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Trip Report Easter holidays in Spain, loved it!

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A big thank you to all the fodorites who replied my questions on this forum which made this trip fabulous!

We spent our Easter holidays in Spain last year from the 13th of april to the 31st of May and here is the log overdue trip report.

Our girls were 4 and half and 6 and half years when we traveled and their favourite bits about Spain are Churros , the hot chocolate , the yummy Ice cream and Flamenco!!


Sunday – 13th April - flight in to Barcelona
Barcelona :HC Catedral – 4 nights

We took the bus from the airport to the city which took us to Plaça Catalunya. It was an easy 3min walk from the plaza to the hotel. The hotel was just by Plaza nova and the cathedral. Perfect location and the people were the friendliest and the most helpful we met. Rooms were great. Will be definitely the hotel we stay if we return to Barcelona (which we definitely have to)

We let the kids nap for a while and the evening went out to walk about a bit in the area and have dinner.The days in Barcelona are a bit of a blurr as we don’t have the photographs to recall in detail…but here goes.

Monday – 14th – Casa Batilo, Casa Mila and Sagrada familia.

Next day early morning we were up and out by 8 am, decided to walk to Casa Batilo. Walked passed plaza catalunya and found a little café which served some great breakfast baguettes croissants and hot chocolate . Had a lovely bf by the road watching people getting to work. Closer to 8.45 we walked over to casa batilo and the queue was very short and we got in fast .

We spent a couple of hours admiring the beautiful building inside and out..by the time we came out the queue had got pretty long and we were glad we got in at 9am. Admired the building facades near by and walked further along to Casa Mila. It was closer to 12pm so we snacked on a few extra croissants we had bought in the morning and then continued walking to Sagrada familia as we had tkts reserved for 1pm.

It was a fantastic sight..even from afar..there was a huge queue to get in even with reserved times. It took us atleast 30 mins to get in. We had booked the tkts with the tower visit. Although it was great to have closer look at the towers, I would have preferred the tour instead. However , we did get the audio guides and spent a good 2-3 hours looking around. It was just stunning. The girls enjoyed the tower very much so may be with kids that’s a good option. After lots of photo clicking we went out and had some good paella at a restaurant by the side of Sagrada familia. Crossed the road to the get some photos with the pond and the cathedral and the kids spent some time at the playground there.

By the time we walked back to Casa Mila, it was almost 5.45 and it closes around 7 I think. We joined the long queue hoping the queue will move fast. However as we were with young kids, officials from the tkt counter came out and took us in to get tkts separately. That was really lucky for us, so we had a good hour and half looking around. The sun was setting and the colours were beautiful on the roof and perfect for photos. After a good look around we slowly walked back to the hotel, it was about 15-20 min and by this time both girls were on the stroller. All the major stores on this road , so there were a few quick pop-ins with notes to come back for some shopping later on..

After a little rest and a change at the hotel , we went to Bilbao Barria in Plaza nova, just on the other side of the hotel for a lovely dinner of Pinchos. We went back a couple of times as the food was great and was just by the hotel.

It was a great start to our trip!.

Tuesday 15th –Park Guell and the Ramblas

Early morning , we took about a 15 minute taxi to Park Guell and was by the gate by 9am. We got tkts easily and explored the park leisurely till late morning. Close to midday we walked down the road which had a sign saying bus back to palace catalunya and after a short wait we caught the bus back to the hotel. Was so glad that we didn’t decided to bus it to the park as the walk would have been up hill and been too long for the kids.

At the placa Catalunya, we bought train and cable car combo tkts to Montserrat from the tourist office for the 17th before heading to the hotel for a rest.

In the afternoon we decided to explore the ramblas , so we walked back to the placa Catalunya and went down the Ramblas to the Colombus monument having a few ice creams on the way and watching the street performers and enjoying the atmosphere..We walked to Port Vell where there was a mall and outside there was a kids activity area where the girls enjoyed doing kids bungee jumping. Another round of ice cream and we walked back down the Ramblas to the hotel.

Wednesday - 16th – Old City, Picasso Museum and the Ramblas

In the morning, we took an easy walk to the Boqueria Market and decided to grab breakfast there. After enjoying a good walkthrough and grabbing a few sandwiches, and some delicious fresh juice and a few more purchases of chocolate and olives, we slowly made our way to the Placa Reial as we had booked online the 11am runner bean free walking tour of the Old city.

