You are here

Just a Minute!: Size Matters

Our hapless Englishman decides to go shopping...

Palma. One of my favourite cities in Spain, or anywhere else for that matter. With its palaces and promenades, beaches and boutiques, cathedral and cosmopolitan charisma. It's hard not to love the capital of the Balearics.
"walk down to the old town, throw away your map and get lost amongst the city" was the advice someone once offered me. Sound advice it proved to be too. A wonderful maze of old streets and hidden plazas. Secret courtyards behind arched portals. Musicians and mime artists on almost every corner.

Soak in the Mediterranean sunshine at a small café or a trendy beach bar in the shadow of the magnificent cathedral.

Two friends I bumped into on my world travels emailed me recently to say they were now working in Palma. It was their joint birthday weekend and although I didn't need a reason to return it seemed the perfect excuse. I went to the airport and caught the next flight.

Wandering out of the terminal it suddenly struck me that I'd absolutely no idea what flight I was returning on. The woman at check-in had inadvertently kept the slip of paper with these important details.

I wandered to the far end of the terminal and located a tiny Iberia desk tucked away behind a coffee stall. Behind a screen sat a woman engrossed in a glossy magazine. I slipped her my boarding pass.

"Excuse me", I said in my best Spanish, "what time is my flight home on Sunday?"

She glanced at the pass then and looked at me.
"you had no bags on the plane señor".

"Yes, I know. I've forgotten the time for my flight home".

"Do you have an issue with bags?"

"No? Why?"

"This is the lost baggage desk. Please go upstairs" and with that she returned to her gaze to the magazine.
Marvellous. My trip was falling apart at the seams already and I'd only just landed!

Having addressed my failing memory issue with the kind lady at the other information desk I decided to go shopping. I'd time to kill before I met my friends. I needed some new trousers for a job I've secured and I also wanted some summer shorts.

C&A had just what I needed but then a thought occurred to me. What exactly is my European size? This was the first time I'd bought clothing abroad in a Spanish retail store. Up until this point it'd never occurred to me that there would be a difference in the sizing of clothes . Miles instead of kilometres, pounds and ounces instead of kilos. The UK has embraced the metric system and then chosen to ignore it.

I am a UK size 34 but holding these trousers against my waist they seemed small. There was nothing else for it. I selected several pairs in various sizes and laden down with what seemed like half a ton (or should that be 500kgs?) of trousers headed for the changing rooms.

A raised eyebrow on the face of the assistant greeted me as I entered the changing rooms with the contents the store in my arms.

"Sorry", I said in my best Spanish. "I don't know my size in Spain."

"What size are you in England?" she asked. She informed me that I would require size 44.

I replaced all the trousers and then tried on a couple of styles in size 44. Guess what? Too big. More ball-room than Blackpool Winter Gardens and big enough to fit an extra me inside.

Returning to the trouser area, I re-selected the several pairs, in various sizes and when the assistant wasn't looking, slipped into the changing rooms. Eventually I worked out that I'm a size 36.

Armed with this information I then chose several pairs of shorts, in various styles, size 36. Guess what? Too small. Could barely pull them over my hips and zipping them up could have resulted in an unplanned trip to A&E.

Starting to feel like a yoyo, I returned to the shorts section. Selected several pairs in various sizes and whilst the assistants back was turned nipped behind the curtains. Tried them on. I'm size 42!.

So just to get this straight.
I'm a UK size 34 but told I'm Spanish size 44. Size 44 trousers are too big and I'm actually a 36 and shorts, size 36 are too small and I'm really a 42.
Sizing insanity!

Just a minute!

Footnote. Lost my reading glasses in Palma somewhere. Marvellous!

If you fancy exploring the Balearics and indeed Palma, please check out Mallorca Spotlight

Related content