Tuesday, December 3, 2013

6 things I still find very odd about Spain after 2.5 years...

Things I still find very odd about Spain/Madrid after 2.5 years...
Since I live in Madrid some of these things might only be local phenomenon. 
Disclaimer: These things are not bad things, just things that this American still finds odd.

The knife sharpener - afilador de cuchillos
These guys cycle around the neighborhood playing pan pipes to et everyone know that they are there. The point is that they will sharpen your knives. You go down and meet them and then you can have your knives nice and sharp without you having to really transport them far. While part of me thinks that this is charming, another part of me would never go running to a stranger on the street and offer him a knife.

Photo credit

Announcement vans
That is the best name I can think of for them. It is really a serious throwback to the 60's when you hear them. They're vans that play an advertisement on a loop blasted from a speaker atop the van. The ads are mostly directed towards housewives (at least the ones I have heard).  Seriously, people still advertise this way, no web pages for them! It is not even a good way to advertise as the commercials are often so long that you only hear part of it. Often you hear only part of a phone number too.

Photo from here
Christmas presents are brought by the three kings....
It is a reminder that you are far from home when you realize that every country has their own Christmas traditions. In Spain the presents are brought, by camel, by the Three Kings on January 6th. Making Spain one of the countries that actually celebrate the 12 days of Christmas. Although increasingly kids are getting their presents on the 25th of December so as to have time to play with them on Christmas break.
Photo from here
No appointment at the Veterinarian's office
I won't get into the problems I have had with Veterinarians here, but the lack of appointment is still odd to this day. You could wait for hours or minutes. 
(I have also witnessed at least two Vets leave a patient under anestesia in surgery to see other clients. (Shudder))

Photo from here
The last Metro leaves the first stop of the route at 1:30 am
In Spain where Dinner is at 10pm, going for tapas can last late into the night, and "Discos" open at 2am - the metro time table just des not make sense.

Photo from here
The Spanish stare
Very nicely captured in this funny little documentary made by study abroad students (found here).

What things do you find odd about Spain/Madrid?


  1. Definitely the stare !!! That is soooo funny, and yet sooo scary ! I think the announcement van is also something very alien to USA customs... but honey I tell you... I'd take the knife sharpener ANY DAY... and think that is the coolest thing , and very old-fashioned ! Probably all over Europe?

    1. HAHA Jen I have no idea if they are common all over Europe. But to anyone who thinks that all the world is the same now, this is just the list I find odd after 2.5 years. It is a much shorter list than when I moved here.

  2. A knife sharpener came by my house in France once. I told him no and closed the door and immediately wished I'd said yes. It would have been great to have sharp knives, or at least a couple.

    Love your post. I could do the same thing about France next time I'm there. Wer're having a huge early snowstorm here in Duluth this week.


  3. Oh Ceci what I would not give for a little snow. I hope the next place we move has snow. I suppose we DID get a "little" snow in Madrid, It covered the tops of leaves, cars, and roofs and lasted an hour.

    It is not as easy to find the knife sharpener in my neighborhood. He could be three blocks away and I would not be able to see him due to the tall buildings. I will not be roaming the streets carrying a carving knife, no matter how safe Madrid is. ;)