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Spain Travel Tips

Spain travel tips on money saving, personal safety, sightseeing, and enjoying your trip to the fullest from InfoHub suppliers and community members.
Safety in Barcelona
Submitted by M15393
Barcelona is a relatively safe city, but as in any other big city you must follow some safety rules to avoid bad experiences…

Be alert. Pickpockets are likely to be around in most tourist sites: La Rambla, the ... view more squares and streets around the Cathedral and the Picasso Museum, the surroundings of the Sagrada Família church (and even in the spiral stairs of its towers!), the beach, the most popular parks.

- Do not consider the back pocket of your jeans a safe place for your wallet. It’s not!
- Wear your backpack in front of you. If you are a lady, carry your bag so its the opening faces forward.
- If you drop your bags (while taking a picture or when having a drink in a bar), keep them between your feet, so nobody can grab them and run away.

Some typologies of people you shouldn’t trust:

- Young ladies begging: they are gypsies from Romania that often pickpocket. They usually carry babies with them, wear long skirts and their hair bunched. Lately I’ve seen some of them pretending they are doing a sort of inquiry to help handicapped people.

- Ladies selling carnations: They are local gypsies and go usually in couples. They are pickpockets.

- Street gamblers. They work in groups in La Rambla, pretending a passer-by is making money guessing under which recipient is the little ball, trying to attract their victims. They cheat, it is impossible to win. Don’t even bother to stop watching.

There is only one area in the Old Town where I recommend NOT to go. It is the neighborhood to the left of the lower part of La Rambla (Barrio Chino or Low Raval). It is the area framed by La Rambla and the streets Sant Pau, Rambla del Raval and Arc del Teatre (although it is true the rule that the closest you stay to La Rambla, the safer it feels: an example is the Güell Palace in Nou de la Rambla St.)

If you come to Barcelona in Spring
Submitted by M15393
- 3rd of March, Sant Medir. Morning and evening parades of trucks distributing (or to be more exact, throwing) candies to the kids. Warning: don’t trust grandmas, they get wild when it comes to getting sweets for their ... view more own grandchildren! The best parades are in the neighborhood of Gracia.

- Easter. If you are a chocolate lover, you will have so much fun jumping from one pastry shop to the other, watching the amazing chocolate figures and cakes that godfathers offer to their godchildren.

- 23rd of April, Saint George’s day. Day of the rose and the book and the local version of Saint Valentin. The streets will be packed with stalls selling books and roses. The ladies offer books to their men, the gentlemen offer their sweethearts a rose.

- 11th of May, Sant Ponç. In Hospital street you’ll find an amazing fair of medicinal herbs, artisan cheese, honey and bee products, crystallized fruits, handmade perfumes and other products offered by artisans and peasants.

If you come to Barcelona in Summertime
Submitted by M15393
- June. The Tipuana tree will be blooming by now, and this is my favorite time to visit the romantic Sant Felip Neri square, near the old jewish quarter.

- Corpus Christi. Around the second week of June, but it might ... view more vary depending on the Catholic calendar. See the surprising “Ou com balla” in the cloister of the cathedral and other medieval courtyards of the Old Town. A dancing egg suspended on top of the water jet of the fountain. It was supposed to be only on the Corpus Christi Thursday, but now it is displayed the whole Corpus week.

- 23rd of June. Saint John’s Eve. We celebrate the beginning of the summer and the shortest night of the year with fireworks. It is a night of fire. Families and friends have dinner together and as a desert have the traditional “coca”, a cake decorated with crème caramel, pine nuts or fruits. There is parties and dancing all over that will last until the sun goes up. And then, bathing in the sea will give you good luck for the rest of the year! However, I strongly recommend you to check out the parties in advanced and even buy a ticket if possible, as there is not much celebration in the streets and you could be disappointed for not finding the entertainment you expected…

- July and August. “Grec” music, dance and theater international festival. Enormous range of cultural activities, including theater plays in English and other languages. In Plaça Catalunya near Portal de l’Àngel you will find an information point.

- Week around the 15th of August. Festival of Gracia. This popular neighborhood organizes its festival: every street is decorated by its inhabitants, who run a contest to choose the best ornamentation. Regular buildings become the ocean, the Eiffel Tour, the animals of a farm or the Amazonian forest. Morning activities for the children and dancing every night during the whole week. Don’t miss Carrer Verdi and Carrer Joan Blanques, the two streets that compete every year for the first price!

