Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Spain Getting Around

Getting Around
Getting around within Spain is best done by bus; the bus network gives you better coverage and more mile for your dollar than the rail system. If you're swanning off to the Balearics, you can go the whole luxury hog and get a flight, or pleb it on a ferry.
The only time you might seriously consider flying within Spain is to get out to the islands. From Barcelona, Valencia and Alicante, there are often good deals on charter flights.
There are plenty of bus routes serviced by dozens of independent companies, and the bus network is more extensive than the train system and cheaper.
Ferries regularly connect the mainland with the Balearic Islands, but flying is a better choice considering the time saved.

Spain Getting There & Away

Getting There & Away
Spain is dotted with international airports, and connections with the rest of Europe are good. If you're coming from the UK or from Morocco, you could consider a ferry. Otherwise, bus is the cheapest option, unless you're a whipper-snapper with an under-26 rail pass.

Spain has many international airports, including Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Santiago de Compostela, Seville, Granada, Málaga, Almería, Alicante, Valencia, Palma de Mallorca, Ibiza and Maó. A departure tax applies when flying out of Spain, but this is included in the price of the ticket at purchase.

Travelling to Spain by train can be more expensive than by bus unless you are under 26 or have a rail pass.
There are regular bus services to Spain from all major centres in Europe, including Lisbon, London and Paris.

Spain Environment

Spain and Portugal share the Iberian Peninsula, a vaguely square-shaped realm at the far southwestern edge of Europe. Spain occupies some 80% of this peninsula and spreads over nearly 505,000 sq km (194,982 sq mi), making it the biggest country in Western Europe after France. More than half of the country is made up of vast, elevated tablelands – the mesetas – and five major mountain ranges stretch across the country. In fact, with an average altitude of 650m (2133ft), it's the highest European country after Switzerland. Landscapes range from the deserts of Andalucía to the green wetlands of Galicia, and from the sunbaked plains of Castilla-La Mancha to the rugged snowcapped Picos de Europa and Pyrenees.

Spain's coast is as varied as its interior. The long Mediterranean coast alternates between rocky coves and inlets and flatter, straighter stretches with some long beaches. The Atlantic coast has colder seas and whiter, sandier beaches. The Costa de la Luz, from the Strait of Gibraltar and the Portuguese border, has many long sandy beaches backed by dunes. In the northwest, Galicia is deeply indented by long estuaries called rías, with plenty of sandy beaches. It also has Spain's most awesome cliffs, at Cabo Ortegal and the Serra da Capelada. Along the Bay of Biscay, the Cordillera Cantábrica comes almost down to the coast, and the beaches are mostly coves and small bays, though still sandy.

Native flora is prolific, especially in the alpine regions.

The prevalence of an 'if you see it, shoot it' philosophy has destroyed much of Spain's wildlife. Critters that you may still come across include red squirrels, chamois, deer, wolves, ibex, genet and a wide range of reptiles. Spain has around 25 breeding species of birds of prey, and it is a haven for water birds thanks to its large wetland areas. Gibraltar is famous for its Barbary macaques, the only wild monkeys in Europe.

The Canary Islands archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, west of Morocco, is an autonomous community belonging to Spain.