Posted on 03 November 2017
If you’ve only visited Spain on holiday, you could be in for little bit of a culture shock when you spend more time there in your holiday home or retirement. Let us enlighten you on a few Spanish customs, quirks and foibles.
1. *Don’t* Keep quiet!
The Spanish see no need to talk quietly – and why should they? Making a lot of noise isn’t just for the many fiestas and parties, but for daily life too. You can call to each other across the market, scream when you’re watching football in your local bar and your team scores, loudly berate the children (or spouse) wherever you are (so long as you loudly cheer them up too). It’s not rude to call “oye!” to a waiter in bar or even in a noisy restaurant to attract his attention. After a little practice you’ll become quite good at it, but do remember to turn it down when you’re back in the UK!
The Spanish are brought up to endure a lot of form filling, so get used to it. When it comes to names, the Spanish custom is to have two surnames. One is your father’s surname and one is your mother’s surname. Computers in Spain expect two surnames and you might find yourself staring dumbly at the form wondering what to do. Putting a “0” usually works online, but you might put in a dash, your maiden name, or your surname twice.
3. Good news – two breakfasts!
The Spanish don’t really have breakfast at home, perhaps just a small coffee and a bit of last night’s cake as you rush out the door. The real Spanish breakfast is closer to around 10 or 11am, “the second breakfast”. This is when you can pop off to the nearest bar for a coffee, maybe with a shot of brandy in it, with a sandwich or a croissant or a, best of all, thick hot chocolate with churros.
It’s your birthday, so you’ll be treated to a lovely night out! Well…, not so much. In Spain it is the birthday girl or boy who treat their friends. So be careful what you suggest doing to celebrate a birthday as you will be footing the bill – or have them over to yours for a party.
5. Don’t overdo the siesta
Although less necessary than in the days before air conditioning, and despite being under threat from spoilsports who think it affects international trade and competitiveness, you’ll soon learn to love taking a couple of hours out of your day to shelter from the heat. The trick to a good siesta is not overdoing it; 20 minutes sleep should be plenty. What you do with the rest of the time is up to you – it doesn’t have to be restful!
When you’re ready to make the move, click here to download the Spain Buying Guide. It’s completely FREE and packed with great advice.