Spain

Madrid, Seville & Granada

Trip Features

Self-guided tours of the main cities & historical sites. Guided adventure tours. Optional flamenco and Spanish language classes.

Dates & Costs

Choose your start date & travel companions. 2-week core itinerary from $870/week. 1-10 week language & flamenco extensions from $770/week.

Ages & Availability

Open to ages 18+. Book now for 2022.

Trip Overview

Awe-inspiring castles and cathedrals, delectable cuisine, and passionate people provide an unforgettable setting for this Andalusian adventure. With a focus on authentic, intentional, self-guided travel experiences, you’ll go beyond the tourist attractions (and crowds!) yet never get lost amongst the wonders of Spain’s ancient cities. Have a blast on our 2-week core itinerary, then extend your stay to learn Spanish and flamenco while immersing yourself in one of Europe’s most vibrant cultural regions.

U.S. citizens can travel from the United States to Spain if they show that they are vaccinated against COVID-19, or have a recovery certificate, or show a negative diagnostic test result (NAAT or RAT) performed either within 72 hours prior to departure to Spain for a NAAT (e.g. – PCR test) or within 24 hours prior to departure to Spain for a RAT (e.g. – rapid antigen test). For the most up-to-date information, please visit the embassy website. Travelers from many other nations are also allowed entry. Contact our team for more detailed information.

ItinerARY

Arrival & Orientation

1

The adventure begins! You’ll spend your first day in Madrid getting acclimated to your new environment. You’ll have a chance to meet with your in-country Host for a comprehensive orientation session, where we’ll go over your Trip Information Packet (TIP), review safety considerations, cultural norms, and more (new to self-guided travel? – see how it works). Of course, you may have many questions as you begin your journey. Your Host will help you feel as welcome and informed as possible!

Included: Airport transportation; Orientation session; Accommodations

Madrid Scavenger Hunt

2-3

From corner to corner, Madrid is chock-full of history, culture, and incredible food. It’s easy to get overwhelmed in Spain’s capital city, yet you’ll soon learn the must-see sites (and flavors!) are easy to experience on your own. As a fun, go-at-your-own-pace introduction to the city, you’ll have a blast on our 2-day, self-guided scavenger hunt. On your adventures, you may find yourself sipping café con leche in city squares, marveling at the sprawling Royal Palace, laughing with street performers, and much more. And – oh yes – there will be prizes!

Included: Breakfasts; Scavenger hunt; Entrance fees to major attractions; Accommodations

Seville Exploration & Flamenco Show

4-6

The modern charms of Madrid never cease to amaze, yet the historical and cultural riches of southern Andalusia await! Next, you’ll travel by train to Seville. As the capital and financial center of southern Spain, this city of 700,000 offers everything from jaw-dropping architectural sites to quiet, winding, maze-like neighborhoods to a world-renowned food scene and more. You’ll spend three days exploring Seville’s wonders with the help of our carefully designed self-guided walking tours, including the iconic Giralda minaret tower, the Real Alcázar, and the Barrio Santa Cruz. You’ll also have a chance to kick back and take in a tapas tasting and flamenco show – the perfect introduction to the splendors of Andalusia.

Included: Breakfasts; Train tickets; Entrance fees to major attractions; Self-guided tours; Tapas tasting & flamenco show; Accommodations

Travel Deeper: Flamenco

The song, dance, and instrumental music originating with the nomadic Roma people, or the area’s gypsies, continues to be at the heart of many Andalusian people. As an intimate connection between Spain’s rich history and present-day culture, we offer the one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn and immerse yourself in a unique cultural phenomenon – flamenco. You may elect to extend your stay in Seville or Granada for 1-10 weeks to study baile (dance) or guitarra (guitar) at one of our partner institutions. For the most immersive Spanish experience, we suggest combining flamenco with our optional language lessons (see below). No prior experience is necessary for the dance lessons, yet those wishing to learn flamenco guitar should already play other guitar styles (classical, folk, etc.).

