Spain is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. From San Sebastián in the north to Seville in the south, from buzzing Barcelona to marvellous Madrid, tourists have fallen in love with Spain and the Spanish. What makes Spanish people so fascinating?
Here are some observations from an Australian occasional tourist which should not be taken too seriously.
- They have buckets of energy – Just take a look at the way most Spanish waiters scurry about serving tables in cafes. These people are amazing, more skilled than Manuel of Fawlty Towers fame and absolutely dedicated to offering top rate service. As well, where do the Spanish find the energy to be out and about socialising in the plazas and eating and drinking past midnight?
- They are unfailingly charming and polite to visitors – Now this characteristic can sometimes cause a challenge for a person like me who butchers the Spanish language when asking a local for directions while lost in the maze of Spanish streets. “Todo recto” ( straight ahead) is the usual answer but perhaps not the correct answer. The Spanish are just too polite to say they can’t understand a word I’m saying.
- They are attractive and stylish – Spanish fashion appears to be original and colourful perhaps in the tradition of Gaudi. What I like about the way the Spanish dress is that they do the comfortable casual style so well as they go about their active daily lives. They can ride a bike in a suit and tie or look the part as they walk between tapas bars in jeans with a scarfe tied ever so nonchalantly.
- They are fun party people – They fill the streets and plazas from 8pm. People of all ages even small children as families gather, a bit of shopping, a cup of tea, a cerveza and lot and lots of chatter and laughing. In other countries families will be thinking about watching tv and going to bed but for the Spanish the tapas party won’t start until 10pm. Tapas is uniquely Spanish and says something about this nation’s enjoyment of celebrating together in an informal way.
- They are incredibly laid-back and relaxed – How many times does it happen that you are in a bar or cafe enjoying a coffee or meal and you ask for the bill. No problem. You wait and you wait and you wait. Thirty minutes later you chase the waiter and demand that you be allowed to pay. Could this be why Spain is facing financial difficulties?
- They are creative and inventive – How do they manage to convert run down old buildings and houses into hip hotels and shops and create perfectly comfortable bathrooms in tiny rooms? And how are they able to plan their cities with such precision yet with real audacity like Les Setas in Seville.
- They are happy even when times are tough – Not everyone in Spain is prosperous as unemployment levels will testify. Yet locals are always smiling and those who run small businesses like bars appear to be proud and contented with their lifestyles. Soccer and sport, festivals and flamenco, the Spanish community spirit is strong and alive.
- They are courageous – Can someone please tell me how the Spanish can drive large cars down narrow laneways with less than a centimetre to spare each side? Or how is it that their lovely large dogs can live in their apartments without having any accidents?
- They are proud of their local customs – The Spanish love their flags and their ferias and they are proud of their local dishes and wines. Sometimes you might ask a waiter to describe a dish or two from a menu so that you can select what you like. Not possible. The waiter will tell you what the best dish is and you are given it, no argument and you are happy to taste such perfect food.
- They give great customer service – The Spanish who work in hospitality seem truly dedicated to providing the best possible customer service. Sometimes you need to be patient and wait but you can rest assured that your request will be very carefully provided.