Annoying things in Spain, Culture Shock, Seville

How do you survive the summer blast in Andalucía?

Stop hoping that the intense summer heat wave from Africa is going to whizz round the side of Spain and let us off for a year. You know it won’t be long before you find yourself struggling to breath easily when you leave your flat in the evening, or having several cold showers a day to try to maintain a reasonable body temperature, or joining the masses in saying ‘Que calor,’ all the time. The horrible heat wave in Andalucía is coming, so get prepared.

Yes please! I'll have a bit of that. Photo by Edwinek
Yes please! I’ll have a bit of that.
Photo by Edwinek

So far this summer we’ve been damn lucky in Seville. I think everyone panicked at the start of May when temperatures got up to the mid 30’s and we thought we were in for one of the worst summers in history. Luckily the unbearable heat hasn’t struck us yet. I mean the one which leaves you zapped out, lethargic and in zombie land for a few days. Last summer was agonizing at times when temperatures got as high as 55 degrees, which my wife loved as she was pregnant at the time. If you’re reading this from the UK and are dreaming of your sun packed holiday, then just think about us lot over here, desperate for the summer to fly by, or until we fly away to escape the oven.

I much prefer cold weather, not that it ever really gets cold over here, because it’s easy to put another layer on or have a warm cup of tea. When it’s scorching though, there aren’t so many options to cool down, especially when you live in a city where the only breeze feels as though it’s been heated up by one of those turbo powered hairdryers. Imagine sitting with your face just above the oven door when it opens, well, that’s what it’s like in Seville when you come out of work at 13.00.

There is air con I suppose, but I’m not a massive fan. Firstly, it’s bloody expensive and if you’ve got it on all day then you can kiss away that mini break in September when the electricity bill comes in. Sometimes it’s necessary, like when you’re teaching. Today I turned the air con off with ten minutes to go as one of the students was ‘cold’. I thought we could last the rest of the class without it, but within two minutes they were asking to put it back on again. Some of the public schools don’t have air con here and I really feel for the students and teachers. I don’t think my body adapts well to air con anyway. It’s realised that I’m trying to trick it into thinking that it’s still in spring, but it knows that as soon as I go to bed, in the room where we don’t have air con, then it will think I’ve gone to sleep in a glass tent in the Sahara.

He's got the idea. Photo by helen n
He’s got the idea.
Photo by helen n

If you’re a heat hater, then here are a few ways you can combat getting a roasting over the next couple of months.

  • Make sure you have plenty of ice in the freezer. Not only for your glasses of water and wine, but also for slipping down your pants. Refreshing, I’m told.
  • Avoid any contact with the outside world between 14.00 and 20.00. Stay in your flat and make sure your blinds are down from about midday. Before you go out check it’s okay by waving your arm outside to make sure your fingers don’t get burnt.
  • Get a decent fan – air con is evil – plus it’s a lot cheaper to run. We got one from El Corte Inglés for about €20 last year. You can even drip the ice cubes in front and imagine it’s raining.
  • Cut down on your booze, especially at breakfast. Alcohol causes your body to dehydrate and will double the affects of heat. If you’re going out for a session then keep drinking water as well, he says, normally forgetting this vital rule.
  • Drinks lots of water – apparently ice cold water is bad for you and your body absorbs tepid water better. I still love that gasping feeling of a freezing glass of water though.
  • Don’t eat soup or drink coffee. You can try iced coffee, which I had in my first year but never really got on with, but iced soup is a bit grim.
  • Avoid any vigorous physical exercise sessions during the day, unless you’re training for the World Cup in Qatar. Early morning or late evening runs are the way forward.
  • Find the coolest part of the floor in the house and lay on the floor. That’s what my dog does and it seems to work. She normally lays in front of the fridge, so that could be worth a try. I remember a mate of mine stayed during August once and he slept on a lilo under the air con, but that was when I didn’t realise how expensive it was.
  • Wear a damp hanky on your head; Benny Hill style.
  • Don’t sleep with silk sheets. I’ve stored mine away for the autumn already.
  • Make friends with anyone who has a swimming pool.
  • Leave Andalucía for the summer, something I often consider during those long sweaty nights, but one has to work.

So those are my tips for keeping cool in the summer in Andalucía. Have you got any secret ways of making sure the summer is mildly more bearable? Leave me a comment down below.

For further reading, with slightly more serious and valid points, check out these articles too:

24 tricks to survive hot summers

11 Tips for surviving a heat wave without air con

How to survive the summer heat

13 thoughts on “How do you survive the summer blast in Andalucía?”

  1. Wow! what a lot of solutions. But I accept you live in Seville, which is probably the hottest city in this part of Andalucia.

    If you live on the sunny side of the building you don´t stand a chance. But, on the shady sides of buildings, winters may get chilly, nevertheless, you can always put more clothes on. On the sunny sides, can only take a limited amount off before you have none left.

    You´ll get used to it, Barry believe me, just like you got used to the eternal grey, dampness that is the English winter.

