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Truths (not so) and (some) Myths about Spain

Truths (not so) and (some) Myths about Spain

Oct 15th, 2010, 03:14 AM
  #1  
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Truths (not so) and (some) Myths about Spain

I´ve received many visitors over the years from various countries, but mainly from the US. As it happens when you arrive in a different country, you find some habits of the natives kind of peculiar. And here are some notes that I´ve mentally taken so my visitors get a better idea of how special this small country is. (they just refer to general terms about Spain...the peculiarities of each region would be encyclopaedic)

- Spain is a very diverse country, with a common language, three local languages (with their dialects) and several dialects and subdialects.
- North and South are almost like oil and water, as are West and East, in terms of climate, language, customs, even phenotypes.
- Yes, you can throw paper napkins to the floor on bars
- Pintxos are not Tapas and Tapas are not Raciones. And so, Pintxos are not Raciones.
- Kids are welcome anywhere in Spain
. Family life is basic for us. We look for the closer college to our hometown, instead of going away.
- Bars are places to socialize with friends and families, not places to get drunk
- Most restaurants are also bars, most bars are also restaurants
- We mostly own our houses, renting is not that popular
- Washing machines are not on basements, but at the apartment. Laundries are a rarity
- Smoking is banned almost everywhere now, the times they are a-changin´
- We don´t usually tip is service is not good. In any case, it´ll be at our discretion and not a fixed percentage on the bill
- We don´t tip taxi drivers, maybe just the spare change
- Three star hotels are usually very good anywhere
- Four star hotels are excellent
- Yes, we use toilet paper, but not dollars
- We are not bullfighters and there´re a lot of people that don´t like bullfights
- Flamenco is sung in Southern Spain only, the rest is for tourists
- The sun in Spain falls mainly on the South and Center, the North is rainy and green
- We don´t drink sangría often, it´s mainly for tourists
- No, I´m not Mexican and don´t eat burritos
- It snows in winter and gets rrrrreally cold in many places
- The running of the bulls is not held daily but just one week a year. The most famous one is in Pamplona, but there are many other bull festivals in Spain (not bullfights)
(more)
mikelg is online now  
Oct 15th, 2010, 03:20 AM
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Mil gracias! Great idea!
ekscrunchy is offline  
Oct 15th, 2010, 03:26 AM
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As a Spain frequent visitor I love, love, love your list!!

I cringe every time I see an American-made movie that, in trying to depict a Spain character or a scene in Spain, it uses a sombrero and mariachi music....how dumbass!
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Oct 15th, 2010, 03:28 AM
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mikelg.
Agree with most of what you say, except for smoking. In Murcia and surrounding areas its hard to find a bar or even a restraurant where they dont smoke. I only wish you could. The law might be there but the will to enforce it is not.
eyelids is offline  
Oct 15th, 2010, 03:34 AM
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eyelids, that´s true in restaurants (and many have separated areas for smokers, or even forbidden it), but it´s banned in public buildings, cinemas, buses, etc...In the BAsque Country they´ve banned it on children´s public playgrounds, and they will pass new laws against smoking in bars and restaurants. At least, the intentions seem to be going in the right direction...
mikelg is online now  
Oct 15th, 2010, 03:36 AM
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I forgot, it´s also been banned in private cars with children inside (in the BAsque Country only)
mikelg is online now  
Oct 15th, 2010, 03:46 AM
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Great list, and agree apart from "Flamenco is sung in Southern Spain only, the rest is for tourists". Madrid is arguably the flamenco capital of the world these days, and I've even had genuine and impromptu flamenco experiences in bars in Barcelona (lots of Andalusian immigrants as you know). Peña Flamenca Duende is my favourite in Madrid. http://www.kanalduende.com/
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Oct 15th, 2010, 04:45 AM
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And the "oil and water"-thing is much more than North vs. South. To some extent Spain is all about oil and water. San Sebastián and Bilbao is somewhat oil and water, not to speak of the Basque Country as such. And as a general rule, every neighbouring villages/towns in Andalucía are oil and water, as are even often neighbouring parts of the tiniest village. And, as Basil Fawlty said in Fawlty Towers, "Don't mention the war". Well, "someone" recently did, and today the oil and water is spread all over concerning the Historic Memory Law from 2007.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf.../comment.spain
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Oct 15th, 2010, 05:03 AM
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kimhe, yes, about the Flamenco question I intended to say that Spain is not Flamenco dancing all over, but restricted to some specific areas. True, you can find it in Madrid and Barcelona, but it´s not the regional dance, but imported from Andalusia. As per the rest of your comments, thanks, they are very accurate. It´s always a pleasure to read you.
mikelg is online now  
Oct 15th, 2010, 05:06 AM
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Great list. Having lived in Spain I can agree that bars are for socializing with friends not to get drunk. My Basque friends hate Flamenco, having lived in Seville I love it. Mikelg, do they dislike the British or just put up with them?
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Oct 15th, 2010, 05:11 AM
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Egbert, up here in the North we do like the Brits...we have shared many things in the past two centuries and we have a kind of British style. I reckon that in the South and East they may be fed up with all the cheap British tourism they get in some places. It may be the French we don´t like so much (not me).
mikelg is online now  
Oct 15th, 2010, 05:47 AM
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Mikelg, do they dislike the British or just put up with them?>>

