After spending a semester in Cádiz and eight months in Ciudad Real, I have been trying to work out which Spanish stereotypes have some truth in them and which don’t.
Here's what I have discovered so far:
Stereotype: Spain is always warm and sunny.
This is not true. The city I stayed in, which was in central Spain, became colder than London in winter. However, the city receives little rain all year round and gets unbearably hot in summer. Southern Spain tends to be warmer than northern Spain. In Andalusia (southern Spain), for example, temperatures can be cool but pleasant in the winter, but become very high in summer. Northern Spain is colder in the summer and also colder in winter.
Stereotype: The Spanish eat a lot of tapas.
In the places I have lived this is true, but in restaurants they are normally only served when you order a drink. Tapas are not a meal! For main meals, people might order a few raciones, which come as big portions to be shared between a group of friends.
Stereotype: Spanish women use fans.
This is in fact true! I myself thought it was just an image, but where I have been is very common to see Spanish women fanning themselves in the summertime, because the temperatures in some parts of Spain reach up to 45 degrees!
Stereotype: The Spanish love to have fun.
I have seen a lot of evidence that this is true. The Spanish people I met tended to be very warm and open. Spaniards love to celebrate life through different festivals throughout the year. As well as religious festivals, they celebrate others such as ‘La Tomatina’, a festival in Valencia where people throw tomatoes at each other. There are trucks of tomatoes driving through the streets, which offload more tomatoes onto the crowds too!
Stereotype: Spain is famous for its flamenco.
This is true. Flamenco originated in Andalusia, southern Spain. Both locals and tourists enjoy watching flamenco shows just as much, especially in Andalusia. It is also possible to see them in Madrid and Barcelona, but they tend to be more for tourists. For the most authentic experience, I recommend seeing a flamenco show in Cádiz or Jerez de la Frontera, put on by people who live there for a mostly local audience. The flamenco in Cádiz takes on a more jolly and upbeat style compared to the flamenco in other regions. Maybe this is because the people of Cádiz live by the sea and have access to beautiful sandy beaches!
Spain is a fascinating country, in which you are sure to have lots of fun. I found that a lot of the Spanish stereotypes hold some truth, but the country is not limited to them. Spanish culture is very complex and the traditions and culture, as well as food and weather, can vary significantly between regions.
Are you from Spain? What stereotypes about Spain are true or not true in your experience?