3 Years in Spain: Embracing Change

Indeed, today is a special day, exactly 3 years ago we arrived in Spain, eager to start a better life. One of the main reasons for leaving Belgium was to be as far away as possible from the toxic people in my life. The people who had made my life a living hell were my parents aka my principal mental abusers who liked to remind all the time that I was “stupid, fat and ugly”. But after some months, I realized that I felt safer, and more relaxed, yet I wasn’t fully enjoying myself, but why not? Why wasn’t I happy? Even when we moved to Iznalloz, something was lacking. Wouldn’t you feel happy if you lived in a cozy apartment with 2 bedrooms, a spacious kitchen and a huge terrace with a killer view, all this for less than half of the rent we used to pay in Brussels for a 1-bedroom apartment with a kitchen designed for Lilliputians?

Relaxing Viking and chocolate milk while I am writing outside, because this Belgian girl still needs chocolate!

A view to die for, the swimming pool we share with our neighbors!

Seriously, why wasn’t I happy? A certain virus gave me more than enough time to ponder this question. Wasn’t it about time that I accepted myself as I was? Wasn’t it about time that I put the hurtful words of my parents behind me, once and for all? Moreover, when we left Belgium, it was merely weeks after having received my diagnosis as an aspie. And then it dawned on me: as long as I did not accept that diagnosis, I would and could never be completely happy. I became a member of a group of aspies on Facebook (I highly recommend this in case you are a struggling aspie yourself), I also started reading scientific articles about my disorder, especially about the positive traits (I will devote an article on this), and last but not least I started following channels about autism on YouTube (ask me in the comments if you want to know which ones I recommend). All of these made me fully accept Ingrid Dendievel with the quirky brain. And once I did that, I reached happiness. I now fully realize how lucky – and happy! – Lars and I am.

Some other big changes

When we had just arrived in Torrox, I felt restless because there were no trams or metro like in Brussels. In the meantime we have realized that living in a small town like Iznalloz is better for us, we have everything we need, the locals are super friendly and whenever we have a bad day, we can seek refuge in the surrounding mountains, where we have a canine friend, a Pyrenean mountain dog called Floof. When I meet him, he comes to greet me and then pees on our car, I think in his own way he has accepted us. And we have become friends with some locals here. All this contributes to our happiness.

I think it’s safe to say that we have become obsessed with the local tapas! I actually come from a family with the worst cooks ever, and I sincerely can’t tell you who was the worst, my mother or my grandmother. My grandmother, who raised me, because my own mother didn’t have the time for this, managed to cook a whole dinner in barely 5 minutes. They both were masters of turning pork into something abominable, a gray mass that smelt, felt and tasted like rubber. Even when I was an adult, I still disliked pork so much that the mere sight of it could make me vomit. Guess what? I have come to love it, thanks to the tapas culture! Not so long ago, I prepared pork tenderloin with a wine sauce for the very first time in my life. Last summer, The Viking almost fell off his chair, when I ate grilled pork fat with garlic as a tapa. I actually felt a bit guilty the other day when I saw a truck full of pigs on its way to the slaughterhouse, but the Viking crushed that feeling by telling me that pigs could behave like cannibals. By the way, I taught myself to cook and the very first dish I prepared was … paella! Actually, the Viking is spoiled with food here!

Happiness can come in small portions. My favorite moment of the day is the evening, when I can hear a lot of neighborhood dogs barking. It always makes me think of “101 dalmatians” (the animated movie, not the one with Glen Close), where dogs far and close bark to spread the message that Pongo’s and Perdita’s puppies have disappeared. This moment of the day always puts a smile on my face.

Anyway, up to many years of happiness in Iznalloz!

What about you? Would you be able to move to another country and to live happily ever after there?


Easter 2021 – Festivities With a Vengeance

Sounds a bit ominous, no? You will understand better when I explain the difference between Easter 2020 and the one of this year.

Last year, Easter fell in a (long) period of complete lockdown. And that had some serious consequences:

  • The supermarkets were plundered. Hence, buying all the necessary ingredients for a good meal during the Easter period was simply impossible.
  • I was not allowed to accompany Lars to the supermarket, so I could not come up with an alternative for our menu. Heck, the only thing I was allowed to do was to put the garbage outside.

Lars and I made do with the produce that we could find. And the meal wasn’t bad. It just didn’t feel festive…

However, this year, the situation was completely different. We have most of our freedom again and people don’t behave as if being attacked by zombies during their grocery shopping. And that had some really nice consequences.

Wednesday 31 March

With temperatures feeling more like summer than spring, we decided to have a BBQ again! We preferred to use seafood instead of meat. Lars and I opted for calamari stuffed with feta, chives, lemon rind, and some lemon juice as well. While the BBQ was doing its thing, we enjoyed some tinto de verano.