The walking tour was great ,We visited Santa María del Pi church, the jewish quarter, Plaça Sant Jaume. The cathedral cloisters were closed that day but continued on to Plaça Sant Felip Neri next to the cathedral, visited a few more places before ending the tour near Santa María del Mar. We found the most fabulous pinchos restaurant just a block down and had one of the best meals we had in Spain. Unfortunately cant quite remember the name as I had only taken a photo of the restaurant name and lost it along with all the other Barcelona photos

After lunch we went to the Picasso Museum to have a browse through. There after we explored the gothic quarters a little more and walked back to the hotel. Dinner was at a restaurant recommended by the hotel, just 2 lanes behind the hotel, it was another fabulous meal, It seems that you cant go wrong with restaurants in Spain. I cant quite remember being disappointed with any meals we had during the trip…

Thursday – 17th – Trip to Montserrat

We walked to the train station near the Placa Catalunya and took the train to Montserrat. We then took the cable car up. It was a clear sunny day and the mountains were breathtaking. we visited the church and then went in queue to see the black Madonna. As it was quite early morning the crowd was not too bad. We then decided to take the tram to the top for view and if possible a short hike.

When we got to the top, we still had plenty of time to catch the train back so decided on a short hike. It was really beautiful and we were glad we made time for Montserrat as it was very different to the other areas we traveled in Spain. After hiking a good 40 minutes we retraced our steps, took the tram down and had a quick lunch (not too many lunch options here! ) and then took the cable car back for our train back to Barcelona.

We were back in Barcelona around 3 pm and the kids and hubby had a good rest whist I went to visit the inside of the Cathedral as we hadn’t had a chance to go in before. After an early dinner at Bilbao Barria (again) we made our way to the airport for our flight to Seville.

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    Seville: Hotel Amadeus & La Musica, 5 nights

    We took the bus from the airport into the Seville town ( a mistake on our part) as we could not find our way to the hotel for at least a good hour. It was not fun as not many people spoke English or recognized the name of the hotel. Of course, after walking in Seville during the day, we figured it was only a 15 minute walk to the hotel from where we were dropped off, but obviously we had been walking in circles that night! We passed the Semena Santa procession on our way to the hotel , so decided to come back to watch it after dropping the bags around off thinking this would be our only chance, so we watched the processions from about 1am till about 2 am but when we wanted to go back to the hotel, found out that the roads were blocked and that we needed to wait for another hour till the procession passed the asrea to get back to the hotel. It was an exciting start to our stay in Seville.

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    Seville: Hotel Amadeus & La Musica, 5 nights

    We took the bus from the airport into the Seville town ( a mistake on our part) as we could not find our way to the hotel for at least a good hour. It was not fun as not many people spoke English or recognized the name of the hotel. Of course, after walking in Seville during the day, we figured it was only a 15 minute walk to the hotel from where we were dropped off, but obviously we had been walking in circles that night!

    We passed the Semana Santa procession on our way to the hotel , so decided to come back to watch it after dropping the bags off thinking this would be our only chance, so we watched the processions from about 1am till about 2 am but when we wanted to go back to the hotel, found out that the roads were blocked and that we needed to wait for another hour till the procession passed the area to get back to the hotel. It was an exciting start to our stay in Seville.

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    Friday – 18th - exploring barrio santa cruz and the best flamenco

    We took it easy next morning. We booked tkts for la casa del flamenco which was a 2 minute walk from the hotel. Had lunch near the cathedral, under the shade of the orange trees lining the street with a view of the giralda. We then used the map picked up from the hotel to do a walk through the Barrio Santa Cruz, The atmosphere was lovely, the girls picked up some flamenco outfits and shoes and were looking forward to watching a flamenco performance that evening.

    On our way back to the hotel for a rest, We came across another Samena Santa procession of a different brotherhood to the one we saw the night before. Headed back to the hotel for a quick rest and a change before going to the hotel which was the premises for the flamenco performance. We were about 20 minutes early but the small courtyard was already full of people. However we got a good seat and the people in charge were really nice and provided high stools with extra cushions for the kids. The flamenco performance and the guitarist was the best we watched in Seville and the kids were enthralled as well. It was lovely intimate performance. Definitely recommend this place as a must to in Seville.

