I have just had the most glorious few days away in Spain.
A great trip with the right combination of relaxation, exploring and cultural delights.
When we arrived my partner and I were both exhausted. We had worked or volunteered almost every day in the previous couple of months, so a break was needed. We gave ourselves permission to recuperate. This meant having a decent amount of resting time. This started on the first day fo our city break. We had breakfast and then went back to our room and back to bed for a few hours. We slept solidly, so must have needed it.
Our days were filled with visiting the local tourist sites and then sitting in a local park for the last part of each afternoon – refreshment and kindle in hand.
The evening food foray was probably the most stressful part of the day. Despite thoroughly search Trip Advisor, restaurants mentioned as being “vegetarian friendly” were not always so, and also the opening hours mentioned did not always tie up with reality.
The biggest thing that became apparent was that Spanish customer service is quite different to that in the UK. Staff attentiveness to customer needs was quite rare. One restaurant we went into we were greeted and seated, and then watched as the same member of staff washed the floor before handing us a menu or asking if we would like a drink. The arrival of another member of staff did not improve things. She merely washed the same floor as had been done when we arrived.
This lack of attentiveness was apparent is almost every establishment we went to. As for the young lady in the local supermarket we visited most days, she did not crack a smile once. She could give you a look of “how dare you interrupt me” as you stood patiently at the till. Her colleague on the bread counter was the complete opposite.
Finding vegetarian food was a bit of a challenge. Although there is a vast array of veggie friendly Spanish food it appeared to be difficult to track it down. Tapas menus would be lengthy but veggie options often almost impossible to find. We did find food and it was lovely. I guess I always think it is a shame that in a large city it is difficult to experience the vegetarian food that fills the cookbooks.
This is something I have experienced on many trips. I wonder if people visiting London find the same thing?
Another cultural difference was the size of the beer glasses. Used to ordering pints, we had to quickly get used to the smaller serving sizes. Not wanting to resort to going to the usual Irish Pub we persevered with the local bars. Not once de we find a pint glass, or anything near it. The locals seem very happy having small servings and having repeated trips to the bar. You could buy larger servings by going to the supermarket and buying cans or bottles there.
We were also intrigued by the fact that you could sit at the park and buy a beer at any time of the day. Perhaps these smaller servings of drinks breed a better respect for alcohol. The smaller servings did not just relate to alcohol. After a particularly warm walk I sat down looking forward to a refreshing orange juice. Imagine my surprise as my juice arrived in a small tumbler. Coffee also arrived in much smaller amounts than I am used to.
On the plus side the proliferation of coffee shops and the more relaxed lifestyle, meant that vey few people had take-away coffee and you rarely saw used cups in bins. In fact I saw very little plastic waste as we walked around the city. Where I live the increased number of coffee shops has led to an increase in waste.
I love to travel and experience different cultures. It does leave me wondering what visitors to England think of us. Is there anything they see that they would like to ee in their own countries? Or anything that they find more difficult when visiting?