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Spain Travel Guide | Tips & Local Hacks for Visiting Spain

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Transcript

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When I came to Spain and I saw people partying,
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I said to myself, “WTF?”
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Whether you come to Spain for the Fiesta in Ibiza, a siesta on the Costa Brava,
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or a foodie tour of San Sebastian,
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this video will help you avoid tourist traps, understand Spanish cultural do’s and don’ts, and learn everything
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you need to know to make your trip to Spain truly unforgettable.
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I’m Alex. I’m Marko.
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And you are watching Vagabrothers,
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your go-to guide for travel tips, vlogs and inspiration here on YouTube.
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We lived in Spain for three years,
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and in this video, we’re going to share all the tips, hacks, and
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insider information that we learned while living there.
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So if you haven’t already, hit the subscribe button and turn on notifications so you don’t miss any videos,
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share this video with your travel buddies,
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and get ready to have some fun because
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“La gente esta muy loca.”
1:03
Hello again Bond, whiskey? Thank you, M.
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Holiday in Spain? How original.
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Where are we off to this time, Magaluf?
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No, no far too common.
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Ibiza? A bit too posh for my liking.
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Barcccccelona? No, it’s more subtle than that.
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Shall we get on with the briefing then, M? Right.
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Spain is the second largest country in Western Europe,
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occupying approximately 80 percent of the Iberian Peninsula.
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Modern Spain is a product of thousands of years of migration and conquests,
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most notably the Phoenicians, the Romans, and
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more recently the Moors who in the eighth century invaded from Morocco
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to turn Spain into one of the leading centers of learning in all of the world.
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A mosaic of conscience if you will, M. Precisely.
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Modern Spain is best described as a nation of nations,
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a legacy of the Reconquista when the Catholic kings of Castile
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united all of the different kingdoms to push out the Moors in 1492.
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1492 the year Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
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Spot-on. In just a number of decades,
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Spain went from being a conquered occupied country into one of the most powerful kingdoms in all of history.
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Okay. Let’s talk where to go.
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The three most popular cities are Madrid, the capital ,
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which brings together the best of Spain;
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beachside Barcelona, which fuses the medieval quarter
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with the modernist architecture of Catalan born Antoni Gaudí;
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sultry Sevilla in the south, the birthplace of flamenco.
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Spain is full of distinct regions like
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Catalonia with the Costa Brava and the Pyrenees;
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the Basque Country, a foodie paradise with great waves and a unique culture and
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Andalusia where Moorish influence blends with iconic Spanish traditions.
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And of course, there’re beaches…
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not just the Costa del Sol or the Costa Brava,
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but the Balearic Islands- Mallorca, Minorca, Ibiza, and Formentera
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and the tropical Canary Islands,
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which are actually off the west coast of Africa and unlike any part of Spain.
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If you want more information on where to go and
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what to do in Spain, make sure that you subscribe to our channel and turn on notifications
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so you don’t miss the video that we’re making about that subject very soon.
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Also if you haven’t seen our eight part series on the Basque Country
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or our top ten things to do in Barcelona,
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check out those videos, as well.
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Moving on to climate….
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Although some of Spain’s most popular destinations are on the Mediterranean,
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most of the country is on what’s called the “meseta,” an elevated plateau
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that’s cold in the winter, hot in the summer, and makes Madrid Europe’s highest capital.
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The north of Spain is green because it rains all the time,
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especially in the Basque Country where locals have a specific name
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for their type of rain called, “xirimiri.”
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Therefore, when packing it’s best to bring layers,
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especially if you’re journeying away from the Mediterranean.
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If you’re visiting in the winter,
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make sure you have a warm waterproof jacket,
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although it doesn’t really snow unless you’re in the mountains.
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Also, pack a dressy outfit for going out or just head to a Zara if you find yourself underdressed.
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In summer Spain gets slammed with foreign tourists known as “guiris,”
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while domestic tourism surges around Christmas and Easter, known as Semana Santa,
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which is most big in Sevilla.
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Over tourism is a serious problem in parts of Spain,
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specifically Barcelona so we recommend traveling during the shoulder seasons,
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September to November or March to May, when the weather is still warm,
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but prices for flights and hotels are much lower than in summer.
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Language is a tricky issue in Spain.
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You might assume that everyone speaks Spanish,
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but many regions have their own languages
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like the Latin based languages of Catalan and Galician
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or Euskera, the Basque language,
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the only non Indo-European language in Europe and one of the oldest living languages in the world.
