You've organised a trip to Spain and you want to see as much of this beautiful country as you can. For many people, the most convenient way of getting around is by car. It's so easy to hire a car and many travellers enjoy the independence of sightseeing under their own steam and to their own timetable. If this is precisely how you like to travel, then here's some great Streetwise Spanish to help you get the most from your trip.
The first step is to hire the car - es obvio, ¿verdad? You can arrange this through your travel agent - agente de viaje - before you travel or you can hire a car at the airport or from any of the car hire companies you'll find in most cities and towns. The Spanish is so simple:
"Quisiera alquilar un coche" - I would like to hire a car. If you prefer to drive automatics, add "automático" and if you'd also like power steering, tack on: "dirección asistida". A stick shift is "un coche de marchas".
then state how long you wish to hire the car for:
"para un día/dos días (o tres, cuatro, cinco)/una semana por favor."
Really easy but using Quisiera - I would like - instead of Quiero - I want - is a much more polite Spanish word and will be well received and appreciated in all Spanish speaking countries. You will need your passport - pasaporte - and your driver's license - carnet de conducir - and of course money - dinero - or a credit card - una tarjeta de crédito.
Time to hit the road! The Spanish for a highway is "una carretera" and a general road is "un camino". Motorways are "Autopistas" the majority of which are toll roads - "autopistas de peaje". If you're driving in Spain, keep in mind that "autopistas de peaje" will have emergency telephones - teléfonos de emergencia - every 1 km. The speed limit - velocidad máxima - on autopistas de peaje is 120 kph.
Dual carriageways are "autovias" and main roads are "carreteras nacionales" con una velocidad máxima de 90 kph. In cities, built-up areas and country roads - carreteras comarcales - la velocidad máxima es 60kph. Speeding - velocidad excesiva - is punished with a fine - una multa. Junctions, intersections and crossings share the name "cruce" but "intersección" is also used throughout the Spanish speaking world. And of course, many of these will have traffic lights "semáforo" in Spanish. Realmente fácil.
Around major cities, expect traffic jams - atascos - and if you're in Spain, you'll discover that the Spanish regard a queue of 3 cars waiting more than 1 minute to exit a small side street as un atasco and will honk their horns in frustration and impatience at this infuriating waste of their precious time!
You're going to need to fill up with gas - gasolina - and if you're looking for a gas station, here's a nice easy Spanish phrase for you:
"¿Hay una gasolinera cerca de aquí?" - Is there a gas station near here?
"El parking" can be a bit of a nightmare in the cities and you need to be careful in residential areas - zonas de residencia. You need a permit to park in these areas and cars parked illegally will be towed away by a tow-truck - "la grúa". In Spain you will have to pay 100 euros to retrieve your car. Better is to use a car park - un aparcamiento - and the following Spanish phrase is sure to come in very handy:
"¿Dónde está el aparcamiento más cercano?" - Where is the nearest car park?
It maybe that after experiencing a few hectic days of driving you've had enough of the hustle and bustle and here's a great Spanish phrase you can use:
"No puedo más con el trafico. Voy a prescindir del coche y ¡disfrutar de algo de paz y tranquilidad! - I can't take any more of the traffic. I'm going to do without the car and enjoy some peace and quiet!
There's some really practical Spanish phrases for you there, have a play with them to get it all nicely drilled in and I'm sure it will help you to enjoy a fabulous trip!
Buen viaje y hasta la vuelta.
Written by: P. Christian
About the author:
Barcelona-based writer Peter Christian is the author of the brand-new book "Streetwise Spanish". To discover how you can add an authentic flourish to your spoken Spanish along with practical insights into Hispanic culture, click here now
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