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!
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??
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.
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!
As we say here. Not sure exactly how to translate this, but after the photos with paella and churros we finished the day with a huge plate of octopus (pulpo). That was the remate. I was too full to post the picture yesterday 😂
Yes, I think so! (once Covid is a distant, bad memory).
I just read a recent article in CNN about all of the incredible changes that Saudi Arabia has undergone in the past couple of years since the new Crown Prince came into power. One of the main pictures in the article itself is interesting, with two attractive women chatting alone at a coffee shop, their long hair perfect and flowing (and showing). https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/saudi-arabia-fun-tourists/index.html
I don’t think this article would have struck me so much if I hadn’t visited Saudi Arabia a few times last year for work. I mentioned in an earlier post in which I asked if Saudi Arabia is the new Spain how you could see how the country was undergoing changes by the day – contacts there were telling me it was even hard to know what the rules were as things were changing by the day (actually this is the same way I feel right now with all the Covid restrictions…). When I first visited (September 11, 2019) I covered my head and was nervous to look at people in the eyes (see post here). By the third trip I felt more confident and comfortable, even visiting a large outdoor mall by myself in the evening without a head scarf (this was after talking with local contacts and assuring myself that this would be fine). Some trip pictures:
I remember having conversations with companies in 2018/2019 before traveling to KSA and listening to Saudi Arabians tell me about all the international tourism plans, infrastructures being built, etc, all part of their Strategy 2030. Inside I was thinking, “Really?!”
Now Saudi Arabia wants to be a top international tourist destination, but is this possible? I think there is still a long way to go, but I wouldn’t be surprised if in ten years time it is. Just the pictures alone of the Red Sea resorts, snorkelling, amazing desert landscapes – it certainly has a lot to offer. First, however, the country will have to be very clear and open about its acceptance of all kinds of people and rights for women. They will have to make tourists feel welcome and willing to travel there. Second, they better fix their visa process! The last time I visited there was a new tourist visa upon arrival that had just began (not for me as I was traveling for business). Considering the extremely complicated (and expensive) process of applying for a business visa, I would hope the tourist visa will be much more agile and less expensive.
I would be willing to try it out for sure. Once travel resumes again (in general) and for work, if I have the opportunity to travel back there I would definitely take the opportunity to be a KSA tourist if possible, before travel exploitation begins.
I’m loving my new Volava bike! I never had or used a Peloton bike back in the US (they launched almost 7 years after I moved to Spain), but I thought this might be interesting to US expats here.
Before having kids I was obsessed with spinning classes; I couldn’t get enough. Then once my first kid was born I couldn’t get enough sleep…
I’m an avid runner and have always maintained that with my kids being born, and it’s also the easiest and less time-consuming exercise to do. However, I’ve still always missed the spinning classes but never returned just because of the time commitment.
We just purchased the Volava bike (a copy of Peloton). I’m obsessed! I’ve already done quite a few of the live classes, and there’s a huge library of recorded classes to choose from. For me the most important aspect is the instructor, and so far they’re all great. Great music, great exercise, and hardly any technical issues (just a little complication with the heart rate monitor). There are classes in English too, although to be honest I prefer listening in the instructor’s native language and haven’t tried out the English ones yet.
Although I do still miss the actual live classes in person where you can look around you and see everyone else struggling (I mean having fun) as much as you, it’s awesome and convenient to be able to do it from home and still have a fun workout. Definitely recommend it if you’re into this – and this is coming from someone who’s an avid exerciser but a hater of gym machines like treadmills, ellipticals, etc.
This weekend we have a “puente”, literally translating to a bridge, but it’s much better than that. A “puente” is basically a long holiday weekend, some longer than others depending upon the holiday and the number of days. We always have the “puente of December” which includes Constitution Day on the 6th and the Day of the Immaculate Conception on the 8th. This year we have next Monday and Tuesday off since one of the holidays falls on a Sunday.
Due to Covid restrictions Madrid has a perimetral confinement in place from the 4th until the 14th, so we can’t leave the community of Madrid. However, since the restriction in my town was lifted on Monday I’m not complaining – we can finally cross the frontier to another town!