on our recent visit to Seville, we found everyone very friendly. our attempts to speak spanish may have helped.

your list is very helpful, but help me please - what IS the difference between Pintxos and Tapas? [apart from the pronounciation, that is??]
annhig is offline  
Oct 15th, 2010, 05:50 AM
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I'm surprised you don't mention your lovely? habit of eating dinner at 10pm - at the earliest! And how common is the afternoon siesta, as far as shops? Is that getting less common or vary by region?
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Oct 15th, 2010, 06:02 AM
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suec1.
Siesta is taken in my area of Murcia. Not so much in the tourist areas as the holiday makers require shops open all hours. Mikelg you should also mention that the tap water is of the highest quality. Most brits still think you carnt drink the water.
eyelids is offline  
Oct 15th, 2010, 06:18 AM
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I'm surprised you don't mention your lovely? habit of eating dinner at 10pm - at the earliest!>>

in Seville, we were able to get dinner at 8pm, even in non-touristy places, if we wanted it. in fact, we preferred to have a long lunch and eat tapas at night.
annhig is offline  
Oct 15th, 2010, 06:32 AM
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thank you for your suggestions. There is a (more) at the end of the list, and the siesta thing will be mentioned, that´s for sure. Btw, i have a post somewhere talking about the difference between pintxos and tapas...I´ll see if I can find it.
mikelg is online now  
Oct 15th, 2010, 08:24 AM
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This site is quite informative on the difference between pintxos and tapas. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pincho

The pintxos are changing however, and today you'll find much more than the traditional (and very imaginative) topping on a slice of bread held together with a skewer (pincho in Spanish, hence the name). Today much of the so called and very elaborate "miniature cuisine" is served as pintxos, and this and the pintxo tradition in general have also inspired the tapas development. But tapas are usually more simple and served on a plate or in the small and typical tapas-bowls. Tapas often comes free with the drink. Never a pintxo!

The pintxo development can be exemplified by the current "Pintxo of the Month" in San Sebastián; mini-burger of Wagyu meat (the finest and most exclusive beef) with banana fries: http://www.todopintxos.com/pintxos/p...30&do=verficha
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Oct 15th, 2010, 08:30 AM
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Oct 15th, 2010, 08:46 AM
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One would hope that most Fodorites know better than the uninformed , annoying people your post is aimed at.

I tip taxi driver regardless of the custom - not one has refused so far !
danon is online now  
Oct 15th, 2010, 09:15 AM
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I really appreciate this post although I know most of the info . Danon, why be ungrateful about a local taking the time to help? And why put people down who might find the info helpful?
Everyone is uninformed to start with. I find your condescension annoying and insulting.
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