Friday, March 29, 2013

Happy Holidays!

While my Facebook feed is more than full of pictures of all the things that are so typical for Easter in Norway, I am enjoying this Easter holiday in warm, lovely Las Palmas. 

It's a bit strange not staying at the family cottage up in the mountains in Norway, having snow on the ground and loads of Norwegian chocolate in my belly, as I do most years in Easter. You could say the contrast to the beach here in Las Palmas is quite big, but I am very much enjoying this too!

I have also updated my blog today with a page I call "My Barcelona", a sort of collection of the 'best of', where everything is in one place. Feel free to check it out! It is right up there under the header. 

I wish everyone very Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Free books!

I know I have said it before, but I love the vibe of this city!

The other day, walking from A to B, I suddenly came across this: 

FREE BOOKS! Someone had put out a big table full of books, free to grab for whoever wanted to. 
I am a book lover and would obviously not just walk right by something like this! 

There were all kinds of books, and in many languages. 
Spanish, English, Italian, French, German, Finnish, even Norwegian! 

The table was located just off the beach (Las Canteras), at C/Torres Quevedo. 

Thank you to the lovely person who thought of this, you made my day! The small things, people! 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tiger- now in Las Palmas too!

Remember a while back when I wrote about the joy of
finding my dear Danish Tiger-store in Barcelona randomly?

Since then I went back a couple of times. I didn't buy all that much, but I just somehow really enjoyed taking all the time in the world, walking s-l-o-w-l-y through the store, looking at every single item... Being in a Tiger store reminds me of lovely days in Denmark with lovely people.

Can you then imagine the joy when I saw this in a shop window in Las Palmas before Christmas?

Vohoo! A new Tiger store opening up here in Las Palmas!

Of course I went back just after New Year when they had opened.
And I think it might be nostalgia more than anything else, but I really love these stores!

Last time I wrote about it, there were some curiosity to what kind of store it is, so last time I was there I brought my camera. The stock change real fast so there's always new fun stuff there,
but here's a few pics to give you an idea.

Pearls and jewellery-making-stuff:

Cards and gift wrapping paper. Nice! I haven't found all that many places in Spain in general who sells cards, I guess it's not so common to send cards here?

Handy note books, pens etc.

Candles and napkins:

Lots of stuff for children too. Colourful and fun!

The price system is quite nice. You normally pay 1-2-3-4-or 5 euros per item.

Things for the bathroom:

Kitchen equipment as well:

And spices, lovely!

To see where there's a Tiger store, look here
If anyone would think that this is a sponsored post, it's absolutely not, ha! I just love my Tiger store!

Friday, March 22, 2013

What to buy/try/eat at Mercado de San Mateo (or any market!) in Gran Canaria

Every Saturday and Sunday, the little town of San Mateo fills up with eager islanders 
ready to stock up on fresh produce, cheese, bread, herbs etc. 

Without a doubt the best place in Gran Canaria I have found to buy fresh fruit and vegetables. It's fresh, it's high quality and mostly produced right here on the island. I have never before had the pleasure of buying avocados so fresh their stem is still on them and the seller tells me he picked them yesterday. 

So, what should you look for, try and buy if going to this market?

The Obvious. Fresh fruit and vegetables. The selection at most small supermarkets in Las Palmas is rather sad, but here you can find whatever you need, as fresh as you can get it.
Juicy, crisp and delicious. There are plenty of stalls to choose from!

Not bad at all to buy locally grown strawberries in the middle of winter!

Or what about a piece of the most enormous calabaza!

Fresh / dried herbs and spices. I think you can find whatever you might be looking for here, at various stands. The Oregano from Gran Canaria is 'famous' and very good, recommended! I also made sure to stock up on fresh bay laurel leaves (you know, to keep the cockroaches far away from my home.) There are little signs telling you what the different herbs are good for. Whether your problem is headaches, indigestion, or insomnia... you'll find different herbs you can use for herbal tea.

If you need some spices, this is so much better than supermarket plastic "glasses" with old dry spices!

Honey. Locally produced honey. 

The Canarians take pride in their goat cheese. I personally am not convinced about goat cheese, but apparently this is not to be missed!

Bread. The specialty here is bread made with anise. There's "normal bread", bread made in a wood fired stove, potato bread, the Canarian version of corn bread, bread with raisins & nuts, round, long, small, big. 

Chorizo de Teror. Try a sandwich with the famous spreadable chorizo from Teror or buy some chorizo to take home with your fresh bread.

Wine or Rum. Why not grab a bottle of locally produced wine or rum to enjoy with all the lovely food you just bought? (P.S. I personally prefer the wines I have tried from Lanzarote and Tenerife the ones from Gran Canaria!)

And as always, a little map to show where San Mateo is:

I hope to go back this weekend to fill up my fridge!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My Life In Norway vs. Spain From An Economic Viewpoint

Lately I have been thinking about how my life has transformed since I moved to Spain. It made me think of how is it that life is so much more expensive in Norway? Yeah, I know that prices are higher and all that, but that's not what I am talking about.

