Funny Spaniardisms – Part 3


So we’re halfway into our two-year adventure and I’ve been keeping a list of “Spaniardisms” that have struck me as funny in the eyes of this North American.  Click here for Part 1 or Part 2.

You’re a Crack!

I’m not sure its origin, but if someone is really good at what they do, you can call them a “Crack”.  It’s definitely English spelling but with Spanish pronunciation.  Someone early on had called me it and I had no idea what it could have meant, nor if it was complementary.  My immediate reaction was to think they were calling me a “crock”.

Isco is a Súper Crack
Isco is a Súper Crack

Radio Edit, Please

It’s always interesting either listening to the radio or walking the aisles of a department store and hearing songs in English with explicit lyrics.  An uncut Eminem song ringing through the PA system still leaves me wide-eyed and looking around wondering if anyone else finds it as shocking as I do.

Beer Etiquette

The best part about a foreign language is learning how to say common things in different ways.  For example, if you were to literally translate and say “Let me buy you a beer” in Spanish, it wouldn’t sound very good and maybe wouldn’t even be understood.  Instead you say “I invite you to a beer” which simply means you are going to pay for it.

Also, when out drinking with friends, you’d never say or hear, “Let’s have one last round”.  It’s always “Let’s have the penultimate (second to last) round” regardless if it may be the last or not.

That’s what makes the name of this bar so great.

La Penúltima
Cafe Bar – La Penúltima


Speaking of inviting your friends for a beer, birthdays here as an adult are a little different.  If you go out with your friends to celebrate your birthday, there is an expectation that you treat your friends to their drinks and not the other way around.  I learned this the hard way years ago when I turned 21 in Madrid.  Kind of a double whammy as turning 21 in Spain doesn’t doesn’t carry the same importance as in the States and I had to buy all of my friends drinks!

Another cool thing I’ve noticed about kids birthdays here is that they are usually pretty simple and very inclusive.  We’ll get an email a day or two in advance or handmade cards will come home from school announcing someone’s birthday (or a whole month-full of birthdays are teaming up) and it is going to be celebrated at the local park with snacks and cake.  The park has a playground, some wild tree area for hiding and running around, and a football hardcourt.  Everyone in the grade is invited and whoever shows up can find something and someone to hang out with and have a great time.

Lastly, there is a strange custom for child birthday celebrants to have their ears and/or hair and/or nose tugged a number of times equal to their age.

Hair and ear tugs in progress.
Hair, ear, and nose tugs in progress.

WhatsApp – What’s That?

WhatsApp is so ubiquitous here.  Most cell phone plans charge per phone call and text but the data plans are very reasonable.  So being able to send essentially free messages and even make phone calls via your data plan is where it’s at.  I hadn’t even heard of WhatsApp prior other than it making headlines in early 2014 when Facebook bought it for some absurd amount of money ($20 Billion, was it?).  Now I understand why.


Moving to a country outside of the United States takes a few mental adjustments, mostly in terms of the Metric system and how things are measured or referenced.  I have a pretty good feel for meters and liters these days although I can still be found driving on the highway looking at distance markers and calculating things back into miles.

The Good

Everything here is in military time, which I’m growing to like.  No more need for A.M. or P.M.  In fact, times here are often written as such: 13.45h (1:45pm).

The Bad

One thing that still throws me is that when someone tells you to proceed to the third floor, they actually mean the fourth floor (in my terms).  This is because the first floor is always considered the “ground” floor.  Up one story of stairs from the ground floor is the “first” floor.  It’s all about your frame of reference.

The Ugly

Similarly, calendars here start on Monday which means the first box at the far left of every calendar printed in Spain is NOT Sunday.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve booked an appointment online using the ‘calendar’ function thinking I had booked a Wednesday only to have it be Thursday.  I’ve gotten accustomed to this now and will probably need to unlearn it later when we return home.

