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Posted by on Nov 13, 2012 in Spain | 3 comments

Spain Culture Guide App

I was recently asked by Dean Foster’s Associates to test out their Spain Culture Guide App and share my thoughts. As someone who’s been living in Spain for the past 3 years, I’ve learned immensely about Spain and Spanish culture, but know that there’s so much more left to learn.

For the first-time traveler to Spain, navigating the language and culture can be a bit intimidating. An app, opposed to lugging around a guidebook, full of information that we might need in a moment’s notice, like how to order a tapa, or whether to address someone in the tú or usted form, is a much more convenient method.

Here’s a little more background on the app, in the company’s own words:

Proper navigation our own culture can be difficult, and doing so with foreign cultures can seem nearly impossible. The CultureGuide© apps foster cultural learning with critical intercultural information — an incredibly useful tool for those who travel globally. This series of apps offers practical, fun, and immediately usable tips for getting the most out of a trip – whether it is for business or pleasure. 

The apps cover everything from a country overview and greetings, to how to behave when invited to a private home and gift-giving etiquette. Each CultureGuide app focuses on an individual country; to-date Japan, China, India, Hong Kong, Dubai/UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Italy, Germany, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Portugal, Poland, Brazil, Ireland, and The Netherlands are available.

While most other travel guides tell you where to go and what to see, CultureGuide will tell you how to get along.

Dean Foster is a master of global etiquette. For over 20 years, he has been sharing his cultural knowledge with Fortune 500 companies such as DreamWorks, Volkswagen, Heineken, and Bank of America, training businessmen in the cultural differences they encounter in our global world. Dean is a frequent guest on CNN and CNBC, as well as a Contributing Editor for National Geographic Traveler. He has authored many books on global etiquette, and continues to be a frequent speaker at universities and professional conferences.


Here’s what I loved about the app:

It’s very thorough.  The app contains 10 chapters covering the following: Country Overview, Greetings, Communication Styles, Behaving in Public, Dress, Dining/Drinking/Entertaining, Staying Safe and Healthy, Holidays & Celebrations, The Dos and Don’t of Gift Giving and Minding Your Business. Each chapter also has sub-chapters. That’s a lot of info packed into one little app!

It’s easy to navigate. Chapters and sections of the app are marked very clearly and navigation is intuitive.

Includes extras built into the app. Not only is this an app covering social and business etiquette, it also has direct access to Google Maps of Spain, current weather and a currency converter. I like that you don’t have to leave the app to use tools that you frequently need while traveling.

It’s both iPhone and Android capable. Not just Apple worshippers like myself have access to the app.






Here’s what I didn’t love:

I found a lot of errors. From instructing users to say basic phrases like buenas días/buenos tardes/buenos noches instead of the correct buenos días/buenas tardes/buenas noches to calling Picasso a Catalan, when he is in fact, a Malagueño, I was surprised the app has been published with so many mistakes.

More errors found:

“Do not begin eating until the host says” Buon appetito!”  First of all, that’s Italian, not Spanish, thus your host would say “Buen provecho!”, if they say anything at all. It’s better to wait until you see the rest of your table begin to eat instead of waiting for this phrase to be spoken.

“It is perfectly acceptable, in fact essential, to arrive for social events about one half hour late. If you arrive sooner, you will be running the risk of interrupting the host or hostess as they get ready.” As much as Spain gets a bad rap for being excessively tardy, I just haven’t found it to be true enough to generalize that everyone runs late in Spain. In fact, I know more punctual Spaniards than slow pokes. In Andalusia, things seem to run a bit more slowly, but I think coming 30 mins late is a bit much. Don’t show up early, but try going 15 minutes late and see how it goes.

“Avoid drinking tap water ANYWHERE in Spain, despite hotel claims to the contrary.”  Um, Spain is a first-world country, and the quality of their tap water is perfectly safe for consumption. With that said, when you’re at a restaurant and ask for agua, you’ll be given bottled water. If you want tap water, ask for agua del grifo.

“Kissing is a common greeting once there is a strong and very familiar relationship.”  Los dos besos aren’t reserved only for those with whom we have a strong and very familiar relationship with in Spain. As a female, expect to give los dos besos to people you’ve just met (and men, be prepared to kiss females too). Men usually greet other men with a hand shake (and quick embrace/slap on the back if they’re familiar.) However, always follow the lead of the Spaniard. If they greet you with los dos besos, then reciprocate. If they stick out their hand, shake it. More often than not you’ll be giving los dos besos, which is actually more of a touching of cheeks—left side first, then the right!

“Tipping: usually 10% is sufficient; more is considered unnecessary  This is true for restaurants and taxis.” In Spain, tipping is almost nonexistent. Waiters and waitresses in Spain are paid a decent salary, and don’t live off tips as many wait-staff do in the United States. Only when you’re at a mid-to-high priced restaurant will you tip; usually a little change to round up the bill—and that’s it.


I do think the app offers a lot of great advice and information that first-time business travelers to Spain will find useful because there is a lot of work-related etiquette covered. However, if you’re not a business traveler, I wouldn’t recommend it, simply because the price ($9.99 USD) isn’t worth the value, given that there are frequent errors and misconceptions about Spain and Spanish culture.

If I were the maker of the app, I’d first correct the errors, then check with Spaniards to see if the etiquette is out-dated or appropriate, and lastly, lower the price.

To download the app, search “Spain Culture Guide” in the iTunes Store, click here for Android users.

Note: Dean Foster’s Associates kindly offered me a free app to test out, but all opinions are my own.


  1. I agree with the vast majority of your criticisms, Christine. Although you can’t have sampled the tap water in the Canaries. That’s definitely undrinkable.

    • Good to know! That can be said about a lot of islands!

  2. Good to see a reviewer has the cojones to say that the app is poor value. Most rave enthusiastically. Respect!

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