That Golden Rule: Five Random AvocaDOs and DON’ts in Valencia, Spain

Remember to guess the song/artist reference.  Is your brain biffle-baffled yet?  (Yes, that’s una pista – a clue!)

 

AvocaDOs and DON’Ts when moving to, or holidaying in, Spain:

 

1. Don’t expect to be able to speak English everywhere.  Learn the basics, at least. Check out my website conversewithchloe.com for lessons and free resources.  Try language learning apps, podcasts and Youtube vids.wesbite 4

2. Do greet people verbally but don’t smile without saying anything.  This is a very subtle cultural difference but one to be noted if you don’t want to look like a total wally.  Take it from experience, my experience, that smiling at people in the street makes you look weird (especially if you have no eyebrows and can’t be bothered to pencil them in – see photo!)  However, you should definitely say ‘buenos días’ or ‘buenas tardes’ to your neighbour in passing.  Resting bitch face readers amongst you, happy days! 🙂  Those of you with a smiley disposition like me (well, sometimes) may just have to learn how to smile on the inside… and no, that’s not meant to sound like a cheesy drinkable yoghurt advert!

3. Do make the most of the cheap cost of living especially in cities like Valencia. I had this lovely brunch for much less than 10€ in Bluebell Coffee Co. in the hipster area Ruzafa and the paella below for a bargain 5€ with optional tinto de verano (basically a red wine spritzer with lemon!)

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4. Don’t expect avocados to be cheap.  I am actually outraged at the price of grapesthem even in the mercados.  4-5€ per kilo.  Holy guacamole!  Most other fruit and veg is cheaper than the UK and of a much better quality, however.  I’m getting a little bit addicted to 30 cent nectarines and these mahoosive grapes.  Yes, that’s a Spanish crossword puzzle in the background and it’s great for learning new vocabulary!

 

5.  Do stock up on toiletries before you head out here.  I can probably guarantee that you’ll miss Boots or, dare I say it, even Superdrug or Bodycare.  Reasonably-priced toiletries are available here even in supermarkets (with Carrefour probably stocking the widest variety) but anything remotely specialist (purple shampoo, silvery-blonde products, porcelain foundation, good primers, etc.) will cost you quite a lot and you’ll have to seek them out.  Dry shampoo-lovers are urged to proceed with caution!  I’d definitely avoid pharmacies for toiletries too as the prices are somewhat ridiculous.  They are great for extra-strong medicine though, especially those little Lemsip-style sachets you mix with cold water.  Positives to note are the huge bottles of shower gel on sale (which you’ll need to combat the 60% humidity with thrice-daily showers obligatory in Summer), aisle-upon-aisle of mosquito repellent plug-ins (none of which seems to work for me) and the 319 varieties of conditioner for pelo rizado and dañado (curly and damaged hair, respectively).

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the music reference is…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biffy Clyro – That Golden Rule

Son of Henry, I’m the first in line
To the throne, smell my mustard gas
I slash swords through your wooden spine
Well it cut my heart and it blew my head
We made love at the side of the road
Reflex, you better know this flows fast
This river is particularly sinister
Close your eyes and take my hand

I wanna scream one last death medley
I am looking for a reason to secure a forward motion

Love that golden rule, that golden rule
Need that golden rule, that golden rule
Secrets are the truth, they are the truth
We need that silver rule, that silver rule

Face to face with the ball and chain
I’ll poke my head up till its red
I tell my secrets and you took my pain
About a broken heart and I will do it again
Son of Henry, I’m the first in line
To the throne, smell my mustard gas
I slash swords through your wooden spine
Well it cut my heart and it blew my head

I want to scream one last death medley
I am looking for a reason to secure a forward motion

Love that golden rule, that golden rule
Need that golden rule, that golden rule
Secrets are the truth, they are the truth
We need that silver rule, that silver rule

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Cinco Spanish Songs to Make You Sonreír :)

  1. Antipatriaca – Ana Tijoux

    A French-Chilean rapper tackling all sorts of controversial issues.  She combines sublime song writing with ‘tabú’ topics.  I’d describe her work as feminist, strong and sensitive.  Her accent is also intriguing and easy to understand for non-natives.

  2. Castigados en el granero – Hinds

    They’re performing on Thursday 21/9 at She’s the Fest at La Rambleta so stay tuned for a pre-gig post.  Their Warpaint vibes are definitely something to get excited about!

