On the Spanish mainland and Balearic Isles, local time is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time in winter and two hours ahead in summer.
Main language is Castellano (Spanish), but there are three main regional languages: Catalan (Catalonia), Euskera (Basque Country) and Gallego (Galicia). Variants of Catalan are spoken in the Valencia region and Balearic Islands. Most people in the main tourist areas can understand and/or speak English.
Electric appliances run on 220 volts AC. 50 HZ. Standard European-pattern round-pinned plugs are used
In Spain, the units of weight, measure and distance are governed by the decimal metric system.
To enter Spain it is necessary to show a valid passport. For citizens of countries belonging to the European Economic Community, the presentation of a national identification document is sufficient.
Personal Travel Insurance is essential while travelling in Spain. You should be sure that you are adequately covered for all risks. You must also take a copy of the insurance policy with you, including details of how to obtain assistance in the event of any emergency, as it will be necessary for you to deal directly with your insurers in such a case. While Totally Spain will try to assist travellers who have taken their own insurance we regret that our ability to do so may be limited due to wide variations in cover between policies.
Travellers entering Spain may transport a series of personal items (such as personal jewellery, cameras, viewfinders, musical instruments, portable video and sound equipment, athletic gear, camping articles, etc) without having to pay customs charges. Upon request, Spanish customs officials will issue receipts to justify the entry into the country of any item. For certain articles, such as cigarettes, cigars, perfume, wines and liquor, maximum limits have been established, with customs fees required on surpassing quantities. There is no limit to the amount of Euros tourists may bring into Spain. Also permitted is the entry of cheques or vouchers issued against foreign accounts in convertible Euro, as are travellers cheques, with no limits. Foreign currency can also be brought into Spain with no limits, both banknotes and coins, providing they are of legal issue.
Bank offices are open for business from 8.30am to 2:30pm Monday through Saturday, except in the summer months when they are closed on Saturday. Some branch offices are open in the afternoon.
The Spanish currency is the Euro.
Foreign currency can be exchanged for Euro at all banks –open Monday to Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. (except in summer, from June to September, when they close on Saturdays)– as well as at exchange bureaux in the main cities. A good number of hotels will also change money. In addition, traveller’s cheques and leading international credit cards are accepted by most hotels and some restaurants and shops.
Usual shop opening times are 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and 4:30-8 p.m., Monday to Saturday. Major shopping malls, department stores and supermarkets stay open without a break from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. or in some cases until 10 p.m. On a fixed number of Sundays in the year (approximately 12 in all), the large department stores and supermarkets also open to the public.
Breakfast time is usually from 8-10 a.m. and lunchtime in restaurants normally from 1-3:30 p.m. Dinner is served from around 8:30/9pm -11 p.m. Many catering establishments operate a continuous service throughout the day, a common practice in cafeterias and bars, in many of which it is possible to order snack-like servings (tapas), a limited variety of set dishes, rolls and small portions of selected foods (raciones).
In summer, these hours are often expanded, with many establishments offering continuous service and still other serving food into the small hours of the night. Bars are usually open all-day and close late at night.
Pharmacies usually open from 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and 5.00 - 8.00 p.m., though in the bigger cities a certain number remain open round the clock. There is a rota, displayed outside pharmacies and published in the daily press, indicating which pharmacies are on night-service and/or open at the weekend.
Nightlife in Spain is in a class of its own, particularly from Thursday to Sunday. Pubs, late night haunts (bares de copas) and discotheques normally keep open until 3 or 4 in the morning, and in the major cities, such as Madrid and Barcelona, there are innumerable night-spots that stay open till dawn.
Museums, most monuments and museums normally close on Mondays.
All catering establishments in Spain include service in their prices. Nevertheless, the custom of leaving a tip, while not obligatory, is the norm* in bars, restaurants, hotels and taxis, with the actual amount in each case depending on the generosity of the customer, though usually varying between 5% and 10% of the total bill.
* Please note that in the less touristic areas of Spain, particularly in the north, tipping is not the norm except in the case of very good service. A small tip of between 2 to 5 euros is perfectly acceptable.
There is no rigid dress code. Dress changes with season, venue and circumstances. On the coast, owing to the mildness of a climate, it is not usually necessary to wear warm clothing, whereas inland, one should definitely dress according to the weather, since temperature conditions vary from one extreme to the other, being icy in winter and fairly torrid in summer.
On a related matter, perhaps because the nightlife is such a great part of Spanish culture, it is not necessary to dress formally for dinner or the theatre, though this depends on specific cases.
Apart from booths (locutorios), there are the standard street-corner public telephones, from which calls can be made to any part of the world, using Euro coins or phone credit cards which can be bought at all branch post-offices (oficina de correos) and tobacconists (estancos).
To phone abroad from Spain, first dial 00 (International) and then dial the country and city codes, and lastly, the subscriber number. Should you wish to place a call to Spain, dial the country code, 34, followed by the local/area code and telephone number. It is important to note that the number to dial for directory information is 1003, a service which will furnish callers with information on all national and international codes.
