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Sandra J. Walsh Sep 15th, 1999 01:46 PM

2 weeks in Spain 1st Time-any suggestions??
I just retired.. and we want to go Spain for 2 weeks in Oct. I was thinking of 2 days in Lisbon and Fatima. Then the rest of the time in Granada and or Costa del Sol. We have never been to Europe. Any suggestions. <BR> Sandra and Jim.....

Dick Sep 15th, 1999 02:31 PM

I'm not sure if I envy you more for just having retired or for looking forward to two weeks in Spain! <BR> <BR>We were in southern Spain in March a couple years ago and can't wait to get back. If I do the math right, you're going to have something more than 10 days or so to spend and I think that's too much for Granada and the Costa del Sol - you can really do and see more. <BR> <BR>First, I recognize that everyone's different, but we really didn't like the coast - much too busy and commercialized, at least the area around Marbella where we were. Others have mentioned the more eastern areas are nicer. Then again, we live on the coast (Cape Cod) and someone coming from an inland area might find it all delightful - but my first recommendation would be to think that part over. Granada is a must-see, but I really think a couple of days is plenty to take in the Alhambra and Generalife and get a feeling for other parts of the city. <BR> <BR>I would definitely spend a day or two in Toledo and also work in Sevilla and the Alcazar. I haven't been to Cordoba but I understand that is worth a day or two also. <BR> <BR>Probably the best part of our trip was the drive up from Marbella over the mountains to Ronda, which also qualifies as a must-see in my book. From there you can spend a wonderfully relaxing day driving through the cork oak plantations and white villages between Ronda and Sevilla. That day stands out in our memories as one of the best we have spent anywhere. <BR> <BR>Finally, it seems nobody likes Madrid, but we did - a big modern city to be sure but with outstanding museums and tapas bars (actually, the best ones we found were around the bull ring in Sevilla). El Escorial is an excellent one-day trip from Madrid and well worth it. <BR> <BR>Spain seems to be a popular topic on this board so I'm sure you'll get lots of other suggestions - you may want to search for earlier threads, too.

Cheryl Z. Sep 15th, 1999 04:15 PM

<BR>I'm glad you're going to Lisbon and while you're there be sure to explore the Estoril Coast area - Cascais, Sintra etc. We loved this area, more so than the Algarve or the Costa del Sol on our first trip there earlier this year. Both countries are great, good food, nice people, language not a problem, VERY inexpensive, and crazy driving - be prepared! I wished I could have spent more time in Lisbon. I think you'll have a good time, and congratulations on your retirement.

bo_jack Sep 15th, 1999 05:58 PM

This suggestion is based somewhat on the "just retired" identification and my presumption that you are near 60 and in good health. In Spain last year my wife and I (both over 50) had one of our most enjoyable evenings on Saturday night in Cadiz at the Parador Hotel Atlantico. Neither known, nor anticipated by us, the Atlantico is clearly the Saturday night party place for the upscale, over-50 crowd in and near Cadiz. Prosperous Andalucian farmers, in town to visit their city cousins or brothers, have apparantly been meeting there for years. My wife and I were about the only "outsiders" -- but we were made to feel very welcome. We also found Cadiz, otherwise, to be a nice place to visit -- but the Saturday night "party" was really memorable.

Sheila Sep 16th, 1999 12:25 AM

<BR>Spain is (stating the obvious) a big country. Since you are starting at the other end, it is hard to see why you should do this, but the Pyrenees and the Picos d'Europa are stunning, as is Barcelona. You might want to think about the Basque country too.

kristi Sep 16th, 1999 06:02 AM

Sandra, congratulations on your retirement! We took a lovely independent tour with Central Holidays last year to Spain in September(included hotel, train and 1/2 day sightseeing in Madrid and Seville, we booked the airfare separately). We started in Madrid for 2 nights (took the bus to Toledo for one day, saw the Prado and Royal Palace the other day), Cordoba (mosque is the big attraction here) for 1 night, Seville for 2 nights (Alcazar was wonderful!)and stayed on the Costa del Sol for 5 nights. I thought the amount of time in each place was just about right, although we would have liked to spend a night in Granada. <BR> <BR>I liked traveling by train. The trains between Madrid and Seville and Seville and Cordoba were fast and on time. If its your first time in Europe, you might consider the train as a means of transportation instead of trying to drive. If you base yourself on the Costa del Sol, there is a local train that goes from Malaga to Fuengriola but doesn't go as far as Marbella. There are also a variety of ways to see the surrounding area including buses, trains and tours. <BR> <BR>We stayed in Torremolinos on the Costa del Sol. I haven't seen any recommendations for the Costa del Sol area on this board but we didn't actually spend much time on the Costa del Sol but instead used it as a base to take day trips to Ronda, Gibraltar, Tangier and Granada. We had trouble finding good restaurants near Torremolinos. <BR> <BR>I wouldn't recommend Tangier, especially not on the day trips from the Costa del Sol. We took a bus trip to Granada but didn't get to stay as long as we would have liked. They skipped the cathedral and the time at the Alhambra was rushed. We rented a car and drove up to Ronda, wonderful scenery. We enjoyed Gibraltar, but you'll find mixed opinions on that. <BR> <BR>Have a great trip wherever you go!

