Christine.in.Spain: Spain Travel Blog

Sep 26

That Little Thing Called Reverse Culture-Shock

Yes, it’s real. And I don’t know if it comes as more of a shock or an expectation, but there’s no avoiding it. It hit me nearly as soon as I got off of the plane and was enveloped in the U.S. of A and all of its American-ness. Starbucks on every corner! Friendly customer service! Big portions! Yikes—coming fresh from the land of tiny tapas, a completely different coffee culture (to-go cups be damned) and fairly non-existent customer service, I needed a few days to decompress a bit.

First, there’s English. Oh, my sweet mother-tongue that I can understand without effort! I’m reminded of how back in my adopted country I can shut out Spanish and nearby conversations with much more ease. Here, it takes a conscious effort. Here, conversations I really don’t want to listen to are assaulting my ears. 

Now Spain, and the States, while different, aren’t so different as say, the States and Morocco. So, my reverse culture shock is definitely more about the little things. Like the time I went to the grocery store and marveled at the fact that we not only have peanut butter here, but like, 15 different kinds of it. There’s crunchy peanut butter, organic peanut butter, PB&J peanut butter…and probably peanut butter made with free-range peanuts. :) There’s so much choice here, it’s overwhelming.

Then, there’s driving. I don’t drive in Spain, but I do when I’m home. Even driving again is weird, I always feel nervous the first day or two like I’m going to forget how to do it…then I’m just so happy I don’t have to take public transport everywhere that driving becomes an absolute joy.

There’s also SO many more ways to spend money here, that just don’t tempt me back in Spain…Target, I’m looking at you! It doesn’t help that Dollar to Euro conversion is in my favor and everything is cheaper here…but I digress.

Reverse culture shock does exist, people.

According to Wikipedia, these are the symptoms of reverse culture shock:

You see that one third from the bottom about eating? Ohh, yeah, compulsive eating. While my eating habits aren’t compulsive, they are really enthusiastic…so stay tuned for an “American Diet” post coming to the blog at the conclusion of my trip where you can see all of the delicious things I’ve been gorging myself on enjoying while home. :)

Have you experienced reverse culture shock? How did you deal with it?

*This post was made possible by liligo.es, a site for searching for and booking flights. 

Sep 25

An Afternoon in Elche, The City of Palms

Going to Elche was never a planned-out thing, but, I was in the area and decided to drop in for the day and see what Valencia’s third-largest city had to offer. It was mid-day, scorching and the streets were empty—all things that wouldn’t necessarily make me fall in love with a place—but despite everything Elche had going against it, it has pockets of charm to be found by the patient explorer.

Since Spain has no shortage of vibrant cities and pretty, small towns, Elche wouldn’t top the list of place I’d recommend visiting—but, if you’re a history buff, or architecture aficionado, you’ll find plenty of reason to book a hotel in Spain and let Elche’s subtle charm endear you.

The Tower of the Basilica. It is said that King Amadeus I called Elche “a wonderful city” upon climbing to the top of the tower and taking in the panoramic views. I myself didn’t enter the church nor visit the top (General: €2; reduced: €1 (groups, minimum 20 people) but was intrigued to learn that it was built over the foundations of a Mosque. Moorish Spain intrigues me to no end, and I love finding little remnants of this part of Spain’s history.

Altamira Castle. Built in the 12th and 13th Centuries, this castle has been a prison during the Spanish Civil War, a fabric plant in 1913, a town hall, and presently, the Archaeology and History Museum. Clearly, on a 38C/100F day, I was more interested in cooling off in the fountains pictured.

The Municipal Park. Before Elche was a sprawling concrete jungle, it was 80% overrun by palm trees. In the (free!) Municipal Park, you’ll find the Tourism Office on the corner, by the entrance where you can scoop up a free map and some insider info. Head in, enjoy the shade (or sunshine, depending on what time of the year you’re visiting!) and marvel at the groves of towering palm trees that Elche is famous for.


*This post was written by me, and sponsored by a third-party.

Sep 12

Scenes from Alicante

When a place can combine being near the ocean and qualify in size, culture, dining options, etc. as a city—chances are, I’ll like it. Alicante was no exception. It’s a mid-sized city stretched out along the Mediterranean coast, famous for its gorgeous year-round weather and abundance of seafood-heavy rice dishes

It’s full of palm-tree-lined boulevards, open-air cafés and a thriving nightlife—something all too-typical (and wonderful) about Spain. 

My biggest mistake was not booking vacation home rentals in the area and making my visit longer than a day-trip. But, I did fit in:

Walking around the Old Quarter, which is almost always the most interesting part (read: full of character) in any of Spain’s cities.

 

Eating the local favorite, arroz a banda and what might be in the Top 3 bowls of Gazpacho I’ve had in Spain at El Buen Comer (C/Mayor, 8).

Enjoying the city’s beach. I went in August and welcomed the cool breeze and people-watching, but I have a feeling Alicante’s boardwalk is full year-round, as long as the sun is out.

Checking out the port and marina. Because a little day-dreaming of what having a little boat or yacht would be like doesn’t hurt, right?

Seeking the shade in city parks and under palm trees. Though it’s cooler than in-land Spain, Alicante is still HOT in the summer. Parks are always my refuge from the heat.

Taking a gelato break in one of their many, cool cafés. Is it just me, or is gelato a daily sacred ritual while on a summer vay-cay?

Have you been to/heard of Alicante?

*This post, while written by me, was made possible by a 3rd party.*