Ooh, here’s a question I forgot to add to my F.A.Q.s – which do you like better, Spain or California? My grandma asks me this literally every time I talk to her on the phone and I never really have an answer. There are some things about one country that are better, and some things that are worse.
But sometimes, Spain really does have the upper hand. Here are some things that I like more about Spain.
4) The Drinking Culture
I know, this sounds like an awful one to start off on, but it’s true! Plus, I’m not just talking about alcohol drinking – I’m counting the coffee too. I love how in Spain you can just sit outside in a plaza with some friends and have a single beer or cup of coffee. This does exist in the U.S. too obviously, but going to “tomar algo” is usually more long and relaxed than back home, and you can do it at any hour of the day.
Speaking of that…the coffee is amazing! Ok, everyone tells me Spanish coffee isn’t even THAT good compared to the rest of Europe, but I think it’s pretty great. It’s a world apart from the watery, bitter American coffee and has converted me into a fairly regular coffee drinker. I love sitting in my favorite café with a big mug of café con leche and a book. Ahh!
3) The Schedule
At first, it was tough to adjust to eating lunch around 2 p.m. and dinner around 9, but once I got used to it I found it much nicer. If I eat earlier, I’m always hungry around 10 p.m. again. And the benefit of eating later is that you also go out later, thus leaving time for the essential disco nap!
On party nights, I love having a late evening nap, eating dinner around 10, and then starting the party at midnight. If everything shuts at 2 a.m. like it does in L.A., the nap gets eliminated…and I love naps.
2) Public transportation
In Barcelona, I have access to the metro, a public bike service (Bicing), a bus, night buses, trains, and of course, the joy of cheap travel via Ryanair. If none of that will do, there are always inexpensive taxis zooming around (and even then, I don’t use them often).Getting around without a car is much easier and much nicer. I hate driving, and I love just walking out my front door and knowing the metro will whiz me away to any number of cool places within minutes.
In contrast, I couldn’t find a bus or train that went from L.A. to Las Vegas that didn’t stop in either Mexico, San Francisco, or the Grand Canyon – none of which are on the way! (I believe they have a bus route now though.)
1)The work-life balance
There is much more vacation time, and you’re encouraged to use it. Work is more of a way to get to do the things you want, rather than the thing that dictates your life. Of course, this isn’t universal, but so far I’ve been very happy with how work is seen as fitting into your life.
My vacation days add up to nearly a month, and my co-workers were curious when I hadn’t used them yet. I work in a pretty relaxed environment, it’s true, but I think Spain has a much better approach to balancing your work life and your life life.
Fellow expats and travelers, what kinds of things do you like abroad more than in your home country?
Loving your take on Spanish/mediterranean culture 🙂 I see you’ve adapted pretty well!
Haha cheers! I think Mediterranean culture has quite a lot of things going for it. 🙂
Gotta agree with you on this one! Siesta is something I took away from living in Spain for sure ^.^
It’s a great one to take away! I love a good siesta.
This is great! I agree on all accounts!
Thanks very much!
I can definitely get down with that whole napping.
Haha it’s not a hard thing to culturally adjust to, shall we say… 😉
Ah yes the vacation time! I think I only get two weeks tops where I currently work, but that’s typical for the US. I do miss it, and who knows, I could move back to Europe again someday! 🙂
Definitely a major perk! You’re right, who knows what will happen in the future 🙂
Totally agree with you about the drinking culture, Jess.
One of the main things I love about Spain is the inter-generational socializing. On warm evenings you will see grandparents, parents and young/older children all out together, enjoying their “paseo”. I´m not just talking about during fiestas and festivals, but any night of the week. This is something that certainly doesn´t happen back in the UK, as mostly the streets are given over to yobbos, often making it unsafe (and unsavoury) for ordinary people to venture out. I´m sure that this is because youngsters have always gone out with their parents in Spain in the evening, and have been shown how to behave.
That’s a really good one! My first few weeks in Spain, I remember being surprised that there were kids out playing at midnight, but it’s nice that they can do that all the time. In the summer, The big neighborhood parties are for the whole family, so there are everyone from 5 and up is there it seems.
And I love seeing the little abuelitos going for their paseo!
