Spanish Holiday 3 - Driving

Spain is one of the easiest countries in which to travel by car. My wife and I have been coming to Spain for twenty years, and I have driven every time we've been here except for the first time. This time is no exception. I rented a car through Europcar and picked it up in downtown Madrid. We where leaving Madrid on a Saturday, so I wasn't worried about traffic.

One drawback to driving in Spain is signage. Streets are not always well marked, so it's handy to have a good map or GPS. If you bring a GPS from another country, make sure it has maps of Spain. My GPS does not, so I didn't bring it, but I wished I had one. I have already gotten lost a couple of times, even with a good map, but sometime getting lost leads to unexpected treasure, like the medieval castle we came across in Pulgar. Don't rely on the tourist maps they give you, they don't have enough info on them to be useful. Once you are out of the cities, signage is usually pretty good, and roads are well maintained. The Spanish are good drivers, but in the cities the streets can be narrow, and delivery trucks and busses can take up more than their fair share of the road. I drive cautiously and give plenty of room to other vehicles. Like other European countries gas is expensive. Right now Dec. 2011 gas is about 1.30 Euros per liter and 1 Euro = 1.32 dollars. You can do the math. Needless to say, I rent the smallest car that I can and usually ask for a diesel at the rental agency, because they get better MPGs or KPLs (Kilometers Per Liter). Fortunately, distances are pretty short between cities.

All said, traveling by car is the most convenient and IMHO the easiest way to get around Spain.