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    Hi niki
    We spent an Easter in Jerez with our kids a few years ago. It really was a memorable experience. When reading I envisioned one procession like a parade and then it's over. But was amazed that every parish had their own and some that went on into the middle of the night. It was the only time I can remember feeling ok about getting woken up by a "bunch of noise". Like you said, blocking streets. We'd turn around to find a new route in the winding lanes of Jerez and get stuck in the middle of another procession. And when the processions took a rest, which they do often, we would watch the Spanish children collect wax drippings from the candles the adults carried- making balls of wax. It was certainly a unique and memorable experience.

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    Yes, it definitely was a memorable experience, the music, the atmosphere And we came across processions right through the 3 days we spent in Seville. we needn't have actually stayed up the first night to watch the main procession..

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    Sunday – 20th –Trianna, Alcazar and a bull fight

    We decided to walk across to the bridge to Trianna to see the Sunday Market, but by the time we got there it was quite late. It was also a gloomy morning with a slight drizzle going on and we had umbrellas with us.
    We had to pass the bull Ring on our way and there were people on the road selling tickets to a bull fight in the evening. We had been planning to watch a football match in Madrid but unfortunately, they had brought forward the match by one day, so we were not going to be in madrid on that day.. So decided to give the bull fight a go and bought tkts and continued on to Trianna.

    In Trianna, we just walked along a street passing Santa Anna ceramics and came across the church of Nazareno where the floats carried in the procession were displayed in Church. It was a great chance to admire the intricate beauty of the floats, the locals were gathered in the church to receive blessings..

    We popped in to Santa Anna ceramics on our way back to the Barrio Santa Cruz to pick up a beautiful hand painted bowl , it was raining quite heavily by then so we decided to stop for lunch at a restaurant. We enjoyed some crispy prawn pancakes, chickpeas with spinach, fresh cuttle fish and some other meat dishes that were all delicious.

    We had wanted to see the Alcazar today and although it was still drizzling, we bought tkts with audio guides and ventured in. The colours and patterns of the tiles were beautiful. It is much different than the Alhambra as it was smaller and built/designed by a muslim for a Christian king. Spent a good 2-3 hours inside, and enjoyed every minute of it.

    We then had to rush to the Bull ring for the bull fight. It was not at all what I expected, and didn’t realize how gruesome it was. (Sorry to offend anyone) I hid behind the raincoats for the most part of the time we were there and got out of there pretty soon. I had not researched into what it was like at a bull fight as we had not planned to go for any during our trip..A mistake on my part.

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    Monday – 21st – Seville Cathedral, Flamenco and a bday dinner.

    We had booked a ½ day old city and Cathedral tour with Marta Cassis. ( http://www.toursevilla.com). We visited the Jewish quarters, the barrio santa cruz, broke for lunch and joined for the Cathedral and Giralda tour . It was great to have a guide to show us a locals view of Seville and hear all the stories and history behind the signs. Highly recommended.

    The Cathedral was beautiful and one of the largest in Spain. the Columbus tomb and the amazing High Alter and the views from the top of the Giralda were the highlights of the Cathedral. The treasury was terrific as well. We did walk the 35 ramps up to the top (The Giralda).

    We went to the shopping area (Calle Sierpes) which was just by the Cathedral. found some nice things, both for gifts and for ourselves. It was raining again, quite heavily now. An excuse for some more shopping indoors..We enjoyed some delicious ice cream and slowly made our way to the Casa De La Memoria for the flamenco performance. (We had picked up the tkts the day before). http://www.casadelamemoria.es/
    We didn't enjoy it as much the other performance we had watch a couple of days ago, This was maybe not so lively and had a very short couples performance. Even the seating was not as good although as we had got to the venue early, we had got good seats, some of the people who got there after us had to sit above the stage area (one floor above) and some on the far sides where they could not have seen the performance that well or felt the energy of the dancers. We did enjoy seeing a different performance but would recommend the lacasadelflamenco (http://www.lacasadelflamencosevilla.com/) if you have time to watch only one performance in Seville. I know many on the forum will disagree with me.

    I had booked dinner at ENRIQUE BECERRA by email a month ahead and also confirmed the date and mentioned it was a special occasion just a week back for confirmation. However, when we had passed the restaurant the day before we had noticed the restaurant was closed on the 20th and the 21st April. Surely, they should have mentioned this to me. I was so disappointed and also thought that it was really bad customer service on their part not to mention that the restaurant is closed rather than confirming a reservation for that day. And if we hadn't passed the restaurant accidentally the day before, I wouldn't have even known about it.

