Tag Archives: Shopping

Bike shopping

Bike shopping

You do remember The Dream of the Vuelta, right? That is what inspired all this to begin with! You shouldn’t just dream the dream, but live the dream, I say! So today was a day for us to go shopping for Curt’s bike. He had already done some investigating via the internet before we left for Spain and found several bike stores in Cartagena, which is a town on the eastern coast of Spain about an hour away. If it seems like every place I write about is “about an hour away” it is true. The location of our Spanish casa is great! You can draw a radius of an hour’s drive in all directions and will find yourself on multiple beaches, in the mountains, at a lake, in the desert, at a nature park, or at a ski resort. It just depends which direction you choose to travel.

We headed to Cartagena, armed with the addresses of three bike shops. Two were in what is called the polígono industrial or industrial park, which you will find on the outskirts of towns. This is where you find larger stores that are selling construction materials, big furniture stores, or car dealers. How hard could it be to find giant stores on the outskirts of a town??… insert ominous music here..

Suffice it to say that addresses plus able bodied intelligent people plus stupid phone that keeps rebooting every single time you try to access a map does not equal happiness. Quite the contrary. It equals frustration and lots of it. I was inclined to search the outskirts of the town, thinking that a giant industrial zone might be easier to spot than a shop in the old downtown area, but who am I to deprive Curt of the fun of driving around and around and around this lovely town?

Plaza de Jaime Bosche, Cartagena

Plaza de Jaime Bosche

Oh happiness! There is a tourist information center just on the other side of this plaza! But as luck would have it, just as we reach the entrance, the huge metal gate-like doors swing shut, and a booming latch is drawn much like closing up a castle door.

Siesta Time, people! Hasta luego!

Tourist information center, Cartagena

Cerrado!

Disgusted with the phone.

Disgusted with his phone.
(Hmmm… my iPhone never has those problems… I’m just saying…)

Just when we were at the end of our wits, we stopped at a Repsol (gas station) and Curt went in and asked the guy if he had a map of Cartagena. The guy was super nice and gave him what we fondly call a “fun map” of Cartagena. This is a map that shows some streets, but not all, and its main purpose is to show someone the highlights of the town. None of which involve the polígono industrial, of course.

Cartagena

We drove along the harbor….

Cartagena war memorial

A sculpture and war memorial that is dedicated to the soldiers who fought and died in Cavite, Philippines during the Spanish-American War.

Bike lanes in Cartagena

These bike lanes in Cartagena look like their own streets!

Luckily we were able to somehow piece together bits of the map and believe it or not found the downtown bike shop — just in time for siesta! So it was closed!

Ciclos Curra, Cartagena

Patience is a virtue.

Looking through the windows, we could see that they only sold mountain bikes, but as luck would have it, they had a map to their larger store posted on the window! This showed us how to get to the polígono industrial! I took pictures of the map with my fully functioning phone, and then we headed next door to  get something to eat, since nothing would be open again until 5:00.

The restaurant next door was called Sabor Andaluz. We ate lomo y patatas y huevos, which was pork loin and potatoes with a fried egg. It was really good. This was not a “touristy” restaurant at all. Lots of Spanish people were there. It was a good place to sit back, have a café con leche, and regroup a little before trying to find this elusive polígono industrial.

Sabor Andaluz

Sabor Andaluz

Sabor Andaluz menu

Test yourself with the Sabor Andaluz tapas menu! What would you order??

Sabor Andaluz, Cartagena, Spain

Just a teeny bit stressed…

Sabor Andaluz

Lunch!

Sabor Andaluz waiter

Yes, the guy in the black shirt was someone’s waiter.
Yes, he is smoking while working.
And yes, the beer near him went down nicely with the smoke, but I didn’t get a picture of that…

While we relaxed with our meal (we had a while before siesta would be over, so why rush?) we noticed this thing that looked like a deposit box of some sort. It was a bit like a mailbox, but it was actually a trash bin. It looked small, but apparently what you put down the slot must fall down into some gigantic bin under the street because people came one after the other dropping in their bags of trash. One guy, who must have been a janitor for some building actually brought cartloads of trash, bags, boxes, etc and it all disappeared into this little drop box. I was so curious as to how large the underground bin was, and how they went about emptying it… Can you tell I was fascinated with this thing??

Cartagena trash

Mysterious….

