We love having visitors here in Spain! We genuinely and sincerely mean that, and find talking to more cynical friends who are maybe longer term expats quite worrying… Although crowd-sourcing this article was fun, it’s fair to say that feelings can run quite high! Thank goodness that everybody who comes to visit US is a welcome and wanted guest and can come back any time. Our friends and family are such nice people I am sure this will always be the case. Because the visitors we love –
- Know that we are still working, and the kids are still at school
- Ask us for advice about public transport for airport transfers. And car rental.
- Appreciate that the people we introduce them to are our friends, rather than “people they meet on holiday”
- Cope socially with all the kissing that goes on around here, between expats as well as Spanish. It’s just what we do, get over it, or even get to like it!
- Establish the existence of allergy causing pets before accepting invitations or inviting themselves, and realise that this is said pet’s home, not theirs.
- Stop at Duty Free for nice English branded booze and treats – not because we are tragically deprived and we can’t get them here if we really want to, (yes we do have international stores and access to the internet) – just because it’s fun to have things we only enjoy occasionally, especially with company
- Have some idea of what they’d like to see and do in the area whilst on their break, and don’t expect us to plan and entertain every moment of their stay. We don’t actually spend all our weekends visiting attractions any more than they do at home.
- Understand that if they want a cheap holiday out of season, it WILL be cold. That’s not our fault, and we are not punishing them in some way. Nor can we afford to blast away heating the whole badly-insulated house 24/7 (reverse understanding as required vs. aircon in the height of summer!)
- Realise we can’t afford to eat out all the time either (remember, we are not on holiday). As such they fit in with our routines, especially round kids who have homework and bedtimes that have to be worked with or all hell breaks loose
- Offer to babysit, if they are staying for any length of time – whilst kids are welcome everywhere here, all parents enjoy the occasional grown-up night out, and being away from the usual extended family networks it might be a rare treat
- Don’t complain when it’s so boring and quiet during the middle of the day when they want to go out and it is heart attack weather at 45 degrees
- Understand that no, we don’t have/watch English telly. Because, we’re not interested in it… we prefer real life to soaps, that’s why we’re here
- Ask us if they can bring us anything from the UK we can’t get here, and then don’t hand over the Calpol or whatever with the receipt attached – not when they’re coming to stay in our home for 2 weeks and it’s something small.
- Appreciate that we work with the weather here… walk on the shady side, go down to the beach when it’s cooler and quieter in August, eat late when it’s hot, and so on. Fine if they want to do things differently, but we’ve adapted
- Don’t act all surprised that it’s actually quite beautiful really. Some of it’s nice in fact. Well, who knew!
- Have gotten over the need to ask us, every time they come, whether we really miss life in the UK and if/when we think we will go back. Perhaps because they realise that asking in the context of enjoying our hospitality could potentially come across as really rude, or perhaps because they know our answer by now!
- Don’t whinge when the restaurant only does a few good dishes well in their traditional way, not like this or with that or leaving out the other – yes, they are the paying customer… but if they insisted we take them out to eat someplace that is ‘authentic’ , then Juan couldn’t care less if they don’t want what he’s cooking or how he’s cooking it. Oh and yes, there will be garlic. And onions.
- Don’t expect our kids to ‘perform’ for them in Spanish. They are happy to help and enjoy showing off a lot of the time, but they aren’t doing tricks in the circus they are just living their lives – and their amazing acquired language skills are not some kind of cabaret act, nor anything we want them feeling at all self conscious about.
- Realise that amazingly some things are just the same as at home – like the way the kettle works, or the dishwasher loads, or even how simple meals reach the table. Even though everything is foreign and they can’t imagine how we cope, they can easily rehabilitate by joining in simple household routines
- Don’t moan about restaurants not opening till late in the summer, or having trash all over the floor (thank goodness for we are now well past restaurants full of smoke… well, I actually used to moan about that too)
- Don’t keep loudly comparing it to Tuscany or Provence or the Malverns, or wherever they’d like us to understand they usually prefer to holiday, when not slumming it with us..
- Visitors we love know how to act like they are guests, not tourists. They wouldn’t wear swimwear in our local bar or supermarket even if other holidaymakers do, yell for service in English “because SURELY somebody here understands it..!” They don’t go around in socks and sandals either.
You see, it’s actually easy to be a much-loved guest, because the rules and preferences are largely just about common courtesy, and respecting that this is our home, just as we would if we were to visit you. And if you are reading this and planning to visit a friend who is an expat in Spain, I am sure you wouldn’t dream of making any of these mistakes anyway….
What can visitors YOU love do, to make you feel more loved-up than ever in their company..?