    We went back to the hotel for a change and found a nice restaurant on the lane parallel to the hotel just a little way from casadelflamenco which had a nice menu and enjoyed a great dinner there. We enjoyed our last night in Seville very much, next day we were off to Ronda.

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    glad its of some use to you progol. this forum was a goldmine in mapping out our itinerary and I must say that the hotels we had picked based on everyone's advise were really great especially in terms of location.

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    Tuesday – 22nd – Plaza de Espana , drive to Ronda via Zahara.

    Ronda: Hotel San Gabriel, 2 nights

    We took it easy in the morning and decided to visit Plaza de Espana in the morning. We walked down Avenida de la Constitucion popping into a few stores, enjoying the street performers and spent the early morning at Plaza de Espana. The girls bought to colourful fans to match their flamenco outfits and we strolled around the plaza looking at the murals along the walls.

    After checking out of the hotel we took a taxi to the train station where we were picking up our rental car from Auto Europe (we had booked this in advance online and was planning to drive to Ronda and onwards to Nerja and Granada before dropping it off at the station there.) We had our own GPS and had downloaded the map for Spain , we typed in Zahara and started off. The views on the way were pretty, olive groves, mountains with one or two castles as well, although we didn’t get off the highway to see them. Renting a car was a great way to travel this part of the country giving us the flexibility to stop over in some of the white villages on the way.

    Zahara de la Sierra –

    We found Zahara easy enough first spotting it across the blue lake..perfect spot for some great photos of the village. We stopped at the Hotel Al Lago, and had a delightful lunch indoors as it was a bit chilly. We met and spoke to the Pakistani British lady owner of the place and got some tips on visiting the olive mill and what to do at the village. The food was good and it looked like a great little hotel. After lunch, we walked around on some streets closeby and then got in the car and drove up the very narrow streets to the little church on top.

    Then walked up the little hill to where there was an old tower enjoying great views of the lake along the way. It was about a 20-30 min walk with the kids. The views of the village from the top were spectacular. It was quite a steep walk but still doable with kids and the girls enjoyed going climbing up the tower very much. There was may be another 5-6 people with us on this walk ..

    the village was very quiet..but very picturesque. Rows and rows of gorgeous white houses lining the narrow streets..some of them over flowing with colourful flowers looked beautiful against the blue skies..

    We drove back down and found our way to the Olive Mill, El Vinculo. The person at the shop attached to the mill said that this is not the milling season and so we are not able to see the mill at work, but he put on a short video for us which was very interesting and then he had some bread for us to taste some of the of their olive oil. Really good!! We bought a few bottles of them ..and had a peep inside the mill machinery and took off on the same road towards Grazalemo…

    After a good 20-30 minute drive we came across a road block with a sign saying that the road is closed due to repair..so we had to turn back and return to the main high through the same way we came via zahara. By the time we got back on the high way it was too late to visit Grazalemo, so we decided we would drive back from Ronda the following day and drove on to Ronda for the night.

    Ronda was beautiful and I was so glad that we had decided to stay 2 nights in this small town. Much prefer the small town feel to larger cities.. and the hotel again was fantastic. Location was central, just a short walk to the bridge. And the rooms were beautiful and the owners were friendly and welcoming. We parked the car a bit away from the hotel, near the church, a short walk from the hotel.

    Dinner was at a lovely little restaurant recommended by the hotel. They provided us with a superb walking map of Ronda which is what we used to explore the town and sights and it also had some restaurant recommendations. I think the name was ‘TAPEO DE CERVANTES’ it was on the road opposite the central plaza just by the bridge , a little place with high stools and small tables and great little tapas with a modern twist. Not cheap but a very enjoyable meal with fantastic dessert to end with.

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    Wednesday – 23rd – exploring Ronda and Grazalemo

    we walked across the bridge, towards Alameda del Tajo, that is adjacent to the bull ring. There were lots of "camera" points marked on the map, and we went to every one of them, each having panoramic views of the countryside. After soaking in some of the views we followed the walking map provided by the hotel and crossed on the other side of the road following the gorge, visited the Arab baths and the the Old city walls..the map took us through the streets back to the hotel.

