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Just curious...
I'm not a hugger. Nor am I one to readily shake hands. I've been this way long before COVID. Living in Australia, which is very much a 'touchy' place, I have unintentionally offended some when I offer a polite bow, as opposed to a handshake. Not every culture, nor everyone, is comfortable with physical contact.
Are Spaniards, especially those in small towns and villages, prone to touching? Hugging and hand shaking? I've gotten quite good, over the years, at avoiding the touching without overtly offending. But, some people simply force the issue. I don't want to offend.
 
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Are Spaniards, especially those in small towns and villages, prone to touching? Hugging and hand shaking?
In my experience, not those who I interact with on the Camino.

I can tell you that I once with a friend near Barcelona, and we went down to the beach to see one of her friends who was enjoying a beach day. I was quite surprised when this topless woman jumped up and gave me a hug and two cheek kisses!
 
Just curious...
I'm not a hugger. Nor am I one to readily shake hands. I've been this way long before COVID. Living in Australia, which is very much a 'touchy' place, I have unintentionally offended some when I offer a polite bow, as opposed to a handshake. Not every culture, nor everyone, is comfortable with physical contact.
Are Spaniards, especially those in small towns and villages, prone to touching? Hugging and hand shaking? I've gotten quite good, over the years, at avoiding the touching without overtly offending. But, some people simply force the issue. I don't want to offend.
I feel that in Spain, as pretty much everywhere else, many people have modified their social behaviour to a degree as a consequence of the obvious.

I’ve never considered Spain to be a huggy/touchy society where strangers are concerned. It is, however, physically demonstrative; many Spaniards ‘talk’ with their hands. The range of emotion and emphasis conveyed non-verbally is considerable.
 
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In my experience, not those who I interact with on the Camino.

I can tell you that I once with a friend near Barcelona, and we went down to the beach to see one of her friends who was enjoying a beach day. I was quite surprised when this topless woman jumped up and gave me a hug and two cheek kisses!
Ok... perhaps I can make certain sacrifices... to be polite, of course.
 
I feel that in Spain, as pretty much everywhere else, many people have modified their social behaviour to a degree as a consequence of the obvious.

I’ve never considered Spain to be a huggy/touchy society where strangers are concerned. It is, however, physically demonstrative; many Spaniards ‘talk’ with their hands. The range of emotion and emphasis conveyed non-verbally is considerable.
I do try to follow the "when in Rome..." rule. I've been places where they are quite demonstrative. And, also places that see this as threatening. I was just kinda wanting to get an idea of what to expect and be prepared.
 
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I didn't experience or witnessing locals hugging pilgrims. The only real hugging I saw/experienced while walking was in Santiago - when everyone was saying goodbye. But by then - it felt like saying goodbye to family.

I am not a hugger either. But it was nice to give goodbye hugs to my Camino friends! I, of course, as a non-hugging type of individual, did not initiate! HAHA But I was glad to receive.

Oh... and I walked 2021 and 2022... not much handshaking going on either!
 
If you are a stranger/visitor/customer, you don't have to worry about huggy Spaniards.
If you make friends with a Spanish person, however, you may be expected to by huggy/kissy with them or their friends.
So if you don't want to be hugged or kissed, simply avoid befriending any Spanish people.
 
Yes, in Spain it is/was customary that men shake hands, and women give a cheek kiss between them or to a man (the latter, when they are family or friends). Hugging is more unusual, just for special occasions. Pandemics have discouraged personal contact, as you can imagine.
Actually, we pilgrrims don't have too much close contact with local people. Just polite interactions when you ask for the way, buy some groceries, or a bit of pleasant small talk in the town square or a restaurant. I have just returned, and only shook hands a couple of times with hospitaleros, and once received a lovely hug from the lady in charge of an albergue. Even the traditional hugging when you reach Compostela is currently much more restricted.
You will be fine.
 
