We just returned from a lovely 3 day Bank Holiday break in Valencia, Spain. Valencia is about 3 hours south of Barcelona along the Mediterranean coast and is probably best known for their lovely oranges, the America’s Cup Sailing race and this year, hosting the first Formula 1 night race.
We had amazing weather for the entire three days with nothing more than wispy clouds in the sky and temperatures above 24 ever day which made for a lovely break from the fairly crap rainy weather we have had here.
One thing we did find on this trip (and have found on other European trips) is that the pace of life is incredibly different than London and certainly of that in Canada. As much as I didn’t want to admit it, we North Americans seem to go at a pace faster than that of our British and European counterparts. One notable example is the number of holiday days you get here from work as you get between 23 and 25 days to start with at most companies (compared to 10 in Canada). And, when you are on holiday it is pretty sacred, you never call anyone on holiday unless someone had died or the office burned down (not to ask where you saved a file on the server). Also, when you leave work for the day in London you leave work and you don’t go home to check your email at nights or on weekends nor does everyone insist on carrying a blackberry so they can be contactable at every moment of the day (although I do…I can’t help it).
Then, when you go to Europe though its a totally different story and Valencia was a perfect example. We were flipping through our tour book on the airplane and discovered that their business hours were Monday/Saturday 10am-1:30 then 5-8:30….seriously?? A 3.5 hour lunch break every day?? Yup we can attest to that as we arrived mid afternoon Saturday to the entire city was virtually shut down and then again shut tight on Sunday.
The other thing though that you notice is that the general pace of life is slower. Walking along the sidewalk people walk very slowly, there aren’t speed walkers shouting down their mobile phone dodging through the crowds trying to get somewhere in a hurry. When we were waiting for (their extremely efficient) metro trains we noticed that when we got on we weren’t followed by 10 people charging down the stairs to the train diving in at the last moment only to get their bag/hand/hair/child stuck in the door making them bounce back open and delaying the train. The people who missed the train merely sat down and waited for the next one….what a novel idea.
As much as I can recognise and point out these differences, I also realise that I am pretty used to my blackberry toting, talking fast, walking fast, typing fast, way of life and that 3 days is about all I can handle before I find myself dying to run down the stairs to catch a train and having to restrain myself from walking up the back of the slow moving man with his equally slow walking dog while checking emails on my blackberry….its good to be back 🙂