and puts up with our terrible Spanish."

We washed these tasty treats down with a Coke Light...which we swear tastes better than Diet Coke.

Our first Spanish road trip, to Arcos, was only 45 minutos away, so this time we decided to venture a little farther, to Ronda.  Located in the rocky hills of the Malaga province, Ronda is a larger city, part of which is a traditional pueblo blanco, similar to Arcos.  You can read more fun facts from the interwebs aqui.

Our 2 hour route

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cute casa, Feo furniture

When we arrived in Puerto in Julio we already had a house, thanks to Graham signing a lease before coming back to the States for our wedding.  While it was great to have a home to move into right away, the fact that it was nearly empty made us anxious for the delivery of our household goods.  We say "nearly empty" because the Navy was kind enough to provide us with some loaner furniture, some of which can be seen in our posts on Chloe or Tinto.  Now that our stuff has been delivered, and our backs have recovered from sitting on a wood and vinyl couch, we think we're physically and emotionally ready to give you the full tour of our casa in all its original, pre-decorated, loaner furniture glory.  This is how we lived for our first seis weeks in Spain.  Warning:  the furniture seen in this post may cause college dorm room flashbacks.

The entrance to our townhouse.

Hola!  Bienvenido to our house.
This picture reminds Meghann of
The Continental.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Arcos de la Frontera Day Trip

Right now we are diligently working to unpack our household goods (that were delivered yesterday - hooray!).  Ok, actually we just took a siesta and will be heading out to dinner with friends in a little bit.  Hey, we're easily distracted by food and cocktails immersing ourselves in Spanish culture.

Anyway, before we head out for dinner and tinto, we figured we would post some pictures from a day trip we took several weekends ago to Arcos de la Frontera.  Arcos is a quick drive from Puerto and is a typical "pueblo blanco."  It normally takes about 45 minutes to get there, but we made an impromptu stop which we will blog about luego.  So, after our Garmin-navigated country drive, we arrived in Arcos.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Nuevo Subway?

by Meghann

Yesterday, I went to Jerez de la Frontera (a larger city to the north of Puerto) with a new amigo, E. Jerez is about 15 miles away and quick Mini-trip (E. has one too, just like all the cool kids.) I haven't braved driving any farther than base yet, plus we only have uno vehicle at this point, so Graham and I have been doing most of our errands together.

This was a good ol' fashioned girls-only shopping trip though, since Graham was working and E's husband is back in the US (insert some comment about typical Navy wives here). The great thing about going to the mall is that it is pretty much the same in most of the countries that I have spent some tiempo (and money) in. We checked out shoes, there were summer sales, new fall clothes were in, I bought some make-up at Sephora. The only noticeable differences were having to calculate the euro-to-dollar exchange and the fact that my chatter with sales people is limited to "gracias" "vale" and "buenos dias."

Of course, after all that strolling and witty banter, we needed some comida. We discussed our options, and decided to hit 100 Montaditos in the food court. A "montadito" is a small sandwich, and true to the nombre, there are 100 on the menu, ranging from $1.50 to $3 a piece. (Wasn't it nice of me to do the exchange rate for you?) We picked out 7 to share, including a 4 queso (couldn't resist it!), salmon and brie, and barbecue with guacamole. The montaditos came with potato chips, but we also ordered french fries, which included 4 different dipping sauces, and a plate of olives. I'm not saying this meal wins any awards in the nutrition department (the sodium content may be the reason that we had to buy bottles of water when we hit Ikea after lunch), but it was quick, satisfying, and much more of a "real" meal than what's offered at the typical fast food place.

So, it was a bit of coincidence when I got home and another friend here in Spain had posted an article (you can read it here) about 100 Montaditos' plan to expand in the US (they already have locations in Miami). 100 Montaditos franchises are more of a "fast casual" restaurant (like the ever-so delicioso Chipotle) and I loved being able to eat several small sandwiches instead of committing to a single selection. Side note: My food commitment issues may be why I have so much amor for tapas. Why have one dinner when you can have multiple ones? Am I the only one that has trouble deciding on one entree? And what do you think Freud would have to say about that? Moving on...

