Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Spanish Life {Our House -- the Appliances}

Part one of our house tour!  First up, our appliances because, well, most are different from ones we had in the states.  Our house came with a refrigerator which we have downstairs in the bar area and a dishwasher.  Through the base we are able to get a fridge, microwave, washer/dryer. and dehumidifier and we have also slowly started to purchase some kitchen appliances that we didn't bring with us. 

First -- your electricity lesson.  Everything in Europe (and actually almost every place except for North America) runs on 220 volts (the states is 110 volts).  Knowing how many volts your appliance is capable of putting out is key -- otherwise you will blow a fuse and/or the appliance (yes, speaking from experience).  Europe also uses different outlets:

So in order for appliances that we brought from the states to work we either need an adapter or a transformer.
1) Adapters: most adapters (and the ones we use) will allow us to plug in our American items into the Spanish outlets -- they simply adapt one outlet to another.  We use these when our appliance is capable of out putting 110-240 volts (read the back of your appliance or power cord -- all that small writing will tell you if your appliance can handle 220 volts).  Most newer appliances will work just fine with an adapter.  However, when an appliance is not capable of 220 volts you need to use...
2) Transformers: putting it very simply -- it transforms the voltage from our American appliances to 220 volts so that we can use them.  You plug the transformer into the wall and then the appliance into the transformer -- turn on the transformer, then the appliance.  With me so far?!

Most of the stuff we plug in on a daily basis works with just an adapter.  However, we need transformers for our (older) TVs and a few kitchen appliances we brought.  It is a pain to lug out the transformer whenever I want to use my hand held mixer; and it sucks to turn on the transformer then the TV... but it's now second nature and I don't even think twice about it!  One item I never ever bring from the states when I travel overseas is a hair dryer -- those things are guaranteed to blow a fuse or the hair dryer.  Spend the 20 bucks whenever you get to a new place and buy a hair dryer if needed.  Trust me on this.  

Okay, so now you know how to make American appliances work in Spain, but what about our Spanish appliances -- well this is post is for you!

Everything is very similar to the stuff we had in the states with just some key differences.  The main difference with all the appliances is that they are all smaller.  The refrigerator and dishwasher probably hold 2/3rd the capacity of ones in the states.  This doesn't bother us at all, especially for the refrigerator (which does have a freezer on the bottom) because it just means we purchase what we need, when we need it rather than stock piling items.  Some differences are better to explain item by item -- so here you go:

Again, holds less than a typical American dishwasher but works pretty much the same.  There aren't any words on it, just pictures of what type of wash you want -- I stick with #1 most of the time!  Spanish dishwashers also require salt to help wash the dishes; this is not like table salt but specific chunky salt for dishwashers.  I haven't had to fill up our salt tank yet, but I have been told that I'll know when I need to fill up the tank -- so I'll keep you posted!

Smaller in width but a little taller than our old American fridge/freezer. I love our refrigerator -- it is brand new which is always fun.  It has a a rack for wine water bottles which is nice because most people don't drink the tap water here.*  It has great spacing on the shelves and two good drawers for veggies, fruits, cheeses, etc.  The freezer also has drawers which makes it easier to find items.  I'd say the biggest difference is the size of the freezer which is much smaller than an American freezer, but again, we just don't buy in bulk so it isn't a big deal to us.  No judging for the contents of our refrigerator!

Washer & Dryer:
Our washer is a typical front loader -- again, just smaller.  It has an insane number is cycles and I don't know what any of them mean!  I can figure it out with knowing English, French and of course using Google Translate (my most used app now), but I typically stick with either the "snowflake" cycle (which I guess means cold) or the 60 degree cycle (this is in Celsius).  These washers also do better with powdered detergent, so that's something I've had to get used to as well.

Our dryer is amazing.  It is actually a steam dryer, so it does not need an outside vent.  It dries the clothes by literally removing the water and collecting it in a basin under the dryer.  This has to be emptied every few loads or the dryer stops working!  I learned the hard way the first time I did laundry -- the dryer wouldn't work and a light kept flashing at me.  Trevor (of course) figured it out and now I make sure to empty the water basin every 2-3 loads.  And when things come out of the dryer they often still feel damp, so I have to let the clothes cool a little and then see if they are actually dry.  Most Spanish line dry all of their clothes and I am getting there...  but for now, I still like my dryer (and Serafina loves pressing the buttons on both the washer and dryer!).

Again, much smaller than the ovens in the states.  We actually left a bunch of our cookie sheets in storage because we knew they wouldn't fit in our oven in Spain.  This makes it challenging at times, but we've gotten creative when needed.  Our oven is very difficult to baby proof (the two clasps on the right are to keep the drawers next to the oven safe, but it also seems to be working to keep the oven closed too), and you have to turn three dials to actually turn on the oven -- so far no issues!

Last but not least -- our toaster:
We have a regular toaster just like you'd see in the states but we also have a toaster that looks like this:

This toaster allows me to toast baguettes and the morning bread (called molletes) that won't fit in the regular toaster (I will do a post on food eventually).  I use this toaster all the time and absolutely love it!

We do have a microwave but that is pretty basic and the same as the states -- I have yet to figure out how to use it besides just microwaving something for 30 seconds at a time, but it works so that's the important part!  We also have a dehumidifier because it is very humid here; we run it primarily in the basement a few hours each day.  Each room (except the kitchen, bathrooms, and basement) have their own heating/cooling units.  This is great because then we only turn the heat (or the A/C right now) on in the room that we are in, if we even need it!

A quick note about our water heater....  Our house actually has solar panels for a water heater which is not that uncommon here given that we get a lot of sunny days.  What is different about our house from most that have solar is that if we need more hot water than our solar panels are giving us -- we have an electric water heater.  Most houses have butano or butane gas that is used to heat the water.  I am actually pretty happy we don't have to worry about changing tanks, running out, having an extra tank, etc, etc.  We do have a butano hook up, we just don't have to use it!

So there you have it -- our main appliances and how they are different from our ones in the states.  The slight differences take some getting used to and I am still learning different features on some of them, but overall we are pretty used to things now! 

*We were told that while the tap water is safe for adults, it is recommend that young children use bottled water -- I have no clue why...  But coming from Seattle where the tap water was amazing, I prefer bottled water over the tap water in Rota (or we use our Brita filter).  Bottled water is now just a part of our grocery list each week (and it is very inexpensive).  

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