The euro slumped on Thursday following the European Central Bank’s (ECB) latest interest rate decision.
Typical Spanish PastimesBritons who’ve recently made the move to Spain may find themselves a little overwhelmed with new surroundings, hotter climates and navigating a foreign language. One of the most disorienting things, however, can be a lack of local contacts. Used to visiting friends and neighbours nearby, it can be daunting for those without any connections in their new locale.
One of the best ways to make new friends is to take up a hobby. Meeting likeminded people is easy at clubs where attendees share a common interest; and there are plenty of activities on offer for expats as well as Spanish locals. Once you’re aware of what’s out there, it’ll be easy to fill your days with fulfilling leisure pursuits.
Popular Hobbies in Spanish Culture:
For those who want to enjoy a meal with friends or meet new people, there are several options. Invite acquaintances out for the opportunity of spending a few hours getting to know each other: lunch in Spain is the main meal of the day and can involve several courses. Enjoy a salad or soup, followed by a hearty main and sweet flan or fruit, rounded up with a small alcoholic chupito and copas – a long drink like gin or tonic.
Otherwise, try your luck at getting into a culinary society, or txokos. These exclusive societies around the Basque country have been running for decades and traditionally offer male-only members a homely environment in which to experiment with new recipes in the company of fellow foodies. More of these private clubs are now accepting women, although the initiation fee (typically around 1,000 euros) can be off-putting.
In mountainous Catalonia, skiing and other winter sports are popular; while along the Valencia coast, windsurfing, scuba diving, and surfing attract droves of tourists and locals alike. In the Basque provinces, jai alai (a kind of racquetball) is a favourite pastime, and in Asturias and Andalusia, equestrian events are favoured.
Bullfighting also remains a popular Spanish sport, although a rising awareness of animal welfare issues has capped widespread support. Dating back to antiquity, bullfighting is historically described as elegant, intelligent and heroic, and involves the pitting of a matador against a particular breed of toro bravo bull.
The lottery in question is called El Gordo and is held at Christmas. As most individuals are reluctant to buy a €200 ticket, they’re often divided into shares which are bought by clubs and split into partcipaciones. Partcipaciones are sold to club members, and the lottery draw is made into a communal event.
Lotteries play a significant role in the community: the national state lottery is run in aid of charities and the Catholic Church, and ONCE (the Spanish organisation for the blind) operates sales kiosks selling daily draw tickets and scratch cards.
Music & Dance
Authentic Flamenco shows are unlikely to sport colourful, flowery dresses – instead, performers wear black. The line-up involves a Baile (the dancer), Cante (the singer) and Guitarra (the guitarist) and generally the best performance will come at the end of the night, when the tourists have gone home.
Many Spanish residents enjoy watching Flamenco, both at larger, formal Tablaos and smaller, less formal flamenco bars. Flamenco festivals attract plenty of custom and are a great introduction to the musical tradition; it’s also possible to take up Flamenco classes, if it takes your fancy.
Getting InvolvedIf you’re an outgoing sort of person, you might be quite happy to take yourself off to a jai alai match or Flamenco bar and mingle with the locals – but for others, introductions may be required to break the ice. Expat clubs exist for this reason to provide a semblance of familiarity in an unfamiliar setting: try groups such as the International Women’s Club of Valencia or the English Speaking Club.
Otherwise, get out there and explore for yourself – without putting too much effort in, you’re soon likely to come across others with similar interests, whether that be enjoying an afternoon chupito or growing vegetables. You’re likely to find a breadth of opportunities to rival those in England – so go ahead and get stuck in.
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