Things we miss in Spain, and things we don’t

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It’s now been a little over three months since Evelien and I decided to – albeit temporarily – move to Barcelona with Jaan in tow to, well, see what living and working in Barcelona would be like.

In case you hadn’t heard: Barcelona’s a ridicuously beautiful open-air museum city.

We recently talked about what we miss about Belgium (spoiler alert: not a whole lot) and things we certainly don’t miss. Figured I might as well blog about it.

Things in Belgium we miss here in Spain

– DECENT LOAFS OF BREAD

We can’t figure out just what it is, but we’ve tried about 8 different bakeries by now, and we’re still not happy with the bread we can buy (it’s quite expensive, too). The baguettes, entrepans (pastry / koffiekoeken) and pasteles (cakes) are good to excellent, but the loafs of bread, not so much.

And what is up with slicing them so big by default?

– POMMES FRITES (AKA FRIETJES VAN DE FRITUUR)

Not a big surprise, but the ‘French’ fries really are amazing everywhere … except for just about anywhere outside of Belgium. One of my first trips when we move back in a few months will be to Loemek, guaranteed.

– OTHER TYPICAL FOODS FROM BELGIAN CUISINE

It’s amazing how quickly you’ll miss things like carbonnades Flamandes, moules-frites, chicons au gratin, filet Américain, stoemp, boudins, lapin à la Gueuze or just a nice big entrecôte with fries when you’re staying abroad for an extended period of time.

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(Well hello there stranger. I’ve missed you.)

As for charcuterie, we occasionally miss the prepared salads and américain préparé.

Not that the food here in Barcelona (and by extension Spain or Catalonia) isn’t any good – anything but – but we’d be lying if we said we didn’t miss good ol’ Belgian grub once in a while.

I’ll include Belgian chocolate and beer here too, although we honestly have no problem finding the best of those here in Barcelona (thank God for Belchica).

– FAMILY AND FRIENDS

Last but not least, cliché and perhaps a bit cheesy, but true.

Skype, social networks and email help, and we thankfully get a lot of visitors, but you inevitably miss your friends and relatives when you live abroad (at least when you’re as close to them as we are).

Personally, I miss simply hanging out with friends in a bar over a few (or a lot of) beers. Hard to replicate that with people you’ve only met once or a few times, no matter how much fun or interesting they are.

Things in Belgium we don’t miss here in Spain

– THE WEATHER

Well duh.

– TELEVISION

We have Stievie on the iPad, so we can watch all the Belgian television we want. Except that we don’t, apart from the occasional show (Thuis or – haha – Wat Als?) or movie. In Belgium, we used to watch TV pretty much every day, but now we’ve learned that’s more out of habit than anything else.

Doesn’t seem like we’re missing much. Going outside to hang out in parks, at the beach or in playgrounds with Jaan is so much more worth our time.

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(The three of us in Parc Güell the other day. Trust me when I say Jaan was actually quite excited.)

– PETTY POLITICS / POLITICIANS

Not that there isn’t enough of that in Spain and Catalonia, but we don’t really follow it so we’re not exposed to it as much as we are in Belgium (also see above). Which brings us to the following point.

– THE SMALL-MINDEDNESS OF (SOME) BELGIANS

That should read ‘verzuring’, but there’s no adequate English translation for it that I can find (perhaps you could call it a combination of gregarious behavior and social intolerance).

People here are typically more open, and much more outspokenly friendly to Jaan wherever we go. It cheers us (and him) up pretty much every day. In Belgium, not so much (you have to get to know people before they get amicable with you and your kids, in general).

Before we moved here, I was told that Catalans tend to be conservative, stingy and closed. It may be too early to tell, but there’s definitely an element of truth there – it’s harder for us to connect to Catalans than Spanish or foreigners living in Barcelona. That said, they’ll generally be more gracious in their interactions with you than most Belgians, and the Catalans I do know are super friendly.

I might update this post whenever something else springs to mind.

Top image courtesy of Moyan Brenn / Flickr

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3 thoughts on “Things we miss in Spain, and things we don’t

  1. might have forgotten a few:

    things you don’t miss I’m sure:
    – The construction works starting at 7 of your new neighbours house 🙂
    – mowing the lawn every week
    – construction works in Dilbeek

    (damn, we ARE “verzuurd”, aren’t we…)

    things you most certainly miss:
    – a little walk to the manège to see the horses?
    – All your lovely neighbours !!!

    so, when are you guys coming back so we can organize a Wellcome back BBQ, with huge steaks, lovely Belgian affordable beers, some nice thin loafs of bread with Americain on the side?

    (ps.: if you’re still there first weeks of september, we’ll be at about 50 km from Barcelona..)

    enjoy the rest of your stay!

  2. Interesting observations.

    I find that as a Brit living in Holland, it was the media I missed rather than the food. That has been solved with a similar app and satellite TV. But I find myself watching far less TV then ever before. Online taken over completely.

    As the European financial climate unfolds, I think many Southern European cities will benefit, providing they have great connectivity, fair priced accommodation, good schools and brilliant weather. Looks like BCN has many of those things…

    Thanks for these occasional updates….

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