Exploring the castle near A Coruña, Spain

Travel diary: Setting up in A Coruña

Our first week in our new home of A Coruña has undoubtably been a success. We’ve found and moved into an apartment, made new friends and hosted a small party, and I’ve found a ridiculously low-paying job. And we’re even on the way to getting all the documentation we need!

Monday 23/4: Since it was our first day in our new city, we decided to take an extensive wander around, keeping our eyes open for apartments for rent. Although our Couchsurfing host Yolanda had told us that it would be better to organise it all privately, we stopped into a couple of property agencies, which were spectacularly unhelpful.

Apartment for rent sign in A Coruña

Instead, we took photos of the many ads plastered on walls and lampposts, and sent text messages to the advertisers in the evening, after returning from a walk of at least 15km — and we thought the long walks were over! We had a menu del día lunch in the old town and visited one of the schools I’ve been in touch with about work. Plus I had an interview with the other one in the evening, which seemed to go well (especially since they offered me a part-time job a couple of days later). In the evening we made guacamole and pebre for a light dinner and chatted with Yolanda before bed.

Tuesday 24/4: Despite all of our work sending texts and making phone calls, we only had one positive response from our flat-hunting efforts. For some reason, none of the landlords are interested in a three-month let, they’d prefer to leave their flats empty while waiting for someone to sign up for a longer contract. We arranged to see our sole option, and spent half an hour looking around and chatting with the landlords before heading back to Yolanda’s place to think about it. The price was more than we’d hoped to pay, but still a lot less than New Zealand prices. We decided to go for it, and went back to talk to the landlords again.

For rent sign in A Coruña

Later, I met up with Fiona, the owner of Masterclass, for a chat about job possibilities. Although it looks like I won’t be able to work with her at the moment, she might have some work for me over the summer.

In the evening, I finally got to meet Oliva, my language-exchange partner, and we had hot chocolate and pastries in a friendly cafe. We’ve been friends for over a year and it only occurred to her recently to tell me that her name wasn’t actually Maria, as it appears in her Skype account — now I’ve got to get used to calling her Oliva! She’s just as lovely and funny in person as she is online, and I’m looking forward to spending lots of time with her over the next three months.

We had kebabs for dinner on the way home, and I had another long chat with Yolanda.

Apartment for rent sign in A Coruña

Wednesday 25/4: The day started with another visit to the new landlords, who took our passport details and told us where the supermarkets were. While I was talking to them, Craig had an adventure trying to print off his boarding pass, and eventually had success after enlisting the help of almost everyone in the shop.

We walked together to the bus stop, and Craig caught the bus to the airport, where he arrived ridiculously early for his flight to England. The flight was very pleasant, and Kevin picked him up from Heathrow and took him back to his and Gail’s flash new house, where they had delicious home-made curry for dinner.

I, on the other hand, got to have fun with bureaucracy. First I visited the immigration office, where I waited for an hour or so before being called to talk to a typically dragon-like clerk. I explained that I had a visa that allowed me to stay in Spain for a year and was told that that simply wasn’t possible. She disappeared with my passport for quarter of an hour, and returned to tell me to come back the next day.

On the way home I joined the library, and I spent the afternoon reading and getting a bit of work done before having dinner with Yolanda.

Thursday 26/4: My day started back in the immigration office, where the clerk seemed quite happy to see me. She disappeared with my passport again before returning to tell me that yes, Spain has agreements with New Zealand and Canada, and that all I needed to do was get a job contract for three months and fill in a few forms — a process which might actually be a lot easier than I thought it was going to be.

I visited the bank to find out what documents I need to get an account then went in to see my new bosses, who were happy to give me a contract but said it would take a while to get, since we are in Spain after all. The guy I’m taking over from, James, showed me around the school and explained what to do in each of the classes, so that was good. I spent the afternoon reading and chatting with Amy (Yolanda’s flatmate), then headed to the airport to meet Craig.

He’d spent the day at Heathrow, since Kevin could drop him off there before work, and taking public transport would have wasted a good couple of hours. At the airport, he got a bit of work done then met his sister Christina for lunch — she recently moved to London and seems to be enjoying herself. The flight back to A Coruña was delayed by half an hour or so because of high winds, but he made it out of security just in time for us to catch the 8:15 bus back to the city.

Moving day

Moving day

After a light dinner, we headed to my new work, where the bosses (Ben and Jimmy) were throwing a goodbye party for James. It was great to meet all my new colleagues, who I’m sure I’ll see a lot of; they all seem really nice.

Friday 27/4: After a bit of a sleep-in, we packed up all our worldly possessions and walked the kilometre or so to our new apartment. The landlords showed us around, explaining in detail how things work, and we signed a contract and were given the keys.

We needed provisions, so we spent the afternoon visiting the various supermarkets in the area to get everything we needed. Of course we somehow managed to get lost, but that was okay because we stumbled across a well-decorated bar that had a great opening special: a drink and half-portion of food for €3.50. We decided that that would do for lunch and spent the next hour or so there, before returning to our place to prepare for our housewarming party.

We’d invited all our friends (Oliva, Yolanda and Amy) and they all came bearing tasty gifts. After giving them the grand tour of the apartment, we spent the evening chatting and snacking.

Beach excursion with Oliva, A Coruña, Spain

Tiny islands

Saturday 28/4: Although the forecast was for rain, the day dawned bright and sunny — a fact we were alerted to by a text from Oliva, who suggested an excursion. We agreed readily, and breakfasted rapidly before meeting her at her place (a five-minute walk away) and hopping in her car. She’d planned a fantastic itinerary, and we visited various beaches and ports, as well as a castle, before ending up in Sada, where we had a tasty lunch and stopped in at the market.

Linda and Oliva at the castle

Linda and Oliva at the castle

After a rest in the afternoon, we met up with Oliva again in the evening, to discover the wonderful world of A Coruñian tapas. We were joined by her boyfriend Guille (who I’ve heard a lot about) and her friend Alba, and had a great evening visiting a couple of the most popular tapas bars. The boys both bailed early on, but Oliva, Alba and I headed to Valor for hot chocolate and good conversation before calling it a night.

Alba and Oliva in Caión, Spain

Alba and Oliva in Caión, Spain

Sunday 29/4: After the early mornings of the Camino, a sleep-in is always welcome, but we took it to an extreme today! We had a light lunch of salad and lentils then got a bit of work done before heading out for a long walk on the beach. On our return, we recorded our first podcast in ages, then had a snack of cheese and crackers.

I headed out to meet Oliva and Alba in the afternoon, and we went for a drive to Caión, where there is a really nice paseo maritimo or seaside walk. We also drove to a couple of other beaches, and managed to get lost in a tiny Galician town on the way back to A Coruña — it was a real adventure.

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2 Responses to “Travel diary: Setting up in A Coruña”

  1. Sofia @ As We Travel May 3, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

    Great to see it all went quite smoothly! I’m surprised you found somebody who would rent a place for you for only three months, that’s awesome.

    We tried for ages to find a place to rent in Austria for less than a year, but nobody seemed interested (most people wanted you to stay there for at least 3 years!)
    Maybe we should look into finding something in Spain instead.. :)

    • Craig and Linda May 4, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

      Sorry to hear that Sofia. Three years seems… Odd.

      It did take a bit of looking around, and the agencies didn’t even want us in their offices. We just kept sending texts to the numbers listed around the place until we got a viewing, then took the first that would have us before the opportunity disappeared!

      Where are you now?

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