28 October 2014

The Spanish Personality Infographic

The Spanish are wonderful people (usually!). I wouldn't have stayed here so long if they weren't! But just as people think us Brits are drunkard hooligans, who live on a diet of fish and chips, the Spanish also have some general behaviours that stand out above the rest. 

Whether these characteristics are true or not you'll have to decide for yourselves! 

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15 October 2014

Parks in Madrid - La Laguna de las Madres

Español: Estanque del Retiro, en los Jardines ...
Retiro de Madrid. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Madrid has more than it's fair share of parks to wander around, take in the scenery, let the kids and dogs of their leads to run about and get rid of some of that pent up energy.

I'm sure that many of you that have been to Madrid have heard of, or been to, the Parque de Retiro. The Retiro Park is a beautiful large park in the centre of the Madrid. Great for walking, jogging, having a coffee, feeding the fish, boating on the lake whilst soaking up some Madrileño history. But there are more parks in and around Madrid that deserve your attention if you have some time to spare. 

Today lets take a look at La Laguna de las Madres. Found in the south-east of Madrid, not far from Rivas Vaciamadrid and Arganda del Rey.

If you're looking to get away from the hectic city centre La Laguna de las Madres is about a 15-20 minute drive out on the A3 motorway. A stop off on the way to Chichón if you're wanting to make a day of it. 

At the park you can fish, boat, feed the geese, play on the park and horse ride among other things. 

There's a restaurant that looks out over the lake that opens to the public daily, and also specialises in wedding receptions, christenings and communions. 

If you're looking for corporate events you can also find them here too; canoeing, archery and gymkhanas are just a few of the activities on offer.

Check out the website La Laguna de las Madres for prices and opening times for the park itself (there's normally a one Euro entrance fee to help with the up-keep of the park), fishing licences, boating, food for the geese and the restaurant. 

Here are a few of my own photos that I took when we went in spring this year. 

Horses at La Laguna de las Madres, Madrid 

La Laguna de las Madres - Spring Time 2014

© FISH OUT OF WATER MADRID - All photos are mine unless otherwise stated. Feel free as a fish to use them,
 just please take the time to state that they're mine!! Thanks! 

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14 October 2014

InterNations.org Expat Insider 2014 Report

What have us expats said about the standard of living in Spain? 

Expat Statistics Spain infographic

Check out the whole report at InterNations.org.

Being a Vegetarian in Spain...Is it Possible?

English: vegetables
Vegetables (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I was a vegetarian before I came to Spain. Did you see the verb tense I used there? Past simple, I was a vegetarian. During nearly 13 years I ate no meat or fish at all. 

What happened? Well, I came to live in Spain. I managed 2 weeks of living on salad (that tasted like fish) and tortilla de patata (Spanish omelette) until, practically starving, I gave in and ate a tuna steak in tomato sauce. I remember every bite of it because it was awful and it made me feel like a complete traitor to all those poor little animals that I had been trying to protect all those years. 

An Argentinian BBQ (Photo credit: Fish Out of Water)
I never looked back though, and now I will eat a steak that is practically still breathing...probably a good thing as my husband is the typical Argentinian BBQ King. He has been known to stand under an umbrella next to the bbq whilst it's slinging it down with rain just to get his vacio or his matambre cooked!

To tell the truth, being a veggie in Spain is difficult, expensive and pretty boring. I remember telling people when I first got here over 13 years ago that I didn't eat meat and their jaws would drop in shock. They'd ask me why, but not the "I'm interested in what you are doing" why, but the "OMG, are you stupid?" why. Once I went out to a restaurant and the person that was ordering for us asked the waiter to put the potted plant that was on the window sill onto my plate...the poor waiter didn't understand a thing and neither did my poor little self as I didn't speak Spanish at the time...needless to say I felt like a right prize prat. 

Better Get to Livin'
Better Get to Livin' (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Having said that, my family and I aren't eating much meat at the moment, but basically because it's too expensive and seems to be full of water! It's so full of water that you buy a nice juicy Dolly Parton sized chicken breast and when you've cooked it you end up with more of a Kate Moss flat chested type chicken breast!     

