When traveling the south of Spain and going to the real touristy places, you will meet Roma woman, who will hold up a little green branch and say "una regalo" which means a present for you. You take it, they take your hand and start telling you the future. For that they want some money (up to 10€). They even help you finding the money in your wallet!!!
Unique Suggestions: Don't do it! If they come towards you, be rude and say "no". Even they hold you or stay in your way. I've seen them telling tourists the future, while their kids or someone else is going through your pockets and daybag.
Fun Alternatives: No alternative there besides being rude.
You want to see the major places, so the just beware.
If you are travelling spain and find yourself in need of a drink, whatever you do, don't pull over at the nearest bright lit building, it could end up being more than you expected.
I pulled over at a nice looking building, lots of neons, pretty much away from the town, so my friends and I decided to "check it out" and get a drink, to our shock but not dissapointment, it was a brothel, needless to say I didn't hang around.
I have since seen a lot of these buildings a lot of them looking pretty similar (big, brightly lit, in the middle of nowhere). So unless you wanna go in, stay clear!
the giralda and cathedral are awesome. hopefully you can visit on a weekday and avoid sharing the view with multiple busloads of tourists. it is a great area and has fabulous history....be sure to be asked to buy lots of stuff.
Unique Suggestions: you definitely want to climb to the top of the giralda to see the view of the city. my advice: try to guess how many people are trying to make the ascent to the top of the giralda at any one time. if there are loads of people heading up, it can be an unpleasant experience at the top.
it can be nice to watch a mass in the cathedral.
The Cueva de Nerja are a caves system which was inhabited prehistoric times by cavemen. I personally found that it was not worth traveling to as the caves are very dark and you can barely see any of the prehistoric paintings inside. Nor did I find that the rock formations themselves all that interesting. It is also very crowded and for that reason, I found that it had the feel of a tourist trap. For 5 Euros it was not worth the experience.
Many hotels will tell you about a Flamenco show they offer, or can sell you tickets to. I've never been to one, and someday might go just to see why they are supposed to be so bad... I do know they are expensive and that anyone who knows anything about flamenco says they are bad.. These are the made for tourists type of shows that cost 20 or 30 Euros a head if not more... don't go unless you really want to.
Unique Suggestions: Realize that this is not the real deal.
Real flamenco happens during the Biennal.. coming this fall... and in many neighborhoods that you might not really want to be in. If you're in Sevilla, go across the river to Triana, and you may have a shot at something.
Fun Alternatives: On the night of any big football match, go to some local dive bar, preferably on the outskirts of town in a residential area. Watch the locals chant, and clap, and break into Sevillanas during the games.. its pretty cool. I've only seen this in Sevilla... so try it there.
This is the giant department store that you will find at least one of in any city throughout Spain. It is well stocked, you can buy anything from clothing to food, to bathroom products, but it is more expensive. It isn't a bad place to buy a mantilla or peineta if you really want one.. my mother-in-law bought mine for my wedding there! Just know that for most things, if you can get to Carrefoure, they will be much cheaper.
Unique Suggestions: This is a good place to buy designer clothes, especially if they have the "bargain basement" type of store. Its a great place to buy makeup and perfume, they have EVERYTHING!! It isn't a bad place to buy flamenco dresses either, as they have a range of prices and styles to choose from.. Just know that it isn't the be all and end all to all stores...
Fun Alternatives: Carrefour.. giant grocery/discount chain found as abundantly throughout Spain as El Corte Ingles.
Go there for basic things.
The "hippie market" in front of El Corte Ingles in downtown Sevilla.
The Gitano Market held on Sunday mornings in Parque Alcosa.. outlying neighborhood of Sevilla on the East side of town.
This is the Sevilla of postcards, or travel books, and what you came to see. Yes, do this, but during the day. Pick pockets are waiting for you!
Buy your souveniers in other areas, they are much cheaper anywhere else.
Unique Suggestions: Watch your purse, and your wallet.
It doesn't happen all the time, but sometimes, mainly in the taxis from the airport in Madrid, the taxi drivers (specially if you don't speak spanish) "get confused" when giving you back the change.
So, pay attention on what the taximeter says, of what bill you give them and of what do you get back.