    After lunch we decided to drive to Grazalemo. The drive up to the village was pretty, with the rocky mountains on either side of the road and herds of sheep on the hill side..We drove up to the very picturesque plaza with the church and parked in the adjoining parking lot. We walked around the village , popped into a café for some coffee and cake and bought some delicious fruit preserves, visited a few leather good shops and explored the village for a while. It was still very quiet may be due to Easter holidays ..but so very pretty with the tall chimneys a very prominent featuring on every house.

    When we drove back to Ronda there was still time to walk down to the bottom of the gorge, so we followed the map to the Casa del Rey Moro gardens, and its stairs which lead down to the bottom of the gorge. This was a great spot for some gorgeous photos of the bridge. We slowly made our way up and explored the streets leading up to the bridge , popping in to a few sweets shops on the way and had an enjoyable dinner at one of the restaurants close to the plaza.

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    Thursday – 24th - Ronda Bullring and onwards to Nerja

    In the morning, we decided to find breakfast and hot chocolate at one of the cafes close to the plaza and then take the tour of the Plaza de Toros (bull ring).we rented audio guides which were helpful. It was nice to have the freedom to walk around on our own there..It looked very antique in nature compare to the Seville bull ring. After a little more strolling and shopping in Ronda, we left to Nerja in the early afternoon.

    Nerja: hostal donpeque, 1 night

    The hotel in Nerja was one of the more basic ones we stayed in compared to the others but the girls loved it as it had bunk beds for them in the room and also the morning breakfast the following day on the roof top was fabulous. The room was quaint and clean.

    By the time we had finished checking it was past 3pm and we had missed the famous paella down at Ayos's?http://www.ayonerja.com/ayo.en.htm as they serve it only for lunch..so we grabbed some lunch at a restaurant close to the balcone de Europe..

    The views from the balcone de Europe were gorgeous, the white village of Nerja in the foreground, and the cliffs and the blue sea below. We walked down to the beach just on the side of the promenade and enjoyed some coffee while the girls played on the beach. There were lots of families on the beach and lots of kids running about. Hubby and the kids decided to wait a while longer on the beach and I went to do a spot of shopping and to explore the streets nearby.

    After a few purchases, we met up near the plaza to enjoy some delicious crepes. Dinner was delicious paella and some local dishes just by the promenade, there was guitar music to entertain us and a few street performers around..Dessert was a lots of scoops of some of the best ice cream we had.. It was great way to break the journey from Ronda to Granada, I didn’t think we needed more time to explore Nerja..

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    Friday – 25th early morning drive to Granada , explore Albacin

    Next morning we had a fabulous breakfast on the rooftop of the hotel. After getting directions to the “moor’s sigh road” to granda.. We drove on looking for the A4050, an old road, very twisty narrow and scenic. The views were breath taking. It did add a couple of hours to our drive to granda but the views were definitely worth it.

    Although we did arrive in Granada quite early it took us at least a good hour to drive through the town to the train station to drop off the car at the Auto Europe office. The office was closed, so we parked on the allocated space and dropped the key in to the slot in the office, and took a taxi to the hotel.

    Palacio de Santa Inés - 2 nights

    The hotel was in the Albacin and was a short walk to the Plaza Nueva. The location was good and we got a room one the ground floor next to the inner courtyard and the room was nice. Only concern was that the wifi didn’t work in the room, which was not a huge issue, We only had to step out of the room to get the signal.

    After checking in, we walked to the plaza Nueva and found a café nearby to grab some really good baguettes and pastries for a quick lunch. The building around the plaza were beautiful and the girls had a good time having some fun making giant bubbles with a street artist.

    We then went to the visitor’s center for Alhambra which is right on Plaza Nueva to get our tkts from the machine and found that we had forgotten to bring the credit card which we used to purchase the tkts online. The lady in charge told us that we could get our tkts at the office at the Alhambra but we saw many others retrieving their tkts using the machines in the visitors centre.

    We decided to walk up to Mirador de San Nicolas through the albacin following a map we had got from the hotel. We visited the arab baths , saw the old gate to the city and got lost a few times but found our way to Mirado de San Nicolas. The walk was quite steep but very enjoyable through the narrow alleys between the houses.

    Mirador de San Nicolas was quite crowded already and had a few guitarists providing some lovely music, but as I had read on the forum that you get an equally good view from the adjoining mosque garden, we went in there. It was much quieter and we had spectacular views of the Alhambra, with the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the background.. After a while, we took a different route down through the Albacin into the central Granada area.

