When you travel to another country the differences stand out more than anything else. Some things, like language, are obvious while others are more subtle and discovered over time. There are so many little cultural and social differences I've noticed and that I could ramble on about for hours but here are 10 to get the ball rolling, hot of the press while I still find them ‘foreign’. Already everything feels normal and I know, given time, all the things I find a little strange are fading into a blur of life here in Malaga. These are the first 10 of at least 100 things that popped into my head, so enjoy!
- The concept of time is all but lost on the Spanish, or used only in reference to the future eg. Luego, manana, luego - later, tomorrow, later! For example when waiting for la cuenta, or the bill, don't expect any of the waiters to be in a big hurry.
- Everything starts later. Don’t even think about eating dinner until at least 9.30, 11pm is still OK. Then drinks at a pub or a bar for a few hours before the clubs or discotecas open properly at about 2am where you’ll probably stay out until 7am which is pretty standard - I speak the truth!
- ‘Australian drunk’ versus ‘spanish drunk’ are two very different things. What we’ve dubbed ‘Australian drunk’ consists of messy hair, falling into the gutter and the stank of sweat and alcohol sticking to your clothes. In Australia you drink to get drunk. Here the Spanish have this (foreign?) concept of ‘social drinking.’ A few bottles of wine from 11am until 3am is easier to sit with the next day than 10 shots of vodka taken in less than an hour (who knew?).
- Siesta is no myth. The shops (bar Zara and the other huge retail outlets) close from about 2 until 5, 5-30. This is a good time to catch up on sleep you will have missed from getting home at 7am.
- There are no cappuccinos, lattes, chai lattes or anything like that here. It’s café con leche o café solo. Nothing more, nothing less. Attempting to order anything else is pure madness and will result in the waiter probably spitting in your coffee with disgust. Also, the concept of 'take away' is as alien as saying you would want a sushi roll at a tapas bar. It's not going to happen!
- The style is different. Sure, there are the odd Spanish bogan in track pants here and there but for the most part, like the rest of Europe it’s all coats, scarves and gloves for winter. In Australia in winter you brave it with layers of denim and trendy cardigans with holes in them you got from General pants. In Sydney, if you wore a coat people would make Inspector Gadget jokes and wonder what you were selling under it. In Malaga, a coat is a must have – so getting yourself to Zara is number 1 on the to-do-list.
- Here in the south of Spain, everything is fried. You can fry calamari, potatoes, sardines or pretty much anything. I’m yet to see them have the famous Bondi deep-fried Mars Bars but their churros are not far off…
- Everything is dubbed. Don’t expect the original versions of anything, unless you have cable. The Spanish love their dubbing and the fact that there seem to be only 5 voices in the entire repoirtoire only makes it more interesting. Watch the simpsons and the voice of Bart can be exactly the same as that of Lisa, completely unreal and overly dramatic. It’s great because everything becomes a comedy (watched Indepence Day in the hostel… Will Smith with a serious face shooting things and yelling like a Mexican guy at a bar).
- The guys have more testosterone than they know what to do with. The major difference is that in Australia when a guy cat-calls you, you look at him with disgust and wonder how cave-men like that can still exist. In Malaga, it’s part of the culture of ‘machismo’ and is a standard part of everyday life, if nothing else if you're a girl your self-esteem is sure never to be depleted.
- The girls love the peroxide – I’ve seen more fake blondes here than I have at Kings Cross on a Saturday night. For some reason the Spanish girls rebel against their gorgeous brown hair and opt for the less natural and more eye-grabbing (I’m trying to be neutral here) look of ‘la rubia’. This is something not unique to Spain but I was a bit surprised I would find here anyway!
More things coming up later... !