Maybe it is when he is wandering around the London markets of Brick Lane or Spitalfields; maybe it is when he is soaking up the history of Soho or Notting Hill or - as he did on Monday when he went to the West End to see Mamma Mia - indulging his passion for musicals, but Juan Mata admits to occasionally allowing himself time to reflect on what has happened to him.
"Sometimes I try and stop and think and analyse," he says. For a World Cup winner, a European Championship winner, a Champions League winner, an Olympian, an FA Cup winner and his club's present player of the year there is a lot to digest. Not least because the 24-year-old plays for Chelsea, one of the most scrutinised and debated clubs in world football.
"You have to adapt," the Spaniard says of the fact he has already played for three managers since joining the club from Valencia for pounds 26?million just 17 months ago.
"You can't complain about that because as a player you have to play at your best no matter who the manager is because you play for the club. Maybe my first year in Valencia helped me because I had four managers, three presidents, three chairman, so it was a big curve for me to learn how professional football works and how professionals perform and how you have to adapt yourself to changes, however unexpected."
Not that Mata lacks empathy. "Talking about the three managers, it's not easy because of the people they are. For me Andre [Villas-Boas], Robbie [Di Matteo] and Rafa [Benitez], they are three great people and that's important. The day that a manager goes is a sad day, of course, because it means that something wasn't right but you have to carry on and wish them good luck."
Something, he concedes, has not been quite "right" at Chelsea this season. Premier League form has simply not been good enough and, even more embarrassingly, their defence of the Champions League ended at the group stage. "We did not do a good job," Mata says.
But now, Mata says, is not the time to analyse. "The important moment of the season is starting because you are getting close to finals, the last rounds of the cups and the end of the league".
Chelsea are still in the FA Cup and the Europa League, and today they travel to Manchester City, where a victory would take them to within a point of second-place in the Premier League.
"We are close, we are closer than it looks," Mata says. "We are four points behind Manchester City and with a game against them now is the time for us to be together, to go in the same way and try to win as many games as we can because we still have the possibility of two trophies and to finish in the top two in the Premier League so I think we can do it."
Only after the season will it be possible to pass judgment. "Every season, every year you have to talk about what happened at the end Because now we still have chances to win. It's true we've had good and bad moments but it's at the end of the season when you have to think and realise it was a good or bad season, or we were run in this way or that way.
"Last season is a good example. It wasn't easy with changing manager but at the end we achieved one of the most successful seasons in the history of Chelsea, winning the Champions League for the first time and the FA Cup. It's a good reminder and a good example to show everyone that until the end, we are still alive."
Many of those crucial signs are down to Mata. Seventeen goals so far this season and 18 assists in 42 appearances is an astonishing return. When he does not play, Chelsea do not win. He scored on his debut for the club, which was also Villas-Boas's first match, and also scored the first goals for Di Matteo and Benitez. He belongs to an extraordinarily talented generation of Spanish midfielders and seems certain to be Chelsea player of the year again.
"They are good numbers," Mata says of his statistics. "But there are still so many games so hopefully I can improve on them. But I accept that, personally, it's been a very good time for me since I have been here."
Yet despite Mata's myriad qualities - his appreciation of space, intelligence of movement and subtlety of passing - he confesses he was "a little bit scared" when he first moved to the Premier League.
"When you change country, the language, the city, change your league, change even your style of football - and it's not the same in England as in Spain - then you are a little but, err, scared in the beginning. It's different and you don't know if you are going to be able to change yourself to adapt. I changed a lot, changed the lot! But I think that sometimes during your career you have to decide to change things to improve. For me, it was a good time to do it."
There was an "attraction" to the Premier League and to London. Mata is, in all ways, a good tourist - immersing himself in the culture and history of where he lives, exploring London and beyond (he went to Oxford recently) on his days off. "In every day off I tried to discover a new place," he says of his first year in England, "and it has never finished. London is an endless place with lots of cities in just one, lots of neighbourhoods."
Mata, a keen backpacker during his summer breaks, is also studying for a sports science degree at Madrid's Complutense University - taking the marketing rather than journalism module, he laughs. He is a devotee of social media such as Facebook and Twitter and also writes a blog for the Chelsea FC website. "It's one of the ways to get closer to the people who want to know you."
Mata was also delighted to be part of Spain's team at the London Olympics. "It was something I wanted to do, I wanted to be there. We played in Newcastle, Manchester and Glasgow but we came down to London for the opening ceremony because if you are at an Olympics and don't go to the opening ceremony then it's like half the experience.
"Obviously the results didn't work out for us like we wanted to but it was a very meaningful experience for me because I was an Olympic sportsman. We went to the Olympic Village and after that the basketball as well. It was amazing walking through the streets of the village and seeing NBA [basketball] players, tennis players, swimmers, volleyball. Everyone was there and it was nice to feel a part of that. It was very different from football. When you are a football player all you do is talk about football, think football, travel with your team-mates. It's just football thoughts."
He returned last summer to a Chelsea team strengthened by big-money acquisitions such as Eden Hazard and Oscar. "I was very happy with these signings," Mata says. "I like the way that they play, it's the way I like to play - to pass, to move, to skill."
His game is also adapting. Having started his career as a left-winger, like his father, Juan Snr, once of Real Oviedo, Mata now prefers to feature more centrally. "I like to play 'between the lines', it is where I feel most comfortable," Mata says of the space he tries to find between the opposition midfield and defence. "Even when I was playing in the wide areas I didn't consider myself a pure winger like [Arjen] Robben or [Damien] Duff when they were here."
Mata knows his Chelsea history - but it is the future that preoccupies him. "Last season, winning the Champions League and the FA Cup and after that the European Championship with Spain was almost a perfect year. The good thing and the thing I have to think about is that I am still young and I want to win as much as I can. I can't stop myself and think, 'I won this and that'. No, this season I want to win again and the next season again and also to be a better player than I am this season. It's a matter of trying to grow as a player and as a person. For me, it's the only way. Just to stay hungry, about winning and about improving."