We served the stuffed calamari and baked potatoes with garlic butter. No need to buy some ready-made garlic butter, since it’s so easy to prepare it yourself. You can easily mix butter at home temperature with the desired amount of pressed garlic.

Dessert was also simple: grilled slices of pineapple with whipped cream!

Thursday 1 April

Curry is something we often make. We don’t use curry powder, but curry paste. In Granada itself, there is an Asian supermarket where we can buy different kinds of curry paste, light/dark soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and so on. It’s called Family Market, Calle Alhamar 27, 18005 Granada. Not easy to get rid of your car there, but they have all the Asian products we need!

Have a look at these pictures:

Yellow shrimp curry with green asparagus and mushrooms. Yummy!

Friday 2 April

Time for some classic French cooking! Sole Meunière, sole (fillet) with butter sauce, parsley, and lemon. This is one of my favorite Belgian dishes.

Easy to make, yet so delicious!

Easter Weekend

Jambalaya, the Creole version of paella!

Chicken, smoked sausage, shrimps, celery, green peppers, rice, onion, and cajun spices are the main ingredients. Here in Iznalloz, we cannot find such spices, but in the spice shops around the Cathedral of Granada we can!

Because we love jambalaya so much, we always make enough for 2 days.

As you can see, we had a lovely time this Easter. Lovely weather and yummy food, from all over the world. Later this week, we will publish our second randonautica adventure!

What about you? How was your Easter? Did you have fun? What did you eat?

Our First BBQ of 2021

This post deals with mental health issues. Read this text first.

Wednesday 17 February. Temperature 23 C grades (= 74 F grades). Time for the Viking to prepare himself.

Look at the weather!

The table is ready! Viking looks very concentrated.

Apart from my grandmother’s china, there isn’t much on the table. That will soon change.

Some ingredients…

I know it’s not summer yet, but we were both in the mood for some tinto de verano. By the way, I think we should have cleaned the table first…

Time for the potatoes and green peppers to go on the BBQ.

What’s in the mystery bag?

This is a Viking making garlic butter. Simple but oh so delicious! The butter, I mean…

Peppers arriving at the table.

The meat! Lars wanted a giant steak. The aspie in me had some troubles with that; I have the impression that the cut of the meat is different here in Spain. It simply doesn’t taste the same as in Belgium, so I stuck with hamburgers.

New arrival: a mixed salad.

I must have looked very hungry toward the Viking…

Steak is ready. Even I had to admit that it looked delicious.

Let’s attack!

You can even prepare dessert on a BBQ: grilled slices of pineapple. The fruit becomes less acidic and goes well with some whipped cream.

Later this week, we take you back to the province of Córdoba!

Danish Traditions and French Food in a Spanish Village


There are 2 different nationalities in our couple; during certain festivities, it’s therefore important that Lars and I can come to a compromise. Luckily, we do share the same preferences/priorities:

  • The food has to be delicious. Lars and I are foodies; because of my ASD however, I experience this differently. I am hypersensitive, I can literally lose myself in the taste of excellent food. ASD can have its advantages!
  • Relaxing: neither of us likes to spend hours in the kitchen preparing food. And stress has to be avoided when you deal with mental health issues.
  • We are inspired by two movies.

Babette’s Feast, where French cooking plays a very important role.

Julie and Julia, also devoted to French cuisine!

23 December

Lars once told me:

In the life of any Dane, there are two very important dates, 23 June and 23 December.

The Viking

23 June is “Sankt Hans Aften” (the Danish version of midsummer night), 23 December is called “lille juleaften” (small Christmas Eve). This is just the evening before Christmas Eve; it’s also a tradition in Norway and Iceland.

On the menu…

The weeks before the festivities I had seen a lot of publicity for shrimps. This is my own take on shrimp cocktail: shrimps (obviously), mixed salad, and tartare sauce (I couldn’t find any cocktail sauce).

Confit of duck with mixed salad and fried potatoes for our main dish.


24 December

Christmas Eve is the main event for the Danes. Goose, duck, and pork are popular for the main dish.

Not just any dry-cured ham for a starter, but the best in Spain: Jamón Ibérico (also known as Pata Negra).

In the afternoon I had started with the preparation of the main dish…

Tadaa! Boeuf Bourguignon! Slowly cooked beef, carrots, mushrooms, bacon, and onions in red wine. The Viking called it “phenomenal”.

Back to Danish tradition for dessert: Riz a l’Amande (French origins!). Milk rice, cream, almonds, and cherry marmalade. Whoever finds a whole almond wins a prize. It was decadently delicious!

And sweet cream cherry to accompany all the decadence.

25 December

This was the main event in my family. The Danes by now find themselves in a food coma.

This time the starter was some duck mousse, presentation à la Viking.

To be more precise, Viking in a non-creative mood.

The two other courses consisted of leftovers of the 2 days before.

