Archive | July, 2015

Where is the Volume Control Knob?

Posted on 22 July 2015 by American expat!


…because I would like to notch it down, just a tad.

Let me explain.

Shouting is literally (and I don’t use that word as a misuse of the word figuratively. I mean Literally with a capital L) considered a normal speaking volume here. The other day I was in a shop selling specialty products from the south of Spain. This guy was helpful, friendly, charming…and (figuratively) blowing my hair back with the force of his voice. I kept creeping backwards to get out of the path of the powerful sound waves, but of course the personal space norm here differs, so he kept creeping forward.

You witness this everywhere. The guy at the end of the bar shouting into the other guy’s face, he isn’t arguing. He is  having a little tête-à-tête after work with his friend.

That dinner group of 6 that just sat down next to you in the restaurant? Be prepared to start leaning close in to hear your own dinner partners. They will all begin talking at once, in ever increasing voices as the wine flows. Oh yes this happens at lunchtime too, make no mistake.

Get a clutch of little old Catalan ladies together and you’ve got the loudest offenders of all. Fortunately, they usually congregate outside for their get-togethers. Though when that happens to be outside your window, it isn’t so lucky.

You’ll hear your neighbors all the time. You’ll hear your neighbors loudly conversing and their children crying in the stairwells, through the walls and ceilings, floors, from the balconies. You’ll hear their televisions. You’ll hear their parties. Consider yourself lucky if they play their musical instruments well, because you are going to hear those too.

Next is the constant noise of construction–nothing gets done quickly here., Construction goes on forever and ever, frequently waking you with all manner of drilling, jack-hammering, shouting and music blaring at the work site at 8:30am. Bewilderingly, this will then cease at 10:00am as they have their breakfast break, and frequently won’t begin again until the next morning. Jack hammering tends to be the favorite task of mornings.

Then there are the children. Please don’t make me go into the offensively loud children again. Suffice it to say that children here are coddled. Parents raise children, they don’t raise adults. I wish parents (this goes for all of them, from the US as well) would raise their children with the end goal of creating a self sufficient, capable adult and not treating their children as if they will never be anything but children. Maybe that’s the reason people live with their parents until they are 35 here? Food for thought.

Finally there are the 500,000 2 stroke scooters zooming through the streets, the blaring televisions out of every bar, and the rumble of buses, trains, tramvias and metros reverberating through the ground and you have got yourself, without a doubt, the loudest European country,



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