Bar Culture in Spain

July 30, 2013 By: erik Category: Partying, Photos, Spain, Travel

Which way to the nearest bar?After living in Spain for so long, I have internalized so much of the culture, that I forget what is quirky about it and what seems weird to outsiders. One aspect of Spanish culture that visitors often misunderstand is just how central bars are to Spanish society. When you first visit Spain, you will notice that there are a lot of people in the bars every midday and evening (and even for breakfast), and you might think, “Wait, where’s the economic crisis?” There is one simple fact that you need to know to understand almost anything about Spanish social culture:
(more…)

Foreigners Are So Rude!

October 27, 2011 By: erik Category: Complaining, Spain, Travel, USA, Videos

roy poutsOne of the things that most irks me, as an expat, is when someone claims that an entire country full of people are rude or lacking in manners. I guarantee you that if you go to live for even a short period of time in another country, you will notice general cultural behaviors that are different from your own culture; some will seem odd, and others will seem rude. I can also guarantee you that for every odd cultural mannerism you notice, the natives around you will notice at least one or two about you. With the right attitude, these cultural differences can add to the adventure that is having foreign friends and traveling and living abroad.
(more…)

Parenting In Spain: Inanimate Retribution

February 17, 2011 By: erik Category: Complaining, Parenting, Spain, Weird

What!  Now, how did that table get in my mouth?As an expat parent of a toddler in Spain, I have noticed a rather bizarre parenting behavior exhibited by Spaniards caring for small children. A typical scenario goes something like this:

A toddler is careening around and hits her head on a table. Tables and desks are right at forehead height for a two-year-old. The parent or caretaker rushes over and hugs the crying child. Immediately the caretaker turns to the table and shouts, “Bad table!” and smacks the table hard with his hand and encourages the child to hit and scold the table as well.

If you’re like me the first time I saw this parenting technique, you have a big “WTF?” thought bubble above your head.
(more…)

No, let me pay!

October 01, 2010 By: erik Category: Complaining, Fighting Stupidity, Musings, Spain

Fourteen Thousand EurosThere are many, many social customs that confuse the hell out of me, but one of the most strange is the insistence of adults to pay for each others’ meals. In the US, when I would go out to eat with my coworkers, we’d always split the bill among everyone. Each person would pull out their credit card, and the waiter or waitress would give us each individual bills. Simple and fair.

In Spain, however, there is a big “buying rounds” culture that was very foreign to me at first. While this somewhat extends to meals, in Spain the “no, let me pay!” issue comes up more often with buying rounds of drinks. Due to the geographical layout of towns and the prevalence of bars, there is a big bar-hopping culture. So it’s very common to visit several bars on a midday walk with your friends, and in each bar, only one person in the group pays for the drinks. It rotates at each bar, and if you go an outing or two without paying for any rounds, people notice. I’m fine with this. The drinks are so cheap and the company so good that I rather enjoy it. You pay for a round, and then it feels, emotionally, that you get a bunch of “free” drinks after that.

What I don’t get is when people get insistent, or even angry, about the right to pay. This is not unique to Spaniards. Americans do this too, but mostly over whole meals, which is even stupider.
(more…)

Tags: ,