Spain Map Tourist Attractions
Emergency: 112. Local Police: 3092. National Police: s091. Ambulance: s 124.
TOURIST OFFICES. The Spanish Tourist Office operates an extensive official website (www.tourspain.es) and has 29 offices abroad. Municipal tourist offices, called oficinas de turismo, are a good stop to make upon arrival in a town; they usually have free maps and region-specific advice for travelers.
MONEY. On January 1, 2002, the euro (‚) replaced the peseta as the unit of currency in Spain. For more info, see 14. As a general rule, it is cheaper to exchange money in Spain than at home. Santander Central Hispano often provides good exchange rates. Tipping is not very common in Spain. In restaurants, all prices include a service charge. Satisfied customers occasionally toss in some spare change usually no more than 5% but this is purely optional. Many people give train, airport, and hotel porters ‚1 per bag; taxi drivers sometimes get 5-10%. Bargaining is common only at flea markets and with street vendors.
Spain has a 7% value-added tax, known as IVA, on all restaurants and accommodations. The prices listed in Let’s Go include IVA unless otherwise mentioned. Retail goods bear a much higher 16% IVA, although listed prices are usually inclusive. Non-EU citizens who have stayed in the EU fewer than 180 days can claim back the tax paid on purchases at the airport. Ask the shop where you made the purchase to supply you with a tax return form.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
While Spain is a relatively stable country, travelers should beware that there is some terrorist activity; the militant Basque separatist group ETA has carried out attacks on government officials and tourist destinations. Though the attacks are ongoing, the threat is relatively small. Travelers should be aware of current levels of tension in the region and exercise appropriate caution. Recreational drugs are illegal in Spain. Any attempt to buy or sell marijuana could land you in jail or with a heavy fine.
TELEPHONES. The central Spanish phone company is Telefonica. The best way to make local calls is with a phone card, issued in denominations of ‚6 and ‚12 and sold at tobacconists (estancos or tabacos) and most post offices. You can also ask tobacconists for calling cards known as Phonepass. (To US, ‚6 per hr.) The best way to call home is with an international calling card issued by your phone company. For info on using a cell phone in Spain, see 30.
Country code: 34. International dialing prefix: 00. From outside Spain, dial int’l dialing prefix (see inside back cover) + 34 + local number.
MAIL. Air mail (por avion) takes five to eight business days to reach the US or Canada; service is faster to the UK and Ireland and slower to Australia and New Zealand. Standard postage is ‚0.70 to North America. Surface mail (por barco), while less expensive than air mail, can take over a month, and packages take two to three months. Registered or express mail (registrado or certificado) is the most reliable way to send a letter or parcel home and takes four to seven business days. Address mail to be held (Poste Restante) according to the following example: SURNAME, First Name; Lista de Correos; City Name; Postal Code; SPAIN; AIR MAIL.
INTERNET ACCESS. Email is easily accessible within Spain and much quicker and more reliable than the regular mail system. An increasing number of bars offer Internet access for a fee of ‚1.20-4.50. Cybercafes are listed in most towns and all cities. In small towns, if Internet access is not listed, check the library or the tourist office. The website www.tangaworld.com lists nearly 200 cybercafes in Spain.
Spanish food has tended to receive less international attention than the country’s beaches, bars, and discos. Taste often ranks above appearance, preparation is rarely complicated, and many of the best meals are served not in expensive res-
taurants but in private homes or streetside.bars. All of this has started to change as Spanish food becomes increasingly sophisticated and cosmopolitan, but fresh local ingredients are still an integral part of the cuisine, varying according to each region’s climate, geography, and history. Most experts, in fact, argue that one can speak of Spanish food only in local terms. Spaniards breakfast lightly and wait for a several-course lunch, served between 2 and 3pm. Supper at home (ila cena) tends to be light while eating out begins anywhere between 9pm and midnight. Some restaurants are open from 8am until 1 or 2am, but most serve meals only from 1 to 4pm and from 8pm until midnight. Prices for a full meal start at about ‚4 in the cheapest bar-restaurantes. Many places offer a plato combinado (main course, side dishes, bread, and sometimes a beverage) or a menu del dia (two or three set dishes, bread, beverage, and dessert) for roughly ‚5-9. If you ask for a menu, this is what you may receive; carta is the word for menu. Tapas (savory meats and vegetables cooked according to local recipes) are truly tasty and in some regions complimentary with beer or wine. Raciones are large tapas served as entrees. Bocadillos are sandwiches on hunks of bread. Spanish specialties include tortilla de patata (potato omelette), jamon ser-rano (smoked ham), calamares fritos (fried squid), arroz (rice), chorizo (spicy sausage), gambas (shrimp), lomo (pork), paella (steamed saffron rice with seafood, chicken, and vegetables), and gazpacho (cold tomato-based soup). Vegetarians should learn the phrase yo soy vegetariano” (I am a vegetarian) and specify that means no jamon (ham) or atun (tuna). Vino bianco is white wine and tinto is red. Beer is cerveza; Mahou and Cruzcampo are the most common brands. Sangria is red wine, sugar, brandy, and fruit.
HOLIDAYS & FESTIVALS
Holidays; New Year’s Day (Jan. 1); Epiphany (Jan. 6); Maundy Thursday (Apr. 8); Good Friday (Apr. 9); Easter (Apr. 11); Labor Day (May 1); Assumption Day (Aug. 15); National Day (Oct. 12); All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1); Constitution Day (Dec. 6); Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8); Christmas (Dec. 25).
Festivals: Nearly everything closes during festivals. Almost every town has several, and in total there are more than 3000. All of Spain celebrates Carnaval March 4; the biggest parties are in Cataluna and Cadiz. Valencia hosts the annual Las Fallas in mid-March. From April 4-11, the entire country honors the Holy Week, or Semana Santa. Seville’s Feria de Abril takes place in late April. Pamplona’s San Fermines (Running of the Bulls) breaks out from July 6 to 14. For more fiesta info, see www.tourspain.es, www.SiSpain.org, or www.planetware.comnationalEHOLIDAYS,HTM.
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