If you come to Barcelona in Autumn
Submitted by M15393
- Autumn. Buy roasted chestnuts and sweet potatoes to the “castanyeres”, ladies selling this autumn products in their street stalls. There is usually one of them in the crossing of la Rambla with the street Cardenal ... view more Casañas.

- Week before the 24th of September. La Mercè. The main festival of the city, honoring our holy patron, the Virgin of Mercy. Human towers, sardana dancing, folk demonstrations, traditional parades for children, the exciting fire run “correfoc”, concerts and street shows, and the spectacular firework and music festival “Piromusical”. In Plaça Catalunya near Portal de l’Àngel you will find an information point.

- 1st of November. We don’t celebrate Halloween here, but the All Saints day. I won’t recommend you to visit our cemeteries (as locals will do to honor their beloved ones), but to visit a pastry shop and buy some “panellets”, delicious marzipan and nut sweets that are the traditional desert for this day.

If you come to Barcelona in Winter
Submitted by M15393
- December, until Christmas Eve. The Christmas lights are lit at the beginning of the month, and it is a joy to walk around the shopping streets and the Old Town in the evening. Join the locals in the every-year ... view more discussion about the appropriateness (or lack of) of their contemporary designs against the traditional ones. And don’t forget to check out the Christmas market in front of the Cathedral.

- First week of January, until the 5th (included). Your kids will have so much fun watching the toys fair in Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes. In Spain children are given their presents by the Three Wise Men, who arrive on the night of the 5th of January. Parents desperate to find their kids favorite toy will have time until past midnight to find it in this fair. And you can also find decoration items and other presents for those that are not kids anymore.

- Carnival. February, the dates may vary might vary depending on the Catholic calendar. Although it is not easy to find now carnival celebrations open to everybody, in most markets the sellers do dress up to cheer up their customers. You can also have a walk around the Ciutadella Park on the Sunday of Carnival (many children will come dressed up as well) or have a wild night in the town of Sitges during their Carnival Parades.

Good ideas for great presents
Submitted by M15393
The Food:

- Wines and liquors. Red wine from La Rioja or Ribera del Duero, white wine from Penedès, pure virgin oil (in elegant glass bottles), Aromes de Montserrat (nuts digestive), Melodys (Catalan cream liquor), ... view more Ratafia (nuts liquor).

- Sweets. Turrón (Christmas nougat) de Jijona, de Alicante or de crema, carquinyolis (Catalan dry almond cookies served with desert or coffee), chocolates (find those that copy the design of the Passeig de Gracia tiles), thick hot chocolate powder.

-Meat. Jamón de jabugo (the highest quality of Spanish cured ham,; if vacuum-packed you won’t have problems at the airport), other pork sausages (salchichón, langoniza, fuet, butifarra…).

- Other. Saffron, seasoned olives, olivada (olives paté), local nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts).

Kitchen Housewares (In department stores or hardware stores): iron and clay dishes for Catalan Cream cooking, tomba-truites (special flat dish to flip omelets), olive and vinegar sets, local design houseware from Vinçon’s.

Accessories: hand-painted silk fans, stationary designed by Jordi Lavanda, Gaudí inspired jewels, women accessories by Tous, modernist Masriera jewels.

Clothing: Designer Custo BCN fashion, Kukuxumusu and Paramita good quality and fun souvenir T-shirts, Zara, Mango and Desigual casual wear, Camper shoes, espardenyes (traditional spadrilles).

Activities with kids in Barcelona
Submitted by M15393
Walks & Sights:
- A walk down la Rambla enjoying the birds market and the mimes is always a safe bet!
- Play hide-and-seek in the cypress tree maze of the Park del Laberint d’Horta (Subway: line 3, ... view more “Mundet”).
- Enjoy a boat ride in the port or along the city seafront with the classic Golondrinas, departing from the Columbus Statue (end of la Rambla).

Sport:
- Go cycling! Rent a bike.
- Go ice-skating! In the famous Football Club Barcelona facilities.
- Row the boats in the Ciutadella Park (Subway: line 4 “Barceloneta” or line 1 “Arc de Triomf”).

Fun:
- Discover the local amusement park at the top of the Tibidabo hill. Remember to take the Blue Tramway and then the Funicular to get there!
- Or take a day trip to Port Aventura, a theme park owned by Universal Studios!
- Have fun with the wax people at the Wax Museum.
- Have a delicious time at the Museum of Chocolate.

Culture:
- Be a scientist at the Cosmocaixa Science Museum.
- Feel like a pirate at the Maritime Museum.
- Discover the brand new Museum of the Music, at the Auditori building.