$770/week includes: Intensive dance or guitar lessons, professional instructors, shoes (for dance) or guitar rental; Accommodations in a homestay or student housing

Córdoba & La Mezquita

7

It’s not always easy to leave Seville behind (years later, you might find that a piece of your heart will still be there!), yet the adventure must move on. As a brief stopover on your next train ride to Granada, you’ll have a chance to explore Córdoba. Too often overlooked by adventurers to its neighboring cities, this city boasts spectacular history with fewer crowds. You’ll explore the cultural and architectural contrasts of the famous Mosque-Cathedral, then wander the banks of the quaint Guadalquivir River. Around this time, we’ll also schedule your weekly phone check-in with our team.

Included: Breakfast; Train tickets; Entrance fees to major attractions; Self-guided tours; Accommodations

Granada & the Alhambra Palace

8-9

Your next stop is Granada, arguably the single most enriching city in Spain for young travelers and backpackers. Teeming with history and culture – and distinguished for its laid-back, youthful, and vibrant educational atmosphere – Granada offers a perfect setting to dive deeper into Spanish culture and experience a side of Andalusia beyond the tourist attractions (see “Travel Deeper” extensions). You’ll have a chance to tour the legendary Alhambra palace – or “Red Castle” – and explore Granada’s charming plazas, white-washed homes, tapas, and flamenco scene. As the inspiration for many songs and stories, it’s hard not to be captivated and energized by Granada’s spectacular setting.

Included: Breakfast; Entrance fees to major attractions; Self-guided tours; Accommodations

Travel Deeper: Language

¿Hablas español? You should learn! There’s no better way to get in deep with a country than learning the local language. For this optional 1-10 week extension, you’ll work with professional instructors at one of our partner institutions in Seville or Granada. No prior experience is necessary for this extension – just a willingness and excitement to learn one of the greatest of the Romance languages. You’ll be placed in a class that matches your experience level, whether that’s the most beginner of beginners or somewhere more advanced. And for the most well-rounded Spanish immersion experience, consider combining your language lessons with flamenco study (see above) and/or a local homestay.

$770/week includes: Intensive Spanish language instruction (10-20 hours/week); Course materials; Accommodations in a homestay or student housing

Sierra Nevada Mountains

10

Granada owes much of its stunning skyline to the nearby Sierra Nevada mountain range – home of the highest point in continental Europe outside the Alps and the Caucasus Mountains. As a much-earned break from the urban centers, you’ll head south into these beautiful mountains and nearby canyons on a weekend excursion to get a taste of the adventurous side of southern Spain. Depending on the time of year, you’ll get your blood pumping while exploring the National Park, canyoning, swimming, waterfall rappelling, or even skiing.

Included: Breakfast; Guided tour of the Sierra Nevada mountains (activities depend on the time of year) including transportation, professional guide, and gear; Accommodations

Málaga & the Caminito del Rey

11-12

You’ll cap off your adventures in Andalusia in Málaga. Highlights on this excursion include a visit to the Alcazaba – a Moorish fortress-palace – and the central market at Atarazanas. As the birthplace of Pablo Picasso, you’ll also pay tribute to the famous artist by touring a museum devoted to his early work. Of course, there will be room to spend some time relaxing on the beach, and for the most adventurous – a heart-stopping walk on the Caminito del Rey, a ~330 feet high aerial path pinned along the cliffs of a narrow gorge in El Chorro.

Included: Breakfasts; Transportation between sites; Self-guided tours; Accommodations

Departure

13-14

At the end of your trip, you’ll be transported back to Madrid and will have a chance to meet with your in-country Host to participate in our closing activities. We’ll be sad to see you go, yet the end of one journey is simply the beginning of another. Whether you continue to another destination from here (Iceland, anyone?!) or head home, we hope you’ve enjoyed your stay in southern Spain. Viva adventure – viva España!

Included: Breakfast; Train tickets; Airport transportation; Closing program & farewell gift

Start Your Adventure

After completing this short form, we’ll reach out to discuss your trip options in more detail, as well as our booking and payment process. Submitting this form is not a booking obligation – simply a starting point for our discussion!

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Travel Planning

Your journey will begin and end at Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD). MAD typically has the widest selection of airlines and flight times, as well as the cheapest fares.

