Another trip to Europe made me note my observations of Spanish culture and custom differences to the United States. I found the changes fascinating. I always think that the small differences, while sometimes being irritating at the time, add to the charm of the city I visit. In Spain I visited Barcelona, Seville, Madrid and Toledo. It gave me a good overview of the culture differences between the various regions of the country.
Most people in Spain have a very different schedule than us in the United States. Here we tend to get up around 6:30am in the morning and go to sleep around 10:00pm at night. In Spain they get up later in the day. We couldn’t even find milk or coffee in ...view middle of the document...
It seemed like they put eggs on everything – French fries, potatoes, and even pizza. For breakfast we always had hot chocolate which was a very, very thick chocolate that was delicious. My parents had the coffee which is very strong so they had to add a lot of milk. The locals would sometimes have another breakfast around 11am, something light to tide them over until lunch.
Lunch is eaten between 1:30 to 4pm. It consisted of several courses, including a soup, followed by meat or fish with vegetables or a rice dish or bean stew, and a light desert. To me, this seemed more like the American dinner. Everything seemed to be cooked in olive oil and asking for butter for your bread was a major request. The food was simple fare based on fresh ingredients with a dash of herbs and spices.
Around 7pm many of the locals (and especially Americans) will eat tapas at a bar or café. Tapas are saucer-sized mini-snacks which include olives, slices of cured meats or cheese, potato salad, diced salad, potato omelet, bit-sized portions of fried fish, meat or fish balls, chickpeas with spinach, slices of grilled steak, pork loin, prawns or small ham sandwiches.
After 9pm the larger restaurants open serving a large sit-down dinner. There you can order full dinner portions including salad, soup, meat or fish, stew or dessert. Here we found some very interesting fish choices such as mussels, scallops, octopus, tripe, salted cod and spider crabs and meat dishes such as ham (a LOT of dishes made with pork), pheasant, duck and bull . You can also try paella, a dish with olive oil, rice stock, saffron and various choices of meat fish, seafood and vegetables. You need to wait 20 minutes for this dish to arrive at the table. Dessert is not a common part of the meal, but we managed to find the local egg custard dish and gelato.
Bottled water was offered at every meal. Milk was served warm and not to my liking. We opted mostly for soda drinks, water or hot chocolate throughout the day.
If you are looking for regional products, you can find a wide array of things to buy to remember your trip to Spain. They are known for their blood sausage, olives and olive oil, and cherries. You can also find some filigree metalwork from Toledo or ceramic tiles from the Andalusia region. Lace, Spanish guitars, fans, clogs and flamenco shoes are found everywhere. You can shop in the many shops during their opened hours. There are flea markets where you can barter with the vendors, but otherwise the prices listed are the prices at which items are sold.
There are vast collections of museums, churches, synagogues, mosques, and architectural marvels throughout Spain. I was able to see some of the world’s most famous artwork, including Spanish artists such as El...