After 2 months studying and exploring this country, here is what I’ve learned about Spain:
Jamón is everywhere.
Spaniards love Iberico Jamón. They like it in their “bocadillios” (baguette sandwiches), in their soups, on top of their veggies and by itself.
2. Not all cities in Spain dance Flamenco.
When some Americans visit Spain they assume one of three things: everyone here likes bullfighting, paella is a staple, and flamenco is danced everywhere. Sorry to burst the bubble, but those aren’t necessarily true. Bullfighting is part of Spain’s history, but nowadays is not offered in most cities. Paella hails from the city of Valencia and is served at many restaurants across the country, but mainly because of tourism. Flamenco comes from Sevilla, you can see shows in Madrid as well, but don’t expect locals from all cities to know the dance.
3. Almost every holiday is a religious holiday.
As a predominantly Catholic country, most holidays are religiously inspired. It’s cool to learn the history of why cities in Spain celebrate them, so ask a local or check them out online.
4. Bread comes with everything.
“Con pan” = with bread. If you go to a restaurant, it will almost certainly come with bread. If you stay with a host family, you’ll also eat lots of bread.
5. Vale = okay
Vale, vale, vale. It is used with almost all sentences in Spain and it just means okay.
6. Spaniards stay up LATE.
You will see grandmas, grandpas, families, and children all up until at least 11pm because dinner is typically around 9 or 9:30pm, and a lot of Spaniards are on the town on weekends until midnight. College students and teenagers will stay out until the morning after a night at the discoteca (dance club.)
7. Menu del día is the way to go.
Looking for a great deal on lunch? When you pass by a restaurant around lunch time, look for a chalkboard outside that says “Menu del día.” It will include a first and second course as well as a dessert. Drinks and bread included (at most places) and it typically costs between 10-15 euros.