The day after we arrived we went straight to the first bank we could find, only 5 minutes from where we live luckily. We went in and after a struggle with google translate and gestures they said no. We couldn’t even work out why. So we headed to the next bank and there was a hand written bit of paper stuck to the window that said they are only open Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
It was Thursday.
So we went in the next day and following a similar language struggle we understood that they wanted to see a work contract. It would take us a couple of days to arrange that.
While we were waiting for the bank delays, we decided to try and get our NIE cards sorted. It gives you the permission to work in Spain (not that we are getting Spanish jobs) and some landlords require it too. While we won’t need it for a good 6 months, it could take that long to get it sorted!
We went to our local police station on Saturday which appeared to be at the bottom of a block of flats. It was closed. A cleaner pointed to the phone number that was stuck to the door and I think she tried to explain that we needed an appointment. Our Spanish isn’t good enough to do that, so we headed to Granada and google-mapped our way to the central police station, also in a block of flats. The first officer we met pointed to her badge and tried to explain that they were the National Guard and we needed a different office. She kindly took the time to note the address on a post-it and pointed the way. About 10 minutes later, we arrived at what looked like a court house. Lots of security and scanners. The officer here just shook his head and wrote another address on the back of the post-it. We thanked him for his time, found some shade and went back to google maps. This was like some orientering treasure hunt! The next one was bloody miles away on the outskirts of the city and by now it was about 2pm in the blistering heat, about 30 degrees. It also mentioned on the police station website attached to google maps that you should arrive at 9am to get a ticket to be seen. Well, that’s that for today then. Deflated, we found a tapas bar, then did ‘a big shop’ in the supermarket near the bus station. Not a wasted day. Progress.
Roll on to Monday, Jack had arranged a work contract and off we went back to the bank. However, Jacks phone didn’t actually want to behave and wouldn’t email it across. Back home we go. We figured it out and the lovely lady filled in the form on her computer. We were then told it would take 3 days to process and we would need to come back and sign for it on Friday.
We successfully wasted 4 days drinking sangria and watching Battlestar Galactica (on blu-ray no less) and then signed for the account on Friday. The service of having a bank account in Spain costs us €6 a month. That’s not for foreigners, that’s the same for everyone. It also costs €28 if you want a card for your account. We went for a joint account to save money and opted not to have a card at all as we are only using this account for out internet bill. Everything else is coming out of our english account as our landlord has bank account in england and we pay our ultilites to him.
As for the rest of Friday, we spent about 6 hours trying to apply online for any kind of broadband or home internet. Damn. Choices are really limited here and the prices vary by a ridiculous amount – I’m talking €10-200 a month! As is standard in most countries, most services were on a 12 month contract. We are only here for 6 months so that’s really not an option. We finally found a no-contract service with Amena for €30 a month that didn’t require a line because it’s a 4g router setup. It is, however, capped at 40GB a month. We can blaze through 100GB easy with game installs and updates. (I just tried to re-install TF2 on my laptop through Steam. It’s 18GB. NOPE).
We must have filled in that online form 6 times due to time-outs, wrong selections and Chrome’s auto-translate getting us into trouble. We couldn’t find our address listed. It’s because Granada translates to ‘pomegranate’! Kicked ourselves when we finally figured it out. We screenshot the confirmation screen which was the wisest moment of the day because we had no emails come through at all. We wouldn’t have had the order or tracking number without it.
And now we wait. More sangria and Battlestar. By Tuesday we were wondering what to do if it just doesn’t turn up. I had paid €68 for the router and delivery upfront. We were checking the tracking every hour then suddenly in was in a van on it’s way! Lovely! We tested our intercom, even gave it a new label and had the window open to listen for any vehicles. Nothing. At 5.08pm the tracking updated to failed delivery. Well, frak.
The tracking gave us a number to call to re-arrange the delivery. Panic mode. What do we now?! We can’t call them. Firstly, we have UK contracts making it very expensive to ring Spanish numbers. Secondly, and more importantly, hablo no espanol! Luckily, Jack has a friend in Madrid who very kindly rang up and sorted it all out for us – what a star! They will try and deliver the next day. Jack got up super early and stared out the window like a creepy assassin for hours until it arrived. He had to run outside and flag the driver who was clearly lost.
By lunchtime it was here! Like at Christmas, we ripped the bag open unpacked the box. One page of very simple instructions – plug in the router, insert the sim card. Even we can’t mess that up, right?
It didn’t work. I had nearly run out of mobile data at this point and frankly I was ready to go home. Hours of googling followed. We moved the router all over the house. Checking and re-checking signal coverage on their website (even though we did this before ordering). Learning bizarre and niche Spanish words to enable us to forum-search the issue. Translated the entire help section on the Amena website. Nothing but a helpline number with all the options in Spanish. Mentally exhausted, I’m done. Back to Battlestar. Meanwhile, Jack was posting in the Spanish forums. Someone had replied saying that it’s completely normal and will just work in a few hours. Weird.
And sure enough, 6 hours later, it just started working! As it turns out, in Spain, where everything is slower than a snail in peanut butter, they’ll just activate it whenever they get around to it. It was worth waiting for (just about) as the speeds here, even halfway up the highest mountain range in Spain, is actually phenomenal! 54MB down, 41MB up and a ping of 54. Blimey!
It took us 14 days to sort something that would have been done in 14 minutes in the UK. We tried our best to set up both of these from the UK in advance, but everything needed to be done in person. We couldn’t even get a solid answer wether we would be permitted a bank account or if we’d have any internet covereage/availability in this area. We gave up everything in the UK and moved here with no certainty of even being able to stay long-term. We just knew that we had a property ready and we had each other.
You have to love the unknown and the unpredictable else the stress will squash your journey before you even begin. All you need is hope and a sense of adventure.
And Google Translate.