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Posts tagged ‘siesta’

Seville | Spanish Lifestyle

1-IMG_20140216_133811street life in Seville

Although the notion of a Spanish national character can easily be overdone, there are some cultural biases that people from the English-speaking countries will probably pick up on. The Spanish are generally ebullient, noisy and outward going, with a smaller personal space than you’re used to, and this combination can make them seem a bit “in-your-face”, especially given a widespread lack of foreign language skills (the Swiss and the Belgians can look smug at this point; the Brits and the Americans should probably keep quiet). But really, they’re by and large friendly and hospitable.

Timetables. Partly as a product of climate, and partly because Spanish clocks are an hour out of kilter, everything happens later in the day than you’re used to. A lot of people don’t start work until 10, lunch starts at 2 not 12, and carries on through siesta until 5. Then everything opens up again until 8 or 9. Dinner (usually tapas if you’re eating out) is after that, and may carry on until midnight, especially in summer. In school holidays and at weekends you’ll also see lots of quite young children out and about at this time.

There’s a good reason why “siesta” is the most widely understood Spanish word in the non-Spanish speaking world – it’s just such a good idea. Although a long afternoon break is anathema to the corporatist work ethic of much of Northern Europe and America, it actually conforms to the natural rhythm of the human body. And in the days before aircon, or if you’re working outside, what else could you be doing in the heat of the summer sun? It also allows you to stay up late and get up early.

jamonjamón Ibérico de Bellota

When it comes to eating out the hustle, bustle and sociability of the tapeo is an essential part of Spanish culture in general, and Sevillano culture in particular. Despite the buzz, it’s essence is laid back and informal, with lots of sharing and conversation, and at the end of the evening, lots of lingering over a final drink. People often go from bar to bar, but no one ever tries to move you on to clear the tables for the next shift. Visitors often remark on how civilised this way of eating and drinking feels.

Before the tapeo, if work schedule and weather permit, is the paseo, the evening stroll. The Spanish live outside more than their northern counterparts, and on a warm spring or autumn evening what could be finer than a walk out of doors and perhaps a bit of window-shopping?

arenal (2)Bullfighting is still very popular in most of Spain, though not, of course, as popular as football. They still kill the bull, and the ritual and symbolism are part of every Spaniard’s repertoire, even if they’ve never been to a bullfight. These days the social, see and be seen, aspects of attending a bullfight are as important as the fight itself (unless you’re a bull).

Religious processions are very popular throughout Spain, though not, of course, as popular as football. Although strict religious belief and observance are in decline, Spain is still very much a Catholic country, and in Seville participants prepare all year for major events such as Semana Santa (Holy Week) which still draws huge crowds.

Even if (unfairly) the Spanish, especially in southern Spain, don’t have a reputation for working hard, they do have a reputation for knowing how to party. Every locality has its annual fair where they dress up in flamenco costume, dance the night away and drink lots of rebujito (a cocktail of sherry and 7up). In Seville the Feria is in April.feria flamenco dresses

All this, of course, just scratches the surface, and if you want to find out more about why so many people love Spain and its relaxed lifestyle, you need to come and stay in one of our holiday apartments and experience it for yourself.

Seville | 5 Ways to live (almost) like a local.

You have seen them all over the Sunday supplements and the internet, particularly the blogosphere – 10 best this, 5 worst that, 10 things to do in X, and also 5 ways to live like a local in Y. Now for sure, some of these articles will give you some sound advice on getting the most out of your vacation, but there’s also a lot of stereotyping as well as inaccuracies involved. If you’re only here (in our case, Seville) for a few days you’re not really going to be living like a local. For a start you probably don’t speak much, or any, Spanish, an essential requirement for immersing yourself in the life of the city. Nor do the locals spend much time hanging out in the Cathedral or Alcázar palace, things you should certainly be doing while you’re here (there is an up side to being a tourist). But don’t worry. There are things you can do which will give you at least a taste of how the locals live. So here’s our list (written by a local!).

local tapas

Go on a tapeo

Going out for tapas is the locals preferred way of spending a sociable evening out, and it’s probably already on your list. The format is something like a pub crawl, but with food as the main item on the agenda, with drinks as the accompaniment, rather than vice versa. Have a couple or three tapas at each place you go to, then move on to the next. There’s no foolproof way of choosing the right places for a perfect tapas experience, and although there are some great places in the touristy Santa Cruz, such as Las Teresas and Casa Roman, getting away into the Arenal or the Macarena you’ll find bars like Casa Morales, Bodeguita Romero and Eslava that are always full of locals and have top quality food, too. As an introduction, and to learn the ropes, try a tapas tour with a local guide on your first night.

Visit a Local Market

Visiting a local market is an interesting and fun way to see how the locals shop, and if you’re renting a self-catering apartment (recommended, though we may be a bit biased) rather than staying in a hotel, it’s practical too. There are three markets in the centre, and another just across the bridge in Triana, and the displays of fresh fruit and veg, fish, seafood and meats should inspire you to do a little cooking. One important thing to remember is DO NOT TOUCH any of the fruit or vegetables. Just point at what you want and hold up your fingers to show the amount if you have no Spanish. And since there is no queuing, and very few market stalls are equipped with “take a number” machines, the correct thing to do is ask “quien es el último?” (who is last?) and then take your turn when they have finished.

local market

Siesta

There’s a reason that siesta is one of the few Spanish words to have been warmly welcomed into the English language. That half-hour nap after lunch aids digestion, calms the brain, and reinvigorates the body. It’s the original “power nap”. And if you’re here in summer (June through to mid-September), it’s really too hot to do anything else. So for a couple of hours everything shuts down, many of the smaller shops close, and peace and quiet descend on what is otherwise a bustling and buzzy city.

Fiesta

Contrary to popular stereotype life here isn’t just one long street party. Nevertheless, when the Sevillanos do them, they do them right. So if you’re here for Semana Santa, the April Fair, or one of the neighbourhood events like the Vela de Santa Ana in Triana, go along and mix with the locals. Another local tradition, churros and chocolate, is the ideal hangover cure after a night on the tiles.

Flamenco

There are two schools of thought on flamenco. One is that you should seek out some after midnight drinking club with an improptu flamenco “jamming session”. You might get lucky, and have the experience of a lifetime. Or you might get a couple of amateurs and be cold-shouldered by the actual locals to boot. Or you can go and see a proper flamenco show, at a venue like the Flamenco Dance Museum or the Casa de la Memoria. The audience will be mainly tourists like you, but the performers will be professional artists, and the quality and authenticity are guaranteed. On this one, even after the many years I’ve lived in Seville, I’m happy to be “just a tourist”.

local flamenco