Spain Travel Guide:
Spain is a wonderful destination for wine lovers to travel to and we have prepared some practical information for your orientation. You’ll find the airports closest to the Spanish wine regions; information on money, credit cards, insurance, phones, voltage, etc; opening hours for restaurants and shops; tips on buying wine in Spain; and general facts and figures.
There are 47 airports in Spain, the largest being Madrid´s Barajas airport and Barcelona´s El Prat airport. Here are the closest airports to the wine country:
La Rioja- Bilbao is a two hour drive from Rioja and the closest international airport with regular flights from the UK and France. There is also a provincial airport in Logroño.
Navarra- Pamplona has a provincial airport, and is at the doorstep to the wine country. Vitoria has an international airport and is about and hour and a half from the vineyards of Olite.
Penedès- Barcelona´s international airport is a 55 minute drive.
Priorat- Reus has a provincial airport that receives some low cost carriers from Europe, and is a 40 minute drive. Barcelona´s international airport is a distance of about two hours by car.
Rias Baixas- There is a provincial airport in Santiago de Compostela, which is a half hour drive from the Albariño wineries.
Ribera del Duero- Valladolid has a small airport, and is only half an hour from the wine country. Madrid´s international airport is a two hour drive.
Sherry- Jerez de la Frontera has a small airport with carriers arriving from the UK. The airport is a ten minute drive to the wineries.
We highly suggest you purchase full travel insurance and cancellation insurance to protect you from unexpected situations such as flight cancellations, medical complications, lost luggage, and any other possible eventuality.
The currency in Spain is the Euro. Check with your bank for up to date exchange info. A web tool for currency exchange. www.x-rates.com/calculator.html Spanish Banks are open Monday to Friday 8:30AM to 2PM and closed all day Saturday, Sunday, and national holidays. In Spain, when paying by credit card, passport/ photo ID is always required. Travellers cheques are rarely accepted and not recommended. AMEX is less widely accepted than Visa and Mastercard. The most practical way to get money while in Spain is ATM machines, check with your bank that your pin code is valid abroad.
Cell Phones- A Prepaid SIM card is also known as a GSM card or smart card, which is bought and used like a standard telephone card in Europe. Phone Cards- at most magazine stands/ convenience shops in Spain you can purchase international phone cards (for example, to be used from your hotel rooms). This is much less expensive than making calls on the cell.
Make sure your passports are up to date and in good condition. Bring other photo ID besides your passport. Photocopy/scan your passports, tickets, etc and bring with you, keeping them in a separate location from the originals. Also leave a copy with someone at home and/or email them to yourself to have an electronic copy.
Bring a copy of all your credit card (Visa, Amex, etc) contact details (Tel/ Fax/ Email) in case of credit card theft, blockage, etc. Notify your credit card companies that you will be travelling to Spain, so they do not block your card once you start making charges.
The voltage and plugs are different in Spain (electric current in Spain is 220 volts and the plug is two circular pins), so if you want to bring electronic equipment you will need to bring both a plug adaptor and a voltage adaptor
BUYING WINE IN SPAIN
Both carrying wine on flights and shipping wine abroad have become difficult to impossible in recent years due to new airline restrictions and import bureaucracy. Most of the wineries we work with sell their wine abroad in major markets (US/ UK/ etc) and we can tell you where to purchase the wines in your area. If you do want to ship, the main methods are: UPS and DHL; both very expensive options. Some wineries “ship” wines, often having their distributors in your region ship it to you rather than sending it to you from Spain. This is due to importing regulations. If you would like to carry wine back, we suggest you bring a small suitcase and be sure to pack and pad it properly before checking it in.
SPANISH TIMETABLE FOR MEALS
Lunch hours in restaurants are 1:30/2PM –4/5PM (weekends you can enjoy your big Spanish lunch until 5PM easily). Tapas bars tend to be open all day from early morning to late evening. Dinner- few restaurants open before 9PM and most diners head for their dinner around 9:30/10PM. On weekends, many restaurant kitchens serve until 1AM. Some restaurants more accustomed to foreigners open earlier, but it is not the norm. After dinner most Spaniards take a “Paseo”, a digestive walk, try it!
Opening times for shops - traditional shops tend to open around 10, close from 1:30/2PM to 4:30/5PM and then stay open until 8-10PM, depending on the part of town. In tourist areas, shops have longer hours. Shopping - bargaining is frowned upon. The listed price is the price and it is insulting to ask for lower pricing (both in shops and markets). Shops do not accept other forms of currency besides euros.
FACTS AND FIGURES
Full country name: Kingdom of Spain (Reino de España)
Area: 504,784 sq km (roughly twice the size of Oregon)
Population: 40.5 million (growth rate 0.1%)
Capital city: Madrid (pop 5 million)
Major Rivers: Duero, Tagus, Ebro
Major mountain ranges: Pyrenees, Picos de Europa, Sierra Nevada
Major industries: Tourism (especially on the southern and Mediterranean coasts), construction, agriculture (wine and spirits, olives, vegetables), Textiles and apparel (especially shoes), shipbuilding, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, automobiles.
Coastline: 4,964 km (Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea)
Major Ports and harbors: Aviles, Barcelona, Bilbao, Cadiz, Cartagena, Castellon de la Plana, Ceuta, Huelva, La Coruña, Las Palmas (Canary Islands), Malaga, Melilla, Pasajes, Gijón, Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Canary Islands), Santander, Tarragona, Valencia, Vigo
Language: Castilian Spanish (also Catalan, Valenciano, Gallego, Euskera, Babel)
Time Zone: GMT/UTC plus 1 hour in winter, or two hours in summer (from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in September)
Religion: 90% Roman Catholic
Government: Parliamentary monarchy
Head of state: King Juan Carlos I (since 22 November 1975); Heir Apparent Prince Felipe, son of the monarch, born 30 January 1968
Head of government: President of the Government (Prime Minister equivalent) Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (since 17 April 2004)
Member of EU: since 1986