Stomachs full, and nerves calmed, we hit the road again in search of the bike shop in the polígono industrial. Due to my fantastic co-piloting skills and Curt’s keen ability to navigate the Spanish streets, we managed to find it lickity split. There were two shops in the industrial area, so we visited both, picked out a bike, spoke “cave-man Spanish” to the salesperson, and amazingly enough got everything sorted out to purchase. It was easy as pie! …insert happy music which is followed by screeching halt sound here…

Now, trust me, I am happy to know that credit card companies are on the lookout for thieves and fraudulent activity, BUT when your card is declined after spending an entire day driving around a strange city, having doors literally closed on your nose, getting somewhere only to arrive at a time when the place is closed for two more hours, then finally thinking the whole shopping craziness will soon be over, only to have the guy behind the counter say (and trust me, you know it in any language) “No, the card doesn’t go through,” you want to scream. And I don’t mean stomp your foot and pout — I mean full on scream like in a crazy movie where the camera pans back and you see the windows rattle and people cower.

So yes, this is what we had to deal with next: calling our credit card companies and letting them know they needed to take the blocks off of our cards.

Fast forward to the final scene…

Ciclo Curros, Cartagena

Buying the bike.
Finally.

 

 

 

 

Getting ready to leave Arboleas

Getting ready to leave Arboleas

The night before we left Arboleas to head back to the U.S. we went over to the Hostal Meson for dinner. They were having some sort of “quiz night” or “games night” in the larger part of the restaurant. There were a lot of happy noises coming from the Brits behind the closed dining room doors, but we were shuttled into another smaller room off to the side.

I had been put off by the previous meal there, but we decided to try the paella. It was a good choice, and we had a nice meal.

Hostal Meson Paella

Paella

Then we went next door to the small grocery store to buy a few snacks for the road tomorrow and for the plane ride home. We got a big kick out of these Pringles. The jamon flavored ones have a couple of jamon legs hanging like they do, and then the Pringles chip is also hanging like a leg of jamon. Too funny. I love how the chip flavors are so interesting outside of the US. Like in Canada where you can buy Ketchup flavored chips. Or Roasted Chicken flavor. You just don’t find that at home.

Jamon flavored Pringles

Pringles hanging like jamon!

Shopping in Almeria

Shopping in Almeria

It was still early in the day when we got done at the Foreigner’s Office, so Lucas recommended that we browse through the shopping mall (since we were parked in its parking lot) and then do some sightseeing along the shore of Almeria Playa.

We had a great time walking around the mall because it was fun to see the things that were in the shops compared to what we see here in the US. There was one store with a cat theme. A true haven for Crazy Cat Ladies everywhere! You can check out A Loja de Gato Preta and see what I mean. Lots of cat items: dishes, textiles, decorations… you name it!

A Loja de Gato Preta

A Loja de Gato Preta

Sophie

Sophie, erés tu?

One of the main stores in this mall was Alcampo which is a lot like a SuperTarget or Walmart Superstore. It had pretty much anything you might want. We were thrilled to death because we came across an oscillating space heater and a portable CD player/radio. Warmth and entertainment were two things we could use back at the house! We were like kids in a candy shop; ooohing and ahhhing at everything. We couldn’t believe how many paella pans there were to choose from!

Paella pans at Alcampo

Wow! What a selection!

In addition to home goods and electronics, Alcampo sells clothes and has a large grocery section.

Alcampo Don Limpio

Hey! We recognize Don Limpio! That’s none other than Mr. Clean!

Alcampo tuna2

People in Spain must really eat a LOT of tuna! Do you see how big the cans are??

Alcampo Jamon

Now that’s a whole lotta ham!

Alcampo jamon iberico

Notice the price!! (It looks like Curt is about to grab a ham and run out the emergency exit.)

Alcampo also has a big fish counter with lots of activity and lots of interesting seafood.

Alcampo fish market

Alcampo fish market2

Alcampo fish

A face only a mother could love…

Alcampo more fish

Alcampo shrimp

Alcampo shellfish

After our big shopping excursion (we bought a few other items for a picnic lunch, as well) we checked out and Curt returned the shopping cart. I love how in Europe you put a coin in to get a cart and only get your money back when you return the cart. I wish they did that at home in regular stores (and not just at the airport when you get luggage carts) because I bet there would be a lot fewer carts rolling around crashing into people’s cars in the shopping center parking lots!

Alcampo cart return

We went back out to the car and ate a picnic lunch before heading over to the beach.

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!