Earlier this year my family and I embarked on a huge endeavor, a move from California to Spain. The past 2+ years of dealing with Covid-19 and working remote crystalized some of the dreams my family and I have had about the future.
The topic of Spain actually started 13 years ago the day I met my husband. He had just gotten back from from a study abroad program in Barcelona and I knew I already had a crush on him before we even met. We talked about how much the country captured his heart and he was sad to come home to San Francisco. I remember thinking then, wouldn't it be nice to live there, and the topic of moving Spain was always coming up throughout the years.
Seven years after we met we decided to plan a big trip together: Spain. I was so excited to explore a country I had heard so much about and had felt a deep soul connection with. Let's just say the trip did not disappoint and I spent the next 6 years trying to find a way back.
Then about four years ago tragedy struck our family. My husband and I had to say goodbye to our best friend, my husband's father Mark died suddenly from kidney cancer and we were devastated. My husband's father Mark had been one of our traveling companions, we were like the 3 muskateers traveling through Europe and collecting epic memories together. He was always our rock and inspired joy in everyone who was lucky enough to know him. Loosing him was so earth shattering and I remember thinking that we would never find a way out of the grief.
Three months later we found out were were pregnant with our first child. It was a bittersweet moment, we were incredibly happy to finally become parents but then also so sad that we would never get to share the joy with Mark. We welcomed our daughter Marcella, named after her grandfather, the same week as the 1 year anniversary of Mark's passing. Tenderly we moved through those early days parenthood with incredible highs and lows.
Then Covid-19 hit and it seemed that life wasn't about to give us any breaks. The quiet routine of social isolation left us to explore what we wanted out of life and what we were going to do when this ordeal was all over. Our house wasn't feeling like somewhere we wanted to stay for the long term so we knew a move was imminent. That is when I decided to bring Spain up again. This time instead of "that won't be feasible for a while" I was met with more open discussion by my partner. I took that tiny crack in the door opening and shoved my way in.
My husband and I finally concluded that after all the tough times we have been through life is too short and we should follow our dreams now. Once I got the green light that Spain was a go, we hit the ground running. We got hitched that summer to help make the the visa paperwork easier, but also it was long overdue. Our wedding was a dream, the perfect sunny summer day in July.
Marcella and I on our wedding day, enjoying some yummy food.
In typical Covid-19 fashion, our wedding was just the 3 of us and my photographer friend Debbie as the witness.
The paperwork for our visas was no joke, and felt like it took forever. We were simultaneously putting together an Italian citizenship application so my life consisted of paperwork for 9 months. More on our Italian citizenship later, this post is dedicated to España! We didn't decide on the city in Spain until later that year, Barcelona ended up checking all the boxes for culture, climate and central location so that we could easily travel to other parts of Spain.
Don't get me wrong it wasn't all roses, I was so scared going throughout the process and even had a huge panic once we were driving to the airport. It was so hard to say goodbye to our family and friends in California and we were definitely worried if we were making the right choice.
The move was a sight to be seen, we navigated 3 airports with a dog, a toddler, and 2 luggage carts filled to the brim with our only belongings. We didn't get any sleep for like 3 days and reluctantly we were dependent on airport staff and customs officials. Loaded with adrenaline from our adventure we persevered and finally made it to Barcelona without major issue.
We had to make a pit stop in New Jersey for our doggie to have a potty break before the last leg over the Atlantic. It was not fun to load and unload all our luggage four times. Glad we don't have to do that again!
Waking up in Barcelona after a long nap. Happy to finally be here but the work was far from over.
Before we hunted for apartments in Barcelona we decided to take a trip to Valencia and Seville. It was a welcome respite after all the hard work of the previous months.
After our short winter break we got back to settling into Barcelona. We were hitting dead ends with all of our rental inquiries because dogs weren't allowed in a lot of apartments and we started to compromise on neighborhoods, just desperate to find something. The first place we looked at was so not a good fit, first of all we were super late because the dog and the toddler decided to have a potty accident on the way out the door. Then when we got there the back patio was giving me panic because it was so dangerous for a curious toddler.
Feeling a little defeated we went back to the drawing board. Then out of the blue we got a call back about the first apartment I had found months ago. The paperwork fell through from the previous applicant and it was magically back on the market. What was even more amazing was that we were the first person on the list to view it. It was the perfect place, the budget and neighborhood we wanted plus many more special unique aspects. Also they allowed dogs, finally! We of course snagged it right away and afterwards felt like Mark, my late father in-law, had set it up just for us.
Our private walkway perfect for Marcella to play in with the neighborhood kids.
Home sweet home! It was love at first sight.
We had to furnish the entire apartment from top to bottom as we could not bring any of our furniture over from California. This was the fun part! Loved putting together the house with thoughtful furniture pieces that reflected our values. Everything we bring in has a lot of consideration and we are trying to be as minimalist as possible. The first month was like camping, we didn't even get proper blankets till the second week. Plus it was the middle of winter!
So far our life here has been amazing, we are meeting lots of new people. We have embraced the Spanish and Catalonian culture wholeheartedly and every day is a new adventure. Simple routine activities are fun, and also humbling as there is still a learning curve. Looking forward to sharing more of our adventure as the months go by.
To be continued!
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