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Monthly Wrap: Recommended Pastimes for Spanish Newcomers

currency-newsMonthly Wrap: Recommended Pastimes for Spanish Newcomers

Typical Spanish Pastimes

Britons 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:

  • Dining Out

Dining out provides the perfect opportunity to wax lyrical about Basque cuisine – a subject many dwellers in the region are passionate about. Dining can also be a pleasurable solo activity, for those who like to enjoy their morning coffee in peace – perhaps with a plate of hot churros.

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.
  • Sport

Spaniards are arguably as keen as Britons when it comes to sport, engaging in a variety of popular games from football to jai alai. Different regions boast different sporting preferences, but wherever you are there’ll almost certainly be an opportunity to join a local sports team.

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.
  • Gambling

Largely unattached from negative stigma, Spanish lotteries are vastly popular and provide an opportunity for shared excitement. At number ten on the CNBC list of the World’s Biggest Gambling Nations, Spain boasts the only lottery in the world to award more than $1 billion in prizes.

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

While many have heard of the popular Spanish Flamenco dancing tradition, it may surprise you to know that dance is just one element of the performance. Traditionally, Flamenco combines guitar playing with vocals and hand-clapping – or palmas.

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 Involved

If 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.
Currencies Direct

Currencies Direct

Currencies Direct is one of Europe's leading non-bank providers of currency exchange and international payment services. Since we were formed in 1996, we've maintained our focus on providing innovative foreign exchange and international currency transfer services to corporations of all sizes, online sellers and private individuals. We have also expanded our services to provide dynamic and pioneering "business to business" solutions to help companies, tier 2/3 banks and other non-bank financial institutions to process their international payments. Our headquarters are in the City of London (United Kingdom) and we have operations in continental Europe, Africa, Asia, and the United States. Currencies Direct is jointly owned by private equity firms Palamon Capital Partners and Corsair Capital.

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