How do you identify and find the much searched for "Real Spain"? Real Spain still exists in many areas of rural Spain and should be searched out as it gives you a good feeling living in a society where these aspects can be found to still exist. So read on about various aspects I believe to be important in finding the "Real Spain".
Bars - The Spanish live in the street much more than other nationalities even when out of the home means in a smoky bar. You can see this by the street corner bars you can find everywhere all over Spain with the old men playing cards and debating life in general and the older women spending all day discussing the merits of various minor celebrities and taking forever to finish off a single cofee.
Tradition and Modernism - Architecture in the big cities is the best example where new exciting structures have sprung up all over the place usually right next to well preserved relics of the past from many ages.
Pride - The Spanish are extremely proud of their country and the way it has developed over the years since the end of the dictatorship in 1975. They are proud of the transition to democracy and the relatively painless way this happened. However they are even more proud of their town or region, their children, their homes and even their clothes. The Paseo remains an integral part of many Sundays in Spanish towns where whole families dress up in their best clothes and walk up and down the main town thoroughfare to show off a bit.
Opinions - The Spanish love a good debate or round table discussion. They will argue the toss over anything. They express opinions forcefully yet allow the other side to express theirs too. Even for subjects way off the radar of the life experience of the average Spanish person, let's take diamond mining in Botswana as an example, you can guarantee that the point of view of one will differ widely from their best friend or neighbour.
The Pueblo - The majority of the Spanish people now live in urban areas but going back to their Pueblos (Villages where their family come from) is almost obligatory during any major or minor fiesta and at holiday times. This prevents the villages from dying despite rural depopulation and gets them out of the rat race at weekends.
Shopping - Many old ma and pa style shops still exist in Spain as they have the luxury of paying very little in rent thanks to arrangements made decades ago that only allow an increase in rent by the inflation rate. These shops have often been there for 40 or 50 years and their only customers are those who have been going for the same number of years and shopping is more of a social visit rather than a necessity to actually buy something. If you venture into the dark recesses of these shops expect a long wait behind an ageing friend of the owner as they chat about diamond mines in Botswana or any other subject that comes to hand.
Height - Just something to notice rather than a sign of the Real Spain is how the current generation tower over the older generations. They are taller than their parents and their grandparents get a stiff neck from looking up to them. This demonstrates how impoverished the country was after the Civil War when nutrition was whatever you could get and small quantities. A true sign of how the country has developed.