SPAIN is one of the most popular destinations for Brits looking to trade the humid skies for sun, sea and sangria.
But British tourists aren’t always welcomed with open arms by locals when visiting the sun-drenched nation.
Thanks to this UKwho have a penchant for binge drinking and embarrassing alcoholic behavior, UK tourists visiting Spain often get a bad rap.
We may know them as quintessentially ‘British Abroad’ – but the Spaniards have their own secret word for these stereotypes.
A “guiri”, pronounced “guee-ree”, is like a secret code that the Spaniards use to describe certain foreigners in their country in a rude mansion.
But what exactly does it mean and why do Spaniards often use it to refer to British tourists?
I go to Barcelona almost every month and I still get called Guiri from time to time, even when I’m trying to blend in with the locals. Let me give you the insider bullets…
What is a “Guiri”?
So what does “guiri” actually mean, why do Spaniards use the word, and why is it considered a “secret” term?
According to one theory, the name derives from the Basque word “giri” meaning “blonde” or “fair skinned” and was originally used to describe the physical appearance of tourists.
However, over time it has taken on a broader meaning.
Spanish locals now use “guiri” to refer to all types of foreign tourists, especially those from English-speaking countries.
While it can be used to refer to any foreigner, it is most commonly used to refer to British visitors specifically.
This is particularly true of the stereotypical ‘British Abroad’ – a term for an embarrassing tourist who travels to foreign countries with no intention of assimilation into the local culture.
Although the Spanish use of guiri is not limited to British visitors only. It is also used to refer to Northern Europeans like Germans or Swedes or even Americans.
So regardless of whether you are a German tourist, an exchange student from theor a British pensioner living in Spain you could call “Guiri”.
Is “guiri” an insult?
Despite its negative connotations, the term “Guiri” is often used as a playful nickname by locals to poke fun at tourists. It’s not generally anything to take offense at.
It’s not uncommon to hear Spaniards shout “Hola guiri!” to British tourists as they walk down the street, and many Brits even take it as a term of endearment.
Although some locals will use it in a more negative or dismissive way, it’s most likely because they’ve been upset by bad tourist behavior.
If you’re called Guiri, don’t worry, it’s playful – I often refer to myself as Guiri when visiting Barcelona to mess with my local friends, or when doing typical “Guiri” things like drinking sangria .
It’s not generally a term used in a racist or demeaning way, so it’s important to take it personally when a local calls you a guiri.
Just smile and say Gracias – admitting you know what it means might change her mind!
How not to be a “guiri”.
A Spanish native can spot a guiri from a mile away. But what makes a guiri a guiri?
Think typical British behavior abroad and you won’t be far off.
Britons, who Spaniards would call Guiris, share some behavioral traits that make other people blush when seen abroad.
This includes wearing very little, including flip flops, even if they areis not that warm.
When the locals still wear coats and scarvesGuiris stand out like a sore thumb with vests or shorts because the sun is shining and it’s comparatively warm by UK standards.
Excessive drinking is another guiri trait that usually leads to outlandish behavior, such as B. SingingSinging that the locals don’t particularly like.
Another embarrassing thing a guiri does is yell in English instead of trying to speak locally.
They also order cliched Spanish dishes like sangria and paella from very touristy restaurants, or worse, insist on ordering typically British groceries, or look for a kebab shop after a night out.
Spaniards don’t really drink sangria, it’s considered more of a tourist thing as locals opt for ‘tinto’verano’ (means red wine) with Gaseosa (a sweeter soda water) in the warmer months.
Another very popular guiri stereotype is not bothering to wear sunscreen – after a day at the beach, guiris are likely to be laughed at by the locals when they are seen walking back to their beachat the beach severely burned in sports parts.
So if you want to avoid being labeled as a guiri by the locals, simply dodge the above – and you’ll soon be blending right in with the locals.
Here are some of my other tips for avoiding tourist traps in Barcelona and looking more like a local when visiting the city.
And I also explained how you can save money when visiting Spain if you want to do it on a budget.