Dani Bennett | Scenes from Spain
The Rain in Spain
Published: Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, February 19, 2014 09:02
Some say the difference between northern and southern Europe is the way in which each region views time. After visiting London this weekend, I think what seems to more accurately separate these two parts of Europe are their perceptions of temperature, and their physical responses based on these perceptions.
Depending on where you are, winter in Spain does not get below 35 degrees Fahrenheit. As a Mediterranean country, it has a plethora of sunshine-filled days and balmy winter nights. There are, of course, parts of Spain where those with a propensity for the cold can still enjoy winter at ski areas and on the raquetas de nieve (“snowshoe”) trails. One ski resort, called Navacerrada, is just north of the nation’s capital, Madrid, and, with its own stop on the Cercan젳 commuter rail, is easily accessible. But there are still more beaches and palm trees than there are winter wonderlands. The Canary Islands — although technically more in Morocco than in Spain — are a Spanish territory. With their dunes and salty waves, they stay temperate year-round. They are a quick, reliable escape for those tired of the city life in Madrid or Barcelona.
Although this warmer weather is a more dominant phenomenon, it does not stop pedestrians from preparing for the worst. As the saying goes, “La gente esta la calle,” which literally translates to: “The people are in the street.” It means that Spaniards (and European city-dwellers in general) are more inclined to go outside, whether going to tapas or taking a walk. But from what I have observed, the finest of furs and the puffiest of parkas are necessary items on sunny 50-degree days. Those that have endured the polar vortex in the United States would certainly have a chuckle at some of the “cold front” preparedness mindsets that many people in Spain possess.
This practice would be completely normal, if it weren’t for the rest of Europe, especially England, where the weather is, for lack of better phrasing, unpredictably morose. As one friend told me, “If you don’t want to do anything in England when it’s raining, you won’t be doing much.” Many English men and women study and practice their Spanish in Spain and/or travel there due to the short, easy flight, but also — among other reasons — because of the warm “sol” (sun) in Spain that never fails to peek its rays out at least once a day. While Dublin, London and Edinburgh may be known for their gray days, Spain boasts mean temperatures of 55 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit for most of the year. But many Spaniards do a reverse commute and travel to England, where they can practice their English and visit the city of London that they have heard so much about.
There is no right or wrong, but it is simply a matter of preference. What baffles me, really, is that although the distance between London and Madrid may be minimal, the weather and temporal differences are certainly evident. And what is even further baffling is the amount of excitement each culture has for the other — a true case of wanting what you can’t have — or what you could have if you really wanted it, since it’s not actually that far away.
Dani Bennett is a junior who is majoring in English and spending this semester abroad in Spain. She can be reached at Danielle.Bennett@tufts.edu.