What's your opinion? Do you think 100 Montaditos can rival that New World favorite, Subway? Can pequeno Spanish sandwiches take down the $5 dolla (make you holla?) foot long? Did you just get that ridiculous jingle stuck in your head?


Did I mention they serve cerveza? 100 Montaditos for the win!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thirsty Jueves! Tinto de Verano edition

In celebration of our air-conditioning being fixed (woohoo!) and that it's almost the fin de semana, we are going to dedicate this blog post to a muy popular Spanish bebida.

If you said sangria, you are wrong. While delicious (and nutritious?), sangria is considered to be somewhat of a tourist drink and locals are rarely seen ordering it. Frankly, we don't quite understand this - Meghann has an unabashed amor for all things blue crab and Graham would never turn down Carolina barbecue. But that's okay, because the Spanish have come up with an equally delicioso and much easier to make drink.

Tinto de Verano! Which literally translates to "red wine of summer." Vino tinto = red wine and verano = summer.

It can be ordered out at most bars and restaurantes, either by the glass or pitcher.

It can even be bought ready-made from the local tienda, but it's so easy to make there is no reason to not DIY this drink.

Here's what you need:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Southern Spain at 120 kilometres por hora

Lo siento. It's been too long. We're sure you thought we were being lazy bloggers, busy going to the playa, eating tapas, drinking cervezas, taking siestas - which we were, not going to lie. But the real problem was that we had a serious lapse in internet connectivity. (Consequently, the post to be titled "Viva Vodafone" has been cancelled.) We are now up and running and able to keep contact with the outside mundo (and all of you wonderful people).

Also in related news, we now have a US telephone numero. Gracias, MagicJack. So, if you want to give us a ring, let us know and we'll send you our number. We wouldn't flatter ourselves by thinking anyone besides our amigos and familia reads this blog, but putting our number on the interwebs just seems like a pretty terrible idea (adios, creepsters!).

Before you get too excited about our triumph over Spanish technology, we should disclose that the A/C unit in the main part of our casa is broken and it is muy caliente - or in the words of Nelly - "Hot in Herre."

So, we threw together this pequeno blog post with pictures from our Madrid-to-Jerez drive, while we sit on the couch and drink agua fria (cervezas). Enjoy!

Meghann took pictures while Graham drove and Chloe took a siesta. (Obligatory car mirror self-portrait.)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Chloe, from aeropuerto to El Puerto

We've had a few questions about Chloe, and how she is adjusting to life in Espana. So, we will give the people what they want - a post dedicated to our (almost always) sweet perrita and her international travels.

(Chloe riding shotgun during our minimoon, enjoying the views from Skyline Drive.)

When negotiating Graham's overseas orders, being able to bring Chloe with us was a must. After (finally) getting our official orders, we were very happy to find out that there is no quarantine period in Spain, and all Chloe had to do before her big move was get microchipped and pass a physical - which she did with (pun alert) flying colors. We made sure her records were complete, got the necessary USDA forms, and bought her a travel bag. And by travel bag, we mean a bag for her to travel in. She already has her own monogrammed boat tote, obviously. Like a runner training for a marathon, Chloe spent increasing amounts of time in the bag on car trips in preparation for the lengthy overseas flight. Here is Chloe enjoying her under-the-seat accommodations at the beginning of the flight:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

We are aqui!

*This post was written on Sunday, but thanks to slow/no internet on base, we couldn't post until now.

Today is our 3 week anniversary! We have been in Spain for 7 days and we are loving it. The last week has been spent getting settled in, but we have had plenty of time for enjoying the beach, our new neighborhood, and the food...and the beverages. But let's begin at the beginning, as they say. How do you get 2 people, 8 bags, and 1 dog from Norfolk, Virginia to El Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain?

First, you start off by packing up your Jeep Patriot with the above-mentioned people/bags/dog combo and driving to Maryland, because your oh-so kind friends Kristen and Chris have agreed to take you to the airport...in Philadelphia. It is important to thank (bribe) your generous friends by taking them out to dinner. It's even better when dinner includes grapefruit crushes (if you don't know what a grapefruit crush is, find out now) and a view of the Chester River. Just a suggestion. So, that was our Thursday.