Barcelona Amber Davenport

Amber Davenport

Spain is a big country in southern Europe. Speaking the world’s most second-widely used language, Spanish people are renowned for giving the best directions, if tourists ask! They also kiss once on each cheek whenever meeting someone! Madrid has the second highest-number of trees in a city (after Tokyo) with everyone within a 15-minute walk of green space.

Barcelona is often cited as one of the world’s best places to live, with a pedestrian-friendly central road and beautiful buildings. 10% of the city is made up of urban parks and its beach is listed as one of the best on earth. But many locals are not happy with ‘cheap and tacky’ overtourism, selling rubbish to visitors, rather than preserve its national heritage. The mayor has suggested a cap on annual visitors to still promote tourism, but also look after its permanent residents. So here are a few things we can learn from our Spaniard friends:

Spaniards grow their own cooking oil

Even without exports, Spain produces double the amount of olive oil as Italy, unlike in England where we tend to buy cooking oil from Europe, instead of supporting our local rapeseed farmers. For cooking, rapeseed oil is perfect (proving you don’t need goose fat to make roast spuds) and although olive oil is good for salads, health experts say rapeseed is best for heated oils.

Spaniards drink wine from their own country

Again Spaniards drink Spanish wine, from local vineyards. England has many good organic vineyards (many produce sparkling wines that rival champagne), so it’s good to try them to keep carbon footprint low, and support local farmers.

Spaniards take afternoon siestas

Amber Davenport

Amber Davenport

You don’t have to actually ‘fall asleep’, but all Spaniards rest in the midday sun, they don’t go outside and bake in the hot sun or get laced on cans of lager, on a sunny day. The first thing Spanish builders do on a job, is to find out the best place to put their hammock! Learning to slow down is good for your mental and physical health. Most shops in Spain close for a couple of hours in the afternoon to allow people to take short naps, then just stay open a little later on summer evenings.

Spanish people are very artistic

From famous artists like Picasso (to flamenco dancing and guitar), Spain is full of creative culture. If you’re famous in Spain, you usually have to possess some kind of creative talent, not just be a ‘celebrity for the sake of being famous’, like here.

Spain has a long healthy life expectancy

Amber Davenport

Amber Davenport

The longevity rate of Spaniards is around 83, largely due to outdoor lifestyles and a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables. UK tourists may want egg and chips, but Spanish food is more regional, based on seasonal produce, something we could learn from. It’s spicier than Italian food, and uses more peppers and chillies, so don’t rub your eyes if chopping them! Try this recipe for vegan paella And wash it down with a pitcher of fruity sangria (you can use grape juice in lieu of wine, if wished).

Spaniards care about animals (like us)

It’s unfair that Spaniards are often portrays as not being kind to animals (many cities have banned bull-fighting due to local protests, and areas where it continues is often due to UK tourist companies promoting them to holidaymakers). Like here, Spain has its own animal welfare party, which is part of the progressive Sumar political movement to try to gain more power for better animal welfare laws. Learn more on how we can improve England’s animal welfare laws.

In 2023, Spain’s first national animal welfare law took effect, which mostly affects people who live with pets. It’s now illegal for dogs to be left alone for a considerable time, or to leave them tethered and unsuperised in public spaces. In England, Rishi Sunak tore up the proposed Kept Animals Bill, which would have had far-reaching effects on animal welfare in our country.

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