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 Amazon.com to assist you.
1. Where do you recommend visiting in Spain?
1.1 Seville2. How do you get around Spain?
1.8 El Escorial and Valley of the Fallen
1.9 Costa del Sol
1.10 Hill towns of Andalucía
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?
1.1 Seville (Sevilla) The one time port that the "great" explorers left from, this town screams character, dating back to its Moorish and early Christian roots. This town has a terrific feel and has extremely friendly people.
1.2 Granada The last Moorish stronghold. Though a symbol of retreat, this is the best Moorish tribute in all of Spain and Portugal.
1.3 Barcelona, A modern city has some great architecture and a terrific feel. It is also the site of Gaudi's greatest work, the Sacred Family church.
1.4 Monstreat, A holy mountain, a quite impressive feet of nature and an awe inspiring valley.
1.5 Toledo, The ancient capital of Spain, with a terrific Cathedral. The town as been restored to its medieval grace. Also has El Greco's best work.
1.6 Madrid, the modern capital of Spain, has the best artwork and the third greatest palace in Europe.
1.7 Cordoba Another Moorish stronghold has an impressive Alcazar. A good day trip from either Granada or Seville
1.8 El Escorial is the bleak reminder of the Spanish inquisition though it has some terrific artwork. It is also the only tribute to Spain's Wealth. The Valley of the fallen is a tribute to all those who died during the Spanish civil war. Both can be done on the same day drip from Madrid.
1.9 The Costa del Sol is literally the sun coast. With thousands of northern Europeans flocking to this tacky display of sun worshiping.
1.10 Alushia are they typical, romantic hill towns that are a flash back to Spain's past.
1.11 Gibraltar is technically part of England. Can be a day trip from Granada. It is the last vestige of the British Empire. Has a great view of the Mediterranean. Getting across the border occasionally poses problems depending on if England and Spain are on speaking terms. 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.5. What should we watch out for?
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.
G. ATM card with a 4 digit pin.
H. Day pack.
I. Travelís Checks.
J. A good attitude.
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.6. Can I get by with my high school Spanish in Spain?
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.
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