One thing I quickly discovered when I first started this blog was that reading other peoples’ was a key principle to the notion of blogging and fundamentally important if I wanted my own blog to do well. At first, I must confess I did feel rather inundated with the amount of all-singing, all-dancing, super-duper blogs that would pop up on my reader and I tried in vein not to compare them to my tiny, insignificant, feebly themed own. Eventually though, this blog envy quietly subsided and I started to pay more attention to what I was actually reading as opposed to the designs and award widgets etc.
Now, I am an avid reader of countless other blogs and my poor inbox is now drowning in a sea of unread posts, likes, weekly digests and newsletters. I do eventually get around to reading them, but I am easily distracted and often read only one before inadvertently falling down a sort of cyberspace rabbit hole – something I’m sure most of us can probably relate to!
But then we all have our favourites don’t we? As in the ones that just can’t wait to be feasted upon; the ones that automatically leapfrog their way to front of the ever-increasing queue the moment they are published. ‘A Spanish Inquisition‘ is (or rather will be) an interview series that highlights and profiles some of these favourite blogs of mine, and the clever and creative expatriates responsible for them. The series will explore why, where, for how long and how the featured expat lives (or ended up living) in Spain, with a few decent tips and anecdotes thrown in for good measure. If you’re considering a move to Spain or another foreign country then I’m sure this would be positively useful reading for you. If you’re not, then read on anyway. Maybe you’ll change your mind.
The first expat to be featured in ‘A Spanish Inquisition’ is none other than Marianne Elizabeth, the brains behind East Of Málaga, a superb blog which was recently awarded bronze in the Spain division of the BlogExpat awards and picked up easyjet’s ‘Blogger Of The Month‘ award back in September of last year. Lawyer-turned-EFL Teacher, traveller, writer, photographer and self-proclaimed arctophile, Marianne tells us about Malága, lesser-known bull runs and the importance of waking up to bags of lemons. So, without any further ado…
A Spanish Inquisition – East of Malaga
Name: Marianne Elizabeth
From: Originally from Lytham St Annes, a Lancashire town on the north-west coast of England.
Occupation: I was a criminal lawyer back in England, but that was then. These days, I am fortunate enough to be largely able to do what I want, which increasingly includes writing, taking photographs, travelling and blogging.
Time in Spain: I’ve lived in Andalucía for 8 years and I love it!
Blogging credentials: I only got into blogging more seriously this past summer but my blog, East of Málaga, now has over 1100 followers. I was fortunate to have been named “Blogger of the Month” by EasyJet Holidays in September 2012 and have recently been voted one of the top-three expat blogs in Spain in the recent BlogExpat awards.
1. Complete this sentence:
“Spain is a beautiful and diverse country, filled with mountains, olive trees and a great road network. However, there is too much bureaucracy and not enough jobs for citizens prepared to work hard.
2. Why did you move to Spain? Why Málaga?
Moving to live abroad was something me and my hubby talked about for years before we finally did it. We chose Spain and in particular the province of Málaga because of the very mild winter weather and the friendly people.
3. What is one of Málaga’s best kept secrets?
The city of Málaga itself is a wonderful secret and is often overlooked. Most people use the airport for arrival in the Costa del Sol and then travel on to their final destination without exploring the many delights the city has to offer. Màlaga is a great city for shopping, restaurants, monuments, markets and much, much more.
4. How would you describe the culture here? What type of people tend to thrive, and what type don’t do as well?
Spanish culture is very family-orientated, with lots of fiestas and festivals. If you want to fit in, be prepared to join in with whatever’s going on and practice your language skills. The people who don’t fit in very well are the expats who compare everything to their home country, buy all their grocery from “English shops”, have no language skills and only have English-speaking friends.
5. What have been (briefly) the best three experiences you’ve had since moving here?
a) Discovering tapas and finding new places to eat them!
b) Visiting and getting to know the classic Andalucían cities of Granada, Córdoba and Seville.
c) Waking up one morning during the first six months we lived in the village of Frigiliana, and finding a big bag of lemons hanging from the front door knob from our Spanish neighbours. It meant we belonged!
6. What has been the worst? And how could it have been avoided?
Being so far away from England when a close relative was terminally ill. Even though we are less than a three hour flight away, being able to get regular/last minute flights during peak tourist months can prove to be difficult and very expensive. It couldn’t be avoided as far as I can see.
7. How much Spanish could you speak before you moved to Spain? What’s the best way to learn?
I could only speak a few words – basic greetings, numbers and a few standard phrases. The best way to learn is to get stuck in and practice. It doesn’t matter if you get things wrong – people will help you out if they can see you trying.
8. Money is a thorny issue for any would-be expat. Do you have any tips on working, saving, banking etc?
I would say to carefully consider your finances, think about what you really want from your move to Spain and DO YOUR RESEARCH. How are you going to support yourself? Bear in mind there is 25% unemployment here, (and even more among the under 25s) so finding a job might prove difficult.
Rent before you buy for twelve months, to include every season. It´s very different living here full-time, as opposed to visiting only during peak holiday periods.
9. Finally, what’s the best photo you’ve ever taken in Spain? Tell us about it!
Well, I don’t know about the best photo but I can certainly tell you about one of the most fun! It was taken during the annual Bull Run in the village of Frigiliana. Held each June, I guess you could say this is a scaled-down version of the festival held in Pamplona each year, except they only use young bulls. The young men of the village try to show their bravado or, in this case, how fast the can run!
Marianne is a former lawyer, EFL teacher, neophyte blogger, petrol-head, amateur photographer, traveller, English woman and shameless arctophile. For the past eight years she has lived in Andalucía, in a beautiful area, known as La Axarquía. Through her website, East of Málaga, you can learn about the many delightful villages and towns, the fiestas and festivals, and discover what it is really like to live on the southern coast of Spain on a day-to-day basis.