Oldie But Goodie: Gonzales Byass Bodega Tour

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While I was going through my hard drive I kept finding tons of old pictures that I would love to post from our years in Spain. We did a few different sherry tours while we lived there but this was … Continue reading

Check out my interview!

Kristina from My Traveling Troop asked if she could interview me about living in Rota, Spain. What? You want me to talk even MORE about living here? Why I’d LOVE to! If you have the chance pop over there and read it and browse through some of her past interviews. It’s a great way to learn more about a new duty station!

My Interview

Thanks Kristina! I had so much fun doing this!

Opening Day!

 

Oh Summer… I have been waiting for you…

Driving in Spain

If you are moving here you may have a few questions about bringing/buying a car and getting a license.

I was very stressed out before we came to Rota, trying to figure out if we needed to get an international license or if we could get a Spanish license or WHAT we needed to do! I had zero luck finding any information on blogs, or anywhere on the internet.

Thankfully you get walked through the steps when you get here.

Upon arrival, all newcomers are advised to attend the Fleet and Family Support Center’s ICR class. It is basically a week long introduction to Spain, the culture, the food, everything you need to know about living on base (or off). It also is where you will take the test for your Spanish driver’s license. Your American license is good for 30 days (I think!) so you can drive on  that while waiting for your Spanish one.

The test is fairly easy, you are given study materials, and the majority of the questions concern traffic signs which are a little different over here. I believe that our licenses were ready a week or so later.

As far as cars go, I would recommend shipping a vehicle as soon as possible. Cars can take 45-60 days to get here and rental cars are expensive over here! Ideally if you have two cars you can ship one early and rely on one car for awhile before you move. You are authorized one car per family but once you get here you can also purchase a Spanish spec vehicle aka Rota Beater.  They tend to be crazy overpriced for what you are getting (usually 10-15 years old, still costing a few thousand dollars) but you can also find some for a   few hundred euro that will get you from point A to point B.

Another issue that concerns everyone is whether or not they should bring their SUV/truck/minivan over. Will it even be driveable in Spain? Everyone pictures those narrow one lane streets in European cities! Luckily driving on base isn’t an issue, plenty of parking and wide roads. Driving from town to town, going to the stores, malls, etc., there is usually ample parking. The only times you may have an issue is driving in older sections of towns. We have had moments where we’ve been in a tight fit with our Altima! Having to make a 3 point turn just to turn onto another street is very stressful! We try to avoid those sections of towns! Park and walk!

We were a one car family for the first two years we were here. I was a SAHM and didn’t NEED a car most days. If I did I would just drive my husband to work. Once I started working we picked up a 1996 BMW for 3K. It ran great for us and we were very happy with it. We then decided to purchase a Volvo from one of the dealers that sells to military personnel overseas.  We got a GREAT deal and are shipping it to Hawaii through Volvo so we can ship our other car through the military.

There a a couple of new car dealers you can purchase a car through; Volvo, BMW/Mini and Exchange New Car Sales. Exchange New Car Sales sells Chrysler, Ford and Harley brands.  Volvo and BMW generally have some floor models if you are looking for something immediately or you can custom order and get it in a few months.  Do some research because if we had owned our Volvo for less than a year and then moved back to Virginia, they would have made us pay taxes on it!  Some states waive this, some you need to own your car for six months before registering it, some require at least a year.

Got any car or driving related questions? Let me know!

 

Moving is slowly killing me

Moving from Spain to Hawaii is a pain in the ass. I know I shouldn’t be complaining, that yes we are  moving from one dream vacation spot to another, but I still get to complain!

First off is the dog, my baby. We still aren’t 100% sure we are going to be able to fly with him in July. Many airlines have a summer heat embargo that prevents pets from flying in the cargo hold. On top of that, he is a snub-nosed dog which has a further set of restrictions.  We have some papers we received from the travel place on base that say that the heat embargo is waived with PCS orders. But I am not believing anything anyone tells me right now with out confirmation from the airline. I don’t want to get to Madrid and have someone tell me I can’t put my dog on the airplane. What the hell would we do then???

Second, finding temporary lodging. We only get a set amount reimbursed from the military for a hotel each day and finding one under that is almost impossible. Add in parking and wifi and taxes and pet fees and we are coming out of pocket for quite a bit.  I am looking for someone on the island who pet sits so we can have the dog stay there instead of in a hotel.  (Okay while we *could* find a cheaper hotel, I don’t want to stay in a shady area. If I am going to be in a hotel for 4+ weeks I want it to be in an area where the kids and I can walk to things, so I am focusing on Waikiki.)

Thirdly: HOUSING! Holy crap is the base housing wait list long! 2-4 months! I am looking for something off base, preferably in Mililani, preferably 4 bedroom, and is pet friendly. Oh and is under $2500/month. Pretty much dreaming the impossible dream over here.

Adding onto that the kids will be starting school when we still be in temporary housing so how the heck do I decide where to enroll them? I am REALLY looking forward to living in Hawaii and I know I am going to LOVE it. I am not, however, looking forward to the transition period of the next few months. It’s going to suck.

Stressful week so I am venting. My dog acted like he was dying, impromptu girls sleepover tonight, went to see a slightly disappointing Mirror, Mirror at the drive in, and I’ve spent too many hours today researching hotels.

Let me go to sleep so I am not a zombie in the morning!

Odds and Ends…

So while I was trying to do something, ANYTHING, from working on my final research paper last night I decided to change the look over here… I have an idea in my head of how I would REALLY like it to look but I don’t know anything about web design and I really don’t want to put any money into what is really just an online scrapbook of my life. So for now my blog is trying on some new clothes and we’ll see how they fit.

My husband is begging me to buy sandwich bags. It’s pretty funny that this is even a conversation topic. I have become so anti-plastic that I don’t even know when the last time I bought ziploc bags was. Don’t get me wrong, we are no where near where we could be. Shit just has SO. MUCH. PACKAGING!

In other news my co-worker at the front desk is quitting. I don’t know what I am going to do. I am going to have to train her replacement and then my replacement. Ugh. Plus there is just SO much you have to be able to know how to do. We aren’t just answering phones up there! Hopefully they hire someone who is a fast learner! Plus I don’t know if I’ll be able to quit as early as I was going to. I am that crazy person who just can’t leave a mess behind at work. We’ll see about that because….

We STILL haven’t gotten our orders yet! I am getting more than a little bit stressed out because Lord knows PCSing isn’t stressful enough. Now we are down to3 months with no orders.  Honestly this wouldn’t be that big of a deal but we have to get the dog on the rotater (the military flight that flies back and forth every two weeks). Because he is a boxer he can’t fly commercial airlines in the summer time. The flights are full of dogs until June already and I reeeeeeeeeeeaaaaally don’t want to leave my baby behind!

Still haven’t started cleaning out our belongings or closets, I need to do that as well as pull the rest of the kids summer clothes out. I am hoping that when I start cleaning I will find my damn camcorder that I somehow placed somewhere stupid. I have a very bad habit of walking around with something in my hand and then setting it down. I once lost my coffee cup and couldn’t find it anywhere. Next day, I found it in the linen cabinet. Really?

Well now that I got that off my chest, have a wonderful Thursday!