10 things I learned while traveling in España

1. When they say it’s a late culture, they are not messing around. Restaurants usually do not open until 9 pm and that is equivalent to the senior citizen early bird dining hour. Things really do not get going until 11 pm and usually do not end until the crack of dawn. It’s hard for an old married couple like us to keep up with!

2. The Spanish sure love alcohol. It’s not unusual to see people drinking in the early morning. We see a lot of people leisurely walking with beer can in hand as early as 10 am. It goes far enough to say that all the McDonalds in España serve beer and they think it’s absurd that the McD’s back in the States do not. Thank goodness most places bring out free tapas when you order drinks. Something tasty to munch on as well as to soak up the alcohol.

3. You know how it rains men in the Castro District, well in España it rains jamón (what we know as prosciutto back home). Hanging from most restaurants, supermarkets, deli ceilings are legs of succulent, fatty dry-cured pig legs glistening with salted lard just waiting to be enticed, sliced and devoured. Spain’s famous are the Jamón ibérico and Jamón serrano. From all the jamón I’m consuming, I’m turning into a pig…literally!

4. Chinese people here are called Chinos and apparently that is PC or at least according to my friend, Lauren. It was really weird dining at a Japanese restaurant and all the “Chinos” there spoke to us in Spanish. Granted, they actually were Chinese, not Japanese but I’m sure they were just as surprised when Jake spoke to them in Mandarin.

5. The people here are EXTREMELY good-looking. I don’t know if it’s the water they are drinking but hot damn, there is no lack of eye candy, especially in the region of Valencia. This is not an opinion; it simply is a fact!

6. Spain is the mecca of food porn. Forget France, they were so 6 years ago. The famous Ferran Adrià at El Bulli started their food revolution and it sure isn’t stopping any time soon. Spain is paving the way with their innovative culinary skills, marrying traditional flavors with futuristic and deconstructive techniques. Since being here, I’ve had the best jamón, the best boquerones en viangre, the best aceitunas in my life! Plus, meals from lukewarm scorpionfish sponge cake, lime mousse infused with gin and tonic, and scallop pudding that are beyond our imagination. Just ask Anthony Bourdain; he’ll vouch for me.

7. You really do need to know Spanish in order to get around. Yes, there are people who do speak English but it is still hard to communicate. Luckily Jake knows enough to get us around. Madrid was the easiest city to understand and communicate because they predominantly speak Castilian (close to the Spanish we know back home). However, once we arrived in Valencia and Barcelona, we felt like we were in a whole different country. In Valencia, they speak Valencian. In Barcelona, they speak Catalan (a whole lot of x’s in their vocabulary), both regions, languages our ears are resisting comprehension, leaving Jake and I with constant deer in the headlights look every time we venture out.

8. People in Madrid are the most fashionable people I have ever come across. Even the old people dressed to the 9’s.

9. Usually from 2pm – 8pm, siesta is something the Spanish do not joke around about. Streets mirror ghost towns with barely anyone (but tourists) in sight and most shops are closed for the time being. It’s actually nicer during this time of day because it’s less chaotic to get around. Wait, that means we’re one of dem pesky tourists!

10. To say the least, I can understand how España has many people’s corazons. It is an amazingly beautiful, surprisingly clean, gastronomical, and inspirational country and we cannot wait to return back here one day. Hopefully, next time the Euro will be in our favor because DAMN GINA, things sure are expensive here. Por ahora, adiós mi amors!

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