Lunes = Monday

Public Bathrooms

Being a guy, this isn’t nearly as big of a deal but on the whole, the state of public bathrooms in Spain tends to be below average.  You can read Cat’s spot-on post if you’d like more details, but my biggest complaint is as follows:

Why are so many bathrooms equipped with zero (or completely empty) soap dispensers?  I consider Spain to be with it when it comes to most modern conveniences, but in my experience, the majority of soap dispensers in restaurants, bars, bus stations, schools, libraries and heck, even airports are usually empty.

We’re Talkin ‘Bout Pesetas?

Pesetas haven’t been around since 2002 yet there are many computer systems around here that still convert to pesetas, the most prominent being at banks.  It’s a joke that many older people still don’t have a grasp of how much things cost so for expensive things like cars and houses, it often helps to convert back into pesetas.  I guess I can relate, I still need do this for temperature (C to F).


One thing that took a bit of getting used to was greeting people.  In the U.S. I know a simple ‘hello’ and smile/nod go a long way and if you want to get crazy and intimate, you offer up a handshake for men and women alike.

I’ve come to appreciate things here in Spain where you have to be committed in the greeting.  Here’s a quick breakdown of how it goes from a guy’s perspective.  For a woman, basically just substitute everything with besitos – one peck kiss on each cheek.

Initial Meeting or Familiar Greeting – Male – handshake

Initial Meeting or Familiar Greeting – Female – besitos on cheeks

Greeting of a good friend – Male – hug

Greeting of a good friend – Female – besitos on cheeks along with a hug

Familiar Greeting of a Muslim – Male – handshake followed by placing your open hand over your heart (my favorite gesture of all)

Familiar Greeting of a Muslim – Female – I haven’t yet really figured this one out completely and fall back on my simple ‘hello’ with smile/nod unless given a prompt suggesting otherwise.

9 thoughts on “Funny Spaniardisms – Part 3”

  1. Ha! Yep. The other day Graham and I were in a children’s clothing store. I was whistling, trying to cover the wildly inappropriate lyrics of the very loud piped-in music.

    “Mommy? Why is he singing that he’s worried about what she’s doing for money?”

    1. This cracks me up. I guess that is better than him singing along without really understanding the lyrics – what my boys tend to do. At least I still believe they don’t understand the lyrics!

  2. I’ve spent one month approaching dangerously to people I met only to kiss them, once the lady had to step backwards to avoid my kiss! Don’t need to say I felt like a fool! Welcome to Ireland!

    1. Haha. Love this. I know when I leave the house these days, even if I’ve just stumbled out of bed and plan to go back to it, I know to brush my teeth as I know I’ll be kissing someone soon enough!

      Un beso, Sol.

  3. hi, when it comes to familiar greetings between two men we may also give two kisses if both have not seen for a long time and there is a close familiar feeling…..speaking for myself i tell you that i have many family members in Granada, family that comes from my grandmother’s side who was born in El Albaicin, but she left in her youth and came to Murcia where she met my grandfather…..every some years i see some of that family and we give two kisses as a sign of appreciation, in fact if i gave just a handshake it would then look distant or serious…i also have an uncle from my father’s side and again because i only see him every some years we give two kisses….anyways this two-kisses tradition between two men seems to be becoming old fashioned.

    when it comes to a greeting of a good friend between two men we may also give a handshake, but not in the polite way of shaking but in the way of two young friends who meet up, say, on a Saturday night outside a pub if you know what i mean.

    well as for the ground floor/first floor…as you know in Spain blocks of flats tend to have a floor almost at ground level basically with postboxes and also dwellings, so obviously those who live at almost ground level do live in what we call “bajo” or ground floor….then to get to the next and first floor you have staircases with lots of stairsteps and lifts as well.

    by the way i hadn’t got any idea that time in Spain like 13:30 or 22:50 is military! that is new to my ears, thanks!

    1. Hola Pedro. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Always nice to hear from someone else with Albaicin roots. And yes, I’ve seen kisses between men that are either family or very good friends. I just haven’t gotten to that point yet 🙂 I also appreciate you calling out the other type of handshake. Like you say, not the formal kind, but more of the upside down handshake with interlocking thumbs. That’s a good one as well that is a good prelude to the hug.

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