”Spain's warm and welcoming culture opens its arms to you, and with the sun shining down on the street bars and cafe's filled with families and friends alike enjoying an afternoon beer reminds you that we live a life thats too fast its almost impossible to keep up without losing the little things that matter the most.
Since living in Spain, I feel that it’s time to move away from the stereotypes that have stemmed from the touristic boom along the Costa del Sol. Undeniably towns such as Marbella or Benidorm haven’t gained their reputation from thin air, but it would be so short-sighted to not realise that Spain has so much to offer that lies beyond the crowded beaches. To the right is the Puente Romano in my beautiful home town of Córdoba. This place has history running down every street, and has managed to keep the real essence of Spanish culture that seems to have been lost in so many other towns as they try to keep up with the influx of tourists demanding the comforts of their own country. Living in Spain seemed to open my eyes to the importance of the little things in life – maybe it was the culture, or maybe it was just the simple experience of living somewhere new and having a new perspective on things. Either way, it will always be my second home.
What's there to love?
The Spanish way of life is a little slow which can be frustrating, but don’t we all need to slow down a bit? Enjoy that coffee with a friend rather than sipping it through your takeaway cup as you combat your way through the crowd so you’re not late for the 9 am meeting. Or staying out to watch the sun go down, because does it really matter if dinner is a little later than you planned? Life seems to always be one step ahead, and for many, we feel guilty for not filling up our time with endless tasks. Don’t get me wrong, I am a great lover of the outdoors, of keeping myself busy, but no longer can we sit with nothing to do without it seeming like a waste of time. Grasping the moment can be as simple as enjoying the company of your family. A sunset, a beer with some friends without having to rush back, or just seeing where the evening takes you. What I loved about Spain was simplicity. Of course, it was frustrating that problems weren’t solved, but it was so intriguing to realise that actually, our worries are not as big as they seem, and maybe we give them too much attention. A long lunch, with some wine, is not seen as lazy – rather precious time with your family or friends catching up and enjoying the moment out of want and not out of need.
‘Don’t look, converse or smile at anyone on the tube!’ It’s almost as if when you’re taking public transport through London, there is a common agreement between all the passengers that we keep to ourselves and that is that. We are not the warmest of people, and living in Spain I came to realise the beauty of getting to know your neighbour, or making conversation with the waiter can be so rewarding. Who knows what you could learn about someone else’s life and how you’ve both come to be sitting and doing the exact same thing. (Last time I striked up conversation, I ended up getting a few re-fills of the local olives so maybe I am biased!) Even so, a lot of places you go – little tapas dishes are served up with every drink you buy! Can hospitality get any better!? We are so caught up in our own world, our own worries that there is so much more going on around us than we can even comprehend.
In Córdoba and I am sure in many other parts of Spain too, there’s one big community and the best part is the non-existent age gap! Grandparents, mothers, sons, friends, boyfriends you name it all come together to drink, chat, eat – it’s forever an open house! What I loved was seeing families spending the warm evenings in local bars, with big groups of extended families and friends all as equals. It didn’t matter that you were dancing with your grandad, or talking to your friend’s parents because everyone comes together as one and its as if there is little judgement – we’re all here to have a good time right?
Spain is filled with such beauty, even the Spanish language itself rolls off the tongue with such ease and grace. During my year abroad I only really got to discover the south which was blessed with sunshine almost every day. My next trip will be El Camino de Santiago – A walk across the North of Spain to see the rich diversity one country can offer.