Category Archives: Guidebooks

In the Garlic – Spain from A – Z

3 years ago my youngest sister arrived in Spain for a 12 month Erasmus study abroad program with little or no Spanish. Within months she was teaching Marina who, of course, is as Spanish as you can get, new words and phrases she’d never come across before. Part of her secret ‘learn Spanish sickeningly fast’ recipe involved sitting up in bed at night reading through the dictionary, picking out words that both fascinated her and later just stuck, for good. Sickening.

Anyway, much the same approach that my sister used to get ahead in Spanish could also be applied to Spanish culture, with Valerie Collins and Theresa O’Shea’s book In the Garlic. It’s an amusingly written A-Z of practically every aspect of Spanish culture you could begin to imagine, from Almuerzo (mid morning snacks) to Zara (Spanish version of Gap, sort of), via Chiringuito (beach-side or fiesta bar or restaurant/shack), Gilipuertas (polite version of Gilipollas – idiot) and Payo (gypsy term for non-gypsies). Apply my sister’s bedtime reading technique to this dictionary of Spain and you’ll soon be teaching Marina things she never knew about her own country!

But seriously, do you need this book? Well, here’s a little test. If you know what all of the following mean then you are definitely en el ajo (in the garlic = in the know) enough not to need it at all:

Llave inglesa, pataleo, piñata, selectividad, callista, dominguero, Ikastola.

How did you do? Definitions in the comments below please, and remember, if that little list completely stumped you, the book is available here!

The Rough Guide to Spain

  I’ve used this book to travel all over Spain during the last six years and have only been let down once – just watch out for the hostel in Alicante that is described as ‘reasonably clean’. Apart from that this guide is packed with useful information, interesting facts and detailed descriptions of all Spain’s cultural highlights. If you are wondering which of the big guides to go for, look no further.
Pick up a copy at: (Europe) (USA)

‘Time Out’ City Guides – Our Favourites!

  Time out succeed time and again with their city guides, with loads of spot-on information on where to eat, sleep, go out, visit, everything in fact for the visitor to Spain’s big cities. Having lived in Madrid for 7 years, Time Out is the guide I always push into friends’ hands when they come to stay in the city.
Check out the full range at: (Europe) (USA)

Spain (Eyewitness Travel Guides)

  Many travelers find this an invaluable aid to traveling in Spain, especially when coupled with a more extensive listings guide like the Rough Guide. The appeal of this book is the incredibly wide selection of photographs, drawings and maps. Not only does it allow you to get a real feel for the country before you visit, but the street-level city plans are well detailed and an enormous help when navigating from site to site. Plus, this is a book that looks great on the coffee table once you get back!
Pick up a copy at: (Europe) (USA)