Posted by Julia Leef
As I write this, I'm sitting on a beach in Barcelona (how's all that snow, by the way?) on the third day of my spring break. We have a week off for Santa Semana, or Saints' week, which is our equivalent of spring break. Since I'll be traveling a lot this week, I thought I would talk a bit about traveling in Spain for those who have not yet had the pleasure to do so, but may one day wish to.
First of all, if you're planning a trip to Spain, make the reservations as early as possible, at least a month in advance if you can. As happens for many trips, tickets become more expensive the closer you get to your travel date.
There are many ways to travel in Spain. The bus is by far the cheapest option, but it's also the most time-consuming. If you don't mind taking a nine to 18 hour-long bus ride (depending on your destination) this is probably the best option. One of the bus tickets I found cost about 30 euros for an eight-hour-long trip from Madrid to Barcelona.
There's also the option of flying. Some flights can be very cheap, but it can also be stressful trying to check in and navigate an airport in a foreign country, especially when you have to be there at least an hour (two is better) before your flight. I have a few flights planned for this week, and so far, through some error or another, I haven't been able to check in for any of them. But if you're okay with checking in at the airport on the day of your flight instead of online in advance, or you know the European booking process better than I do, this is a pretty good way to go. A flight from Madrid to Barcelona can be as cheap as 60 euros and would take just over an hour.
I opted for a train line to get me to Barcelona, and there are plenty of options available for this mode of transportation as well. There are many different train companies to take (I went for AVE, which is one of the faster but more expensive ones) which all offer various prices ranging from 54 euros to about 120 euros, depending upon the time of day. You can also purchase a euro rail pass, which allows you to travel around Europe for a set price and time.
Once you've decided how you'll be traveling, you'll need to find somewhere to stay. While there are plenty of hotels available no matter where you go, the best option for someone traveling, especially if he or she will need to be in many different places, is to stay at a hostel. A hostel is much cheaper than a hotel, and is a common choice amongst travelers.
Hostels are set up a bit like dorm rooms. Many different groups live on the same floor and share a bathroom. Sometimes, you'll even stay in the same room as another group of people. I've seen as many as 12 people in one hostel room, which makes a triple at Skidmore luxurious by comparison. While it can be strange to share a room with people you don't know it can also be a fun experience since many of them will be travelers like you from places all around the world.
I'll be leaving tomorrow morning on a flight to Paris, and I'm looking forward to exploring the city and doing as many touristy activities as possible. To those of you who may be considering studying abroad, I would definitely recommend it as a fun experience and a great opportunity to see places you might not get a chance to see otherwise.
Julia Leef is a junior at Skidmore currently studying abroad in Spain. She worked for the Skidmore News as Editor in Chief in the fall and is a contributing columnist this semester.