We arrive at the airport with our six suitcases and four carry-on bags and hope it will all fit in our rental car. Our friend Marc is supposed to meet us but we never find each other. We go to Marc’s restaurant, El Tros thinking maybe he is there. He is not as he is still looking for us at the airport. His lovely sisters, Marta and Anna are there and are so welcoming. The Vacarro family are truly our family. After coffee we head to our new home.
One of the things we did in September was visit a bed shop and get quotes on beds. We ordered one in December knowing that it would take 20 days to make. It is the only piece of furniture we have when we arrive. Thankfully, Xavi has left us sheets and blankets; towels; a tablecloth and napkins; cutlery; wine glasses; cava glasses and a bottle of cava. Welcome home.
The casa is much better than we remembered. Even though we had measurements the rooms are larger than we remember. The wardrobes are much bigger thankfully! We are so excited to make this home.
After a much needed shower and unpacking a few things we head back to El Tros to catch up with Marc. Marc and Xavi seem to know everybody in town and where to get things done. We make arrangements with Marc to meet him Saturday morning to go to his friend’s second-hand store to look for a fridge.
Time for a fabulous dinner to celebrate at Alfresco. Xavi has been an incredible support through the past six months and it’s great to see him and celebrate this crazy move. Unfortunately, at the end of the evening Bob gets a call from the attorneys from one of his expert witness cases saying they need an affidavit to them for a court case on Tuesday. With no WiFi at the house yet this will be a challenge.
On Saturday Marc takes us to see his friend Gemma at La Nau. We find a second-hand Bosch fridge for 95€ (about $100) and it can be delivered that day. Sweet. We also find a dresser and bedside tables; an outdoor table which we will use inside for now; 4 chairs; a desk and file drawer and a Bosch dryer (which needs a major clean but turns out to be quite a deal). Then upstairs to Hiper Sitges, the Chinese version of Walmart. Get some necessities to keep us going until our shipment arrives – no, our plan for it to be here when we arrive didn’t pan out but this turns out to be a good thing.
We shop at three different grocery stores trying to find things we need. Sadly, we are unable to find Alfredo sauce anywhere so looks like we will have to make that from scratch. Shopping is an adventure in itself. We get used to buying brands that we know and trust. Or we try ones that we have seen advertised. Well, that all goes out the window when you are in a new country. Nothing is familiar and the labels are in Spanish which we are still learning.
Sunday is a day to unpack and set up the house a bit. Then a long walk on the beach and promenade. Dinner at SuperPollo a part of Sitges since 1965 – great rotisserie chicken.
Monday arrives and we are able to use the WiFi at the winery office. Bob is busy drafting his affidavit that the attorneys need by Tuesday. We will need to get it notarized so we head into Sitges to the notary office. They will not notarize U.S. court documents so we will have to take it to the U.S. Consulate office in Barcelona where we have an appointment on Tuesday morning.
Tuesday morning we are off to the U.S. Consulate in Barcelona so that Bob can apply for a U.S. passport. What a wonderful experience. The staff are so friendly and helpful. We are told that his passport will be ready in 7-10 days…a far cry from the 8 weeks it would have taken us in the U.S. They notarize his affidavit and tell us that we can obtain a Baja Consular for Spanish Customs once his passport is obtained. We then go to our bank to pick up our health insurance cards and order debit cards and obtain the document showing our bank balance which we need for our residency.
Wednesday we make contact with Xavi’s friend, Emma, who is going to help us with obtaining our residency and NIE. She works magic and schedules an appointment with the police on Monday. Bob will be able to get his residency but I am still waiting on my Irish passport so I will only be able to get my NIE. Although we did a lot of research and asked a lot of questions no one ever mentioned the NIE and how you need it for everything. It is similar to the U.S. social security number.
That afternoon we go with Xavi, as our interpreter, to the phone store to buy new mobile phones and set up internet, and cable for the house. Package for 2 mobile phone lines, home phone, internet and TV for about 130€ per month. So much cheaper than what we paid in America. Of course they say they cannot finalize the order until we have our NIEs. They take copies of our passports and end up calling us later that night to say everything is a go.
Thursday we head back to the phone store where we find out that we cannot purchase phones on a monthly payment plan without the NIE which we should get Monday. But we do get the SIM cards and our phone numbers and some day someone will come and install the home internet. For now we go to the winery office or El Tros for WiFi. Being pretty much unplugged is refreshing but also frustrating as Bob has work to do and I am anxious to get this blog started. Patience is a virtue. We take nightly walks through the vineyard which helps us let go of the frustrations at least temporarily. It is during these walks that we say to each other…”We live here”.
Friday we send more documentation to Emma for our residency. Already it is becoming an ongoing joke with us that there is always just one more document needed for everything that we are trying to do. Because we are still without our belongings we do not have a printer or scanner. Thankfully Hannah and Marcelo here at Viladellops are extremely helpful. We also make many trips to Mail Boxes Etc. in Sitges. I am trying to get a document (not U.S. court related) notarized but the local notary said it will cost 90€; an additional form and oh it will be sometime next week when they can do it. Never mind, we will take it to the U.S. Consulate when we pick up Bob’s passport.
Bob spends 30 minutes on the phone with Avis trying to extend our car rental. First with Avis in the U.S. then in Spain. He is told that he needs to go back to Barcelona airport to extend it as they cannot do it over the phone. We had hoped to buy a used car by now but that hasn’t happened and as we have found out we couldn’t purchase one without the NIE. See…you are laughing about that now aren’t you?!
We go to buy sheets for our bed – we couldn’t ship any as the bed is metric so not a normal queen bed that we could buy sheets for in America. While at the bed store we find a sofa cama (sofa bed) that we love. We ordered it and of course he asked for our NIE. No worries we will have one before it is delivered as it will take 20 days to make and deliver.
Bob is working on some expert witness cases and the lawyers are struggling with the time difference but after a couple of calls they seem to get it.
Marcelo loans us a portable WiFi so we have internet at home. At least now we can send and receive emails. All a bit slow but hey…we are in the middle of a vineyard and life is meant to be slower here.
Saturday we set the alarm – something I have not missed at all. We go to the airport to extend the car and thankfully it was a very easy process. We then head to Vilanova to look at used cars. We find it interesting that new car dealerships are not open on the weekend here. So different than in America. We go to Terracar where we meet Pedro. He speaks Spanish and German and we speak English and a little Spanish. No problem we manage to communicate. We find a ’04 Ford Focus that is in mint condition…not even a dent which is extremely rare here as parking is so tight that you just accept your car will be dented. It has about 80k miles and is exactly what we want to pay. We hope our friends that will visit us appreciate that we have bought a four-door car for the first time. Of course Pedro needs the NIE and wants to service the car and update the registration before we take it away. We agree to pick it up at 6pm the following Tuesday.
Sunday is a lazy day doing some chores around the house. Marta (El Tros) and her family stop by for a visit after a long walk. Viladellops is a popular place for people to bike, hike and walk…a place to de-stress.
And this is just the first week.