I truly have mixed feelings about Spain, I thought it would be better. But then it started to grow on me. Overrun by tourists and getting harder to find an untouched spot. Too many new half finished construction sites, and too much hard bread. Still, I do like the place. Information here is based on my personal travel & research- updated: (Dec 2011)
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» Memorable places in Spain
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» Do's & Do not's
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: The capital and center of Spain. I passed through here many times and each time was a different experience. Over run with museums, it's worth branching out into the back streets.
- The most famous of all plaza's in Spain.
- Check out the huge museum. Madrid is full of them, but this tops the list.
- Check out the center of Spain Plaque embedded into the pavement. Worth a photo at least.
- If you like your meat, check out this shop.
: This fabled city took a while for me to catch up with. I heard some great things about it. And yes, it lived up to them.
- Head to the look out post at dusk with a picnic and bottle of vino to enjoy local entertainment and a great sunset. Be prepared for a tourist haven if you venture into the fortress/Palace itself. Giant car parks and all.
- Sit out in the main area for lunch and watch Spain go by.
Home of the worlds third largest Mosque, Semana Santa, some of the best Moorish architecture out there.
: My city of cities. I think it tops my list one of the best cities to visit. Food, architecture, night life, so much to do 24/7
- By day filled with artists and stalls. By night; party goers and prostitutes from around the world.
- From the Sagrada de Familia, Parc Güel to his hospital the city is full of his work.
- One of the best things in BCN, the streets themselves. Nowhere else on my travels have I seen so much diversity.
- the old ship yards.
- on Las Ramblas for a great drink.
- when its working it's a good way to go.
: It used to be a hidden city by the beach. Maybe it still is. When I was there it was great hang out zone and entrance way to Morocco.
: beautiful coastline and Portlligat House-museum - Salvador Dalí's House.
: birthplace of Dalí and home to his Theatre-Museum.
I took the bus routes of Spain and never took a train as the routes were too costly. Each city has one or two main bus terminals, speak a little Spanish and getting a ticket is no problem.
An overnight bus that leaves Estación Sur de Autobuses. They might search you bags, and only permit you to take so much on board.
From Tarifa it's 35 minutes via fast ferry to Ceuta. Or Algeciras to Tanger in about 1.20 hours. You get your passport stamped on board with minimal fuss. I found the Algerciras route a lot better as the road networks and stations were more functional.
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Most people rave about Spanish food. Personally it does not exactly set my mouth on fire. But when it's good, it's great. Spanish bread is the hardest I have ever come across. Paella is rarely that good outside super expensive eateries. The seafood is good in BCN, but after that I found myself using supermarkets and eating too much Chorizo.
I found the Spanish to be aggressive. From people on the street, to public services it was short and sharp. Far from Portugal's friendliness. Having said that I know some nice Spanish people. But to me, it was Spain's biggest negative.
Learn some Spanish if you want to get the most out of Spain. Booking train/bus tickets can be a pain otherwise. Having said that, nearly everyone does speak the basics of English these days.
Do make the most of Spanish nightlife, it's some of the best in the world. But, be seriously careful at night. Life in BCN starts at 10pm with dinner, then to a bar by midnight. But 2am it's to a night club. By 6am home or to a day club. I have seen countless tourists fall prey to drinking too early and getting so drunk they end up in serious trouble. No one is in a rush in Spain, you should do the same.
|Where I stayed
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I am lucky enough to have quite a few Spanish friends. But I did find the following places both good and bad.
- Madrid. About 18 Euro, dorms. Easy metro.
- BCN. 18 Euro for a dorm. Central with Good security.
- Seville. 15 Euro. Hard to find a good central one here.
There are cheaper hostels. I stayed in quite a few of them. But also suffered from them. Smoking in rooms, theft and noise being some of the reasons. Be careful you choose the right hostel for your own purposes. Granada at the time my passing through was full of party hostels. I stayed at a hotel/bar for 2 Euro more than a dorm room, an slept like a baby.
Yes Spain comes close. The weather, the location the lifestyle. The main problem I found with Spain is the people and the high unemployment rate. Yes one could get a job in a bar, but after that I found the Spanish choose the spanish first. Which, i guess is fair enough. Also the cost of accommodation is quite high. I have not ruled Spain out though.
My biggest expense in Spain was accommodation. I mentioned earlier why, but it certainly hinders the budget savvy. Food is also a little on the pricey side. I found myself eating supermarket food 3 times a day. All in all I would say 40 Euro a day including public transport. Stay in super cheap hostels and its 20-25 Euro a day.
Madrid Airport is 30 minutes away using the metro or a whopping great 30 euro taxi. While in BCN you can can get the Metro straight to the center with ease. Both Metros are fairly easy to traverse with baggage outside of rush hours.
How to save money on transport in Spain?
Both Madrid and BCN have two of the best metro systems I have been on. Buy 5 day passes and save money as soon as you arrive as well as picking up the free maps.
Money in Spain, what to do?
International Credit cards like VISA or Mastercard work everywhere as do most debit cards.