Three weeks ago, we arrived from the U.S. to live in a vineyard in Spain. We made the decision to make this move only six months earlier. How and why did we do this you may ask…well, let me tell you the story.
We have been spending our yearly vacations in Sitges, Spain for the past five years. A place where my husband had lived for a year back in 1992 and truthfully, he never wanted to leave. Thankfully he did or we would have never met. Sitges is a lovely coastal town about 35km southwest of Barcelona. A magical place that is both cosmopolitan and traditional but more on that later.
Our dream has been to live here ‘someday’ but we start thinking that we might make it happen at the end of 2017. Last September while here on vacation we decided to research what it would take to make the move. We knew we would need private health insurance and inquired in an insurance agency on Friday when we arrived. Like all health insurance the first question was how old we both were. When Bob told them he was 69 years old but would be 70 on Tuesday we were informed that we need to purchase the insurance straightaway as you cannot purchase it once you turn 70. If you have insurance you have it forever but you cannot purchase it once your 70th birthday arrives. Although this sounded legit we also thought this may just be a typical insurance salesman so we left and decided to research further. We talked to our friend Xavi about this and he said that his cousin worked at the Sitges branch of La Caixa bank (yes, you buy insurance at the bank) and he would take us there to discuss. On Monday morning we had an appointment booked with an immigration lawyer (abogado) in Barcelona. She confirmed that indeed we would need to purchase health insurance before Bob turned 70…meaning that day. No problem we will do it later that afternoon. Following the abogado we meet our friend, Gemma, (the celebrant who renewed our wedding vows in Sitges in February 2016) for lunch. At 1:30pm Xavi phones asking where we are as we need to get to the bank before they close. Knowing that everything shuts for a long lunch but then reopens, Bob asked what time the bank reopens. It doesn’t! The bank closes at 2pm. Ugh. If we don’t get the health insurance then we cannot move here. Dream coming to a quick end. Gemma said that her friend is the director of La Caixa Bank here in Barcelona and phoned her to explain our dilemma. At 3pm Gemma’s friend and her assistant, Roger, open the bank just for us. As Roger was entering our information he discovers that when Bob lived here in ’92 his bank account was at La Caixa bank. This makes things even easier. So, two hours later we walk out of the bank with health insurance and a bank account. Phew.
While wandering around Sitges we were constantly looking at photos in realtor’s office windows…just to get an idea about housing and where we want to live. As much as we love Sitges, we know we do not want to live in town as it is both a party atmosphere and expensive. On Saturday, we stop at one window and look at photos of this rustic old casa located in Viladellops. Wait! We know that name! Viladellops, is a very special place to our friend Xavi, and in 2015 he took us there. A hilltop vineyard ten minutes inland from Sitges. Although we weren’t thinking of moving until the end of the year we decided to go look at it. Hanna showed us Torre Casa and we loved it. I remember saying several times that it was perfect for us. She told us another couple had looked at it and were sure to take it. We asked how often places become available and she told us not often. People tend to stay for years. Oh well. I snapped a few photos and we went on our way. We told Xavi about it and as the owner of Finca Viladellops, Marcelo, is a friend of his he phoned him about us. Xavi phones us to tell us good news and bad news. The other couple has decided to rent Torre Casa (bad news) but Marcelo would like to meet with us (good news). On Thursday, the day before we head back home, we meet with Marcelo and he shows us photos of another casa that may become available in March. Different than Torre Casa but still very nice. We agree to keep in touch and see what happens over the next few months.
That night we go to Xavi’s restaurant, Alfresco, for our farewell dinner. We return to our hotel, The Dolce Sitges, at 11:30pm and six minutes later there is a text from Marcelo. “I want you to live in my village.” He will come to meet us at the airport or wherever we want in the morning to discuss before we fly out. So at 9:00am he meets us at the hotel. He would rather rent Torre Casa to us than the other couple. He cannot leave the place vacant and nor can we afford to pay rent out for 6 months. We come to an agreement and he asks if we need time to discuss with each other. We look at each other and say “no, we are good” and shook hands on the deal! Bob and I head back to our hotel room where I go out on the balcony and say over and over “OMG OMG OMG we are moving to Spain in 6 months!”