Saturday, October 8, 2016

Payment in 14 installments

In Finland yearly salary is generally paid in 12 installments. In Spain it is common that yearly salary is paid in 14 installments.It means that monthly payments are smaller as yearly salary is divided to smaller portions. Though the interval of the 14 payments is not even. You get paid monthly but the 13th and 14th installment are paid usually on July and December. Basically you get double salary on these months. The employer basically saves money for the employees for summer holiday and Christmas shopping.

Monday, September 12, 2016


Vermouth (Vermut in Spanish) is a traditional alcoholic drink in Catalunya. It is typically enjoyed as an aperitif or with midday snack. It is typical to bring your own two liter bottle for a refill which costs about 6 euros. The drink is served with ice and olive. The taste of vermouth is sour. The base is wine and many different aromatic herbs are added to create the flavor. Naturally manufacturers have their own recipes. Probably the most well known internationally is Martini Rosso which is considered as vermouth if you want to try.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Summer heat in Barcelona

View of Barcelona from Guinardo
The summer weather is hot in Spain and I have experienced it in Madrid and Barcelona. The sea makes the air humid and therefore it feels even hotter in Barcelona. The sea gives a chance for refreshing during the summer but on the other hand it makes the climate more uncomfortable. In my opinion the biggest problem with the hot summer weather is the heat during the night which makes sleeping difficult. In Madrid I was able to sleep without a fan but in Barcelona I have had a fan running the whole night and it still has felt too hot. This issue can be naturally solved with air conditioner but I have not had such luxury.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Broken pipe

One day I received a call that my apartment is flooding. I was asked to come home as soon as possible. Once I arrived I found out that a pipe under my kitchen sink had broken and water leaking on the floor for some hours. The leak was discovered because water was dropping to the street from my balcony. I was naturally concerned about the damage caused by the water and also about possible mold issue in the future. I was thinking that some company specialized on drying flats would be needed. To my surprise all Spanish were saying that the mold will not be an issue and just opening the windows and doors will dry the wetness. Apartments in Spain do not have isolation materials which might get wet like in Finland. In Finland it might be necessary to tear down some walls after such leak but apparently it is not needed in Spain.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Comparing prices of grocery baskets in Finland and Spain

Oats, bananas and minced beef from Spain
I saw a table of grocery price comparison between Finnish supermarkets. From there I got an idea to compare Finnish prices to Spanish prices on the selected products. In the below table you can see that the selected food basket is 2,25 EUR cheaper in Finland than in Spain. The result is surprising to me as I expected the prices to be lower in Spain than in Finland. Though comparison is not 100 % accurate because of the differences in product specifications and package sizes. For example In Spain fresh milk was not available.I guess that the selected coffee is also different in each country.

There is a big difference between the oat and Edam cheese price. Oat is considered as a special health product in Spain and not as an every day ordinary product like in Finland. Edam cheese is not similarly consumed in Spain as in Finland and therefore it is more expensive in Spain. On the other hand tomatoes and coffee are cheaper in Spain. As basket includes products typically consumed by Finnish people it is understandable that it is cheaper in Finland. My guess is that if the basket would include products typically consumed by the Spanish people the basket would be cheaper in Spain.

Finland Spain
Oats/kg 0,75 1,78
Flovoured yogurt/1 liter 0,85 1,19
Minced beef/kg 6,83 6,2
Coffee/500 grams 3,25 2,5
Bananas/kg 1,25 1,29
Fat free milk/1 liter 0,65 0,6
Margarin 60 %/kg 1,18 1,7
Edam cheese/kg 3,66 6,35
Tomatoes/kg 1,79 0,85
Total 20,21 22,46

  • Prices of Finland are taken from Prisma Helsinki by Kuluttajaliitto on days 24. - 27.5.2016. Prices from Spain are taken from Mercadona in Barcelona on 10.6.2016.

On 2010 I wrote about my living costs in Alcalá de Henares

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Local Holiday

Each town in Spain has two local holidays in a year. It means that there might be a bank holiday in Barcelona but in a nearby city which is in the same metropolitan area you have a normal work day. For example I live in Barcelona but I had to go to work even though it was holiday in Barcelona because my work is in another town nearby Barcelona. Luckily the public transportation is also quite frequent on holidays and going to work was not an issue. In addition to local holidays there are naturally holidays which are common all around the Spain.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Beach volley in Barcelona

Nova Icaria beach
You can see many beach volley nets on the beach in Barcelona. There are just some fixed nets provided by the city but people bring their own nets which you can buy for 90 euros from a sports store. The beaches are not yet fully conquered by the sunbathers so there is still space to set up a net.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

How to live for free in Spain

Beginning of the Passeig de fabra i puig
The housing crisis caused that many newly build apartments in Spain are still empty without any residents. In 2015 there were almost 400 000 new and empty apartments in Spain. The most of the empty apartments are owned by banks. This gives a possibility to occupy an empty house and start living there for free. Once you have spotted an empty house you just need to break in and change the locks. There are even corrupted bankers who might give you keys to an empty apartment for a bribe. After breaking in, you need to stay in the flat for 72 hours and getting kicked out from the flat will be a long legal process. During the long legal process which can easily take more than a year, you can still stay in the flat. It is good to have some money to get electricity, gas and running water to the flat though there might be some tricks done to make living more uncomfortable. I do not encourage anyone to occupy a flat but I heard this story, found it interesting and decided to share it.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Touristic Barcelona

Touristic destination in Passeig de Gracia
Barcelona is 4th on the list of the most visited cities after Paris, London and Rome. On 2000 Barcelona had around 3 million visitors and on 2013 the number of visitors was over 8 million. I watched a documentary called "Bye Bye Barcelona" which discusses about the problems caused by tourists to the locals. The tourism has caused locals to escape and variety of shops to disappear in touristic areas like La Rambla, Sagrada Familia and Parc Guel. La Rambla is now full of souvenir shops and restaurants trying to attract tourists. It is estimated that 80 % of people walking in La Rambla are tourists. When I visited Barcelona on December 2009, it was free to enter Parc Guel but since last year entering the monumental area has cost 8 euros because of the massive amount of tourists visiting the park.

My Finnish colleague who has lived 6 years in Barcelona has also noticed the increased number of tourists during her stay. In the center life does not get any calmer during the siesta time. I live in a calm area where you can still see the local culture. For example shops are closed and streets are quiet during the siesta time.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Simultaneous work and holiday visit in the University of Macau

View in Macau
My father Risto stayed 5 months in Macau and I asked him to write about his experience there. Macau is known as a gambling paradise in Asia like Las Vegas in USA. Click 'Read more' to read about all the other activities you can do and experience in Macau instead of gambling