This time when we got on the road, we had an easier time navigating out of Granada… after all we had driven around and around so many times the night before, that we almost knew it “like the back of our hand,” as they say. A quick map recon, and we were on the open road. This would be an easy ride, and we were excited to get to The Casa and see if everything was okay there. The house had been closed up since the end of January, and we had no idea if we would find any surprises when we opened the front door – we hoped not!!
Timing is everything when you are traveling, and we had to plan ahead: We wanted to get some groceries to have on hand for tomorrow’s breakfast, but we knew that stores would be closed by the time we got to Arboleas. So we stopped in Baza, which is about an hour from the house and right on our way. It was perfect. We stopped at the Lidl
and picked up things like coffee, bread, butter, peach jam, milk and cereal. We also needed some creamer for the coffee, but I have to say that was quite the challenge. There is no “creamer section” in the grocery stores in Spain. Most people use regular milk, I believe, but we are partial to the creamy goodness (read into that: fatness) of half and half. This put us in a real quandary. They had some cream for whipping and then some for cooking. We chose the one for whipping and hoped for the best! Then we were back on the road.
The next thing to think about was the fact that we were getting pretty hungry. We assessed the grocery situation and decide to eat before going to the house. You may be thinking we were crazy driving an hour and then going to eat before putting our groceries in the refrigerator, but the thing is that milk products are pasteurized differently in Europe. They undergo ultra-high temperature pasteurization in which the milk is heated to around 280 degrees but for a really short time. This process allows the milk to be shelf stable and can be stored unrefrigerated for a long period of time. Once it’s opened, you do want to refrigerate it, but it stays fresh longer. I was reading that some people say the milk doesn’t taste as good, but we found it to be real tasty. You can buy whole, low fat, or fat free. It seems that the low fat milk is 5% so it is creamier than low fat milk here in the states. I was already familiar with the whole unrefrigerated milk product situation, so it wasn’t weird to me, but I guess some people think it’s really strange… whatever… I think people who are super finicky are really strange, so touché! The ironic thing is that people here in the states especially those buying organic milk, have already been drinking UHT milk, but it’s sold in the refrigerated section so as not to creep out the Americans. (That’s my fun fact of the day!)
So because of the unrefrigerated milk products, the only thing we had to worry about was the butter. No one wants to return to a big melted mess, but we had purchased real butter (not margarine, people!) and it is sold in a single rectangular block, not four sticks, so knowing what we know about science and larger solids holding temperatures for a longer time, we were able to have dinner and not worry about the butter melting.
We drove over to Albox and visited the restaurant Triana for the usual 5,50 euro chicken meal. We have done this now each time we arrive in town, and it’s a good safe bet as far as a filling meal for a decent price. We were eager to get to the house, but things do move slowly in Spain, and we likened our waitress to a turtle, moving slowly… very slowly. You have to understand that in Spain, people don’t rush into a restaurant, shove the food down their gullets, and leave — it’s a slow process — you sit, you chat, you eat, you chat, you have a coffee, you chat…. keep in mind that the wait staff do not expect tips, so honestly it does not matter how long you stay. No one is rushing you out the door so they can turn the table over for the next customer. It’s very nice actually, to feel no pressure to finish your meal. Not like here in the States where a waitress once asked me, as I had my fork midway to my mouth on maybe the third bite of my main entrée, if I had “saved room for dessert.” I told her I’d have to let her know after I actually had a chance to eat my main course… sheesh. As I said, no worries about that in Spain, but on this occasion we were chomping at the bit to get to the house!
Good meal finished, we said “adios” to the waitress, and drove home. You have no idea how glorious it was to NOT be lost! We found the house in perfect shape. No big surprises! We just had to plug in the refrigerator and we were ready to hit the hay!