Spain FAQ

These are questions I am frequently asked about traveling to Spain. I will add to this page as time goes on. This page is meant to be helpful in planning a trip. It is by no way to serve as a guide book. I have a list of recommended guide books that you can order from to assist you.

1. Where do you recommend visiting in Spain?

2. How do you get around Spain?
3. Who were the Moores and what do they have to do with Spanish history?
4. What should I bring to Spain?
5. What should I watch out for?
6. Will my high school Spanish get me around Spain?
7. Accommodations and guide books.

1. Where should I visit in Spain?

2. How do you get around in Spain?
    A few years ago, the Spanish rail system apparently was horrid. However, when I was there in the summer of 1999, it was fairly good and streamlined. The trains ran on time and were very clean. Whenever possible take a night train it saves you a night in a hotel. From Barcelona to anywhere in Spain you might as well take a night train. Also from Granada to Barcelona and Granada to Madrid. Night trains were relatively safe but you should take precautions such as locking your door and your bags. Also the night train from Granada to Valencia has been said to be a bit shady. Bus service is also good, especially for the shorter rides. If you take a day trip from Madrid, it is best to do it by bus. There is also excellent bus service between Seville and Portugal. Private cars are a third option. If you are a family of four, it will be cheaper to rent a car. Also, the northwest has relatively slim public transportation.
3. Who were the Moores?
    The Moores were Muslims from North Africa. They occupied Spain and Portugal from 711 until almost 1500 when crusaders ďdrove them away.Ē The Moores spread their culture and their knowledge through Spain and Portugal but they did so in a benevolent way. They allowed other cultures (namely the Christians and the Jews) to retain their culture. In fact, the Moores blended influences from these groups into their culture. They also realized that some things, such as wine production, which were forbidden for their culture, were good for trade and therefore allowed them to continue. Around 1087 French crusaders (The Moores survived in Spain until almost 1500, not the region) drove the Moores out of what is present day Portugal and established Portugal as a province. The Moores contributed greatly to the architecture of both Spain and Portugal. Most places you visit, you see either the ruins of their castles or great places that they built for them selves or their conquerors. In fact, the Moorish architecture is far superior than the Gothic/renaissance architecture the Crusaders replaced it with.
4.What should we bring?
    A. Money Belt. Keep your money put away in a money belt.
    B. Small camera and film. Film is expensive. You want a camera you can easily hide.
    C. Comfortable walking shoes
    D. Comfortable clothing, one or two changes only.
    E. A Hat and Sunscreen.
    F. Toiletries.
    G. ATM card with a 4 digit pin.
    H. Day pack.
    I. Travelís Checks.
    J. A good attitude.
5. What should we watch out for?
    A. Thieves. Thieves target American tourists. This is not because they hate Americanís but because they know that Americans carry large amounts of money on them. They especially target the Elderly and people caring to many things.
    B. Distractions. Often staged so another person can pick your pocket.
    C. Large crowds of people.
    D. People giving you opened drinks. They could be spiked.
6. Can I get by with my high school Spanish in Spain?
    It will certainly get you further than speaking just English. It will open more doors to you and people will be more helpful if you at least try to speak to them in Spanish. People will also be friendlier if you speak in Spanish. Lastly, it should get you buy in reserving rooms (I found I often got a room when I reserved in Spanish and I didn't when I tried English) and eating in restaurants.
7 Guide books