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Thirteen observations on the peculiarities on life in Spain

By Jo Green - Tue 9th Feb 2010

Every ex-pat that has ever lived in Spain for even the shortest period of time has had to adapt in some way to the subtle differences in everyday life. Setting aside the obvious issue of Spanish timekeeping, I have listed just a few of my observations :

• Am I alone in finding it incredible that after numerous years living here in Spain, every brand of cling-film that I buy seems to be non-stick?

• Spain apparently has more high street banks than any other country in the world. This is seemingly neither due to the overall wealth of the nation, or the amount of daily usage that the average saver or borrower generates. It seems to be down to the fact that it can take a team of 4 staff to deal with half a dozen customers in a single morning – probably due to them having to double up a Citizen’s Advise Bureau, Samaritans, Town Hall (unofficial), Town Hall (Sometimes official aswell ), and community centre.

• Spain also reportedly has more Café bars than any other country in the world, with almost 1 bar for every 10 people. And, in the majority of towns, you can still struggle to find a decent slice of cake!

• Despite what the Spanish Government may lead you to believe, a “Non-Smoking” area in a public place seems to be entirely optional.

• Nobody seems to find it ironic that Telefonica have a department called “Customer Service”, and Telefonica themselves don’t seem to worry about being questioned for false advertising.

• Utility bills for Water, Telephone, Electricity, Town Hall taxes etc… always seem to arrive at the same time, often for 6 months at a time, and are rarely correct.

• If you do not live within spitting distance of the Town Square, then you must therefore live “in the Campo” – this is black and white – there is no in between.

• Fiestas and Fairs etc… are rarely publicised before the event, but you can read about them in plenty of local publications after the event to see exactly what you have missed out on.

• It is impossible to buy everything that you need for the week in just one supermarket, often requiring as many as three trips.

• You will never, ever win an argument or debate with a Spaniard, likewise you will rarely change their opinion once their mind is made up.

• Nobody seems to realise that a 65 year old woman on a moped just looks wrong.

• Small dogs are like a plague of vermin around the town centres. Where do they all come from?

• Whenever you see children trying to play in a park, you will always see a swarm of grandma’s chasing after them trying to force feed them tostada’s and yoghurts. Just let them play! – They’ll eat when they’re hungry!

If you have anymore observations, then please add them to the Comments box below…

Comment on this Blog

What is the Spanish fascination with fireworks all about ? In the middle of the worst recession for decades it seems that every town and village can afford to have an impressive firework display at least 3 or 4 times a year.
Claire Petrie - Mon, 10th May 2010
Not sure about the Spanish being Hypochondriacs, but I know from personal experience to make sure that my daughter wears socks at all times - even in the height of Summer. They seem to believe that even in 32 Degree heat you can catch a chill if not wearing socks - I've lost count of the number of old ladies who have stopped me to give me a good telling off about this.
Jo Green - Fri, 9th Apr 2010
Very good! - These sound familiar! I especially had a chuckle at the last point. It is always something I find amusing when with my 3 yr old in the play park. Mums and grans chasing toddlers with bananas and bocadillos! Doesn't really teach the kids good eating habits either. Anyone else notice that the Spanish (including my good Spanish friends) are hypochondriacs? I think it is a national pastime. Since when does the wind give you a cold!!!!
Michelle - Thu, 8th Apr 2010
David, some good points there ! - I hope you got that the blog was intended to be 'tongue in cheek'. Being a working Mum I often can't find the time to pop into the local Town Hall (especially when mine only opens weekday mornings) to find out about Fiestas - though I would have hoped that the local Press (Spanish or English) may have been notified. - Sadly, I have to completely agree about your point 5 !
Jo Green - Fri, 26th Mar 2010
Dear Jo, I have lived and worked in Spain for the last 15 years . Although I can agree with you on some points there are others that I must take issue with . 1. The Spanish rarely eat cake in their bars so it comes as no surprise that you cannot find it ! They do however have great pastelerias ! 2. Fiestas are advertised , usually in the town halls . Most Brits do not know where there town hall is or the name of their mayor. 3. Spanish women are accustomed to shopping in more than one supermarket in order to get the best deals .Try It !! 4. I have many good friends amongst the Spanish and yes , they will change their opinion if you make sense .I couldnt agree more on this one . I have had many good debates with Spanish chums and have altered their opinion on occasions. 5.A Spanish woman looks no more wrong than an overweight , tattooed , smoking, Brit woman wearing shorts and no bra in mid winter on the Costas ! I look forward to your reply . David
David Robinson - Fri, 26th Mar 2010
Why is it that Micro-cars drivers feel that they can proceed down a motorway half in the slow lane and half in the hard shoulder ? - What does that achieve ?
Si Cooper - Sat, 20th Mar 2010
... And why do exit signs on motorways only ever appear after the junction that you needed - never before...?
Paul Brian - Wed, 17th Mar 2010
When lazying on the beach although you are a stones throw away from the water a Spanish family including all 5 generations will always manage to set up between you and the water...Its amazing to watch..I now go with my Spanish friends to get the best spot...Lol
Jo - Tue, 9th Mar 2010
... And parking on roundabouts! Whats that all about !!???
Dan Brammall - Thu, 18th Feb 2010
...And why does any application for official documentation in Spain need at least 4 seperate peices of paper ?
Mr Grumpy - Wed, 17th Feb 2010
All the above points are so true! - Why did we all move to this beautiful country?...Lol !
Natasha - Tue, 9th Feb 2010

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