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A Brief Guide to Spanish Life

Here is a brief guide to life in Spain, please visit our Links page formore invaluable websites about this beautiful country.


Fiestas and Traditions

All Spanish towns and cities have their own special celebrations, as well as the national holidays such as Christmas, Easter Week etc.

Spanish Food

Eating out in Spain is relatively cheap and meals are usually substantial instead of gourmet.

  A taste of Spain

Eating out in Spain is relatively cheap and meals are usually substantial instead of gourmet. The Spanish tradition of tapas is a good way to sample the local food. Tapas are small dishes of snacks which are served anytime especially in small bars. They cover all types of foods from seafood to vegetables. Many Spanish people make an evening of hopping from bar to bar trying different tapas. Another of Spain's favourites is Serrano Ham.

Spain is famous for its fish delecasies and simply must be sampled, especially if you get to coastal areas. Paella has long been a Spanish favourite, based on either meat or seafood. Every region in Spain has it's own specialities The Spanish tend to eat traditional continental breakfasts, a light lunch and an evening meal, late. See more about Spanish cuisine.

Primarilly Spain is a wine drinking country with each region producing its own special wines, however there are several large breweries within Spain producing the light, lager-like beers popular everywhere. The principal table wines are the riojas and valdepeñas, named after the regions in which they are produced. In general, rioja, from the region around Logroño in the northeast, resembles the French Bordeaux, though it is less delicate. Valdepeñas is a rougher wine, but pleasant and hearty. It will be found at its best in the region where it is grown, midway between Madrid and Cordóba. The Jerez area is famous for it's sherry. Jerez is the place from which this wine was first exported. Britain now buys 75% of all sherry exports. There are four main types of sherry, being fino which is pale and dry, amontillado, dry, richer in body and darker, oloroso, medium, fragrant and golden and dulce, which is sweet. In the Basque Country, chacoli is a favourite, green wine, slightly sparkling and sour. The majority of Spanish sparkling wines are sweet and fruity and even the inexpensive supermarket wines have an important place in the wine culture. Cider also has an importance in Spain. See our full section on wine.

See sherry bodegas in Jerez de la Frontera - the home of sherry
Spanish brandy is very different from French brandy. It is cheap and pleasant although specialists find it a little sweet. Popular brands include 103, Magno and Carlos which are distilled in Jerez.

Coffee is drunk in Spain in great quantities. Cafe solo is served in small cups and is a black coffee, very strong and thick. Cafe con leche is coffee with milk. Spaniards also drink a great deal of bottled water. There are two types, con gas is fizzy water and sin gas is still water.

Fiestas and Traditions
All Spanish towns and cities have their own special celebrations, as well as the national holidays such as Christmas, Easter Week, All Saints Day etc. The way in which the national events are celebrated also varies from place to place. Most festivities are of religious base, mainly Catholic. See our full listing of holidays.

Spaniards often start the evening with el paseo, a leisurely stroll through the main streets or along the paseo maritimo in the coastal resorts.

Much of Spanish life is lived in the streets and the atmosphere is especially vibrant at fiesta time. On a warm evening the street cafes and bars can fill to capacity as people sit and relax. The nightclubs of Ibiza and the big cities have attracted the attention of the international media and are always an attraction for the youngsters. Most open late at night and don't close until late the following day.

Spanish life has changed dramatically over recent years and many of the strict religious customs are giving way to more modern ways. However, many old customs and traditions have not faded. Handshaking is the customary form of greeting and kisses on both cheeks is normal. If invited to a private home, a small gift is appreciated. Flowers are only sent for special celebrations. Away from the holiday resorts beachwear should be confined to beach or poolside and shirts should always be worn in public places and on public transport. Smoking is widely accepted, even in banks and shops but not on public transport.

Spanish men tend to maintain eye contact with females for longer, although this does not mean anything.

The Spanish way of life is somewhat slower than the rest of Europe, especially in the south. This may be seen as lazy, but when the Spanish work, they work hard. They have adapted to the weather and play hard too. It is quite common for life to begin when the sun goes down, especially in the summer. They are a very happy people who enjoy life to the full. They love music, dance and food.

Dress codes
In general the Spanish have a very modern outlook on clothing. They are keen on designer clothes but quality is more mportant than a designer name. Spanish made clothes tend to be high quality and reasonably priced.

Teenage girls tend to wear trousers more than skirts. Denim is definitely 'in'. Teenage boys are keen on designer wear and appearance is important to them. Mature Spaniards dress conservatively and with style. Older men in particular tend to wear high quality clothing.

It is unclear what the Spanish think of scantily clad holiday-makers but it is not acceptable in small villages, away from the coast. One should be particularly careful of dress code if entering churches. Swim-wear and short skirts are frowned upon.

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