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Flying back to Spain, Grimble considered their mercifully short UK trip. She was sat in a middle plane seat because she refused to fork out an additional 12€ to sit with her beloved G. He was sat 20 rows back, enjoying the tranquillity of 3 hours grimbleless. He had her iPad and headphones, committing Grimble to a turgid 3 hours of middle seat 2 sided neighbourly chit chat.
Grimble bore her lot patiently as she was partly to blame. She had left G to his own packing. They’d decided not to avail themselves of priority boarding or luggage. Two days of life was in two rucksacks. G had successfully packed underwear, T shirts, his iPad, a sweater and a jacket. Grimble had packed similar, minus any woollens or coats. It was bloody June after all! She’d downloaded Killing Eve series 2 and was ready for her 3 hours of solo travel.
At the airport, G declared his lack of headphones and nothing to watch. He looked forlorn and that expression always brought out the sense of sacrifice in Grimble. Soon a contented G was armed with her headphones and IPad. In his defence, as Grimble shivered on the cold, wet, dismal train platform in Cambridge, he did offer to share his coat or sweater. This was how grown up relationships worked. Clearly, he would have had to remove them from his warm body first.
They were sat apart and going home. G was on episode 6 and on threat of torture were he to reveal any spoilers. The conclusion on the UK? It was fucking expensive and fucking cold.
They paid £3 for olives they expected to get for free. Their meals were tasty enough but Grimble had to wonder how diminutive a Breton chicken actually was when she received what the restaurant claimed to be half of one. Even with a voucher for a free bottle of wine in a French restaurant chain, they still parted with £50. It was lucky that the wine was free as the price ranged from £5 to £8 and you had to decide how much you wanted in your glass before they’d even pour it. Weights and bloody measures. A country confined by wine size regulations.
They’d passed by a Spanish restaurant with a Menu del Dia costing £14.50. At the shock of this, Grimble had taken to social media with a photo. Her Spanish friends did not know where to start with their chagrin. The price, the starter of 1 solitary croqueta, spelt incorrectly or offering breakfast food of churros and chocolate as a desert. It was an offence on every level. It was the equivalent of a restaurant in Spain offering a roast dinner, minus gravy and serving porridge as pudding.
Aggressive begging was rife. In Spain, a beggar might quietly approach a table and request a cigarette. In Seville, she’d been cursed by a gypsy for declining to purchase a dried up piece of rosemary. However, in UK, the begging did beggar all belief. It was a menacing demand for money from characters who were evidently going to use it to inject or drink themselves into oblivion. Naturally, G and Grimble didn’t really want to part with their cash for this purpose. When they politely said no, the beggar’s response was a brutal tirade of abuse and expletives. It was all rather unpleasant and Grimble sadly noted that a significant number of people parted with various coinage to avoid this confrontation.
Grimble missed very little. The weather was shit, the lifestyle expensive and the amount of people rushing around, ridiculous. Maybe G and Grimble viewed their Spanish world through tinto de verano glasses but she was glad that they did.
In many ways, an all inclusive deal was an anathema to Grimble.
It was a surprise to travel 45 minutes from Granada, through the stunning Sierra Nevada, to the coast near Almuñécar for an all inclusive experience.
We have no cossies!
Grimble has checked the facilities at the resort and the pool seemed to be quite a draw. Having planned for a one night city break, G and Grimble had not packed their swimwear.
G didn’t really see the issue. Grimble was adamant. Without swimwear, their all inclusive experience would be incomplete. She suggested a detour to the Nevada shopping mall. G suspected that the extra night was a ruse to get him to call off at the shopping mall.
Heading to Nevada
They arrived early at Nevada with only the cafes open. This had been the plan. She knew that a fed G would have shopping mall stamina.
They made a pledge not to be diverted but to focus on the need for swimwear. A one stop shop: Primark, Spain. Given all inclusive check in was 2pm, with a bit of wiggle room, this gave them 3 hours there.
G had a love:hate relationship with the big P. He accepted it was the cheapest place to purchase decent shorts and disposable T shirts. He refused to carry their bags though, meaning Grimble trailed behind him with a large, self destruct paper bag in tow. It was a small price to pay in Grimble’s opinion.
Grimble knew Primark hangers rarely displayed the correct product or size.
Labelling meant nothing. Extra large could be anywhere from size 20 to 6. The trick was to look at the item and to brave the changing room queue.
After 2 hours, they were done. They were well within schedule and battling with a large paper bag, they departed the store and mall.
