Call and WhatsApp: +34 603 11 26 53 (Clientes españolas, por favor envíe un mensaje en primera instancia)

As we reminisce about everything that is different here, and the things that surprised us when we first arrived, the list kept growing. This is therefore part two of the things that struck us when we first came to this part of Spain.

Opening Times

Whilst most of us have heard of the Spanish siesta, nevertheless it is a bit of a blow to find that most shops and public buildings really do close for siesta. You do have to remember to shop in the morning, generally before 1.30pm or leave it until after 4.30-5pm in the evening.

For those that just have to shop in the afternoons, larger supermarkets, chain stores and shopping centres do not observe siesta and stay open all day.

Another big adjustment is that almost every shop, including supermarkets and shopping centres, are closed on Sundays. The only exceptions to this are in some tourist areas and if there is a public holiday that weekend.


We’ve all heard the jokes about how Brits love to queue, but taking your fair turn is just as important to the Spanish, they just do it in a less obvious manner; it can look like a free for all to us, but is actually an unstructured queue.

Instead of standing formally in a line in Spain they form a virtual queue, and they all know who is next. When you enter a shop or bank, or even if you are waiting to get on a bus, you simply ask ‘who joined last’, and then you know you can take your turn after them. The question to ask is ‘quien es el ultimo? (or if there are only women there, quien es la ultima?). If it is you, the answer is ‘soy el ultimo/soy la ultima.

Parking on the street

One thing to be careful about here is on-street parking. In most places parking on the street is free but on narrow roads the parking may be legally restricted to just one side of the street. Also, that side may change either monthly or quarterly and on the morning of ‘changeover day’ everyone has to move their car to the other side.

Pay attention therefore to where other cars are parked and any signage in the area. Especially be wary of leaving you car overnight on the last night of the month or quarter if you haven’t checked the signs. It is not pleasant to come back to find that you car has a 200€ fine on the windscreen, or worse still a sticker on the ground, telling you that you car has been towed away!

Also, you will frequently see portable signs, advising that the road will be closed for a fiesta, race or event. Again, pay attention to these as they will fine and tow any cars that are not moved in time. 

Our Spanish neighbours laughingly tell us the parking tickets for not moving your car in time is a ‘tourist tax’ as they of course know they know the dates of changeover and local fiestas and events.

A final note on parking is that in busy towns there are various parking zones and meters. These are usually indicated by coloured kerbs and lines. Take care to check if you are in a free parking spot or if you need to buy a ticket before parking. Don’t let the meters put you off though – on the whole the cost of parking here is pretty low, plus many areas do not charge for parking during siesta time.

Thick-walled houses & when to open the windows

One thing people from the UK and other colder climates frequently get wrong when they are in Spain is when to open windows, curtains, and shutters.

In the UK we are used to trying to get as much light into the house as possible, and to opening the windows wide in summer. When it is hot in Spain, this is the total opposite of what you should do. The thick walls, small windows, and wooden shutters, of old Spanish houses are designed to keep the heat of the summer OUT. They will only do that if you keep the sun out and the windows closed.

By all means open the shutters to let the light in on the side of the house that is in the shade, but the minute the sun starts shining through a window or door, you want to keep that sun out.

It is even more important that when it is hot outside you keep the windows closed. You should think of the house as a fridge that you want to keep cool, and you wouldn’t leave your fridge door open, especially is summer!

We hear people complain that they want to enjoy the sunshine and blue skies – well there is a simple answer to that – go outside! You will be very grateful for a cool house when you come back, especially when you want to go to sleep.

Conversely, the time you should open your windows (and doors) is on warm sunny days in winter. It can often be warmer outside in winter than it is in the house, so let that heat in – just remember to close them up tight before the sun-drops and you lose all that heat.

That’s all for now, but we have lots more to tell you in another post