Category Archives: Miscellaneous

New Costco finds

You may think I’m obsessed with Costco from the amount of posts. Ok, so obsessed may be a little strong, but I definitely can’t get enough of it. I guess we all have our things 🙂

Recent finds – frozen “East coast” lobster tails and pulled pork. No joke.

Yet to be tested. If anyone has tried these I’d be happy to hear the result!

Filomena snow storm – still feeling the effect here in Madrid

First of all, in case anyone is wondering Filomena is a female name. I think this could be the equivalent of something like Harriet in English. Filomena hit hard, but more than hitting hard she just doesn’t want to go away. It’s been over a week now since the big storm hit, and still there are a lot of streets and most sidewalks that are still covered in snow and ice. Let’s be realistic though – Madrid isn’t exactly used to/prepared for this kind of weather; it was 50 years ago the last time there was a snow storm of this magnitude. So, let’s just enjoy it! Before we know it it will be a distant memory (unlike what Covid is proving to be).

Although I’ve always said that I left Boston to get away from the cold and snow, I’ll admit Filomena was pretty – for the first two days. I’m glad at least that my kids got to see and play in the snow for a few days.

On the practical side, school was cancelled all last week and now the cancellation has been extended until Wednesday. (Please please open on Wednesday – online classes are not working here! Haha)

Here are some Filomena fotos for the file:

One week later. The sidewalk in front of our school

How much snow has fallen in Madrid?

Historic snow storm underway here. Everyone back home is asking me how much snow has fallen- I’m still trying to figure this out. I’ve been googling and asking around, but it’s still not clear. This definitely isn’t Boston where the first news of the day is how many feet or inches of snow has fallen! I’m guessing 1-2 feet, but TBC.

Madrid is completely unprepared for this. All you see on the news is how the roads are blocked, no one can leave the house, etc. Yes, that’s what happens with big snowstorms! The only part that is worrisome is for things like emergencies and the hospitals.

Fortunately this happens here every once in a blue moon, so it’s not surprising that the city isn’t prepared, but I’m sure in about a week’s time everyone will be talking about how beautiful it was and what a great memory – as they’re having cañas and tapas under the bright sun at a terrace 🙂

Snowing in Madrid!

I always say one of the reasons I could never move back to Boston is because of the climate. Still true.

So, guess what? Today it’s snowing, and they’re predicting at least a few days of snow and temperatures with mínimums of up to (down to) minus 10 Celsius. That is decent!

All I have to say is Thank goodness this only happens in Madrid every 10 years or so! I’ll admit, for the kids it’s been great since they’ve never really seen or played with snow before. It is pretty, but nice to know it will be gone in a few days 🙂

A positive Customer Experience renewing my kids’ Spanish passports. And one essential thing not to forget!

One of the objectives of this blog when I first started writing over 5 years ago was to talk about my Customer Experience anecdotes and reflections here in Spain, a country that I think is pretty fair to say was highly lacking in this area when I moved here almost 15 years ago. I came from a background working in Customer Experience research, so it was definitely a shock to say the least to see how “Atención al cliente” worked (or didn’t over here) and the idea that the customer is always wrong. I’m still not sure how many times I’ve been hung up on from someone from Customer Service here…

Things have gotten better over the years, but there’s still a ways to go.

In any case, I think it’s only fair to give credit where credit’s due – in this blog I wanted to share a positive experience I had at the local police station renewing my sons’ Spanish passports. Both of my children’s passports expired in August, but since we didn’t have any travel plans thanks to Covid, and considering everything that’s been going on with Covid, we just got around to renewing them now. I made an appointment online using my DNI (National ID card). I only made a single appointment as it didn’t give me the option to select for two, and I assumed that I should do it this way since the appointment was for a minor. As usual with any governmental procedure I read through the info on the site and prepared all the necessary items for the appointment (or so I thought). We all went (the mother and the father both have to be there) with our passports, 30€ for each renewal, and new photos. When we got to the local comisaría in Majadahonda we didn’t even have to wait 5 minutes. I think it helped that it was right after Christmas and we walked in with two little (and loud kids). Unfortunately when we sat down to start everything the first thing the police officer asked me for was something I hadn’t brought along – the kid’s DNIs. Note to self (and whoever else this might be of use for): whereas to me in the US a passport is the ultimate form of identification above all else, here in Spain the DNI is the essential one. I guess I just assumed that going with passports we wouldn’t need our DNIs as well, since in the US that would be like bringing a license with me. But not here.

Fortunately, the police officer was very nice and asked if we lived far from the station. When we said about 10 minutes he said it wasn’t a problem to run home and get the DNIs so we could finish the process. Also, as I was waiting outside with my kids while my husband ran home to get the DNIs the officer came out to hand me some authorization forms that I could start filling out to speed things along.

When we had the DNIs the process was easy and smooth, and the police were very nice throughout. It probably helped that my kids are little and cute, but it definitely could have gone worse and/or we could have been told to come back another time or could have only had one passport renewed as I really only had one appointment.

A couple key things:

  • You can make the appointment for each child using his/her own DNI on the web site (https://www.citapreviadnie.es/citaPreviaDniExp/). I assumed that I had to use my DNI as an adult (I also heard another woman had assumed this same thing while we were there)
  • Don’t forget to bring DNIs!!
  • You need to bring 30€ in cash for each passport (renewals) and have a new passport-sized photo

Thanks to the police for being understanding and accommodating! Note to any Customer Service folks over here in Spain – empathy and generally just being nice can go a long way!

Costco. Can’t get enough.

There’s something about Costco that just keeps bringing me back. The good part is that it’s full of American brands including housewares, food (including Reese’s peanut butter cups!) and clothing. The bad part is that you can never go without dropping a decent chunk of change. Fortunately (or maybe not for our pockets) my Spanish husband loves it too.

Here’s a picture of us from this afternoon fighting the crowds at Costco in Getafe (now there are two in Madrid, another in Las Rozas, and they’re always packed. Lack of social distancing much??

Busy as usual at Costco Getafe

“The fat one” – another year, another loss, with the “El Gordo” Christmas lottery in Spain

Every year on December 21st I have a feeling it could happen, that I might really win something. And every year on December 22nd I get really annoyed when once again I win absolutely nothing. Granted it is the lottery, but for some reason there’s always this feeling that it could really happen with “El Gordo”, the fat one.

There are almost 47 million people living in Spain, so technically, even though the lottery is only here in Spain, my chances aren’t that great. Maybe it’s the fact that the tickets cost €20 so you think you’re really making an investment or maybe it’s all the hype (popular places can have lines around the block to buy tickets if the place has been lucky in the past), but again, it’s the lottery, so really the chances are the same anywhere.

My “El Gordo”, the fat one, loser

What’s interesting about this lottery is it only happens once a year, and it’s a collective lottery. People usually buy it in groups – offices have a number, businesses have their own number, friends get a number together. So pretty much if you know anyone that is going in on one or have any offers from current or past companies it’s almost an obligation to get a “décimo” ticket. I mean imagine if you didn’t get one with your company and everyone else won the fat one and got 400,000€…also it’s a lottery that people start buying and collecting early on in the year (hence the hype).

In any case, again, not very likely for a win to happen. At least I have a full year ahead to buy just as unlikely general lottery tickets to get myself psyched for next year’s fat chance!