Keep in mind..

Nobody from any country in the western world will find any fundamental differences between southern Spanish society and the one they left behind. The real difference will probably be the climate, since few western countries outside the Mediterranean basin enjoy such a luxury. The people are, of course, different, and they speak a different language and have different customs, but it is the marked friendliness of the Andalusians, their gastronomy and their traditions – all different from ours - that prompt most people to come here in the first place. Nevertheless, to thoroughly enjoy one’s stay on the Costa del Sol, it is as well to know how things work here.



It is generally -wrongly- said that the spanish way of life is somewhat slower than the rest of Europe, especially in the southern part of the Peninsula. However, when the Spaniards work, they do work hard. Traditionally businesses closed for a few hours after lunch, to leave time for the all-important siesta, and while such customs still prevail in dreamy provincial towns, shops and businesses in the larger cities will remain open all day. It is quite common for life to begin when the sun goes down, especially in the summer. Restaurants serve dinner much later than they would in other European countries. The Spaniards also like to play hard, and that is where the country’s intense nightlife comes in.



First the nuts and bolts. Electrical current in Spain is 220 volts, and the electrical plug used is two-point. Adaptors must thus be used for any electrical appliance that does not use the two-point plug, and transformers must be used with appliances that use a different voltage. It is advisable to take these with you. 


Sizes, weight and measures

Spain is metric, and although we all know what that means in weights and measures, we not have such a clear idea of clothes and shoe sizes. This is a brief guide to the differences, with the corresponding British size in italics.
Women’s dresses, coats and skirts sizes: 40, 8. 42, 10. 44, 12. 46, 14. 48, 16. 50, 18.
Women’s shoes: 36, 5. 37, 4. 38, 5. 39, 6. 40, 7. 41, 8.
Men’s suits: 44, 34. 46, 36,. 48, 38. 50, 40. 52, 42. 54, 44. 56, 46.
Men’s shirts: 36, 14. 38, 15. 39, 15 1/2. 41, 16. 42, 16 1/2. 43, 17. 44, 17 1/2.
Men’s shoes: 39, 6. 40, 7. 41, 7 1/2. 42, 8. 43, 9. 44, 10. 45, 11. 46, 12.



The climate on the Iberian Peninsula is generally stable, and as far as meteorological science permits, weather forecasts are reliable. The seasons are fairly predictable, with periods of rain in the Costa del Sol from the end of September to the end of November, and in March and April. Rain and sunshine can alternate on any given day during these periods, and it is rare to have rain falling for more than two or three days at a time. 



The beaches on the Costa del Sol are largely sandy, but there are also many pebble beaches where foot-ware is advised. Tourists coming to the Costa del Sol in winter are advised to take umbrellas and raincoats, although such items can be purchased cheaply in local shops. 


Opening hours

Opening hours for shops tend to change from winter to summer. In general, summer shopping times are from 10 in the morning to 1.30 or 2 in the afternoon, and from 5.30 to 9 at night. In important tourist areas, many shops open later than nine in the morning, and remain open during siesta time and until quite late at night. Spanish law permits supermarkets to open on Sundays in large tourist areas during the summer period. Bars, restaurants and cafeterias have more flexible opening hours, generally in accordance with the requirements of their clients.



Public institutions and banks open only in the mornings, although more essential services may be available in the afternoons as well. The banks close on Saturdays only in summer, while savings banks (cajas de ahorros, to all practical purposes, similar to banks) always close on Saturdays. All Town Halls have a lost-objects department, although found objects are frequently handed in at the nearest police station. If handbags or wallets have been left in bars or restaurants, it is worth going back to check with the management: they generally keep them for a week or so before handing them over to the police. 



Hotels, whatever their category, have phones, but not all rented apartments or houses have them. But the national telephone company, Telefónica, has phone boxes at regular intervals on the streets, and public phones in most bars and restaurants. Instructions for their use are in various languages, and all emergency numbers are clearly indicated. It is unusual to find public telephones in Spain to have been vandalised. Today, reservations for accommodations can often be made by fax or via the Internet.



Given the cosmopolitan character of the Costa del Sol, there are places of worship for most major religions, with Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and other minority religious centres on the coast.



Health care is comprehensive on the Costa del Sol, with a complete network of hospitals and health centres all over the province of Malaga. Tourists from the European Union should carry the new European health card, which substitutes the old E-111 form. In any case, emergency treatment is immediate, with or without a card, which is necessary only for subsequent paperwork. 



Public safety in the province of Malaga, as in all of Spain, is in the hands of the National Police, the Guardia Civil, the Autonomous Police and the Local or Municipal Police. These police forces work together, and people with problems that require immediate police attention can call on any of them. The easiest way of calling the police is by phoning 091, the National Police number, or calling to any police station in person. 



English is the second language on the Costa del Sol, and it is spoken to some extent by most people in positions of authority in the province of Malaga, especially in the coastal areas. English is less widely spoken in the interior of the province, except in large towns or tourist areas. Tourism offices usually have personnel capable of communicating in English, French and German.

Off.: Bonsai 7, Pinares de Mijas, 29649 Mijas-Costa,
Spain - P.O. Box 47, Sucursal 1, 29649 Mijas-Costa, Spain
Tel.: 0034 951 773 460 -

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