8 things to know that will make your Spain trip even better

Image credit Janet Christian

1) Meals are not what or when you expect

Meal time is late

Image credit our server at a local restaurant

You’ll never go hungry

  • Desayuno (Breakfast): 7–9 am — Coffee with something light like a croissant, pastry, or small bowl of cereal, consumed at home.
  • Almuerzo (Second Breakfast): 10–11 am — Another coffee and/or juice with something heartier, consumed in a local cafe. Typical options are tostada con tomate (toasted bread covered with crushed tomato and drizzled with olive oil) or a tortilla de patatas (something like a potato and egg omelet that might also include ham). Sometimes second breakfast is more like an early lunch, such as a salad and bocadillo (sandwich) accompanied by a beer or glass of wine.
  • La Comida (“The Meal”/Lunch): 2–3:30 pm — Generally the main and largest meal of the day. Most restaurants offer a 3 or 4 course Menu del Dia for a fixed price. I wrote about it here. With few exceptions, lunch is a multi-hour event. Most restaurants do a single seating; your table is yours until the restaurant closes mid-afternoon. It is quite rare for a restaurant to expect a second seating at lunch.
  • Merienda (Mid-afternoon snack): 5–6:30 pm — The afternoon snack helps break up the long work days and gives friends a chance to meet up and chat. It’s usually a sweet of some type (churros (fried dough “sticks”), bizcochos (snack cake), pastry, tart, etc.)
  • Aperitif: 8–10 pm — A quick glass of wine and tapas or pintxos (small snacks served on a piece of bread) in a local cafe, sometimes consumed while standing.
  • La Cena (Dinner): 9–11 pm — A lighter meal than lunch, usually consisting of a salad, plate of ham/sausage and cheese, croquettes, etc. Dinner is as much about socializing as food.

You have to ask for the check

Don’t overtip

2) Don’t expect to shop in the afternoon

Left image credit Janet Christian / Right image use through Creative Commons

3) Be prepared to communicate in Spanish

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  • Por favor (please)
  • Buenos dias/buenas tardes (good morning/good afternoon)
  • Gracias (thank you)
  • De nada (you are welcome)
  • Lo siento, no hablo español (I’m sorry, I do not speak Spanish)
  • ¿Hablas ingles? (Do you speak English?)
  • Dónde está… (where is)
    el baño (the bathroom)
    el banco mas cercano (the closest bank)
    un buen restaurante (a good restaurant)
    el hotel [hotel name] (the hotel [hotel name])
  • Me gustaría [point to item] (I would like [the item you point to])
  • La cuenta, por favor (the check please, asked in restaurants)

4) Don’t yell

Image use through Creative Commons

5) Get used to boobies at the beach

Image credit Janet Christian

6) Ice and straws are not much of a thing

Image use through Creative Commons

7) The first floor isn’t where you think it is

Image use through Creative Commons

8) Important rules to remember if you drive while here

Roundabouts

Image use through Creative Commons

Crosswalks

Image use through Creative Commons

You cannot turn right on red here

Image use through Creative Commons

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Texan who retired to Spain. Tech writer turned mystery writer, blogger, and world traveler. For fun I handbuild pottery pieces. Life is great. It should be!

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Janet Christian

Janet Christian

Texan who retired to Spain. Tech writer turned mystery writer, blogger, and world traveler. For fun I handbuild pottery pieces. Life is great. It should be!

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