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VINE VOICEon 21 December 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is an attractively designed, unusual guidebook aimed at the American market. At the risk of sounding like a Simon Calder wannabe, I have travelled extensively throughout Spain and have visited several of the recommended locations. I was impressed that it included excursions off the usual tourist trail, such as Olite and Logroño in the North, in addition to providing maps and recommendations for Spain's most famous sights.

However, I found the 'itinerary' format confusing. With planned mini-trips split into 1, 2 or 3 days, information on the same locations were repeated throughout book's 20 chapters, which was more scattershot than snapshot. I can understand the reasoning behind this; American tourists may be more used to planned holidays in which they want to make the best use of their time and see as much as possible. This guide doesn't work so well if you want a more in-depth look at each location.

The maps, including major city Metros, are useful and clear and I would certainly give the extensive restaurant recommendations a go. I could be a real snob and question whether the 'spotlight' sections (the bits you only get round to reading when you are delayed at the airport) provide much insight - calling Almodóvar a surrealist is really stretching it - but they have made a decent enough stab at providing some cultural context.

The book itself is sturdy and glossy and should survive the occasional sun tan lotion stain. I wouldn't pay nearly £20 for it, but it is a reasonable buy at the Amazon price.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Although this looks like a pocket-book, in fairness it doesn't describe itself as such and is quite a substantial tome, weighing in at a hefty 815 grammes, so not something you'd want to carry around. Printed on glossy paper it is lavishly illustrated; the front has a fold-out map of Spain showing the different regions with a guide to their highlights, and the back has a removable map with a small map of Spain and maps of the Valencia, Madrid and Barcelona metros. At the back there are also 5 pages of useful phrases and menu terms together with phonetic pronunciation.
The title is "Spain day by day" and is split into the different regions, so you get, for example, "The Best of Barcelona in a day", "in 2 days", "in 3 days", so you can plan your itinerary around Spain to fit your time. There are 80 pages devoted to Barcelona and the coverage is comprehensive with lots of colour photos. Different regions get different coverage, although it is always comprehensive, e.g. Valencia and the Costa Blanca get coverage of 27 pages. In general each section has a small map and there is useful information on the culture and traditions as well as admission times and prices for attractions, as well as recommended hotels and restaurants, prices are usually in euros.
There are chapters on Spanish history and culture, which is really good, you get a timeline from 20,000 BC to 2010, architecture, artistry and the Spanish Table, a chapter on Special Interest trips, such as food and wine, language classes, outdoor activities etc, and a chapter entitled "The Savvy Traveler" which has month by month festivals and special events, rainfall, advice on mobile phones, US embassy etc.
Recommended
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Weighing in at over 700 pages, Frommer's Spain Day by Day is a fair bit more substantial than your usual Lonely Planet type guides. It does exactly what it says - covering short trips to virtually every part of Spain and suggesting the best places to visit depending on whether you have 1, 2 or more days to spare.

The Barcelona section - comprising over 10% of the entire book, is particularly comprehensive and has definitely whetted my appetite to visit this city. Santander, on the other hand (a very popular destination thanks to Brittany Ferries) gets rather perfunctory treatment.
I guess it depends on what part of Spain you are planning to visit whether you feel this guide is sufficiently comprehensive for your purposes.

The great thing about a book like this though is just flicking through it will give you some great ideas for excursions - I'd passed through Andalucia last year on my way to Gibraltar and hadn't even realised what I'd missed! Next time, I'll definitely pay a visit to the Garganta del Chorro, as the photos on pages 554 & 556 look so compelling.

The fold-out map, in a pocket at the back of the book, is of such a large-scale as to be of little use. The metro maps on the reverse will probably come in handy. though.

Overall, this guide spreads itself perhaps a little too thinly in places, but has made a commendable effort in covering the entirety of this fascinating country. Recommended.

