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Shapes that come alive
Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim is the benchmark, side by side with the Fine Arts Museum: if you can’t see all the museums, make sure you don’t miss these. Nor the Casco Viejo streets or Calatrava’s white bridge. You’ll probably end up cheering for Athletic in San Mamés, bastion of Basque culture.
World class cuisine
The Basque Country means rich and tasty food. Before enjoying Bilbao’s nightclubs, have a feast with pintxos and marmitako. You won’t regret it!
Culture and Business
Make sure you have your identity card or passport and boarding pass with you. Depending on your country of origin, take care of your visa or other necessary documentation ahead of time.
There are three different climatic areas in Spain, due to its large size. The Mediterranean climate is characterized by hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. The vast central plateau has a more continental climate with hot, dry summers and cold winters.
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Geography & politics
Spain is part of the Iberian Peninsula and is located in southwestern Europe. It includes two archipelagos: the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands. Spain is a parliamentary monarchy— the monarch is the head of state, while the prime minister is the head of government. Spain is a member of the European Union.
Tipping & paying
Most places accept credit card payments, but it is always useful to have some money with you. Spain is part of the Eurozone, so the currency is the Euro (EUR). It is common to leave a tip of up to 10%, but only if you are satisfied with the service.
Languages & useful phrases
Spanish (Castilian) is the official language throughout the country. There are other co-official languages per region: Basque in the Basque Country and in Navarre; Catalan in Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, Valencian in the Valencian Community, and Galician in Galicia. In Spanish, "Hola" = hello; "por favor" = please; "Muchas gracias" = thank you very much; “Perdón” = sorry.
What you should do
Punctuality for social gatherings is not very common, but for business, always arrive on time. If you are eating out, the bill is not usually split—whoever made the invitation will normally pay. Try to speak some Spanish. In Spain it is not usual for people to speak English as well as in northern European countries, although it is more common in business settings.
What you shouldn’t do
Don’t assume that culture in Spain is the same everywhere. There are 17 autonomous regions and people are very proud of their region, each with its own culture, languages and dialects.
What to wear
Men should wear a suit and tie and women a suit or dress. Appearance is important—be smart, conservative and professional.
When meeting someone in a business context, greet them with a handshake. In social situations, it is normal to give two kisses on the cheeks—but between men, continue with a handshake. If you are invited to someone's house, take a small gift as a thank you gesture.
The culture is quite open and communicative and it is normal to talk about family and life in general before moving on to business.