Life there is more materialistic. Obviously not the case for everyone, but for many it is. It's completely common among my friends to own an apartment or a house, and at least one, but preferably two cars coming with that if you are a couple. There are insurances, TV, phone & internet bills, electricity (very expensive electricity and obviously high usage of it in the cold and dark winter months), other expenses for alternative forms of heating (gas, diesel, oil, firewood etc.) Apart from all sorts of luxuries.

I just realized that I am living a much simpler life in Spain than I used to do in Norway. Sure, I pay rent, water-electricity-gas, I have internet and a mobile phone, but that's about it.

Sunset at Playa de las Canteras, Las Palmas
I don't use my phone much. In Norway I used to use my phone a whole lot more, and it was a lot cheaper. (One of those very few things that are cheaper in Norway!) Since its a little pricey here, most people I have met in Spain don't use their phones that much. There are codes for giving "free messages" such as giving a "missed call" as a confirmation, or just a way to say you are on your way or already arrived. "Give me a missed call when your plane lands" (to know you arrived safely), "Give me a missed call when you leave home" (to calculate when you'll be here/there) etc.

When people visit me from Norway, I have often asked them to give me a missed call when their plane lands to calculate when to stand in front of the door at arrivals, and I always forget this is not common there and I have to explain why on earth... Normally they just end up sending me a text anyway. They don't see the point or understand what exactly to do.

Tapas & wine in Málaga
I don't have a TV, and although I might have enjoyed watching TV in Norway I don't miss it one bit. I have so many other things I'd rather spend my time doing. (Not judging anyone, I was the one who watched TV several hours most day before.) But I have gotten used to not having it and now I wouldn't know when to find the time to watch it if I had one. I enjoy other things now. For language learning it would probably be good to have a TV but I can't really be bothered. In Norway having a TV means high bills, both for the mandatory television license, in addition to cable TV.

I don't have a car, so I don't have a car insurance and I don't spend huge amounts on car taxes and gasoline.

The insurance covering my household goods doesn't exist in this life, and same goes for the annual  travel insurance I used to pay all year around no matter how many or few travels I did. (I wanted to take it with me here to Spain but it was only valid for 45 days outside the country, then I'd have to go back to Norway before being given another 45 days. Not very practical.) When I asked friends here what kind of travel insurance they had, they just looked at me as if I was weird. I haven't met anyone who actually has that. They might buy the one time insurance you are offered when buying a flight ticket, but that's it. (And I don't know anyone who does that either.) No one has all year insurance. In Norway, basically no one does not  have it. Mostly anyone who travel, if only once a year will have a whole year travel insurance. That's a lot of money out the window, but it has just become one of those things in society that "you are supposed to have".
Why no insurance for household goods? Not that normal either here, and I have so little stuff I'd just have to take the loss if it came. Most Norwegians would call it irresponsible, I call it sensible.

Playa de Barceloneta, Barcelona
In Norway you earn a lot more than in Spain, not just in amount of money but also in the relation money and cost of life, but in Spain you (I) can live on a lot less too. It's all relative of course, but I don't need the big house, the fancy car, the huge TV and all sorts of smart gadgets. The sun provides me with energy, and the cities I have lived in themselves provide a lot of entertainment in all forms.

I was wondering why life in Norway is more materialistic than here. But I guess habits of having stuff gets created when you have more money that "just enough". Just as a cold climate  invites you to have more things to make you feel more comfortable at home, as you evidently spend more time inside the house than here in Spain.

I was happy living that kind of life before. But now I have less things, 
I spend less money, and I am not less happy, quite the contrary. 
Actually, it has been a great learning experience. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Parque Laberinto, Barcelona

I had never been to a maze park before, I had just seen some in a movie or two and always thought it looked fun. After a long time in Barcelona, I heard about the Parque Laberinto. I had no idea it existed, but one Sunday me and a friend decided to bring a picnic basket and check it out. 

Such a great surprise! It is located a bit out of the city centre and most other tourist attractions, and I didn't see one single tourist, just families enjoying a Sunday in the sun in beautiful surroundings and fresh air. It's not like I have anything against tourists, but there are many of them in Barcelona, and it's really nice to go somewhere great without having to queue up just to move around. 

It's located at the top of the city, not too far from Tibidabo and Carretera de les aigües, all beautiful spaces with fresh air and great views.

The maze is fun, but there's so much more. Beautiful sculptures, water (in different forms...) a neoclassical garden, a palace, and at the back is where the forest of Collserola starts - perfect for a picnic!

A tip! Go on a Wednesday or a Sunday, the entrance is free. Other days you pay about €2 to enter.

Isn't it beautiful?

How to get there? 
Get on the metro on the green line (L3) and 
take it to Mundet. It's located a few minutes walk from the metro station.