Are you about to embark on your first trip to Archidona and not sure what to expect? Worried about over tipping, undertipping or when to eat and what? We’ve got some key tips for preparing for your stay in Spain.
1. What time do people eat in Spain?
Spanish people are fairly regimented when it comes to eating times. If you rock up to a restaurant at 6 o’clock in the evening asking for dinner you will be confronted, in most cases, with a dark kitchen and a confused waiter.
Although some of the more touristy bars of the big cities have adjusted their kitchen hours to accommodate peckish foreigners, you’ll still find restaurants in Archidona baffled as to why people would choose to eat dinner in what’s perceived as late afternoon.
To avoid going hungry, it’s worth familiarising yourself with the Spanish eating times and working with them. Below we’ll bring you up to speed on what is eaten and when – after you’ve started the day with your Almohalla 51 breakfast of course…
The most important of the Spanish meals, almuerzo, is eaten any time between 2 and 4 pm. This is your chance to eat like a king, with heavier dishes traditionally consumed in the afternoon. Try the roast lamb at Escua or one of the steaks at Arxiduna (which also offers some great salads if you’re after something lighter) which appeared in The Guardians top 10 rural Spanish restaurants. If you want to mix in more with the locals then enjoy a “Menú del Día”. For not much more than about €10 you can enjoy various choices from a 3 course menú with a drink and bread included. The majority of places offer these options Monday to Friday. There are also great tapas options like one of the very local dishes Porra, a cold, rich tomato based dish (below).
On the weekends (or any day if you’re on holiday), this is often followed by a refreshing copa – or mixed drink – such as gin and tonic or a cocktail and the time to get together with friends. Great to get you in the mood for your siesta (if you make it back in time!).
La cena is usually eaten between 9.00-11.00 at night, although plenty of restaurants will continue serving well past midnight. It’s sometimes possible to eat earlier, although don’t be surprised if you find yourselves the only ones dining at this time!
Dinner is the time to eat well, but lightly, with many Spaniards choosing to share tapas or raciones amongst groups of friends. Try the calamares fritos in Central or one of the fresh tuna dishes in Arxiduna.
2. Do you have to tip in Spain?
It’s completely up to you! It’s not mandatory to tip in Spain (although some restaurants will include a service charge in the bill) and you won’t get chased out of the restaurant by peeved waiters if you decline to leave a propina at the end of your meal. In fact they’re more likely to chase you thinking you’ve left your money!
If you are feeling generous though or you regard not tipping as just plain wrong, we’d recommend leaving 10% of the overall amount or just round up to the nearest 0.
3. Do most people speak English?
Although increasing numbers of young Spaniards are learning English these days, members of the older generation rarely speak any. Many of the waiters in Archidona’s restaurants know a little, but fortunately Spanish people are usually extremely friendly and helpful, and won’t let something as minor as a language barrier impede their attempts to communicate.
4. Is Spain family orientated?
Extremely! Family is at the heart of Spanish culture and children here often have flexible bedtimes, especially in the summer when the coolest part of the day occurs after nightfall. Don’t be surprised if you see children asleep in buggies or playing in the town squares – especially the Plaza Ochavada as it’s car free – way past midnight, even on a school night!
5. Do shops shut on a Sunday?
Sunday continues to be regarded as a day of rest in Spain, due to a hangover to a more religious time. (Spaniards, in the main Catholic are not big church goers). Adherence to this religious tradition means most shops and supermarkets don’t open on a Sunday. In Archidona a few of the small bakeries will open selling very basic food stuff, but nothing else. Thankfully all the bars and restaurants do stay open!
6. Is the siesta really a thing?
Afternoon napping is somewhat of a Spanish institution, although it tends to occur with more regularity in the South of the country due to the warmer weather and harks back to a past when many people worked two jobs a day. Arrive in Archidona at 4pm on a Wednesday in August and you probably won’t see a soul on the streets. The siesta is real…and you’d better respect it!
In our opinion the only sensible option is to have your lunch and then head for a snooze – by the pool maybe? If you do choose to doze, the average nap lasts anything from 30 minutes to an hour. If you sleep for longer than this, you risk waking up feeling groggy and disorientated, especially if your lunch was washed down with a few beers!
To accommodate for the post-lunch siesta, most shops will shut between the hours of two and five. It’s not just during the summer months either; most businesses in Archidona will honour the siesta all year round.
7. When’s the best time to visit Archidona?
Honestly, each part of the year has its attractions.
The cooler and sometimes wetter spring months mean you experience a green and verdant countryside that wouldn’t seem possible when you see it a few months later. There’s also amazing birdlife to be seen, especially during May as the new broods hatch. Head to Archidona for Easter and experience the stunning Semana Santa with its centuries old traditions and unforgettable processions. It’s also a good time to visit places like the Alhambra in Granada, or the Mosque in Cordoba, which can be far quieter and cooler places to wander around.
June, July and August are certainly warmer months, but they have an unshakeable appeal. Warm evenings for sitting watching the world go by at Bar Central or in the plaza Ochavada. Head up to the pool and gently enjoy the sun or sit in the shade and soak up the views. These months see the temperatures in some of the region’s cities increase – especially in Granada, Córdoba and Seville – but if you’re sensible and avoid the sun and keep hydrated then you can still take them in if you want to. Or stay local and head to the lakes at Ardales for an afternoon by the water (below) or try out the kayaks. The town’s fair – Feria – takes place every August when the population swells and the party goes on for a week. It’s great fun and a real opportunity to see Andalucian culture at its best.
September onwards see the temperatures drop, but not always by a huge amount – we usually end up serving breakfast al fresco until well into October. Some of the big sights will be a bit quieter once the school holidays are over, but it’s also a fab time for a day on the beach. Head to the coast from Almohalla 51 and you can be on your sunbed in under an hour. It’s also a fantastic time for exploring on foot with several beautiful walks setting off from Almohalla 51 and no need for a car!
We hope that gives you a bit of taste of what to expect when visiting Archidona, but remember we’re always available to guide you through any unknowns and to suggest ways of making the best of your stay with us.