With travel so limited right now due to Covid and Brexit, many people are unable to visit their favourite places in Spain, or are able to stay in their second homes for as long as they could previously.
Of course the travel restrictions won’t be here forever, and of course Spain looks forward to welcoming its ardent fans back to its sunny shores, stunning villages, bustling cities and picturesque mountains. In the meantime, however, what can you do to scratch that Spain itch and take yourselves back here without getting on a plane? We’ve got a handful of tips that will help you to feel you’re in Spain – even though you’re not!
Wine and tapas
To switch yourself to “Spain mode”, you absolutely need to have a platter of tapas and a glass of wine.
Tapas are small plates of Spanish foods usually served with a glass of wine or beer and are a fabulous way to enjoy a multitude of Spanish flavours without breaking the bank. Here in Vélez-Blanco, our favourite jaunt is a “tapas crawl” where we visit each of the many bars in town, enjoying a tapa and a glass of something nice before heading onto the next one.
If movement and budget allow, you may dine at the nearest Spanish restaurant in your area and order your own set of tapas. Alternatively, you can also be resourceful and instead, head to the nearest market to gather ingredients and make your own tapas at home. Typically, this includes an assortment of chorizos, meatballs, deep-fried calamari, hearty stews, refreshing salads, various types of cheese, and the like. Likewise, tapas can be relished either hot or cold. But wait… there’s more! We know that many Spanish tapas are super simple to make at home, and we are offering a time-sensitive way for you to do the same. Anyone who clicks this link (opens in a new tab, or downloads straight to your device/computer – depending on your personal settings) before the end of April 2021 can download a FREE full-colour pdf copy of the Spain Buddy cookbook which has 120+ Spanish recipes that even novice cooks can recreate at home. Grab yours today and save €4.99!
Onto wine now – ah… Elle’s preferred nectar!
Spain’s wine reputation is right up there with the best of them, at prices that won’t break the bank. Head to your local wine store, or visit such online retailers such as Usual Wines.
The regions that are possibly most famous for their wines are Rioja and Navarra. While you could only imagine having a tour in one of the region’s wine bodegas right now, purchasing your own set of classic reds and whites may help you feel you’re in Spain, on a wine tasting tour with your friends. However, do remember to drink in moderation.
Embrace the coffee!
Although I am allergic to coffee, I do appreciate and respect the popularity of this aromatic cup of loveliness. When I explain to my Spanish friends and neighbours that I am unable to drink what is possibly Spain’s national beverage, I am met with different responses. Some will look at me in sheer horror, others will laugh and tell me I will never be truly Spanish… but most look at me with pity and rub my arm to comfort me.
But I love coffee!
Aside from enjoying the smell (which quite frankly is amazing in my opinion) and listening to the sounds of the coffee makers, I always like watching people in the local bars and cafés as they are presented with their cup of coffee.
There is almost a reverence to how they approach the cup. As the coffee is placed in front of them, silence falls. The Spanish stop what they are doing, take a deep breath and approach their cup with respect and honour. The spoon is used to gently caress the liquid – a gentle touch is key here… no vigorous stirring. Then the cup is slowly raised to the mouth but the drinker takes another opportunity to savour the aroma for a second or two before closing their eyes and taking a sip. There are few other drinks that have that effect on such a high percentage of its partakers.
Stop treating your coffee as a “drink on the go”. Take a moment to fully embrace the humble bean.
Learn The Language
Spanish is spoken by approximately 570 million people across the globe and ranks second in the list of the world’s most spoken languages. Outside of Spain, Spanish is the official language for countries such as Argentina, Venezuela, and El Salvador.
There are a gazillion websites and apps that will help you learn Spanish – here we list our favourites!
- Babblegraph – aimed at intermediate to advanced speakers, signing up on Babblegraph will enable you to receive a daily email with Spanish articles aimed at your interests. We get ours each day, and enjoy learning new words while enjoying the latest news from around the world – all in Spanish! Sign up FREE today!
- Gymglish – great for beginners, Hotel Borbollón learns as you do… picking out factors that you may need a little help with. Get one month free today!
- Duolingo – while this app won’t help you too much with grammar, it’s fantastic for increasing your vocabulary. Get started free today!
Some regard Spanish as one of the easiest languages to learn due to its Latin roots and phonetic pronunciation. If you’re looking forward to studying the language, you may initially choose just one out of the languages spoken in Spain. Castellano is probably the most widely spoken language around Mainland Spain, but it is closely followed by Catalan and then of course there are regional dialects such as Euskara (Basque Country), Gallego (Galicia) and the whistling language of La Gomera in the Canaries.
Moreover, although learning a new language might be challenging, know that this can be a fun and engaging activity, especially in understanding Spanish practices and certain customs. This allows you to enrich your knowledge with the country’s culture.
With practice and dedication, you’ll soon be able to have a smooth conversation with a native speaker as you visit the country in the future. In the meantime, you may gradually practice your Spanish vocabulary at home. There is lots of beginner-friendly Spanish content you can listen to and watch for free. For instance, you may try to download podcasts to learn about Spanish accents and intonations.
Enjoy your afternoon siestas
Despite what you may read in the press, many Spanish people continue to heed their cultural practice of afternoon siestas. While it doesn’t appear to be popular in the cities, larger towns and tourism hubs, many of the outlying towns and villages most definitely do head for a kip around 2pm. We at Spain Buddy are ardent fans of a siesta (although ours can often be a little later) and find that it helps to top up our energy levels, while also being a way to escape the heat of the Spanish sun during the hotter summer months.
Do not be one of the idiots who assumes the Spanish are lazy because they have an afternoon kip – I can’t stress enough how offensive it is to this wonderful country when we see yet another example of trashy press telling you all about the idle nature of these wonderful people – it simply isn’t true. Since moving to Spain in 2006, we have been constantly impressed by the work ethic here and “hour for hour” we have found that our neighbours and friends actually work longer than in many other countries. So what if they have a 2 or 3 hour lunch – they’re back hard at it afterwards and often work late into the evenings.
Of course your boss is unlikely to appreciate you curling up under your desk or work station for some quick Zzzzs during the working day, but why not give it a try at the weekends? Remember to set an alarm though – or you may lose your evening too, or be unable to sleep properly that night.
Spain is a European country full of vibrant and meaningful practices. Regardless of your current geographical location, there are several ways to experience or relive Spanish culture. From observing traditions to learning the language, you simply need to don your creative hat, start thinking outside the box, and visualize yourself in Spain.
Elle, along with Alan, is the owner of Spain Buddy and the busy web design business – Spain Web Design by Gandy-Draper.
Born a “Norverner”, she then spent most of her life “Dann Saff” before moving to Spain in 2006. Elle’s loves are Alan, the internet, dogs, good food, and dry white wine – although not necessarily in that order.