Our Favorite Methods To Learn Spanish

is it working?!?!?!?!?!

We get asked a lot – how’s your Spanish? Which is inevitably followed by, how are you learning? So, we thought we’d give an update on our progress, our experiences, and share our favorite methods to learn Spanish.

We arrived in Spain in July of 2016, and began our journey to learn Spanish (Castilian/Castellano). We’re from California where there are lots of Spanish names for places, streets, Latino owned businesses, Latino radio and TV stations, and lots of Spanish speakers. We were familiar with a few basic words, and some pronunciation, but were starting from knowing near-zero Spanish. So how do you learn Spanish in a hurry – at least enough to get by? 

is it working?!?!?!?!?!
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4 Days in Madrid & Toledo

Last weekend was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception holiday in Spain, and we took advantage of the 4-day weekend to take a quick trip to Madrid and Toledo. Thanks to the AVE high speed train, which goes up to 310 kph (192 mph), we made it from Valencia to Madrid in under 2 hours.

  • AVE high speed trains from the front in Madrid Spain
    High-speed AVE trains between Valencia and Madrid

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Activities in Valencia For Kids

Girl with messy finger paint Is Valencia a good city for kids? You bet it is. The people of Valencia seem to adore children, and they’re welcome everywhere. There are lots of kid-friendly activities in Valencia, and we’re constantly exploring and discovering what our 9-year-old son and his friends like and keeping a list of the best. We’ve included active and passive activities, which will help you find something to do regardless of the weather or time of year.

Update, I discovered one of the moms in our son’s school has a website called Valencia For Kids, which has some great advice and many suggestions for day trips and excursions.

Update, Christmastime activities in Valencia, from our friends Janis and Linda: What to do in Valencia this Christmas?

If you have any ideas to improve or add to this list, please add a comment. I’ll keep this updated as we discover new activities in Valencia for kids. For all-year-round activities, read on…

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Horchata de Valencia (the original)

Valencian chufa beans, a glass of horchata and farton pastries

I’ve been walking the streets of Valencia for a few months now and frequently come across little stands selling orxata de València or horchata de Valencia (the former being Catalano/Valenciano and the later Spanish (Castellano) both pronounced or-CHA-ta). I just passed them by, writing them off as a tourist thing.

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Settling into Routines

The authors enjoying happy hourAlmost 3 months after leaving San Jose and now that summer is nearly over, our family is starting to settle into routines. We’re adjusting well to our new European and Spanish ways of life. We’ve learned some survival Spanish, no longer need maps to get around, are drying our clothes on the line, using the 24 hour clock, the metric system, celsius, and managing to get by just fine without a car.

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First Impressions

Plaza Ajuntamiento view from above
The view from our apartment in Valencia

We moved to Valencia about 2 months ago, so I thought I’d share some of my first impressions, both the good and the not so good. Keep in mind that we’ve only lived here for a short time, and much of that time has been spent finding an apartment, and setting up our household. We’ve been eating out a lot during this time, and since it was summer, TJ was not in school and we were working hard to try and keep him entertained. (Note: We now refer to our home in San Jose as “Home Sweet Home” and our apartment in Valencia as “Home”. It just makes it easier in conversation so we can distinguish one from the other). Continue reading

Why Spain, Why Now?

Why Europe?

Europe map - Spain highlight

Heather and I have always enjoyed traveling, and have done a lot of it together over the years. We enjoy learning about different cultures, the history, and trying new foods. As a life-long suburbanite, I’ve always wanted to try living in a city, and love the idea of living in a really old city. We’ve talked many times about moving to Europe, and I’ve even had a couple of potential career opportunities here, but there was always something that held us back. Whether it was Heather’s career or mine, the birth of our son, or something else, the timing was just never right to make it happen.Continue reading