IT'S no secret that the British have a reputation for behaving badly when going abroad.
Known for being embarrassingly loud, drunk and uncouth, tourists are usually referred to as ‘Brits abroad’.
Since Spain is one of the most popular destinations for Brits to escape to for some sunshine – seeing over 800,000 visitors every year – it’s where many of these stereotypical travellers go for their holidays.
It probably comes as no surprise that the Spanish have their own word for such tourists – and that’s ‘guiri’.
Pronounced ‘guee-ree’, it’s a term Spanish people use to describe certain foreigners in their country, and it’s not usually meant in a complimentary way.
While the word refers to mostly northern European tourists from UK, Germany and Scandinavia as well as Americans, it’s mostly used to describe British tourists since they’re the country’s biggest visitors.
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Although it’s not normally meant as an insult and is usually used as a lighthearted nickname or to poke fun – I go to Spain all the time and have been called a guiri myself plenty of times by my Spanish friends.
Here are some of the textbook things that ‘Brits abroad’ do when visiting Spain that, if you do too, will get you labelled a guiri by locals.
1. Wearing very little – even during cooler months
One surefire way a local will spot a guiri is by their clothing. Not only the type but the lack thereof.
This includes wearing flip-flops – especially with socks – even when the weather isn’t that warm, explains a Barcelona resident, Pedro Rosenblat.
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“When the locals are still wearing coats and scarves in spring, you’ll see guiris walking around wearing vests and mini skirts or short shorts.
"Because the sun is shining, they act like it’s summer.”
A football jersey is a typical item for the guiri dress code, too.
2. Sunburnt body parts
A guiri stereotype is averse to applying sun lotion, especially on the first days of their holibobs.
After a day on the beach, guiris are likely to be laughed at by locals as they’re spotted walking back to their hotels in beach clothing sporting a sore-looking farmer’s tan.
Getting sunburnt seems to be a rite of passage for British tourists visiting places with warmer climates. And for some, it’s worn like a badge of honour.
3. Excessive drinking
Drinking excessively is another guiri trait, especially drinking pints of beer in the AM.
It’s this all-day drinking that can lead to the outlandish behaviour guiris are renowned for, such as singing football chants that locals aren’t too fond of or yelling loudly in the streets in the early hours when people are trying to sleep.
4. Refusing to speak any Spanish
Another embarrassing thing a guiri does is not attempt to speak any of the local language.
Sure, not many Brits know other languages but typical guiris won’t even attempt to say ‘hola’ instead of hello or ‘por favor’ instead of please.
Locals don’t expect this, but using some Spanish words here and there might help you dodge the guiri label in some instances.
5. Ordering British or cliche Spanish food
Guiris are known to order cliche Spanish menu items like Sangria even in the winter and at very touristy restaurants, or worse still, insist on ordering typical British food items, or looking for a kebab shop after a night out.
Sidenote: Spanish people don’t really drink Sangria as it’s seen as more of a tourist drink.
Locals will opt for ‘tinto de verano’ (meaning summer red wine) in the warmer months, which is basically red wine with gaseosa (a sweeter soda water)
6. Jumping from balconies, or “balconing”
One of the biggest things guiris are slammed for in Spain is “balconing”, a phenomenon that involves jumping from the balcony of high-rise hotels into swimming pools.
Not only do locals hate it because it’s dangerous, but it puts a strain on the country’s emergency services.
In the last decade, numerous Brits have been injured in balconing-related accidents.
And it’s become such an issue that even the UK government has warned of the dangers involved with the treacherous trend.
7. Eating dinner before 9 PM
Spaniards generally eat dinner much later than other countries in northern Europe or America, so you’ll never see locals dining in a restaurant before 9pm.
And if you do go for dinner later, don’t give away your guiri status by ordering paella, adds Rosenblat.
“We generally eat paella at lunchtime, usually in the sun by the sea,” he says.
“We also don’t just eat tapas all the time.”
If you want to look more like a local, do the same.
So if you want to avoid being branded a guiri by locals, just dodge doing the above – you'll blend in with the locals in no time!
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Here are some of my other tips on avoiding Barcelona tourist traps and looking more like a local while visiting the city.
And I've also explained how to save money while visiting Spain’s most popular city if you’re looking to do it on a budget.
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