Spanish is one of the most important languages in global communication today. It is the official language
in twenty-one countries, and close to four hundred million people around the world speak Spanish.
Spanish is one of the most-used languages among the major international organizations, and its political
and diplomatic influence continues to grow.
In the business world, the Spanish language provides access to an increasingly expanding market as
wellas to the most promising emerging economies.
Moreover, Spanish is the gateway to a rich and diverse culture, universal in all its expressions.
Spain, a member of the European Union, was the cradle of the Spanish language. It was in Spain where
thecontributions of the great civilizations Greek, Roman, Arabic joined together to shape the language,
and from Spain where Spanish spread throughout the world, becoming an international language.
Today, the Spanish language is a valuable asset, as thousands of people and companies offer services and products based in the language.
Spain is renowned for its many sunny days throughout the year. The yearly climate is divided into four distinct seasons that very depending
upon geographical location, thus the climate differences throughout the country can vary greatly or can change imperceptibly.
The sun and the heat are present throughout Spain. In general, it is advisable to wear light clothing such as t-shirts, light dresses, skirts, etc. In mountainous areas or near the sea, it is a good idea to have on hand something thicker during the nighttime. The temperatures vary between 25 and 35 C or 77 and 95 F.
During this season, the temperature is rather irregular. Although some days may be cloudy and a little chillier, you can typically expect sunny weather. In general, jackets and raincoats are worn, along with a sweater, though it is also advisable to have a
short-sleeved shirt for those sunny days. Temperatures vary between 15 and 19 C or 59 and 66 F. In the inland and mountain areas,
the extremes are more noticeable. In coastal areas, the temperatures are more stable.
This is the time when the cold weather sets in. Although Spain is far away from extremely cold regions, the winters are cold and, in some areas including the mountains, it snows, perfect for those winter sports aficionados. It is imperative to wear warm sweaters and a coat. Temperatures range between 2 and 15 degrees C and 35 or 59 degrees F.
The temperature fluctuates most in this season. Sometimes it rains and when it is overcast it can be cold, though if the sun comes out, it is typical to enjoy more pleasant temperatures. You will need both winter and summer clothing. Temperatures vary between 10 and 21 C or 50 and 70 F.
Spain is part of the Euro zone. This zone is comprised of the following countries: Spain, France, Germany, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Belgium, Luxemburg, Holland, Austria, and Finland. These countries share a single currency, which helps to facilitate free movement.
Generally, traveler’s checks can be exchanged in any bank, although you may have to be prepared to go to certain specific offices or branches of each bank.
Ultimately, it is much easier to use a credit card, though beware the very high bank fees per transaction. Visa, American Express, Mastercard, and Diner’s Club cards are accepted in most commercial establishments.
Major cities have private exchange offices which change cash and, in some cases, traveler’s checks. These offices usually charge a commission for the transaction.
To see the current exchange rate for your currency against the Euro, visit www.oanda.com/convert/classic. As an example, a coffee in a café can cost anywhere between 1.00 and 1.20 euros. A Big Mac menu costs 6.00 euros; a fixed menu (two courses, a dessert, and drinks) costs between 7.00 and 10.00 euros.
In general, business hours for most stores throughout the country start at 10:00 in the morning until 2:00 in the afternoon, Monday to
Saturday. The afternoon schedule is normally from 5:00 to 8:00.
Department stores have an uninterrupted schedule, and most boutiques and department stores are typically open the first Sunday of every month.
Restaurants are open from 1:00 until 4:00 for lunch, and from 8:00 to 11:00 for dinner. In smaller restaurants, as well as in bars and cafés, it is
possible to get something at any hour.
Banks are open from 8:30 in the morning until 2:30 in the afternoon, Monday to Friday. From October to April, banks are also open on Saturdays from 9:00 in the morning until 1:00 in the afternoon.
The majority of public services, including civil centers and health clinics, are open from 9:00 in the morning until 2:00 in the afternoon from Monday to Friday.
Normally, breakfast consists of a cup of coffee with milk, hot chocolate, and a pastry or toast with butter and jam, or with olive oil. Many people just have coffee at home and later take breakfast at a bar or café. Fresh-squeezed orange juice is a staple of a Spanish breakfast. There is also usually a short break at mid-morning to re-charge until the lunch hour, which is, in Spain, a bit later in the day than in other European countries. During this break, Spaniards usually have another coffee, accompanied by something very light to eat. Though it depends upon the area and the activity, the usual breakfast hour at home is between 7:00 and 8:00 in the morning.
This is the most important meal of the day. Lunch usually falls between 1:30 and 4:00 in the afternoon. Between these hours, lunch is served in any restaurant, bar, or café. The fixed-price menu is common, consisting of an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert, with many options from which to choose. Bread and beverage are usually included in the price. The food is lighter or heavier depending on the season and on the region, but in any case, they provide adequate sustenance for the remaining hours ahead, which, contrary to popular belief, are not spent in a post-meal nap.
Dinner is not as important in Spain as it is in other countries, and is considered a minor meal. The dinner hour is between 9:30 and 11:00 at night and in many cases, especially during the summer and on the weekends, dinner usually consists of bite-sized portions of food, called tapas or raciones, which are small fare but supply enough energy.
Spain has one of the finest systems of public transportation. Depending on the city, options for moving around the city include:
All the large Spanish cities have a modern urban bus system servicing routes that connect different parts of the city. There is a good information system that provides travelers with information about the different routes. Travelers are often provided with free bus schedules
at certain destinations along the bus route. Many cities run a bus line at night, though more limited, which operates all night and which accesses
main points of the city. These night busses pass less frequently and the routes serviced are more limited than those of the day busses.
The night buses are dubbed búhos, "owls".
Some cities, especially Madrid, operate one of the most outstanding and modern metro systems in all of Europe. Travelers can also obtain free metro plans that provide information about the routes serviced. The metro is a popular and ideal alternative to the traffic on the streets above.
Cercanías Regional Train
This is a high-quality train service that operates routes that connect bigger cities with smaller ones. Travelers may obtain free plans that provide schedule and line information. The train terminals usually directly coincide with a metro or bus stop.
Spanish citizens depend on a modern taxi service system. All taxis adhere to an official standard rate charged to passengers. These official rates also designate supplementary fares for passenger luggage, special destinations, etc. If so requested by the passenger, taxi drivers are obligated to provide a receipt that specifies the billed elements of the service, as well as noting the points of pick-up and destination.
Some cities have a monthly transport pass and/or a travel pass (10 trips) which can be used for the metro, the bus, the Cercanías regional train, or any combination thereof. It is usually more economical to use these passes, which are sold only in specific locations, depending on the city.