At Tiqets, our aim is to make culture more accessible, and while travel has been significantly disrupted due to the coronavirus, we’re not letting this awful situation stop us. Our remarkable cultural venues might be closed for the time being, but we’ll continue to provide fun cultural tips and inspiration to keep your wanderlust lit and your spirits up.
So if your trip to Spain has been canceled, fear not! This guide to channeling the Spanish lifestyle and turning your home into a mini Spain will hopefully help you feel like a local while livin’ la vida loca during these weird and trying times.
So prepare to partake in some classic Spanish traditions like siestas, dinner at 10.00 pm, and passionately loud conversations on the phone!
Spanish music to listen to 💃
The first thing you’re gonna want to do to get that sunny Spanish lifestyle going is to organize a playlist of monster Spanish jams. Music is an essential part of Spanish culture, and nothing will transform your mood quicker than the hypnotic rhythms of flamenco, rumba, and Latin pop. You can run, you can hide, but your hips won’t lie.
Here are a couple of suggestions to get you started.
Camaron de la Isla is one of the greatest flamenco singers of all time and credited with reviving flamenco music in the second half of the 20th century. His dreamy vocals will transport you to a beachside tapas bar, at least mentally, until you can travel there in person and impress the locals by singing along and click-clacking your castañuelas. Speaking of which, here’s how you do that.
Start your day with Volando Voy and follow it up with a playlist of the best pieces by legendary flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucía – a frequent collaborator of Camaron – and the Spanish lifestyle will be second nature before you can say olé.
While many of the members of the Gypsy Kings were born in Arles and Montpellier in the south of France, the now world-famous flamenco/salsa/rumba pop ensemble were the children of gypsy families who fled Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. Their music is very much a product of their motherland.
Having sold over 20 million albums and toured relentlessly since the band’s inception in the 1970s, they helped to put flamenco and rumba on the world map. So, some of the catchiest Spanish songs out there might have been written in France. But, have a listen to smash hits like Volare, Bamboléo, and one of the best-ever versions of the world’s favorite song, and you’ll see that not much of that French insouciance made it into the final mix.
Also check out:
- Baroque ballad singer Nino Bravo
- Rumba rockers Estopa
- King of Latin pop and unstoppable sex symbol, Enrique Iglesias
- And if you really must, the musical equivalent of coronavirus, Reggaeton
Make Spanish food at home
It’s a cornerstone of Spanish lifestyle, and was probably one of the things you were looking forward to the most about your trip to Spain: the food. The good news is that cooking some of Spain’s authentic cuisine for yourself at home is totally an option. In fact, quarantine is the best time to add some culinary strings to your bow.
Emerge from quarantine knowing how to fashion the perfect tapas (or pintxos) and paella, and your canceled trip won’t have all been for nothing. So roll up your sleeves, and crank up that Paco De Lucia, it’s time to get serious!
Pintxos VS Tapas: The Great Debate
First off, we need to clear up some terminology. Exactly what is the difference between tapas and pintxos? The short answer is, nobody knows, but it definitely depends on where you are in Spain, and who you ask. Definitions vary, a lot!
Generally speaking, pintxos are eaten in the Basque Country in northern Spain. Derived from the word pinchar, which means to pierce, pintxos were traditionally served up as a small dish attached to a piece of bread with a long cocktail stick. Tapas, on the other hand, have their origin in central Spain, and are often served as a complimentary bite when ordering a drink.
So, tapas are free and pintxos come pierced with a stick – got it. Not so fast! Given the constantly evolving and cross-pollinating nature of language and culture, and the recent creative renaissance of Basque cuisine, in particular, pintxos aren’t always served impaled on a cocktail stick, and tapas are certainly not always free either.
To confuse matters even more, in many parts of Spain, (like Madrid) a tapa is simply a small, quarter-sized portion of a dish while a ‘pincho’ can mean a small bit, as in ‘un pincho de paella‘ – a bit of paella.
