In Spanish they would call these curiosidades, that is, curious facts about something.
Like any place in the world, what is totally normal to one nation could seem peculiar to another. As an Englishwoman in Spain, it provided endless fascination to discover more and more curiosidades along the way. When I moved to Córdoba, I knew I was going to have to quickly adapt, battle with the language and learn how to cope in the heat. What I didn’t anticipate though was that I was going to have to learn all the little ways that actually make a big difference to day-to-day things such as going shopping or eating out.
Here, I’ll tell you about 12 of these along with some explanation as to how they came about! If you know of any more or want to find out more about the following, please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this post.
1. The tooth fairy does not bring a coin in exchange for a fallen tooth, in Spain it is a mouse
El Ratoncito Pérez (Pérez the little mouse) is the figure who takes away children’s fallen teeth and leaves behind a coin in exchange, all over Spain and Latin America. He originated in Madrid in 1894 by a Royal Counsellor named Friar Luis Coloma.
He was commissioned by the royal family to write a story for the 8 year old Alfonso XIII when he lost a tooth, so Coloma conjured up a story about a little mouse who collects teeth and takes them back to the little biscuit box where he lived with his family.
In Madrid, there is actually a small museum dedicated to this fairy tale called ‘Casita Museo de Ratón Pérez’ which is obviously, a child-friendly thing to do whilst there.
France also has its own version of the tooth collecting mouse, called La Bonne Petite Souris.
“The lights of Gibraltar poured out of the sky like a heap of diamonds on the flat dark sea.”
– Laurie Lee ‘A Rose for Winter‘
I first glimpsed ‘The Rock’ from the industrial shores of Algeciras, a looming expanse that I initially mistook for Africa (my sense of direction is awful).
Perched between Spain and North Africa yet British by nationality, it is an intriguing and highly contentious place that I was eager to see. You can enter Gibraltar by car or by walking across its airfield.
We drove to La Línea, the Spanish town closest to the British border of Gibraltar. We parked up at a roadside and began to walk towards the passport control. First one to exit Spain, second one to enter British overseas territory.
On a cold, blustery October day, we decided to jump a ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki where we would have seven hours to explore the capital of Finland.
It was an absolute bargain of £12 each way per person which was incredible when you think how much you can pay for a seat on a flight and how little legroom you get for it. (I say that as someone who is 5ft3″ tall, I can’t imagine how it is for tall people..)
The biggest luxury about taking the gigantic ferry over to Helsinki was the impossibility of becoming bored. There were bars, cafes and restaurants and the ability to walk around freely was a novelty.
Pulling into Helsinki, the first thing I noticed was how the terrain looked totally different. The fir trees on a little island before the mainland looked jagged and shrouded in mist.
Tallinn is the capital city of Estonia, one of the three Baltic states. It was under Soviet rule from the 1940s until 1991, something which is evident in the architecture and style all around. Following adventures this year in Bordeaux and Porto, my cousin Luke and I decided to go for somewhere a little bit different.
Just a couple of hours away from Finland by ferry, Tallinn’s vibe is a fusion of Baltic, Soviet, Scandinavian and Medieval influences. Together, it creates a fairytale feeling and for this reason alone, I had to go and visit.
Two days is enough to explore this petite city but it’s a good idea to plan in advance what you want to see and do to avoid wandering around having to seek things out. Tallinn can hide some of its best secrets so here are some of the ones we saw for you to know about beforehand.