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Spain
Spain
06.07.12

When to visit. How to get there. What to wear. Before you take your trip to Spain, read these travel tips.

Museum & City Passes

If you plan to see more than three museums in Barcelona, the Articket Barcelona (Barcelona Museum Pass) allows holders to save money on seven of the city’s leading museums, including permanent and temporary exhibitions. It also lets you skip the entry lines—a very worthwhile feature at popular destinations like Gaudí’s Casa Mila (La Pedrera).  City Passes/Tourist Cards widen the variety of attractions available for entry and discounts. The Sevilla Card (a smart-chip card) gives users access to the city's hop-on, hop-off bus service, a river cruise, free admission to Seville museums and monuments as well as discounts at restaurants, major stores and flamenco shows. Choose from four different time increments, each offering a slightly different combination of inclusions.
For more information, visit: Barcelona Articket: www.barcelonaturisme.com

City Tours

To promote their city, the Turisme de Barcelona consortium sponsors a mind-boggling array of tours. Two- to three-hour guided Barcelona Walking Tours with expert guides cover everything from Bohemian, Civil War, Gaudí, Gothic and Gourmet to Literary, Modernism, Picasso and Tapas. If you tire of walking, try a guided bus, bicycle or moped tour instead. As a handy piece of information, Barcelona Free Tours offers two-hour Gaudí and Gothic walking tours that are offered at no cost. In Seville, ToursbyLocals lets visitors see the city on a private tour through the eyes of an enthusiastic local guide who will show you main attractions, local haunts and hidden corners. Select a guide and tour from their list, or suggest alternative sights and the guide can customize the tour to your wishes.

Perfume & Flowers

For an island the size of Rhode Island, Mallorca produces a staggering array of products. From salt, almonds, oranges, wine, liqueurs and olive oil, to pottery, glass, shoes and pearls. Sold only in Mallorca or on the website, Flor d’Ametler perfume stems from the island’s almond blossom—the Ametlla flower—which blooms in February and is collected by hand. The recipe of the perfume is a closely guarded family secret. To make sure you purchase the real deal and not a fake, note that the legitimate perfume has a flower inside.

Spanish Language Differences

Spanish, also known as Castilian Spanish, is the official language of Spain. However, different regions of Spain have regional dialects and secondary official languages such as Galician, Catalan and Basque. Since 1979, both Castilian and Catalan are the official languages of Spain’s northeastern Catalonia province (Barcelona), and, since 1983, for the Balearic Islands (Mallorca) as well. Having endured political oppression and the repression of their language during the 18th and 20th centuries, the people of Catalonia are fiercely protective of their heritage. In Barcelona, you’ll see signs in Catalan first, then Spanish. Although Catalan has many similarities to Spanish, it is not a derivative of it. In Castilian Spanish, Spaniards may use what many refer to as a "lisp" (actually only a pronunciation difference) that is quite distinctive when compared with the pronunciation of Latin American Spanish. The letter Z andthe soft C (ce and ci) are often pronounced as "th”, e.g., gracias = grathias or zapatos = thapatos.

Mealtimes, the Joy of Spain

Breakfast (el desayuno) – 7 to 10 a.m. – The first meal of a Spanish day is very light: café con leche (strong coffee with frothy milk), hot chocolate or orange juice accompanied by a croissant, pastry (like churros or bollos) or toast.
Mid-morning Snack – 10:30 to noon – In order to last until lunch, workers take coffee breaks with tapas (small snacks) at local bars or in the office.
Lunch (la comida) – 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. – The most important meal of the day involves several courses and include entrants (appetizers) such as cured meat and cheese; primer plato (first course), like soup or a vegetable dish, followed by meat or fish as a main, and then postre (dessert) such as fruit, cake or flan, topped off by coffee or traditional liquor. Wine, bread and water accompany the meal.
Afternoon snack (la merienda) – about 4:30 or 5 p.m. – With dinner still a long way off, children are often given something to tide them over until the next meal, and adults may head out for an afternoon coffee and pastry. Professionals often don’t leave work until about 8 p.m. and stop in at bars for a cañas (small beer) or wine with tapas on their way home.
Dinner (la cena) – 8:30 to midnight – served light and late with anything from seafood, lamb, chicken, fried potatoes or rice.

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