Tag Archives: Albox

An evening drive

An evening drive

When we were house hunting, we had been ga-ga over a very remote house, but our low-ball offer was refused, and that is what led us to buy our current casa. Every day, as we are cooking in our kitchen, or enjoying the terraces, or waking up and looking out over the mountains in the distance, we say: “Aren’t you so glad we bought this one?” But today we decided to take a drive out to the other house, to look at it with different eyes. The eyes of owners of a wonderful spanish house, instead of the eyes of two crazy Americans who thought that buying a fixer-upper in the middle of no where would be a good idea.

We drove all the way out there and kept saying, “Oh my gosh, this is far from town!” The hamlet seemed sad and had just a few inhabited houses. The rest are vacant. Some were closed up and look like the owners haven’t been around in a while. There weren’t any people around. It was pretty quiet — not even barking dogs.

The countryside is beautiful out there, but seeing how kind of sad and dreary it was just confirmed that buying our reformed 300 year old casa on the edge of town was the best decision for us. After taking it all in, there wasn’t much to do, and Curt wasn’t feeling like walking among the houses, so we started to make our way out of the hamlet. We did pass by some grapes along the narrow road beside a house that had chained up gates, so I rolled down the window and let a few “fall in my lap.”

Grapes from Los Utreras

Grapes from Los Utreras

After this excursion, we went back to Albox and stopped at the Lidl. We wanted to go back to the beach before leaving Spain and were looking for an umbrella to shield us from the sun. It turns out that we hit the jackpot at this Lidl because not only did we find our beach umbrella, but also a shower rack that we had been looking for. Lidl is a grocery store, but in the center of the store they sell all sorts or random things like shoes, toasters, toys, etc. We picked up a few other food items while we were there. One thing I was so curious about was this melon. We had been seeing it in all the stores, but I had no idea what it would be like inside. It’s called Piel de Sapo, which means, literally, skin of toad. I guess the skin does really look like a toad’s skin!

Piel de Sapo melon

Piel de Sapo melon.
Similar to our Honeydew melon.

 

New homeowners

New homeowners

We rode back from Vera new homeowners. How exciting is THAT?? Andrea took us back to the Hostel Meson. We gathered up our luggage from the front desk and thought we’d better stop at the store because we needed to get some groceries. If we went to the house first, we wouldn’t want to get out and shop, because we’d be too busy nosing around our new place! We drove over to Albox to the Mercadona. There is a smaller grocery store right beside the Hostal Meson, but the we were familiar with the Mercadona and since it is larger, we knew it would have everything we needed.

Mercadona

Shopping!

They have these funny little carts that look like baskets, but the handle pops up and you pull it along like a wagon. I kind of got a kick out of those. It was funny because when we were checking out, the girl asked if we needed bags for our groceries. I actually had brought some shopping bags with us, but they were still packed in the luggage, so we told her yes. So she pulled out one… then asked if we needed more… well, yes, we had more groceries than would fit in one, so we told her, yes, please… then she asked how many. Goodness gracious! She works there every day, we thought, can’t she guess what we might need to sack these items? It wasn’t until afterward that we realized that the store charges 5 cents for each bag, so it makes sense that she wasn’t just handing them out. Live and learn…

We drove back to our house, and took a few pictures of ourselves in front of the door. I had to put the camera on the top of the car to get a picture of the two of us, so it has a weird reflection, but I had to improvise!

New homeowners

In front of our Spanish casa!

Curt

For real, he isn’t always so serious…

Keys

“You have the keys, right?”
(sooo funny)

Unlocking the door

Unlocking the door for the first time

When we got into the house, it was just like it was when we viewed the property in September. The owner had left almost everything, including artwork on the walls, so it wasn’t as if we were coming into an empty shell of a house. When we went into the kitchen we were so happy to find plates, utensils, pots and pans, glasses, and even cleaning products! What a relief! I thought we might have to spend a day dropping a bunch of euros at the IKEA an hour away in Murcia, but now we wouldn’t have to!

After having a good look around, we unloaded our haul from Mercadona…

Groceries

About 30 euros

Washing up

Getting all domestic

… and we made ourselves a snack of chorizo, cheese, bread, and a clara.

Ready for tapas

I’m ready for tapas!

Lots of looking around ensued after that. We browsed through the photo album and papers that Bob left and we could see what the house looked like before and during the renovation. It was quite an amazing transformation! (I’ll post some pictures of that in the future.) I had brought one extra piece of luggage that I put in checked baggage. I filled that bag with sheets, pillows, towels, a gigantic comforter, and big bottles of things like shampoo and contact lens solution that I would leave at the house. I got to unpacking all that; getting sheets on the bed and towels in the bathrooms. It didn’t take too long to get the place all homey!

In Arboleas

In Arboleas

We checked in to the Hostal Meson, and wanted to walk over to the house since it was literally a five minute walk from our hotel. It was getting dark, but we were eager to snoop around. We got to the house (Thank you GoogleMaps for allowing me to memorize the walk to the house!) and we were surprised to see lights on, and the shutters open.

Before continuing your read, I’d like to invite you to click this link to open up a new window and enjoy some background music… it will add to the experience.

As we walked up to the house (and I hope you are listening to the music!!) We heard drumming. Yes, drumming. You have got to be kidding. We buy a house in Spain, in a small village in SPAIN for goodness sake, and someone is practicing the DRUMS at night?? It was coming from the house directly in front of us. I was ready to scream. How could this BE?? Would we be tormented by the drumming every day? Every night?? We tried to block it out of our minds, but much like this Iron Butterfly Ina-Gadda-Da-Vida drum solo that you should be listening to, it just seemed to go on forever.