For Emergencies dial 112 from anywhere in Spain.
The Spanish Post Office possesses a network of over 6,000 branch offices located around the country (in cities, railway stations, airports and harbours). At any branch post-office, the visitor can send mail, receive correspondence by simply hiring a P.O. Box (Apartado Postal), and send or receive money orders, parcels and any other kind of mail item. Similarly, most branch offices also provide telegram, telex and fax services. In all towns and cities there are corner pillar-boxes (yellow or red) where letters can be posted for collection. In Spain, the sale of postage stamps and bills of exchange, along with cigarettes, cigars and the like, is channelled through shops known as estancos, which are found throughout the country.
Recent studies rank Spain among the safest of countries. Follow this advice and you will have a thoroughly enjoyable trouble-free holiday.
At your hotel:
On the street:
The police are at your service 24-hours a day.
These are rare. Best places are department stores or bars and restaurants where you are a customer.
Gasolina (petrol), gaseleo (diesel) and gasolina sin plomo (unleaded petrol) are the 3 main types that you will find in Petrol Stations.
Paid street parking hours operate from 8 am to 2 pm and from 4 pm to 8 pm. During the hours of 2pm and 4pm street parking is usually free of charge. City car parks are normally open 24 hours a day.
Should you need any further information please do not hesitate to contact Totally Spain. Alternatively please find below the addresses and telephone numbers of the UK & USA Spanish Tourist Offices who may also be able to assist with any queries you may have
LONDON SPANISH TOURIST OFFICE
22-23, Manchester Square LONDON, W1M 5AP
Tel.: 0207-486 8077
NEW YORK TOURIST OFFICE OF SPAIN
666, Fifth Avenue NEW YORK, NY. 10103
Tel: 212 - 265 8822
LOS ANGELES TOURIST OFFICE OF SPAIN
8383 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 960 BEVERLY HILLS, CA. 90211
Tel: 323 - 658 7188
CHICAGO TOURIST OFFICE OF SPAIN
Water Tower Place, suite 915 East 845, North Michigan Avenue
CHICAGO, IL. 60611
Tel: 312 - 642 1992
PLEASE Por favor
THANK YOU Gracias
EXCUSE ME Perdone
CAKE SHOP Pasteleria
SHOE SHOP Zapateria
TOWN HALL Ayuntamiento
TOILET Lavabos, Servicios
THIS ONE Este
THAT ONE Ese
Estacion de Autobuses
RAILWAY STATION Estacion de trenes
TOURIST INFORMATION OFFICE Oficina de turismo
HOW ARE YOU? ¿Como esta usted?
DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH? ¿Habla usted Ingles?
I DON’T UNDERSTAND No comprendo
WHERE IS/ARE…? ¿Donde esta/estan…?
HOW FAR IS IT TO…? ¿Cuantos metros/kilometros hay de aqui a…?
HOW MUCH DOES THIS COST? Cuanto cuesta esto?
DO YOU TAKE CREDIT CARDS? Aceptan tarjetas de credito?
I HAVE A RESERVATION Tengo una habitacion reservada
|In the restaurant:|
|EL RESTAURANTE THE RESTAURANT|
Copa, vaso Glass
La carta, menú Menu
Servilleta Napkin, serviette
Tarjeta de crédito Creditcard
Al punto Medium
Brasa (a la) Barbecued, charcoalgrilled
Cocido Cooked, boiled, stew
Gratinado Brilled, gratin
Muy hecha Well done
Parrilla (a la) Grilled
Poco hecha Medium-rare
Al gusto to your liking
A la Romana batter dipped & fried
Al Horno oven baked
Caliente / Frío hot / cold
Berenjena Eggplant, aubergine
Calabacines Courgette, Zucchini
Endivias Endive Lettuce
Gazpacho Cold soup
Habas Broad beans
Judías Green beans
Menestra Mixed vegetables
Paella Paella (typical rice dish)
Pimientos Red Peppers
Revuelto Scrambled eggs
Tortilla Spanish Omelette
Cochinillo Suckling pig
Chuleta Chop, cutlet
Entrecot Fillet steak
Escalope Breadcrumbed steak
Filete Fillet steak
Morcilla Black pudding
Salchichón Spicy chorizo sausage
Angulas Elvers, baby eels
Arroz con leche Rice pudding
Crema catalana Créme caramel
Cuajada Curd (similar to natural yogurt)
Flan Caramel custard
Hojaldre Puff pastry
Membrillo Quince jelly (served with cheese)
Tartas Cakes, pies
Agua con gas Sparking water
Agua sin gas Still water
Café solo Black cofee
Café con leche Coffee with milk
Manzanilla Camomile tea
Menta Mint tea
Refrescos Softdrinks, sodas
Vino tinto Red wine
Vino blanco White wine
Vino rosado Rosé