Want To Understand Europe? Sit By A Gran Canaria Swimming Pool

The daily battle for sun loungers teaches us a lot about Europe & Europeans

To really understand Europeans, find a place where they all come together and compete for finite resources.

A place like the sun terrace around a hotel swimming pool in a tourist destination like Gran Canaria.

One rule, many attitudes

Most hotels have a simple rule about lounger reservation; you can’t bag a bed until 09.00. After that, it’s a free-for-all.

How people react to the rules tells you a lot about Europe and the Europeans.

At 07.00, the Swedes arrive for a long, peaceful, dawn swim. Then, then disappear until the next morning. Nobody knows where they go.

At 08.55, an orderly queue of Germans carrying towels, books and suncream forms poolside. They wait, watches synchronised, for the 09.00 bell. As soon as it goes off, they fan out and bag all the best loungers. Then, they straighten them and head off for breakfast.

The British arrive poolside at 10.30 to find all the beds taken. They whinge loudly about the unfair rule and come up with feeble reasons why it shouldn’t apply to them.

Everyone else just wishes they’d shove off and stop disturbing the peace. Especially after the Brits keep complaining after the staff bring them extra beds just to shut them up.

The Norwegians don’t bother with poolside sunbeds at all. Instead, they stay on their terraces and enjoy the same sunshine as everyone else without getting involved. If they get hot, they wander over to the pool for a dip, then head back to their own private space.

As for the Dutch, nobody knows what they think about lounger wars because they all head off to explore the island’s beaches and mountains. If there are no beds when they get back, they just go to the bar.

The Spanish get around the 09.00 rule by leaving their towels on the loungers all night. If they are still there in the morning, they are happy that they got away with it. If someone kicks up a fuss and moves their towels, they just lie by the pool and enjoy themselves anyway.

The Irish? Well, half of them talk their way into the posh hotel next door, and the rest are sit happily on the grass hoping nobody wants them to take sides.

Europe: It’s a continent divided not by its languages, but by the attitudes of its peoples.

Think I’m exaggerating? You should see what happens at the buffet when they bring out the good steak!