kathy Sep 16th, 1999 12:31 PM

Kristi, using Costa del Sol as a base, were you able to spend time "beaching it" and sightseeing in the region. I want to do it all, but my husband wants something more leisurely. We plan to spend several days in Portugal but haven't figured out how to get to Costa del Sol the quickest way; plane? train? <BR>Where did you stay in Spain that was convenient for day trips along the coast? Do you remember the name and pricing? I'm still gathering info, and beginning to zero in on our plans. Thanks for helping us. This forum is great! Does anyone have a website detailing lodging and pricing - with pictures - for either Portugal or Spain. I've haven't found one similar to those I've used for other countries. I'm probably not looking in the right place. Thanks.

kristi Sep 16th, 1999 01:59 PM

Kathy, the Costa del Sol beaches, at least the ones we saw in Torremolinos, weren't the nicest beaches we've seen. You'll see a lot of negative comments this forum attesting to that. The landscape was dotted with high rise buildings. However, there were many, many people laying out in lounge chairs on the beach and around the pool. We thought it was a great place to use as a base and didn't really spend any time on the beaches. <BR> <BR>The hotel we stayed at was quite nice, the Riu Bel Playa in Torremolinos. The room was spacious, there was a nice pool and it was right on the beach. There was also a nice breakfast buffet and you could walk to the train line that serviced the Costa del Sol from Malaga to Fuengriola. I don't know the exact cost since it was included in our package. I suspect it was under $100 a night. <BR> <BR>Try for a listing of hotels in Spain. I didn't use them to book hotels so I can't say if they are a good service or not.

Maribel Sep 16th, 1999 04:12 PM

Your best bet for reaching the Costa del Sol from Lisbon would be to fly. There are several daily flights from Lisbon to Malaga, but note that they all connect through Madrid. Total travel time is a little over 4 hrs. To travel this route by train would be quite time consuming/ inconvenient, as it would require taking an overnight train from Lisbon to Madrid, arriving at 8:30 am. with an hour wait to catch the Talgo down to Malaga, another 4 1/2 hrs. <BR>Hope this helps.

julie Sep 20th, 1999 07:59 PM

Spain!!my favorite place to visit...I loved Salamanca, Segovia, and Seville, and Granada. I would skip the Costa del Sol (mucho crowded and dirty) but our favorite trip of all time was north to Santiago de Compestella, the north coast of Spain, burgos, Picos de Europas (stay at the Parador) and the Basque country. Nothing like it in all the world, and not inundated by tourists.

Frank R Sep 21st, 1999 02:54 AM

You should try public transport rather that hiring a car - you meet more people <BR>& trains & buses are reasonably fast & comfortable.The Spanish are very sympathethetic to those who <BR>don't speak their lingo so use the <BR>phrasebook, not much english is spoken <BR>outside the resorts- rehearse what you are going to say to the ticket clerk in the bus/train station!Don't miss Seville <BR>including the Alcazar, Cadiz is great too & more off the tourist route. <BR> You should find the Spanish helpful & friendly.Everything is twice the price on the Costas.You even have time for a trip to Africa!

Anne Sep 22nd, 1999 06:13 AM

Sandra and Jim, <BR>You have already received much good advice, but I would like to add my thoughts. We were in Spain for 2 1/2 weeks this summer and had a marvelous time. I would spend an extra day in Lisbon to visit Sintra -- short train ride away, lovely town with fantastic Pena Palace and romantic Moorish castle ruins. Also, be sure to see a Fado show. Fado is Portuguese folk music -- very haunting and passionate. <BR>The Alhambra is a must see, but we were not impressed with Granda itself. Our favorite towns were Seville (see a flamenco show, take a carriage ride to Plaza de Espana), and Toledo (spent 2 nights here and hated to leave -- the cathedral is beyond description). Enjoyed Ronda and the other hill towns. Gibralter is also alot of fun. Take trains whenever you can to give you a break from driving -- much more relaxing. Taxis are cheap and often entertaining. Gazpacho is wonderful! <BR>Have a great time!!

Ruth Sep 22nd, 1999 10:32 AM

We were in both Seville and Granada last May. Liked Seville--especially the seafood at the Bar Miami in the Triana district--but loved Granada. It had the lovely neighborhood squares that I thought I would see in Seville.

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