26 December

The Danes have awakened from their food coma. It’s time to eat the very last leftovers with new dishes.

After all this meat it was time – finally! – for fish!

A very simple starter: smoked salmon.

I wanted to prepare sol meunière. Unfortunately, I had to do with dorado. I coated it in flour and then slowly fried it in (lots of) butter. Not pictured: served with lemon, boiled potatoes, and a salad.

Honestly, I cannot remember what we had for dessert.

1 January

Lars and I always stay in a tranquil hotel for New Year’s Eve, as far away as possible from fireworks and firecrackers. I hate loud noises, and they can even trigger a severe panic attack in me.

For New Year’s Day, I cooked “coq au vin”. Slowly cooked chicken with vegetables in red wine. And we forgot to take a picture. Chocolate ice cream for dessert (vanilla for the Viking).

That’s it, folks! Since 2013, Lars and I have celebrated Christmas and New Year without any family. The pandemic therefore didn’t affect us as much it did with our friends. We found most of the ingredients in our local supermarket (Dia); for the more luxurious produce (duck confit/mousse, dorado), we went to Mercadona. All in all, we had a great time!

What about you? How did you celebrate the holidays? Any problems with the pandemic? Do you have any special traditions? Let us know in the comments!

Snap of the Day – The Bridge

First, Happy New Year!

Slowly but surely, Lars and I are leaving food paradise and coming back to reality… We have had a spectacular festive season, but more about that in another post. Anyway, we are not going to lie, we now have a severe case of travel fever…

I took this picture during one of the last excursions of 2020. The weather was so fine that we had the feeling spring had arrived. Excellent conditions for a nice exploration! Soon we will publish the other pictures and the full story on the website.

What can you expect from us this week?

  • Danish traditions and French Food in a Spanish Village.
  • Our Best Explorations and Experiences in 2020.
  • Our Travel Plans for 2021.

Keep on following this website!

Two and a Half Years in Spain – Has it Changed Us?

Oh, yes! And in a good way! Let’s have a look.

Slower Rhythm of Life

Looking back on our life in Belgium, it seems like we were always in a rush. At work. At home, In the supermarket. During our travels. We were always rushing…

But here? No. Yet, it’s not like that we are on holiday here. I write. I blog. I photograph. Lars plans. Lars drives. And guess what? In a country where during at least 6 months it’s hot, you don’t feel like rushing. And especially during these months, we even take a siesta.


Better Physical and Mental Health

As a result, our health has improved a lot. I have not been physically ill ever since we arrived here. Lars maybe 2 or 3 times. In Belgium, I always had health problems. A cold. A flue. A throat and/or ear infection. Intestinal problems. And it’s because of the stress and the rushing…

And our mental health? We know that we will always have to take our anti-depressants. I also know that my ASD will never disappear. But the best thing is that I have finally accepted that. I am an aspie and I cannot change that. And if anyone has a problem with this, I refuse to make it my problem.

But there are 2 things I am even more grateful for. I no longer hear voices in my head. And I haven’t seen any shadow people. There was so much chaos in my head back in Belgium. And now, most of it is gone. No more dark clouds in my brain.

Moving Inland

Best decision of this year: moving to Iznalloz. We are now about 25 kilometers to the north of Granada. But:

  • The coast is only an hour away.
  • In our apartment complex, there is a communal pool.
  • Hardly any tourists.
  • Cheaper way of life.
  • So much tranquility!

Advice to anyone who wants to live here: go inland, to a big village. You will have all the amenities and your quality of life will improve!

No More Restaurants

How is that an advantage?

The answer is simple… TAPAS! And in the province of Granada: FREE TAPAS!

What Have We Learned So Far?

  • Try to adapt as much as possible.
  • They really don’t put any chorizo in paella.
  • Spanish men are so handsome. As an aspie, I don’t like to be touched by people I hardly know. But the man who runs the pharmacy here may always give me a hug!
  • Some Spanish women are beautiful (opinion of the Viking).
  • You will always find a bar here where the tapas are bigger.
  • Spanish watermelon is so much sweeter!

Later this month, we will tell you how you can cope with anxiety and stress when you have a mental condition and want to move to another country. In our next post this week, we will take you to Odessa!

Hasta luego, amigos!

Lessons Learned after 2 Years in Spain

Last Saturday, we celebrated our second anniversary in Spain. But what exactly have we learned in these 2 years? Moreover, do we have any regrets?

Those Cute Little Houses in Torrox Have a Serious Problem…

Remember this? I have to admit, it was kinda romantic living in one of those white houses. Especially with a roof terrace like this…

Too bad that many of these houses on the coast suffer from big humidity problems! That was a lesson that we learned way too late. Easy solution: we moved inland, which has actually proven to be very advantageous… But more about that in another post.

