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Saturday, June 03, 2006

If You're Planning a Trip to Spain...

...be aware of the folowing:
  • Posted hours of operation for stores and restaurants mean NOTHING. Businesses will open and close when they feel like it. Get over it.
  • You wil hear an enormous amount of awful, '80s music. For reasons unknown to us, '80s pop is enormously popular and heard everywhere. (Note: We noticed this in Italy and Amsterdam, too- but not in Paris)
  • There are fewer anglophones per capita in Spain than in most of the rest of Europe. Learn survival phrases. Take a phrasebook.
  • Rick Steve's books for Italy, Netherlands, and Paris were great for us. Accurate prices, good reccommendations. His Spain book sucked. Not a single price was correct, and there was an alarming amount of innaccurate information. Just awful.
  • French tourists will often smell bad. German tourists will usually be in large, loud groups. Japanese tourists will be wearing audio devices to allow them to hear their tour guide better. English tourists will wear large, floppy sun hats. Take note of what you find distasteful in the behavior of other tourists and avoid those behaviors. A Spaniard who doesn't speak English will not understand you better if you speak louder.
  • Yes, bullfighting is disgusting, but there's no reason to point this out to Spaniards. Yes, it would more appropriately be called "Ceremonial Bull Slaughter as Performance Art", but it is extremely bad manners to point this out. Bullfighting is reported on in the ARTS sections of Spanish newspapers, not in the Sports section.
  • Getting off the plane in Barcelona and asking where to see Flamenco is like getting off the plane at Heathrow and asking where to see Scottish highland dancing...or like landing in Los Angeles and asking where to hear the best bluegrass music. Flamenco is from Andalusia. Go to Sevilla.
  • Be aware of regional differences. "Catalunya is not Spain" is much like "Quebec is not Canada." Read up in advance and avoid insulting your hosts.

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