Many foreigners spend time in Southern Spain, and due to the pleasant climate, many retired Northern Europeans are spending the several months in here and the Costa del Sol is one popular area.
A number of nationalities, particularly the British, do not have a reputation for being proficient at foreign language learning. In order to make yourself more easily understood and to become more involved in Spanish life, it is important to learn some basic Spanish as it is not true that everyone speaks English, even on the Costa del Sol, although many do. You do not need to become an expert in Spanish grammar, as just a few Spanish phrases and words will be very well received and will ease your way.
Methods of learning Spanish include:
- Part time adult learning Spanish classes in your home country
- Learn Spanish on-line – a range of foreign language learning websites are available
- Spanish language CDs, DVDs and published language courses
- Language schools based in the area of Spain being visited; these Spanish language lessons are on a weekly, or daily, basis
- Learn to speak Spanish at informal conversation classes at home or in Spain
- Watch Spanish TV, listen to Spanish radio and read Spanish magazines
Remember to carry a Spanish dictionary with you or install an app on your phone, and to use it.
Above all, remember to be brave, have a go and speak Spanish. The Spanish people are always pleased to hear their language being attempted and will greatly appreciate your efforts.
Communications When Staying in Spain
In addition to landline and mobile phones, the development of broadband means that visitors may be able to use websites, email and internet telephony from their rented property. In order to do this, you will need to bring your laptop, tablet etc with you to Spain and you can then rent wireless internet connections on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, while mosts hotels, restaurants and bars offer free wifi. You should be aware that mobile phone costs are high and, with a foreign SIM card, you will pay both to make and to receive calls. It is advisable to purchase a Spanish SIM card for use in your mobile whilst in Spain, if staying long term. Newspapers from North European countries can be purchased in towns although they are more expensive than at home. Satellite television and radio is often available in rented property and is also shown in many foreign-owned bars along the coast.
Activities Whilst Staying in Spain
Some activities will be self-generated: You may be interested in are walking in the mountains, swimming in the Mediterranean, or in indoor pools. Many visitors will enjoy sightseeing and travelling locally.
There will be a wide range of Spanish clubs, organisations and cultural centres in your area and many of these will welcome overseas visitors, particularly those who have some knowledge of the Spanish language.
As a result of large numbers of foreigners living in and visiting the Costa del Sol, most of them of retirement age, many areas offer a very wide range of clubs and associations. One example is Nerja, a small town of 12,000 people on the eastern Costa del Sol. Clubs are available there to support art, photography, dancing, singing, Bridge, Whist, Petanca, walking, keep-fit, local history and amateur dramatics. Foreign language films are shown and lectures and concerts are regularly staged. There are branches of the Royal British Legion, the Lions and also Alcoholics Anonymous.
A number of visitors and residents in Southern Spain spend much of their time supporting local charities. This offers opportunities for fundraising, a wide range of social activities and working directly with people and/or animals. Two examples of animal welfare charities are The Costa Animal Society (CAS) and the Nerja Donkey Sanctuary and Animal Rescue Centre. The charity CUDECA; The Costa del Sol Cancer Care association, raises money for care for terminally ill cancer patients; among other fundraising activities CUDECA organises a series of trips to places of interest in Southern Spain.
Finally, many visitors enjoy sitting in the sun, maybe with a beverage, and watching the world pass by; and don’t forget to take in a performance of typical Spanish flamenco dancing; a trip to Spain is not complete without this touch of culture.
Many prospective long stay visitors do not realise that there is a wide range of activities offered to become involved in during the winter months. Communicating with home and finding out about the news provided by broadcasters and from family and friends is now easy to access in the digital age. Learning basic Spanish, whilst not always essential, will enrich your stay.