Important Guide to Madrid Travel
Bienviedo a Espana!
It’s been many years since I’ve traveled to Europe and I may have gotten a bit rusty on my traveling skills, so in true form to this blog, I’ll bring up those madrid travel guide that I had to learn the hard way but will be useful for you in your travels.
Before you go:
To learn of any specific COVID testing requirements to enter another country, I always check US Embassy’s website for each location: www.Travel.state.gov
COVID testing is no longer a requirement to enter, but the vaccination or some other proof of your status remains in effect. You will have to attest to your status before you check-in. The site to do so is located at www.SPTH.gob.es You will need to present the UPC to the agent at the airport when checking in.
There is one major international airport and three other regional/local airports as well that could be an option if traveling domestically
*International Airport: Madrid International Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD)
*Regional/local airports: Salamanca, Valladolid, or Albacete
Other options could include flying into Barcelona (north Spain) or Mallorca (off the coast of Spain), and then take a hopper flight into Madrid. What I am suggesting here is to not limit your options to only the airport in the main area as you may be able to fly into another location cheaper than MAD and hop on over from there.
If you are traveling throughout Europe and find that a train trip is the way to go, you can travel easily around Europe by rail. This is a longer haul train that takes you around Europe, but when you arrive in the city, there is a metro rail that will take you around the city itself.
Blah Blah Car
This is a bit like Uber/Lyft but it’s a ride-sharing service that individuals are able to post that they are taking a trip from one place to another and see if you’d like to ride along for a fee. It looks to be a little more expensive than the train but driving with a local can have its benefits.
To use this service, you would need to sign up for an account and create a profile. https://www.blablacar.co.uk All drivers and riders must get verified with an ID and reviews are provided to help facilitate the safety of individuals using the app. From what I’ve seen, it’s best to book your trip a day or two in advance. While I haven’t used the travel by bus feature via this app, it appears you can travel throughout Europe the same way.
Totally forgot about the plugs. The plugs are round and when I arrived thankfully, I got here early enough in the day to go out and be able to explore the area to find them. I purchased two for around $4. You can locate them in the little bazaar stores, or electronics shops around. I tried the grocery stores and convivence stores, but it was not something they carry there. If you’re reading this and you haven’t left the states yet, Amazon can be your friend.
Around $11 for 10 adapters (this will cover your laptop, phone, flat iron, etc.), or you can buy a multi or universal that will cover multiple countries around the word. I’d recommend buying several of them in case you forget them in the hotel, or you don’t want to keep changing them out for each device. These do not change voltage, but rather, just change how the prongs fit into the wall.
Just when you think your Spanish is “good enough” to get around, you visit Spain where they speak not only Spanish but Catalan and Galician. Let’s just say, I found myself at a loss when trying to read the menu and thought I was going crazy. While there are similarities, my high school Spanish wasn’t going to cut it.
Heat—It’s HOT here in the summer
The summer months in Spain are very hot (90+ degrees)-whichever weather channel that gave an average of less than 80 degrees can kiss my ----. Air conditioning isn’t exactly the norm here either. Of course, if you’re staying in your traditional resort-like hotels, this will not be an issue, but if you’re traveling on a budget, it may be a bit more complicated to find. It’s a dry heat, so that’s a bit of a reprieve. It rains very little this time of year as well. So, take a look at the temps below, add about 10 degrees, see what you’re comfortable with and plan accordingly. The evenings are gorgeous, you purely have to determine how to work around the heat of rest of the day.
One of the greatest things about visiting Spain is that there is a lot of daylight. Sunrise happens around 6:30-7am and it gets dark around 10pm. You have a really full day to get a lot done!
A complication I have found, based upon my US eating schedule, is that Spain is not even close to being the same. The mealtimes appear to work with the extended daylight and temperatures. The reason this is important is because when our bellies may get hungry, you may not find a restaurant that is actually open. They tend to shut down their restaurants until around 2pm, open up for lunch from 2-4pm and shut down again until around 9pm. You can find various snack bars and other more touristy places open to eat, but a majority of locations will follow these mealtimes.
As with the American culture, tipping is more or less expected with any form of a sit-down meal. In Spain, this is not the case. The servers will bring the ticket and close you out right at the table. There is not a place on the bill to tip, so if you do, it would be in cash. If you are at a fancy meal you could chose to tip up to 10%, but it is not common.
The water here is safe to drink from the tap. Enough said.
Overall, visiting Spain is an amazing experience. I hope this madrid travel guide helps a lot for everyone. If you'd like to see other areas and take in the Running of the Bulls, definitely check this out--and no matter what, Travel Till You Drop!