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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Urban Life & Travel Talk 
Thread started 01 Sep 2015 (Tuesday) 11:47
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First time traveling (Spain) - looking for confirmation

224 posts
Gallery: 22 photos
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Joined Mar 2012
Location: Washington DC
Sep 01, 2015 11:47 |  #1

I'm taking my first real international trip from the US to Spain for 9 days with just my girlfriend (late 20's). We are staying in a hostel, an AirBnb, and a small family owned hotel all with private rooms. Each of us is taking a 'carry on' sized suitcase and a backpack. I'm taking the dedicated photography photography backpack: a recently acquired Clik Elite Probody Sport. I upgraded from the Clik Elite Compact Sport so that I could fit my camera gear in the bottom section and reserve the top section for other items (guide books, maps, etc.). We will be spending 3 days in Barcelona, 3 days in Granada, and 3 days in Madrid. We have absolutely nothing planned besides a tour of the Alhambra and a tour of the Sagrada Familia. I hear the museums in Madrid are great so we will probably check some of those out. We like to eat and drink and I'm sure will mostly be walking as our hotels are all in downtown type areas. Barcelona is near Las Ramblas, Granada is in El Albacin, Madrid is in the inner city. Any other tips besides getting lost in the cities will be welcomed. Since we only have two full days in each city (and a half day w/ travel) I don't know if we will do any day trips out of the city unless one of you convinces me :)

This is what camera gear I own:
Canon 70D
Rebel T3i
Canon 17-55 f2.8
Canon 70-300L
Sigma 30 f1.4
Canon 430EX II flash
Canon 18-55 (kit)
Canon 55-250 (kit)
I also rented a Canon 10-22 for indoor wide angles.

We are only taking one camera - if my girlfriend wants to take pictures we will just share (unlikely given past traveling experience). I find the quality and features of the 70D to outweigh the weight savings of the Rebel T3i so that will be my main body. My 17-55 is a no-brainer walk around lens. I rented the 10-22 specifically for indoor shots of some of the beautiful buildings we are going to so that is going as well. Do you think the 30 f1.4 is worth it as I've got the space and it is pretty light? I probably won't take the flash because I suck with flashes. I don't see any reason to lug along the 70-300L although I love that lens and I bet I miss the reach at some point in time.

The Clik Elite has a waist strap and chest strap, and I've got a Black Rapid camera sling so I should be able to comfortably carry my stuff around all day. The most common thing I hear is that people need to watch out for thieves. I live in Washington DC and I'm not too worried about it here, even with all my camera gear.

I guess I'm really just looking for some confirmation on my thinking here... and any other Spain tips anyone has :)

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Senior Member
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Joined Jul 2012
Location: italy
Sep 03, 2015 12:37 |  #2

hallo, you'll have a great holiday!
I've visited all the three cities, they're all great.
I don't remember Barcellona very well, was there ages no advice here, sorry.
Granada is a lovely town, you'll enjoy the peaceful atmosphere there. I suggest you book in advance via internet for the Alhambra. Albaicin is the hearth of moresque Granada, you'll like the tearooms and the suk.
if you walk all the way up to the hill for Albaicin you'll reach a great lookout with a beautiful view on Alhambra.
the cathedral and the "capilla real" in Granada are also worth a visit.
Madrid, well, it's the liveliest city I've ever seen! it's just a pleasure to walk around and stop here and there for a tapa or a glass of wine. yes, museums are great, you cannot miss Guernica of course! just by the avenida where museums are, there is a wonderful park, go there and visit it, it's really good.

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Owain ­ Shaw
Some of my best friends are people.
2,190 posts
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Joined Aug 2006
Location: Valencia, Spain.
Post edited over 3 years ago by Owain Shaw. (2 edits in all)
Oct 03, 2015 05:13 |  #3


I actually live in Madrid so I might be able to help with that one. I visited Barcelona about ten years ago so any practical advice is pretty limited other than it does have a bit of a reputation for pick-pocketing, so keep an eye on your bags and pockets, particularly in the underground or crowded areas.

