by Patty Sanchez
If you just arrived to Spain and decide it is time to go grocery shopping, hold that thought! Do not be a new inexperienced expat and think you can walk home carrying three bags of groceries loaded with fruit, meats, dairy products and a five liter bottle of water. After five minutes of walking towards your new apartment two or three blocks away, you will stop to continuously shift the weight of the plastic bags to keep them from digging into the crooks of your fingers. You will instantly lament those past days of yonder when you once drove to the supermarket and leisurely loaded groceries onto the trunk of your car.
The solution to this problem is to purchase as soon as possible a shopping trolley/cart. You can load the shopping trolley/cart with bottled water, milk tetra bricks, one kilo of apples, or any other heavy food item that once crunched your spinal discs. You will walk out the store in relief that the trolley was the best expat investment ever.Shopping carts come in different styles and colors ranging from bag types to trolleys with a separate compartment to keep perishables in a thermos pocket. As you make your way home you will feel in grocery union with the local women pushing their trolleys home.
Next thing to remember when grocery shopping is to have on hand a fifty céntimo coin, a one euro coin, or a two euro coin to lock your cart in front of the check out stands and another coin to release a store shopping cart. The latter is more common for stores that have parking lots and want to ensure customers kindly return the carts to the shopping cart collection point. If you are British and have a two pence coin, the coin will work to release a shopping cart if the coin release accepts a two euro coin.
Do not underestimate the use of these trolleys especially if you have children. Your children are going to want juice, yogurt, Cacaolat (chocolate milk), etc., and if you need to pack their school lunch, your grocery load is going to be even larger and heavier. Lastly, if your building does not having an elevator and you live on the fourth floor of your building, your grocery shopping troubles are going to multiply. The good news to this dilemma are nifty carts made with special wheels to help you pull the cart up flights of stairs. Carts made for stairs have three back wheels on each side to make going upstairs easier.
A different option is have groceries delivered to your home for a small fee, normally about two euros. The cashier will write down your name and address and have it delivered during allotted store times.
When you get to the checkout line and it is your turn to have your groceries scanned, make your move fast and retrieve your trolley from the secured trolley section, put the key in, collect your coin and head to the checkout line with your trolley and load the heaviest and biggest items at the bottom. You can naturally figure out what to do next with the rest of your groceries. Thank the cashier and wheel your groceries home like you just bought the most useful and convenient item on earth.
After graduating from UC Irvine, I returned to the university to obtain a TESOL certificate and upon completion of the program I headed to Barcelona to live a different cultural experience. I found a job teaching English two weeks after I arrived in August of 2001. One year later I fell in love and married my Catalan husband. I have been living in Barcelona for the past ten years and continue to discover the many layers of this fascinating culture. One of my long term goals is to speak fluent Catalan by practicing with my husband as I test his patience with my many mistakes. I am returning this fall to the university, and look forward to another unique expat experience with the Spanish university system. I’ve already had interesting encounters with the bureaucratic process to register.
Patty blogs at www.pattyinspain.blogspot.com