Think of Spain and you instantly relax, sit back and enjoy happy thoughts of a scrumptious sangria or an ice cold San Miguel whilst soaking up a sun kissed atmosphere. Spain is blessed with miles upon miles of glorious beaches with plenty hidden coves and vibrant resorts. Energetic cities like Seville with colourful orange trees on every corner and seductive flamenco in to the early hours. A destination with something for everyone but for a real treat, head inland and you will find hidden beauty that most travellers never see. Spain’s diverse landscape from rugged mountains to rolling hills has created some of the most picturesque driving routes in Europe. Off the beaten track and don’t be surprised if you find yourself on a journey that feels lost in time with tiny hillside villages, traditional farming methods and wild horses chasing your tail.
For us, Spain was one of the cheapest countries in Europe to visit. Dining out at a local tapas bar for a couple of euro’s or taking advantage of the menu of the day for a few euro’s more is a good way to keep the costs low and sample the wonderful delights of Spanish cuisine.Time of visit: Summer 2015 Our average daily spend: €21.79 Official language: Spanish Emergency phone number: 112 Medical emergency – 061 Police – 091 Fire brigade – 080 Currency: Euro
Food & Groceries
When it comes to food shopping Spain has it all from the monster hypermarket right down to the small farmer stalls and everything in between. Spain embraces the old habits and welcomes the trends, so it is not unusual to wander down a cobbled alley of street traders and pop out at the entrance of a supermarket.
The supermarkets offer everything you expect and all at reasonable prices. However, for true Spanish produce, local dishes and good banter the farmer’s markets can’t be beaten. Market day in Spain is more like a weekly celebration of shopping, meeting friends, eating tapas and sharing a coffee. Markets are held in the morning and by early afternoon everyone has packed up, shut shop and gone home for the daily siesta. But don’t worry, come early evening the bars and restaurants are back in action where the jolly atmosphere continues right in to the early hours of the morning.
Supermarket chains such as Auchan, Carrefour, E.Leclerc, Mercadona and Spar are the most popular in Spain. Alcampo and Eroski hypermarkets are usually located within large shopping complex along with other smaller retailers. Dia offer smaller supermarkets and local convenience stores. Parking is not a problem and height restrictions are rare.
Most shops close daily between 2pm and 4pm and on Sundays.
From tasty tapas to superb seafood and traditional roasts, Spanish food is all about making the most of the best local produce. A must to try – paella, patatas bravas, hams, and all swilled down with a glass of Sherry.
Spain like the most of Europe has a number of overnight parking spaces for motorhomes. Most towns or villages have a motorhome stopover of some description. In the main, a motorhome stop offers camper services such as fresh water, black water, grey water and electric. The price to stop overnight varies from free to a few euro’s for 24 hours. Services tend to either be included or a small nominal charge for fresh water and electricity. Out of season and out of the resorts, we found wild camping in Spain to be extremely easy and the people to be very welcoming.
Spaniards are parking anarchists, they will park on pedestrian crossings, corners, in front of entrances and exits. Double parking is commonplace, although triple parking or completely blocking the road is not considered good practice.
If you are travelling along the autopista or dual carriageway you will find plenty rest areas with parking options.
City parking is usually limited to underground parking lots with height restrictions, so be cautious when following parking signs in busy cities. On-street parking is forbidden in many streets in the centre of main cities. A sign saying ‘ estacionamiento prohibido’ means that parking is forbidden.
In some cities, you may encounter unofficial parking ‘attendants’ who will demand a fee to ‘look after’ your car. This may simply be a protection racket and, if you refuse to pay, they may damage your car. However, they usually only want around €1 and although, there’s no guarantee that your car will be safe, it may reduce the risk of having it broken into
Parking regulations vary with the area of a city, the time of day, the day of the week, and even whether the date is odd or even. In many towns, parking is permitted on one side of the street for the first half of the month (blue and red parking restriction sign marked ‘1-15’) and on the other side for the second half of the month (marked ’16-31’). Confused…now you know why Spaniards park illegal because the regulations are confusing.
