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Costa Blanca fun

When talking about immigrants, and especially in current times, hardly anybody will first think of the English, German and Dutch. Things are different along the Costa Blanca. 80% of the population is of foreign origin, and for once they are not predominantly from Poland, Morocco, South America or China. The Western European refugees do show remarking similarities with economic and political refugees.

Posted by Bruno

Although Spanish people love the sun, they do not like it everywhere and all the time. Whenever possible, they try to keep the sunlight from entering into their houses or offices. Every house is equipped with blinds, and people are happy to keep them closed to spend their days and nights in the dark. Somehow, all activities seem to take place in the dark, while the sun just invites people to be lazy. Spanish nights are famous around the world ? a good reason to ask around and see what happens after the sun sets.

Posted by Bruno

Entrance to the EU

Every country has its immigrant population. The country of origin of foreigners differs by country, but they are likely to face the very same problems. They hardly ever manage to become part of the middle class. A small proportion of exceptions occupies management-level jobs, while the majority struggle to find their place in society. Situated close to Africa and having colonial links with South America, Spain is a very logical first place for many immigrants to find a better life.

Posted by Bruno

Eat around the clock

Stereotypes are not always desirable but they are oftentimes understandable. When Portuguese say that Spanish people fry everything they eat in oil, they are not entirely correct. Not everything is fried here, but close to everything is fried. Fish, potatoes, meat ? all of them often bathe in large quantities of olive oil before they get served. The Spanish even have special kitchen utensils to recycle oil. And no less than the Portuguese, the Spanish are very proud of their kitchen. Beside the fiesta culture, it`s one of the main sources of Spanish pride.

Posted by Bruno

Poco Inglis

Before coming to Spain, the Portuguese warned me that speaking English in Spain is a tough mission. I am slowly finding out that they are right. The Spanish speak Spanish, and people who are able to communicate in English are scarce. Everybody can answer the question `do you speak English?` – most answer `poco` ? but that`s where the English part of the conversation usually ends. I`m trying to find out today how such an otherwise advanced country can do without foreign languages.

Posted by Bruno

While some countries in Europe are starting to consider smoking an undesirable activity, Spain is going strong. Instead of signs marking that smoking is prohibited, many bars proudly advertise that their visitors can smoke. `Se permite fumar` (you are allowed to smoke) is a wide-spread message, even though it`s usually followed by several health warnings. I wonder why smoking is so popular, and what people will do if smoking gets banned from pubs and restaurants.

Posted by Bruno

El Camino

Year after year, thousands of pilgrims from all over the world arrive in Santiago de Compostela. Many of them fly in or come by car nowadays, but the traditional Camino de Santiago is to be completed on foot, by bike or on a horse. Signposted pathways stretching as far as Istanbul and Helsinki indicate the way to Santiago. Question of the day: why Santiago and why walk such a long way at all?

Posted by Bruno

Welcome to Spain

Another flag in the upper right corner of the website! I have arrived in Spain and will use the coming to weeks to report about what`s happening here. Starting with some statistics: Spain is the fourth largest EU country. It has roughly 40 million inhabitants and, in addition to that, a huge variable population of incoming tourists. During my travel through other European countries, I already learnt that Spain is a very popular holiday destination, especially in countries where sunshine is either liquid (Ireland in summer) or scarce for other reasons (Scandinavia in winter).

Posted by Bruno

EU Support

Portuguese people are fond of flags. Walk around in a random Portuguese city or neighbourhood and you will see plenty of flags hanging out of windows or waving proudly over public buildings. Since 1986, a second flag appeared next to the Portuguese one: the twelve-starred flag of the European Union. When displayed on a sign instead of decorating a flagpole, it is likely to indicate a project has been co-funded by the EU. Huge funds have been pumped into Portugal since it joined the EU. However, the results seem less convincing than the achievements of Spain and Ireland, who joined almost at the same time and had similar economies before entering the EU.

Posted by Bruno

Iberian battles

It`s quite normal for small countries to have a negative view on their big neighbours. Whether it`s a minority complex, arrogance of the neighbour or troubled relations in the past, people from small countries will find reasons to support their dislike of the bigger country next door. The same in Portugal. Even though the Portuguese are quick to admit that Spain offers more opportunities for a better life, their general perception of the Spanish is rather negative.

Posted by Bruno