This is another post I’m moving to this blog from my last.
It’s (hopefully) going to be an ongoing list of things that I’ve noticed through my time here in Spain.
There are TONS of cultural differences that you’ll encounter no matter what country you visit. These are just some of the ones that have really stood out to me about Spain. Can you think of any that should be added? What about Spain surprised you the most?
1. Lunch and Dinner SUPER late!!
Lunch time is usually between 2-4 and dinner between 8-10. It takes awhile to get used to, and I usually have to have some kind of snack between lunch and dinner.
2. Daily “siesta”
From 2:00pm until roughly 5:00pm everything closes (except a few bigger stores and the cafes/ bars). This was frustrating at first because that would be the ideal time for me to run errands. However, I like being forced to go home, eat, and relax for awhile. Gives me time to appreciate life, reflect on my day, and plan my evening.
3. Throwing napkins and trash on the floors of bars and cafes
The first time I saw this happen, I was very surprised. It happens even in the nicer cafes. I’ve heard some different ideas as to why people do this, but I’ve come to think that it’s simply because it makes cleaning up the bar easier! It’s actually to help keep the bar clean!! When the crowd dies down, the waiters walk around, and can quickly sweep up all the napkins and trash, and the plates go straight to be washed. It cuts out the middle step of separating trash from dishes.
4. Walking EVERYWHERE… ALL the time!!
Yes, I found this EXTREMELY annoying at first, and REALLY just wanted to jump in my car and drive wherever I had to go. But now I enjoy this. I actually love this to be honest. I’m still busy studying and working, so I don’t have as much time to work out as I would like. But knowing that I’ll be getting some sort of activity in my day (walking to and from the grocery store, caring 4 bags of groceries up 5 flights of stairs for example…) helps balance that out.
5. The lights in the bathrooms.
The normal expectation is that when you walk into a bathroom in a restaurant the lights will be on. Well, not here! You have to turn them on, and they’re generally on a timer. This can be really frustrating when all of the sudden the lights go out, and yes, I would freak out the first few times this would happen, but now I expect it, and it’s just a reflex to reach back up and turn them on. No problem. It’s nice because it makes perfect sense! Why waste all that energy?
6. Not to mention every toilet flushes differently.
Ok, not EVERY toilet, but yes, I have seen more creative ways of flushing toilets here than ever in my life. There are some with buttons, some with those pull things that come down from the ceiling, some with foot petal things and the list goes on. It’s always an adventure!Oh, and ps I have yet to see a toilet with the normal handle on the side like we have in the States.
7. The street numbers don’t always line up.
So, you look up a restaurant that you want to go to, and the address is something like Gran Via 16. When you’re walking down the street, if you’re on the “odd number” side of the street, be careful. Just because you’re at Gran Via 15, doesn’t mean that the building directly across the street is 16, it could be 12, or it could be 32!! You never know, so just be aware of that.
8. Lights in the hotel rooms
I’m not sure if this is all of Europe, or only Spain. However, as I mentioned in #5 above, people here are much more energy conscious. This carries over into the lights in the hotel rooms as well. In order to work any electronic device or outlet in the hotel rooms, you have to put your key into a little slot by the door when you come in. That’s not too bad. However, when you’re leaving and want to let your camera or computer charge while you’re out, they won’t, because when you pull that key out of the slot, everything turns off.
9. There seems to be a national lack of toilet paper and soap
It may sound strange, but it’s true. Walking into a bathroom that doesn’t have one, or both, of the items mentioned above is not uncommon. It only takes a short time before you learn to prepare for this though. Carrying tissue and hand sanitizer has come in handy many many times!