Weird Spanish Things

Weird Spanish Things

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Before I even start this post I want to point out that I’m completely and hopelessly in love with Spain. If there was a way to trade off my Australian citizenship for the right to abode here forever, I would do it in a heart beat. Don’t worry family, I’ll keep my NZ citizenship. I see beautiful Spanish people in the streets and I’m not that jealous of their year-long tans or their beautiful language, but I am jealous of the fact they are, quite simply, Spanish. 
 

When I decided to move to Madrid, the only place I’d been in Spain before was Barcelona. That was during the winter, so it wasn’t much of a sight, but I loved it still. It was a blind move, based on some simple logic: Spain would be warm during the summer, I would be surrounded by Spanish speaking people (unlike in Barcelona), it was a big city, so it should be interesting, and my affection for naps (siestas) and tapas. I didn’t expect for it to fast become one of my favourite cities in the world. There’s no single thing I can describe about Madrid that could illustrate my affection for this city, it’s just so alive. 
 

I’ve basically been here a month, with a quick trip to Bilbao and San Sebastian before venturing to Madrid. I also spent a long weekend in Marbella, which I’ll have to post about. I could see AFRICA from the beach – amazing! But since arriving I quickly noticed some weird things that the Spanish people do… 
 

Here are my top weird Spanish Things I’ve seen:

Pick And Mix Frozen Vegetables

 

Okay, so I know frozen vegetables aren’t particular exciting, but in New Zealand (aka paradise) you can only really get Pick n Mix Candy, which suits me quite well.  But this supermarket in Bilbao only had Pick N Mix frozen vegetables… I just don’t get it? Wouldn’t they get freezer burn or do people actually buy them often enough to avoid it. Either way, it looked kinda gross. 

 

El bidé (the bidet)

Spaniards aren’t the only people in the world to use bidets of sorts, but I was surprised by the prevalence of these in the average Spanish home. Every house I’ve been to has had one of these weird looking fake toilets. Often they’re so unused that they’re full of random bathroom things, but they just kinda creep me out. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for clean bits and pieces, but the idea of hovering over a fake toilet in order to splash yourself from a tap… I don’t know, just seems a bit weird. 

 

Spanish Woman Don’t Wash Their Hands
You’ll be grateful I don’t have a picture of this, although I’m tempted to set up some kind of secret camera experiment to name and shame these dirty… chicas. I’ve spent a bit too long in public bathrooms since arriving in Spain, mostly trying to cleanse myself of long bus rides, flights, or just general backpacker aroma (ugh, just kidding!). Seriously, the ladies go into the cubicle, do their thing, flush and then open the door and walk straight out, every single time. Okay, it’s like 99% of the time, but seriously? I’m always alone at the basin giving my hands a good wash while ladies walk out oblivious to the hate crime they are committing against humanity and basic hygiene! I’ve only spent a brief period of time in the men’s bathrooms in Spain and that was at a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert with portaloos, so I couldn’t judge the men, but I’m sure there are as bad. 

 

Meat In A Cone

I suppose this isn’t that weird, it’s just pure genius. Meat in a cone is akin to happiness in a cone, well done Spain. To find this delightful treat, head to one of my favourite markets, ever – Mercado De San Miguel (Saint Michaels Market). It’s a swanky, modern market that is the epitome of cool,  there are so many delicious treats make sure you go in with an empty stomach and a very full wallet. If you make a trip to Madrid you must visit that market otherwise I’ll hunt you down and force you to eat all the delicious
meat cones (especially if you’re vegetarian, haha). 

 

Getting Freaky In Public

I think young love is cute, in a “I want to stab out my eyes” kind of way. But Spain just takes it to the next level. I’ve learned, since spending time in Europe, that New Zealanders are conservative when it comes to sucking off each other’s faces and being nude. Both of those things loosen up considerably after a few scrumpies, but for the most part we’re a little prudish and that’s my norm. Spain is just a whole new level, I’ve seen more naked people since I’ve been in Spain, than the total of my life leading up to visiting Spain. I’ve also seen more people humping in public, too. This couple in particular were a bit weird, they were laying there for a considerable amount of time just not moving. Numerous other couples had a little bit of a pelvic thrust going on. I uploaded this photo to Facebook, to share with my friends the best of Spanish culture and one of them told me that I was the weirdo for taking photos of them, but I have a blog, so I had to….

