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Hola

First of all: This post is not my creation. It is borrowed from  facebook group. I just loved it and had to include it. At least some bits of it.

It was initiated by a young foreigner who spent a year in Spain and apparently “absolutely loved it”. They are all observations about Spanish life, which makes it different to other countries and cultures.  And it is meant to be taken as ‘tongue in cheek…’

So… You know you have lived in Spain when…

  1. You think adding lemonade, fanta or even coke to red wine is a good idea.
  2. You can’t get over how early bars & clubs shut back home – surely they’re shutting just as you should be going out?
  3. You aren’t just surprised that the plumber/decorator has turned up on time, you’re surprised he turned up at all.
  4. You think it’s fine to comment on everyone’s appearance. And to openly stare at strangers.
  5. Not giving every new acquaintance “dos besos” (two kisses) seems so rude.
  6. On msn you sometimes type ‘jajaja’ instead of ‘hahaha’
  7. You think that “aceite de oliva” (olive oil) is a vital part of every meal. And don’t understand how anyone could think olive oil on toast is weird.
  8. You’re amazed when TV ad breaks last less than half an hour, especially right before the end of films.
  9. You forget to say please when asking for things – you implied it in your tone of voice, right?
  10. You love the phenomenon of giving “toques” (quick calls) – but hate explaining it in English
  11. You don’t see sunflower seeds as a healthy snack – they’re just what all the cool kids eat.
  12. You know what a “pijo” is and how to spot one (not translateable…).
  13. Every sentence you speak contains at least one of these words: “bueno”, “coño”, “vale”, “venga”, “pues nada”…
  14. You know what a “resaca” is (Hang over).
  15. A bull’s head on the wall of a bar isn’t a talking point for you, it’s just a part of the decor.
  16. You eat lunch after 2pm & would never even think of having your evening meal before 9.
  17. You know that after 2pm there’s no point in going shopping, you might as well just have a siesta until 5 when the shops re-open.
  18. You don’t accept beer that’s anything less than ice-cold.
  19. The sound of mopeds in the background is the soundtrack to your life.
  20. You know the difference between cojones and cajones, tener calor and estar caliente, bacalao and bakalao, pollo and polla, estar hecho polvo and echar un polvo…and maybe you learned the differences the hard way!
  21. On some Sunday mornings you sometimes have breakfast before going to bed, not after you get up.
  22. Floors in certain bars are an ideal dumping ground for your colillas, servilletas etc. Why use a bin?!
  23. You see clapping as an art form, not just a way to express approval.
  24. You know “ensaladilla rusa” has nothing to do with Russia.
  25. When you burst out laughing every time you see a Mitsubishi Pajero (thanks Stuart Line for reminding me of that one!)
  26. You have friends named Jesus, Jose Maria, Maria Jose, Angel, maybe even Inmaculada Concepcion…
  27. You know that “ahora” doesn’t really mean now. Hasta ahora, ahora vuelvo…etc
  28. When you make arrangements to meet friends at 3, the first person turns up at 3.15…if you’re lucky!
  29. Aceite de oliva is “muy sano” (very healthy), of course. So you help yourself to a bit more.
  30. Every single news bulletin on TV has at least 10 minutes on Real Madrid news and another 10 on Barcelona Soccer Club news.
  31. When it’s totally normal for every kitchen to have a deep-fat fryer but no kettle.
  32. When you know what a guiri is / have been called one
  33. When you add “super” in front of any adjective for emphasis
  34. Blonde girls actually start to think their name is ‘rubia’
  35. When you accept that paying with a 50 euro note is going to get you a dirty look if you’re buying something that costs less than 40 euros
  36. If something is great, it’s “de puta madre” (sorry, not translateable…)
  37. You can eat up to 5 times a day – first breakfast, 2nd breakfast around 11.30, almuerzo, merienda, cena
  38. You know the jingle for “Los Cuarenta Principales” (Top 40 radio station)…
  39. When you go into a bank/bakery etc, it’s standard practice to ask “Quien es la ultima?” (who is last?)
  40. Who needs a dryer when you have a washing line outside the window of your apartment?
  41. You know what ‘marcha’ and ‘juerga’ are.
  42. You are more likely to call your friends tio/a, nena, chaval, macho or even tronco than their real name.
  43. You answer the phone by saying ‘Yes’, (well, or ‘Tell me’) and when identifying yourself you say ‘I’m…’ not ‘It’s…’. And when you try those tactics back home, everyone thinks you’re mad or rude!
  44. If you eat a lot of something, you’re not going to ‘turn into’ it, you’re going to ‘get the face of it,’ e.g ‘te vas a poner cara de chocolate.’ Somehow a lot more amusing!
  45. Drinking coffee out of a glass is entirely normal.
  46. ‘Son las nueve, las ocho en Canarias’ is how you are used to hearing radio DJs announce the time
  47. You’ve been to your local town’s feria/fiesta/semana santa

Hola amigos!

