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ENTERTAINMENT

Customs
As in every corner of the world the habits of people are changing with modern life. The Spanish are formal by culture and the handshake is still the customary form of greeting but a kiss on both cheeks is reserved to family members or to those persons who are known well. When invited into a private home a small gift (but not flowers), is always appreciated as a polite gesture of appreciation. Flowers are reserved for the very special occasions! Dress code is basically formal and very casual wear is reserved for holiday areas and definitely frowned at in the towns. A shirt should always be worn in public places and in public transport. Smoking is very much a national habit and practiced in commercial establishments - but not on public transport.

Drink

Spanish traditionally drink wine with each region producing its own wines. There are several large breweries within Spain producing the light lager type beers. The principal table wines are the Riojas and Valdepeñas, named after the regions where they are produced. Rioja wine is to be found in around Logroño in the northeast and can be slightly likened to the French Bordeaux whilst being less delicate in flavour. Valdepeñas is a rougher wine to the palate and found at its best in the region where it is grown, midway between Madrid and Cordóba. The Jerez de la Fronteira area is famous for it's sherry. Jerez is the place where Sherry was born and first exported to the UK. There are four principal types of Sherry, Fino which is pale and dry, Amontillado dry and richer in body and slightly darker, Oloroso a medium and golden Sherry, and finally Dulce which is very sweet in its taste.

To the north and in the Basque Country a green wine known as Chacoli is very popular with its slightly sparkling and tart flavour. The majority of Spanish sparkling wines tend to be sweet and fruity. Popular Spanish Brandies are 103, Magno and Carlos, all of which tend to be rather cheap and sweet.

Dinking black coffee is a national habit in Spain. Cafe solo is served in small cups and is strong and thick black coffee. Cafe con leche is the same coffee with hot milk. Spaniards also drink a great deal of bottled water and there are two types, the con gas with fizz, and the sin gas still water.

Fiestas and Traditions
Spanish towns and cities have their own special celebrations as well as the National Holidays. The manner in which the events are celebrated also varies from town to town but all are based on religion.

Nightlife
Spaniards often start the evening with the el paseo. This is a leisurely stroll along the main streets or along the paseo maritimo in the coastal resorts. Much of Spanish life is lived in the streets and the atmosphere is especially vibrant at Fiesta time. On most warm evenings the street cafes and bars are full of people sitting and enjoying company. The nightclubs only start being busy after midnight.

Restaurants
When eating out in Spain the cost is generally reasonable according to the type of restaurant. In most major Cities there is a selection of different levels of national and international food in surroundings that vary from the worker's cafe to sophisticated fine-dinning. Visitors to the country should make note that the dining hours only commence between eight or nine o'clock in the evening. Spain is also particularly known for its fish cuisine and Paella is probably one of the most popular dishes. Each region in Spain has its own special dishes and experimentation is usually well rewarded.

Unless otherwise indicated on the Bill it is normal to leave a 10% tip.

The world famous Spanish tradition of Tapas is to be thoroughly recommended. These are small portions of tasty food eaten with a slice of bread and normally taken as an accompaniment to drinks in small Bars and Cafés.

Tapas are made from various ingredients and can be either seafood, meat, or just all vegetables. The origin of the word Tapa is questionable but it has been said to have been originally brought into use in the Cafe de la Iberia in Seville. A Spanish popular habit is to visit several Bars and accompanying the drink with different Tapas, sometimes until the person has had enough to make a good dinner. A favourite Tapa is a slither of Serrano or Jabuga ham from Andalucía accompanied by a slice of bread, and of course a beer or Dry Sherry. Spain is reputed to be the biggest and a leader in the production in the world of cured ham.

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