| Part 1: Introduction
Overview and general impression
was an amazing trip, with lots of things to see. I wish more time would
have been available, because in Spain there is so much to explore and
local atmosphere to absorb. Toledo for instance would have
deserved an overnight stay, and in the Alhambra,
where the standard visit lasts three hours, we could have spent half a
day or longer without getting bored.
The cleanliness and good infrastructure of Spanish
cities also left a good impression. Historical sights were all well maintained.
was a bit an unpleasant surprise, as the cost of having a holiday in
Spain was higher than what we were expecting. Restaurants were very
expensive, shops and groceries were selling expensive stuff and drinks.
Rail travel was pricey and in almost every city you had to pay for car
parking. Entry tickets for even not that interesting places seem to
start at 10 Euro/person (multiply by four for a family of four). Spain
is a very interesting and amazing country, but not really a place where
to have a budget vacation.
didn't sample much of the Spanish gastronomy, because restaurants in
Spain are expensive (14 Euro for a plate of spaghetti in Madrid...),
too expensive for a family of four. Also, travelling with small kids,
we needed places offering noodle dishes. So we ended up eating often in
Chinese restaurants, because prices were lower, noodle dishes were
available and Shirley could precisely explain what she wanted to have
(lots of people in Spain are not too fluent in English).
We noticed that everywhere air-dried pork hams were sold. Perhaps the
average Spanish family has a pork ham leg at home?
There are restaurants in the tourist areas offering all-inclusive menus
with a first dish, a main dish, a dessert, bread and a drink for 9-10
as two adults with two kids (the smaller no longer baby-size) we stayed
in a mix of hotels with three or four bed rooms and apartments. The
apartments had the advantage of offering more space and separate
sleeping rooms for the children; sometimes a washing machine was there
which allowed to wash clothes (very useful if you travel with
children). Overall we spent between 63 and 120 Euro/night. Most
of the time the breakfast was not included.
The cheap option with the Etap hotels (rooms for less than 40
Euro/night) was not possible in Spain because in Spain the Etap
hotels do not allow two small kids in
the room. This had been no problem with Etaphotels in France and
Money / Exchange rate
The Euro, same currency as in Germany.
1 Euro = 1.4 USD at the time of travelling.
Plenty of ATMs everywhere, easy to get cash.
Mobile phones and prepaid cards
bought a Yoigo SIM card (3G network) for 20 Euro with 20 Euro
of airtime. It could be recharged with amounts in multiples of 5 Euro,
either in a shop or via the Internet. This offered voice and data
services. The Internet cost 3 Euro/day with a 100MB daily traffic
limit, after which it was not clear if the Internet would be cut off
or switched to a slow connection. I spent a total of 40 or 50 Euro over
these two weeks, mainly because of the Internet access.
explained above I relied on a 3G phone with the Yoigo SIM card which I
used as a modem for my computer. The last hotel where we stayed offered
free Internet access. All other hotels with WLAN in the room charged
between 10-20 Euro per day for the service. We didn't bother to look
for Internet cafés.
an initial not-so-hot weather in Barcelona with some clouds and even
some rain at night, starting from Madrid it became very hot, sunny with
spotless blue skies, with temperatures rising up to 38-39° C during the
day. It was a dry heat however with fresh mornings. Windy and not too
hot on the Andalusian beaches.
No vaccinations required, no health risks.
VISA / Entry requirements
Spain belongs to the Schengen zone, which means that between Germany
and Spain there were no passport controls.
Before leaving for Spain I was reading in the Internet a lot of reports
about crime and cars
getting broken into in Spain. During our stay nothing happened, except
a small incident in Madrid where a pickpocket tried without success to
steal my wallet.
- That beach near Tarifa with the kite surfing centre.
Very cool place.
- There is not one major sight but a multitude of
amazing sights all over Andalusia. Lots of old buildings with very
- Park Güell in Barcelona is very nice and a place
where to bring the kids.
- Barcelona is nice for a few days, Madrid surprisingly
has fewer sights despite being the capital.
Things to avoid
- There is nothing I would suggest to avoid. The
Escorial was a bit less impressive than I had imagined.
This was the more complicated part of the trip, given the need to move
around a family of four with two small kids.
by public transportation are good:
Driving on Spanish long-distance roads and motorways is easy and
uncomplicated. We experienced only one brief traffic jam near
Algeciras, otherwise the roads and motorways were mostly empty.
- The bus from Girona airport to Barcelona is fast and
not too expensive, although once you reach Barcelona you must take a
taxi to reach your hotel and this won't be cheap.
- Excellent train connection between Barcelona and
Madrid: comfortable train taking you from Barcelona to Madrid in less
than three hours. Not cheap however, since it's 70 Euro/person even
Where it get complicated, is when you need to get around in the cities
with small kids.
Public transportation in Barcelona and Madrid is good, but you still
have to do some walking since there aren't metro or bus stops
With small children and the summer heat this turned out to be a problem
and in fact in Barcelona we ended up taking taxis to get back to the
apartment in the evening, since the kids were simply too tired.
In Madrid I had to push a stroller with my two kids up a hill, because
both kids were too tired to continue walking (also my wife complained
about so much walking).
It would have been better in Madrid to get around by car since that
would have reduced the amount of walking, but the problem is the parking, which can be quite
This parking situation is not acceptable in my opinion. You cannot
always rely on public transportation, especially if you travel with
small kids or have lots of luggage.
- It's relatively affordable in some cities (Escorial,
Toledo, Granada), more expensive in other cities (36 Euro/day or 3
Euro/hour in Barcelona).
- In Sevilla it is even so that once you enter
the city your car's licence plate is scanned and read
electronically and if you do not manage to park the car in an official
parking within 45 minutes
you are automatically fined with 75 Euro.
- There are almost no free parking spaces in Spanish
cities. In other European countries instead (France, Switzerland and
for instance) it's very easy to find free parking and only in the
historic centres you need to pay for the parking.
Car rental prices are in line with prices in other holiday
destinations. At the time of visiting, gasoline cost a bit less in
than in Germany (1.3 vs. 1.5 Euro/litre).
The motorways we used were
mostly free, except for some toll roads in Andalusia.
This was the first time we flew with Ryanair. What we liked about them:
What we didn't like about Ryanair were all those extra fees,
restrictions and draconian fines for very small infringements:
- The flights arrived punctually and we got our luggage
The Ryanair flight was not that
cheap either: 1100 Euro for two adults and two kids to fly to Spain
Germany (we didn't use a standard airline because between Germany and
open-jaw flights are ridiculously overpriced).
- Fine of 40
Euro per person and trip if you don't check in online and arrive with a
printed boarding pass.
- Check-in luggage has to be paid for and costs 30
20Kg piece. Overweight fine of 20
Euro for each Kg above 20Kg.
- Only one piece of hand-carry item per person. Every
small bag you carry with you is a hand-carry item. A
small camera bag and a backpack with a notebook computer are two
- Distant airports: both Memmingen and Girona are 100km
departure and arrival points. No fast public access to these airports
from Munich and Barcelona.
- Uncertainty until the end if
the baby stroller would be accepted by Ryanair for our 3-year old or if
Ryanair would force us to treat it as check-in luggage and fine us 40
Euro. The Ryanair policy only allows strollers for kids below two years
- No allocated seating on the plane, meaning that a
family with kids can end up being spread across the plane (unless you
Euro/person/trip for priority boarding).
- 6 Euro
fee per person and trip if you want to pay the ticket, unless you have
a prepaid credit card.