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Spanish as we know it actually comes from the region of Castilla,
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So people in Spain call it Castellano.
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Castellano became the lingua franca of Spain during the Reconquista,
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which was led by the king and queen of Castilla, Ferdinand and Isabella.
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Calling Castellano “Spanish” is kind of like calling English “British,”
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if that makes sense because England’s only one part of Britain.
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These regional languages are central to many people’s identities,
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especially in the Basque Country
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and Catalonia, where many people are pushing for independence from Spain.
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If you try to learn some local words like “kaixo,”-
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“hello” in Basque or “Bon Dia” in Catalon,
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It will be much appreciated by the locals.
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Now that we’ve covered the basics,
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let’s debunk some popular myths starting with the one thing that we all seem to associate with Spain–
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bullfighting.
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The truth is that not all Spaniards love bullfighting.
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In fact many hate it, and it’s banned in regions like Catalonia.
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However, it remains popular in more traditional parts of Spain,
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and it’s probably not going anywhere anytime soon.
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Nor do all Spaniards dance flamenco.
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Like many things associated with Spain, it actually comes from Andalusia,
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specifically from the Roma people who originally migrated from India almost
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1500 years ago and who despite persecution have added much to Spanish culture, especially in the south.
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Spaniards do know how to enjoy life so many foreigners assume that life has been easy.
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But the truth is Spain has faced some serious challenges, especially in the last century,
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most notably the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s in which the democratically elected
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republic was overthrown by the fascist dictator Francisco Franco
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who ruled Spain with an iron fist until his death in 1975.
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Since then Spain has returned to democracy,
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had a liberal Renaissance known as La Movida Madalena,
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and joined the European Union.
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But the wounds of the Spanish Civil War that turned brother against brother are still very ,very, real.
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Be respectful.
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More recently challenges include the 2008 financial crisis
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known as “la crisis,” which left one out of two young Spaniards without a job,
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which is why over 80% of young Spaniards under 30 still live with their parents.
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The economy has started to recover, but unemployment and low wages
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continue to make life difficult for young Spanish people.
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Not all Spaniards take “siestas.”
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And the tradition actually originated in Southern Portugal
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where it was a way for day laborers to get a rest from the midday sun.
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Typically you have lunch at home, have a short nap,
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maybe take a “paseo,” a walk around town and then return to work from 5 to 8 p.m.
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That being said most small businesses do shutdown between 2:00 and 5:00 p.m. everyday and on Sundays.
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So plan your shopping accordingly.
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Spain has to be one of the most fervently Catholic countries in the world.
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It’s the birthplace of the Inquisition, the Jesuits, and Opus Dei and even though over
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Three-quarters of modern Spaniards identify as Catholics, very few of them actually practice the religion.
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Furthermore, Spain was deeply influenced by Sephardic Jews
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who arrived during Roman times and spoke a hybrid of Spanish and
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Hebrew known as Ladino, as well as the Islamic Moors who turned
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Cordoba, Sevilla ,and Granada into some of the most advanced centers
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of science and learning in all of the world at that time.
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During the Inquisition these two religions were forced to either convert to Christianity , leave Spain, or die.
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But their legacy has survived in many ways:
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Jewish influence on Spanish cooking or the Arabic impact on the Spanish language
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“azucar, aceite, al” = alcohol
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any word that starts with an al probably comes from Arabic.
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Some people assume that Spanish culture is similar to Latin America,
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and while Spain did conquer the vast majority of the Americas,
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the cultures in places like Mexico, Peru, or Argentina are
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actually blends of Spanish culture with indigenous and immigrant traditions.
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Of course, there are many things that flowed back to Spain from the Americas
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most notably looted gold and silver, which still to this day still adorn
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many of the cathedrals across the country, most notably in Toledo.
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Holy Toledo!
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Not to mention a love of hot chocolate and the potato,
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which form a cornerstone of the Spanish diet.
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Speaking of diet, let’s talk about one of the best parts of Spain-
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food and drink.
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With over 171 Michelin-starred restaurants in Spain
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and good food at any price point,
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Spain is easily one of the best foodie destinations in the entire world.
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Before we talk about where and what to eat,
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let’s talk about how to eat,
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specifically why Spaniards eat later than other European countries.
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Breakfast or “desayuno” is a minimal affair in Spain.
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It’s usually just a sweet pastry and a cafe con leche,
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which is kind of like a latte or a cortado,
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which is a shot of espresso with just a little bit of milk.
