Noisy neighbours; rubbish collection trucks crashing about at 1am; the incessant TV and radio debates; littering; the make-you-want-to-jump-off-a-bridge bureaucracy; backward views on race; the political battles between left and right; regional nationalism in its extreme form.
There are many infuriating things about living in Spain, but what it lacks in political maturity, it makes up for with culture, art, gastronomy, sport, sunsets, and stunningly diverse lands.
So here is my Top 50 list of things — many of which are rudimentary — in no particular order that make Spain such a bloody wonderful place to live.
- Seasonal produce.
2. Returning to Spain after Christmas and it’s still Christmas.
3. Buying the daily newspaper at the Kiosk.
4. A slice of juicy tortilla con cebolla.
5. Café con leche and toasted baguette with olive oil and fresh tomato.
6. €1.50 glasses of wine.
7. Menú del día.
8. Spain makes us timid, overly-polite guiris more demonstrative and assertive.
9. Sitting out on a terrace with a cerveza watching the world go by.
10. The streets.
11. Fascinating history.
12. Vineyard tours.
13. Ferias and festivals.
14. Winter food consumed with a spoon.
15. Supermarket wine prices.
16. Being unable to decide whether the two people outside on the street are chatting loudly or arguing. They’re usually just chatting. Loudly.
17. Food markets. All of them.
18. The Spanish language: worth the effort.
19. World class healthcare. And it’s free!
20. Café con leche served in a glass. And yes the milk temperature matters!
21. La Alhambra, Sevilla’s Plaza de España, Córdoba’s Mezquita, the Guggenheim and Prada museums, Gran Via, La Rambla.
22. The wild Atlantic or lazy Mediterranean.
23. Being able to order food in bars close to midnight.
24. A vermut before lunch.
26. Learning to slow down a little.
27. Churros with hot chocolate.
28. A good patatas bravas.
29. The sounds of Holy Week (Semana Santa).
30. The Christmas lotto. And the queues.
31. The bar that claims you as it’s exotic local.
32. Long lunches.
33. The perfectly timed siesta.
34. The elderly Spanish — razor sharp.
35. Amazing seafood in restaurants several hours from the sea.
36. You very rarely see somebody shitfaced drunk.
37. Public transport that works (in the big cities).
38. The summer storm that quenches the inferno.
39. A terrace coffee on an ice cold day with the January sun on your face.
40. The architecture and balconies.
41. The shouting of orders, the clattering of plates, the hammering of the coffee portafilter, the steam rising.
42. It takes a while, but eventually you stop worrying so much about time and exact plans. Spain forces you to go with the flow.
43. Four-day long weekends (puentes).
44. Free tapas. Especially in Granada.
45. Random household goods appearing on the streets. (Check out my #RandomMadrid posts).
46. Sardines cooked on the beach.
47. Spanish friends.
50. And the weather is alright.