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Trip Report Spain trip report: June 2013

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Hi all,

I feel a little remiss not having posted this earlier - especially given the assistance so many helpful Fodorites provided in making it a great trip for us. But I would like to write a report about our semi-recent trip to Spain. We

spent a total of 14 full nights in Spain (not including our travel time to/from Sydney). Our itinerary was as follows:

Date: Night spent:
Thu, 30 May 2013 Fly from Sydney
Fri, 31 May 2013 Arrive Madrid
Sat, 01 Jun 2013 Madrid
Sun, 02 Jun 2013 Madrid
Mon, 03 Jun 2013 Toledo
Tue, 04 Jun 2013 Granada (via Consuegra)
Wed, 05 Jun 2013 Granada (visit Alhambra)
Thu, 06 Jun 2013 Seville (via Cordoba)
Fri, 07 Jun 2013 Seville
Sat, 08 Jun 2013 Seville
Sun, 09 Jun 2013 Seville
Mon, 10 Jun 2013 San Sebastian
Tue, 11 Jun 2013 San Sebastian
Wed, 12 Jun 2013 San Sebastian
Thu, 13 Jun 2013 San Sebastian
Fri, 14 Jun 2013 San Sebastian
Sat, 15 Jun 2013 Fly from Madrid
An album of a few photos of each place is here: http://imgur.com/a/XrGmm

Firstly, we flew from Sydney on 30 May on Emirates into Madrid via Dubai. Emirates is our preferred airline for all travel, and they were typically good on all legs. Arriving in Madrid we found it relatively easy to get a taxi to our

hotel (Hotel Preciados, which was selected due to its high rating on Trip Advisor), although the cost was higher than expected (35 euro), perhaps partially due to the bad traffic (arriving on a Friday afternoon didn't help, no doubt).


In terms of accommodation in Madrid, Hotel Preciados was disappointing. Our expectations were high due to its high TripAdvisor rating, but it underwhelmed. There wasn't anything specifically wrong with it (nothing worth labouring on,

anyway), but it wasn't a highlight. Which I think, in fact, can be said of our first couple of days in Madrid. It felt like a big city, as it is, and we didn't really get into the groove of it - partially due to jet lag and a bout of

sickness.

After Madrid we sent off for a trip to Toledo, having picked up a car (rented from Sixt; found them very good!). The drive to Toledo was easy (in fact, most of Spain was easy to drive. It was far more leisurely and pleasant than Italy),

and we arrived at this historic old city early afternoon. Our hotel was Hotel Carlos V (http://www.carlosv.com/en) - right in the old town, in a fantastic location. We loved this little place - it was clean, spacious, well located, an

excellent price, and the staff friendly and helpful - the second best hotel on our trip and thoroughly recommended. We definitely loved Toledo, and were glad we spent the night also. As many people have said - it's a different city at

night with all the tourists gone.


From Toledo we drove to Granada via the Consuegra windmills. The windmills were definitely worth the detour (I have included a couple of images in the album), and we also did the castle walk, which was also really fascinating. Then the

drive on to Granada. Many people had commented that it is a rather boring drive, but we enjoyed the scenery and just enjoyed driving through the Spanish countryside. As I earlier mentioned, we found the driving quite refreshing and

leisurely.

Arriving in Granada, we navigated to our hostel - Hostel Rodri. I cannot praise this little hostel enough. 45 euro a night for two and it honestly is hands down the best little place I have stayed anywhere. The reviews on TripAdvisor

certainly do reflect how good it is. Stay there if you're going!

We absolutely loved Granada. We did a night visit to the Alhambra, which was stunning, as well as a visit the following day, where we spent 3 1/2 hours (and could have spent much more time there). It really is one of the most amazing

places we have ever visited. Its scale and beauty is incredible. Unfortunately we only spent two nights in Granada, but I could easily have spent a week there, and it will certainly be one of my places to return to at some stage

(hopefully soon!).
It has this perfectly complementing mix of old and new, and a great feel to the entire place.


From Granada we drove to Seville, via Cordoba. In Cordoba we visited the Mezquita, which was stunning (I'm running out of and using too many superlatives, but it really was). Coming from a country like Australia, where we are relatively

new, the history and architecture is quite overwhelming.
We didn't see much else in Cordoba and drove on to Seville.

In Seville we stayed at Corral Del Rey (this was our splurge hotel), and it met expectations (which were very high). Service was good, the room lovely. We expected Seville to be the place we fell in love with, but I think that honour

had already been taken by Granada. But we enjoyed Seville nonetheless, and unexpectedly found it to have the best food we had in all of Spain (we expected that honour to go to San Sebastian). Perhaps we just had some particularly good

recommendations (El Bulli, for example, was great). We saw all the normal sites in Seville, and found both its nightlife and daylife enjoyable.

From Seville we did a day trip to Ronda, driving via Grazelema and Zahara on the way there (a worthwhile detour, with some stunnings views, and a great drive through the mountains) and Setenil de las Bodegas on the way back. We were

only in Ronda enough time to have lunch and see the gorge, but it was a really nice day and we were glad to have done it.

From Seville we then flew to Bilbao, and then caught a bus to San Sebastian - flying Iberia (although it was a Vueling plane). Flight was fine and the service of the check in staff was good.

In San Sebastian we stayed at pension Amaiur. We expected a lot of this place given the TripAdvisor reviews, but it also underwhelmed a little - although it was still good, and is in an excellent location, right in the old town. For us,

San Sebastian was to be one of the highlights of the trip - and we had five nights here to really relax before the long flight back to Sydney. The idea was to eat eat eat pintxos, which we did, and we had one 3 michelin star restaurant

to go to - Akelarre (I will separately review this and post photos if anyone is interested).

It took a little while to get into the groove of pintxos, but by the second or third day, we were quite familiar with the routine. We ate a lot of pintxos and visited a lot of bars in the 5 days/nights we were there. One of our

favourites was Astelena 1960 (in constitution plaza), but we also really enjoyed Casa Urola and de San Telmo.

From San Sebastian we also did a day trip to Saint-Jean-de-Luz, just over the border in France. It is a really beautiful place, albeit a bit touristy (food prices were very expensive). We caught the bus there and the train back

(including the light rail that goes to San Sebastian).

From San Sebastian we then caught a flight back to Madrid (directly from San Sebastian airport). Little tip - is that we bought the flight return, and it ended up cheaper than two one ways. We had about 10 hours to spare in Madrid so

did some more sightseeing, and we very much enjoyed our second stay in Madrid (minus the jet lag and sickness), although it was very hot.

Lastly, I would just like to say - in virtually every place we went, the Spanish people were truly lovely. Welcoming, hospitable, and very kind.
It really helped make for a very memorable and enjoyable trip - and I definitely would like

to return to Spain at some stage.

Happy to answer any questions. Apologies for the length of the review and apologies if the content doesn't touch the normal points a trip review should. Thanks for reading!

Oh, and THANK YOU to everyone that provided advice into our trip. A few mentions (but thanks to everyone that contributed):

kimhe
CathyM
iris1745
kja
danon
Egbert.

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