You’ve asked a post about everyday life in Spain and I feel extremely glad to oblige. As it is a bit difficult to summarize everything in a blogger post, I'll try to explain some things foreigners usually find surprising or strange. Here we go:
1. Our timetable. We Spaniards are late risers and late everything. We start working about 8.30 - 9.00 a.m. Have lunch between 2.00 and 3.00 p.m. And work 'till 6.30 or 7.00 p.m. Yes, we work 8 hours a day with a loooooooooooong lunch hour in the middle. 1 hour for lunch is a rarity. Most people have 2 hours. And diner? You'll think we are mad... During the week we use to have dinner about 9.00 p.m. and at the weekends.... things go crazy! If we go out to a restaurant with friends, for example, we start eating around 10.30 p.m. Yeah! Why this crazy timetable?
2. Because we eat huge meals. Really. Our weakest meal is breakfast: just a coffee or a juice and something else... a yogurt, cereals, toast.. nothing more... And then the big ones: lunch and dinner. Imagine a full meal with two main courses and a side dish, bread, dessert and drinks. For lunch and for dinner. Yep. That's us. If it is a special holiday, like Christmas, it gets even worse... And, remember, as we start eating about 3.00 p.m., we don't leave the table till 6.00... Obviously, we love food. In our culture everything is related to food and family meals. Of course, this is directly related with the fact that we have this wonderful Mediterranean diet.
3. Siesta is a topic but also pleasure for most of us. We only have a real siesta whenever we've got time. That is: weekends and holidays. However, we love it. Being able to do a siesta means that you can relax and don't have to go anywhere or do anything for a while. And, considering the huge meal we have already eaten... A siesta is most welcomed.
4. Spain is not only flamenco, castanets and bullfighting. Actually, most of us hate bullfighting and flamenco and castanets are a cultural feature of the south. Spain is a very diverse country culturally speaking. Not only are there 3 different historical nationalities (Catalans, Galicians and Vascs) but even the Spanish traditions are diverse. In my case: we speak another language, have our own self government, our own traditions... bla, bla, bla. And Mexican hats are, precisely, Mexican. Let's remember that Mexico is a wonderful country 10.000 kilometers away from Spain.
5. Spaniards are gregarious we don't like individualism and don't like being alone. Family is really important, we can't understand life without seeing often our own people. That means we don't live far away from them, we spend most of Sundays together, etc. However, families aren't big anymore. Spain has had the lowest birthrate in Europe for many years. Why? Social changes involving women's role, welfare services.
6. Religion: Spain is a Catholic country. Yes but no. Yes, 85% of us are baptised and, officially, Catholic. However, a 15% of us never goes to church and another 20% just goes once or twice a year. We are more culturally Catholic than religiously. Like we have all these Catholic related bank holidays but just a few really observe them. Homosexuality, abortion and atheism are seen as private matters. We don't ask our governants to be religious, to believe in God or to go to church. Actually, the Church's influence on public affairs is a matter of Right and Left politics.
7. Spain is noisy. Yes... We are noisy people. Our volume is high. We talk like we are shouting. Foreigners have this usual headache... And when a group of us is abroad, our nationality is the most recognisable thing ever. Just look for a group of people shouting and laughing at each other, like they were alone in the world... A pity!
8. Spaniards aren't necessarily short, hairy, dark and plump. Of course we are not as tall or blond as the Swedes but you'd be surprised with some blue eyed and fair skinned people.
9. Spain is not different anymore. We had this awful dictatorship that finished in the middle of the '70s. Spain was much different from the rest of Europe then: not full developed, not full industrialised, big social differences, poverty etc. In 30 years Spain has changed a lot: full modernised, full industrialised, a huge middle class, etc. In some matters, like welfare, our state provides for the poor and needed more than the British, for example. Our unemployment rate is about the 5%.
10. Prices are funny. Housing is incredibly expensive. A 50 square meter flat in Barcelona costs about 350.000$. Salaries are not that high. A secretary earns something like 25.000$ per year. You can have lunch in a restaurant for 15$. Alcohol is extremely cheap. You can have a beer for 3$.... No doubt about the hordes of Englishmen coming to Barcelona just to get drunk...
Dear Kim, I hope to have been successful in satisfying your curiosity.. You can ask for more whenever you like.