Arriving at Valdelavilla, Spain…!!!

Tired from a long bus ride, everyone sprawls on the grass to capture a few rays of sunshine while waiting to check in - Sunday, September 19, 2010

I know, it has been a while since I wrote about Valdelavilla, but I promised…and here it is…

We arrived at Vladelavilla after about six hours (two hours for lunch – see on the way to Valdelavilla) by bus. Terrain was mostly highway to the last narrow dirt road approach to the village. That was the first time we said to ourselves, “What did we get ourselves into…?”

 The village is very small. There are only about three named streets in the village and about 12 – 15 buildings. This photo of main street…Calle Real…shows the hilly topography and the absolutely historic buildings, now used by Vaughan Systems and as a very secluded hotel for weddings.

We were very curious and excited to see where we would stay for the week.

Our "house" on Camino de la Fuente

  Rick and I stayed on the second floor, Alex (Alejandro) Zargoza Salcedo (Spanish) stayed on the third floor and Graham Hills (English) also stayed on our floor. There was a joint living room/kitchen on the main floor. This was typical…several people sharing one dwelling.

We were originally scheduled to stay in a different house, but Elizabeth and David Smith wanted their daughter Ashlee to stay in the same house with them…so we switched. WAY better for us. The other room was on the third floor (picture narrow very tall stairs and luggage to move), but it had a better view.

The room we ended up with was large and had a sitting area AND it was on a short second floor.

Our room with two single beds, living room, fireplace and bathroom

 

Surprisingly comfortable beds, or maybe I was just really tired

We even had an old fashioned phone, but I think it was only good for the immediate village area. We thought Peter was kidding about cell phone coverage. He told us you had to hike about half way up the hill/mountain to get reception…he WASN’T kidding! We were in a valley with basically no cell reception.

Part of our very small bathroom

There is a reason I included this…the bathrooms were quite amusing…looking back on the experience. The second reason we asked ourselves, “Waht did we get ourselves into?” The shower was about 2 1/2 feet by 2 1/2 foot square with a shower curtain that was too short to tuck into the shower pan. SO…the bathroom flooded each time we showered…and you basically looked like a naked person wrapped in plastic when you finished!
Graham’s shower next door not only flooded his room, but the water snaked out under his door and down the stairs!
Hey, it was an adventure…what can I say.
Apparently, the conditions were similar in most rooms.
One of the young Spanish participants, Susana Ayllon was attacked by spiders. Well, maybe not attacked, but she hates spiders and had to deal with them repeatedly through the week.
This brings back memories for me because of trekking up and down to the laundry. They were supposed to provide laundry detergent, but there wasn’t any…so…somebody used dish detergent. And the filter had maybe never been cleaned…so for some odd reason, the washes didn’t drain right and didn’t dry right. Thankfully, one of the guys figured it out and cleaned out the filter…what a mess!

Path between buildings - I just like the photo

 The experience almost felt like a retreat. We were isolated, got to know each other fairly well, and started dividing up by age and interests. The seclusion seemed to draw everyone together so that talking became very easy.

The next blog on Valdelavilla will describe our typical days…
Hang in there. I know I’ve taken a while to cover this, but I promise to finish it…I have lots more interesting photos…!
If you have a chance to visit a place like this, do it.
The one thing I felt over and over was…the people of Spain are very much like us. They complain about taxes, work, the government and face the same challenges we do. It really helps to understand that most of the world is trying to have a normal life…just like us…!
Until next time…
Sandie Parrott
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5 Responses to Arriving at Valdelavilla, Spain…!!!

  1. Gaynor Tuck says:

    Hi Sandie!
    I am travelling up to Veldelavilla in August this year. I am a single traveller going for the first time!! Any special hints/ ideas things to take???
    Coming from Australia and spending 3 months in Spain. Is there any where fantastic you can suggest to visit?

    Thanks
    Gaynor

    • Gaynor,

      Valdelavilla is fun, interesting, challenging and rustic. If you are going for the English speaking program, bring maps, photos and things about your life to show the participants. I wish I had brought more. Practice speaking clearly and enunciating. The Spanish people attending our week knew English very well, but accents were hard to understand! Depending on what part of Australia you are from…your accent may also be difficult for them to follow. We had 7 Aussies attend our week! Also, realize if you use a modern saying popular in Australia or slang, you will probably need to explain it…not only to the Spaniards, but to the Anglos as well! I was surprised the Anglos, British and Aussies had so many different sayings and expressions…

      If you expect cell phone service…know that you have to climb up a hill to get it! Nope, not joking. You are in the middle of nowhere in a beautiful hilly area.