    We found Gran Caffe on Bibi Rambla for dinner. The plaza was really full of atmosphere with kids running about, a puppet show happening and performers about. We had a lovely dinner finishing of with churros and chocolate.

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    Saturday – 26th – Royal chapel, cathedral and Alhambra

    The next morning hubby was not feeling too well..So he decided to stay in the hotel and rest and we let the kids sleep in as long as they want. I decided to go to have a look at the royal chapel and the cathedral as hubby had decided he has seen enough of it by now.

    I started off quite early and the royal chapel and the cathedral were not opened before 9am. I waited a while outside avoiding the gypsy women with the rosemary sprigs.. There were already a few others waiting outside to go in to the Royal Chapel. No photos were allowed inside which was a pity as the tombs were beautiful. Lots of details on the iron work in the chapel as well. Definitely worth a visit.

    Next, I went to the adjoining cathedral which is supposed to be Spain’s 2nd largest Cathedral, next to that in Seville. The interior is very white and bright with lots of gold trim and details. Very impressive.

    Hubby and kids were already near the plaza Bib Rimbla when I was done with my sightseeing. So we decided to grab some pastries for breakfast and explore the streets of Granada for a while. Lots of stores were lining the main streets so we popped in for a bit of shopping…
    We then grabbed a quick lunch at the plaza Bib Rambla and decided to explore the former nazrids silk market, the Alcazaria which was located on one side of the plaza. It was full of little knickknacks from morocco and lots of souvenirs.

    It was almost 2 o clock , the time for us to enter Alhambra for the afternoon session..so we took the small minibus - no. 30 - to the Alhambra around 1.20 knowing there was a steep uphill walk. There was a short queue to get tkts and we had to wait a while longer to get English Audio guides, but after a little past 2 o’clock we entered Alahambra.

    Our time for Nasrid’s palace was booked at 5.30 pm,which worked out great for us. We decided to start with the General life which was closer to the entrance and then move on to the other side where the rest of the buildings were located.

    Generalife, the gardens were laid out beautifully, the palace was pretty and I believe that some of the fountains still operate using the original plumbing and waterworks laid by the Moors. There was a very aristocratic looking family taking family portraits in the garden. We explored the gardens for a while.

    Next on the list was the Alcazaba,a quite a walk away from the General life. We walked past the Charles V palace through the Justice Gates and decided to break for some hotdogs and ice cream that were sold there.
    We then left our stroller by the entrance to the Alcazaba (it was a very old one which we use only on our travels and we didn’t think anyone would take it) we entered the Alcazar, the original fortress and oldest part of the Alhambra complex. We walked through, climbing lots of steps up and down to different sections that awarded us with spectacular views across Granada and of Sierra Nevada mountains.

    We still had plenty of time to visit the Charles V’s palace before it was time to queue up for the Nasrid’s palace visit. The Charles V didn’t take much time to look around, we grabbed a few more ice creams for the girls and got in to long queue for the palace.

    The palace was beautiful as expected (and a bit crowded) but we could still enjoy the space and listen to the descriptions on the audio guide quite peacefully. The Lion's Fountain was working and we took our time enjoying exploring the palace. By the time we had finished at Alhambra and walked out to get the bus , the girls were pretty tired so we headed straight to dinner.

    We had come across a few interesting looking restaurants the night before and decided to try one of them out. After getting there I realized that I had read a recommendation for it on the forum as well. It was Oliver Restaurant which specializes in seafood. We got a high table with some stools outside as it was full already and enjoyed some great tapas for dinner. By then the Fried aubergines with honey had become a favorite and the Cuttlefish was a must for my youngest and a few other dishes that were really good..

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    27th - Sunday – train to Madrid, Retiro park

    We had the 9am train to Madrid and we took a taxi to the granada station in the morning for our 4 hour ride.

    We arrived at the Atocha station and took a taxi to the hotel which was recommended on this forum located right by the plaza Santa Ana. We also saw the hotel with the lizard across the wall (Can’t quite remember the name) just nearby, another recommendation on this forum which would have been a great location choice as well at a better price.

    The hotel was great and helped us with booking tkts to Segovia and Toledo and got us print outs as well which helped us greatly in doing our day trips out of Madrid.

    HC Las cortes – 4 nights.

