As this blog isn’t only about learning languages, but also about traveling and visiting beautiful places, here’s some things you probably didn’t know about Spain, not all necessarily good. I love Spain, I really do. I’ve grown up here and become very use to the little things that may surprise people that aren’t from round here. Below I’ve listed a couple of them. Keep in mind this is only about the part I’ve really lived in, which is south of Spain, by the Costa Blanca.
Tapas are very known, and truly delicious. But there are some strange things out there. Of course this all depends on your taste, but I had some things to get used to at first. Take for example snails. In Holland, it’s not very common to eat snails, so when I first saw someone eat them, it freaked me out. It was the first week I came to Spain, an old local friend of my mums took us out for spanish tapas. We entered a little cute bar in a sidestreet. There were huge “Jamon” leg ( ham legs) hanging from hooks on the ceiling, oysters laying in glass bowls on the counter, and strange looking pates laid out on little plates behind the glass. All of this looked sketchy. My mums friend orders a plate of “caracoles”, spanish for snails. We sat down and soon they brought her a big plate filled with brown snails. She took them one by one and started sucking them out, while explaining how they’re laid in flour for days ( alive) before they’re… well, there’s no need to get into detail. I wasn’t very hungry after that.
Slowly I got used to the raw fish in the supermarket, the life lobsters in the tanks, and the buckets filled with olives and onions in the sweet shops.
Now that we’re at tapas, spanish restaurants are great in my opinion. You can get a “menu del día” ( menu of the day) for around 10€, and it usually includes bread and alioli, an appetizer, salad, a first course, a second course, dessert, a bottle of wine and a bottle of water with it. So going out for a meal is pretty cheap around of. Of course this depends on where you go.
The also do a lot of fish. Half of the menu is usually fish, especially at the beach front. I myself am not a fish lover, but I’ve tried some of it. For example, I tried sea urchin. It was brought to me on a little slice of bread with some cream cheese, and what looked to me like mince meat in tomato sauce on top of it. I tried it, it wasn’t bad. I mainly tasted the cream cheese to be honest. Then there are prawns, anchovies, oysters, jamon con queso ( ham and cheese) , paella, and so much more.
Paella is great, they have so many different ones. Fish paella, chicken and meat paella, fideua, which is like paella but made with pasta, there’s black paella, made with squid ink, and so on. A local friend once told me that the best part of the paella is the bits stuck to the pan. You squeeze some lemon on it and scratch it out with your spoon. I tried it, and it’s true. I thinks its the most delicious part of the whole paella.
The “Gota fria”
The “Gota fria” literally translates to “The cold drop”. This is something that happens between autumn and winter. Because it is so hot all year around, when the temperatures drop at one point it will start raining, and not stop for days. The sea goes wild and the skies are covered with clouds. This winter it rained for 4 days straight. I know this may not sound bad for people in countries like England, Germany, Norway, and so on, but for Spain this is really dangerous. The roads here are not build for this and cannot absorb the water, and everything floods. On the costa blanca, where i live, several people die every year due to this. The water comes floating down from the mountains and destroyed villages on the way. The beach flood and all the restaurants and bars on the beachfront are flooded. Streets get flooded, cars float away, and people get pulled into the sea. It gets pretty bad. I’ve seen palmtrees break and garage roofs fly off, cars being pulled into the sea and entire roundabouts being underwater. Most houses get flooded too, as the houses aren’t built for such weather conditions. Entire roads collapse. Everyone freaks out, most things get shut down, kids get sent home from school and if you’re lucky you can leave home earlier depending on where you live.
This however only happens by the coast, and is not likely to happen in for example Madrid. It happens due to the mountains surrounding the area we live in. In other parts of Spain, the roads are build to absorb more water, and won’t flood as easily as they do allong the Costa Blanca in South of Spain.
Good thing to know before going to Spain is, don’t expect to get anything done between 14 and 16 o’clock. Everything is closed, pharmacies, dentists, shops, bars, companies, everything. Banks generally only open until 14 o’clock. They just don’t open back up after the siesta, which sucks if you have a 9 to 17 job. Also, you have to be quiet. The walls are thin and it’s true that I can hear my neighbours tv loud and clear, but your not aloud to watch to during siesta, not allowed to listen to music ( I’ve gotten in trouble several times for this) , no drilling, no working, just eating and sleeping.
Again, it’s not like this everywhere. Some places they take it more seiously than in others. Workwise, it also depends where you work. When I worked at a dental clinic I had siesta from 2 till 4 in the afternoon, but for people who work in bars or restaurants, those are there busiest hours.
Mañana, spanish for tomorrow. This is joke often made about Spain, that they are slow and lazy, but I don’t think you realise how true this is. Don’t expect to get anything done within 1 week. You need to renew your passport, good luck going back 20 times because you still don’t have all the papers. They love to just send you away for no valid reason so they have to do less work. It’s sad but true. At the supermarkets, most cashiers don’t make an effort to get the line moving, and people in front of you will most certainly not hurry up packing because your groceries are rolling all over theirs. You can easily stand in line for an entire morning, just to get send back for not being within the time limit on that specific day. Doctors appointments take months, or even years. The waiting list for some operations are more than 3 years, with something that need to be solved NOW. Also, they’re usually late. Most spanish come late to an appointment, meeting, or even interview. They don’t bother to hurry up. In my experience, most of them, plumbers, real estate agents, bank appointments or meetings with friends, they are always around 15 minutes late. I got used to it and adapt myself after a while, but it can get frustrating.
Those are some of the things that you should know about Spain. It’s a gorgeous country with a rich culture and a beautiful language. Very attractive for tourists and known for the beautiful beaches and orange tree fields. I’d advise everyone to visit Spain at least once in their lives , but it’s good to know these little things beforehand. ¡Adios!