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Tourism and Information

General advice and information about travelling in Spain

Generally speaking Spain and the Costa del Sol have a lower level of crime than the U.K. Like everywhere, howev-. er, there is crime and, as holidaymakers are usually in a relaxed mood they make an obvious target.

Out and About

When you are out and about, particularly in crowds, look out for pick pockets and handbag snatchers. Don't carry more money than you need and keep your wallet c,lose to you. One useful trick for men, when in crowds, is to keep your wallet in the side pocket of your trousers and keep your hand in the pocket. Over the last year or so there have been a number of incidents of handbag snatching reported. These are often carried out by youths on scooters. Ladies should always keep the strap of their handbag wrapped round their hand. and on the side away from the edge of the road.

Night Time

If you are walking around at night stay in well lit areas where there are plenty of other people around. If it is very late at night consider getting a taxi back to your accommodation.

Cash Machines

For some time now crooks have been attaching a piece of plastic with a flexible slot to cash machines. When a customer inserts their card it is stopped from corning out again by the flexible strip. A "helpful" local then offers to retrieve the card for you and watches you enter the pin number again. The card still isn't released and the local suggests that you, leave it and report it to the bank in the morning. You go away and the crook removes the plastic strip and retrieves your card! If this happens to you look at the slot carefully and see if it is covered bya false strip -. if so you should be able to remove it to retrieve your card. Under no circumstances let anyone see you entering your pin number no matter how helpful they may seem.

Take Care

Other dangers to be aware of are street corner time share sellers. You may decide to take them up on their offer of a presentation but don't allow yourself to be pressured into signing anything. Finally, if you are booking any coach excursions make sure that the company is reputable and legal. All excursion companies are classed as travel agents and must have a ClAN number. You can be sure that these companies use properly licensed and trained drivers and carry the required insurances. Literature and adverts used by these companies will carry their ClAN number as will their receipts for money paid to them. As we said at the beginning, the crime rate on the Costa del Sol is relatively low. A few simple precautions will help to eflsure that you have an enjoyable and carefree holiday.

Using The Internet

Just because you are on holiday it doesn't mean that you can't keep in touch with what's going on at home or work. If you are intemet user then you can take advantage of this through one of the many internet bars or cafes. Just as at home these will provide you with full internet access facilities based on a fixed charge per IA or V2 hour. Most of the places which provide these facilities also have other facilities such as call boxes, fax, photocopying etc. Many of them also serve food and drink so that you can combine your business with a drink or snack. If you are in Fuengirola we recommend the Oasis Internet Cafe on Avda Ramon y Cajal just behind the PYR hotel.' In Torremolinos, EI Mojito have good internet facilities.

Exchanging Money

The exchange rate varies on a day to day basis. You can exchange money at your hotel, banks or money exchange agencies. At banks you will probably receive a lower rate, however, if you are using a money exchange agency do take care as whilst the majority of agencie's in the town are reputable, there are a small minority that advertise very attractive rates to lure you. Once they have got your money you may find that you have received less than you expected. If you confront them with this they will point to an out of the way sign, in small print, saying that you only receive the highest rate if you exchange a certain amount of money. This can be £1,000 or £2,000, so do take care

Post

Once they have got your money Post boxes are bright yellow in colour and are fairly well distributed. Many of them have two slots and if one of them is marked Extrajaneros then this is the one to use for posting items to the UK.
Stamps can be bought at tobacconists as well as from post offices. Post can still take over a week to arrive back in the UK. There is a quicker, although slightly more expensive, method, and that is Royal Mail Agents. You simply take your post into one of these agents, pay the required fee, and your letter is flown, the next day, to the UK and posted, as normal, from there. If you are sending postcards many shops w~ll also sell stamps and have facilities to post them.

Telephones

To telephone the U.K. from Spain you m~st first dial 0044 followed by the normal area code and number leaving out the first 0 of the area code. For example, to dial the following number in the U.K., 0722 121 1234 you would dial 0044 722 121 1234.
You will find telephone boxes in the street, or call boxes in hotels and bars, in which you can use· coins or telephone cards. Basically using Spanish puhlic phoncs is verv similar to day Sunday. Also remember that if you don't use all the money that you have put in the phone it will only return whole unused coins. By using smaller coins you will get more back. This is also a good way to use up those smaller coins that no one wants to pay with in a shop or bar! An alternative is to use one of the many telecabins that you will find in all holiday areas. Calls are available in these from ahout O.25 Euros a minute which gives a good saving over the, normal telephone box. In these cabins you pay at the end of the call so you do need to keep an eye on the time you are connected. If you arc not sure how to use them most of the staff speak some English and will be happy to help you. An excellent example of these call cabins is a company called Call Home Cabins who are located in Montemar and Fuengirola. or Eurocall, also in Montemar.

Basically using Spanish public phones is very similar to' those at home and the instructions are often written in English. Remember it will cost you over 60 cents just to get in contact with the UK and you will need plenty of coins. A good tip is to just insert a small coin, say 10 cents, to check that the phone is working. If you get a dial tone you can then put more money in knowing that you won't lose it. Generally cheaper rates operate after 10.00 p.m. local time, and all

On the Road

It is easy to forget, when cross}ng the road, that the traffic will be coming from the opposite direction to what you are used to - so do take, care. Whilst, generally, there are plenty of zebra crossings Spanish drivers don't normally stop unless you are actua!ly on the crossing and even that can't be guaranteed!

Drinking Water

The water on the Costa is, unlike in the early days, perfectly safe to drink. However, it has a different mineral content to the water back home and you would therefore probably be wise to stick to bottled water for drinking purposes. However there is no worry about using tap water for brushing your teeth or having ice cubes in your drinks.

The Euro

All of us living here in Spain have now got used to our new currency - the "euro". In mflny ways it has much more in common with sterling in that it has two units, the euro and the cent (centimos in Spain), 'unlike the old currency which just had the' single unit of the peseta.
If you are like me and want to carry out a very rough comparison of prices with those back home the simple way is to simply divide the Euro price by 3 and multiply by 2 to arrive at the price in sterling. ie 3.00 euros roughly equals £2.00.

Local Markets

The markets on the Costa del Sol are a wonderful place to find bargains to suit everyone. Particularly good' buys are Spanish pottery and leather goods although almost everything is available. For something different why not try one of the flea markets where there are many stalls selling genuine old Spanish items which make a great change from the usual souvenirs. The flea market in Fuengirola is the biggest and well worth a visit. If you are buying clothes you will find the size comparison chart useful. Normally markets run from about 10.00 am until 3.00 pm although they may start packing up sooner particularly in the winter.

Clothes sizes

Women Men Men's shirts Shoes
UK SP UK SP UK SP UK SP
8 38 34 44 14 35 4 36.5
10 40 36 46 14.5 36/37 5 37.5
12 42 38 48 15 38 6 39
14 44 40 50 15.5 39/40 7 41
16 46 42 52 16 42 8 42
18 48 44 54 16.5 42/43 9 43
20 50 46 56 17 44 10 44
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