    After checking in we walked from the hotel to Retiro park passing Prado on our way, stopping at a great café for some baguette sandwiches for lunch. we found our way to the gate that was nearest to the lake with Alfonso XII Monument.

    As it was Sunday, There were lots of locals about , families enjoying a day out at the park, street performers, musicians, jugglers and clowns about. People were playing with kids, having picnics on the grass ,rollerblading and skateboarding… the atmosphere was great.

    After enjoying a few performances we walked to the place to get the paddle boats. There was a a bit of a queue and while my husband waited in the queue I took the girls for a closer look at the alphonso monument and a walk around the lake. By the time we got back he had just got in turn to get our boat. We had 45 minutes on the lake which flew by pretty fast. The weather was beautiful; the girls had a turn at rowing as well. A lovely relaxing day out and a great time was had by the kids.

    After getting some ice cream of course, we then headed out to see the crystal palace, which was ok, nothing breathtaking.. and found our way out of the park. it was a different area of the park, with a little bit of difficulty found our way back to the hotel.

    We had dinner at Plaza Ana, there were lots of options available and a little playground for the kids to play at.

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    28th – Monday – a Madrid Walking Tour, Royal palace and Prado

    We took it easy today and started off a bit later than usual. We had booked online the Sanderman’s Madrid walking tour at 11am and the meeting point was plaza Mayor. We had breakfast at one of the cafes at the plaza which was beautiful with all the red buildings surrounding it.

    It was about a 3 hour tour with a break in between at a café, and we visited the oldest restaurant, a few cathedrals, Puerto del sol with the Madrid’s bear and madroño tree, and lots more places and the tour ended at the Royal palace. Was an interesting tour and is recommended.

    As we were at the Royal palace, we decided it was the best time to visit it rather than having to trek back on another day, We picked up audio guides and spent a considerable time exploring the palace. The inside of the palace was grand and the visit to the Royal Armoury and the Pharmacy was very interesting as well.

    We enjoyed a lunch of paella by the Plaza close to the palace and as Chocolateria San Gines was in the area, we decided to head there for dessert. The hot chocolate and the churros were perfect!! Absolutely yummy!!

    It was getting close to 5pm and we had Prado on our list for the day. we walked to Prado, picked up a brochure which contains a list of the Prado’s masterpieces, along with photos, and spent about 2 hours in the museum. After a small break at the hotel we headed back to Plaza Mayor for dinner.

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    29th Tuesday – Toledo and a visit to the Prado again

    We had booked the tkts to Toledo online with the help of the hotel . After walking to Atocha Renfe, where we had to board a train for Toledo, we boarded the 9:20 am AVE train for Toledo. It was only a short 30 min ride and from the station, we took a bus (#61) up to Plaza Zocodover.

    The plaza was quaint and beautiful with pretty buildings all around and lots of cafes around. We sat on one of those cafes, and had a lovely breakfast., then popped in to the tourist office just there and picked up the walking map .

    We then walked to the cathedral which was very beautiful. We spent a lot of time there, may be so much so that we didn’t have time to take the zoco train as we had planned, in order to make it in time to catch the train back to madrid. The goldwork in the Main Chapel, and the Choir Stalls the El Greco paintings were fantastic.

    We then followed the map to visit a few other places highlighted in the walk. We found some cafes nearby for a lovely lunch and we visited the nearby Museo de Santa Cruz. with some nice El Greco paintings.

    We could have definitely spent ore time in Toledo , but had to return to the station to catch the pre booked train to Madrid. On our walk back to the hotel, we passed Prado and I decided to pop back in (it was free entry after 6pm I think) to have a look at a few more rooms I had wanted to have a look at. Kids and hubby carried on to the hotel.

    Before dinner we headed to Puerto del sol. The atmosphere was great with performers around and a band of musicians playing Spanish music. We popped in to the supermarket there,El Corte Ingles which had lots of interesting things to buy. We picked up a few things and made a note to return here the following day and found a restaurant in one of the quieter plazas nearby.

    On our walk back to the hotel, we found a delicious yogurt ice cream place just before plaza Santa Ana which served the ice cream with lots of topping and sauces which was a great treat after a long day of walking.

