The good life in sunny Spain

Today, Leslie enjoyed getting a pedicure at a nail salon here in Alicante. We found this place online, then stopped by yesterday afternoon and made the appointment. You should understand that she really liked getting her toes done at Karma in our former hometown of Westmont, Ill. So going to someone else, especially someone who  does not speak English, was a big question mark. I think Leslie has a new favorite nail tech! They managed to communicate just fine, and the pedicure was slightly less than at Karma, just 25 euros.

We’re trying to be like locals, so Leslie is cooking our main meal at midday, which for Spain is around 2 p.m. We have a big dinner, what we would call “lunch,” between 2 and 3 p.m., with a glass of red wine. Then we enjoy siesta until 5 or 6 p.m. Sometimes that’s an actual nap, sometimes it’s reading a book, or taking a walk or working on a blog. Many shops close between 2 or 3 p.m. and 5 or 6 p.m., then reopen until 8 or 9 p.m. Siesta is very civilized. Here’s one of those midday meals, a favorite of mine and one of Leslie’s amazing creations: Spanish steak baroness, along with a 2012 crianza from Protos winery in the Ribera del Duero region of Spain.img_1189

OK, the selfie’s not that great, but the meal was incredible!

Most Spaniards have their evening meal as late as 9 or 10 p.m. Something light like tapas. I’ve been making dinner salads for us almost every evening, usually about 7: 30 or 8 p.m. That was our lunch back in the States. Having a light meal before bedtime is, we think, healthier.

We usually dine at home, but some evenings we go out for tapas and a glass of sangria. And a few times we’ve had the midday meal at a restaurant, taking advantage of the menu del dia. For a fixed price, often less than 10 euros per person, you get an appetizer or soup, entree, wine and dessert.

We’re buying food at a couple of different places, but the most interesting is Central Mercado on Avenida Alfonso X El Sabio. Built in 1911-12, it’s a cavernous old building with  modernist architecture and tilework. Seems like hundreds of vendors on two floors, selling fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, cheese, etc. Like the Downers Grove farmers’ market on steroids, but indoors and all year ’round. Prices are even better than the farmers’ market, too. And if we don’t know the Spanish name of something we just point to the item and ask, “Como se dice esta en Espanol?” This morning, Leslie pointed to the broccoli and asked that question. “Broccoli,” the vendor smiled. Sometimes it’s easy.

Another great thing about this part of the world: We’ve been here a little over two weeks now and have not used heat or air conditioning in the apartment. Most days, the windows are open. It’s been a little cool the past few evenings, but most it’s usually at least  22 degrees in the afternoon, and the coolest overnight so far has been 10 degrees. Remember, they use the Celsius scale in Europe so that would be a high of 70-plus and a low of 50. And very little rain.

One more month here in Spain,  then we move on to the island nation of Malta for another month. We’ve heard lots of good things about Malta, and can’t wait to check it out. The original plan was to go to France or Italy next. But even southern France is a bit chilly this time of year. And our preferred location in Italy, the Amalfi Coast, was a logistical nightmare. So we opted for Malta and we’re still hopeful our daughter Stephanie will be able to join us for Christmas.

On Jan. 15, we must leave the Schengen Zone. Options include hanging out for three months in the UK, Ireland or Croatia, or something more exotic such as Cyprus or Israel, then back to Europe proper. The current Plan A, though, is to come back to the New World, probably to Montevideo,Uruguay, where it is now summer!

That could change, though.We’ll keep you posted.




Worshipping With Wesley

We decided to go to church Sunday. Surely there’s a Methodist church somewhere in London, right? So we rode the Tube to 49 City Road and attended the 11 a.m. service at Wesley’s Chapel. Yes. John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, built this church and preached here until his death. Here we are, shortly after the service ended. Our good friends at Grace UMC in Naperville will appreciate this the most. Today, we walked in the steps of John and Charles Wesley.


This is an amazing place. Roughly half the congregation is African, many of the rest would fit right into the Forum Class at Grace! Being here was awesome. The Rev. Jennifer Potter gave an excellent sermon (not as good as Pastor Cindy, though!) from the high pulpit. In Wesley’s day, the pulpit was three times higher than what you see behind us here. That was so Wesley could see everybody, including those in the balcony, and be heard by all.

Following the service, we had coffee with some of the congregants. Wouldn’t be a Methodist church without coffee, would it? Then we went on a tour  with other visitors, including a group from Idaho. A volunteer showed us the church, the Methodist Museum, Wesley’s original Foundry Chapel (next door to the current church), Wesley’s home and his tomb. I won’t take up space here with details. If you want to know more, go to The church was closed for a number of years and has been changed significantly from what Wesley built in the 1700s. For example, there were no stained glass windows then.  I’ll just add that it was pretty cool when I was able to stand in the same pulpit that John Wesley preached from. Wow!

Here’s that pulpit from the Foundry img_1071Chapel, now in the Methodist Museum. What’s still in the original chapel is the organ Charles Wesley used to write many of the hymns we still sing today.

In Wesley’s house, we saw the parlor and study, along with Wesley’s bedroom. All the rooms are very, very small. Much like the hotel room we’re in right now!

Here’s his study, complete with the chair he used, a replica of his preaching robe and the grandfather clock originally owned by Wesley’s parents. Notice that the chair is designed to be used as a normal chair, but Wesley also sat backwards on it so he could place a book on the img_1086small shelf, making study easier. The tour guide pointed out the size of the robe. Really short. Wesley was quite short, even for people in the the 18th Century.

Finally, here’s a shot of the church.img_1089