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Spain is a member state of the European Union as well as the Schengen Agreement. Spain consists of the 17 Comunidades Autónomas. These are not only administrative destricts; Many of the regions have their own culture, language and some even don’t consider themselves as a part of Spain. For example the dominating language in Catalonia is Catalan, so be aware of that. Nevertheless, everyone speaks castellano (Spanish). English is taught at school, but due some droll shyness, lot’s of Spaniards refuse to speak it. For this reason, most travellers learn at least un poquito (a little bit) of the Spanish language during their stay. The phrase Vas a... ? (are you going to... ?) is an excellent starting point.
In Spain, hitching isn’t a very common concept and mostly done by foreigners. Though, the thumb will be understood. Nevertheless, you will find a lot of foreigners in cars from countries where the hitchhiking culture is more developed. You usually have to wait for some time - but those who pick you up at least tend to be really nice. Unfortunately they also seem to be somewhat clueless about distances (to walk) and what is a good spot and what is not (since no one knows much about hitchhiking). Another complication is the paid highways and the unpaid highways.
When entering the country from France you should try to get a lift as close to your destination as possible. On the mediteranean side, a good place for this is La Jonquera, one of the biggest truck stops in Europe. You’ll find plenty of international truck drivers all over the country, because Spain is a centre of the fruit industry, exporting their oranges and tomatoes. On the Atlantic side, there is another huge truck stop near Irun.
If you arrive by the ferry from Africa you should try to get a ride on the ferry or at the port. There are lot’s of people from Morocco, who went to visit their families and now return. You’ll see number plates from many other European states.
The north of Spain has a well developed system of autopistas and hitching is pretty similar to France or Germany. These motorways have three lanes in both directions, peajes (tollgates) and huge rest stops directly at the road. However, waiting at the peajes, isn't allowed and you’ll be sent away by the police. So when hitching between France - Murcia or Barcelona – Zaragoza – Madrid for example it is a good idea to stick to the rest stops and ask the drivers there. Bring water and food, since these áreas de servicio are really(!) expensive.
However in the more southern regions, the motorways are smaller and the petrol stations usually a bit off the road. But don’t worry and be patient.
Carpooling (compartir coche) is an alternative. The website ¿viajamosjuntos.com? gives the opportunity to the driver to post their journey in search of passenger to share the cost of the ride.
Despite many houses have been shut down lately, Spain has a very active squatting scene. It’s quite easy to find a place to crash by asking around for a casa okupada.
From any tourist-info around country, you can find good roadmap of the region and/or the autonomous area for free of charge.
- Barcelona, the capital of Catalunya
- Donostia-San Sebastián
- Madrid, the capital
- Santiago de Compostela
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