Every expat gets the blues, misses family and friends, and wonders what the hell were they thinking when they decided to move to a foreign culture. Lauren Linzer writes about how she deals with feeling lonely.
By Lauren Linzer
Frost crystals are gathering on the window pane as I gaze out of my tiny, 10 ft by 10 ft apartment at the sun setting over Madrid. Not every day in the winter here is so dreary, with many surprisingly spring-like days peppered throughout the season; but today is one of those lonely evenings where it’s far too cold to venture out for long and the walls of my flat are slowly closing in. Homesickness is a common drawback to living far from home, even in fabulous España. Where’s a forlorn expat to go in the big city when the parks and terraces are not an option and a taste of familiarity is the only thing that will satiate the hunger for home?
This is what some long-time expatriate residents had in mind when they decided to take matters into their own hands and create a warm slice of comfort in the heart of Madrid. Jamie, a California native, opened J & J Books and Coffee almost 10 years ago as a cozy spot for native English speakers to gather and find English titles difficult to locate anywhere else in the city. Nestled in the Malasana district of Madrid, this converted Chinese restaurant is now a haven for Americans, English, Irish, and Aussie residents to remove themselves from Spain for a moment and indulge in a familiar, home-grown atmosphere. Sitting for hours at the small, intimate bar to chat it up with the regulars, roaming the stacks of extensive used English book titles in the basement, or parking in a plush cozy nook with a hot chocolate and an old classic at J & J’s are the perfect cures for the winter funk.
Just a short stroll up the road is another popular spot for expats, visitors, and local Spaniards alike. Carmencita opened its doors just one year ago and is, unequivocally, my favorite watering hole in Madrid. Owner Marianne had a vision of a bright, cozy atmosphere accompanied by a fusion of modern American and classic Spanish fare. Her Spanish-American background is evident throughout every facet of her bar, from the food to the guests.
Even when the weather is frightful, the setting is always uplifting in the light, airy space filled with constant laughter and a positive energy. An early evening pop in to say hello frequently transforms into a late night with new friends, downing gin bowls (massive gin cocktails) and chupitos (flavored Spanish shots) and munching on chef Yoel’s creative culinary creations.
Do not be mistaken. Getting lost in the Spanish culture is a year-round treat in Madrid; but once in a while, when home seems much farther away, it’s nice to know there are always places to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.
J & J’s Books and Coffee: http://www.jandjbooksandcoffee.com/
Lauren Linzer, from Raleigh, North Carolina, gave up the day to day grind of corporate sales to embrace life in Spain as an English teacher and travel writer in Madrid. Read more about her experiences at: http://linzersadventure.blogspot.com/