Photo: Jessica Jones/The Local
It might be an age-old Spanish stereotype, but the siesta is still just as much a part of many communities as ever, with one Spanish town recently enshrining in law the right to an afternoon snooze. Taking a break from 2pm until 5pm ensures sensible Spaniards stay out of the blazing sun, while also guaranteeing that they have the energy to stay up late into the night.
Stay up late
Spaniards (including Spanish children) are great at burning the midnight oil; they watch films late, they work late and they eat late. Any tourist visiting Spain will tell you of their surprise at Spanish meal times – Spaniards eat later than almost anyone else on earth. Don’t expect to have lunch until around 2pm while dinner can start as late as 10.30pm and that’s not to mention the sobremesa, or after-dinner conversation. Which leads us to…
Photo: Pedro Ribeiro Simoes/Flickr
Spaniards can talk the hind legs off a donkey, in the nicest possible way. We might be generalizing here, but Spaniards are loud. None of that shy northern European whispering here, Spaniards seem to enjoy shouting at each other. It could be due to the fact that in most bars they are battling to be heard over the noise of the television – its volume often turned up high.
Look after their families
Families in Spain are close-knit affairs, and Spanish culture is very much centered on looking up to – and after – your elders. It is completely normal in Spain to see different generations of family members enjoying a night out, an afternoon stroll or a morning shop together. Grandmas and grandads are revered and cherished, often living with younger family members and helping to look after the grandchildren. Families are so close, in fact, that young Spaniards are really not too eager to fly the nest.
Spaniards love a fiesta, every little town has its own special day, when residents decorate the streets and eat, drink and dance into the small hours of the morning. Spain’s Catholic tradition means it has among the most public holidays in Europe, thanks to its many saints days, which are always celebrated with a huge party.
Has there ever been a better food idea than tapas, those delicious morsels that allow you to try five or six different dishes in one meal? The Spanish diet is a healthy mixture of fresh fish, vegetables and lashings of olive oil and the country is home to the best restaurant in the world. And to top it off, you can enjoy some of the freshest, most delicious ingredients in Spain even if you are on a modest budget, everyone in Spain eats well, even the old men propping up your neighbourhood bar can dine like kings.
If we had to pick one specific food that Spaniards do better than anyone else, it would have to be jamón, the de facto national dish of Spain. Every other bar is decorated with hanging ham legs and it comes in all kinds of varieties, from a few slices as a tapa with beers to some premium jamón iberico.
Among Spaniards, you very rarely see the fall-down-drunk-in-the-gutter style of drinking that is so prevalent in northern Europe. Spaniards enjoy a drink (the country has the highest ratio of bars to people in Europe), but are generally not binge drinkers, preferring to enjoy a tipple alongside some tapas, ensuring their stomachs are lined and preventing the dreaded next-day hangover. And with so many Spanish drinks to choose from there is something for everyone.
Work to live, not live to work
Photo: Samuel Mann/Flickr
Contrary to the negative stereotype, Spaniards are hard-workers, putting in some of the longest hours in Europe. But where they differ from other nationalities is their attitude towards work and family time: the latter always comes first. Spaniards work later so they can take a long lunch break shunning eating at their desks in favour of meeting friends or colleagues for a sit-down lunch. And weekends are sacred family-time, never to be disrupted with anything so trivial as work…
While the United States has only just legalized gay marriage, Spain was way ahead of the game, bringing same-sex marriage into law back in 2005, only the third country in the world to do so. Spain has also been ranked as the most gay-friendly country in the world and plays host each summer to one of the biggest gay pride celebrations on the planet.