We All Have to Deal with the Same Nightmare

I follow a Facebook group of expats in Granada and regularly, there are expats complaining about the administrative nightmares they have to undergo…

Correction: everybody suffers from that same nightmare. Yes, even the Spanish themselves… Just mention the word “administracion” to any local person and you will see them rolling their eyes and hear them sigh. Just take it easy and follow all the necessary steps when you apply for your NIE or “residencial” or whatever. Becoming angry will certainly not help you, it could actually turn against you! Have a look here to see what you have to do – on an administrative level – if you want to live in Spain.

Better Learn the Language

Especially when you move inland! And even in tourist areas, there are lots of locals who don’t know a word of English. Yes, you can go to a language school, but immersion will cost you nothing. Sure, it’s (more) difficult, but it’s also more fun! I have Spanish friends who help me with the local language and in return, I teach them English or French. I promise you: learn the language and get to know the local culture and you have friends for life.

Besides, you can practice in fun circumstances:

  • in the tapas bar. Remember this? Free food!
  • at the local market. You would be surprised at how much money you will save as well!
  • in local shops.

And so much more!

Get Used to Informality

They are pretty straightforward people, the Spanish. And informal. No beating about the bush. It takes some getting used to. For example: you don’t need to reconfirm appointments like we do: just agree on a place, date and time and show up. That’s it.

Other keywords. Respect. Politeness. Cleanliness. I am an extremely messy person and I notice that my Spanish friends find that awkward.

Any Regrets?


Why You Should Consider Moving to Spain

Or not…

6 June 2018. That is the day that Lars and I moved to Spain, to Torrox. Today, we share what the good and the bad sides are of life as an expat in Spain.

The Pros

There is obviously the climate. Let’s be honest: I think it’s one of the main reasons why people move to Spain. Granted, in spring the weather can be quite unstable and temperatures are around 38 degrees Celsius in summer, but I don’t really mind that. There is simply so much more sunshine here, especially in winter. Then the sun sets around 5.30pm. That means no more winter blues or, even worse, seasonal depressions.

The cheaper way of life is another advantage. Three examples and we start with the rent. We now live to the north of Granada in an apartment with two bedrooms, a huge terrace, and access to a communal swimming pool. All this for 360 euros. Yes, you read that right. And for grocery shopping, we spend 30 to 50% less than in Belgium. Getting a haircut is at least 3 times cheaper.

Now that we are talking about money, what about free healthcare? Yes, that’s right, when you go to a doctor or have to spend some time in a hospital, you pay nothing. Zero. Nada. Sure, there is a certain administrative procedure you need to follow, but what an advantage. And buying medication will only cost you a couple of euros.

Food, glorious food! Read our piece about the art of tapas and you will understand why we have fallen in love with this aspect of Spanish gastronomy. It’s so cheap and you can taste a bit of everything. And from what I have learned from local friends, different regions and even different cities have their own tapas culture. To be explored after the lockdown. 

As a photographer, I have fallen in love with the huge variety of landscapes. I don’t know how familiar you are with Belgian and Danish geography, but let’s face it: both our home countries are rather flat. Here it’s not only a joy to practice photography, but it’s also a joy to sit on our terrace and see – and admire – mountains!

And last but not least, the attitude of the people. We tend to believe that they like to postpone things, but that is a myth. They have deadlines to respect at work just as much as we do. But in general, the local people have a more relaxed attitude. 

The Cons

Yes, this is not a paradise. Here are some disadvantages.

Most things are notably a lot cheaper, except for water and electricity. On a monthly basis, we pay about 30 euros for water and between 50 and 100 euros for electricity. There is only one thing to do: be aware of what you consume!

Our biggest nightmare is without any doubt the Spanish banks… First of all, they are more expensive. You have to pay a couple of euros for example when you get money from an ATM. Moreover, they all encourage electronic payments, whereas in reality in more than enough shops, bars, and restaurants, you can only pay cash, especially in smaller towns and villages.

The biggest complaint we have however is service and especially customer support. Sabadell is okay, but they rank amongst the most expensive banks and you can only find them in places where a lot of expats live. Santander, on the other hand, is cheaper, but when it comes to service, there is only one word to describe it: horrible! In October last year, Lars accidentally blocked his bank card, and both the local bank and the helpdesk refused to help us, which led to a lot of trouble. Our advice: digital banks like N26. You still have a Spanish bank account and way better service.

Last but not least: employment. Spain has a high unemployment rate. Make sure you have a thorough knowledge of Spanish or you won’t find any job. It gets even tougher when you are older than 40. There are solutions though. Lots of expats open their own business such as a B&B or a bar. You can teach a language or work online. 

I would be impolite if I didn’t say thank you to a fellow blogger who promoted my website earlier this week. Be kind and visit his blog.

By the way, I took the photos featured in this post in Torrox Costa.

And before I hit “Publish”, on Friday, we pay another visit to Germany.

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