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Some tips for travelers bound for the Iberian Peninsula:

- When refilling the car at a service station, do not pull up to the pump reading "gasoleo," as a colleague did on a drive through Spain last year. It is diesel fuel, and you won't get far on it.- Expect to pay $3 or $4 per person for admission to important museums and palaces. In the Lisbon suburb of Belem, we spent about $10 each in a single morning to visit a cluster of museums, a monastery and a palace. On that day, we saw many tourists turning away because of the costs. When budgeting for the trip, keep this in mind.

- If there's a historic building on your day's itinerary, tote along a guidebook that will explain specifically what you are seeing. In Spain in particular, there are usually no guides available in English at the site, and often no informational signs at all in any language. The Michelin green guides are very useful for this kind of sightseeing.

- If you are bound for Madrid, avoid changing dollars for pesetas at the Madrid airport. The commission charged is excessive - about $7.25 for a $100 traveler's check. To have taxi money ready, obtain Spanish currency before leaving home.

- Some automatic teller-type machines will accept U.S. bills and return Spanish pesetas. I didn't want to wait in line to try the one in the Madrid airport, but I encountered another in Seville just across the street from the Cathedral of Seville. I recommend avoiding them. To sample the machine, I inserted a $10 bill. Out popped only about $8.50 worth of pesetas.

- In major tourist cities, many restaurants provide English-language menus, which can be a big help if you don't speak the language. But there are drawbacks, as I discovered at a fancy restaurant in Madrid.

My wife was handed a menu in English, and for some reason I got one in Spanish - which I can read. The English version did not include some of the less expensive dishes of the day listed in the Spanish menu.