As we welcome travelers from all over the world, our pricing does not include the cost of flights. You may book flights on your own or inform our team if you wish to add air transportation to your booking. Often, we can source fares as low as $500-$1,200 depending on your origination point and dates of travel.

Note that many variables influence the cost of flights. Differences between high/low season travel, how far in advance you look, the booking service you use, even the time of the week you search can impact the fares you’ll find. That said, we recommend that you start to look for flights at least 3-6 months before your departure day. Typically, more of the cheaper seats will be available the further out you book, plus this offers some wiggle room to monitor price trends. Again, we are happy to navigate the process and find a great deal for you, all for a relatively small service fee ($35 per traveler).

Whether you book independently or with our team, coordinated air travel is of utmost importance. For those booking independently, please ensure you have e-mailed a copy of your itinerary to info@backandpack.com. Then if there are any changes to your itinerary before or on travel days, inform our team immediately by e-mailing us or calling +1.720.340.1139.

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One of our core goals at BACK&PACK is to deliver high-quality travel experiences at an affordable price. Our fees cover major expenses while abroad, yet we also believe in giving travelers some flexibility during the trip (the point of self-guided travel!). To assist with your budgeting, please ensure you’ve reviewed the following.

BACK&PACK fees typically cover:

  • International SOS membership
  • A professionally planned trip, personal mentorship, and 24/7 travel support
  • Your Trip Information Packet (TIP) – delivered in an easy to access digital format – which includes detailed travel instructions, maps, in-country contacts, and medical/emergency information
  • A virtual or in-country orientation focused on safety, cultural norms, travel tips, and personal goal setting
  • Weekly check-ins with our U.S.-based team or in-country representatives
  • Accommodations (we price based on a tiered system – BUDGET, COMFY, or SPLURGE – see our FAQ for more information)
  • Some meals (see the itinerary above for specifics)
  • Ground transportation (see the itinerary above for specifics)
  • Guides and equipment for the included adventure excursions
  • Entrance fees for cultural sites able to be booked in advance
  • Professional Spanish language instruction, flamenco dance and/or guitar classes (optional – see the itinerary above for specifics)
  • Closing activities and farewell gift

BACK&PACK fees do not cover:

  • Health/travel insurance
  • Flight costs to/from Madrid (MAD)
  • Airport/airline taxes, baggage fees, flight upgrades, meals, etc.
  • Passport, visa, vaccinations, COVID testing requirements, etc.
  • Any costs incurred due to medical needs/emergencies
  • Personal spending money (see the “Money” note on the “Packing List” tab for more specific information on money needs)
  • Meals/snacks not specified in the TIP
  • Activities, excursions, or transportation not specified in the TIP
  • Cell phone and internet usage
  • Laundry expenses

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Local time – Spain is in the Central European Time (CET) zone. To calculate the time difference between Spain and your area, we recommend timeanddate.com as it takes into account daylight savings rules and accepts present as well as future dates.

Currency – The official currency of Spain is the Euro (symbol: €; code: EUR). For current currency conversion rates, we recommend visiting xe.com.

Weather – Summer months (June – August) in Spain are generally very hot, dry, and sunny. Winter months (December – February) are typically cool to mild with more cloudiness and rain. For your convenience, we have compiled the following chart of key cities with the average ranges for highs (°F) / lows / rain days per month. Note that while summer months are typically the busiest for Spain, spring (March – May) and fall (September – November) are often considered the best months for travel. During these shoulder seasons, weather is pleasant, crowds are lighter, days are relatively long, and there are still plenty of activities available to enjoy.

Mar-May Jun-Aug Sep-Nov Dec-Feb
Granada 62-77° / 42-54° / 4-6 87-94° / 62-67° / 0-1 61-83° / 43-59° / 2-6 54-56° / 36-38° / 5-6
Seville 70-79° / 48-55° / 3-6 89-96° / 62-66° / 0-1 68-90° / 50-64° / 2-5 61-64° / 43-46° / 5-6
Madrid 60-72° / 42-52° / 5-7 82-89° / 60-66° / 1-3 56-79° / 43-60° / 3-6 50-53° / 37-39° / 5-6

Dress code – Spain is a modern country. Whatever you wear at home is likely equally acceptable in Spain. However, if you want to blend in and not stand out as a tourist (and become less of a target for pickpockets!), you should note that locals take pride in their appearance and often look well put together regardless of the occasion. As such, we suggest thinking more conservatively when you pack. Shorts, flip-flops, tank tops, and the like may be okay at the beach but are much less appropriate while visiting cathedrals or going out to dinner with locals.

