There are myths about most countries, aren't there? Things that people believe to be true without even having been there to check for themselves? During all my time in Spain, I have been collecting a few myths about Spain and Spaniards and would like to share how I have experienced these.
To start with the most obvious ones...
Spaniards love bull fights. To this day- I have yet to meet a Spaniard who like this 'sport'. This is of course probably related to the fact that where I have spent the most time- in Catalunya and Gran Canaria, it is forbidden. (Or there are some disagreements whether it's forbidden or not in Canary Islands, but at least it is not performed.) In the south of Spain this is still deep in the culture, but it doesn't mean everyone loves it. There are loads and loads of Spaniards with the same opinion as 'the rest of us' who can't stand this unfair fight where the bull has no chance.
Sangria is 'the drink'. Again, I have yet to see Spanish people ordering Sangria at a bar. The tourists yes. You see them with their sunburnt noses sipping away at their copas de sangria. Nothing wrong with that, simply it seems like it's a lot more popular for people visiting this country than for the people from here.
|Although Sangria isn't very usual/typical, tapas certainly is. I will never forget the Basque version of tapas, the pintxos.|
Flamenco is super popular. Hmm, not where I have been living anyway. Again, much like the bull fights, real Flamenco is mostly found in the south of Spain, in Andalucía. Most big cities will have a tablao de Flamenco or two, but mostly for tourists. I have seen a couple Flamenco shows, some authentic, some -although still somehow authentic, all for the tourist. The difference is in the passion, the atmosphere and the feeling that penetrates your skin when watching the real stuff. I contacted a Flamenco school here in Las Palmas to see if they could recommend a good place I could see/hear a Flamenco show, and they told me that unfortunately only in some tourist resorts will you find a Flamenco show here. The feel of this island is closer to South America than Spain in many ways, and I guess this is one of them.
|From a Flamenco competition in Málaga|
Spaniards arrive late for appointments. Oh yes most do. It used to drive me crazy, but I have actually gotten used to that too. In Norway, arriving late is seen as rude and very annoying, as if you're not respecting the other person and stealing their time, but here it's just one of those things that is perfectly normal. And OK. And no big deal at all. In my adaptation to life in Spain I have written about this on various occasions, wondering what time I should arrive as it seemed I was the only one who ever arrived at the time we had decided, wondering if the Spanish simply have a different concept of time altogether, and I found it amusing to see a concert announced with a side note "The concert will start totally punctual".
It's always sunny and beach weather all year. This is a typical misconception from people in Norway. Up there, the winter is long and hard, and people tend to think that Spain is always warm and lovely weather wise. Actually the only place in Spain where you have nice temperatures and beach weather all year around is the Canary Islands. (Some of them, not all of them, but Gran Canaria where I live now is one.) Mainland Spain gets winters. The north has cold gray and humid, rainy winters, the interior dry and cold winters, and the Mediterranean coast milder, but still chilly weather in winter. And winter can go from +- October/November to March/April. The south has warmer winters than the north, but to think that you can hop on a plane to mainland Spain during winter to be guaranteed to find hot beach weather is just wrong. The difference is that when the sun is out it normally heats up (while in Norway in winter, it only illuminates in winter) and it can get quite nice.
The Financial Crisis is still strong. Unfortunately this is very true. It seems like every week I hear of someone I know either lost their job, had a salary decrease (as a way of saving their job - for now), and people are struggling. It's the conversation topic in most social settings and it seems sort of hopeless.
Spaniards are lazy. The image of groups of Spaniards enjoying long lunches, trips to the beach and long siestas may give an impression that Spaniards don't really work a lot. But Spain has longer working hours than many other European countries. In many work places, they have split shifts, with a long siesta break in the middle, making the work day start at 8-9 in the morning and stop at 8-9 at night. I am very very grateful for my freelance work, where I decide my work hours!
Spain is noisy. Or rather Spaniards are noisy. Yes yes yes! Haha, I have gotten used to it and it doesn't bother me anymore, but I remember it was a little annoying at first. We Norwegians are quite quiet you see. Generally, we don't like to talk about personal problems so that other people can hear us, or talking on the phone loud and personal on public transport etc. Here it seems no pasa nada. Problem is that if you're in a bar, and people around you speak so loud that you have to speak louder for your friends to hear you, in the end everyone is speaking ridiculously loud. Where I live now, there is a restaurant just below my windows, and I can easily hear discussions about all of life's subjects from the people enjoying their meal out in the sun. (With the windows open or closed!) Another thing is that I think sound isolation is something Spain has not heard of, cause most everyone I know complain about neighbour noise. And although it's probably maybe a coincidences, wherever I have lived, there has been some construction work going on close by and it can get really noisy. So yes, there can be quite a lot of noise!
Spain is so cheap. Not really! Some things are. But many things are not. People always think that Norway is so expensive, but if you compare the price levele here in Spain and in Norway according to average salaries, Norway is cheaper than Spain in many areas.
|Thankfully wine at awesome old bars is quite cheap!|
Did I forget any obvious myths about Spain?