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Siesta: the truth and nothing but the truth

We’ve been living in Germany for almost five years and we’ve heard all kinds of unfounded miths and stereotypes about our country, Spain. But if there is one that makes me want to scream, that’s the common belief that in Spain we stop working every day to take a nap. I’ve even heard it from well-travelled people. Well, DISCLAIMER: there is no such thing as daily siesta. And I’m here to shed light on this issue.
In the North of Europe people usually have hearty breakfasts early in the morning. However, the lunch break is something quick, just enough time to eat a sandwich or a salad, mostly on the go. This 10 to 20 minutes break usually takes place from 11,30 to 13,30. Then you keep on working and go home at a decent hour and have a consistent dinner between 6 and 8 p.m. Great. There you have a schedule. Perfect.
But! In Spain breakfasts are something lighter, maybe a coffee and a couple of biscuits. Add a freshly squeezed orange juice if you are feeling fancy. But that’s all. And then we work until 2 p.m. (with a short pause to grab a bite in between. That’s when pinchos happen!). And when the time comes we stop working. Yes. But we eat, we don’t sleep!!! There are companies that have lunch breaks from 2 to 3 p.m., others from 2 to 4 p.m. That’s when you think we are sleeping, but only because you have already eaten and maybe you think that everyone else in the world follows your schedule. False!!! We are eating a lunch menu (two courses and dessert. And a café con hielo if it’s Summer) in a nice restaurant with our coworkers, we are eating something quick and going to Pilates or spending an hour in Zara buying things that we don’t really need. Then we get back to work until 6 or 7 p.m. and finally we have dinner betweeen 9 and 11 p.m. See? A different schedule! That’s all!
If you travel to Spain, mostly in Summer, and you don’t see a soul on the streets between 2 and 4 p.m., please don’t think people are sleeping. People are having lunch or minding their own business somewhere with air condition: the office, the gym, the shops… It’s not siesta. It’s too hot to be fooling around and you are a tourist, who is the only person that would be wandering around at 3 p.m. on a Summer day!
Sleeping a nice 20 minutes siesta after a great lunch is the best thing in the world. But we just do it on weekends and during holidays. And you should do it too. Specially if you can hear the cicadas outside, if there is a wonderful beach waiting for you and you just decide to close your eyes for a litte minute and relax. Bonus points if La vuelta is on TV!

Any false ideas about your country that you hate? Please share them in the comment section!

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  1. I loved this post because I love to hear how people live in different countries. Was it hard for you to adjust to a bigger breakfast and earlier lunch? I’m a New Yorker but I generally eat lunch alone at my desk around 13:00 or 14:00 because I prefer that as well.

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