The Pain in Spain

People can get very angry if you don’t like the place they live and love. Okay, they feel protective, I get it; but if somebody attacks the places for which I have a particular fondness – Paris, New York City, Cardiff – I don’t take to Facebook to abuse them.

I genuinely don’t care. I like these places, and that’s all that matters. I might think you are deluded and wrong, but I’m not going to lose sleep over it. And there are times when I change my mind, too – a lot. It’s not a crime.

Yet anger is what I got when I deigned to mention what I haven’t liked about Valencia over the past year, and Spain in general (which I had also experienced for eleven years previous, by the way). All the abuse did was to confirm for me that the city is everything I said it was, and it reminded me that I’d also forgotten to mention provincial, parochial and, clearly, a haven for expats who have nothing better to do than abuse others on social media. The locals, by the way, are very nice. But I’m not talking about them.

The particular abusive post in question said they hoped I would never return to their ‘beautiful city’ and accused me of having attacked it previously as being no Paris or New York. Well, it’s not. It’s not Madrid or Barcelona, either, and if big cities aren’t your thing, I can see the appeal of a quaint, less busy place in which most people are tucked up in bed with their cocoa by midnight (Irish bars aside); it’s just not for me.

Funnily enough, the friends of this person, who I also knew but briefly (anti-vaxxers, pro-Brexit – despite having moved to Spain) did nothing but moan about Valencia in the brief time I knew them. In, fact, within weeks of moving into their new place, they were eager to sell it. I have no idea what happened to them. They were nice enough guys, but again, the aggression on Facebook was a huge turn-off.

I was rather flattered to hear I was ‘already the talk’ of the city, albeit ‘not in a good way’. Hilarious. Seriously, mate; that’s the best you can do? Ooh, however will I live with myself? Having dealt with the toughest editors in Fleet Street, I can easily take this on the chin. Both of them.

I can just picture the bitchy little posse (oh, yes, I know who the guys are), clasping their cheap Rioja, expending valuable breath whingeing about me (one of them while wearing a very ill-fitting wig, which all the other guys make fun of behind his back). What a waste of time and oxygen. And sad. Interestingly, though, I have been bullied more as an older woman than I ever was as a child. But that’s for another post.

We are, thankfully, all different. I love big cities; I enjoy crowds; I am stimulated by people who are open to, and enjoy, life and new experiences; who are kind to others; who are not narrow-minded in their approach to anything; who listen to the opinions of others, even though they might not share them (yes, I have listened to anti-vaxxers and pro-Brexiteers and have had very interesting discussions).

I thought that coming out of the ghastly two years we have all just endured that people would emerge better people; but what seems to have happened is that they have just become nastier. Maybe Covid made many more insular, more protective of everything they had thought safe until they saw it under threat from a hitherto unknown force. 

I’ve spoken to a lot of staff in the hospitality industry who confirm that, yes, in their experience, people just aren’t as pleasant, and there is an even greater desire among customers to want something for nothing, with complaints about minor issues at an all-time high.

As inflation soars, and the price of food and utilities increases week on week, I suspect we are only just beginning to see the ghastliness of human nature in all its un-glory. 

Social networking has, for many years, revealed itself to be a toxic, bullying environment (though it has many upsides), and as dissatisfaction grows, so people will begin to project their own unhappiness onto others. That’s generally what abuse is.

So, adios Valencia; adios, Espana. Adios patatas bravas and all those dead animals you like to put in paella. I leave but a small hole in many expats’ already tiny universe – doubtless one that will quickly be filled with bitching about the next person who comes along and dares voice a different point of view. 

Sadly, I leave Valencia with the same opinion of most people that I’ve held pretty much all along: more bull than bullfighting. 


Having decided to leave Valencia, here’s a list of the things I won’t miss…

Spanish people screaming as if they’re killing each other, when they’re only saying they’re popping out for a pint of milk.

The non-stop barking of dogs, day and night.

The language – learning it, hearing it; French is just so much better in every way.

The stag parties en route to Benidorm on every flight.

Tapas. Bloody patatas bravas – if I never see another potato in my life, it will be too soon.

The hungry mosquitoes that treat me as their all you can eat buffet.

The smell of sewage from the ancient, incompetent drainage system.

The marble paving stones that become a death trap in the rain.

Dodgy Brits talking bollocks.

Brits, full stop (apart from my two friends Liz Lloyd-Griffiths and Ronw, obviously!).

People taking 40 minutes to buy a train ticket because they get into a conversation with the ticket seller (MOVE IT, PEOPLE!).

Having my arm amputated on the subway because the narrow gate doesn’t allow even a case barely bigger than an eyebath.

Spain. Full stop.

And the things I’ll miss….

Cheap foood and wine.

Liz and Ronw.