 

There are other little Spanish things that I’ve observed since I’ve been here, like how it’s perfectly acceptable for men to call out “guapa” repetitively at you, any time they please. I’m not sure what their goal is, but sometimes it can be quite hilarious, especially when they’re in a car driving down the street shouting at multiple guapas. But overall, Spain is lush and I’m so grateful that I’m living here for a while. 

 

Have you ever noticed any weird Spanish things? I’ve only got a little time and I’m really keen to explore more. I’m still trying to finalise my summer plans, so if you have any suggestions send them  my way. 
 

32 Comments

  • Jaclyn says:

    Granada is the most wonderful and magical city! If you haven’t been, you definitely shouldn’t miss it.

  • I love Spain too and have been three times so far. The only one on this list that I have seen is the meat cones. The Mercado San Miguel is one of my favorite places in Madrid.

    • Izy Berry says:

      I suggest next time you visit you lurk in the ladies toilets so you can judge them!!! Just kidding – I’m glad you’ve seen the glory of the meat cones and San Miguel – both are fantastic.

  • Naomi says:

    Ha! Korea is the same way with handwashing….though ironically, while people don’t seem to care about washing their hands, my coworkers OBSESSIVELY brush their teeth three times a day!

    • Izy Berry says:

      SAME HERE! Spanish people seem to brush their teeth more often, and sometimes after every meal. Not a bad habit to pick up, but they might as well sort out the hand washing too. I imagine there are so many more cultural differences with Koreans?

  • April says:

    I also find it horribly disturbing that so many bathrooms do not even have soap! Hand sanitizer is a must in Spain.
    Also, I know Greece wasn’t on your list, but if you have the time it is totally worth it (Athens and a few islands) – best time of my life!

    • Izy Berry says:

      I’d love to go to Greece but I don’t think my funemployment budget will stretch so far – if something changes, I’ll keep it in mind :)

      YES SO MANY BATHROOMS DO NOT HAVE SOAP, you know why? BECAUSE SPANISH PEOPLE DON’T WASH THEIR HANDS. UGHHHHHHHH!

      Let’s hang out soon, please :) besos! x

  • […] to do or something to see. It’s the most alive city I’ve ever visited. So, despite all the weird things that Spaniards do, I’d be pretty happy to live here (again) for a […]

  • suhasini says:

    that was some real information :not washing hands for real , followed by information on meat cones ! india isnt the only peculiar country around! about the rest of the takeaways of the blog post : shall be kept in mind, extremely observant 😀

  • hehe, I never noticed the lack of hand-washers but certainly the public affection and much nudity especially on the Canary Islands. I wouldn’t mind if the nudity would be of a 20 year olds but in your 50’s, the body needs to be tightly put away…:) Still I love Spain and Spaniards. A friendly bunch and their country is quite beautiful. Regardless, we loved New Zealand too.

  • kreator says:

    Hi! Being an Spaniard myself, I´ve to agree: you *must* visit Granada and spend a couple summer evenings just doing nothing, relaxing with a wine, appropiate company :) and the Alhambra in the eyes. Also, IMHO Toledo, Cáceres (and probably Mérida, too) and Seville deserve a visit. Really, there are many many places to see, but I think those are the bare minimum.

    About handwashing I´m afraid you´re right (but I´d say it´s closer to 50/50, not 99%), but most of the times the reason is that oneself doesn´t even expect to find soap; add this to the fact that spaniards aren´t used to *never* *ever* complain, and voilà! And for “Getting Freaky in public” (which, honestly, is not such bad thing) you´ll be surprised how many times one (or both) “freakers” are not spaniards 😀

    Have fun!

  • […] it like to Au Pair? I was an au pair in two countries – Spain and the Czech Republic. There were a number of reasons why I decided to au pair, but one of the […]

  • Sara says:

    Spanish women DO wash her hands… I am Spanish and I have never heard that and we all wash our hands and if someone doesnt then that’s weird.