Typically, “dress casual” outfits are appropriate for many situations in Spain. It’s common to see men in long pants (even in summer!) and t-shirts or button-downs of neutral colors, and women in the same or dresses/long skirts of various styles and colors. That said, extremely short miniskirts/shorts, shirts that show excessive skin, leggings, basketball shorts, baseball caps, cargo shorts, hiking clothes, etc. will likely lead to you being perceived as “just another tourist.”

Language – It should be no surprise that the official language of Spain is, in fact, Spanish! To be more precise, Castilian Spanish (i.e., Castellano) is what you’ll be learning and hearing in Madrid and the Andalusian region. Castilian Spanish is similar to the Spanish spoken in Central and South America, yet there are some key differences in accent, pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar.

Note that English is not widely spoken in Spain. In major urban centers and areas that cater to tourists, you will encounter other English speakers. However, there will be times where you should be prepared to navigate with a friendly smile, some basic gestures, and whatever Spanish you may already know. While that may be intimidating for some, do not be shy or afraid! We encourage you to jump right in, as locals are very welcoming and friendly. You may find yourself picking up the basics very quickly.

Safety – Spain is generally considered to be very safe for travelers. However, risk is inherent to travel, and there are always safety concerns regardless of where you go in the world. For a complete and thorough list of concerns and safety recommendations, please visit Spain’s “Safety and Security” section at travel.state.gov. Note that while violent crime is rarer in Spain, tourists are often the target of petty theft, pickpocketing, etc. Exercise good judgment and common sense, though, and you are likely to have an incident-free travel experience.

Food – Exploring all the unique foods and flavors of Spain can be positively delightful. While regions and cities have varying traditions and cuisine, Andalusia is known for many of the things people normally associate with Spain – tapas, paella, gazpacho, jamón, olives – we’re getting hungry just thinking about them! As part of your TIP, we will provide recommendations on things to eat and eateries to try. Additionally, your trip booking will include some meals (noted above), so please be sure to inform our team if you have any dietary restrictions or allergies. We will forward this information along to our in-country partners.

Water – The tap water in Spain is considered safe to drink. Bottled water is common and preferred by some primarily due to taste, yet we encourage travelers to avoid plastic bottle usage as much as possible due to the negative environmental impacts. On your packing list, we suggest bringing a reusable water bottle that you can refill at your homestay, hotel/hostel, etc. If you are particular about taste, you may also consider bringing along one with a portable water filter, such as you see here.

Electrical outlets – Depending on the difference between your home country and Spain’s electricity systems, you may need to bring a travel plug adaptor (changes the plug/outlet type) and an electric converter (changes the voltage/frequency) for your electronics to work. Spain’s voltage/frequency is 230V/50Hz. Voltage/frequency in the U.S. is 120V/60Hz. Thus, if you are coming from the U.S., you will need to ensure your electronics can be charged at 230V/50Hz (i.e., “dual-voltage”) or bring along an electric converter and plug adapters (types C and F), such as you see here.

Cell phone – Many major cellular carriers have broad coverage overseas. Please check with your carrier for rates and coverage before travel, as many plans require you to activate international roaming before use. Alternatively, it’s often the best deal to purchase a local SIM card and calling credits, especially for extended stays in Spain. You’ll need to ensure your phone is “unlocked” (check with your carrier for instructions) and that it’s GSM compatible. As part of your TIP, we will provide further guidance on this process.

Wi-Fi – Wi-Fi availability in Spain is widespread, especially in urban centers. Many cafes, restaurants, hotels/hostels, and tourist attractions offer free Wi-Fi – though it may be slow, and you may have to purchase something to gain access. Unless you are a heavy tech user (NOT recommended while traveling – try life “unplugged” for a while!), it’s entirely possible to rely solely on free Wi-Fi throughout your stay. If you need more constant Wi-Fi regardless of where you might be, you might consider a portable Wi-Fi rental provider such as Wifivox.

