I have been traveling around Spain for just about a month now and wanted to share my California born and raised input on the Spanish culture, prices on things, differences from California, and as much insight as I could possible give to people around the world planning to travel out to Spain.
We flew in to Barcelona where we stayed for 4 nights at Urbany Hostel, they had a bar that sold cheap lager for ~2 euro, and a small kitchen that sold mini pizzas and a couple sandwiches which ran for roughly 5 euro. Take in mind that 1 Euro costs about 1.3 USD in Feb. of 2018.
You can live super cheap here if you are on a super budget, like I have been for this month, might expand that budget a bit more in a week or so when I move on from Spain to head out to Italy. Most sit down meals will average out to around 10-15 Euros.
I was always on the look out for cheap item meals too. I rarely had a full combo. meal, I mainly ate just an entree when we would go out to eat anything. The hostels we stay all have kitchens so we could go to the supermarket and get stuff to cook, which is cheaper then going out by a few Euros, but sometimes the kitchen could be packed with people and it could be very difficult to cook a full meal sometimes. Most hostels offer breakfast buffets in the mornings for roughly 4 Euros. Some hostels even give free meals. Most hostels also have a "pub crawl" almost every night where they would take you to 3 different bars where they would give you cheap sugary shots for free, and then usually to a club after the bars, around 3am for about 15 Euros.
Hostels will run you anywhere between 15-30 Euros per night, living in a 4/6/8/10 bed bedroom, most of them with communal bathrooms, some have private bathrooms.
You get to know all of your roommates to a good extent. The awesome thing about hostels is that it's such a good opportunity to get out and meet people from all over the world! I've met some of the best people I've had the opportunity to know through communal areas in hostels, and I've only been traveling for a month! I highly recommend to get out of your social comfort and make your way in to a hostel in a different country and get to making some great friends! Most hostels offer free walking tours of the city, where you're expected to tip them at the end of the roughly 2.5 hour walk and talk of the city and it's history and landmarks.
If you want to go out for a night on the town with some beer, a craft beer IPA will run you roughly 5-8 Euros per pint. After spending years drinking craft beer "for free", it's extremely hard to have to pay for those beers like that! Shots will run you roughly the same. We did however go to a bar called Plan B in Seville where we got a fat mixed drink/slushee with tons of alcohol in it for 5 Euro too.
The biggest expenses in Spain so far have been the travel days and the going out drinking days. Some places only offer bus rides to other places which could potentially cost you money.
I recommend searching GoEuro for the best prices on bus, train, or plane. I've spent anywhere from 42 Euro for a bus ride from Alicante to Granada, or 28 Euro from a bus ride from Barcelona to Valencia. There is also a ride sharing app called BlaBlaCar that is recommended to download before you get to Spain and don't have phone service because you need to verify your phone number. I enjoy taking the train the best over bus. I haven't taken a plane ride within country yet. Madrid was the most expensive city we went to and Granada was the cheapest, and had free, great, tapas at many places.
TOTAL USD SPENT IN 1 MONTH: ~$1,300-$1,500
Travel (bus,train,metro,taxi): ~$200
Food (real cheap): ~$300
Drinks (beer/mixed drinks) ~$220
One thing that I noticed about Spanish culture is that they take care of their own, are very artistically inclined, family oriented, take pride in their work, and hard workers. The Spanish men and women are some of the best looking people I have ever seen. I've never seen so many "dressed up" people in my entire life. If you're out on the town at 1am on a Wednesday and your not dressed up, for men, in slacks, dress shoes, black coats, and a scarf, with your hair all perfect, you're doing something wrong. I stood out like a sore thumb!
People take pride in what they have here. I've never seen so many people washing windows, sweeping the street in front of their mom and pop shop, and constantly trying to get people in their doors. I respect that. You will also find many "beggars", try not to acknowledge them if at all possible, unless you want to give them money.
People will be on the side of the streets where thousands of people walk by every day displaying their form of art, in acts of music, theater, showmen ship, magic, comedy, any sort of art you can think of. Spaniard's are artistic and aren't scared to show it to the rest of the world.
I got to experience two different Flamenco shows here in Spain, both in Sevilla. I'd recommend going to a Flamenco show in a cave in Granada if you get the chance. The performers are very emotional and in to their dance, very intense, romantic, and rhythmic dance.
Spaniards love to show their romanticism. I've never felt so much love from others. You will always find young couple being kissy kissy on a park bench, holding hands walking home from a secret, knock to enter, bar at 5am on a Wednesday night, or simply taking her out for tapas and a cerveza, which might cost you 10-15 Euro.
People don't go by the same time schedule or personal space here either. If I was walking down a 4 person sidewalk, they would take up most of the space and expect you to move out of the way. Their personal boundaries are a lot more small then my Californian ass! Everything was "Spanish Sized" we'd say (smaller).
People here also tend to open and close their businesses whenever they felt like it, almost no set time schedule. Siestas are 100% real here! I've taken at least 20 siestas out of the 30 days I was in Spain. Places tend to stay open way later then they do in California. Older folks were out in the mornings/noon time and I would notice that the younger crowd would start coming out in the afternoon/evening/late nights.
You can find a bar, cafe, or night club in any city. In most cities bars and cafe's are just about on every corner. The small alley's here aren't intimidating like they would be in America.
The younger, party, crowd likes to listen to reggaton, but it is possible to find more alternative style places to go to also. Roughly only 20% of Spaniards speak English so it might be nice to touch up on your Spanish a little bit before planning a trip here, it might help you out.
TOP TAKEAWAYS OF SPANISH CULTURE:
Spain has been an eye opening experience for me, seeing as it was my first international country that I stepped on in my young 26 years of age. It's taught me so much about life, culture, history, and just how they live their lives compared to ours. They don't rush and rush until life's no fun, like I feel like is the vibes in California and the USA.
They take to time to stop and spell the roses here, to go on a Tuesday afternoon stroll in the gorgeous park with their grandparents and kids, having conversations about life and enjoying each others presence.
In all of the different cities I've been to in Spain, Sevilla was my favorite, followed by Valencia, Granada, Barcelona, Alicante, then Madrid. Madrid was a little too expensive, poshy, high class then my liking. Alicante was a total beach town and definitely need to give it another shot in the summer, when you can utilize those beaches. Alicante is also know for their crazy party scene. Barcelona was a little more hipster-esq then most places, linear blocks like in the USA, so it was easier to navigate.
Barcelona also had some awesome structures (Segredad Familia) in a random neighborhood in the city. Granada has a lot of muslim invluence, so very small alleys, caves, colder as it's at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains, free tapas and is a little cheaper then the rest of the cities we went to. Valencia was an awesome, historic, cultural city with a great night life and friendly atmosphere. There is a huge sense of camaraderie in Valencia I didn't quite feel anywhere else. The Agua De Valencia is one of the best drinks I've had also! Seville, Sevilla, ended up taking my heart though. Culture is there, families in the plazas having a good time, secret underground bars, live music with an open mic, good people, great monuments. Seville wins for me.
Spain is one hell of a country and I highly recommend everyone goes there and spends time in some of the other cities besides Madrid (NYC meets SF) and Barcelona. Check out Seville or Granada if you have the chance!
As always, thank you for the read and I hope this little quick insight in to Spain form a beer drinking, not too cultured, ex USMC, yogi has provided some value to you!
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Cheers you savages!