3 Myths About Spain

Does everyone really speak Spanish?

When I had to choose a host university for the second semester, I admit that my decision to go to Bilbao in Spain was ultimately determined by the weather. Suffice to say, apart from four or five scorching hot days in the past three months, I've often gone outside sporting my umbrella to shield myself from heavy rain showers. As the old English proverb goes: "it never rains, but it pours", which certainly holds true for the Basque Country. Boy, was I wrong about the Spanish weather!

Whilst the rain was ticking on my attic window yesterday night, I gave my preconceptions about Spain a second thought. Admittedly, everything I knew about the country turned out to be quite different in real life!
Three myths I can now rebuke:

Madrid City Hall ©Maaike

1. It's always sunny in Spain.
Not true. I've often been on the verge of climbing onto my rooftop to act out a Greek drama, pleading the Gods to stop the bloody rain. It's not just Bilbao that is haunted by the tears of the clouds: grey fog has been following me to Madrid, Salamanca and Santander. When the sky opens up, however, the sun will kill all negative thoughts straight away. But rather than only packing a bottle of sunscreen, consider bringing your umbrella next time you go to Spain!

Pintxos ©Maaike

2. Spanish food is hot and spicy.
During my first weeks in Spain, I was overly cautious when it came to eating out. Since my body can't handle spicy things very well, I was worried the Spanish cuisine would be a no-go for me. Dozens of pintxos (the Basque version of tapas) later, I can now conclude that Spanish food is as spicy as a cucumber. Rather, expect food drowned in litres of oil and lots of delicious egg-based dishes.

The Euskaltzaindia (lit. 'Group of keepers of the Basque language'): the Royal Academy of the Basque Language in Bilbao ©Maaike

3. Everyone in Spain speaks Spanish.
While it is true most people speak Castilian, there are several regions in Spain where the regional language is nowadays taught as a compulsory language in schools – like in Galicia, Catalonia and the Basque Country. I had an interesting conversation with an old lady on the tube the other day: whereas she can't speak or understand Euskara (Basque), her grandchildren are fluent speakers and don't know any Spanish! God knows what is going to happen to Spain when they grow up...

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