While in many cultures, removing your shoes when you go into someone’s home is a sign of politeness, not so in Spain, where you will be hard-pressed to find a shoeless Spaniard anywhere, be in in the home or on the beach. At home, most wear slippers and at the beach and by the pool, flip flops are the order of the day. Stay in Spain for any length of time and you will soon find you have a growing aversion to bare feet.
It might be a gross stereotype that Spaniards are loud, and we’re sure there must be plenty of shy and retiring types in Spain… we have just yet to meet them. Spaniards love chatting and getting enthusiastically involved in conversations and the popularity of apartment living means you can often hear exactly that your neighbours are discussing. Many bars and restaurants have a television on, its noise just slightly too loud for most foreigners, but providing a comforting background din for Spanish patrons. Live in Spain for long and you’ll soon find you can’t even think without a radio blaring or the TV cranked up loud.
Don’t even think of chucking on an old pair of joggers in Spain, where many locals treat their sporting attire as if they were heading off to the Olympics. Gym bunnies have all the latest clothing, while cyclists – some of the biggest culprits of this trait – are always dressed head to toe in the latest lycra sportswear. Spaniards love to have the latest gear, be it apparel or equipment.
Visit Madrid in August and you might be forgiven for thinking you have wandered into a ghost town; most of the city’s residents take the entire month off and leave, swapping the baking heat of the city for the cooler climes of the Spanish coast. A similar thing happens at weekends in Spain; many people leave the big cities for their pueblos, or home towns. So if you find yourself escaping the city on a weekend, or for the entire summer, you’re blending in pretty well.
Spaniards are classy drinkers, always making sure to enjoy a tipple alongside some food, they rarely become falling down drunk like many foreigners who visit the country’s popular resorts. But Spaniards enjoy a drink throughout the day; it’s not uncommon to see little old men enjoying their first caña (little beer) well before 12pm. A glass of wine with lunch is perfectly acceptable, and live here for any length of time and you’ll soon adopt the locals’ laid-back attitude towards alcohol.
Us Northern Europeans are used to keeping our opinions to ourselves, it is the polite way to behave… isn’t it? In Spain, it is completely normal for anyone and everyone to give you their opinion on what you are doing. Head into the pharmacy and the lady next to you in the queue will try to diagnose you, the man behind you in the supermarket will give his view on the contents of your basket and the little old lady in the park will approach you and let you know your child will be far too warm in that blanket you’ve put around him. While it might seem a bit of a shock at first, you will soon get used to this no-holds-barred opinion offering; it actually means you get talking to a lot of people –Spaniards are easy to strike up conversations with – and, once you start giving strangers your own advice, you know you’re becoming a true Spaniard.