Lifestyle in Spain can be very different in subtle ways to lifestyle in the UK and here are a few points you should probably know to prepare for your holiday or first home in Spain. Spain is very tourist friendly and you’ll find many UK themed and inspired businesses, bars and restaurants, especially in the Costas such as Costa Blanca & Costa Del Sol but for those of you going more inland or just looking to blend in a little better and avoid any inconveniences, here’s what you should know.
Don’t get locked out!
One of the less obvious differences between the UK and Spain is the way safety is handled. In Spain it’s very common to have grills or bars across all windows making entering through them impossible without removal of the bars. What many people don’t notice is that in Spain most houses come with a door that only opens with a key from the outside. In the UK many doors have handles which open the door from outside as long as it’s not locked, in Spain however many doors need the actual key to open the door from outside rather than using a handle or door knob, effectively locking the door from the outside whenever it is shut. This catches many new property owners or holidaymakers off guard, going outside to enjoy the sun only to realise they’ve left their key inside and now can’t get back inside the property! In this case it’s usually advisable to call your rental agent for a spare key or a local locksmith if it’s your own property!
A big lifestyle difference in Spain is the time at which the Spanish have their meals & drinks. In Spain it is common to have breakfast as the first meal as in the UK, however in the UK normally people have a sandwich or small lunch around midday. To contrast, in Spain lunch is the main meal of the day and usually had around 2 or 3 pm. Moving over to dinner which is often in-between 5 and 7 pm in the UK, it is at 9 or 10 pm in Spain. This reflects in many different aspects of Spain, the shops are open later (usually closing 8:30pm – 10:00pm) and going out for drinks is very different. In the UK drinking is usually to get drunk, in Spain drinks are often restricted to mealtimes. When the Spanish go out drinking it is called Botellon and it consists of drinking and pub crawling before ending up in a nightclub. In some cases they drink in the streets in large groups and share alcohol, a very friendly atmosphere that is a good experience for any fans of social drinking.
Fiestas & Siestas
Two very frequent phrases you hear when people talk about the lifestyle in Spain, what do they mean? A fiesta can be anything from a festival or party to a bank holiday. This catches people off guard as many assume that fiestas usually just mean there’s going to be a party of some kind, but many shops will close and in more religious and traditional Spanish areas will shut down completely during a fiesta. They can be a little bit tricky to work out as different parts of Spain can have fiestas that do and don’t apply to them. So in some instances all of Spain may be closed, in others it may just be your pueblo so it’s important to pay attention to which areas your fiesta apply. Secondly we come to Siestas, the time is a little different between areas but usually it’s from 14:00 until 17:00. Often you’ll find shops and cafes open from 9:00 or 10:00 until 14:00 which is Spanish lunchtime. At this point many places close so the owners and staff can go home for lunch or a “siesta” to catch up on sleep. at around 17:00 or 18:00 all the doors open again and now stay open until late into the evening. Tourists can get stuck looking for a place to eat dinner whilst Spain is taking its nap time, so if you’re going inland be sure to keep your eye on the time.