A Seed is Planted

Who knew a vacation would change our lives?

We may not have known it then, but nine years ago today was really the start of our little adventure. We boarded a plane for our first trip to Spain, during which a tiny little seed of an idea was planted waaaaayyyy back in the corner of each of our minds that perhaps, possibly, maybe, perchance some day at an undetermined time in the far future we might find ourselves retiring to this enchanting land.

Life is funny. And unpredictable. And grand. And seeds germinate. And grow. And if we’re lucky, produce flower and fruit. Brian calls this our Spainiversary. Apt, no?

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Eats: Somodó

Japan & Spain come together in delightful harmony.

Tucked behind a simple-but-elegant wooden storefront in vila de Gràcia lies a cozy 22-seat dining room where guests are treated to a selection of carefully crafted tasting menus, se llama Somodó. (Web | Facebook | Instagram | Map)

Here, Chef Toshi Suzuki brings his Japanese culture to the table, assisted by Sous chef Laura Rivas, who trained in Galicia and worked in the Basque Country before joining Chef Suzuki in the kitchen.

The kitchen is well represented by an attentive front-of-house team eager to provide exceptional service to each diner. Our server, upon noticing that I was relying on my dinner companion to relay what the server had just said, effortlessly adjusted her speaking volume and style to accommodate my hearing impairment.

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A Visit to the Doctor

An American’s first encounter with the Spanish healthcare system.

One of the many attractions to life outside the United States for Americans emigrating abroad is access to better healthcare systems. Now, this does not mean the U.S. has poor healthcare, per se, but accessing that healthcare is problematic for many, and it is frequently especially problematic for those who need it most.

Our first significant encounter with the Spanish public healthcare system was nothing short of magical from the American perspective and yet it was mundane from the point of view of the Spaniards, who are puzzled by our incredulousness.

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Eats: Ertlio Namas

Historic Lithuanian Cuisine in Vilnius

In researching my trip to Vilnius, I was fortunate to come across a recommendation for Ertlio Namas from a fellow traveling foodie in a group to which I belong on Facebook. When I saw his pictures and read his review, I immediately booked myself a table. Spoiler alert: I look forward to returning and bringing my hubby with me.

The chef, Tomas Rimdys, and his team, have set up camp in a seventeenth-century building in which they present a tasting menu based on Lithuanian recipes dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Each course is served with a story putting it in historical context. The menu changes six times a year.

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How We Became Spanish Residents

How two Americans leveraged the Irish citizenship of one to establish residency in Spain for both

With citizenship in any member state of the European Union comes E.U. citizenship. Just as U.S. citizens can live and work anywhere in the U.S., E.U. citizens can live and work anywhere in the E.U. It’s not quite as seamless as the U.S., though. Non-Spanish E.U. citizens living in Spain are still considered foreigners and have some administrative requirements to fulfill, but there is no application process, per se.

Furthermore, the E.U. grants its citizens the right to bring their non-E.U. spouse and certain other family members with them under a policy of “family reunification.” So my husband also gets to live and work in Spain (or any other country in the E.U.), as long as we remain married and I remain in the same country. (Someone has to be very, very nice to me!)

Read my post about becoming an Irish citizen, which is the basis for our Spanish residency.

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The Road to Irish Citizenship

How this Connecticut Yankee got himself an Irish passport!

Our pathway to Spanish residency meandered through Ireland. Not physically, bureaucratically. Ireland offers citizenship by descent to the grandchildren of any person born on the island of Ireland (even Northern Ireland).

Both of my father’s parents were born there. In 2015 I received my Irish citizenship and in 2016 got my Irish passport. Since Ireland is a member of the E.U., this permits me to travel, live, and work anywhere in the EU without restrictions, and to bring my non-EU spouse with me.

Many people have inquired about my experience, so read on for details if you’re interested. BTW, it’s not necessary to visit Ireland to do this; I never set foot on Irish soil until six years after I got my Irish passport.

NB: if either of your PARENTS was born in Ireland, you were an Irish citizen AT BIRTH. Your process will be similar, but just a bit simpler. My father, whose parents were born in Ireland, obtained his Irish passport after I did using the same documents I collected for mine.

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Matinades de Foc: Mornings of Fire

Les Matinades de Foc, or “Mornings of Fire” is a daytime correfoc that kicks off the Festa Major de Gràcia every year.

This event kicks off the seven-day Festa Major de Gràcia, a week of parties, parades, and FIRE. Catalans (and their Valencian cousins) practice a form of celebration known as the “correfoc” or “fire run.” These festive street parties, typically taking place after dark, feature several different “fire gangs” who each have their own drumming contingent and gangs of demons and dragons who run and dance through the plazas and streets of the neighborhood, spouting joyful fire and sound along the way. The residents of Gràcia and visitors along turn out en masse to dance along with their kids squealing as they run alongside the parade.

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