Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Going to Spain & Gibraltar

In early June, I booked our trip to Spain. That was just the flights and hotels for our stay. After comparing fares, for our flights, I booked with Expedia. For our hotels in Spain and Gibraltar, I booked with the hotels directly.

We'll be leaving for Spain on Thursday! Our itinerary includes first 5 days in Spain + next 6 days in Gibraltar + last 4 days back in Spain, before flying home.

Since we’ll be travelling independently, I’ve been researching, booking, and packing the essentials. Let’s see what I've got so far...

Trains in Spain: We plan to travel by train while in Spain. Since we know our dates at each city, and it is advisable to reserve train tickets in advance in the summer, I booked online with Trainline and RENFE (the main rail company in Spain), and received our tickets in PDF via email. The RENFE train tickets are in Spanish only so I find it helpful to see the tickets and figure out what they mean in advance. Rail Europe web site has a page that explains how to read your RENFE print-at-home ticket.


Free walking tours: We prefer to walk when we visit a new town or city. We usually pick up a map from the local tourist office or the hotel and explore on our own. In a city where the first language is not English, going on an English-speaking walking tour led by a local resident is helpful, informative, and can be quite fun. Again since we know our dates at each city in Spain, and it is summer (tourist season) when we visit, I booked free walking tours online and received prompt email confirmations.

Mobile device, WiFi, and SIM card: On this trip, the hotels that I booked all offer free WiFi.  We plan to bring one unlocked mobile phone with us. The main mobile carriers in Spain include Movistar, Vodafone, Orange, and Yoigo. After doing some research, I ordered a pre-paid SIM card for Spain for local calls and internet usage when we are not at our hotel, or in case the WiFi at the hotel is not strong enough for our needs.

I ordered from SIM Card Spain and received the SIM card in five calendar days. The company was very good at sending email notifications confirming the order and when it was shipped. The SIM card comes in different sizes, with a promotional, pre-loaded 10 euros credit, and free shipping.

I’ve used pre-paid SIM cards before in the USA and France, and they’ve worked very well for our travel needs. For Spain, I’ll insert the SIM card in my unlocked phone, and activate it by keying in a code upon our arrival in Madrid. Will let you know how it turns out once I’m in Spain.

Adapters, Chargers, and Converters: We’re bring two of each to charge our devices. The voltage in Canada is 110V, in Spain and Gibraltar is 220V/ 240V. The prongs for power outlets are different from what we have in Canada.

Maps.me: I downloaded a number of maps of the cities we’re visiting using Maps.me to my mobile phone. Maps.me offers free, fast, detailed, and entirely offline maps with navigation and directions for travellers. I’m playing with the maps to familiarize myself.

Food: Our hotel room rates include breakfasts. This leaves us to figure out where to go for lunch and dinner. We’re usually on the go during the day and will grab a quick lunch wherever we happen to be at that time. One adjustment that we’ll have to make, as I’ve learned this when I visited Barcelona, is that people eat much later in Spain, especially dinner! I plan to use Trip Advisor or ask the hotel staff for recommended dinner places close to our hotel.

Other essentials: Passports, e-tickets, hotel confirmations, contact information, travel insurance, some euros (for Spain), some pounds (for Gibraltar), small snacks, first aid kit, and summer clothing.

We'll fly non-stop from Toronto to Madrid on Thursday. We'll likely be sleepy and tired from the 7-hour overnight flight and the time difference. Still...So excited to think that we’ll be landing in Madrid, Spain on Friday morning!

I may be able to do quick posts while in Spain and Gibraltar. Stay tuned for my updates.

Have I missed anything? What are your must-have travel items? What other travel tips can you share?

10 comments:

  1. We used Rick Steves Spain book to find great restaurants, and we were never disappointed. If in Madrid overnight, super fun to go tapas hopping along Calle de Jesus, which is across the road from the Prada Museum. A note from Rick's book is that you are supposed to get a free tapas, usually bread and/or cheese, when you order a drink, so start with your drink only and see what they bring before ordering the rest of the meal. Sometimes you have to ask as they might be tempted to 'forget' in that you will clearly be tourists.

    Gibraltar for six days? Are you thinking of day tripping over to Morocco by chance? An easy do from that location.

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    1. Thanks, Tamara, for your food suggestion. We'll be in Madrid for 3 nights so tapas hopping is on our list :) I'm saving Morocco for another trip on its own, very tempted to book it for October or next year.

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  2. Thanks for these tips Natalie we are going to Spain and Italy in October and I can't believe how quickly the time is passing. Have a great holiday!
    Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

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    1. Thank you, Sue. October is a nice month to visit Spain and Italy, pleasant weather, and less tourists at the major sights.

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  3. You're so organised! Have a fabulous trip! Look forward to reading all about it. :-) #TeamLovinLife

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    1. Thank you, Min. I plan to post some notes during my travel when they are still fresh in my mind. Stay tuned :)

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  4. A friend lent me some noise cancelling headphones for the flight, worth their weight in gold!

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    1. Thanks, Janet, for visiting and for your suggestion. Yes, the noise cancelling headphones are great to block off the plane noise and human noise like snoring!

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  5. Sounds like you're super organised for your trip. Spain is definitely on my travel radar. I hope you have a wonderful trip. #TeamLovinLife

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    1. Thanks, Kathy, for stopping by and leaving a comment. Spain is a popular destination.

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