We just returned from a two week trip through Spain and Portugal. I will be posting the highlights of our adventures city by city, but along the way, some basic do’s and dont’s were reinforced:
- Know the language. I’ve been to many foreign countries, and have never needed to speak the language more than in southern Spain! Shame on me, but now you have been warned. Not being able to communicate (other than hello and thank you) created problems at our B&B’s (sign language for we would like a different roommate?), restaurants (did we really order ham and olives again?) and most especially when we were lost, which was a constant state.
- Pay a little more for the deluxe double. There is a reason why you pay less for the basic double. It is the small room near the reception desk on the noisy side of the building. The small hotels in Europe are in old buildings, so rooms are not all equal. Even though it’s just a place to collapse at the end of the day, my advice is to splurge for the view of the gardens, instead of waking up to the sound of cars on cobblestone.
- Take a walking tour of the city on your first day. This can make a huge difference in your experience in any city. In just a few hours you can learn the history, see the important sites to come back to, orient yourself (less time lost looking at maps) and get great advice on local restaurants and bars. Do your homework before you leave, and try a private tour sometime! We did in Granada, and it was priceless.