Are you ready for a siesta? Just kidding! We know how much you long to set foot in the land of toreros and of fine wine, yet before you make the stride, we recommend that you keep a few things in mind. Today, we are going to discuss six things that you should know before even attempting to fight a bull. Kidding again! Let’s see what need-to-knows Spain has to offer us!
As we may all know, diversity tends to show itself more in our current generation and Spain is one of its prime adherents. What we mean by this is that not all people from Spain consider themselves Spanish. Other ethnic groups such as the Catalonians, Basques, or the Galicians will tell you sharply that they are, in fact, different than their Spanish peers. To add to the palette of diversity, they even speak different languages and some speculate that Catalonia, for example, will not be part of Spain for long. If you dabble in Catalan, Basque or Galician, we recommend that you try and speak them as often and as fluently as possible for the locals will not be able to abstain from admiring your efforts. Who knows, you may even find a few long-term friends among these people for they are some of the most hospitable and talkative individuals around the world.
This is an aspect of Spain that could not have been omitted. So, without further ado, let us put it out on the table: siestas are not what you think they are. People will not ride home to have midday naps or to lie lazily around but they will go out, have lunch and socialise. Numerous shops and other establishments will be closed between 2 and 5 pm and you will find that the restaurants that remain open are usually full. If you are visiting Spain to unwind, you are going to enjoy this cultural aspect for it openly howls “take a break!”
3. The heart of summer:
While this may sound poetic, it isn’t exactly what you might expect it to be in real life. August is an interesting month in Spain and you will only see it for yourself if you visit the country then. Why? Well, because that is when most people go on vacations. Chances are that while you are visiting Spain, the locals will be hitting the sands of Morocco or of other places. This can go as far as some restaurants, bars and other places temporarily closing. If you wish to enjoy the populous and crowded Spain, then go there in June or July but if you are a lone wolf, you might like August (wink).
4. Eating late:
You know what the by-product of siestas is? Well eating late, of course! Lunch usually comes after 14:00-15:00 while dinner can be put off until 22:00 or even 23:00. If your stomach growls, however, you can find food just about everywhere. The daily menus of the restaurants will often respect this unwritten rule, so do keep an eye on your watch if you are planning to fill your stomach in the Spanish fashion. Oh, and while they may not contribute to a healthy diet, you can find fast foods scattered all around the country.
5. Churches and mosques:
As we may all know, Spain has been under Islamic rule until their expulsion by the Catholic Monarchs (Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon) between the 14th and the 15th centuries. For this particular purpose, amongst the over-abundance of churches and monasteries, you will find a couple of exquisite mosques as well. We urge you to visit as many of them as you can for they have become exotic national monuments. Notable mosques that you should not leave out are the Mosque of Córdoba and the Mosque of Cristo de la Luz.
6. Words and idioms:
As soon as you set foot in Spain, you will notice a special word that will carry you on its back for the rest of your trip: the word “vale.” While this may serve as a simple “hello” or an “ok”, it is deeply entrenched in the local culture and it may mean numerous things. Understand that the Spanish “v” is a very light “b” (with your lips barely touching when you pronounce it). Other important aspects of courtesy are hellos and goodbyes – “hola”/”buenas” and “hasta luego”/“adios” often precede and follow each and every conversation. Do your part and learn to use them! Oh, and do not forget that the Spanish “h” is silent (wink).
Did you enjoy our list? What experiences have you had in Spain and how did they shape your trip? Tell us all about it in the comment section below for we are eager to hear all about you! Safe travels!