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Spanish Road Info


Don Madge

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I'm doing a bit of research for January's trip to the sun. It's a few years since we were in Madrid, so if you went through Madrid this summer you might be able to help. Is the M50 Outer ring road complete. Did you use the Rapid Autopistas around Madrid, if so any comments. It seems that the Autopistas (Toll roads) are now AP1, 2 etc. Autovia (Free) are now A1, 2 etc. Is the resigning complete or is it still ongoing and do you have any observations on the Spanish roads. Our most likely route will be, West coast of France, San Sebastian, Irurtzun, Vitoria, Burgos, Madrid, Granada & Malaga. Any info will be most welcome. Details of Spanish Motorways http://tinyurl.com/yfo2nf Safe travelling Don
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Don, Every time we go to Spain, they seem to have changed the road numbering system. The new ring motorway around Madrid should be open by now but it is a toll road. However, beware! If the Spanish have finished changing their road numbers (I'm not sure that even they know!), then the French are just starting. For the next 5 years they are handing over National roads to each Departement, so, for example, parts of the N20 will be renumbered as bits of D road. So you'll play the Spanish game: every time you buy a map it will already be way out of date!
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[QUOTE]Mel E - 2006-11-05 8:54 PM Don, Every time we go to Spain, they seem to have changed the road numbering system. The new ring motorway around Madrid should be open by now but it is a toll road ![/QUOTE] Mel, That's not quite right. The ring roads around Madrid M 30/40/50 are all toll free. The five autopistas (R 1-5) which start from Madrid and advance to every radial autovia: Autovía A-1, Autovía A-2, Autovía A-3, Autovía A-4, Autovía A-5, Autovía A-6. These are the toll roads. Don
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Don Looking clockwise the M50 is complete from the A1/E5 around to the A6 in the north west. As you say, it's free, or still was in March. The main route south of Burgos is still pretty false-teeth chattering! Going south we tried something different this year and turned off the A1/E5 at the junction with the N110 towards Segovia and made for a good campsite 'El Escorial' at El Escorial, via the A6. From there you are quickly back on the A6/M50 and new R4 (worth the toll this one to avoid the traffic) and heading south without ever touching Madrid. From the turn off at the N110 we saw very little traffic. If you want to rest up El Escorial has its sights, as does Segovia of course. Another, very handy, overnight campsite that we use a lot is 'Camping Despenaperros' at Saint Elena, just north of La Carolina. Just turn of the A4/E5 and you are there. Set amoung olive groves and rural surroundings. Both the above sites are open throughout the winter. Have a good trip.
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[QUOTE]RonB - 2006-11-06 2:03 PM Another, very handy, overnight campsite that we use a lot is 'Camping Despenaperros' at Saint Elena, just north of La Carolina. Just turn of the A4/E5 and you are there. Set amoung olive groves and rural surroundings. Both the above sites are open throughout the winter. Have a good trip.[/QUOTE] Ron, Thanks for that. Have used 'Camping Despenaperros' a few times. Regards Don
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Hi, Hope your trip planning goes well. Just a word from someone who was attacked by three sets of "bandidos" in the space of two hours on the Spanish autopista. In addition to locking up when you stop at Spanish/French services (we never do now), not stopping to help anyone for any reason, not heeding any badge shown to you our of a passing car etc keep your eye on the rear of your vehicle when you enter any Spanish toll booth. We were approached by the first lot (all smartly dressed) when having a lunch stop in the truck parking area of a services. Chased them off with crowbar and shouts (nobody helped). Later, my first tyre was put out at a toll booth - in full view of the control tower (who also gave me the number of the car and Guarda Civil). Tyre changed, we were again attacked and another tyre quickly pierced by a well placed obstruction when leaving the autopista to go to the police station. Ended up me in the middle of the road facing a bandido with a long sharpened screwdriver and many Spanish drivers hurrying past without offering help. Later the police were not interested either in the numbers of the three cars, photos of their occupants that my wife had taken just took me to a tyre repair shop who told me they did a roaring trade from such instances. The police did say "Autopista - Camping car - NO!" Since that day I have never used an autopista near any big city, always drive defensively on the main autovias and with a full fuel tank, always watching who is following even from a fair distance back. The cars were obviously in touch with each other by cell phone. Each had three people in them (the one in the back lying down across the seat). Just be very careful. When you stop for fuel near any big city just ask the attendants if there are any "Bandidos" about - you will be surprised how many times they will indicate in the positive. Have a safe trip. Betsy
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>:-) Interesting to read all the comments! Personally I wouldn't go to spain if you paid me. This year we went and I cannot think of a more unfriendly place on the planet. The spanish are surley and money grabbing. This possibly comes from all the eurocash they have managed to con' out of brussels during the last ten years.That will end when the market expands and the really poor countries get a bigger slice. No more new autpistas then! If you can avoid the eastern european hookers on the 't'junctions. The con artists who are looking for any opportunity to rob you and the police who are as bent and corrupt as any B movie from Mexico as well as the exceedingly high prices the campsites charge ( 20 euros to hook up outside of the site whilst you wait for a space). The fact that all the money they have had has gone into peoples back pockets and the fact that the country is no better than the third world - man it is poor! The only thing going for it is the golf courses and the sun and the last one is debatable i n January and Feb. No, go to Italy in the south or Greece. We gave up and took up skiiing. Lots of sun and exercise. No ticks for the dog. Civilisation calls. Don't think that I am not an experienced trveller. Africa, Middle east, Aus,NZ and the States as well as 15 years motorhoming in europe. Sorry Don Spain is the pits. It would do them good if we all refused to go so that they can be encouraged to put their house in order. Oily is'nt the word If it were a motorhome you would take it back and burn it on the forecourt No not aplace at the top of my must visit list. This will get the forum buzzing ned
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But Ned, where did you actually go to have so much fun!  To some extent I agree with you, and thought the Spanish were at best unsmiling.

