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People don’t get it! We are a wine nation. Actually I believe we are THE wine nation. Yes we have great beers. Worldwide famous and ubiquous “San Miguel” or increasingly trendy Barcelona beer icon “Estrella” to name a few. But its beer!
Can you imagine two brits coming to spain and ordering (nevermind an eventually perfect accent) “dos platos de pescado empanado frito y patatas fritas con vinagre” (which would be “fish’n’chips’n’vinegar”)? Or two Germans ordering “codillo de cerdo al horno con albondigas gigantes de patata y miga de pan y zucrut” (that would be “Schweinshaxe mit Knoedel und Sauerkraut”. Sorry for the last one, there is no true translation for “Sauerkraut”).
I guess you get my point. There is a famous saying that reads: “in Rome do as the Romans and in Spain drink wine” (few people know this second part of it…)
So today we go for a simple Spanish lesson. Erease the beer from your hard disk and repeat after me: “dos vinos, por favor” (notice I made it quite easy through replacement).
How much do you have to know about wine or Spanish wine before drinking it? Nothing! Wine knowledge is anyways overrated. People talk too much about it and drink too little.
Once again, repeat after me: “dos vinos, por favor”. See? already much better.
Come to Spain and practice. If you can’t right now, have a glass of “The Spanish Quarter” or your favourite Spanish wine and practice with friends.
Based on my experience I have come to clasify taxi fares in three categories:
1. “What you see is what you pay”: Easy. You sit in clock starts. You arrive. Clock stops. Probably the fruit of German engeneering.
2. “What I say is what you pay”: also quite simple. The car has no clock (or its apparently broken). Chances are, the car has no licence. Maybe not even the driver… The fare will be set according to the following factors: (1) how wealthy, travelled, smart and drunk you are. (2) how late it is and (3) how many alternatives you might have.
3. “Spanish taxi”: The most weird fare regulation in the world. It is identical to category 1 (start fee and then per time/distance) with a big “BUT”: the ride finishes and then the driver presses a few bottons. All of a sudden the amount has increased by a couple of Euros. Logically, you think he is ripping you off.
You think there is a “turist-extra-charge” button? There is NOT. Wether it is logical or not, there are three reasons:
A) in Spain cabs charge an extra for suitcases (per piece) if they go in the trunk, and airport or station departure or arrival.
B) they charge them at the end of the ride, despite they had already charged the start fare at the start (that at least sounds logical)
C) drivers never explain this proactively, nor they teach it in foreign schools (though I think they should).
Given most visitors enter a taxi in an airport or station and tend to have luggage, they end up getting the extra-super-charge. Difficulties in language, jet-lag and other components don’t help.
But now you know. I can’t allow your very first impression of my country to be “I am being ripped off…”
Here comes my proposal: schools of the world should offer spanish culture as a topic in elementary schools. Countries with high affinity to Spain should actually make it obligatory for graduation.
Until that happens though, stick to my blog for further tips and spread the word.
The other day I promised to get back to our beloved “tapas” experience. As you have learned, Tapas were tasty small bites you got for free to accompany your drink.
Unfortunately we have lost the authentic tradition of Tapas in many places. Restaurants in most cities have moved on to charge you for Tapas.
How come? Probably one day tourists started showing up and asking at the end how much it was for the bite. Or eventually pushed the Tapa back saying “I have not ordered that and I am not going to pay for it”. After a while of such visitors, owners certainly realized, that they could charge money for it. And they started doing so.
Good news: it is not everywhere like this. My favourite city in Spain for Tapas is Granada. I said it… They still keep up the tradition there.
A truly authentic and worthwhile experience: go “de tapeo” in Granada. Enter a bar, order a drink, enjoy it with your tapa. Notice: if you order a second drink, you will get a second, but different tapa. Go to the next place, order a drink, enjoy it with your tapa… That is to have a real “tapas” dinner. It usually takes many hours of walking, meeting people, trying new things and -of course – enjoying food, wine and talking.
A great place where you get some of the best Tapas in Granada is in the “barrio de la Chana” (the Chana quarter). Tons of bars with authentic Spanish people. Tasty! My overall favourite Tapas bar is somewhere else, close to the univeristy area. It is called “la Papa”. All tapas are made out of potatos. Simple, tasty and very creative.
At this stage I would like to invite everyone to PLEASE submit your favourite cities for Tapas and your favourite Tapas bars.
And don’t forget to enjoy your tapas with a glass of “The Spanish Quarter” or your favourite Spanish wine.