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Trip Report Report: Thoughts on driving in Spain

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The evaluation of attractions and cities I will leave to others. Instead I prefer to write about travel by car. In retrospect, I believe that the choice of travel by car for two weeks in June 2012 turned out to be a good one. I do not use GPS at home so I thought that I would not begin to do so in Spain. My wife and I speak fluent Spanish so asking directions was not a problem for us. So here goes:
1. I would not recommend driving in big cities primarily because of traffic volume and the difficulty in finding parking. Furthermore, non-standard street name signs are placed on buildings at corners. Sometimes. The signs can be difficult to find on the building (if they are there at all) and tend to be very small. This is a very bad distraction in traffic. In addition, street name designations often change even though one is driving on one continuous thoroughfare.
2. Overall the roads between cities are excellent. They are certainly wide enough and seem to be built to a very good safety standard. In fact, their application of semi-roundabouts on rural road intersections would be useful in the U.S.
3. One should endeavor to acquire good maps for each city that one will enter even if it’s only to park at a hotel. Book stores in your city of entry (Madrid, Barcelona, etc.) can be a good source. Buy your maps before you rent the car.
4. One should talk to someone about how to interpret highway number designations. The interplay of designation numbers can be very confusing and that can have you headed in the wrong direction quite quickly. This is especially true around Bilbao where tunnels are numerous and you have no time to mull over when your next turn will be.
5. The tolls in Spain are the highest I’ve ever encountered. I think that we paid 32 Euros for the distance between Barcelona and Valencia. Since you already have your good map and understand how highways are designated, much of the time you can plan for alternate routes that do not have tolls.
6. The city of Barajas is the last metro stop before the Madrid airport. The metro fare for that one stop is about the same as cab fare (Now do you suppose that the cabbies union had some say in that?) If Barajas is your last night before leaving, just get a cab to the airport, it’s easier.
Y que tengan buen viaje.

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