My first week in Spain as an ex-pat is now drawing to a close. I’ve moved into a new apartment, started my Spanish classes, and even made arrangements to apply for residency.
But it is the small things that really illustrate the changes in my life. Although I have been coming to Andalucia regularly over the last two years I am still continuing to experience new aspects of Spanish life.
For example, day are much longer here! It’s not that there are more than 24 hours in a day – it’s just that it appears that people work and play harder, experiencing more hours of each day – basically that means a lot less sleep!
When holidaying here, it’s a pleasure to wake late, take a late lunch and then eat dinner – again late my English standards.
Yet, when one really lives here, this extended day can catch up with you. Although most work days start later here, at 9.30am, that’s not that much different to the UK – so not exactly a lie-in each day. Then, at about 1.30, most people have the extended lunch break of two to three hours, the famous Spanish siesta. This is great if you work near your home, as you can nip back for a decent lunch and relaxation. If not, one has to take advantage of the menu del dia in a nearby restaurant – a good value 3 course lunch.
Yet, this does mean that most Spaniards commute twice each day! Add the fact that traffic is heavy during these commute periods and the siesta break can be a challenge for many. After the afternoon break, work starts again at 4.30pm and can go on until 8 or 9pm, followed by drinks and tapas, or a snack at home.
Add an hour or two after that to relax etc. and one soon finds that it is midnight or later! Quite a long day. The secret is to live very close to your office!