8 HELPFUL THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE GOING TO SPAIN

I had just come from a two-week trip to Spain which I must admit I wasn’t that excited at first given that it was our fifth (and last-minute) choice. But the land of tapas and siesta proved me wrong making me want to go back especially now that I know what I know. If Spain is in your immediate bucket list, here are some little things that I found to be significant to make it more enjoyable:

Image Source: BBC
1. When shopping, always request for the tax refund option if your purchase is at least 90 euros as the tax can be substantial ranging from 4-20%. You won’t be presented this option no matter how obvious your being a tourist. Upon request, they will issue you a receipt that contains the details like your passport information needed to qualify for the refund. After signing the receipt, you will be given an official envelope. Do note what company is reflected on it. Spain has different companies offering refund services so they are not interchangeable. You cannot redeem your Global Blue refund from Premiere. 

These companies also have different redemption policies. With Global Blue, you need to fill up a form before making a claim. You can download it or if you shop at El Corte de Ingles, its ubiquitous department store, you can get the form from some of its branches which will cut your processing time at the airport by a few steps.

You can redeem your refund at the airport or at outlets in the city but you will not get the full amount as the outlets’ commission will be deducted. You also need to get the seal of customs for redemption. When claiming at the airport, take note that you must secure the seal before checking in. They also have a strict time schedule to entertain you. In our case, we assumed that the service would be 24/7 so for our 10 a.m. flight, we headed off to the airport at 4:30 a.m. only to be told to wait for it to open at 6:30 a.m. For now, they will only entertain claims for flights before 7:30 a.m. We could have spent those waiting hours at our comfortable hotel beds. If you want to redeem at outlets, I have no idea on how and where you can get the seal outside the airport.

2. You cannot go to Spain without trying their tapas and paellas (which is pronounced as "pa-e-yas"). Tapas are their appetizers which can be a full meal on their own if you are unaware especially if you are on a tour. The way they serve them reminds me of the Chinese laureate where the main courses are served last. If you are not careful or are famished at the beginning, you may tend to eat the first tapas served and miss out on the main dishes. But if you are on your own, you get to pick the number of your tapas while in some places, they may be served free together with an order of a drink.

Image Source: What's Gaby Cooking

As for paellas, be careful how you order otherwise it will ruin your budget. On our first night in Madrid, we saw a paella dish worth 28 euros and thought it was a good deal especially that the menu indicated it was for “sharing for two.” We liked the paella so much that we ordered another one so we were prepared to pay 56 euros. It turned out that the 28 price was billed per head. Since we ordered two sets of paella for two people, it was 28 euros x 4. That almost ruined our mood. But then there were restaurants that offered a paella dish good for two people minus the multiplication so always ask how the system is.

3. Still on the subject of food, one local guide said in his welcome speech, "Welcome to Spain. If you don't like pork and olive oil, you will not survive here." He wasn't kidding. Almost all dishes contained pork especially the breakfast fare which made me apprehensive about my cholesterol.

spanish pork
Image Source: Gastronomic Spain
4. Besides pork and olive oil, you will be saturated with bread. In the Philippines, bread is almost always offered for free. Again, we learned this the hard way. We were simply asked if we wanted bread while we waited for our order to arrive. We said yes only to be surprised to see it in included in our bill. Always ask first before saying yes to anything.

5. As for water, Spain's tap water is potable so you don't need to spend on bottled water. You can bottle your own. And be careful when you request for water at a restaurant for they will immediately give you bottled water worth at least 2-3 euros. If you want service water, say "tap water."

6. Greet people especially those attending to your needs with a nice "ola." Some are sticklers that you respond to it clearly. One time, I just mumbled "ola" hurriedly as we usually do with our “good mornings” here in the Philippines, the clerk stopped me and said, "I said 'ola.'"

7. Now about getting around, there's Uber in some cities and taxis almost everywhere. Meters are always turned on. You can flag down a taxi anywhere but when you see a stand, you have to go there. I learned that by experience. I thought I could just get on a cab as soon as the passenger alighted but the driver kindly pointed the stand to me.

8. Now if you join a tour traveling to different parts of Spain by bus, naturally, you will have your breaks at service stops for meals and the call of nature. Note that most are self-service and self-bussing. You collect the tray, utensils, and napkins yourself before ordering, and you store them after you have eaten.

Hope you find the list helpful and if you have any of your own, feel free to add them in the comment section below and help your fellow wanderlusters. Gracias!

No comments

Powered by Blogger.