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In my experience, pilgrims for the most part get close, it's inevitable in the camino environment. Sometimes, we don't expect to meet again, we have a tearful goodbye, a hug... only to bump into each other again the next day.. embarrassed! It happens.. What can we do in such a situation but laugh.. If you walk for some weeks and allow yourself to relax into it, away from the constraints and routine of your normal life, you might surprise yourself and find it isn't such a big deal.

Of course, if you choose to keep a distance and don't allow yourself to cross that boundary, others will give you space and respect you for it too. Just do what feels comfortable for you.

Edit:
Reading your post again, I note you ask specifically about Spaniards and not pilgrims, which my reply was aimed at. Yes, Spaniards among friends hug and kiss a lot, and during the worst of the pandemic, even with face masks..
 
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In my experience, pilgrims for the most part get close, it's inevitable in the camino environment. Sometimes, we don't expect to meet again, we have a tearful goodbye, a hug... only to bump into each other again the next day.. embarrassed! It happens.. What can we do in such a situation but laugh.. If you walk for some weeks and allow yourself to relax into it, away from the constraints and routine of your normal life, you might surprise yourself and find it isn't such a big deal.

Of course, if you choose to keep a distance and don't allow yourself to cross that boundary, others will give you space and respect you for it too. Just do what feels comfortable for you.

Edit:
Reading your post again, I note you ask specifically about Spaniards and not pilgrims, which my reply was aimed at. Yes, Spaniards among friends hug and kiss a lot, and during the worst of the pandemic, even with face masks..
I asked specific about Spanish society because I'm visiting their country. As to my fellow pilgrims... I've worked for months alongside people I got on with very well...and never once touched. We could have a long discussion about what I consider the making of a friendship. But, it would sound as if I were judging others' approach to the same. Simply put, I'd be amazed... and those that know even more so, were I to make a friend along My Camino.
 
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I feel that in Spain, as pretty much everywhere else, many people have modified their social behaviour to a degree as a consequence of the obvious.

I’ve never considered Spain to be a huggy/touchy society where strangers are concerned. It is, however, physically demonstrative; many Spaniards ‘talk’ with their hands. The range of emotion and emphasis conveyed non-verbally is considerable.


I agree! And I am always happy to use my hands too seeing my basic knowledge of Spanish...;)

In general , foreign visitors should be aware that when they stand somewhere in a crowded bar there is the chance they will get a gentle pat on the shoulders from a local to get to the counter.
I always appreciate this type of kindness but some people might be surprised by this. After a while I used the same technique otherwise I would never get to eat some pintxos!

More than once elderly ladies ( the lady in the bakery or the warden of a small church ) called me " amor " when I asked for something. Bit like those in the UK say " love " to you.
I know some might find it patronising / not politically correct but I always find it endearing.
 
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I agree! And I am always happy to use my hands too seeing my basic knowledge of Spanish...;)

In general foreign visitors should be aware that when they stand somewhere in a crowded bar there is the chance they will get a gentle pat on the shoulders from a local to get to the counter.
I always appreciate this type of kindness but some people might be surprised by this. After a while I used the same technique otherwise I would never get to eat some pintxos!

More than once elderly ladies ( the lady in the bakery or the warden of a small church ) called me " amor " when I asked for something. Bit like those in the UK say " love ' to you.
I know some might find it patronising / not politically correct but I always find it endearing.
Wow! You touch on a something that I hadn't thought about it in a long time! There was a time, when I lived in this this country not of my birth (notice my attempt to being diplomatic) when I was exposed to the local custom of when being in a crowded room and needing to 'get through', someone would place their hand hand on my shoulder and gently put pressure on my shoulder and push me to allow them to pass. As the pressure slowly increased, it wasn't a 'push', but a polite indication of "I'm going by". Wasn't meant as as a push. Just a polite touch to say "sorry, I'm just getting by".
Also, where I'm from, "Dear" and "darling" is polite...not intended as affection. If a woman serving me a meal called me "darling", I wouldn't take it as a sign of affection.
Thanks for reminding of the simple joy in that...
 
