The photo above shows the opening hours of a supermarket in Barcelona. It reads: Monday to Thursday 9:00 – 13:45 17:00 – 20:00, Friday 9:00 – 20:30, Saturday 9:00 – 14:00 17:00 – 20:30. As you can see, the siesta culture is very much alive in Spain. Even if the supermarket stayed open throughout the afternoon, they would probably see no customer.
Meal times in Spain are a little later than those of their European counterparts. They would have lunch at 1 – 4pm and dinner at 8pm – 12am. The sun is the excuse for this to happen. Together with Portugal, they are countries on the westernmost part of the Europe continent, yet falling into the same time zone, so the sun seems to down a little later.
Barcelona at 9pm
The late meal times actually work out well for travellers who want to maximize their use of the daytime to do sight seeing. Interestingly, there is also no problem finding food in Germany late at night, as they also stay open close to midnight, but starting at regular meal hours (around 12pm for lunch and 630pm for dinner). This leads to the conclusion: Spanish people likely work fewer hours than German people.
Ok, that is a somewhat sweeping statement which is probably unfair, but there is probably some truth to it. It is no secret that Spain is suspected to be in danger of needing a bailout, and one wonders how this can be. Spain has vast arable land suitable for agriculture, abundant natural resources (with the exception of oil and gas) and pretty good infrastructure (with an advanced network of 300 km/h AVE trains). They are also known for development of renewable energy technologies (it was the first time i have ever seen a photovoltaic power plant and that Spain was among the first to deploy such plants). With such advantageous factors, it is hard to understand how the Spanish economy could be in such dire state. The only explanation i can think of is the lack of productivity. With the world economy thoroughly connected through currency exchange, any economy that fails to be competitive in productivity falls behind in the race.
Spain probably needs a “cultural revolution” to get going.. put in more hours of work and make do with less luxury. Actually, a relaxed lifestyle isn’t a bad thing. If only the world would slow down a little, then we will probably all do just fine together..