So actually, this clears nothing up. Meanings are nuanced and vary from region to region. But at least you know that much now. The important thing is that pintxos and tapas are generally small, delicious dishes that are best enjoyed over drinks with friends, and that applies equally to video-chat hangouts during the quarantine.
So with all that in mind, here are some excellent, easy-to-follow recipes to impress friends with your newfound Spanish lifestyle during the corona lockdown.
- Pintxos morunos
- Pintxos de Atun
- 10 easy three-ingredient Spanish tapas
- Four Spanish vegan tapas recipes
- How to make proper paella
- Tortilla Española
Add some fuet or longaniza Spanish sausages to your shopping trolley, and slice thinly for a delicious snack to keep you going while you cook. Or make some quick and easy tostadas con tomate by slicing fresh tomatoes onto some toasted bread with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt.
Tip: The late, great Anthony Bourdain on his travels in Spain always makes for great dinner time viewing.
Make your own Spanish cocktails
All that cooking is thirsty work. And there’s a slight chance you were also planning to enjoy a drink or two (or more) on your Spanish holiday. So here are some sunny Spanish drinks you can sip at home to make isolation go faster!
Many people’s first stop in Spain is a tapas bar for patatas bravas and sangría, and rightly so. But making your own sangría is relatively simple, as demonstrated in the below video.
You’ll need fresh oranges, lemons, apples, some fruity red wine, brandy, some ice, a twisty (reusable!) straw, and some of those mini umbrellas. But here’s an expert to walk you through it.
How to make Sangría
Another summertime favorite in Spain is a beer and lemonade potion known as Clara. Follow this complex recipe to feel like a well-traveled mixologist.
How to make Clara beer:
Ingredients: Cold beer, cold lemonade, sunglasses.
- Step 1. Mix first two ingredients together.
- Step 2. Apply sunglasses to face.
- Step 3. Drink concoction.
Agua de Valencia
Basically, a mimosa living its best life – you’ll need to employ slightly more alcoholic alchemy to create this Valencian libation. A tangy mix of orange juice, cava, and vodka (or gin), Agua de Valencia was invented by the painter Constante Gil, who, at the time, was the patron of the ironically named Cafe Madrid in Valencia.
The story goes that some visitors from Bilbao annoyed him by ordering cava all night and referring to it as Agua de Bilbao. So Gil showed them how people party in the south, by adding a splash of vodka and orange juice to their drinks, and called it Agua de Valencia.
Plying drunk people with more booze paid off, and the name stuck. But Gil was unable to register it as a trademark due to its genericness, and so he made no money from his invention. Honor his memory by adding this boozy creation to your cocktail arsenal. Breakfast of champions.
A crime against red wine? An abomination that should stay in the 1970s? A great way to make sure nobody steals your drink? Or a perfectly refreshing beverage? Kalimotxo divides opinions like marmite. It all depends on whether you reckon mixing red wine and fizzy cola is a good idea or not. Make up your own mind on this one!
If you’ve decided to give Kalimotxo a whirl, and are now regretting your life choices, you can wash it away with some Orujo! This clear spirit from northern Spain has the typical local alcohol content of over 50%. That ought to be enough to purge all memory of Kalimotxo from your tastebuds. An involuntary siesta might be on the cards though!
Speaking of cards, a great way to enhance those Spanish drinks is by playing some traditional Spanish card games. Chinchón is a popular game that is similar in many ways to Gin rummy, with objectives like making sets, groups or runs, matching cards, etc. Mus is another card game that, in true Spanish style, involves a lot of verbal strategizing between each hand.
Note: To play these games, you’ll need a Spanish deck, which interestingly does not include the numbers 8 or 9 in the deck.
Spanish TV shows and books
For the sake of immersion, it’s always helpful to have some Spanish-language TV on in the background while you drink orujo in your PJs. Luckily, there is no shortage of fiery soap operas on YouTube to help you train your ear to the particularities of Spanish pronunciation, and some of the more… dramatic sensibilities of the Spanish lifestyle.
- Pasión de Gavilanes – A Colombian soap opera that can be explained entirely by its seemingly self-parodying trailer.