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Certainly one of the saddest things about Covid is many thinking that human touch is a death sentence. Hopefully at some point we can put this sad chapter behind us and start being human beings again.
It seems to slowly getting better, but there is a long way still to go.
 
Just curious...
I'm not a hugger. Nor am I one to readily shake hands. I've been this way long before COVID. Living in Australia, which is very much a 'touchy' place, I have unintentionally offended some when I offer a polite bow, as opposed to a handshake. Not every culture, nor everyone, is comfortable with physical contact.
Are Spaniards, especially those in small towns and villages, prone to touching? Hugging and hand shaking? I've gotten quite good, over the years, at avoiding the touching without overtly offending. But, some people simply force the issue. I don't want to offend.
Hi there. I live in Andalucia about 100 km northwest of Seville and 30 km west of the Via de La Plata in a small village. When we first arrived we were very northern European and stand-off-ish but over time we have adopted the huggy-touchy-feely practices of our neighbours. However this was our choice and our personal space (not as large as in Scotland) was always respected by our neighbours. You do not say which Camino you are doing but as a general rule, in northern Spain people are much less tactile. This deals with the locals, of more concern will be your fellow pilgrims. My experience has been that barriers come down very quickly, so I think that you will be fine with locals but may have to be open and explain your feelings to your fellow peregrinos. Buen Camino.
 
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Hi there. I live in Andalucia about 100 km northwest of Seville and 30 km west of the Via de La Plata in a small village. When we first arrived we were very northern European and stand-off-ish but over time we have adopted the huggy-touchy-feely practices of our neighbours. However this was our choice and our personal space (not as large as in Scotland) was always respected by our neighbours. You do not say which Camino you are doing but as a general rule, in northern Spain people are much less tactile. This deals with the locals, of more concern will be your fellow pilgrims. My experience has been that barriers come down very quickly, so I think that you will be fine with locals but may have to be open and explain your feelings to your fellow peregrinos. Buen Camino.
Thanks. Having lived in lots of different places, I try to become aware of those little social nuances that make being in a different place so wonderful. I've been places where the mere act of walking into a bakery resulted in a hug and a peck on the cheek. And, since it's hard to explain to a 90 year old grandmother that you don't hug when you don't speak the language, I just went with it. My question was just to get a feel for what to expect.
I believe I now have my firm plan (though it'll always be written in pencil- even as I'm walking it). I'm walking Madrid to Sahagun to Oviedo to Finisterre to quien sabe?

Nothing to do with social distancing- simply something to hopefully bring a morning smile concerning different places and unusual behaviors:
When we first moved to the island in the Caribbean, whenever I would drive around, I'd see locals standing along the side of the road and, as I drove past, they would shout at me. I couldn't hear what they were saying and thought they were the rudest people on earth! I mentioned this to an acquaintance who explained that many islanders didn't own a car. So, they would stand near the road and, as a car passed, they yelled out where they needed to go. If you were going their way, you stopped and gave them a ride.
So, who was the rude one?
After that, whenever someone yelled out, I stopped and took them where they needed to go, even if I wasn't really going there. It was a small island. It didn't take long until I was met with smiles and "hi", rather than blank looks.
I'll always remember to try and learn the customs of the place I visit...
 
Certainly one of the saddest things about Covid is many thinking that human touch is a death sentence. Hopefully at some point we can put this sad chapter behind us and start being human beings again.
It seems to slowly getting better, but there is a long way still to go.
There is that.... but there are many of us who it has nothing to do with COVID or fearing viruses. Many of us just aren't touchy feely people by nature (learned or not) and are uncomfortable when people come within our "bubble". I think the OP and I fall into the later category. For me, if someone does hug me or give the kiss on the cheek, I go with it, but it is VERY awkward and uncomfortable. Some can't allow it at all.

Yes - I believe for many - they will return to the hugging, cheek kissing, hand shaking. For some... we were never that way before and unlikely to start being that way.
 

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