Not quite all inclusive
They pulled up outside the massive Bahia Palace Resort which overshadowed the tiny cove. The parking garage was not part of the all inclusive deal, so Grimble checked them in and agreed to the extra 9€.
At reception, there was a number of additions to the all inclusive deal: drinks packages, WiFi charges, spa access. Perhaps this wasn’t going to be quite the bargain. They had their lunch included but service ended at 3pm. Check in was from 2pm which left them an hour to park, find their room and freshen up.
The room was not quite what Grimble believed she had booked. It was minus a balcony. She insisted that they lug all their possessions back to reception so she could argue. This made their lunch time challenge more dramatic. Reception suddenly turned Andalusian ignoring any attempt at dispute. The receptionist encouraged them to go for lunch as they were against the ticking clock.
They agreed. The food was adequate and, at 2.20pm, still plentiful. Drinks were costly: 2€ for a 30c bottle of water and 2.50€ for the smallest shandy ever. Over lunch, they decided that room protest was futile. It would waste time for no result. They had to accept that as overnighters they were not worthy of a balcony or terrace.
All inclusive plus
Grimble tried to purchase a drinks package. 7.50€ for a bottle of wine and 2 waters but these drinks were for the room only. She decided that buying a cheap red to drink in a balcony less room was too sad to contemplate. Instead she placed the 20€ deposit for 2 beach towels which, given their tatty state, she should have been paid to dispose of.
Returning to the room, G was already in the depth of siesta. This negated his need to purchase swimwear. Leaving his towel behind, she set off to locate the adult only sun terrace. This tiny terrace was packed with people trying to avoid, like the plague, anything under the age of 14. Given that the only guests they’d seen arrive were 2 Saga coach parties this seemed quite futile.
Grimble looked longingly from the noisy adult terrace to the deserted beach and the Chirunguito were the sea lapped the tables. Her need to escape was overwhelming. She decided G and her would avail themselves of a sunset by the beach. She was financially savvy enough to know they’d need to be back in time for their inclusive dinner buffet.
Let the evening entertainment begin
With a nice wine buzz of 2 glasses of decent red at a palatable 2€ and a stunning view, they again entered the all inclusive world. The food, whilst different, was very much the same. Grimble wondered how anyone coped with this level of predictability for more than a couple of nights.
Attracted to a glitter ball in the aptly named Ingles Bar, they decided to chance entertainment. They didn’t expect it to be banging given the age profile of the guests. But they hoped for something half decent.
On stage, a solitary man was playing a key board which made every tune sound like 1970s europop. By his side were 2 saxophones. He interspersed his painful singing key board set with instrumentals. These were marginally less offensive as he couldn’t sing and play sax. G and Grimble usually played guess that tune but these renditions were indecipherable.
There was shuffling from the seats. A few elderly folk occupied the floor. The scene was a mix between a zombie invasion, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and an OAP home. They decided it was all too much and departed. Their good night’s sleep was only disturbed by snoring. For once it wasn’t their own, but the room next door.
A hasty retreat
The plan had been to poolside until the 12pm departure but, after their third buffet in 24 hours, they just wanted to leave. Grimble hesitantly suggested Almuñécar weekly market and G was so relieved to escape the rigidity of the all inclusive he readily agreed. They settled their additional bill and drove off, leaving their time warped all inclusive to memory.
Ok, so it wasn’t strictly true that G and Grimble were on permanent holiday. It was hard to believe this was real life though. Morning coffee was taken on a terrace overlooking the hills and sea. Lunch was enjoyed as they peacefully viewed a hilltop fort and Buddhist Stupa. Writing blogs took place by the pool. This was the location of every holiday they’d ever had, but now it was real life. It was theirs and, whilst they knew they’d worked for this reality, they did keep pinching themselves. Well, G kept pinching an irritable Grimble.
The travel bug
Grimble still had an urge to travel. Her first tentative travel inquiries had been in late March around G’s birthday. She had asked him how he’d like to spend the celebration moment. Her suggestion had been a short flight to Ibiza, Tenerife or Mallorca and to spend a few days at the beach.
G looked perplexed. He failed to understand why he needed to take a flight to travel to a location that was incredibly similar to where he now resided. The option of travelling somewhere cold was not one Grimble was going to entertain. If she wanted to travel, she’d have to prepare a far cleverer plan.