- Ana y los 7 – The wholesome, heartwarming story of a stripper who accidentally lands a job babysitting in a luxurious mansion where a wealthy widower lives with his seven children.
- Aquí no hay quien viva – Basically, the Spanish equivalent of Friends, what else do you need to know?
Quarantine is also the perfect opportunity to get some serious reading done. With so many Netflix shows to get through as well, that might sound quixotic. But alongside incredible food, infectiously catchy music, and some of the world’s most spectacular architecture, Spain has also produced some of the finest authors in Western literature. All future travel plans to Spain will be massively enhanced by taking your mind there in advance with some of these awesome titles.
La catedral del mar by Ildefonso Falcones
A breathtaking historical novel that takes place in 14th-century Barcelona at the height of the city’s trade and military power in the Mediterranean. Netflix actually produced its own high-budget original adaptation of the story, called Cathedral of the Sea, so you can get the best of both worlds!
La sombra del viento (The Shadow of the Wind) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Having sold over 15 million copies worldwide, La somra del viento is one of the best-selling novels of all time. A moving story within a story, the narrative leaps back and forth between 1911 and the Spanish Civil War. It’s an epic tale of love and loss, and you might want to put some of those toilet paper rations aside to dry your eyes.
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
If there ever was a book that offered an optimistic dose of escapism and yearning for simpler times, it’s Cervantes’ masterpiece, Don Quixote. Widely considered to be the original modern novel from which all others can be traced, this tale of one man’s delusional romanticism of the past has been translated into almost every language imaginable and has sold a cool half a billion copies. Let that sink in.
Practice speaking Spanish
Nothing opens up a new culture like learning its language. The good news these days is that you don’t need to leave your home to do so. With courses like Duolingo and Babel available, and cool language-sharing apps like HelloTalk and HiNative, you have no excuse not to have some basic grasp of Spanish by the time your next holiday to Spain rolls around. With 450 million Spanish speakers around the world, it’s bound to come in handy at some point. Supercharge your Spanish lifestyle with these handy starter phrases you can use when you’re Spain, or simply to confuddle your friends on Skype.
- Hello – Hola
- Good morning – Buenos días
- Good afternoon – Buenas tardes
- Good night – Buenas noches
- Goodbye – Adiós
- How are you? – ¿Cómo estás? (informal), ¿Cómo está usted?
- I’m good, thank you – Bien, gracias
- Please – Por favor
- Thank you – Gracias
- Do you speak English? – ¿Hablas inglés?
- I understand/don’t understand – Entiendo/No entiendo
- I want… – Quiero…
- I don’t want – No quiero…
- I would like (more polite) – Me gustaría…
- What time is it? – ¿Qué hora es?
- How much does it cost? – ¿Cuánto cuesta?
- How can I get to…? – ¿Cómo puedo llegar a …?
- Where is the bus stop/train station? – ¿Dónde está la parada de bus/la estación de tren?
- Where’s the bathroom? – ¿Dónde está el servicio? (in public)/¿Dónde está el baño? (in someone’s home)
- I’m looking for a hotel/bank/restaurant – Estoy buscando un hotel/un banco/un restaurante
- Left/Right – izquierda/derecha
- Straight ahead – Al frente
- At the corner – En la esquina
- A table for two/three/four people – Una mesa para dos/tres/cuatro personas
- Menu – Menú
- Appetizer – Aperitivo/Entrada
- Main dish – Plato principal
- Dessert – Postre
- Water/Beer/Wine/Coffee – Agua/Cerveza/Vino/Café
- Can you bring me the bill, please? – ¡La cuenta, por favor!
Pro tip: Type jajaja instead of hahaha while texting for bonus Spanish points.
The Spanish culture is just as resilient as it is remarkable, and it will come back stronger than ever from the Covid-19 shutdown. In the meantime, you can count on Tiqets to keep you inspired with cultural inspiration and ways to stay sane while self-isolating – until you can book your next trip to Spain.