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    30th Wednesday – day trip to Segovia and shopping in Madrid and a little incident

    We took the morning train to Segovia in the morning and booked the return for 3pm. Segovia was a gorgeous little town with interesting lstreets to walk around. The bus from the station took us directly near the Aqueduct. It was stunning. We walked under the aqueduct a while and then followed the directions on the lonely planet book to find the Alcazar. The streets were lined with shops and the streets were buzzing with people.

    We found a great café for hot choclate, coffee and some breakfast baguettes. Just further up was a plaza with a beautiful church and there was a local market happening at the plaza. Lots of stalls selling flowers, plants, pots and pans, old and new clothes and shoes..locals shopping , it was very interesting to wander about for a while. We then followed the road next to the church which leads to the Alcazar.

    The tour of the Alcazar was interesting for the girls as it looked more like a Disney castle to them from the outside. On our way back to the Aqueduct, we popped into a few stores for some shopping, which were mostly small stores unlike the larger chain stores in the cities..We had wanted to have lunch closer to the Aqueduct and found one right under the aqueduct, right next to a very famous one.

    The food was delicious, we had a local soup which had some sort of soaked bread in it, couldn’t really find out what we were eating as no one spoke English that well. The food was all very delicious and different to what we had been having in other areas of Spain.

    After another walk up the steps that let you go to the top of the aqueduct and lots photo clicking we crossed the road to catch the bus back to the station and was back in Madrid by around 4pm and decided to get off at the Puerto del sol to do a bit of shopping. After picking up lots of interesting food, olives, jamon and other things from the supermarket, hubby and the kids headed back to the hotel and I ventured into some of the stores close by. It was late by the time I headed back to the hotel.

    We decided to walk to plaza Mayor for dinner to return to the restaurant we had been to before but when we stepped out of the hotel, decided that we were too tired to walk all that way and went to the restaurant right next to the hotel. The food was fine but we did try some octopus for the first time and My stomach felt a bit queasy after that. When we had finished, the youngest wanted to visit the playground at plaza Santa Ana which was just 2 steps away, but I decided to go back to the hotel with the older girl.

    Hubby had left the stroller just outside the playground with my handbag under our jackets and when he got back to the hotel we realized it was gone! We are not sure whether it was taken at the restaurant or the plaza. Most likely at the plaza. He went back to look for it and had no luck, so did go to the police who were at the plaza Santa Ana who just gave him a form to fill out . He returned back to the hotel quite late with the police report as we required one to claim insurance. A few valuable things were in the bag but I just feel really disappointed about losing the photos of Barcelona , all those gorgeous photos I got of Gaudi’s buildings!!and of the Aqueduct in Segovia. The hotel said it’s a very common occurrence but it seems the police, although they do stay in the plazas just don’t really pay any attention to any of the street hawkers around. Who are responsible for all these thefts. Anyway, lesson learnt, next time I will make sure that I back up all the photos at end of each day..

    01st May, Thursday - flight out to HK

    Next morning we headed back to Puerto del sol for bit more shopping but found that all shops were closed. Madrid had shut down as it was 1st of May. So after a lovely breakfast at one of the cafes we took a taxi to the airport .

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    Internal flights from Barcelona to Seville were booked on http://www.vueling.com/en.

    Wouldn't change the no of days stayed in each city, felt it was just perfect.

    The hotels were perfectly located for easy walking to all major sights.

    Car rental was from Europe Car, it was a nice large sedan with enough power to drive the hilly roads we took. Car rental was such a great decision for seville via ronda to granada.

    Favourite city was Barcelona. (a definite revisit on the cards), in hindsight maybe we should have saved Barcelona for another time..and visited Lisbon instead.

    The food!!, the ice cream and hot chocolate was so so good.

    People – some of the friendliest and helpful people we have come across..was such a great feeling as we live in HK.

    We did note down lots of recommended restaurants to try out but didn't really get the chance to go looking for them as we ended up at a place closer to the hotel or area we were in.but almost all meals were great!

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    nikidi...Great report.

    If we booked a 10 a.m. visit to the Alhambra, when would you suggest we book Nasrid’s Palace. Noon? I know we get the boot at 2, right? Thanks again for a great report. We're going virtually everywhere you traveled only in a different order. Thanks.

    ((H))

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    We took about 3 hours to explore the rest of Alhambra but that was with kids tagging along and really taking it slow. noon sounds about right..you could start with the general life and then walk to the other side therafter. as the nasrid's palaca, charles V palace and the Alcazaba are all next to each other you could see them before or after the visit to nasrids palace.

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