Before your trip
Spain & Portugal
- Arrival at Madrid:
a. Wear Peony Tours’ red colored round badge for easy identification when you are in the airport or on the airplane.
b. Upon arrival at Madrid Airport, after claiming your baggage, step to the arrival hall to meet Peony Tours’ tour manager. Allow more time for the tour manager if you fly British Airways, for its terminal is far away from others.
- Mobile Phone: The coverage in Spain uses GSM technology, which is incompatible with the USA. If you want to use your mobile phone in Spain, make sure you have a tri-band mobile, and you should contact your mobile company to activate the international roaming service on your account before travel.
- Currency: Foreign currency exchange service is available at the international airport, banks, and exchange shops at major cities, as well as in selected hotels. The currency in Spain is the Euro, as other European Union countries. Travelers’ checks and leading international credit cards (Visa, Master, Diners Club and American Express) are accepted by most hotels, restaurants and shops.
- Climate & Clothing: Spain is located in the southwest of Europe, shares the Iberian Peninsula with Portugal. Spain has a predominantly warm Mediterranean climate, with dry summers and winters with balanced temperatures. The temperature might reach 110F in July and August. Travelers should dress differently according to the season and the circumstances and be advisable to bring a light jacket and umbrella even during the summer.
- Internet: The public internet rooms and cyber cafes offer the internet service. You’ll also find Wi-Fi internet connections in airports, railway stations and bus depots, as well as in various shopping centers. Most of hotels Peony Tours uses for tour PSP provides free Wi-Fi in rooms.
- Visa: U.S. citizens who hold valid passports and stay up to 90 days in Spain are exempted from visa requirement into Spain. For most current visa info, please contact the Spanish Embassy or Consulate at http://www.spainemb.org.
- Customs Rules: Travelers may enter/exit EU with up to €10,000 without submitting a customs declaration. Travelers aged older than 18 coming from non-EU countries may benefit from exemption for personal use that do not exceed the limits: 200 units cigarettes or 100 units small cigars or 50 units cigars, 1 litre of liquor or 2 litres of wine, 60 ml of perfume or 250 ml toilet-water, other goods up to a total value of €430 per adult and €150 if age 15 or under. Currency import or export amounts exceeding EUR 10,000 - or more or the equivalent in another currency (incl. banker's draft and cheques of any kind) must be declared.
- Activity and Shopping: Football is probably the most popular spectator sport in Spain. Other popular activities include bullfight and flamenco dance. Spanish leather shoes are highly prized goods throughout the world.
- Food and Drinks: Spain’s eating and drinking culture is one of its greatest attractions. Tap water is safe and bottled water is widespread throughout Spain. Generally lunch is from 14:00 to 17:00, dinner is between 21:00 to 24:00. Popular specialties include Paella, Jamon (ham), Cochinillo (roasted pork), and Sherry.
- Time Differentials: Spain is 9 hours ahead of Los Angeles (PST) in winter. During summer, from April to October, the clocks move one hour forward.
- Telephone: Free emergency call is 112 (in Spanish and English). Telephone number within Spain is 9 digits. Call from Spain to USA, dial: 00 + 1 + area code + telephone number Call from USA to Spain, dial: 011 + 34 + 9 digits telephone number
- Electrical Requirement: Electricity supply in Spain is 220 Volts, 50 Hz. Sockets take the European standard dual round-pronged plug.
- Language: Spanish is the official language in Spain. However, English is also spoken among young generation.
- Religion: The majority of the population in Spain is Catholic.
- National Holidays in 2020: Holidays in Spain can be national, regional or local. There are New Year’s Day (1/01), Epiphany (1/06), Good Friday (4/10), Labor Day (5/01), The Assumption (8/15), Columbus Day (10/12), All Saints (11/01), Spanish Constitution Day (12/06), The Immaculate Conception (12/08), Christmas Holiday (12/25-12/26).
- Safety: As in any country, there are basic security measures to bear in mind when visiting Spain. Do not walk around dark streets or areas. Carry only the money you need for any excursion. Take good care of your possessions in crowded places such as the airport and department stores. Keep valuable objects like cell phones and cameras with you at all time.
- Climate: Portugal is situated at the south-west point of Europe. The summers in Portugal are hot and dry, especially in the inland areas. Temperatures are slightly lower in the coastal areas, because of the influence of the sea. There are often warm, sunny days in autumn. August is the hottest, and January is the coldest month of the year.
- Money Matters: Portugal is one of the UN countries whose common official currency is the Euro. All well-known credit cards such as Visa, American Express, Diners Club, Europay / Mastercard, JCB and Maestro, are usually accepted.
- Visa: Portugal is a party to the Schengen agreement. As such, U.S. citizens with valid passports may enter Portugal for up to 90 days for tourist purposes without a visa.
- Customs Rules: For full details, please see Spain or refer to the website of the EU, http://europa.eu
- Activity and Shopping: Football is the most popular and played sport. Popular souvenirs for tourists include lacework and embroidered linen, ceramics, azulejos, and carpets.
- Food: Portuguese cuisine is characterized by rich, filling and fullflavored dishes. The wide variety of spices is used. Generally breakfast is very light. Lunch is the main meal traditionally served between 12:00 and 2:30p.m., dinner is between 7:30 and 10:30p.m. The most popular dessert is the pastel de nata, a small custard egg tart pastry. Port wine is also very popular and famous.
- Time: Portugal is 8 hours ahead of Los Angeles (PST) in winter. Summer daylight saving is from April to October, the clocks move one hour forward.
- International Call & Emergency Line: The emergency line in Portugal is 112. Portugal international access code is 00, country code is 351, Lisbon city code is 21. For American citizen service, please call the U.S. Embassy in Lisbon at 351-21-770-2122.
- Electrical Requirement: Portugal electrical current is 220V, 50Hz, and sockets take the standard European dual round-pronged plug.
- Language: Portuguese is the official language in Portugal, and there are lots of people who are able to communicate in English, French and Spanish.
- Religion: The majority of Portuguese are Catholics.
- National Holidays in 2020: New Year’s Day (1/01), Good Friday (4/10), Liberty Day (4/25), Labor Day (5/01), Portugal Day (6/10), Corpus Christi (6/11), Assumption of Mary (8/15), Republic Day (10/05), All Saints Day (11/01), Restoration of Independence (12/01), Immaculate Conception (12/08), Christmas Day (12/25).
- Safety: Be cautious in areas where you may be becoming a target of pickpockets and purse snatchers, particularly at popular tourist sites and restaurants, or on public transportation. Carry limited cash and credit cards on your person. Never use short cuts, narrow alleys or poorly lit streets.