My impression of Spain, after two days in Grenada, is that this country has character, style, and pride. Although the economy is in the dumps, unemployment is high, and the future is uncertain, one feels none of this on the streets. People are well-dressed, the streets are clean, and no one seems glum. I compare this to similar locations in the land of my birth and some other countries, and Spain wins.
I formed a positive impression of the Spanish people after reading the history. After the brutality of the civil war and Franco’s repressive years, the people decided to live together in harmony and not seek revenge for past unpleasantries (real or imagined). This is unlike most peoples, who continue to inflict pain for past injustices. The Spanish seem to be more intelligent and have stronger character.
One more point: they eat well. I have not had a mediocre meal, even in a simple restaurant.
Of course, their working/business hours take some getting used to. Shops open at 9 or 10 and close for lunch/siesta at 12:30 or 1, not to open again until 5 to 8. One is often faced with closed restaurants, if one does not ask about opening hours. I’m sure that such hours make sense in the heat of the summer, but in winter, one does not need to avoid the mid-day sun.
Regardless of the season, be prepared to change eating habits. I recall my first trip to Barcelona, when I rushed to the hotel dining room at 7:30, fearing that I might miss dinner. It was not open, and I was informed by reception that service commenced at 9. Not wanting to wait, I went to bed hungry. Another time, I called for a dinner reservation at a well-known restaurant, only to be told that the earliest vacant table would be at 11 pm. Despite the late hour, it was a great meal: worth waiting for.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.