Currency: Euro (.79 euros to $1USD)
Partly because of our brief time in Spain, we really did not encounter a favorite food from Spain. We were disappointed in the food and Tapas overall. This may reflect that we were in the more tourist oriented parts of the towns, which from our year long experience usually does reflect a lower standard of food in many circumstances, and not uncovering more local restaurants specializing in local cuisine.
Cost of goods and services
In Barcelona, a cheap room with two doubles and an extra mattress for: USD60.
We only had one major meal each day and bought items from store: Avg. USD25.
Coffee with milk (café con leche): USD1.45
Beer (cervaza): USD1.85
The street performers and vibrant atmosphere of the Las Ramblas promenade; Gaudi's hotel turned museum; seeing the spires of La Sagrada Familia cathedral from afar then turning a corner and witnessing the entire structure unveiled; seeing La Sagrada Familia cathedral from behind the adjacent lake; having an evening beer on the plaza and watching the people on beautiful balmy nights; after hours of searching, finding a great hotel value right on Plaza Reial; nighttime walks in Barcelona through the small cobblestone streets and Las Ramblas; the energy and excitement that still surrounded FC Barcelona's victory in the UEFA Championship game; looking forward to sampling and eating "Tapas", then being disappointed by the mediocrity of the appetizer (maybe it was the restaurants we visited); Gaudi designed buildings are fantastic and worth the trip to Barca just to see them; finally being able to lounge all day on the beach, which reminded me of being in San Diego; the university, small town atmosphere of Salamanca is very contagious, relaxing and gorgeous; the warm evenings and sunset was amazing and beautifully illuminated Salamanca; Salamanca is a great place to walk and see all the many churches and buildings; coffee on Plaza Mayor; Salamanca is mostly small, cobblestone streets with small cafes and many places to hang out.
Based on several factors, our trip through Spain was abbreviated and only included stops in Barcelona and Salamanca. After a rather circuitous overnight AND day train ride from Nice, France, we arrived 12 hours late into Barcelona and finally found a hotel room around 2:00am. The overnight train ride from Nice is more expensive then what we were accustomed to, but we did secure a family discount resulting in a per ticket cost of 45 Euros. In Spain, we utilized the bus for all our cross country trips. We were able to secure several discounts by breaking our trip up into segments and stopping in Madrid, instead of going from Barcelona to Salamanca direct, we realized a 55 Euro savings on tickets due to child discounts on the more popular routes. Note: Eurobus does operate throughout Europe and does provide direct routes. We considered this company several times, but the price per ticket was more expensive then buying through the local bus company and in our analysis did not justify the added convenience. The buses for all companies are modern and very comfortable.
Barca (as the locals and most of Europe calls Barcelona) is known throughout Europe for its modern urban landscape, vibrant energy and being a magnet for the young at heart. In fact, for a large city, we grew much found of the excitement of Barcelona and the multitude of activities and sites. Paul and Peter are big soccer fans and being in Barcelona was a highlight for them, because FC Barcelona, the local soccer club, just won the UEFA championship and the town was still buzzing with excitement and jerseys, pennants, flags and advertisement lined almost every street in the city. For people watching, Las Ramblas, a tree lined promenade, is filled with people, cafes and creative street performers late into the night. For people who love architecture, the city landscape has been the canvas for creative artist Antoine Gaudi. His unusual architectural designs are situated throughout Barca with his masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia cathedral, alone being worth the effort of visiting Barcelona. Also, beach lovers are well taken care of with numerous sand beaches and a warm Mediterranean sun. Once again, we did a majority of our sightseeing by walking and taking the metro to see Gaudi's park in the northern part of Barcelona.
After Barca, we traveled northwest by bus through Spain to Salamanca, near the border of Portugal and one of the original "University" towns in Europe. A young, university population provided an energetic atmosphere, while the numerous cathedrals, libraries, cobblestone streets and the beautiful Plaza Mayor provided many opportunities to engage with Spanish culture and architecture or to relax and enjoy the warm evenings from a street side cafe. Salamanca is a great place for a photographer with a vibrant afternoon light and numerous structures and views to photo. I wish I had a few more days for pictures and relaxing.