  3. Despacito (Original Version) – Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee

    Yes, Bieber 100% ruined it for me (especially when he admitted not even knowing the Spanish lyrics – insulting, right?) but many people haven’t even heard the original.  Check it out.  Alternatively, watched the Backstreet Boys try to sing it and fail miserably here!

  4. Ha sido divertido – Nudozurdo

    Indie-credible (- sorry!)  Have a look at this excellent blog post by Clare Speak post for similar bands.

  5. Caminando por la vida – Melendí

    An oldie-but-goodie.  This song never fails to make me smile, actually.  The name of this blog is a play on the title.  Do you get it? ¿Lo pillas?

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How NOT to be an illegal alien. Get your NIE and Social Security Number in two hours in Valencia (EU citizens)

How to get your NIE and Social Security Number in two hours in Valencia if you are an EU citizen.  (Yes, this currently includes Brits, thankfully)

No, your eyes are not deceiving you: you absolutely CAN get you NIE and SS number within the space of two hours, at least in Valencia. You need the NIE for everything: work contracts, banks, businesses, utilities, phone contract, etc.

At peak times (especially July-September) be sure book up to a month before you want to attend the actual appointment and make sure you turn up early and explain that you have an appointment (tengo cita previa).  If all else fails, show your passport and email booking confirmation.

Simple steps to getting your NIE and Social Security numbers in Valencia:

A) Book the appointment:

  1. Book an appointment or ‘cita previa’ here or on the official app
  2. Select ‘Valencia’ and ‘Certificados EU’ if you are from the UE of course
  3. The next pages tells you the documents you need to take to your NIE appointment.  Click ‘Entrar’
  4. Fill in data. Click ‘aceptar’
  5. Click ‘solicitar cita’ and click the time and date
  6. For city centre-dwellers select the ‘Calle Bailén’ office.  That way you can get your social security number straight aftersede

If you don’t have access to a computer or wifi etc, get yourself to a ‘locutorio’.  There are a few listed on Google maps but if you ask locally you’ll be sure to find one within half a mile or so.  They’ll look something like this one that I found in Benicalap:

locutorio.jpg

B) Do the paperwork:

  1. Complete the NIE form, called the ‘Model EX-15.  You can collect one from any comisaría that deals with foreign affairs (Extranjería) but also online right here, in fact!  Complete and print TWO COPIES at least.  An example but unofficial model document in English is available here for reference only.
  2. Photocopy your passport a few times.  It obviously should be valid and in good condition.
  3. You should have a Spanish address. Use your Airbnb, hotel, friend’s or work address for now.  I couldn’t get a rental agreement until I had my NIE so there was no chance of using my ‘home’ Spanish address because I was stuck in a catch-22.  Luckily my boss let me use the office address. That worked fine!
  4. If you have a work contract, take a couple of copies of this in Spanish.  If you are studying, it’ll be your offer or enrolment documentation.  You get the idea, anyway!

C) Pay for the NIE

The next rather odd part of the process is visiting the bank to pay fees associated with obtaining the NIE.  A lot of the advice online will tell you to visit the police station, then the bank and then the police station again.  This is not necessary. You can download the Tasa 790-52 form here, take TWO COPIES OF IT at least to almost any bank (I used Caixa) with around 10€ and you should get a little bit of change.  The current rate is 9,54€ (see picture below).  You’ll be given a copy of the form to take with you to the NIE appointment to prove that you have paid for the privilege.  Go between 8.30am and 1pm to make sure the bank is open and avoid weekends when opening hours are limited.

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D) Attend the appointment and get the NIE

Be chilled, polite and speak in Spanish if you can.  Something like ‘Hola, tengo una cita previa para la asignación del NIE. Tengo todos mis documentos y he pagado ya la tasa’ should work a treat!  You should be given a meat-counter-from-the-90 style ticket and be sent to the waiting room.  If you get there ten minutes early you won’t have to wait more than twenty to be seen on an average day.  Have your passport and all your documents ready.

Once again you need to take:

  1. Passport and two copies of the photo page
  2. Proof from the bank that you paid (probably on a green piece of paper)
  3. The NIE form you completed earlier (EX-15) and a copy
  4. Some sort of evidence of your reason for needing a NIE. Verbal evidence may suffice here.

 

You should be given a really formal-looking document with   your NIE number written on in felt-tip pen, ressembling something like A1234567Z, with two letters and two numbers.  Take a picture or copy of it as you will need it for almost everything in Spain.  You should only ever have one NIE too, even if you move back to your home country and then back once again to Spain.