Nevertheless, things have changed since I came here. You can find more tofu (not that all veggies are tofu eaters!), veggie sausages and other stuff in the supermarkets. However, I think that it is still a challenging task to be a veggie here if you like variety in what you eat. 

So what is there to eat if you're a vegetarian in Spain? It's not as if there aren't any fruit and vegetables in Spain, you can get some of the tastiest tomatoes in the world here. If you enjoy cooking a lot at home or you can afford the prices of vegetarian food then you'll probably be fine. But if you're a bit broke or you aren't a very inventive cook, the same old thing can get tedious. Pasta, gazpacho, tortilla, pasta, chickpeas, salad, pasta, rice, etc. 

English: Samosa
Samosa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
What I'm trying to say is that the problem with being a veggie in Spain is the lack of variety and affordable easy to cook vegetarian products (time-saving foods that don't have to be prepared from scratch). Nor do they have quick on the go bites like a nice cheese and onion pasty or a tasty vegetable samosa like there is in the UK and other countries. 

So if you are a veggie and you're coming to Madrid, bring your Linda McCartney cookbook with you!

If you're looking for a vegetarian restaurant in Madrid check out this list.

Do you have problems being a veggie in Spain? What are your favourite dishes? Do you agree that Spanish food lacks variety? 

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24 September 2014

Expat Living

CIA map of Spain.
Map of Spain.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I lived, worked and spoken to many expats in my 13 and a half years in Spain, although not many British ones surprisingly. Their reasons for leaving their home country are varied, although I’m guessing that love and work are in the top 5. 

Peoples reasons seem to be different in the area they’ve moved to. If they’re on the coast many have moved looking for a “better life”. They're looking for an idyllic way of life that they think that they can’t get in their own country. In land seems to be a different story. People come to study, to work (mainly as language teachers or in multinationals) or they’ve followed their boyfriend or girlfriend. Obviously I’m talking about Spain, it maybe different elsewhere. 

Some people came for an experience and liked it so much that they ended up staying long-term, or something happens that causes them to stay. Take my husband for example, he came over for couple of years out and the poor bloke ended up getting married to me…his short adventure has turned into a lifetime commitment (sorry sweetie!).

Vila Vella enceinte
Tossa de Mar, Spain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I can’t remember ever meeting an expat who wants to return home…apart from myself! Maybe they were telling porkies, but most are quite happy with the move they made. Most miss the same things; their mum’s cooking, family and friends, but I honestly don’t recall ever talking to an expat who, like me, would get on the first plane back to their country of birth. 

I never used to want to go back either, but after recently loosing family members and trying to live in a country going through a relentless economic crisis I’ve realised how much I miss being in the UK. Maybe if I asked them all now their opinion will have changed too.

Many expats live around, work with and make friends with other expats. This I find to be true most of all on the coast where there's a higher concentration of expats; Brits and Germans in particular. There you'll find more expat food shops, bars, restaurants and groups etc. Here in Madrid it's slightly more difficult to live with and around British and American expats especially if you live in the suburbs as I do. However, there are plenty of places to meet with expats from your country, if that's what you want to do. 

English: Shellfish paella. Español: Paella de ...
Shellfish paella (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Most expats seem to love the Spanish food as well. Personally I got bored of it after the first couple of years here in Spain! I find Britain has much more variety than Spain does, but other expats love paella, chorizo and "tortilla de patata" just as much as the natives do! I unfortunately can't get my love for curry out of my system...and where I live there's not one Indian restaurant, not one!

Why did you become an expat? What do you like or dislike about being an expat? Would you move back...or move to a different country? Do you prefer to be around the locals or hang out with other expats?

If you'd like to check out some expats in Spain you can watch DESTINO ESPAÑA (click on the link). It's a tv program from RTVE (Radio Televisión Española). Unfortunately it's only in Spanish, but if you speak or are learning the language it's interesting to watch.    

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22 September 2014

The Best of Fish Out of Water Madrid's 30 Day Blogging Challenge...So Far!