Although there is a downside to the kids being up so late…my wife was a teacher in Spain and she noticed how often the Spanish kids turned up quite tired in the mornings! When we returned to the UK from Spain our kids were used to staying up late and we would go to the local park about 6.00pm just as all the other kids were leaving to get ready for bed! It took us a while to change their bedtime from 9.30pm to 7pm!
Haha yes, I can imagine they’d be tired after all their midnight running around.
I bet it was weird for your kids to adjust all the way back to 7 p.m. I have a hard enough time doing it when I go home!
“This is something that certainly doesn´t happen back in the UK, as mostly the streets are given over to yobbos, often making it unsafe (and unsavoury) for ordinary people to venture out.” Hilarious! (agree on the inter-generational socializing).
I love how cheap Bicing is here, a lot cheaper than London. And everything else you said.
Ooh how much does it cost in London? I’m a big fan of Bicing, I just hope they don’t put the prices up like they were threatening to.
Sorry for the long list. Outdoor cafes and the passeggiata, really fresh food, walking everywhere burns lots of calories, public transportation including RENFE, cheap airfares to rest of Europe, naps so you will be in better condition for the evening activities. Finally the people – always super friendly.
I could not agree more. You are so fortunate to be in Spain, I fell in love with Barcelona during our week stay for my 43rd birthday, a truly amazing city. It is so hard to believe that an amazing country such as Spain has such an astronomical unemployment rate. I hope relief will somehow come to the wonderful citizens of Spain. Enjoy your time in Spain.
I’m behind in my blog reading, again! but now that I finally got a new job (YAY!!) I will have more time now. anyway, I too LOVE Spanish coffee!!! and I look forward to not having a car!
Yes, not having a car is great! I love it so much (but I hated driving to start with). 🙂 Congrats on your new job!
thanks! I’m soooooooooooooo excited!! been looking for over 13 months! ah…..
I’m all in for a siesta every day and of course I love European vacation days 🙂
The siesta is truly a wonderful invention. 🙂
i think i’m kind of your opposite. i’m from barcelona but moved to the US for two years. haha, and everyone asked me that question… now i’m back, but here are the things i missed while i was gone.
– walking, public transportation. this is number one. oh my! i hated that the nearest café was 20 min walking from our house (nicest neighborhood, but it had no shops or restaurants or anything, so different from ).
– “tomar algo”. especially the thick hot chocolate or the croissants….
– cheap airfares and that there are so many cool cities close together. i love going to rome for four days, london for a weekend, spontaneous roadtrip to madrid…
– i agree with you that as young people the schedule here is amazing and allows a relaxed life, long days and beautiful naps. but once you have kids (or little brothers) the schedule is not family friendly at all and work life balance simply doesn’t exist 🙁
Oh interesting! Where in the US were you living?
It’s funny how many of our things line up. I miss cheap airfares too! The U.S. is so spread out that it can be really hard to travel around. Nobody believes I’ve never been to New York, but when I tell them how long it takes and how much it costs (I’m from California), they understand. 🙂
I can definitely imagine that the siesta schedule is difficult if you have kids. I worked at a language academy for a while, and the kids had huge breaks in the middle of their school days, which the parents had to come get them for, and then take them back. That doesn’t sound very convenient, relaxing, or family-friendly.
This post is making me miss Spain so much! I’ve never lived there, so my longest stretch there was about a month and a half. But it was so, so lovely to take the metro everywhere, or WALK, in Barcelona. Then I come home and immediately get back into the routine of driving eeeverywhere, even if it’s just across the parking lot to get closer to the next store.
I really miss the schedule (and the nightlife!!) though. It’s so funny to see people’s reactions when you tell them that you’re going to eat dinner around 10, and that you won’t go to the discoteca until 3 or later.
YES, people think I’m crazy when I tell them that! When I went back to California, I was so weirded out by having to leave a club in Hollywood at 2:30. And that was a ‘late’ night.I couldn’t help but say “In Spain we stay until 6 a.m. on an early night!”
Of course I sounded like a total jerk haha….but I was really surprised and little cross at having to leave.
Living in the middle of the U.S. I get the sense that most of our country is moving away from Europe in terms of culture, equality, and tolerance. That’s too bad.
I’ve never lived in the middle of the U.S. so I can’t compare, but I do think Spain and Europe definitely do some things that the U.S. could learn from. Thanks for stopping by!