No parking usually indicated by yellow, red or white kerb or road markings. A blue and white curb stone indicates that you can stop briefly, but cannot park. Blue lines and markings mean pay and display so look for the machines.
We understand that many people are nervous about driving abroad (especially remembering to drive on the right) but it really is quite easy once you get there.
You must be 18 years old and have a valid UK driving licence, insurance and vehicle documents in order to drive in France. If you don’t own the vehicle you’re driving, you should get written permission from the registered owner.
When joining motorways or dual carriageways the Spanish drivers generally do not move over or slow down to help merging traffic. You may well have to come to a full stop at the end of the entry slip road until the road is clear, this alien practice can be infuriating until you get used to it. If you miss your turning at a junction and then see a sign ‘cambio de sentido’ it means that just ahead is the opportunity change your direction via an pass over.
Your vehicle number plate must indicate the country of registration. If not, you need to purchase a country (i.e. GB) sticker and place on the rear of the motorhome.
Any form of radar detectors are illegal and if caught using one you will probably be handed a rather large fine.
It is worth noting at Siesta time everything closes and the country goes to sleep for several hours. For most travellers the laid back life can get very frustrating but its also a good time to take advantage of this quiet time and hit the road.
You need to carry 2 x warning triangle, reflective jacket, seat belts both front and rear. Spare headlight bulbs and tools. Spare tyre or repair kit. Spare pair of glasses, if you need glasses for driving.
Driving regulations: we use AA or RAC for up to date driving regulations & restrictions.
You drive on the right hand side of the road and all speed limits are shown in kilometres.
Toll motorway: 120 km/h
Dual carriageway : 110 km/h
Open road : 90 km/h
Town : 50 km/h
There are 4 types of roads
M- motorways or autopistas
MP – motorway toll roads or autopistas de peajes (expensive)
A – dual carriageways or autovias, all toll free
N – all other roads usually.
Prefix P, paid and prefix E, free.
In recent years Spain has undergone a major overhaul on their road infrastructure, it is now one of the best in Europe. It is the third largest in world by length with over 16,000 km of high capacity roads. Most of the motorways are tolled but the dual carriageways and open roads are free. If you spot a P in the road number it usually means a ‘paid or tolled’ road. Equally if you spot an E, it means free.
Roads in and around cities are busier than in the countryside. Small villages can be narrow and driving in the country can often feel more like a single track farmers lane.
The toll system is not simple as the rules vary from region to region. Comparative to other EU tolls the Spanish toll system is expensive. Toll booths are located at points along the highway and you pay by cash or credit card. Some you pay per kilometre and some you pay per section. Normally you obtain a ticket on entry to the highway, present it to the booth attendant and pay the due fees. Fees vary depending on the type of vehicle and it more expensive for a motorhome.
You can buy fuel from a supermarket station or fuel station. Fuel stations on toll roads are the most expensive and supermarkets are the least expensive. We found Eroski to constantly offer best priced fuel.
The supermarket stations can get extremely busy especially at weekend and watch out for height restrictions. Most are fill up and pay at the kiosk but self serve stations are becoming increasing popular.
Your tank must be EN1949 European Standard compliant. To fill your cylinders you will need a bayonet connector or Euroconnector. LPG is available in Spain but it is not available at all most fuel stations. We found LPG difficult to find outside built up areas, so we filled up when ever the opportunity arose. Alternate names GLP or gas-auto.
Spain as a public health care system as well as a myriad of private health care providers. If you are citizen of the EU and travelling through Spain or on holiday, you are automatically entitled to free basic health care in Spain due to reciprocal agreements among EU countries. You need to apply for a European Health Insurance Card, which simplifies the procedure when receiving medical assistance. Note that this health card is not an alternative to travel insurance, so private costs are not covered by this card. However, it should be noted that dental and eye care tend to be covered privately.