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Three to four weeks in Spain - Oct 2016 - looking for advice

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Just at the very beginning stages of planning a trip for next fall, likely to begin in Madrid in the last week of September, with the final destination being Barcelona with a departure from Spain October 25.

We are a couple in our mid-sixties, fairly active (we walk and hike and occasionally bicycle), enjoy exposure to local culture and food. We are somewhat adventurous, but not so much into hard-core economy travel (like the kind we did back in the day). I require hot water, privacy, and a comfortable bed these days!

I have traveled in Spain twice before - once about 7 years ago throughout Castilla y Leon, including a week in Salamanca. The other time was 5 years ago - a three-week road trip beginning in Madrid to Santiago de Compostela and then all around Galicia and the west coast, ending in Vigo.

This time I am interested in traveling to Sevilla, through Andalucia and then on up to Barcelona.

Will start in Madrid, staying there about three days (have been to Madrid before but my husband has not), then heading south through Toledo (have been there once for a half day - would an overnight be worthwhile?) then on to Sevilla.

Looking for any advice on transportation modes - would like to have a car for at least a part of the trip, so we can meander into smaller villages and explore the countryside at our own pace, but thinking that a car in Sevilla would not necessarily be useful, and could actually be a nuisance.

Perhaps a train from Madrid to Sevilla? Not sure if there is a train that goes that way and stops in Toledo. How many days would be enough to take in Sevilla? I am thinking three or four?

I was thinking that a car rental as we leave Sevilla would allow us to make the rest of the trip on our own timetable - we would like to head along the southern coast from Cadiz to the road that heads north to Granada. Then after a few days in Granada, probably figure out a way to head southeast back to the coast and drive slowly to Barcelona, stopping along the way for a few days here and there.

We're pretty much doing this trip "back-ending" it from the October 25 date of departure from Barcelona. We can start in Madrid anytime from September 20th.

Also thinking about the possibility of renting a house or apartment in one of the small towns along the coast in Valencia and Murcia ... making day trips ... before driving north to Barcelona and turning in the rental car.

Does this rough outline sound reasonable? Any suggestions for an itinerary or sights/experiences we should be sure to include would be most welcome! Hotels/paradores/ home rental info, too!

Thank you in advance.

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