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Lunch known as “la comida” is the main meal of the day.
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It’s served during the siesta from about 1:00 in the afternoon until 4:00pm.
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Save money with a “menu del dia,”
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a three-course meal with wine, coffee, and dessert included for around 10 to 15 euros.
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It’s the best deal in the country, and if you’re on a budget,
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timing the menu del dia right could carry you through the full day.
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Spain is famous for its culture of tapas,
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which means “covers” because supposedly they were designed to cover the
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glass of wine for travellers in roadside inns
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so they didn’t get too drunk before they had to ride their horse to the next village.
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A lot of different explanations…
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No one really knows where they came from,
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but they’re excellent and usually cheap if not free, at least in Granada
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where you get a free top-up with every drink order, which is pretty epic.
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You can eat them for lunch, but it’s more common to have them with a glass of wine at dinner.
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In the Basque Country they serve “pintxos,”
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similar to tapas but a bit more elaborate and a little bit more expensive.
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However, the best pintxos bars in San Sebastian
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will allow you to taste high-level Basque cuisine without
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having to spend the money for a Michelin-Star meal.
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The highest concentration of Michelin- Star restaurants in the world are found in Catalonia and the Basque Country.
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With more Michelin stars per capita than anywhere else on earth.
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These restaurants are not cheap.
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They range between a hundred to three hundred euros for a 12-course tasting menu, wine not included.
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If you can afford it, it’s a bucket-list dining experience that you will never forget.
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Alright now let’s talk about what to eat,
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the essential dishes to try on your trip to Spain.
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Perhaps the most classic Spanish dish is the “tortilla de patata.”
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A tortilla in Spain is different than tortilla in Mexico.
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It’s an egg and potato omelette that’s sometimes serve with onion or chorizo,
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but best served if it’s gooey in the middle.
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You start to see them around ten o’clock in the morning where you can have it
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with a coffee for a late breakfast or late at night.
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They’re generally the tastiest and cheapest way to keep yourself full throughout your trip.
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Paella is Spain’s most internationally know dish,
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but locals don’t eat it often outside of Valencia.
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So if you see it advertised at a restaurant in Madrid or
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Barcelona, then chances are it’s probably a tourist trap.
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Pescatarians, beware!
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Traditional paella usually include quail and ham.
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If you want a more traditional seafood plate,
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try cod fish known locally as “bacalao,” best served
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Pil Pil style in Bilbao in the Basque Country.
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Also anchovies and bonito tuna are very common, especially in tapas.
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“Jamon” is Spanish for ham, cured ham to be specific.
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It comes in all different types of qualities- pata negra is the highest quality
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and jamon serrano is generally a good quality that’s still affordable.
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Locals buy jamon serrano buy the “pata,”
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literally a cured leg of ham.
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It’s probably more economical and easy to carry if you just get a couple slices at the deli,
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put some jamon on a baguette with some manchego cheese, and you’re golden.
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Even better before you put down the ham and the cheese,
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rub the bread with garlic and tomato and you have “pan tomaca,” a typical Catalan breakfast
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that’s good any time of day anywhere in Spain.
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Lastly, an essential dish is “patatas bravas,” brave patatoes.
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crispy potatoes with spicy mayonnaise.
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Now, it’s nothing special, but it is a great way to line your stomach before getting more
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expensive and less filling tapas.
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Trust me. There’s nothing worse than going out for pintxos or tapas,
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spending 50 euros and coming home hungry.
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So do as the pros do- get the patatas bravas primero,
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and then you should be good to go.
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With all this good food,
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you’ll need something to wash it down.
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You’re probably thinking about sangria,
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but this is really something that’s mostly served to tourists.
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A smarter choice is to try Spain’s many wines which are high quality and low price,
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on average about one euro and 25 cents per litre, to be exact.
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Here’s an overview of Spain’s main wine regions and varietals:
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The most common grapes are Tempranillo,
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a medium bodied red that’s grown largely in the La Rioja region in Northern Spain,
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and its name comes from being picked somewhat early in the season.
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Also popular is Garnacha or Grenache, which is typically a mixing grape
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but can be great on its own.
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Cava is a sparkling white wine
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similar to champagne, and it’s mostly grown in Catalonia.
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Sherry is very popular worldwide,
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but in Spain is called “jerez” after its town of origin in Andalusia.
