Here in Spain, however, most apartments or homes don’t have heating (calefacción), and people use their feet instead of their wheels to pick up the milk, meet up with friends, and go to work. Naturally, winter feels much more bitter than it might back home. This month I’ve been doing a few things that have helped me stay warm in my chilly apartment.
|El brasero (de picón, por supuesto) by A. Antolín Hernández on Flickr|
1) Use a braseroA brasero is a circular table, usually in the living or dining room, with a long, heavy tablecloth that covers a little furnace that sits on the floor beneath the tabletop (recursion overload, sorry). People sit around these modified tables with the tablecloth draped over their legs (and sometimes arms), basking in the warmth from the electric heater. A long time ago, they used to have little bowls that they laid coals in, but now you just plug an appliance into the wall.
2) Use a space heaterYou can either get one of those tall, rectangular ones that shoot warmth throughout an entire room, or you can get a little Nintendo 64-sized one that my flatmate has, which directs heat at a specific location (kind of like an oscillating fan, but a different idea).
Sometimes this is all you can really do.
3) Stay in bed with lots of blankets
4) Wear jackets, sweatpants, and socksBack home, I usually go to bed in a t-shirt and basketball shorts (or less, depending on how sweltering Texas weather has decided to be), but here in the winter it is always sweatpants, and often a hoodie. Don’t even think about going around barefoot, especially on the linoleum! Get yourself some slippers or put on some socks.
5) Drink coffee and teaOr liquid chocolate with some Spanish churros if you’re craving some carbs. Something I like to do is boil water and steep a bag of green tea with torn spearmint leaves and a spoonful of sugar; it reminds me of the té marroquí (Moroccan tea) I first had in the Albaicín neighborhood of Granada earlier this month.
6) Eat soup or stewRelated to #5 above is eating warm food. A heaping bowl of Texas-style chili (preferably spiced up with plenty of chili powder) foils even the worst winter evening.
7) Exercise or run up and down the stairsI live on the fifth floor (“fourth” floor in Europe) in my apartment complex and when I finally reach my door I am always out of breath and ready to take off my jacket. I’m sure running up and down the stairwell a couple times would generate enough body heat to last me a good half hour…or so.
8) Take a warm showerI love that, at least in my apartment, we use these huge silver tanks of gas that heat up the water very well. If I turned the shower handle all the way to the left, I would leave the bathroom with burns—and I’m serious. There’s nothing quite like the waves of warm, fuzzy feeling you get from the contrast of almost too-hot water and your igloo of an apartment.
9) Make sure the windows are closedI feel like this should be an obvious tip, but we often leave the windows in the kitchen open to air things out (read: let the fumes from my burned curry leave the premises). If you forget to close them at night, be prepared for an arctic blast for breakfast.
10) Leave!If you just can’t keep warm, just…leave. Often for a euro or two you can get a coffee or drink at a cafetería with central heating and snuggle up in a corner for a few hours. Many shops, restaurants, and other public place usually have heating, so start mooching off of those gold mines!
From native Andalusians to seasoned expats, what advice can you give to those of us struggling to keep warm this winter? Comment below!