Laundry – Laundry services are available in many of the accommodations we use. Typically, you drop off a load at the front desk, pay by the pound, then receive your fresh and crisp clothing the next day. Very convenient! As such, we recommend packing light then doing your laundry every week or so.

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BACK&PACK can not apply for passports or visas on your behalf, yet the information below should help guide you through the process. As always, contact our team if you have questions or run into any issues.

Travelers with U.S. passports – For the most up-to-date information, please visit Spain’s page at travel.state.gov. Travelers with U.S. passports do not need a visa for stays less than 90 days but must have 3+ months of validity (6+ months recommended) after the departure date from Spain. If you need to apply for or renew your passport, please submit your application as soon as possible.

Travelers with non-U.S. passports – Please verify passport and visa requirements for your nationality by contacting your local Spanish embassy or consulate. The websites embassypages.com and embassy-finder.com operate handy directories of embassies and consulates around the world. If you’re required to obtain a visa and need specific information for the application process, please let us know at info@backandpack.com. We will be happy to assist you.

Keeping your documents safe – Please be aware that passports are quite valuable abroad. Guard your important documents as you do your credit/debit cards, and keep these items in concealed locations. Additionally, we suggest you make copies of your important documents (passport, visa, etc.) before travel. Having these copies is very useful in the event of loss or theft. You can make photocopies or scan documents into a secure yet accessible computer file (a password-protected file stored in the cloud, for example). If photocopying, we suggest you make two copies of your documents. Leave one copy at home with a close friend or family member. Keep hold of the other copy while abroad, separate from the original.

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BACK&PACK can not offer specific medical advice, yet please use the steps below to guide your decision-making process regarding travel vaccinations. Note, we’ve included country-specific requirements regarding COVID-19 in the “Trip Overview” section above.

  1. Go to the Travelers’ Health section for Spain on the CDC’s (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) website.
  2. Read through the information carefully and consider which precautions you may want to take.
  3. Schedule an appointment with your physician or travel health professional. For assistance locating a travel clinic in your area, you may wish to try the Find A Clinic service on the CDC website. Please allow plenty of time before your trip to see your health care provider (CDC suggests 4-6 weeks). Let your provider know before your appointment that you are coming in for travel vaccinations. They might ask for the areas where you may visit. Our Spain itineraries typically include urban and rural areas in/near Madrid, Sevilla, Granada, Málaga, and Córdoba.

Mosquito and other vector-borne illnesses – It’s important to note that protecting yourself from insect bites can significantly reduce your risk of vector-borne diseases (Zika, Malaria, Dengue, West Nile, etc.). On your packing list, we have included insect repellent with DEET along with long sleeve shirts/long pants. We recommend you use these items during your trip when contact with mosquitos and other insects is possible (excursions in outdoor settings, etc.).

Back to travel details

Below you will find a detailed list of our recommended items for Spain. Above all, remember you will be responsible for carrying your luggage from place to place. Do not skimp on essentials but know that you’ll likely feel every ounce of weight over time. Thus, the lighter you can pack, the better. As a general rule, if your pack is more than 30-35 pounds, you’ve overpacked. Strive for less! You will have the ability to do laundry every week or two (see the “Laundry” note on the “Country Info” tab).