Fauna:
- Say hi to the sharks at the Aquarium.
- Learn from the animal world at the Barcelona Zoo.

What to bring on a hiking tour in Andalusia, spain
Submitted by M16078
Essential items for all seasons:
- Worn in light walking boots. If you have to wear new walking boots, bring ‘second skin’ plasters to avoid being affected by blisters.
- Walking socks (light breathable ones for ... view more summer and warm ones for winter).
- Water bottle.
- Light weight day pack.
- Walking stick if you normally use one.
- Lightweight trousers for comfortable walking in all terrain.

Spring to early autumn:
- Warm clothes for cooler evenings.
- Lightweight waterproof jacket.
- Hat, Sunscreen, Swimwear.
- Sun glasses for sensitive eyes.
- Sandals for “after walking”.

Late autumn and winter:
- Warm clothes (i.e. fleece), which you can superpose on top of breathable T-shirts.
- Warm hat, Waterproof jacket, Waterproof trousers, Gloves.

Travel essentials:
- Valid passport.
- Travel insurance policy which should also include hill walking.
- Make sure you keep any medication you need in your hand luggage and not in your suitcase during flights in case your suitcase is lost.

If you suffer from any medical condition or you have any dietary requirements (i.e. vegetarian, gluten free diet) let your guide know:
- Dietary wise, it normally isn’t a problem in Andalusia as there is a great choice of food in the restaurants.
- Spanish Chemists are very knowledgeable and can normally find Spanish equivalents to foreign medicines.

10 Things to Do in Granada (not in guidebook!)
Submitted by M05958
1. Go for tapas at a hole in the wall called “Bar Arco Iris.” It’s located just inside the Elvira gate at the bottom of the Cuesta de Abarqueros. No phone.
2. Each fondue at a place called El Aguas. Located on ... view more Aljibe de Trillo in the Albaicin neighborhood.
3. Go see a concert in the Alhambra Palace or else the Manuel de Falla concert hall. You can get tickets by going to the Corral de Carbon near the Plaza Nueva.
4. Take a night walk through the grounds of the Alhambra. Open for free Thursdays 10-12 p.m.
5. Meander the Moorish shuk on the Calderería Vieja Street, just half a minute from the Plaza Nueva.
6. Visit the Casa-Museo Federico García Lorca.
7. Go see a flamenco show in an actual gypsy cave! Your best bet is Cuevas Los Tarantos, located in the Sacromonte. Phone is: 958-224-525.
8. This recommendation is in all of the guidebooks, because it is a MUST! Walk through the Albaicin (old Moorish Quarter) up to the Plaza de San Nicolas and take in the view of the Alhambra Palace and the snow-capped Sierra Nevadas in the distance.
9. Eat an ice cream in the Plaza Bibarrambla, located just a few steps from the cathedral.
10. Read Washington Irving’s Tales of the Alhambra before you go.

Are walking poles good for you?
Submitted by M16078
Walking with walking poles/stick is good for you because:

- It helps with your balance (ideal also when crossing rivers or on slippery terrain).

- It supports your body weight and thus reduces stress on your feet, ... view more legs, knees, hips and your back (especially when going downhill). So if you have any problems with any of these body parts, the walking sticks will be a great help. And if you haven't got any, they will lessen the normal "wear and tear" associated with walking.

- It helps when going uphill by giving you that extra push.

- It gives you a better posture and enables you to breathe more efficiently.

- It is very good for working out the upper body such as the arms, shoulders, upper chest, neck and the upper back, while helping to loosen any tensions that normally accumulate in the neck and the shoulder area due to stress, working at a desk/computer, etc.

- It increases your heart rate without your feeling it (easier cardio workout).

- You burn a lot more calories.

5 Top Tips to Buy Walking Poles
Submitted by M16078
My 5 top tips for buying walking poles:

1. Despite people saying the one piece poles are more secure and durable, I find telescopic walking poles more comfortable for walking on mixed terrain as is the case here in ... view more the Serrania de Ronda. You can then adjust them depending on the terrain (see how to set them up for more info on walking poles adjustment).

2. Choose poles with a comfortable handle. I prefer soft textured handles that feel smooth to the touch. Plastic ones can be a bit rough after a while and a bit slippery with sweat on hot days.

3. Choose poles with comfortable straps designed to support your wrists.

4. An added comfort is the shock absorbing features that some poles have. Some says this feature adds some weight to the poles, but it cushions impacts on your wrists when walking on hard ground or on rocky slopes.

