1) Refresh Your Spanish
Download Dulingo to your phone and start practicing. Most people especially in the service industries of Spain know some English phrases and words, but to explain exactly what you want or need you’ll, need to at least speak some Spanglish. Best would be if you could hold a conversation with at least 70% Spanish and 30% English. But, you can get by with your wits and you phone’s translating app. I recommend Google Translate, because it’s easy and you can download the language to your phone ahead of time in case you don’t have internet or you want to save your phone battery.
2) Travel like a College Student…the Cheapest Way
Traveling around Spain? Your best options will be to book a bus, train, sometimes a Ryanair plane, or BlaBla Car. The BlaBla Car service is like Uber Carpooling except it’s for going from one city to another either in your original country or any other one in Europe. It’s very safe! I used it by myself 5 or 6 times traveling around Spain, Portugal, France, and Switzerland. You also get to meet some amazing people. Traveling through Switzerland, my BlaBla Car driver was a member of the Catalonian Government currently fighting for their independence from Spain.
Traveling from country to country? Again, BlaBla Car is great and cheaper than most other options, but routes are sometimes limited. Therefore, you next best bet is to book a flight at least a month in advance. The earlier you book the cheaper the flight will be and less stress you’ll have during the week planning everything.
3) Try Tapas the Spanish Way
You must try tapas! Some of the most world-renowned tapas are in San Sebastian, Spain right on the border between France and Spain on the Atlantic coast. However, they call them a different name in the language of Basque. Traditionally, tapas are served with every drink order you make and are FREE! If you go to a tapas bar, you’ll have to pay for the fancier food. Tapas are like small appetizers, typically there is only enough for everyone drinking to have one or 2 bits or pieces.
4) Become a Night Owl in Madrid
Spanish people start the day around 10 AM. That’s when shops start to open, and people start moving around the city. Be prepared to make your own breakfast or get used to coffee and a croissant. The Spanish breakfast is really just that, so when the afternoon hits, they can fill up on a deliciously huge lunch before their siestas. After the siestas, people go back to their activities (work/school/etc.) for a while before heading to dinner around 10 PM. After dinner, the night clubs open around 11 PM and people start arriving around midnight. Then, you can party all the way up to 6, 7, sometimes even 8 AM the next morning (and yes this is the norm, especially on the weekends).
5) Explore the WHOLE Country
Spain is vast and diverse, so don’t miss the opportunity to experience it. From Madrid, go north to Las Austurias for incredible hiking through thick green forests. Veer west to the region of Gallego and get the culture mix of Celtic (ancient Irish), Portuguese, and Spanish. To your far east is the beautiful city of Barcelona. Heading south along the coast you’ll find amazing beach cities like Valencia with it’s futuristic flare and Alicante which is more relaxed. Keep heading south and you’ll reach the Costa del Sol (“Coast of the Sun”). Then, winding back to the center, you’ll pass through mountain ranges that have skiing in the winter and dessert climates before finishing back up in Madrid.