Now go to the parc or a terraza or something and relax! 🙂

park

 

For the Social Security, all you’ll need is one simple form, the TA-1, which you can download here.  If you just came out of Calle Bailén comisaría, then literally cross the road to calle/Carrer de Bailén, 43.  You’ll need your NIE number (felt-tip document will suffice), TA-1 form (which you’ll have had to complete online and print) plus a copy and evidence of your work contract or similar in Spanish.  This literally took me ten minutes on a rainy Thursday morning in August and then I was good to go!  Suerte!  

 

 

 

 

The song?

Scroll for the answer…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Englishman in New York – Sting

I don’t drink coffee I take tea my dear
I like my toast done on one side
And you can hear it in my accent when I talk
I’m an Englishman in New York

See me walking down Fifth Avenue
A walking cane here at my side
I take it everywhere I walk
I’m an Englishman in New York

I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien
I’m an Englishman in New York
I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien
I’m an Englishman in New York

If “Manners maketh man” as someone said
Then he’s the hero of the day
It takes a man to suffer ignorance and smile
Be yourself no matter what they say

I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien
I’m an Englishman in New York
I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien
I’m an Englishman in New York

Modesty, propriety can lead to notoriety
You could end up as the only one
Gentleness, sobriety are rare in this society
At night a candle’s brighter than the sun

Takes more than combat gear to make a man
Takes more than a license for a gun
Confront your enemies, avoid them when you can
A gentleman will walk but never ru

If “Manners maketh man” as someone said
Then he’s the hero of the day
It takes a man to suffer ignorance and smile
Be yourself no matter what they say [3x]

I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien
I’m an Englishman in New York
I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien
I’m an Englishman in New York

 

7 Day Weekend in Valencia

I took my boss’s words literally and applied them directly to Friday: ‘descansa antes de que comience la locura‘ (rest before the madness starts).  So I spent most of Friday just looking after myself:  swim, gym and eating tapas!  Spent a few hours on my teaching website conversewithchloe.com and was over the moon to discover that my Voovit boxes had arrived from Newcastle, filled with loads of unnecessary teaching gimmicks and random items I’ve collected over the year.  Much to the dismay of the event organiser I decided to bail on the meet-up I’d arranged to attend but literally because of torrential rain.  I was also rather enjoying listening to my new compi, to steal his word for compañero/a de piso, playing the guitar and singing.  He used to be in a band in San Francisco so was recounting tons of tales from times gone by accompanied with his own score of old gypsy songs mixed with modern takes on classics.  My favourite was Mala Mujer. Have a listen here

Saturday involved more of the same, chilling by the pool and almorzando with a new friend.  I was introduced to the Valenbisi scheme (valenbisi.com) which I’d totally recommend to anyone new to the city or just visiting.  It’s only around 30€ for an annual pass and you only pay extra (1€ per hour or so) if you keep the same bike for more than 30 minutes.  It also takes away any worries you may have about your lovely vintage town bici being stolen or getting a flat tyre etc.  One potential problem that’s begun to arise already: getting too ripped too quickly!  I don’t want this new muscle turning to fat over the Christmas holidays!

Disclaimer:  To protect the integrity of the English dictionary and prevent any Spanish natives amongst you referring to skinny 30-something English ladies as ripped, by ripped I mean ‘slightly-less-bingo-winged-and-a-bit-tanned-which-also-helps’.

army

So as a new ‘intercambio’ aficionada, I went to another one on Saturday night.  Fun it was, although I’m not sure it’s the best place to go to improve your Spanish. I’m really not wanting to learn other people’s lexical or pronunciation errors so I might steer clear and just seek out more Spanish amigos, in a 100% non-creepy way, ¡por supuesto!

 

Oh, and the song I referred to was…

 

 

 

 

Keep scrolling, scrolling, scrolling…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Day Weekend – The New York Dolls

 

