No, I didn’t travel the whole world yet or did a backpacking trip through the Australian outback but I can still offer you some (city-) travel tips! We visited three cities in Spain within 9 days (Asian style). Some impressions of the vacations will follow in my next articles!
My 5 Travel Tips:
1. Free maps!
What we usually do is find a tourist information and get one of those “sightseeing bus tour” maps (for free!). These maps contain the main sights and you don’t even have to take this bus (way to expensive in my eyes). We usually never inform ourselves beforehand about the city. We just arrive there, get these bus maps and just wander around in city and see what we see. Maybe we are missing a great location, but a thorough research is too much work for me and not worth it in the end. The maximum I do is to simply google “Top 10 sights in city_xyz”.
2. Mercadona is life!
We asked our hosts in Barcelona where we can find a cheap grocery store and luckily we had a Mercadone just around the corner! Since we usually have no breakfast in our hotel/hostel, we buy pastries in the grocery store. Mercadona has a great deal for pastries! You basically pick whatever you like in a selected shelf and weigh it. 1 kg costs 3-4€. For six pastries in the picture we just paid 1,80€ and this lasts us as breakfast and snacks! So look for deals in local grocery stores!
3. Go high up!
On excursions in my geography studies, my teachers would always chase us on every hill or high tower to look at the scenery from an aerial perspective. This way, you can get an overview of the city [and could analyze the structure of the city, historical era’s, social patterns. etc. But hey, we are on vacation so no analyzing was done.]
4. Walk or take the bus
I try to avoid the metro because you just miss the city when your travelling underneath it. I usually use the metro for far distances because it is faster than the bus. Otherwise I would use the bus or walk.
[Extra tip: Metro/Bus tickets are really cheap in Spain. There is a deal for 10 tickets but the price varies in each city. In Barcelona it costs 10€, 8€ in Valencia and 12€ in Madrid.]
5. Don’t be afraid to talk to people!
On our trip, we stayed in three different accommodations. One was airbnb-like (we booked over wimdu), a hostel and a hotel. We always tried to meet new people and ask them where they’ve already been. You can get great tips and meet people from all over the world! (I could even practise my sparse Korean skills with the Korean family at the “airbnb”!)
We also go to tourist information. If we didn’t go to the tourist information in Madrid, we wouldn’t have found out that many museums are free on certain days and certain hours. This way, you can save much money!
Since we stayed in three different cities we had to use the train to travel within the country. But one time we also got a lift from locals (blablacar is also avalable in Spain). This way, we could communicate with Spanish people (in English) who are in our age but we could also enjoy a cheaper ride than by train!
Our first stop was Barcelona and as a teaser for my next article (Randomness in Barcelona – no travel guide) I present you:
How I planned 2,5 days in Barcelona:
Our plan for three days looked like this (yes this is the original map we used. I actually collect maps because after all I’m a geographer and maps are essential!):
Blue: We spend the second half of the first day (we arrived at the first half) in the city centre and got lost in these little streets so we ended up at the harbour.
Green: On the second day we started at the Plaza the Espana and walked up to the mountain in the west (it’s not steep and totally doable by foot).
Red: The last day we walked around in the east of the city and hiked up the other mountain where the Park Güell is (that’s a pretty steep mountain, I would recommend to take the bus!!! [This is where I took the picture from tip #3 and on the other side you can see the mountain from the green area).] We then took the bus to the beach area and relaxed there for the rest of the day. The next morning, we took the train to the next location.
P.S.: If we had more time in Barcelona, we would have made a trip to Girona, an hour north of Barcelona, where they shot the Cathedral part of Game of Thrones! And also visit the Santa Florentina Castle in Canet de Mar which was used as residence of House Tarly!