I’m just going to come right out and say it: never, ever, go out for dinner at 6pm in Spain.
Why? At best, going out for dinner at 6pm in Spain will result in you getting a subpar feed. At worst it will make people think you’re English. Yikes.
Why is this? Most people in Spain eat lunch at 3pm, have afternoon tea at 6pm, and dinner at 10pm. So if you arrive to a restaurant at 6pm or 7pm and ask for dinner, you will either rock up to an establishment that is closed, rock up to an establishment with no ambience, or rock up to an establishment designed to cater to tourists, which is not very authentic (and most likely overpriced).
Video: expat explains the culture shocks of moving from the UK to Madrid
Other culture shocks people often experience when moving to Spain from the UK (or Australia) is that in many petrol stations you aren’t allowed to fill up your own car (an attendant does that for you).
Many people struggle with the lifestyle too – particularly getting the balance right between business and pleasure. One former banker at Goldman Sachs and Credit Suiss, for instance, once shared on question and answer forum Quora: “For leisure there was no culture shock at all, but for business it was very hard to get used to the rhythm.”
“When I worked for Goldman I was at a transaction in Spain. And Madrid lifestyle is not for investment bankers. When you work 24/7 there are some minimum rest you need.”
“To get to an ‘asador’ at midnight for dinner and be the first customer is depressing. Both because it reminds you of the work due the next day and the inability to enjoy a guilty free dinner.”
“I had been to Spain many times before and it never bothered me. But my first time as an [sic] ‘responsible adult’ was very bad. To finish dinner at 2:30am and then ‘have’ to go for drinks made it very difficult to be in the office before 9am.”
It’s not all bad though. Another Quora user, in the same thread, whose profile says they lived in Barcelona in 2018, wrote: “The slow pace of life is insane. I had to shrug off my North American work ethic; slow and sustainable growth is an essential part of mental, physical, and social well being.”
“If you are a social person, this is the place to be. No wonder the Spanish have one of the highest life expectancies in the world. (Spain has second-highest life expectancy in the world, new figures show).”
Further quirks include olive oil (it’s in everything), kissing (on both cheeks) and nightlife (clubs don’t get going until 2:30am).
As for the wine: although Spaniards are known to drink a lot more frequently than Aussies, Brits or Americans, Campo Viejo global ambassador Federico Lleonart told DMARGE Spain has more of a culture of drinking in moderation.
Mr Lleonart told DMARGE that the “easy-going” Spanish way also contributes to their long and healthy lives, telling us; “people really enjoy going out and sharing with friends.”
“There is always a meeting where a glass of wine is involved. You go to a tapas bar and of course you always enjoy a glass of wine. And so that part of being very social and very spontaneous is [something] Campo Viejo lives by,” Federico told us.
“The quality of life in Spain is very good.”
He then added, “I read an article recently that said Spain is the world’s healthiest nation and I think it’s the combination of lifestyle and diet. They say the Mediterranean diet is very healthy. It’s a great banner of what we eat.”
“The people in Spain are not obsessed with eating [or avoiding] fat or carbs, it’s basically a good combination of a lot of fish with a lot of fresh vegetables. Another important part of living longer is having a healthy social life and sharing with friends. Everything without excess.”
Food for thought!