We toured around a fair chunk of Spain last Autumn.  It was the first time I'd been back since the late 60s.  It had changed a bit!  We generally didn't use Autopistas, though did use a few Autovias, but mainly used just the main, and less main, roads.  We travelled West along the North coast, then turned South to, and through, Portugal, returning via Andalucia, N to Toledo, East to Albarracin, down to the Costas, round behind Barcelona and back through France.  On that experience I'd certainly not describe the Spanish as particularly welcoming, but we saw no hint of thieves, pickpockets or any rogues really.

Most of the sites were fair value for what you got.  Fuel reasonably priced, supermarkets frequently good - although some made a meal out of handling a UK card, and a few more had height barriers.  The driving was far more restrained than I'd expected from my previous visit (except perhaps from Barcelona North).  We had some quite good meals, and a couple that weren't.  I think we bought more corked wine in Spain that I've ever experienced before (followed closely by Portugal - and they have most of the cork oaks!).  We saw some poverty, for which I guess you can't blame the Spanish, but far more ugliness, for which I think they can be blamed.

However, we then visited Southern Italy (that is to say South of Naples) this spring and I'd say it's about evens overall, but with a clear advantage to the Spanish for their driving!

Do tell where you went, and when.

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  • 2 months later...
I realise that this is an older posting but Iwould like peoples views on safety in Spain. Numerous years ago I was a victim of "handbag snatching" by a passing car. Needlesss to say I was faster on my feet and a lot lighter then and did not let go as I had the holiday cash and passports in my handbag. Since then I have been reluctant to go to areas near Barcelona but this year we have booked the Spanish crossing to Bilbao and will stay 6 nights on campsites on coast west of Santander. (Santillana and Llanes) As its July and August do people advise me to:- 1. Book anymore sights or just decide when we are there. 2 Is it safer around Green Spain and Portugal 3 Can we get on sites without booking in August? I am open to suggestions and advice. Chris
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Chris

Sites in July/August, others will have to advise on.

Safety?  I think you were just unlucky, but not alone.  There are thieves everywhere, and many of them target tourists as easy pickings.  They will naturally go where most of the tourists go, and will look out for tourists.  However, on the whole, road accidents, sadly, are a greater risk than robbery.  Would you avoid driving down a road where you had previously had an accident?

In strange towns, in strange countries, you do need to be streetwise.  Look at the locals.  See how they carry their bags, and what kinds of clothes and bags they have.  Try not to stand out too much.  Don't go out and get a lot of new "holiday" wear.  Don't carry your bag where it can be snatched, try for clothes with pockets, so you don't need a bag, or go for a "sac a dos" type bag.  Try not to carry a conspicuous camera or jewellry.  Avoid the edge of the pavement, stay fairly close to your companions, and try not to let strangers get between you until you get the feel of the place.