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Other popular whites are Albariño, which is minerally because it’s grown
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on the fjords of the coastal region of Galicia and the naturally effervescent
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txakoli, which comes from the Basque Country,
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and both txakoli and albariño go great with seafood.
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Most Spanish beers are crisp lagers like San Miguel,
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but craft beer is making inroads in major cities.
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Hard ciders are popular in the Basque Country and Asturias, and
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students all over Spain love to pre-party with a mixture of coca cola and
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boxed red wine known as “kalimotxo.”
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Lastly, let’s talk about one of the most important things to know before you go-
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social etiquette do’s and dont’s.
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Do greet people, both friends and total strangers, with two kisses on the cheek.
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There’s nothing romantic about this.
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It’s done between everybody, but usually not between guys.
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You’re not actually kissing people on the cheek,
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you’re kissing like right next to the cheek.
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You go left side first, then right side.
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You make the noise.
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You don’t actually do a slobbery kiss on cheek because that would be weird.
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Don’t expect things to get done at the snap of a finger.
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This is especially important for people from the United States of America
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who expect the customer to come first.
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In Spain the customer does not come first,
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and you will not get anywhere by demanding things to happen right away.
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Remember if a store or restaurant is closed, it’s closed.
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Do linger after the meal is finished.
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In Spanish this is called the “sobremesa,” and it’s one of the best parts about dining with friends.
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So have a coffee or a liquor like anis or patxarran,
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and enjoy the conversation.
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Don’t tip too much.
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One of the reasons you can enjoy the sobremesa
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is because waiters aren’t trying to turn your table over to get more tips.
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So sit down and enjoy slow food.
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Ladies, do feel free to go topless at the beach.
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It’s legal across Spain and totally normal.
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Guys, try not to make a big deal about girls being topless at the beach.
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It might not be normal in your country, but it’s really impolite to stare.
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So if you really can’t hold it all together,
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I guess just put on a pair of sunglasses and try not to be a weirdo.
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For both guys and girls, do expect to be out late.
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Spaniards usually dine at around 10:00 or sometimes even 11:00 p.m.
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and stay out all night dancing
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” Viva la fiesta. Viva la noche.”
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Spaniards drink for a long time,
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but they do it little by little so nobody ever gets too wasted.
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If you get drunk quickly or early,
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you’re going to make a fool out of yourself.
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Do expect to see a lot of PDA, public displays of affection.
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This is because young people typically live with their parents,
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and they don’t really have a place to go hook up with their boyfriend or girlfriend.
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So after the clubs close, you typically see a lot of people, especially in parks, making out…
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sometimes more than making out, sometimes a lot more than making out.
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Last but not least, if you want to dive into Spanish culture,
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here are some further resources:
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The classic Spanish book is Don Quixote de la Mancha, con su amigito,
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Sancho, which was the first novel ever.
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If that’s too dense for you,
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you could read Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon,
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a fictional story set in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War.
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Many of the most powerful
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stories from Spain come from the period of the Spanish Civil War.
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A lot of them were written by foreigners like Homage to Catalonia, by George Orwell,
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or Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
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who set many of his novels in Spain, including the Sun Also Rises.
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For those of you who want a really deep dive into Spanish culture,
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I recommend the New Spaniards, by John Cooper.
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It’s thin, concise, and will tell you everything about Spain.
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Spain has a great film industry,
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most notably the films of director Almodovar
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including Volver and
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Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.
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Also great is Pan’s Labyrinth and Ocho Apellidos dos Vascos,
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known as the Spanish Affair in English,
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which is available on Netflix and
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documents the hilarious story of a Basque woman falling in love with an Andalusian man.
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Lastly, check out our Spotify playlist about Spain.
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We have a link in the info box.
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We got tunes from Ojos a Brujo, Facto Delafe, y Las Flores Azules and
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Manu Chao, who is actually French but his parents came from Spain.
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Okay, damas y caballeros, ladies and gentlemen,
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those are the things that you need to know before you go to Spain.
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If you have any tips of your own make sure you
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add them down there in the comment section.
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If you enjoyed this video, please give it a big thumbs up,
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hit that subscribe button and enable notifications
20:02
so you never miss any of our videos.
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This is the first video that we’ve done in this format,
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so let us know what you think.
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Is there any other information that you want to hear from us?
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Are there other destinations that you really want us to cover?
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Let us know in the comments section,
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and we’ll be sure to incorporate it into future videos.
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Alright in the meantime remember,
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stay curious, keep exploring ,and we will see you on the road.
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Paz y amor.