5. Light weight poles are indeed a must in my opinion.

Tips to set up your walking poles
Submitted by M16078
How to set up your walking poles/sticks:

The height of your pole is very important so as not to strain your back or your elbows: while standing tall and holding your walking pole, the inside angle of your elbow should ... view more be at 90 degrees.

When walking uphill, you will need to shorten your poles to obtain that same comfortable height. And when walking downhill, you will need to lengthen your poles to obtain that same comfortable height.

Use your straps instead of holding firmly your walking sticks: put your hand through the strap and adjust it so that while holding lightly the handle, the heal of your hand rests comfortably onto the strap (that's why it's important to buy walking poles with ergonomically designed straps). While walking, apply pressure onto the straps instead of gripping the handle. This way, your hands and wrist don't get tired.

Walking with one or two walking poles?

Well, the general consensus seems to be that it is much better to walk with 2 walking poles for a good walking rhythm, balance and general workout. However, the main thing is your being comfortable. If it feels weird walking with 2 poles, I would use just the one. You won't get the full aerobic benefits but it will still give you some support to relieve your knees, hips, legs and back.

Spring time in Pyrenees – Sort / Noguera Pallaresa
Submitted by M20618
The river Noguera Pallaresa is without doubt the largest river in Pyrenees and of great interest to paddlers. It has an extensive river basin of wide valleys and is dominated b high mountain peaks so the river is fed by ... view more both rainfall and snow melt water. However in contrast to most Spanish rivers the thaw lasts for nearly two months. Also, a large dam downstream from Esterri d’Aneu releases water so this means that you can paddle and have activity practically until end of October. In Spring time the river, flows up to class IV+ and on the upper side you can paddle class V sections. Rest of the season the river is between II and III river rapids. Most of this region is protected a nature reserve, with the National Park of Aigues Tortes and Sant Maurici lake, a Natural Park with the high Pyrenees. The highest peak is located also in this area, Pica d'Estats with a 3143 meters high, and we will find also here the largest lake of the Pyrenees, called Certascan. Located only 3 hours drive from the city of Barcelona, or 4 hour drive from Costa Brava. And 1 hour away from Andorra the biggest shopping country free of tax in Pyrenees.
The arrival of summer in Spain
Submitted by M20618
Many regions on this country is celebrating on the 23rd June the arrival of summer with the Bonfires of San Juan. In an atmosphere of music, color, fireworks and extravagance, thousands of people throng the streets to ... view more experience this fiesta which pays tribute to fire.

Sant Joan festivity – in Pyrenees is: in ISIL (Pallars Sobirà – Sort, Lleida); This festival, which coincides with summer solstice is held on St. Johns' day (San Joan), on June 23rd in the little town of Isil, in Pallars Sobirà. Ritual dances are the main star of this spectacular show, however the night actually begins high up on the mountain, with the lighting of torches in the dark night. The night finishes with the orchestra playing songs and all kinds of dancing until early in the morning.

The Falles of Isil was declared a Traditional Festival of National Interest by the Spanish government Sant Joan Festivity in Valencia community: To celebrate the arrival of summer, the people of Alicante would traditionally flock to the countryside on 23 June for a festive dinner: they feasted on typical products, and at midnight they would light bonfires and dance around them, set off fireworks and go swimming in the sea. This custom endured over the years, and in 1928 the fiestas of the Bonfires of San Juan were formally constituted. For several days, Alicante celebrates this great homage to fire, a relation of the "Fallas" in Valencia, where the main characters are genuine works of impermanent art: the bonfires and the enormous cardboard and wooden figures which go up in flames on the night of San Juan.

The queen of the fiesta, known as the "Beauty of Fire", is chosen in May from among the candidates presented by a committee in each neighborhood. The festivities officially begin on 20 June with the building of enormous bonfires with their tongue-in-cheek cardboard figures which fill the streets of Alicante with wit and good humor.

Carnival in Spain
Submitted by M20618
There some regions in Spain where Carnival is a very popular festivity and runs in February offering lots of fun, humor, parodies and rejoicing invade the streets of Spain’s cities and villages. For their originality, ... view more beauty and spectacle, do not miss the carnivals in Cadiz (Andalusia), Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Canary Islands) both declared of International Tourist Interest and their world fame is well deserved. Also is very popular in Catalonia the Carnival of Sitges, (located only 25 minutes from Barcelona city) and very well-known village for its international films festival and its gay-themed events.
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