Avoid, so far as possible, going straight to the tourist honeypot areas.  Spread your money and cards between you.  Take a moment to pause and look around from time to time.  If you think you're being targeted, stop by a shop and see if you are passed by, or if your suspected tail stops as well.

We saw nothing in Spain to unsettle us, but we were out of season.  However, we "did" the cathedrals in Burgos, Santiago de Compostela, Granada, Toledo, Seville, Cadiz and the Mesquita in Cordoba.  We also did the Alcazar in Seville and the Alhambra in Granada, and Bom Jesus in Portugal.  We wandered the streets of all these cities, and also Braga, Coimbra, Evora and Faro in Portugal, and poked around their old Jewish quarters where relevant.  I think those are some of the most non-beach touristy places in Spain and Portugal, and we never felt uneasy. 

The Spanish, and the Portugese, were just far too busy with their own lives to bother with us, and we just relaxed and got lost into the background and the crowds.

I guess you will be less at risk of robbery in Northern Spain, and especially Portugal, but I don't think the risks are all that great really wherever or whenever you go.

Mind you, this is the person who wandered right through the middle of the Camorra stronghold in Naples last year.  All the local ladies were carrying their bags quite happily around there as well, but I guess they were probably well connected!

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Thanks Brian I must be one of THE most safety conscious people going but only to the point that I make sure all the details you have mentioned anyway are covered. Will enjoy but will be prepared anyway. (That is as long as AT ferries take me there in the first place?) Look at other posting on this. Chris
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Guest starspirit
And so back to roads! Why do so many folk go off topic? I never do! We were in the Murcia / Alicante area last year without the van and our limited experience of the A7 / AP7 is that some stretches are toll and others not and there is often very little if any warning of the change. For example from Alicante Airport to J751 is free but just after J751 to just before J768 (heading N to S) is toll and it then reverts to free all the way to Cartagena although it magically changes to the AP37 around the Mar Menor area which is also toll free (so far). By the way the junction numbers are in sequence but not consecutive which, if we are kind is forward planning on a grand scale and if we are unkind is a typically Spanish cock up. My '4th edition AA road atlas of Spain' does not differentiate between Free and Toll roads although it does show where most of the toll barriers are. However even if you know where the toll barriers are you still can't tell which bits are free and which bits are toll. My 'AA easy read road atlas of France' however shows toll roads and free roads in different colours so I guess before going to Spain with the van I need to find a clearer atlas. We also drove the N340 / A7 (free bits) / N332 from Reus Airport to Torrevieja and this is not a bad road at all without any toll sections. Hope this confuses! Generally, but not always, A roads are toll free and AP roads are unpredictable.
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Guest starspirit
I've just seen a 2007 Collins map of Spain & Portugal at about 13 miles to one inch scale (I think). It costs £5.99 from Waterstones book shop and does show the toll sections of the Autopistas in a different colour to the free sections. Michelin maps do not differentiate.
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Richard

My 2005 Spain & Portugal 1:400,000 atlas does differentiate the autovias (toll free dual carriageways) and the autopistas (generally toll motorways).  The latter have red borders with yellow down the centre, the former have a white centre.  The same system is used for the French autoroutes.

The toll free sections of the autopistas have the spot distances indicated with blue numerals and "lollipops" and the toll sections (most of the road) with red numbers and "lollipops".

The biggest problem we found was that all the road numbers were being changed, and none of the maps seemed able to keep up. 

We had no problem, generally, avoiding the toll sections.

Have Michelin now changed their presentation, or have you been using a different map/scale/type?

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Guest starspirit
Brian, I don't know if Michelin have changed their style as I only have one of their maps which is the 2006 Espana & Portugal no 734. On this I can see that some stretches of the AP7 (the only AP that I know bits of as we have an apartment near Murcia) that I know to be toll free are shown as toll payable and vice versa, whereas on the Collins map the various bits that I know seem correctly identified. We too can usually avoid toll bits but sometimes a sign can be missed and if you know where they are you can plan well in advance (not something I am known for) to use or avoid them.
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