Let me tell you how I found out about this habit: A friend of mine once worked during the holidays as a security guard in a major hottowels appear at nightel in a vacation spot. He had the night shift. Quite quiet and boring. But towards the end of his shift there was a mistery: he was doing the surveilance round in the premises. It was 6 o’clock in the morning and all of a sudden, the first rows at the pool were covered by towels. No one at sight. How did they got there? Can you imagine you walk around a hotel as a guard and nothing happens, other than a few drunken guys that need a gps to find their rooms? Then -misteriously- towels appear for no reason and from nowhere by the pool… He decided to observe the scene and found his answer. Germans and towels. At straight 6 o’clock they woke up, walked down, layed their towels and went back to their rooms. 10 minutes later the pool area was dessert again but covered in towels…

Let me make this clear: We Spaniards, we love Germans. Seriously, we really do. There are mainly two reasons:
1. They make great cars
2. They are wealthy loyal tourists.

But this one thing I don’t get. Why do they have to wake up in their vacation at 6 o’clock in the morning (at night if you ask me) and perform this incredible ritual? After breakfast they go to the pool lay on their pre-arranged towels and spend a few hours getting their “free-of-charge-shrimp-costume” under the sun. Seriously: Why on earth do they have to wake up early and “own” the first row at the pool?

It is such a mistery…

Do they really think someone will take away the best spots at the pool if they don’t do it? What, at seven o’clock? What is wrong with them?!?

The best part is: most often we are talking about a hotel or some kind of what I call “vacation machine”, that has – surprise, surprise – identical towels for all guests. That means, if any Spaniard would come down to the pool and find towels laying there without an obvious owner, they would think: “how friendly!” and just lay down on them.

towels-2There is one reason why that Spaniards do not “steal” the towels from them: It is holiday. You are not supposed to wake up at any time, just because there are suposedly places that are better than others. This means: when the Germans get back to the pool after breakfast, they find their pre-prepared towels and feel proud to be so smart to own the first row at the pool.üAbout at least one hour later, the rest of all other vacation guests with non-german passports will start showing up at the pool. Oh, and should there be any Spaniards at the same “vacation machine” (quite unliekly if you ask me), they will show up about an hour after this second crowd. This is not out of politeness. For God sake: it is vacation!!!

There is one nation where I would understand that they wake up early on vacation: Americans. My fellow USA-people only have ten days of vacation a year! 10 days vacation… If I had only 10 days vacation I would probably not sleep at all! But that is a separate story.

Back to the Germans and their towels: please guys: you have to stop it. Relax. Easy. Its vacation. Its Spain. We are willing to forgive you for wearing leather sandals with white tennis socks. Also for ordering “dos cervezas por favor” (allthough you know now what I think about it). We are even willing to forgive you for making our restaurants cook you dinner at 18 or 19 o’clock, when we Spaniards just finished lunch and are still recovering from it… BUT please don’t stress people out with your crazy towels in the morning. Its madness!

My recomendation: leave your clock at home, specially your alarm clock. Sit on a nice terrasse and have some tapas along with a chilled glass of  “The Spanish Quarter” Chardonnay-Albariño, or your favourite Spanish wine.

Salud!
Francisco

Let me reveal to you today (1) why people allways think spanish cab drivers are cheating and (2) that -in most cases- it is not true.

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.

Saludos
Francisco

Feliz Navidad!

That is what we say in Spain these days. Or “Felices fiestas”, which my favorite politically correct american fellows call “happy holidays”.

I have had the pleasure to enjoy Christmas in many countries in the world. Something truly incredible is how many little funny traditions and habits gravitate around Christmas in any particular culture.

german baking christmas

Germans, with their Avent calendars that hide a little something everyday on the way to Christmas Eve. Or their delicious obsession about baking cookies. A minimum of 50 different cookie-cut-out-shapes belong to every standard German home. NEVER accept the invitation to stay overnight in a German home with less than 50 cookie-cut-out-shapes in their kitchen. Something is for sure wrong with them. Run and don’t look back!

USA lights at christmasAmericans, with their Carrols and the abusive use of colors and lights. Everybody knows that the  Chinese wall is the one construction that can be seen from outer space. At night, that certainly applies to the average american home in its X-mas decoration (with a minimum of 15 reindeers + Rudolph in the frontyard). This might be one of the traditions that I am not sure if even mr president Obama will be able to change in his crusade against global warming (don’t worry Barrak, there is still plenty else to do).uk-christmas

Brits, with their socks by the chimney and the house full of candles, making sure that fireman are kept well busy over the holidays. Maybe Americans (i.e. Coca-Cola) invented the current image of Santa Claus. But one thing is sure: the country keeping alive the believe is the UK. How couldn’t they, if their kids get to see everyday the huge red noisy cars full of lights driving around their peacefull burning homes. This is not meant as an accusation, but I think someone stole the idea of oh-so-famous-Rudolph from the UK’s hyperactive fireman.

These are just a few examples. We will get to Spain. Mañana, of course. Meanwhile, I invite you to enjoy a glass of “The Spanish Quarter” or your favourite red wine. And no, I will not be offended – rather honored – if you pick a Spanish wine to be part of the famous traditions of “Christmatizing” red wine. Be it the Swedish “Glog”, the German “Gluehwein” or the Polish “Roz Grozaniez” (sorry for the spelling). It is always a pleasure to be invited to be part of your Christmas traditions.

Salud y felices fiestas!
Francisco