Unless you are working on your fluency by watching some Spanish Netflix, you should probably be thinking about what you want to do with your free time while you are in Spain. With a little help from Rick Steves, Europe’s leading travel expert, you will be ready to go with more than a travel plan. You will have the knowledge and confidence to make the best of your time and money while we are there.
One Hour Covers Everything from Cultural Practices to Where to Go
Obviously, he could not describe the entirety of Spain and its culture in the course of a single hour. However, Steves does his best to give an overview of some of the best places to go, things to see, and ways to act during our time in Spain. In “Spain“, an episode from his podcast Rick Steves Travel Talks, Steves gives us background about Spain historically and culturally, then takes us on a theoretical trip through his favorite places and things to do.
During the show, Steves mentions a variety of other resources that can be found on his website. I would highly recommend giving his website a visit to see his full itinerary of places to go and other materials that may be useful in your preparations.
The Small Tips are the Most Beneficial
Throughout the show, Steves has a number of smaller tips that he recommends travelers try or be aware of during their time of Spain. Some of the ones that you may find most useful are:
- Order a glass of wine before your meals. There should be a complimentary appetizer that comes with the glass of wine.
- When eating out, buy tapas (small, cheap appetizers). They will save you money and allow you to sample several types of local foods at once.
- In the evenings, go to the central plaza to be part of the nightly paseo. It is a free event where locals of all generations come to gather and socialize.
- Be selective with your choice of beaches. Some are overly oriented towards tourists and not offer the immersive experience you may be looking for.
- Be aware of thieves. Pickpockets are extremely common and will try to pick on tourists.
- Similarly, if there is a commotion, like an old lady falling randomly, do not try to help. There are pickpocketing families that coordinate things like this to distract you.
You Are Going to Have Too Many Ideas and Not Enough Time
Steves supplies so much information about Spain in the course of an hour, that you are going to have trouble deciding what you want to do when you finally get there. Besides the major destinations in Spain, he also mentions some smaller locales that tourists may also enjoy. He outlines some of the unique features of each place and why travelers would enjoy it.
No matter what you would like to do during your time in Spain, it is likely that Steves has suggestions for you. The tough part is narrowing down which ones you will actually have time for.
The Show is Long and You Will Need to Do Some Extra Research for Our Trip
The show is an hour and 17 minutes, so it is probably longer than most people would like to spend listening to a semi-geeky 62-year-old man talk about Spain. If you do not want to spend that much time watching the show, you can watch it on Youtube and increase the playback speed to watch it in as little as half the time!
Also, the itineraries and sample trips that Steves offers are focused around having approximately two weeks completely free for exploration. Unfortunately for us, we have only two sets of free weekends to do the majority of our personal adventuring. As such, while his sample two week plan from “Spain” can be an excellent source of inspiration for selecting what you want to do, you will have to connect the dots on your own.
The Whole Podcast is Overwhelmingly Popular
Through his various podcasts, TV shows, radio shows, guidebooks, and more, Rick Steves established himself as the leading figure in the European travel industry. Not only is he extremely knowledgable (he has a degree in European history), but he is also quirky and passionate about helping the average American make the most of their travel experiences.
As the third most popular episode of the 82 episode series, Rick Steves Travel Talks, “Spain” is rated 4.5 out of 5 stars on iTunes and has nearly 120,000 views on YouTube. Those that listened to the show, on both iTunes and YouTube, expressed their appreciation for Steves’ insights in the episode, such as shown in the screenshot below.
You Can Watch/Listen for FREE on His Website or Apple Podcasts
Steves’ Podcast and Other Resources are Well Worth the Time
If there is one thing that I would recommend doing in preparation for this trip, it would be to listen to this show. Steves covers so many aspects of Spanish culture and gives excellent recommendations and pieces of advice for travelers to make the best of their experience. Also, take advantage of the other resources that he offers through his website. They are supplemental to his show and can help you create an excellent idea of what you want to do and how you should handle yourself during your time abroad.