The Spanish do things differently. Here’s a few things I’ve noticed about the idiosyncrasies of Spanish life.
Almost all Spanish Street Names are named after people. Not things or places. There is no Spanish equivalent of Acacia Avenue or Thames Road. It’s all people. They start off with the great and the good. Kings are definitely top of the list. Then explorers. Presidents and major politicians come next. Scientists, doctors, writers and inventors follow, but even in a medium sized town these names run out. Next to get the call are celebrities, national then local. Before long you are down to local council officers, the plumber and someone who is just good at darts or can bake a nice cake. Last on the list comes any random Spanish person who maybe pulled a goat out of a lake once. They will run out of them too eventually and then it will be our turn. I must have been to Spain over 50 times now, so I don’t think it will be too long until you see my name on a street sign. I hope it’s on a grand Boulevard or Avenida and not on a mere Calle. There is a Margaret Thatcher Square in Madrid, so why not me.
Ironmongers. They love ’em. The smallest village will have at least three and there can be 50 or 60 in a city. The most puzzling thing to me is the location of these shops. You can often see them in the financial districts or right amongst the tourist attractions next to the castle or famous museum and surrounded by 5 star hotels. It’s as if a banker or a well heeled tourist might just find himself in need of a ball pein hammer or a packet of cable ties.
Then there’s the variety of the stock. These small shops have everything you need. Whether you’re hanging a picture or building a skyscaper. There are no staff under 80 years old and those staff can not only find, amongst the chaos of the shelves, the exact size of pipe/nail/gutter/bolt that you need but also give you advice on your project whether you need it or not.
One of the certainties in life is that you cannot make a Spanish waiter see you until he is good and ready. He will clear tables right next to yours as if you are invisible. Once he has cleared the tables, dismantled and cleaned the orange juice machine, and popped out the back for a cigarette, then, and only then, will he acknowledge your existence.
Things move fast after that. He takes your order efficiently, your drinks arrive, and your food soon follows. When you have eaten, for reasons unknown you quickly become invisible again. Try as you might you cannot get the bill. After a dozen or so unheard requests, finally, a flicker of acknowledgement may cross the waiter’s face. Good… so far. But this is just the beginning of the process. He has to remember your request until he gets all the way back to the till. You have some chance of success here IF your waiter has the authority to use the cash register. If he doesn’t then he has to relay the information to another staff member, who also has to remember. Obviously much harder than it sounds because the failure rate here is high, so be prepared to start the whole procedure again. When ‘la cuenta’ finally arrives you can leave the money on the table and leave. What if you need change? Then you are an idiot who shouldn’t be allowed out and you will have to wait another 30 minutes.
Have you noticed any of this? Put you stories in the comments section por favor.
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Coming next. Car parking skills, partying and more