It’s a spring morning in southern Spain. I’m wearing two shirts and a fleece and sitting under two blankets on the sofa as Chris tries to get a fire going in the fireplace. We slept on fleece-y sheets under two comforters last night. There is no central heat, only very feeble electric space heaters. This is completely normal here.
For all of Spain’s alleged “Mediterranean climate,” temperatures here can be quite cold, even in the south. Winter days often have highs in the 40s F and lows near freezing; it’s even colder in the mountains, where we are. Such weather can easily recur as late as April.
Temperatures are similar in places we’ve lived in the United States. So why are we so cold here? Electricity and gas are both pretty expensive in Spain, and installing heating ducts can be a bitch in houses built out of concrete and stone. Plus, given the hot summers, houses are built to stay cool and dissipate heat. In winter, that often means than it’s colder indoors that out: hence the traditional saying that it’s “so cold it’s even cold outside!” When the temperature reaches 50 F, people open doors and windows to let the warmth of the day in.
But seemingly the biggest reason for freezing Spanish interiors is that Spaniards (a traditional-minded people) think “it’s winter; it’s supposed to be this way!” Winter is cold. It’s the time to bundle up in layers, from long johns to sweaters to coats and hats – indoors and out. And don’t forget shoes, because the tiled floors are freezing. Doors to most rooms are kept closed, and people gather together in the one room that has a fire or heater. Beds have three duvets and maybe an electric blanket.
My new idea to get rich: heated toilet seats!
[On the other hand, it’s great hiking weather when the sun is out warming things up a bit.]