We had been curious as to what the owner was leaving with the house, because although we had an inventory list of all the furniture, we really had no idea if he was leaving small kitchen items and what not. We peeked in the downstairs bathroom window and could see that he had left all necessities (even toilet paper, hand soap, and a clean hand towel hanging on the rod!) This was exciting to see because we knew then that we might not have to buy everything under the sun for our stay. No one was in the house, so we were curious as to why the lights were on and the shutters open, but we were happy that we got to peek into the downstairs bedroom and bathroom! It was really getting dark, the drumming was continuing, and our stomachs were starting to growl, so we decided to take a drive over to Albox, which is just a few minutes away and get a bite to eat.

Triana is a little restaurant that was recommended to us when we stayed at Casa Olivos in September. It is open late and you can get a chicken dinner for right around 6 Euros! That’s a super deal.

Meal at Triana in Albox

Yum!

The first time we were there, Curt tipped the waitress, and I think she was super excited about that because she brought us an after dinner drink afterward. In Spain, it really is not customary or expected to tip. If you do leave a tip, it is typically your change to even out your tab, but it isn’t like here in the States. The server is not miffed to not receive a tip, but of course tickled pink (as our waitress was, because we were clueless.)

One thing we were tickled pink about was that it seemed as if the smoking ban in restaurants was now being enforced. There was a sign stating that there was no smoking allowed in the restaurant. Like I mentioned before, there are A LOT of smokers in Europe, and we are quite spoiled here in the US to be able to eat in a smoke free environment all the time.

We finished our meal and made our way back to the Hostal Meson. Lucas, our Spanish lawyer, had managed to get the notary to agree to do the closing with Curt’s NIE and not mine, as long as we would go to the foreigner’s office in Almeria and get my NIE and file it with the notary within 30 days. This was a huge relief because we would not be rushing tomorrow and stressing about getting the needed documents in time for the completion. Andrea was meeting us at the Hostal Meson at 10 a.m. and would be driving us to the bank in Vera to sort out our funds. We needed a good night’s rest because tomorrow was going to be a big day!!

Albox

Albox

Even though we were feeling under the weather, we decided to stroll around Albox and investigate this quaint town. Every town has a “Plaza Mayor” and this one was really lovely.

There was a beautiful church at one end of the plaza, and we went in to see the architecture and take some pictures. It was truly beautiful. It always amazes me to see how intricate the design of a small town church is in Europe and here in the States our modern churches are so “cookie cutter.”

Eglésia de Santa Maria

 

We left the church and sat on a bench in front on the Plaza Mayor to relax. A lot of people started arriving and we wondered what was going on because it seemed an odd time for Mass. Soon we realized people were arriving for a funeral service and so we left the bench and walked around the town. Albox is a typical little Andalucian town, with beautiful winding streets covered in mosaic tile.

Gorgeous door

 

Tiles on the wall of a building along one of the side streets in Albox

This picture below is the coat of arms for the city of Albox. We thought it was very interesting because it depicts the fruit trees which are so abundant here, but it also shows a representation of the river which is now a totally dry riverbed. The only time there is water in the riverbed is during a rain, but then it quickly dries up again. We were baffled by this because it is said that long ago people came and fished on the banks of the river Almanzora, but now it is only a dry and dusty rambla. How did this happen? One woman told us that Franco dammed the river to stop the peasants from having access to water for their crops, but try as I have to validate or dispute this, I can find no information one way or another. Anything I read tells me: “The river used to be full, but now is at most a small trickle.” and that is that.

Maybe we will find out the story behind the dried up river some day.

Albox coat of arms

 

Driving in the dry riverbed!

La Farmacia

La Farmacia

After all of the excitement of yesterday, we were feeling really run down. I had been feeling as if a cold was coming on and had a hoarse throat the whole day of the house hunt, but the fun and excitement of the day kept my mind off of it. But the next day was really lousy. We were both sick. Congested and feeling miserable. We had to go into Albox to find the farmacia and get some decongestant. All pharmacies have this green cross and are easy enough to find. I was pleased with myself that I was able to ask the waitress at the Triana restaurant about directions to la farmacia and was able to understand. Curt was really feeling sick and didn’t even finish his lunch… now you know he had to have been feeling bad!

Farmacia

The good thing is that in most pharmacies, even in a small town like Albox, the person behind the counter usually speaks English, so we didn’t have to worry that they were dispensing the wrong thing. La farmacia is where you go not only for medications, but for any type of drug store item. It’s an interesting concept because here we are so used to SuperTarget or stand alone drug stores, but this is a place where everything is behind the counter and someone has to assist you, even for a box of band-aids.

 

Casa Olivos

Casa Olivos

We arrived in Albox late in the afternoon/early evening, and after a bit of driving around, we found our bed and breakfast.

Our room

This was  a great little place to stay while we went on our house hunt. Mike and Penny were nice hosts and this was a good “home base” while we went exploring. Penny made us a breakfast of coffee, cereal, and bacon sandwiches each day, and the room was super clean.

View from our terrace

 

Another view from our terrace

 

Tomorrow: The House Hunt!

Adios, Madrid!

Adios, Madrid!

…But first a quick dash into the Museo del Jamon (which by the way, is not a museum of the history and importance of ham in Spain, as we thought, but a restaurant!!) for a couple of bocadillos mixtos!

Museo del Jamon

…then back into the bowels of the parking garage to retrieve the car…

Whaaat?!? Why is this police car now blocking the exit to the garage as we are trying to leave?? Oh well, “we are in Spain”… so we open the bag of bocadillos and have lunch while we wait for the police to get back from the traffic accident…

Police car blocking garage exit

And now we are on our way to Albox and our stay at Casa Olivos!

Leaving Madrid

 

Windmills! But otherwise pretty barren.