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The Curmudgeon

The curmudgeon is a miserable sod. He likes to have a moan. He tackles subjects which many foreigners living in Spain agree with but are too polite to say anything.

What I hate about Spain
Friday, November 26, 2021 @ 6:27 PM

There are a few things that The Curmudgeon hates about living in Spain. Yet he can only come up with just half a dozen things that really get on his nerves, even after living here for 13 years.


Sometimes you get the impression that every politician and government official is corrupt. That may have been true once upon a time, but even now, at a lower level of corruption, you can often avoid paying IVA if you pay cash, including with lawyers, gestores or just by asking the provider of a service. How they get away with it defeats me, yet such people are often highly esteemed by large parts of the population.


Spanish red tape, el papeleo, drives us all mad, Spaniards and foreigners alike. Las cosas de palacio van despacio, say the Spanish, as if by giving the ponderous bureaucratic system an excuse, by way of a popular saying, that makes it acceptable. In the year before the pandemic, for example, no one managed to get Spanish residency or their TIE (tarjeta de identidad de extranjero) because the twenty-five thousand people whose job it was to sort out the paperwork instead took a disturbingly long lunch-break!

Some unfortunate people are forced to live in a house with no water or electricity for a number of years because of some elusive bit of paper trapped in the bottom of a filing cabinet belonging to a funcionario who has been off work with a bad back for the last five years!

I try and live with the system, since I love it here. Even though my German wife hates HP Sauce and Marmite, and she has never had a Yorkshire pudding or a mushy pea, that’s okay. She doesn’t even like a nice cuppa, because English tea is black, and she only likes green tea or other fancy infusions, but never mind.


I’ve already written about this (on another website), as have writers like Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, Washington Irving, James Michener and Giles Tremlett.  The longer I am here, the less I notice the rushing train, the noisy traffic, the croaking frogs, the loud farm machinery and Spaniards talking loudly. But I cannot get used to barking dogs, especially at 4.00 in the early morning! It’s a fact that Spain is the second loudest country in the world after Japan.


The amount of litter lying around is astonishing. How can a proud nation like the Spanish wantonly ruin their beautiful country by tossing as much garbage into the countryside as is humanly possible? The beaches, the roadside verges, the streets and the public buildings are covered in debris. Everywhere is thick with plastic, empty beer cans, bottles, cardboard and rubble. And what about the abandoned mattresses, sofas, fridges and old bikes?

Spanish beer

There’s nothing I like better than a good English real ale, or a refreshing German Weissbier. Unfortunately, the former is not really viable in the Andalucían climate, although increasingly German beers are becoming available and at a competitive price.

The problem with Spanish beer is that it’s too gassy and somewhat bitter and can only be consumed ice-cold. Spanish beers are also a bit stronger than their Northern European equivalents, with the notorious exception of beers from Belgium.


Firstly there are never enough parking places and what there is turns out to be pretty expensive. Increasingly our urban streets are being given over to bar and restaurant terraces or for rubbish skips, meaning less space for us motorists. However, I’ve realised that if you park two abreast,  en paralelo, and put your warning lights on, you can get away with this rather anti-social habit. If you’re Spanish, that is. I think guiris are easy meat. ‘I’m sorry, officer, I really am, but I just needed to stop briefly to nip into my bank / buy a lottery ticket / have a very quick coffee with my friend’ won’t really get you off the hook. A 200 euro fine at least!

But, when all is said and done, what are half a dozen gripes, when compared to the endless joys and pleasures of our adopted country?

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