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My Thoughts After 3 Weeks Traveling Spain & Money Saving Tips

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After traveling Spain for 3 weeks, I'm sharing my experience with you so you know what to expect. I have some money saving tips, and I'll let you know what the accommodations, the food, and the transportation is like.

We spent most of our time in southern Spain - the Andalusia area. Our basic itinerary was: Madrid (with a day trip to Toledo) - Cordoba - Seville (where we rented a car) - El Gastor (a white village) - Ronda - Granada - a small town in the Sierra Nevada - Algeciras (with a day trip to Gibraltar) - back to Madrid for a day.

We mostly stayed in AirBnBs because they were cheaper. Some of them were shared with the owners, and some we had the entire place to ourselves. We paid about $35/night. Hotels tended to be closer to $45/night for the cheaper options, so this was a great way to save some cash and stay in really cool apartments. My favorite thing about Airbnb is that you stay in an actual place where someone might live. It feels more like you are living in the place you're at, rather than visiting it. We also really loved having a kitchen... which brings us to food in Spain.

The biggest thing about eating meals in Spain is the timing. Generally, Spanish people eat breakfast around 8 or 9, a snack a few hours later, then lunch between 2 and 4, and dinner at around 8-10PM. This took some getting used it, and because things shut down between 4pm and 7PM, you really have to make the adjustment. We found ourselves spending a day out, then grabbing lunch at 3:00 and come back to our room to rest. When 8PM came around, it was hard to motivate ourselves to get dressed up and head back out into the cool night. That why having a kitchen was so great. We could cook up a small meal and stay in for the night. Of course, some of our best times were spent at bars eating a tapas dinner and drinking beer late into the night, but we couldn't do this every night. If you don't have a kitchen, you can still find plenty of options for dinner at the supermarket. There's a lot of food in Spain that doesn't require any cooking: bread, cheese, pate, canned fish and seafood, we would also buy a lot of pre-made salads. The grocery stores were very cheap.

In bars and restaurants, I found the prices pretty reasonable. For breakfast, you could get some bread with pureed tomato, some olive oil, and some ham for only a couple Euros. Coffee would cost another Euro. Lunch is the biggest meal in Spain. If you're very hungry, check the chalkboards outside of restaurants to find their deals of the day. They usually include an appetizer, main, dessert and drink for around 8-10 Euros. If you want a small lunch, sandwiches (bocadilla) were available in most bars. They were fairly simple - small baguettes with some meat and some olive oil. They don't put many vegetables on them. You can also have a tapas lunch, order a drink and get a free tapa, or order some tapas off the menu. In Spain, tapas is basically just a small portion of food. Each tapa, if it doesn't come free with your drink, costs about 2-3 Euros. A couple would probably be enough. If you are in a place that offers free tapas, you need to buy a drink. A small beer (cana) costs around 2-2.5 Euros. The tapas would likely be smaller and might just be a plate of olives or chips. But if you order another beer, you're likely to get something a bit better. This could continue for maybe 7 rounds. We found ourselves drinking a lot more than we usually do while in Spain. The beautiful weather, the potential for tapas, and the tasty wine and beer helped that.
Normally, we would eat tapas fir dinner, but some bars start serving it for lunch as early as noon.

Transportation in Spain is fairly straight forward. Buses and trains are nice. If you are traveling by train, book a ticker online a month or so before hand. We used https://loco2.com/en to book ours. They charge a very small fee, but it's easier than using the Spanish site (https://venta.renfe.com/vol/home.do). We paid online, printed the voucher and that was our ticket. Bus tickets can usually be bought on the day.

We rented a car for a large portion of our trip. At first I was a bit worried about taking on the mountain roads, but they were very easy to drive. It was a great decision and the cost wasn't too high. I believe we paid around $23 a day. We experimented with the pickup location and drop off locations, and also the train costs of getting back to Madrid to find the perfect combination to save us money.

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