**** UPDATE ****

This book has now proved its worth in recent city breaks in both Barcelona and Madrid. Highly recommended!
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Packed with nice glossy pictures of the must see bits of Spain, this is a fairly useful book for planning a trip- offering you 1, 2, 3 day itineraries or 1 to 2 weeks to see a region. Except it's very very heavy due to all the kaolin in the pictures. It's quirky enough to appeal to my tastes- And it does pick out gems such as Barcelon's Moderniste architecture- ah Gaudi. It waxes lyrical over delights such as hot chocolate in Barcelona and warns you that restaurants don't open in the evening there until 9pm.
However I wouldn't want to use it as my sole guide to a place- I'd want one of the more text less picture guidebooks to actually tell me something interesting. This will get you around comfortably.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The problem with many guide books that they are too thin and lacking in any substance or maybe too detailed for the average traveller. This probably travels the fine line between those 2 extremes and is clearly written by a knowledgeable and enthusiastic author. The way the book is set out took a bit of getting used to. Chapter 1 has the Best of Spain ....moments......beaches...hotels....churches....etc.....very subjective?. Chapter 2 suggests strategies for seeing Spain....which will provide plenty of ideas if planning a trip.....Chapter 3 suggests itinereraries of varying lengths. I like the suggested itineraries for families. The remaining Chapters look at Cities, and various area. The book is a bit bulky but contains lots of photographs to inspire...useful maps and plenty of information about the locations. It is also a fairly intersting read without being too detailed or academic. It is well above average and it makes me want to see a lot more of Spain than I have already done. I can see this being well used in the coming years. Good guide book. Recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 11 February 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This Frommer's guide is a fairly hefty tome - perhaps that's why it's listed as `full-size'. It's a guide book, with the emphasis on `book', rather than something you can keep stashed in a back pocket while you're touring. The good news is that whilst there are a lot of pages, they are all packed with interesting or useful content.

The book covers each part of Spain (including the somewhat overlooked North), and pays attention to each of the large cities individually. Each section contains itineraries - for example "If you have three days in Spain, do x", or "If you have 2 weeks in Spain, do x+y". This itinerary format does work quite well, providing not only attractions, but also potential routes to reach them - always a problem when you're looking to explore areas outside the metropolitan.

Oddly enough, the depth of the guide make sit useful not only in planning trips, but in deciding to make them - flipping through the pages, one runs across all sorts of hidden gems or interesting sounding byways which aren't on the main `tourist trail, but sound intriguing enough to visit. Also useful are the entertainment and (particularly) the restaurant recommendations - always helpful when arriving in a new city.

There's a variety of lovely photographs every couple of pages, and the book is laced with useful maps, in a variety of scales - it probably won't cover everywhere you want to go, but it will certainly make a good start, and help someone new to an area gain the lay of the land.

The text is written with obvious enthusiasm and deep knowledge of the subject from the various co-authors, and the text itself flows in a pleasantly anecdotal fashion, and is a pleasure to read.

Overall, this is, as promised, a thoroughly in-depth guide to Spain, nicely laid out, detailed, and pleasant to read; it's just a shame you can't fit it in your pocket!
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VINE VOICEon 20 January 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I travel to Spain a lot, and have seen many parts, and sampled myself the diverse regions, different types of Spanish culture, cities, and climate. What I love about this book, as well as being packed full of information, is how much detail it goes into this book. For someone who wants to explore Spain, and visit its many different areas, while having an interest in the historical aspect then this book is definitely for you.

The book is made up of 20 chapters. The main features that stand out for me in this book are as follows. Chapter 1 is all about the best of Spain, and goes into detail on such topics such as food, outdoor life, shopping towns, and history, covering areas like churches museums, and art. These I feel bring out more of Spain than the usual Costa del Sol we all know.

There are also a number of chapters covering the well known cities in Spain, and they are all structured in a similar way. They give plans of the best way to see these cities based on one day, two day, and three day visits, Madrid, Barcelona, to name some. The book also covers regions, including Andalucía, The Balearic islands. There is an excellent chapter devoted to Spanish history and culture.

The book is packed full of colour photographs, maps, and at the back, is a very useful fold up map of the whole of Spain showing the major cities and depicting the regions. On the other side of this, are maps of the Valencia Metro, the Madrid Metro, and the Barcelona Metro. This is a brilliant book, and I can't recommend it highly enough for anyone visiting Spain, who wants that little bit more from their visit.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Being called 'Day by Day', I thought this book would be arranged around the calendar like the also-good Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2011 (Lonely Planet General Reference)but instead it is just Frommer's title for this series of guides.

