- What should you pack?
A crucial question for any traveler, especially since the U.S. is usually a bit behind in the world of fashion. If you’re headed to the south of Spain (Sevilla, Granada, Málaga, etc.), be prepared for scorching hot temperatures during the summer months, but more of a moderate winter climate (definitely bring a jacket to withstand temperatures in the 40s, but it rarely drops into the 30s there). In the north (Pamplona, Galicia, Barcelona), sometimes temperatures have the potential to reach the 30s at night during the summer as well, so be sure to prepare for all sorts of weather. As for summer fashion, Spaniards love a cute tank top or graphic t-shirt with some jeans, usually accompanied by white sneakers (Converse, Filas, even Vans) or platform sandals. Definitely check out stores like Zara, Pull&Bear, and Mango once you land (you won’t be disappointed).
- Where to eat?
A rule of thumb for any Spanish restaurant: if they have a picture of their food on the side of the building STAY AWAY, this food is meant for tourists and will most likely be sub-par. In Spain, the dining experience is completely different (not to mention significantly later: dinner is served around 9:30 pm). The experience is meant to be an intimate time with family and friends. Restaurants provide a place to talk the night away comfortably, without rushing. Servers need to be flagged down for whatever question you may have (it’s not like your local Olive Garden where they come around every 20 minutes), and tips are also included. Different cities have different specialties when it comes to Spanish cuisine but their healthy, freshly prepared, Mediterranean diet helps explain why they’re all so fit.
- How to get around?
Uber and Lyft are not very big in Spain (although you can still opt to use them). In Spain, taxis are charged by the distance, not per person, so it can be pretty affordable once it’s divided up. For a night out, taxis are a must and the metro can be a huge help. Be sure to check the schedule for the metro and be aware that in smaller cities, it may be significantly smaller, or not exist at all. You may want to use a refillable metro card if you’ll be using it frequently. When getting to the airport in smaller cities, the bus will definitely be cheaper than a taxi. Be sure to research it online first, as the process can be a little more complex. Lastly, but most importantly – Blablacar! This is essentially a long distance Uber (but very affordable). You can meet new people and practice a lot of Spanish.
Hopefully you can enjoy Spain to its fullest, and remember for packing USE SPACE BAGS.
Elena Manauis is a student at University of Kentucky and was an ISA Featured Blogger. She studied with ISA Service Learning in Granada, Spain.
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