    1. Yeah I guess it is the hottest part. Not been too bad this year though, only 3 more days then we’re outta here…home to grey skies and bbq’s in the rain…can’t wait!

      1. I wouldn’t ,mind seeing a bit of English summer dampness myself, I can almost smell the mildewed marquees on village greens, and feel the wet grass at the thought.

        Unfortunately, summer’s our busiest time when we take advantage of all you Sevillanos down here to cool off on the beach, drink yourselves silly, and spend your money with us, I hope.

        We’re starting a summer stand today with art and photos. Anji will be setting up her easel hoping to get enough portraits to pay for more than just the winter bills.

  2. I like the heat of summer, especially when we have broken up from school and can relax, take siestas, eat later and stay out later. Soup? Don’t forget gazpacho, a lovely cold traditional soup. Cut down on booze? Are you kidding me, I’m on holiday now… 🙂

    1. I’m not a massive gazpacho fan, if it’s on the table I’ll eat it, but I’ve never bought it. Yeah boozing tends to go up in the hols…I’m on mine from next week…ole!

      1. from Ireland boozing is good, especially on holidays — reckon I had gazpacho when I was a student, was not aware it was gazpacho but just remember most of what I ate in those days was recycled and cold and left over from other day stuff, sounds like cold soup to me

  3. Geezer , I am just back from Spain, defeated and dejected after yet again getting my ass whopped by that land you have adopted. I got robbed in Barcelona, left for two days with no shoes or socks, no credit cards or cash and stood in lobby of a Police station for essentially 48 hours treated worse than dog muck by the so called mossas d esquadra . I have no words for the disappointment, I promised myself I would never ever return to Spain but some local people learned about my plight and got together with shoes and food and even a little cash until help arrived from Ireland, and this did give me a drop of consolation in an ocean of bitterness . I will never ever forgive the Spanish cops for their attitude and total disregard for my situation, the Irish Embassy in Spain and its all Spanish staff lower than the thieves who robbed me in broad daylight at 2pm. I am not a small guy and that is an understatement but rob me they did and in the blink of an eye. Man, what a tough place when stuff goes wrong, cops and the law and the system in general just seem inferior to what I would expect as reasonable in a North Europe scenario. I will say no more, I have no desire to offend anybody who lives there or is a native, maybe cops all over are the same, what indignation and outrage I am feeling towards Spain for the constant let downs. I feel naïve for expecting stuff to be different each time I go there but there is a always a let down and never a small one . I feel sadness for such a potentially wonderful land to be going so totally to the dogs, no wonder there is a crisis, the crisis starts with the attitude in the hearts of those charged to care for others.

    1. Dude…that is shocking. Or is it? I guess it’s not in a way, getting robbed in Barcelona and Madrid is becoming more and more common these days. Makes me angry how they treated you though, bloody police here are rubbish. How did it all happen? Was it a trick or something? You’ve given me an idea for a new blog, titled ‘Have you ever been robbed in Spain?’ Would you be up for elaborating a bit more on what actually happened. Try not to let it dampen your views on Spain though, you can get robbed anywhere these days, I don’t feel safe on the tube back home sometimes. Sorry to hear you had a bad one though, I know what it’s like I got done over in Ecuador and Brazil and it leaves you angry at the world for a while…

