So, you’ve just booked an upcoming Spain trip and cannot wait to set off on this new adventure. If this is the first time you’ve visited this country, there are a few things you should know before leaving that can help you to prepare for what to expect and avoid culture shock.
- The siesta isn’t as prevalent as you might think
Siestas are more commonplace in the rural areas of the country; most modern working folk don’t head home in the afternoon for a nap. What does exist, however, is siesta hours – small shops in big cities and remote towns will often close from around 2pm to 5pm.
- Lunch and dinner are served late
Spain’s meal schedule is skewed very much towards the late side – the locals eat lunch around 2pm and dinner around 9pm or even later. As such, don’t expect restaurant kitchens to be open before these times. In the tourist areas, however, you’ll find that earlier hours are followed.
- Paella isn’t an overly popular dish
Paella is a specialty of the Community of Valencia, which means that it’s hugely popular in this area (and even in Barcelona and the Balearic Islands) but not so much around the rest of the country. Don’t expect to find it on every menu, unless you’re in a tourist area.
- The country isn’t warm and sunny year round
There seems to be a misconception that Spain is all sunshine and warm weather. Although the weather is pleasant to hot year round in the south, it can get much cooler as you head up north. In fact, places like San Sebastian can experience cooler and even rainy weather year round.
- Spanish isn’t the only language spoken
Although it’s a good idea to brush up on your Spanish before embarking on a Spain trip, it should be noted that other languages are spoken in some areas. Barcelonans speak Catalan, in Galicia they speak Gallego, and in San Sebastian they speak Basque.
- August isn’t a great time to visit
August might seem like a great time to go on holiday – unfortunately, many Spaniards agree. In this month, the big cities are left virtually empty with many shops and restaurants closed. If services (like public transport) aren’t shut down altogether, they’re generally reduced.
- The north may not feel that Spanish
Whilst the Moors heavily influenced southern parts of Spain, the north might feel like another country altogether. Not only is it lush and rain saturated, many of the people (particularly those from Galicia) actually have Celtic origins and have embraced this fully.
- Say your salutations
When you enter any establishment on your Spain trip, from a small shop to an elevator, people will greet you. Upon leaving, they will also often bid you farewell. Return the gesture by saying hola or buenas upon entering and adios and hasta luego when leaving.
We hope that the above tips have given you plenty to think about when it comes to your Spain trip. If you have any questions about the holiday or country as a whole, do not hesitate to ask – we want you to have the most enjoyable time possible and to want to return in the future.