I HAVE just waved goodbye to two good friends who came to visit me in Spain for five days.
It’s always brilliant to have visitors over, but one thing it’s not – is cheap.
A normal week may involve eating out once or twice, but when guests are over it’s breakfast, lunch and dinner pretty much every day. And then there are drinks, ice cream and other bits and bobs as we stroll around and see the sights.
I really don’t mind spending a bit of extra cash when out-of-towners visit, because it doesn’t happen every day and it’s great to see family and friends from home, but one thing I did notice is how outrageous we are with our money.
Maybe it’s a culture thing, but at least with the vast majority of Irish people I know, we almost trip over ourselves in a race to pay for everything. The last of the Big Spenders!
While in my experience Spanish people tend to divide and break down a restaurant bill to literally the last cent – my Irish pals and I are the complete opposite.
Every time a bill has come to the table there has been a scrum of a rush to grab it and insist on paying for the entire thing.
It almost got psychical at times and it’s been just sheer luck that no-body ended up with a bruise or a black eye.
At one stage after paying a breakfast bill, I literally caught my friend sneaking up behind me and trying to shove some money into my handbag. While another morning I woke up to find some cash had secretly been left on my writing desk in return for some Renfe trains tickets I had bought on my credit card, but for which I did not want to be paid back.
It is financially unwise to be throwing cash around and insisting on paying for everything, especially when we’re all working adults who are quite capable of paying our own share. But at the same time, it’s an endearing part of our culture that shows not just stupidity, but sincere generosity.
As long as visitors don’t pop by every week, perhaps we can be a little more frugal the rest of the year and enjoy our friends when they visit. After all – it’s difficult to teach generous-old-dogs new tricks!