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Spanish time

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Spanish time is notionally one hour ahead of the UK – but conceptually Spain might as well be on a different planet. Nowhere else in Europe keeps such late hours. Spaniards may not take a traditional midday siesta as much as they used to, but their diurnal rhythms remain committedly nocturnal. They’ll saunter out around 8 or 9pm in the evening for a paseo, to greet friends and maybe have a drink and tapas, and if they’re eating out, they’ll commonly start at 10 or 11pm, often later in Madrid, where it’s not unusual for someone to phone around midnight to see if you’re going out for the evening.

Like everything else, practices differ somewhat by region. Madrid – its inhabitants nicknamed los gatos or “the cats” for their nocturnal lifestyle – is famed for staying up the latest, with Andalucía a close second. In the north, particularly in Catalunya, they keep more northern European hours. And, of course, summer nights never seem to really end.

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