The book covers nearly* all areas of Spain attractive to tourists. *The Balearic Islands are included but not The Canaries (fair enough). There are 'Best of' lists at the beginning for quick reference. Then each featured area has its own chapter plus there are a couple of small but very welcome chapters at the end of the guide outlining Spain's history, fine art and food. Plus some tourist tips and a few phrases (poco mas tinto). There are worthy additional snippets being a summary of Spanish surrealists and a short but explicit grape guide (Weyhey!).

The book seems to lean towards architecture, history and art as attractions. Restaurants are also recommended but sadly there are few bar reviews. Kids also seem to get somewhat overlooked -there are places flagged as 'for kids' but they also seem few.

There is a plastic wallet at the back of the book which contains a useless map of Spain and a marginally more useful set of metro maps. This envelope stiffens the book and makes it harder to bend and flick through. I would lose the map or replace it with something more useful. A better map is included inside the book! And each featured town has its own more useful map.

The book is very nicely illustrated which is why I think it would make a good coffee-table book even if you're not immediately planning a trip to Spain. Many of us Brits have been to Spain and it is irresistible to look up these places for a quick look and to 'nostalge'.

I was both pleased and horrified to see that a favourite unspoilt coastal hideaway town I know is bared for all to see in their 'favourite towns' list.

Conversely, many other 'best of' suggestions are a bit predictable but if one was just passing-through I suppose these WOULD be the places to visit, if not just to say you've been there and then point it out in this book!

As the whole of Spain is covered, not much detail can be included on the individual areas so I wouldn't use this as a guide on its own. However, it is a very good source of inspiration when deciding where to visit next and has very good browsing value for casual reading.

Worth the fairly high price tag, I'd say, as it's more than just a travel guide and can be read like one long glossy travel mag.

[My Ref: Spain all day hombre 20.01.11]
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VINE VOICEon 17 January 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I was impressed when I received this book. It's thick, glossy and beautifully produced, with lots of lovely photos, though it's almost as heavy as a brick so it's no good for slipping in your pocket (and if you want to carry it in your bag, you'll need strong arms!).

The book gives a very comprehensive guide to Spain and offers suggestions of itineries depending on what you're interested in. So there's planned routes/tours for families with kids, people who like wine, etc. No matter how much time you have in each place, there's useful sections - Madrid in one day, Madrid in two days, Madrid in three days, etc. All the major cities and sections of Spain are covered. The book even dedicates a chapter to each of the Balearic islands, though these are (necessarily) covered in such a quick and cursory manner that I think it would have been better to leave them out. After all, if you're going to Ibiza or Menorca you're probably going to want a separate guidebook dedicated to that island.

There's an impressive selection of maps included in this book too, from detailed layouts of shopping areas, to double page spreads of cities showing all the best restaurants, museums or nightclubs. There's also a separate map in a plastic wallet at the back of the book which shows the metro routes for all the major cities, which is useful.

This is an excellent book, and though it's a bit overpriced at it's full price, it's definitely worth buying at Amazon price!
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VINE VOICEon 26 February 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book tries to cover the whole of Spain. That's a mighty big challenge. It covers all the well known areas adequately, and a few lesser known spots too, using the well rehearsed technique of listing the "top ten" features in an area. Views, restaurants, museums, churches they all get mentions. There are even suggested short tours based on public transport that would suit independant travellers. The only real problem is that the ambitious scope means each area gets a thin covering. If you only go to Spain for a week you will find that your chosen area only occupies a few pages. On the other hand if you are a regular visitor planning to eventually cover the whole country - and Spain is one place where that's a good ambition - then this serves as a brief guidebook when you get there but also as a great trip planner. It will let you decide which areas of Spain to visit next, and then you can buy a more detailed guide if you need to. If you fit the audience then it's a good book, if you just want a guide to Barcelona, or the Costas, say, then look elsewhere.
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