What we learned about Spain in 2017

  • We knew Spain was mountainous, but perhaps not quite HOW mountainous
  • As a result the Spanish are very good at tunnelling and building viaducts, through mountains and spanning valleys.
    • Most roads are very, very good
  • I don’t speak Spanish very well and really need to up my game (I now realise how good my French actually is…)
  • Spain is a massive country
  • The toll roads are excellent, and not usually very expensive
    • However, I have read that the prices change according to demand in some areas, for instance, along the Costa del Sol (AP7) prices are far higher in the summer
  • There is however a choice of roads to use so you don’t have to use the toll roads.
  • Toll roads are denoted by the ‘AP’ designation
  • It is well worth using a map that shows Michelin recommended towns and villages (shown by a green box).  You may not know what the point of interest is, but it is often worth investigating (we visited Olite, Aguadar, Ciudad Rodrigo and Fromistas as a direct result of using the green boxes on the map)
  • Fuel is cheaper in Spain than the UK and diesel is cheaper than unleaded.
    • Fuel is much, much, much cheaper in Gibraltar (80p per litre……)
  • Supermarkets are very good in Spain.
    • Our favourites were Mercadona, Lidl and Supersol (in the south)
  • San Miguel is extremely cheap (all beer is, but Calv drinks San Miguel if given the option)
  • The A7 along the Costa del Sol is not a nice road.  Although there are several proper slip-roads there are also just normal junctions joining this fast road, which also has bus-stops and a walkway just the other side of the crash barrier.  Out of season we would always suggest using the AP7 (the toll road)
  • You must head inland for some lovely views and attractions.  Visit some viewpoints, climb some mountains and walk along the Camino del Rey!
  • We actually preferred the North of Spain, definitely the North West…..
  • Salamanca is absolutely beautiful and you need at least 2 full days to see it all.
  • There is not much variety in the food you’re offered in most cafes and restaurants
  • Spanish drivers are, in the main, respectful towards cyclists and there are road-signs advising that 1.5m space should be given.
  • Cycle helmets are to be worn on urban roads where the speed limit is 50kmph or more.  There is a fine of 100 Euros each for transgression.  It’s not heavily enforced, but we did get stopped (although not fined..)
  • Many of the beaches on the Costa Del Sol and Coasta Blanca are not actually that nice, quite gritty and black.  The best one’s (the exceptions that we saw) are those at Benidorm and Alicante.  Where we stayed at Cobapina near Marbella there was a lovely sandy beach.
  • The beaches in Northern Spain are lovely – we saw Zarautz and Oyambre in particular.
  • Antoni Gaudi built a house in Comillas in the north – El Capricho.
  • The ACSI card is extremely useful – in low season participating sites will cost a maximum of 19 Euros per night
    • However, it’s always worth checking the site’s website as sometimes it can work out cheaper to use their own deals.  Especially if you’re planning to stay for a while.
  • With a couple of notable exceptions, Pamplona and Salamanca, the cycle paths were generally pavements shared with pedestrians (who were, however, generally fairly good at staying on their own side).  (I’m sure that there are other exceptions – we only saw a tiny fraction of this huge country!)
    • On the quieter roads cycling was perfectly okay, even for novices like me (I prefer traffic free routes wherever possible!)
  • As in France there were many, many tumbledown, abandoned buildings dotted around everywhere.
  • Spanish TV.  Obviously we didn’t watch much TV that was in Spanish (although we did at times!), but there were a lot of American shows on channels like Paramount and Energy.  At first we thought there weren’t any adverts.  How wrong we were!
    • The TV programme might be on for upwards of 1/2 hour before any adverts.  Then the programme will just suddenly be interrupted – not at a natural pause, not even mid-sentence.  No the programme will stop and the adverts start mid-word!  Then you will have anything up to 7 or 8 minutes of adverts…  Sometimes you will then just have another 5 minutes of programme before another set of adverts.
  • In Benidorm there are several English speaking radio channels.
    • Some of them are almost good……
  •  There are areas of Spain that are more British than Spanish
  • We will definitely be returning.  Next time we will probably head west along the north coast from the ferry, and therefore spend more time in the north and the interior than in the resorts in the south

Author: MandoraTheExplorer

Having given up full-time work we currently work a year to travel for 4-5 months, and we're hoping to continue this until we can retire properly! Currently living, and loving, life to the full :)

6 thoughts on “What we learned about Spain in 2017”

  1. Many thanks for sharing your thoughts on Spain – Hope you have a lovely year going around the UK. Jealous or what!


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