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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 citizen’s card or passport and boarding pass with you. Depending on your country of origin, arrange your visa or other required documentation well in advance.
There are three different climatic zones in Spain, due to its large size. The Mediterranean climate is characterized by hot, dry summers and mild and rainy winters. The vast central plateau has a more continental climate with hot, dry summers and cold winters.
GMT + 1
Geography and Politics
Spain is part of the Iberian Peninsula, in southwest 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. It is a member of the European Union.
Tips and Payment
Most businesses accept credit cards, but it is always useful to have cash with you. Spain is part of the Eurozone, so the currency used will be the Euro (EUR). It is customary to tip around 10%, but only if you are satisfied with the service.
Language and expressions to memorize
Spanish is the official language throughout the country. There are other co-official languages by 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” = hi, “Por favor” = please; “Muchas gracias” = thank you very much; “Perdón” = sorry.
What to do
Punctuality for social meetings is not very common, but always arrive on time for business meetings. If you are eating out, the bill is not usually split - whoever has invited you will tend to pay. Try to speak some Spanish. In Spain, it is not usual for people to speak English as well as they do in northern European countries, although English is more common in business.
What not to do
Do not assume that culture in Spain is the same everywhere in the country. There are 17 autonomous regions and the Spaniards are very proud of their region, each with its own culture, languages and dialects.
What to wear
Men should wear suits and ties and women suits or a dress. Appearance is important, be smart, conservative and professional.
When meeting someone in a business context, greet him or her with a handshake. It is considered normal to give two kisses on the face in social situations; the handshake continues to be the appropriate greeting between men. If you are invited to someone's house, bring a gift to show your appreciation. The culture is very open and communicative. Talking about family and life in general before moving on to business is common.