The Little Things…

Croissant and cafe con leche in Madrid
Croissant and cafe con leche in Madrid

Since coming to Spain over two weeks ago, there are many little things that I’ve noticed about parts of the country, many of which might be too small to devote a whole post to, so I thought I’d share some of these little things about Spain with you.

  • You can find everything at El Corte Inglés. It’s almost like a Nordstrom, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Target, Best Buy and grocery store all mashed together (and I’m probably missing something.).
  • Breakfast is usually small and eaten before work or school (although you won’t see many cafes open before 9 a.m.
  • Lunch is typically eaten at 2 p.m. and dinner at 9 or 10.
  • They use military time here.
  • The train system is a million times better and faster than that in the U.S. A train travels from Sevilla to Madrid in the third of the time that a car can get there.
  • While some Spaniards do drink sangria (even though my professor said they don’t, my host mom disagreed), tinto de verano, red wine mixed typically with lemonade, is much more popular.

  • Spain is composed of 17 different autonomous communities (sort of like states).
  • People are less wasteful and use less energy. For example, hardly anyone has an AC, even in Sevilla where temperatures can easily be in the 90s-100s for a good part of the summer. Showers are also limited to 10 minutes or less, and lights are never left on if no one’s in the room.
  • This country is very bike friendly, with bike lanes almost everywhere throughout many cities. The lanes aren’t in the roads either, but rather part of the walkway. Many cities have excellent bike sharing programs too.
  • Sevilla is home to the highest skydiving facility in all of Europe.
  • Most restaurants and bars have tables outside, where 90-100% of their customers eat.
In El Parque del Buen Retiro in Madrid
In El Parque del Buen Retiro in Madrid
  • Spain is full of parks!
  • Most restaurants don’t seem to accommodate large parties.
  • Restaurants don’t split checks either.
  • Don’t ask where the club is here – that’s what people call whorehouses. Ask for the discoteca.
Along the Guadalquivir in Sevilla
Along the Guadalquivir in Sevilla
  • The people here love to spend time outdoors – along the river, in parks, while eating at a restaurant, etc.
  • The only time not as many people are outdoors is during siesta, a time to spend with family and also take a break from the heat.
  • A lot of people are sick of the Spanish prime minister Rajoy and the two historically dominant parties, the Partido Popular and the Partido Socialista Obrero Español.
  • There’s definitely many different cultural influences here – Moorish, Greek, etc. that can be seen in the food, the architecture, the music and more.
  • A montadito is a small sandwich; a bocadillo is much bigger (more of a normal sandwich size).
  • Most restaurants around town call themselves tapas bars or restaurants, yet the size of the tapa varies among all of them.
  • You can buy a beer for one euro at McDonald’s.
  • McDonald’s also sells fancy-looking pastries and desserts, like macaroons, in its McCafe.
  • You’ll also see Burger King, Dominoes and sometimes a KFC or TGI Friday’s around.
  • Most crosswalks aren’t right on the intersection – instead they’re slightly further down the road.
  • Many of the cars have diesel engines.
  • Driving a car here would be a pain – parking is limited, and many streets could barely fit a car (We saw streets like this even in Madrid.).
  • Classes don’t start until late September for students here.
  • Even though my nail polish remover cost seven euros, shopping for clothing seems great here with many cute stores that have fairly good prices.
  • People don’t really invite anyone into their homes besides family and very close friends. To spend time with friends, people meet up outside of the home.
  • Phone numbers are nine digits here.
  • Spanish girls dress very nicely. You’ll always see them out in heels and some sort of extremely cute outfit, even if it is just to walk the dog.
  • Speaking of, I see tons of people with dogs here. The Spanish lifestyle just seems conducive to having one since everyone’s outside all the time anyway.
  • There are tons of different Spanish dialects throughout the country. I can understand 90% of what my host mom’s son says, but understanding her can be much more difficult.
Paella de pollo
Paella de pollo
  • Even the most stereotypical Spanish things like paella, tortilla de patata, flamenco, would not exist without the influence of other cultures.
  • For example, many parts of Spain, especially in Southern Spain, have a strong Islamic influence, in food, architecture, music and more.
  • Sometimes they give you hot coffee in a regular glass.
  • The food is very fresh here, but that means some things are only seasonal.
  • While at a restaurant, it seems like you almost always have to ask for the check.

What little things have you noticed throughout Spain? There’s so much that I’m sure I’m missing things. I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments below!


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