  • ana says:

    Thanks for sharing!I would love to visit Spain someday, and I’ll be aware of all these little quirks if I do.:)

  • Silvia says:

    I do not agree, Spanish women do wash her hands… maybe you saw women not washing it. I’m Spanish and i always wash my hands after using the bathroom and before every meal. If there isn’t soap, I wash it just with water. I don’t think it’s good to generalize.
    I’ve never seen “pick and mix frozen vegetables”.
    Here in Spain the bidet is something almost every house have. I use it, I think it’s just for hygiene.
    About getting freaky in public, not so long ago Spanish people cannot even kiss in public or going han in hand while walking. I don’t think that kissing lying on the grass is that freaky. It just depends what else you do… people don’t make sex in public. I agree some of this behaviours are kinda rude… and incomfortable for people walking around.
    Excuse me if my English isn’t good…

  • […] Like every country, Spain also has its fair share of the weird and wonderful, from the likes of pick and mix frozen vegetables to meat in a cone. Here are some of the more unusual things to see and do in Spain that I’ve come across… […]

  • Nana says:

    OMG. I was wandering around internet and I found this. Weird. But it make laugh a lot, promise.I know it’s a really old post, but…
    I’m Spanish. And yeah, we’ve got some crazy weird things.
    The Pick And Mix, usually frozen vegetables comes in a kind of pack all together and you can buy them at supermarkets, but maybe you don’t like onion, or carrot and that make it easier to eat vegetables you like. In my town there are a few places that sell them like this.
    We DO wash our hands, and brush our teeth too after meals (I read some coment), the funny thing comes when you’re going to wash your hands properly and there’s no soap. I mean, places that are kind of turistic and, we can call it, beatiful, it has, but you don’t expect to found soap in the baths of a gas station. It’s a waste of money I guess. But WE WASH.
    And finally getting freaky in public and naked people wandering about… I need to see them, seriously. I mean, I see people kissing and kind of eating each other, but the naked or half naked people are usually around beach. Or in town in the hottest days. It’s fucking hot sometimes. But people humping is new for me, although I don’t seen anything wrong with that, maybe morally is wrong but, come on, there only people showing love. Sex is nothing. Still wanna see someone getting freaky.

    • Izy Berry says:

      Hi Nana! Thanks so much for your perspective on being Spanish. I was just surprised to see so few people washing their hands in public restrooms, especially in the metro! I think you’re right that it is nice that Spanish people are so affectionate and so much love… but for me, someone from New Zealand, which is more conservative, it was a bit weird. I have noticed many parts of Europe are a lot more comfortable with this affection :) Have a great day and thank you for your comments.

  • Malebranche says:

    Ha! I just ran across your old post after Googling this very subject. I’m a New Yorker and my novia is Czech\Slovak. We live in Barcelona and are both borderline-obsessive hand scrubbers. Last night we went out for drinks and my girlfriend returned to the table all hot and bothered because while she was washing her hands a woman emerged from a stall and stood next to her, arranged her hair, then breezed out the door with radioactive hands.

    Despite some commenter protestations it is enough of a problem here that we’re both a bit squeamish about shaking hands and actively employ denial when eating out. Actually I hope and expect things are somewhat better in the service industry.

    • Izy Berry says:

      Haha that’s so funny. I knew I wasn’t the only person to notice it. I also hope that the service industry is a bit more onto it… but who knows. Enjoy your time in Spain – it is a great country!

  • Malebranche says:

    Sorry about the double post : (

  • lali says:

    You have to visit Barcelona in summer, it’s the most colorful, hot and funny and rare city of spain. And I’m from Barcelona metropolitan area so I can assure you that 80% of people are spanish speaking, except for the political laws that affect stores, markets and commerce. But it’s our native language in the 80% of population from Barcelona.

    Madrid is much more classic and conventional city than barcelona, and girls and boys are far more sexy in bcn.

    and for the handwashing, I nevere see that, only when there isn’t soap in bathrooms so people USE HAND-SANITIZING-WIPES IN THEIRE POCKETS…. you have to be more prudent about what are you saying.

    sorry for my mistakes…

  • La Tremolina says:

    Another Spaniard to add to the comments:
    1.- “Pick and mix” is not correct. You pick, but you don’t mix. They tend to have different prices, the different vegetables. Those places started to appear in the 80’s – 90’s, now unfortunately there aren’t many left -‘though I find them to be the best-idea-ever.
    2.- El bidé. Same thing: in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s having a bidé was the top of the toilet hygiene and modernity. Theoretically you were to use it every time you would use the toilet. Bathrooms done or reformed after the 90’s and definitely after 2000 do not have them anymore. PS. How awe-struck are you to find out we give so much importance to the hygiene of our butts and not to the hygiene of our hands? 😀
    3.- I’ll tell you something: I’m a woman and I DO NOT ALWAYS WASH MY HANDS. On the one hand, because sometimes, especially when I was a kid, sink and taps were dirtier than the hands. On the other hand, because hey, I don’t know what you do at the toilet, but in my particular case hands are 99% of the times completely isolated of the eventual dangerous bacteria due to great toilet paper and an excellent technique.
    4.- Meat in a cone is the best thing over, isn’t it? And let me give you an insider tip: you don’t need to go to the touristy Mercado San Miguel to have it. You can have it much cheaper and more authentic in so many other places.
    5.- Getting freaky in public: yes, we do that. Yes, many times I find it uncomfortable. Still: yes, I did it when I was younger. That said: I don’t know what you mean by “naked”. I’ve never seen anyone naked in public. For me being naked is having nothing covering my boobs or my booty. Wearing light clothes or “minimalistic” clothes is not being naked. It might be of a poor taste, but not “being naked”. And I gree with the comment above: you wouldn’t believe how many of those getting freaky in public are actually Americans in their early 20s spending a year in a university abroad and getting overflown by the amount of freedom they enjoy. I know it ‘cos I shared apartments with a few of them as a student :)

    That said, I find your post great :)

  • La Tremolina says:

    Another Spaniard to add to the comments:
    1.- “Pick and mix” is not correct. You pick, but you don’t mix. They tend to have different prices, the different vegetables. Those places started to appear in the 80’s – 90’s, now unfortunately there aren’t many left -‘though I find them to be the best-idea-ever.
    2.- El bidé. Same thing: in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s having a bidé was the top of the toilet hygiene and modernity. Theoretically you were to use it every time you would use the toilet. Bathrooms done or reformed after the 90’s and definitely after 2000 do not have them anymore. PS. How awe-struck are you to find out we give so much importance to the hygiene of our butts and not to the hygiene of our hands? 😀
    3.- I’ll tell you something: I’m a woman and I DO NOT ALWAYS WASH MY HANDS. On the one hand, because sometimes, especially when I was a kid, sink and taps were dirtier than the hands. On the other hand, because hey, I don’t know what you do at the toilet, but in my particular case hands are 99% of the times completely isolated of the eventual dangerous bacteria due to great toilet paper and an excellent technique.
    4.- Meat in a cone is the best thing over, isn’t it? And let me give you an insider tip: you don’t need to go to the touristy Mercado San Miguel to have it. You can have it much cheaper and more authentic in so many other places.
    5.- Getting freaky in public: yes, we do that. Yes, many times I find it uncomfortable. Still: yes, I did it when I was younger. That said: I don’t know what you mean by “naked”. I’ve never seen anyone naked in public. For me being naked is having nothing covering my boobs or my booty. Wearing light clothes or “minimalist” clothes is not being naked. It might be of a poor taste, but not “being naked”. And I agree with the comment above: you wouldn’t believe how many of those getting freaky in public are actually Americans in their early 20s spending a year in a university abroad and getting overflown by the amount of freedom they enjoy. I know it ‘cos I shared apartments with a few of them as a student :)

    That said, I find your post great :)

  • Jose says:

    I´m a Spanish native and didn´t know until now girls usually don´t wash their hands because I´m not allowed to enter those bathrooms. Thanks for the information.

  • S. says:

    Sorry, but come on… I’m Spanish and I havn’t ever seen numbers 1 and 4… And about our hands… I DO clean my hands EVERYTIME I go to the bathroom, and I DO use the bidet (perhaps because we are cleaner eventually). In fact, we often use a kind of portable liquid soap with alcohol to clean our hands when we can’t but we want to. So, please, stop judging. Specially if you visit Marbella, which actually is not Spain (thaks to the “kind” invasion of turists).

  • María Zamorano says:

    Hola! Soy española y la verdad que he flipado un poco con lo de “Las chicas españolas no se lavan las manos después de ir al baño” ¿Perdona? ¿Y esa forma de generalizar? ¡Yo soy española y puedo jurar que gente que conozco y yo misma nos lavamos las manos! Habréis dado con personas guarras, esas personas las hay en todos los países… No generalicemos, por favor. Besos apretaos ✨

  • Cendor says:

    How about I give you my house in Spain and you give me yours in New Zealand? xD

    I’d LOVE to go there, along with Australia…