An evening in Spain, in any part of the country and nearly all year round, begins with el paseo, a leisurely stroll through the streets, meeting and greeting friends and family. It is the dividing line between the working day and the evening, signalling a slowing down of tempo, a shift from activity to leisure.
In summer, this glorious tradition is often made even better with the addition of an ice cream and in Granada, you will find that the best ice cream comes from Los Italianos on Calle Gran Vía de Colón. Many a Granadino will tell you that the start of spring is not marked by the weather, but by the first day that Los Italianos opens, usually in April.
And, a bit like the breakfast tradition we mentioned last week this gentle walk enables you, as a resident, to learn several things. In Granada, for example, head to Plaza Nueva which, on a sunny evening, will be thronged with just as many locals as tourists and take a minute to sit and watch. You will see couples, families and groups of friends strolling along with, it seems, very little direction. They will be stopping and starting, chatting and moving on, stopping and starting again.
If anything is likely to show you how the Spanish interact, and how important such interactions are, this is it. People don’t necessarily make appointments to see someone; they simply head to the same place, bump into someone, catch up, move on. Though the Spanish might seem quite formal, in that they will often greet you with a handshake, el paseo demonstrates that, in reality, they can also be incredibly informal. Talking, greeting, walking, eating, these are all essential parts of Spanish life; it is lived outdoors with lots of others, not indoors with just a few; it is noisy, not quiet; its pleasures are everyday and for everyone.