If you’re planning a trip to Spain, here’s some stuff I would’ve found useful if I had known before my trip to Spain for Thanksgiving 🙂
I didn’t know this but water is not free at restaurants like it is in the US. If you ask for water, the waiter will usually give you an opened glass bottle of water with a cup to pour it into. You also have the option of asking for it con gas o sin gas, where con gas is sparkling water and sin gas is just normal mineral water (if you get sparkling water they’ll also put in a lemon slice in your cup! :D).
The typical price for water was around 1~2 euros, which was pretty similar to the price of other beverages such as sangria or beer, so it’s your choice on if you want a drink or just plain water 🙂 !
In Europe, manual drive cars are more common than automatic, which you’ll see reflected in car rental companies. We made a mistake of accidentally booking a manual car and my poor dad had to do most of the driving during our trip because he was the only one who could drive a stick shift, but even when we tried to switch to an automatic car there just weren’t that many options available in the rental parking lot.
If you’re someone who can only drive an automatic (or going in a group of people who can only drive an automatic) then definitely double-check your car rental reservation to make sure that’s what you’re getting!
Menu del Dia
A lot of restaurants had this thing called Menu del Dia, which is essentially a course meal that usually includes 1 drink, a choice out of first course options, a choice out of second course options, and a dessert or coffee. These were really good ways for us to try a bunch of different kinds of foods because the options for the courses are usually pretty solid (around 4~5 options for each course). The best part was that they were really affordable too, usually within the range of 9~12 euros/pax.
A lot of restaurants, especially in less touristy cities, have some hours that might not be familiar to some people. The typical hours of operation would look like this:
Lunch Time: 1pm – 4:30pm
Closed for Break
Dinner Time: 8pm – 11pm
If you’re in a place that mostly has restaurants that operate on a schedule such as this, try to plan accordingly; it took us quite a bit of time to get used to the different schedules!
Cost of Traveling
Overall, the cost of things in Spain seemed a lot lower than they did here in the US. At grocery stores, the prices of produce, especially fruit, were significantly lower (ex. 1.5 euro for one pomegranate, 1 euro/lb of really really yummy oranges). Seafood was also super affordable; we bought 1kg of mussel clams for 2.5 euros and whole lobsters for 8.5 euros each, both total steals!
Eating at restaurants was also pretty cheap; the typical meal for our family of 4 would be in the range of 40~60 euros. The only thing that can get kind of expensive is if you’re at a tapas place – the tapas serving sizes are pretty small and difficult to get really full on unless you order a lot, which can add up pretty quickly. It is also not customary to tip at restaurants, but if you really enjoyed someone’s service then I believe it’s not an offensive thing to tip somebody :).