Shopping in Ancha de Capuchinos, Granada

Ancha de Capuchinos, the street right next to my apartment in Granada, is a street where you can find basically everything you need. Apart from the big supermarket Mercadona, cafés, bars and a hairdresser, you can also find several little specialized shops: a ferretería (iron hardware store), several fruterías (fruit shops), a carnicería (meat shop), a papeteria (stationary shop). These are just a few examples of shops that are very frequent in Spain and which you might occasionally find as well in Switzerland. They are the kind of shop that have their own opening hours written on a paper at the door, that don’t have internet webpages, that are on their own. They are, in Spain, closed during the siesta time and each shop has its own different opening hours. How many times have I walked to the papetería to print something, forgetting that it was siesta! The siesta in general was something that was hard to get used to.  During the time when I came home after university many shops were closed and the supermarket was empty. Then, around eight o’ clock, the streets and the shops filled with people.

What you can also find in Ancha de Capuchinos are, for example, a kitchen supply shop, a shop with cleaning supplies only, a pet shop, and a computer shop. These are all so small that when you enter you feel like you will never find what you are looking for. Once, when I needed a charger for my laptop, I was sure it would take ages to order it from somewhere. I left that tiny electronic shop in Ancha de Capuchinos with enormous excitement about how fast and easily I had just bought that cable. So, despite their unbelievably small size, these shops can deliver exactly what you want.

I am stressing this because I am used to chains of shops that have a huge range of products in huge stores and it is pretty normal for buyers in Switzerland to visit those. I am used to a big Migros, where I buy all of my groceries, including fruits, meat, cheese and bread. In Granada, like many people do it there, I went to several shops in my street for grocery shopping. First to the big one, called Mercadona, then to the frutería, to buy fruits and vegetables and to the panadería to buy bread and, every now and then to the carnicería to buy meat or cheese. I know that these are all things that we occasionally have in Switzerland as well, but I am pretty sure that most of the (young) people in Switzerland buy all of their groceries in the supermarket, like I used to do. In Spain, it is really usual also for young people to use all of these shops.

Especially the fruterías are always full, even though there are so many of them. Maybe also just because it’s so much easier and nicer to go there. Instead of weighing ten different things separately, you interact with the seller. You tell how many potatoes you want and ask if he or she could give you the small onions only. You buy the bottle of fresh orange juice that you don’t really need, because the seller asked you so nicely if you would like to have some fresh, delicious orange juice. It is a really different experience of shopping. Much more personal.  And it is also good training to learn the names of all the vegetables and fruits. 🙂

Of course going from shop to shop takes much more time. It’s not effective. Why would you go to several shops if you can find everything in one single shop?  That’s how my brain normally works in Switzerland. Be effective, get everything in one run. In Granada it was more like: I go to the carnicería because they have the quality meat, to the bakery because it always smells like fresh bread there, to the frutería because their fruit is organic and so much better and because I can have a chat with the seller. I also started to not be annoyed about that sometimes the shops were closed when I wanted to go there during siesta because that’s just the way how it works there. Everything seems slower, more relaxed and more personal.

Also in Spain , obviously, there are the big chain supermarkets and also the kind of shop chains that sell anything from clothes, to electronics, to food and I guess this little shop culture might be disappearing also there. But still being as it is, Spain taught me that not everything is about rushing through things as fast and effectively as possible – which is how I started to think about everything back home. It showed me that it is okay to take things easier sometimes, that there is time to take a siesta and just enjoy some moments.

Anja Kaufmann

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