Finally, Grimble decided they should take a mini break. In fact, her new plan was to spend a night away each month, at a yet to be decided location, within a 2 hours drive away. G thought that this was a splendid idea. They looked at a map online and discussed several options. In the end, they settled on Granada, 90 minutes from home.
Grimbling in Granada
This would be G’s first trip there. They decided not to do the traditional tourist thing. So, no Alhambra, no interior of the Cathedral and a time limit walking through the heavily overpriced market. Instead, they would soak up the atmosphere, doing what they did best, sitting in cafes and bars. Of course, Granada had a great advantage: bars feed you tapas for free. Every drink was delivered with some pretty palatable plates to share.
Their hotel was a sheer joy. The Albadia, a 15th century courtyard home, looked like nothing from the street but was awash with character and flowers within. Plus, it had secure and cheap car parking. It was located in the University area which is where they decided to spend the evening. There seemed little point strolling to bars thronged with tourists when they had great opportunities on the doorstep. Grimble liked to go native whenever she could. This location offered that opportunity.
The discovery of the night was the bar/hostel Lemon Rock. It was funkily decorated with kitsch, metal and art. Plus, it had great wine and a blues style singer. They enjoyed a few decent glasses of red served with awesome tapas and soaked up the vibe.
G was really taken by Granada. Grimble had only presented him with two shops: a flying visit to a dress shop and a vintage clothing shop, where he’d bought a classic Hawaiian shirt. They were eager to extend their stay another night but there was no room at the Abadia.
This left them in a bit of a quandary. They wanted to prolong their break but not travel much further afield. It was either the mountains or the coast. The coast won with a great special offer on an all inclusive hotel by the beach. There was a sense of trepidation but, what the hell! They were still out of season, so surely it couldn’t be so bad?
They now been in Spain for just over 3 months. It definitely felt like home. They’d taken on the Spanish bureaucracy challenge. So far, so good.
In need of a NIE
G’s NIE was applied for and received within a week of arrival. Grimble already hers, sort of though, carelessly, she’d lost the official documentation. The NIE was more than just a number. It was evidence of existence. Without it, you couldn’t even purchase a SIM card for the phone. Grimble had the number just not the paper. In a country where paperwork had more bearing on life than the Catholic Church this could present issues.
Perplexed by the padron
The Padron from the town hall in Canillas was paperwork challenge number two. Canillas was their district. Why wouldn’t it be? It was further away than the town halls of Viñuela, Velez Malaga or Alcaucin and up a monster hill. It stood to reason it would be here. The Padron was the equivalent of the electoral roll. Being listed allowed the town hall to apply for additional funds for the ever increasing population. That seemed advantageous for all and should have been straightforward.
In the pouring, torrential rain, armed with a poly pocket of all the paperwork they possessed , they arrived at the town hall. The woman behind the desk immediately tried to thwart their plans. She claimed they needed their landlady (currently working in China) with them. Grimble stood fast to no avail. She’d checked the government website. Not that the official rules and regulations actually necessarily applied in small town Andalucia.
Social media everywhere
She stormed out to the local cafe, where G and Grimble had a restorative coffee. Deftly, Grimble commenced a social media Spanish dialogue with Canillas town hall.
The faceless Messenger discussion tried to back up the receptionist. Grimble was having none of it. She wasn’t descending that cunting hill, now akin to a waterfall, without the sodding Padron. She stood her ground, despite the evident language barrier and mentioned Madrid, official forms, the fact that they were still EU citizens. There was a brief Andalucian digression on the subject of work opportunities in China and they were told to return to reception.
Back at the town hall, the receptionist acted like she’d never seen them before. She took all their paperwork and processed the Padron with a smile.
The only remaining dispute was which area Grimble had lived In Sevilla, previously. Despite a photocopy of the lost documents clearly stating Alameda and Grimble confirming it, the woman denied any such location existed. The only Alameda was in Malaga, no other existed. Grimble realised it was futile to argue further even though the Sevilla Alameda was known throughout Europe as party central Andalucia and succumbed to the receptionist’s greater wisdom on the barrios of Andalusian cities.
She claimed the town hall would email them when they could collect the papers but Grimble knew this was falsehood. Two weeks later, she used Messenger again and was told of course the forms were ready.
Overall, the official documents had been less onerous than anticipated. Grimble still had to get a new residencia card with a new address. However, even a trip to the police station to do a denuncia, denouncing herself and her stupidity losing vital documents, had been mercifully swift. Her date to meet officials to reissue the papers had been set.