      In September the place was bombarded by annoying flies…late August might have the same problem. Might want something to ward of the buggers…

      Accomodations are rustic…showers are tiny…hot water is limited…there is no TV or radio. Some brought iPads or smart phones…there is wifi if you sit almost in the office…and there is one, much demanded very slow computer in the office. You will not be leaving the town as you arrive by bus (unless you drive separately)…

      Food is more than plentiful…very traditional for the region. Some of the Spaniards said it wasn’t special, but it was unique to us, so we were pleased. Eating hours were strange for us Americans…traditional European breakfast (meats, cheeses, breads and sometimes chocolate croissants) were served at 9am…lunch 2pm (salads, soups, and full entrees) and dinner (similar to lunch) at 9pm…(we usually eat in the US around 7am—12pm…6pm). Lunch and dinner include wine. You are given choices for lunch and dinner…make SURE you fill out the sheet the day before or you may not get what you like!

      For dining…the tables are set for 4 or 6…there must be an equal number of Anglos and Spaniards at each table for all meals. Yes, English starts at breakfast and runs all day. It is kind of funny trying to figure out where to sit. I rarely ate with my husband…!

      The service was poor the week my husband and I were there…it took 3 days to get more hangers (the main coordinator had to request them)…the key to the main door didn’t work…the laundry facility had to be repaired by one of the Aussie’s…(bring your own laundry detergent…they said there would be some, but there was not…)

      Bring a sweater or jacket as it can get cool in the evening. Bring walking shoes…walks with students are common…it gets boring to sit around…clothes are casual except for the last night’s “party” (which we didn’t know about)…

      You will be paired with all of the Spaniards over the week several times. First meetings are mostly getting to know each other…by the end of the week you will talk about everything! I was pleasantly surprised how much they knew about US politics and general history and such about the US. The week I was there the participants ages were from 20 to maybe 50. From all walks of life…students, business owners, managers, doctors, researchers and an airline pilot!

      Volunteer for the skits…Oh my gosh are they a riot! Be open to all types of food…people…etc. The more you participate…the more you will learn also.

      If you have any other questions write back to this website or info@SandieParrott.com

      You will have a great time…

      In your three months travel…don’t miss Madrid (my favorite, friendly people and lots to see and do)…Barcelona (Spaniards pronounce the C as a TH), Valencia (C=TH) and Sevilla (sa-VE-yah). The last two I learned about through the Spaniards. I have never visited, but I want to!

      I would go back to Spain in a hot minute…I loved it!

      Have fun…write back!

      Sandie Parrott

    • Margaret Besomo (Perth, Australia) says:

      Next time you’re in Spain sign up with VaughanTown to conduct conversational one on one English with professional Spaniards in a beautiful setting either city or country. The English speakers are volunteers who receive FREE board and lodging in 5 star accommodation. It’s a great week of fun, laughter and conviviality.

  2. Christine Curtis says:

    Hi Sandie

    I too am going to Valdelavilla on 7th August, I wondered if anyone picks up this blog whether they are going to be at Madrid airport about 1pm Spanish time on the 6th and going to Eurobuilding 2. If so would they like to meet up and share a taxi to the hotel?

    Also my partner seems to think there will be somewhere to swim there, I doubt it, but could you let me know to save me bothering to pack a swimming costume?

    I’m a bit trepidous about the experience, not quite knowing what to expect (especially as I’ll probably be much older than most people going) but looking forward to it all the same!

    If anybody wants to meet up and share a taxi please let me know.

    Many thanks
    Christine Curtis

    • Christine,

      For some reason I’m not getting notified when I have a comment. Sorry, I didn’t answer.

      As I’m sure you found out, there is no swimming at Valdelavilla…not much except mountains…

      Write back about your experience. I hope you had a great time, learned a lot and made a few friends. My husband and I sure did.

      We stayed at the Euro Building 2 hotel on the last day. It was very nice and you get a nice discount if you are connected with the Vaughan program.

      Let me know how it went!

      Sandie

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