This summer Spain is closed, come back in September

This summer Spain is closed, come back in September

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Each year when the clock strikes 2 p.m. on the last Friday of July, Spain's cities transform from bustling urban bazaars to something resembling NASA footage of the lunar surface.

Q: When is the best time to visit Spain?
A: Any time except August.

It’s true. Each year when the clock strikes 2 p.m. on the last Friday of July, Spain’s cities transform from bustling urban bazaars to something resembling NASA footage of the lunar surface. Stores and restaurants are shut. Streets are devoid of traffic. Prime parking spaces abound. If Spain had tumbleweed, it would be tumbling.

Why? Because August is the month that most Spaniards take vacation.

This, in itself, is ironic. Spain is not exactly known for its orderliness. Queuing in the British sense—i.e., patiently waiting in a single file line…and actually enjoying it—doesn’t exist here. Rather, Spanish queuing is more of a “gather `round and sniff your neighbor’s cologne” affair. Driving and parking is even worse, with most Spaniards viewing no parking zones as more of a suggestion than a mandate.


I therefore find it amusing that a country living in controlled chaos for eleven-twelfths of the year will—on the same afternoon—uniformly pack up and leave.

But that’s what happens. And many Spaniards do, in fact, vacation for the entire month of August. This notion is heretical to Americans—a work-loving people who get only two weeks of vacation each year, yet are afraid to use it all at once for fear of pissing-off the boss. In Spain, however, nary an eyebrow is raised at the prospect of 31 uninterrupted days of sloth.

So…where do these Spaniards go for an entire month? Well…based on an extensive survey that I recently conducted, it seems that they all go to their parents’ house.

I, by the way, never take vacation in August. Why should I? I’d miss all the peace and quiet. My work phone is silent, my email inbox is empty, and there are no lines at the supermarket. It’s as if I’ve actually gained an *extra* month of vacation. Plus, there’s a perverse satisfaction in knowing that—at the end of August—I still have my full vacation to look forward to while most of my countrymen are returning to work in a fog of depression; albeit a well-rested depression.

Staying home and working through the month of August does, however, have a downside. Just try to find a restaurant, bread store or even a pharmacy that is open for business. Granted, the Spanish government mandates that at least one outlet for essential services—and yes, tobacco stores are deemed an essential service—must remain open within each X kilometer radius during August. But having to drive several kilometers to buy a newspaper can be a bit bothersome

If I wanted to do that, I would have stayed in the US.

Sal DeTraglia / Expatica

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1 Comment To This Article

  • Selly posted:

    on 8th May 2011, 01:00:04 - Reply

    I'm afraid we won't be so lucky this year, financial crisis means more people are staying in the city.

    PS: they have tumbleweed in Getafe. :)