Well, I wish that I could have myself, a seven-day weekend
Tired of sittin’ on the shelf until the weekend
Friday after school, I pick my baby up
We dance an’ party till Sunday night
That’s the only time I get to hold my baby tight
I wish that there could be a seven-day weekend
I’m gonna make a plea for a seven-day weekend
An’ if it came about, life would be success
I’d run on out an’ have a ball
An’ never go to school at all
Monday, seven picture shows
Tuesday, you know, anything goes
A-Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, too
I’d party an’ Twist the whole week through
All day I dream about a seven-day weekend
I sit an’ scheme an’ scheme an’ scheme
‘Bout a seven-day weekend
The teacher calls my name an’ I’m in another world
I’m just thinkin’ about a seven-day weekend
Yay-yay-yay-yay-yeah
A-well, Monday, a-seven picture shows
You know, Tuesday, yeah, anything goes
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, too
I’d party an’ Twist the whole week through
All day I dream about a seven-day weekend
I sit an’ scheme an’ scheme an’ scheme
‘Bout a seven-day weekend
The teacher calls my name an’ I’m in another world
I’m just thinkin’ about a seven-day weekend
Yeah! A seven-day weekend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One More Cup of Coffee in Valencia

coffee cheers

You know that excited yet ‘where-on-earth-am-I?’ feeling of waking up in a totally new place, usually when you’re on holiday?  Times that by a hundred and it probably describes my 7.30am wake up courtesy of señorita sol pero no me quejé – I didn’t complain.  It’s the first time in months I’ve woken up with such urgency and a ridiculous to-do list.  If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from spending a bit of time in Spain a few years ago is that the more you stress about something, the less progress you’ll make; you may as well just succumb to the ‘Spanish way’, chill out and know that everything will happen when it’s meant to.  Besides, the only type of stress I’m entertaining here is in relation to polysyllabic words.

So with a work contract and quick obligatory besos with the new jefe, I made my way to Plaza España in the centre to desayunarTA:  I love the different words for eating in Spain (desayunar, comer, almorzar, merendar, cenar, picar, picotear…)  I guess it reflects the importance of eating regularly, enjoying the whole process, heated discussions, catching up with friends and family.  My Spanish compi thinks that Spain is unique in this way, that in no other culture in the world do you find people eating so late in the evening or dragging out a meal so much.  I argued that Italy was pretty similar but we agreed to disagree on this particular point!  Anyway, the breakfast was muy rico (un café, un zumo de naranja, una tostada con tomate all for 3,20€.  The waiters in the café were very hipster and didn’t one bit the fact that I spent an hour and a half there reading The Handmaid’s Tale (which I highly recommend, for the record!) Through some miracle of Díos  I managed to get my NIE (Numéro de Identidad de Extranjero) and Seguridad Social number in the space of about two hours.  Keep an eye out for another post which will tell you how to do this is you’re moving to Valencia! I’ve met people who’ve had a real pesadilla trying to sort this out because they simply didn’t know what the trámite was.  On my first visit to Valencia this year I was sent to the wrong comisaría as the official I spoke to just assumed that I was from Canada without actually telling me that she had made this assumption.  I ended up in a line for visa/refugee applications for three hours until it dawned on me that something didn’t quite feel right.  I must say that the sad state of affairs that followed was a real eye-opener.  I was only treated with an ounce of respect and dignity once the policeman dealing with my ‘asignación’ saw my British passport.  I wonder two golden the British passport will remain post-Brexit?  Had better get accustomed to the visa queue.  After all, us Brits like queueing, don’t we?

After this, it rained buckets so took shelter for a while and just people-watched.  I went to my first Meet-Up here too later that day, a dinner in a quirky Italian restaurant in Ruzafa (total hipster area) with around 25 other girls.  Pretty nice bunch of open-minded and friendly autónomas who I’d definitely like to get to know more.

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Side notes:

  • Daughter album is out – pretty good but why so many instrumental songs?
  • NIE & SS done – ridiculous sense of achievement
  • Friends made.  Phew!
  • Cabify driver offering lifts ‘particulares’.  Proceed with caution!

 

 

Did you guess the song?

Scroll down to find out!

Bob Dylan – One More Cup of Coffee

Your breath is sweet
Your eyes are like two jewels in the sky
Your back is straight your hair is smooth
On the pillow where you lie
But I don’t sense affection
No gratitude or love
Your loyalty is not to me
But to the stars above

One more cup of coffee for the road
One more cup of coffee ‘fore I go.
To the valley below.

Your daddy he’s an outlaw
And a wanderer by trade
He’ll teach you how to pick and choose
And how to throw the blade
He oversees his kingdom
So no stranger does intrude
His voice it trembles as he calls out
For another plate of food.

One more cup of coffee for the road
One more cup of coffee ‘fore I go.
To the valley below.

Your sister sees the future
Like your mama and yourself
You’ve never learned to read or write
There’s no books upon your shelf
And your pleasure knows no limits
Your voice is like a meadowlark
But your heart is like an ocean
Mysterious and dark.

One more cup of coffee for the road
One more cup of coffee ‘fore I go.
To the valley below.