Finals in 2 days. And I don't know ANYTHING on...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On 2nd September I signed up for the 30 Day Blogging Challenge. A blog post a day...easy peasy! HA! 

It's now 22nd September (my birthday!) and I am only on day 9! Not so easy peasy, especially when you're sorting the kids out in two new schools and you're job hunting in Spain, which in itself is a full time job at the moment...with no wage and no joy! 

But I shall keep on going even if it takes me till the end of the year to finish these 30 days! Only 21 days to go!

If you missed any of the posts here's a round up of the first 8:

Don't have the time or maybe the money for Spanish lessons? Here are some cheap and simple ideas to help you pick up the language that you can do daily.

Thinking of coming to live in Spain? It might not be what you think it is!

Still thinking about moving to Spain!? Well there's a bit of red tape that you may need to get tangled up in.

Travelling to Madrid? What do the Madrileños eat? 

So you're in a great Madrileño restaurant, eating some typical food...what better way to make this moment more authentic than with a song relating to Madrid!?

You've spent Friday night eating and dancing in Madrid. Saturday is the day to get your camera out and your walking boots on and take a day trip to one of the 5 provinces that boarder the province of Madrid.

Madrid is a beautiful, interesting and fun city...but sometimes it can be a bit flummoxing.

You've danced, you've eaten and you've mastered the language, but will you ever miss what you left in your hometown?


18 September 2014

It's Raining Again

Wollaton Hall, Nottingham
For those of you who have read my EXPAT SERIES you will know that a year or two ago I started getting homesick. Never before had I got really homesick...I got the odd twinge of it around about Christmas time every year when I remembered how much I enjoyed Christmas morning at home with my brother and my mum and dad, but other than that homesickness never bothered me. 

For circumstances that I'm not going to go into here it's difficult for me to move back to the UK. Believe me if it was up to me I would have moved back at least two years ago. If I had of moved back I may not be in the situation that I find myself in now; job hunting in a country with no jobs! 

Don't get me wrong, I love Spain! It's a wonderful country...when it's not in crisis! Fiestas, siestas, music, beaches, mountains, blue skies and sunshine. What the hell am I complaining about then? Well, it's raining again. 

View from Nottingham Castle
Rain, one of the main things that triggers my homesickness. The grey skies, the wet garden, the chill in the air, the umbrellas and the smell of it on the grass or on the pavement. It all reminds of my hometown. 

Now as the long Spanish summer is coming to an end it's started raining. The temperatures have dropped dramatically this week, and while I have no doubt that they'll rise again for a while before autumn sets in, the rain has got me yearning for home once more. 

British and Spanish friends alike can't understand my love of rain! My dad says I get it from my grandad who used to love walking in the rain, especially after he spent time during the war in hot countries and wouldn't see a drop of rain for months on end. I find that there's nothing more relaxing that sitting under my parasol in the garden with a hot coffee whilst it's raining. 

A mill in Derbyshire
My homesickness could also have something to do with the fact that I'm not feeling very well today and no matter how old you are if you're feeling grotty the one person you want to be with is your mum. I remember if I was ill when I was little I would lie on the sofa with my duvet cover over me watching Children's BBC whilst my mum made me a bowl of baked beans o tomato soup!. What I would do to be there now!

Isn't it funny how certain things cause different emotions or feelings in us? The smell of rain or a certain perfume, a song, a place, feeling ill or depressed. 

Now we have the kids Christmas gets more and more difficult when my husband and I aren't with our families as they are both far away, especially when everybody around you are organising whether they'll be with their parents or their in-laws for Christmas day.   

Nottingham Castle Gardens
I guess that I will just have to get used to the fact that my homesickness will be roused every time the wet weather comes along, when Jingle Bells starts playing in the shopping centre or when I feel sick. 

We chose this expat life. Now we have to live with it and make the best of it for the time being. 

As an expat what reminds you of home or if you're not an expat what do you think you'd miss the most? 

Do you ever get homesick? Would you consider ever moving back?

© FISH OUT OF WATER MADRID - All photos are mine unless otherwise stated. Feel free as a fish to use them,
 just please take the time to state that they're mine!! Thanks! 

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