Granada I saw whilst visiting a friend, and that was my main emphasis, but it was beautiful. From the Albacin there's a hike up to a place called San Miguel Alto which will give you a great view over the whole city - we went up there at night and just sat looking at the lights and the stars, but I imagine during the day or particularly at sunset it would be a great place. The place where everyone shoots the Alhambra from is further down the hill though, I think we sat on the wall there for a bit as well.

As to Madrid, it's a big city but you can see the majority of it on foot if you have time. The Royal Palace and Gardens are not far from the Puerta del Sol (walk down calle Arenal) and both are very close to Plaza Mayor. From Sol you can easily get to Gran Via and walking down Gran Via you get to Banco de Espana, Palacio de Cibeles and then Retiro via the Puerta de Alcala. Sounds like a lot but I often do that walk and back just to stretch my legs - a bit sad that I barely look at things that people come thousands of miles to see and photograph.

I'm feeling particularly helpful today so I've print screened and annotated a map of the above route with some bits of information. I live locally so feel free to PM if you need any more information. Oh, the Chocolateria San Gines is on the map ... go there for your chocolate con churros needs. It's the best.

First time I came to Madrid as a tourist, and about the only time I photographed it as such, I used one lens (24-70) and body, and it was fine. The wide angle should serve you well for some of the interiors though. Depending on your shooting style, the f/1.4 of the prime might offer you something the zooms can't, but it might also be something you can live without. Granada I only used the 40mm Pancake, and the same for my trip to Portugal last year. Travelling with a small amount of kit is usually fine, I wouldn't be too worried about carrying everything. Remember to enjoy yourself as well, that's why I normally only travel with the Pancake lens these days.

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2,097 posts
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Joined Aug 2009
Oct 03, 2015 08:44 as a reply to  @ Owain Shaw's post |  #4

I have been to Spain 3X and will probably go again. I have been to Madrid and Barcelona (& Sitges). The food is great and the people are warm and friendly. I recall liking the Picasso Museum in Barcelona and the Prado in Madrid, of course. The Gaudi Park in Barcelona is also worth seeing.
Madrid has the finest pickpockets in the world. They export them to England to train thieves there. I haven't had the experience of a loss, but My wife had a close call on the metro in Madrid. A skilled thief had her shoulder bag open when I pulled her away before he could get her purse out. We were lucky, but two other people had purses lifted at the same conference. One older lady had her purse swiped while our group walked through the Plaza Mayor.
If you are alert, you will be fine.
I would take a fast prime for low light, and leave the flash and long lenses at home. Enjoy your trip!

Senior Member
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Joined Feb 2007
Location: North Carolina, USA
Nov 15, 2015 12:16 |  #5

Having been to Spain 3 times in the last 4 years, I definitely suggest that you take your 70-300L. I know that it is heavy, but I got some really wonderful photos with my 70-300L my last trip.

Have fun.

1,227 posts
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Joined Jan 2011
Location: Caracas, Venezuela
Post edited over 3 years ago by marcial4. (2 edits in all)
Dec 06, 2015 19:54 |  #6

a wide angle lens is a must!.

In my case I visited Madrid, Barcelona and Mallorca some years ago, in all this three cities there are touristic buses with an open upper deck with multiple stops in the main attractions so you can get up or down in the places you want and at your own pace. If you want your own exploration experience and cheaper of course then both metro systems are great and have stations near the main attractions too.

As museums, El Prado is a must-visit, also Retiro Park, Almudena Cathedral, The Royal Palace, Atocha train station (if you have time you can go to Toledo or Segovia in a high speed train or AVEs), La Gran Vía, Templo Deboh, Plaza Mayor, Las Ventas bullring, Puerta del Sol.

In Barcelona, the ramblas (consider the barcelona Cathedral, la Boquería, Opera theater), Port Vell and the Paseo Marítimo, the Barcelona Aquarium, Montjuic and Gaudi's Parc Guell, La Pedrera or Casa Milá, La Sagrada Familia, Casa Batló.

If you're soccer fan, Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid and Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona are other visits you can consider.

Also consider keep your bags at sight, never leave it alone and as artyH said, keep alert when going through touristic places like the ramblas in Barcelona as pickpocketing is possible there.

Marcial "Marshall" Quintero
5D3 | 16-35/4L | 50 1.4 | 100L | 70-300L

A Venezuelan living in Santiago, Chile

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First time traveling (Spain) - looking for confirmation
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