      1. As you ask I shall attempt to respond with more appropriate detail and hope that helps with your potential blog for having being robbed in Spain. I will try to include some background to the actual event. It all started when I checked in to my budget hotel, was only 30 euros per night for a single room. There was a notice limiting liability for items left in the room, when I tried to probe a bit deeper and asked for solutions they simply warned me this is a high crime area and our rooms do get burglarized. Anyway I was very foolish, at that stage I should have decided to stay elsewhere with a safe or strong box in the room or in reception. Also at this stage I was still very unaware of the scale and scope of the problem in Barcelona, I had no idea that all tourists are monitored and watched. So I set out and of course first stop was the beach, I left all my stuff in the hotel, so I spent the day taking cabs from the beach back to the hotel to check my stuff and get money as needed. I saw commotions on the beach a few times where stuff had apparently been stolen, of course it did not affect me directly so I was doing my best to ignore it. Anyway my third and final day I checked out of my hotel, I wad due to take a train to Valencia for two nights, and then back to Ireland. It was a nice day and I had time on my side, I foolishly decided to go down to the beach (with my bag). Once there I changed into my swim stuff and had a swim during which time an English family minded my bag which I admit now was stupid and it was very unfair of me to ask them for a few different reasons. Once out of the water My bag was back with me with me over my shoulders on a big strap, I was super happy and relaxed having decided Barcelona was a great city and well worth a return visit. I then decided to sit down on a concrete bench and put a towel over my head for a brief moment to dry my hair and I guess that is when they got me, for a brief second as I was drying my hair they must have cut the strap or somehow got the bag from me. I did feel something was not right, a young pretty girl had started talking to me just as I sat down, I not was naive enough to think she wanted a new friend so I was a little on guard and in spite of this they got my bag away from me. I must have realized within seconds as I was up shouting, and looking about me, I did realize the girl chatting to me must have sent them a text message, there was another couple sat behind me who looked very complicit in something but what could I say. the bag was gone along with all my belongings, sadly it contained all my stuff up to and including credit cards and cash and my shoes etc. The real nightmare then began, I spoke to five Police Officers on the beach , all were rude and one was confrontational, he had been standing about 20 meters away when the bag was taken. Amazingly they refused to let me use their phone, they refused to take my details, they told me I would have to walk to “denunciar” , a distance of some two miles. So that was it, me walking through the streets, in my bare feet, hot pavement, I tried to flag down a few police cars, two further police stations refused to let me make a report, the clock is ticking and I worry they are spending on my credit cards (online shopping). Eventually I found a Police station where they let me use a phone to try and cancel my VISA cards, I was in that Police Station for 24 hours, I had no place to sleep and no money for food and no water or food was offered, they just did the paperwork eventually (finished after 9 hours) and then left me standing there in my swimming stuff with nothing. Sadly I was not alone, so many tourists filled up the lobby, all had been robbed in one way or another, so far as I could tell I was the only one with no shoes and no socks etc. Eventually the next morning a Police Officer with a tiny bit of humanity let me use a phone to call the Irish Embassy. That is when the real misery started, no Irish staff at the Consulate, three Spanish ladies and a Scottish lady, they accused me of making up the story to get money, they made me leave the consulate when they closed the doors, it was a long way there in bare feet now blistered and infected, they gave me one cup of water but no food, they treated me with the most awful unfairness I have ever known. They made me leave the embassy with no food or money, still without shoes on my feet, it was like a bad dream. I was born in London and I am entitled to a UK passport, always had an Irish one, not sure why as it was never a choice I made consciously. Eventually I met a Spanish lady outside the Consulate, she invited me to a post office, there was a Western Union there and she and I sat down looking up phone numbers online and we managed to contact a mate in Ireland(phone was in the bag along with all contact numbers.) He was cool about a Western union money transfer, in fairness the embassy had been talking about that but I figured they would help me and did not want to be asking people at home to send money. Anyway eventually I got a wire transfer and I was able to buy some food and shoes and so on. During the time that I entered the post office a real cool Spanish guy came up and asked me the story, a short time later people began arriving at the post office with bottles of water and food, an angel arrived with a pair of plastic sandals, about seven complete and total strangers helped get me dressed and fed me and clothed me , a lady in the post office filled a basin of water so I could wash my feet so badly messed up. I forgot to mention I had been refused hospital treatment as my e 118 card was in the bag and was stolen so one of my feet was real messed up, anyway eventually I got out of there and I am trying to work on a thank you letter for the staff at the post office. I spent a further 24 hours at Barcelona airport, needed a flight home I could afford, no mercy from the airlines of course, was a very bad couple of days, my own fault really for bringing a bag to the beach , only got myself to blame for getting robbed. Here I am two weeks later , still dealing with the mess, I did not have insurance thinking myself too worldly wise to get robbed especially in Spain. I have since done some research, turns out Barcelona is the theft capital of the world, robbing tourists is an industry down there, it is the sheer professionalism of the thieves that is the defining point, they are masters at the craft of the theft, they are the very best in the world and with such a captive audience of new arrivals daily they have a market for their business. I was just unlucky to be on my last day and have all my stuff in my bag , never ever again would I allow myself to get robbed like that , never would I bring a bag to a beach, never ever stay in a hotel without a strong box or safe, never carry all my stuff at one time, never ever expect Consular assistance or help from an embassy. It was a bitter lesson, never will i allow myself to get messed up that badly, dealing with the Police and Authorities was a real shocker, I have only briefly touched on the story because trust me a lot more happened especially dealing with the cops, it was a nightmare and I speak almost near fluent Spanish, did not matter so much to them or the consular staff, the anger has left me now two weeks later but I will have to really thinking carefully before getting on that plane to live in Spain, I understand getting robbed is normal enough but the way I was dealt with afterwards is what left me feeling so numb and cold. I was however deeply touched by the kindness of the staff and customers at the Correos, really amazing human beings, good kind people, they really lifted me up and it was the one moment that I felt some humanity in the midst of the event, they represented what is good about Spanish people. I have been to many places and Spain has always been the one I thought I would call home one day, maybe it will be, just need to do some really careful research and make a wise choice if I ever do get to live down there but for now sadly all bets are off for me and I have to stay put, I estimate the theft has cost me about 1400 quid altogether, I was very foolishly not insured, people must get travel insurance when going to Spain.

  4. This made me smile. Another tip I would add is don’t sit on a chair outside, even if it is in the shade, without first checking it hasn’t been in the sun for hours. They absorb the heat. 🙂 SD

      1. Above problems are the kind I would love to have, I still reckon a Seville summer would be better than a northern Irish one, though we have now managed 12 sunny days this year so far. I am a bit sad as I record weather patterns and study them, as much as the sun shines there so does it rain here all year long.I reckon most people who struggle in Seville would require one good drenching here all summer long to be a good tonic for their Andalucía weather woes.

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