Cassandra is passionate about travel, style, and street food. She is on a mission to live an unconventional lifestyle, break away from the norm, and share her experiences to inspire others. This is a beautiful story of a land far away, enjoy the visual journey!
Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos in Córdoba, Spain
Cathedral of Málaga, Spain
Tapas in Ronda, Spain
Located in the Iberian Peninsula, right next to Portugal and below France, is a beautiful Mediterranean country called Spain. When you first think of Europe, what are a few of the countries that you list first? Does Spain make the list? I’d say it’s an underrated country, with so much history, vibrancy and culture to offer! The country is adorned with Moorish architecture, Roman ruins and rich Spanish culture that makes you take a step through time. If you’re planning a trip to Spain soon, here are 5 things you need to know before planning your trip:
- The Spanish Meal Schedule
What does this mean? Well, if you’re coming from the United States, we have a very different schedule from the Spaniards for eating and doing things. Lunchtime in the United States ranges from 12pm to about 1pm, and if you’re running really late, maybe a little after. Don’t expect to eat at 12pm in Spain (unless you’re in a very touristy area, i.e.: Madrid). The Spanish schedule is a bit more “relaxed”. Lunchtime is at 2pm/2:30pm and can last up to two hours if you’re eating with a Spanish family! If you’re in a smaller city or town, there are many shops that close at 2pm because it’s very common for shop owners and employees to return home and eat with their families, and then return to work in the afternoon.
Dinner is even later! If you’re used to having dinner anywhere from 6-8pm, this is not considered a normal dinnertime in Spain. Most Spaniards will have dinner around 9pm-10pm. Of course if you’re in a more touristy area and a bigger city, you will most likely find a restaurant that is open and ready to serve dinner. In some smaller cities and towns, restaurants don’t open until 6pm or later and won’t have their kitchen prepped for dinner, only “tapas” and smaller snacks.
*Pro Tip: Tipping is not expected, but if you feel like the waiter did a great job, it’s always appreciated!
- Spanish Sun
There has to be a reason why Spain has a coast called “La Costa del Sol” which is literally translated to “The Coast of the Sun” or “The Sunny Coast”. The Spanish sun is no joke! It’s strong, brings heat and can make you feel sluggish and tired. Even through the winter, when the sun hits, it drastically changes the temperature! Be cautious of the sun in Spain, as it is much stronger than the United States, which may cause you to burn faster and without noticing. You won’t have to worry about humidity, except for in coastal cities by the sea. Spain’s heat is mostly dry heat, which means if you find yourself some shade, STAY THERE!
During the day, the sun’s peak hours start from 12-4pm. You’ll notice that once 12 o’ clock hits, it starts to feel a bit warmer and the sun is beating on your back. This is also usually the time for siestas, because it is so hot that it is unbearable to work! In the summer, be extra cautious! Temperatures in Spain can normally get up to 100 degrees F (40 degrees C) with the sun out from 11/12pm-8pm! Most Spaniards don’t leave their homes or offices because the heat is too much! The day starts again around 8 or 8:30pm, when the sun is setting and it’s a bit cooler outside.
*Pro Tip: Always try to carry a bottle of water with you if you’re exploring a city! When it starts getting hot, you’ll thank me later!
- Expect to walk
Of course while we’re sightseeing and traveling, we expect to walk a bit more than normal. Spain is not an exception to this rule! Many of the cities and smaller towns have the city centre and also the historic area. Most of the streets are small, winding and very narrow. Don’t expect to have public transportation to get everywhere. Some cities, like Toledo, are medieval and just need to be walked to enjoy and understand the area. If you’re in the south of Spain, expect some hills and stairs to explore the city!
Bring your comfy walking shoes! Spaniards do have a “sporty-chic” look to them and wear a lot of tennis shoes, since they walk so much and so often.
- Road tripping through Spain
If you’ve rented a car to drive through Spain, be prepared! Although the country has fairly new highways and roads, there are still very many smaller roads called “carreteras” that are narrow, winding and may even be made of dirt. Be careful while you’re driving and using your GPS! Although the country is small, compared to other countries in Europe, it may take you longer than you expected to drive from one city to the next! Take into account those roads that wrap around mountains and hills! This is especially true in the north of Spain, where highways are much smaller and weave in and out of the mountain landscape.
- Spanish Culture
Spanish culture is one of a kind! It’s vibrant, it’s bright, it’s loud and it is truly just “Spanish”! When traveling to Spain, it’s important to have an open mind and really understand the culture of the country. They were under dictatorship until 1975 until Franco, the dictator, passed away. The country is still new and may have some “old school” traditions.
For example, bullfighting is an extremely controversial subject in Spain. It is something that is part of the culture of this country, but is now being protested by some Spaniards as a cruel sport. Although you may have your opinions about certain things that Spaniards do that seem so “old-fashioned”, it’s also important to understand that the country has made drastic changes in both it’s government, lifestyle and more in a short period of time! Not to mention, the country has been in a large economic crisis for about 10 years! Imagine what that can do to the culture of a nation.
Overall, to me, Spain is one of the underrated countries in Europe. The country boasts rich Moorish architecture (i.e.: La Alhambra in Granada, Spain), amazing cuisine (pintxos in the north) and a way of life that most people could be envious about! What other country offers siestas in the middle of the day? Sign me up!
Happy Monday friends, I hope you have a great week. Thanks for stopping by, perhaps you've been inspired to take a trip to the picturesque land of Spain. For more exciting travel stories from the Quirky Pineapple, follow Cassandra on social media.