Strange Spain

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Next stop, where to?

After settled the first 3-4 nights of itinerary, there are a few more regions for your pleasure:
1. head east to Madrid
2. head northeast to Bilbao
3. head south to Valencia
4. ... then to Andalusia
or if you see the Spain map, 5. go to France

However, do take note that due to C19, France has different VTL requirement such as ART or PCR test as valid pre-departure test to Singapore, mRNA or Sinovac validity as vaccine cert, etc. So, if I were you, stay in Spain for this trip and keep out of the frequently changed immigration rules.

If you had never been to Spain, then going Madrid would be the right choice. However, this will spell the end of your self-drive holiday. Very likely, you'll have to return your car either in Barcelona (and then buy a return tickets to Madrid - assuming your VTL flight is from Barcelona) or you drive to Madrid just to have more driving experiences.  So, if you chose to go Madrid, then basically, this would be your itinerary (2 weeks holiday):
1. Pick up car in Barcelona airport and drive to the few surrounding towns 3-4 nights
2. Return car in Madrid and stay for 3 - 4 nights
3. Took a train to Barcelona and stay for 3 nights
4. Home sweet home 

If you could squeeze in another week aka 3 weeks holiday, then after Montserrat, this would be the plan (before returning car in Madrid):
1a) Drive to Zaragoza 1-2 nights
1b) Drive to San Sabastian 1 night
1c) Drive to Bilbao 1 night
1d) Drive to Segovia 1-2 night

This will clock another 1000km to your driving in Spain aka plus the 500km = 1500km driving trip.  This driving route consist of exciting winding mountain ride, coastal (cliff), breaches, tall mountain which snows in winter and romantic Disneyland Castles and churches.

Consider done?

Happy New Year!
Wishing all our valuebuddies, a peaceful and prosperous 2022.

Again, waking up to a cold morning with birds chirping happily in the woods, my heart is filled with gratitude.

#3 & #4 - 3 weeks holiday to Andalusia looks like this:

1. Pick up car at Barcelona airport and the drive to surrounding towns 3-4 nights
2. Drive to Valencia 2 nights
3. Drive to Granada 2 nights
4. Drive to Ronda 1 night
5. Drive to Acros 1 night
6. Return car at Seville 2 night
7. Early train to Cordoba and then to Madrid 3 nights
8. Train to Barcelona 3 nights
9. Home sweet home

This self-driving part would be about 1,200 KM which is slightly longer than the previous itinerary. If you had not been to Andalusia, then this would be a good road trip too.

In both cases, if you're able to find 3 - 4 pax, then the road trip would be cheaper than if you commute by Train/bus.  Even, if it's more expensive, the flexibility and freedom that you gain would be priceless.  Drive, please if you could.

A lot of our valuebuddies was sent oversea for works.  Driving Hertz and Avis is always the default.  Midsize sedan, automatic, CDW covered.  

This would be the default way to travel but does not sounds to be a valuebuddies approach.

I mean, instead of using Hertz and Avis (with corporate discount), the more natural approach would be to check out various car rental companies and pick the best offer, make sense?

Well, Uncle Rick Steves recommended a car rental consolidator and check it out before you book from Hertz or Avis:

To me, cost is one thing, safety actually come first.  What I meant is this: 
1. Do you usually drive a Japanese or Continental car? If you have a Japanese car, of course, you could use this opportunity to test out Continental Car (because the car rental is really cheap).  However, it's not advisable because you should be driving a car that you're more familiar with.  This familiarity would be something very important especially you're driving in the foreign country with differences in traffics rules and road signs.

Having says that, if you wanted more adventure and more experience then I would says go for a Audi (if you had never drove continental car before).

If you are driving a continental car in your home country, then why not get a high end luxurious model and enjoy your trip?  Just a word of warning, there are not too many Merc or BMW on the road.  Your rental car will stick out in the car park (especially those free public car parks).  Tongue

2. Auto vs Manual. No questions that manual drive car is cheaper and more commonly available in Spain.  However, there is no reason (zero) to rent a manual car for your holiday. Auto is a must. Full Stop. Spend the $$$. You deserve a auto car.

3. Drop fee. As we are picking up from Barcelona Airport but we won't return the car in Barcelona Airport, so there will be additional surcharge - Drop fee.  However, some (if not one) car rental company do not charge a Drop fee (or the fee is 0.01Euro and it says pay onsite).  This would be a great saving/discount compared to the other rental company.

Enjoy your trip and have a great holiday, everyone.

Happy New Year!
It's good to wake up in another cool morning, and I wish everyone a nice weekend.

Ok, rubber hit the road and you arrived in Spain for a self-drive holiday.

You're on your own (no tour guide) and so everything need to be done yourself.

Clearing immigration (take note that EU passport is on the right and you should go to the left hand side), followed by a long line to check for vaccination cert, picked up your luggage and then exit the airport control area. 

Next is to pick up your car:
[Image: keep-heading-towards-car-remtal-desks-ba...inal-1.jpg]

Typically, the rental car counters would be open :

but since this is Covid 19 and there is not much traveler, these airport car rental counter might be closed.  However, there will be instruction pasted on the closed curtain on how to reach the car rental kiosk inside the carpark.  
Play safe, pick up your handphone and take a picture of the route/instruction and then look for the lift:

[Image: on-airport-car-rental-parking-barcelona-...-guide.jpg]

At the car rental kiosk, after verified your details, they will try to upsell you some benefits such as fully covered insurance, onboard GPS which I usually categorically declined.

When I sign up a travel insurance for a driving trip, I usually get one with payout for car rental accident says $1500.  Hence, there is no need to take the full CDP. 

As for the onboard GPS, since I had opted for a higher end car model, I'm quite sure that there is a onboard GPS and so there is no need to rent one.  Worst case, the google map would be sufficiently good alternative too.  

What is important, I must tell you is to:
1. Check the car exterior (with the car rental rep) and make sure that all the dents or scratches are recorded in the handover form.
2. Ask the car rental rep to teach you how to drive the car - especially how to engage the reverse gear.  No joke, it's not the same as the car you're driving at home.
3. Ask the car rental rep to set the GPS to "English" language. Otherwise, it would be nearly impossible for you to change the language setting for the next 1 hour (stuck in the car park).

Ok, after you had adjusted the car seat, mirror to suit your height, set your destination in GPS, you're ready to go.

One thing I must warn you is that this is a multi-storey carpark and the turn/tunnel to go to lower floor is worst than HDB carpark in Singapore. The turn is 90 degree sharp turn and the tunnel is so narrow that there is barely 1 cm gaps from your mirror to the wall.  

Cheap thrill!  What a way to start the adventure in Spain.



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