We found our dream apartment a few weeks ago. As soon as we walked in and had a quick tour, Justin looked at me and waggled his eyebrows as if to ask, “Should we tell them we want it?” As much as I loved it, the price was at the higher end of our limit, and there were other acceptable apartments for cheaper. But I eagerly nodded and said, “Yes, let’s take it.”
However, the process is a bit different here. It seems the apartments are more like condos in the sense that they have individual owners, as opposed to someone owning the entire building. The owner of the apartment first has to meet all of the prospective renters. Then he or she decides who gets to live there. Not exactly first come, first served.
So we said we definitely wanted the place, but the owner said she had one more person coming the next day to look at the apartment. We held our breaths. The owner chose us.
Which, honestly, I was surprised. The apartment had recently been renovated. Everything in it was very new. And very white. Why would she want to rent out the place to a family with two small children? For whatever reason, I’m glad she chose us.
It is situated on the corner of a beautiful park called Parque del Sol (Sunny Park). The park has a café, playground, a stream running through it down into a waterfall, and meandering paths. Around the corner from it is a zoo. A few more blocks is the beach. And a 30 second walk leads to the main road, with all the shops one might need. Need something to make for dinner? A deli holds easy marinated meat options. Out of bread? Head to the bakery for a fresh baked loaf. Need a little midday café cortado? There’s a café literally on every block.
Get ready to see some pics, cause here we go…
Our apartment is one level up (no elevator). The beautiful wooden door with the knob centered in the middle opens to a small hallway and on into the kitchen. The kitchen (the most perfect layout yet) has a bigger than normal (for European standards) refrigerator, a washing machine, oven, microwave, a cook top, and a double sink (essential for hand-washing dishes, in my opinion). A table fits us for dinner, and a terrace holds the drying rack for clothes.
Down the hallway is the living room with a comfortable couch that opens to a bed. There is a very long console that holds all of our school books, regular books, yoga mat, colored pencils, etc. A door opens onto another terrace with another set of table and chairs for al fresco dining. Inside, there is yet another table and chairs that we use as an office/homeschool space.
Another hallway leads to a half bath, a full bath, and three bedrooms. Evelyn is thrilled to have a room with a trundle bed. I am thrilled that our rooms are close enough for the girls to feel comfortable staying ALL NIGHT in their rooms. This is huge, folks. It only took seven years to get to the point where I can have an uninterrupted night’s sleep. (Although, I typed this last week. She’s been up a few times. Still not quite there.)
This apartment feels like the most amazing gift that I don’t get to keep. I am thoroughly enjoying everything about it, but I’m already wishing I could take it to Baltimore with me.
One of the fruit and vegetable stores nearby carries salted fish. I was curious about it, so I asked. The owner said the salted fish needed to be soaked for two days, with the water changed 5-6 times, to remove most of the salt. I bought some. The owner recommended a salad to eat with it: potatoes, onion, orange, olives, olive oil, and parsley.
I eagerly brought home the fish and rinsed it a few times. Clouds of fine white salt poured off of it. I soaked it for a couple days and eagerly sliced it. It was pleasantly salty and smooth.
The other salad ingredients came together to create an unexpected delight. Sweet oranges balanced out salty fish; bitter olives and olive oil contrasted bright parsley. Onions added bite, and potatoes provided a creamy foundation. I immediately loved it and vowed to eat it regularly.
Normally I automatically add a little salt to my salads, but not to this one. The beauty of the salad is in the different parts coming together to create unique flavor combinations in each bite. Sometimes you get bitter and sweet; sometimes salty and smooth. Lovely.
Feeds two, with leftover fish
A piece of salted fish bigger than your hand, cleaned and soaked for two days, with the water changed 5 times
Naval orange, peeled and sliced
Half a can olives, black or green will do
Handful fresh parsley, chopped
Gold potato, boiled until fork tender and then cooled
1/2 White onion, either caramelized, or fresh red onion, or fresh green onion
Generous amounts of good olive oil
Slice the fish. Arrange on top of other ingredients. Drizzle with a lot of good olive oil. Serve with bread if you like.