Travel Bags
  • Main bag (35-70 liter capacity, depending on your packing habits) – Many travelers prefer wilderness-style backpacks for ease of use in various environments abroad. Wheeled luggage or duffel bags are okay but should be easy to carry over long stretches of rough terrain (cobblestone streets, stairs, etc.).
  • Smaller bag for day trips, sightseeing, and weekend excursions
Documents & Money
  • Valid passport and visa (see “Travel Docs” tab)
  • Electronic or physical copy of travel documents (see “Travel Docs” tab)
  • Electronic or physical copy of flight documents/itinerary
  • Debit/credit cards and cash (see “Money” note below)
  • Insurance cards (see our FAQ for more information)
  • Student ID or other identification (optional – student IDs can sometimes get you discounts abroad)
  • Electronic or physical list of phone numbers, addresses for postcards, etc.
Clothing & Travel Gear (see the “Country Info” tab for weather, recommended dress, etc.)
  • Lightweight short sleeve shirts, casual dresses, etc.
  • Long sleeve shirts, casual dresses, etc.
  • Lightweight pants or long skirts
  • Nicer outfits for going out
  • Shorts
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Sleepwear
  • Warm pants
  • Warm upper layers/sweaters/jackets
  • Raincoat/outer shell
  • Travel-sized umbrella (winter only)
  • Thermal underwear (winter only)
  • Warm hat (winter only)
  • Scarf (winter only)
  • Gloves (winter only)
  • Swimsuit
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Flip flops or sandals
  • Belt
  • Sun hat or cap
  • UV protected sunglasses
  • Mesh laundry bag labeled with your name
  • Travel plug adaptors and/or electric converter (see the “Electrical outlets” note on the “Country Info” tab)
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Tablet or laptop (see “Valuables and electronics” note below)
  • Headphones (optional)
  • Camera (optional)
  • eReader (optional)
  • Locks for luggage (optional)
  • Journal (optional)
  • Pens
Toiletries & Traveler’s Health (we suggest you pack in ziplock bags in case something leaks!)
  • Water bottle (see the “Water” note on the “Country Info” tab)
  • Quick-dry towel and washcloth
  • Soap or body wash (see “Eco-friendly products” note below)
  • Shampoo
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss
  • Lip balm
  • Eye care supplies (glasses, contact lenses, etc.) and spares
  • Hairbrush or comb
  • Any necessary razors, trimmers, and shaving cream
  • Nail clippers and tweezers
  • Medications (see “Medications” note below)
  • Personal first aid kit (see “First Aid” note below)
  • Waterproof sunscreen (SPF 30+)
  • Small bottle of insect repellent with DEET (25-30% concentration)
  • Earplugs and/or sleep mask (optional)
  • Any personal items you need not on this list (feminine hygiene products, etc.)

Valuables and electronics – Note that BACK&PACK is not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items. You are free to bring a tablet, laptop, camera, jewelry, watch, etc. – but if you are concerned about losing/damaging an item, then it’s best to leave it at home.

Eco-friendly products – For your toiletries, please consider traveling with reputable “green” brands to help reduce environmental impacts. For soap/body wash, we’re fans of Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap, for example.

First Aid – We recommend that all travelers come with a basic first aid kit for personal use. Supplies may include Band-Aids, antiseptic cream, pain/fever medication, cold medicine, antidiarrheals, mild laxatives, Pepto Bismol, anti-itch cream, decongestants, cough drops, etc. While you can purchase premade first aid kits, these products tend to be bulky and don’t always contain sufficient quantities of certain items. Alternatively, you can think about what you like to have on hand when you get a cold, the flu, upset stomach, bug bites, etc. Purchase necessary items (in sufficient quantities!) at your local pharmacy, then pack everything together in a ziplock bag.

Medications – You are responsible for the proper administration of any prescription and over-the-counter medications. Note, some prescription medications are difficult to find in pharmacies abroad. Please consider taking precautions to reduce the risk of loss. For your flights, ensure prescription medications are in your carry-on bag, NOT checked baggage. They should be clearly labeled in their original packaging/with instructions, as required by the airlines. Then when in Spain, you may wish to err on the side of caution by securing prescription medications in a bag with luggage locks. Luggage locks can be purchased at your local Walmart, Target, travel store, etc.

Money – We recommend traveling with a debit/ATM (for cash withdrawals) and a credit card (kept in separate, concealed locations). Each offers distinct advantages abroad, plus having two cards is very useful in the event of loss, theft, or denial of one by a particular vendor.

Mastercard and Visa are the most widely accepted cards in Spain. While not as common, some establishments will accept American Express as well. Your cards will need chip technology and a 4-digit PIN. If you have questions or concerns regarding your debit/credit cards, contact your card provider. Also, be aware that some cards charge significant fees while traveling (e.g., 2-3% foreign transaction fees), so please budget for your card’s total cost of use. It is also critical to inform your debit/credit card providers of your international travel plans before departure to avoid suspension of your account (i.e., fraud protection).

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