Not in any particular order.
1) Long lines (which I had the fortune of experiencing, again, today). In the States if I were to go to a Bank of America to deposit a check, there would usually be about 4 to 5 tellers working and even if the line were longer than usual, I would not be kept waiting more than 5 minutes. My bank branch (and all other customer service/ supermarket/ retail/ anything usually requiring speedy and efficient attention to clients) has ONE representative serving 493848 people, the large majority of whom are above the age of 65. Today I would have waited for probably 30 – 40 minutes at the bank if I didn’t leave in frustration.
2) Lack of good food. AKA No Chinatown Think I’ve ranted about this sufficiently enough. If I see another BAR/ CAFETERIA serving bocadillos and ham, I think I will turn into a piece of dried bread.
3) Staring. If you are human and have a head, legs, and arms, you can bet on it that people will be curious and look at you. If you are human and have none of the aforementioned, I am sure people will also stare. If you don’t look Spanish, especially if you look like you might be inclined to say “ni hao” or “konichiwa” as a native greeting while at the same time bowing your head, regardless as to whether you may really be a 5th generation Canadian or actually Mexican, people will stare. If you buy the newspaper, know that you will be sharing it with the 3 or 4 people who will be non-discreetly rubbernecking their heads over your shoulder. If you don’t look Spanish and are reading a book in Spanish, people will stare at both the book and your face, alternating between the two.
4) Bad haircuts. This is the lands of the mullets, what more can I say?
5) Things are expensive. Specially cosmetic and beauty products, medicine, electronics, office supplies.
6) Siesta. It sounds like a good idea at first, but when banks close at 2 in the afternoon and it’s impossible to buy milk, pens, or tampons between the hours of 2 and 5 within 2 miles of you, this becomes a major problem.
7) Inflexibility. (This includes big breakfasts, below) I wake up generally around 9 or 10 in the morning. How is it possible for someone to last til 3 or 4 in the afternoon eating just a yogurt and fruit, just because it’s the custom to eat lunch then? The lifestyle here is quite predictable, and although I’m not a proponent of the neurotic spontaneity and flakiness of Americans, I think the majority of most Spaniards can be more adventurous with their routines.
8) No brunch. I want some omelettes, Belgian waffles with syrup, strawberries, and ice cream, milkshakes, anything but bread!
9) Cultural egotism. Many Madrileños think Madrid ranks among one of the top five largest cities in the world. The Spanish also think Spanish food is the best food in the world, but this is only because most of them haven’t traveled to Asia (or New York!)
10) The metro system which is really an extension of hell. Five escalators, really?! I worship the metro system here, but sometimes, I feel like I’m endlessly navegating the bowels of the inferno, having sacrificed myself to the devil for 2 minute waits between trains.
Other than these things………..I LOVE SPAIN!!! 😀