As a rule I always ask for a paper bill of the ride. This way, if you forget something in the cab you can easily identify it when try to recover it...
In several of the markets, leather markets especially, never go with the first price offered on leather goods.
Unique Suggestions: It is almost expected that you haggle.
This does not mean try to gouge the sellers, just try to get a good bargain for yourself.
Fun Alternatives: You can always go to one of the malls, but where is the fun in that? Fixed prices and limited selection.
Spain is not always 365 days sunshine everywhere.
Not only small white-houses villages.
Not every Spanish woman is flamenco dancer like Bizet´s "Carmen".
Not every Spanish boy dreams of being torero (bullfighter)...
DON´T ! There are still many others lovely things to be discovered. Just have a try!
So many people from Europe go to the Costa's. The package holidays, to crowded and busy resorts. The beaches crammed person to person, baking in the sun, like sausages in a frying pan. Tacky bars, where no Spanish person would normally drink, singing Kareoke, and becoming inebriated.
Now I'm not knocking this at all, it can be fun, I have enjoyed it myself, in fact Spain very much depends on it as a source of income.
All I'm saying is that You deserve much more from your visit......
Unique Suggestions: Try to get away on a few daytrips... along the coast just out of town you may well find a small beach, quiet and secluded, with just a few people there, that are in the know. Visit a few inland towns, see the day to day life of the people, visit some of the many historical and architectural wonders of the country. If any cultural events are taking place during your visit, such as Fiesta's or Feria's try to attend.
You can balance the resort with something a little more off the beaten track.
Fun Alternatives: Take a more cultural vacation, visit cities, and on the coasts try some of the less touristic areas. You wont be sorry.
The Medina Az-Zahara is the ruins of a 10th century Moorish palace. The palace was apparently quite opulent but really little remains of it today. This was probably because of considerable looting by the locals over the past thousand years.
I was somewhat disappointed in the Medina Az-Zahara. This is probably because compared to the other Moorish monuments in Andalucia, the palaces and mosques that used to be here have been largely destroyed. There are some fine examples of Moorish artwork and architecture here but they are not enough to justify a trip out from Cordoba to see them. The Medina Az-Zahara is about 7km west of Cordoba. I reached the site by bus first and then a 3km walk from the road. After that I was expecting more when I got there and was disappointed. Fortunately somebody drove me back to Cordoba after my visit.
Unique Suggestions: I will say the Medina Az-Zahara is very pretty if small. As you can see here there are lots of flowers and gardens to take in. It might be romantic if you are couple.
Fun Alternatives: If you want to see better examples of Moorish architecture nearby then go to the much more famous Mezquita in Cordoba.
There are a bunch of women standing around at the major tourist sites in most cities in Spain. They have stalks of plants (someone on VT said it's rosemary) which they try to sell to tourists.
I don't think they cost much, but still........ why fall into the trap and buy something that you won't know what to do with and much less has any magical powers.
Unique Suggestions: Ignore them, no eye contact and don't express interest or the slightest hint of curiosity. A firm NO will suffice. That or walk away.
Fun Alternatives: There are many souvenir shops in Spain. Buy the ones of the famous Spanish landmark - the big black bull - which you see along major Spanish highways.
I do not know why but Nerja rubbed me the wrong way. I guess if you just want to hang out on a beach for a few days it is alright. However do not expect to experience much in the way of Spanish atmosphere here. The town seems to be saturated with British, German and Dutch retirees and few Spaniards at all. The town is full of English and German pubs. Everything here such as directional signs is in English instead of Spanish. I also felt that the much talked about Nerja caves were highly overrated and not worth the bother.
Unique Suggestions: The beaches might be one of the redeaming factor about Nerja. They are covelike beaches that a snuggled against Nerja's bluffs. However there are better beaches in Spain too.
Spain commercial establishments close around 13:30-14:00 and open around 17:00-17:30. It's such a pain in the ass!!! Please, watch out for the opening times for restaurants, shops, visitor attractions, etc. There're some exceptions, like big department stores and others, so, find out about them.
This is a beautiful property with a modern, luxurious feel. For those of you who want a more...more
With most four-star hotels in Madrid (and throughout Western Europe) charging US$400 or more, the...more
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