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2 wks Spain (Feb/Mar) - Barcelona,Seville,Madrid + vineyards?

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Dec 10th, 2012, 08:18 AM
  #1
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2 wks Spain (Feb/Mar) - Barcelona,Seville,Madrid + vineyards?

Hi all,

It will be my first time in Spain this coming Feb/Mar (exact days not confirmed), and I will likely to be flying in and out of Barcelona. Am looking to do 2 to 3 cities with at least a day dedicated to vineyard visits (love full bodied oaky reds that are not sweet). Am huge on museums, architecture, dine & wine (budget/value for money eats with 1 or 2 michelin stars restaurants thrown in).

Heard that Barcelona, Madrid and Seville are all great, with Madrid more geared towards nightlife (not a big fan of). Have read that Granada is highly recommended as well. A few key questions for my itinerary:
- i love the countrysides but am not sure if the weather would be pleasant enough for any of this?
- read that the Ribera del Duero region is great with a heavy focus on red, should I include this or are there regions more with exploring?
- taking into consideration the vineyard visit and the weather, which city should I consider dropping? Madrid? Granada?

Am open to taking internal flights, driving or train, whichever is the fastest and most convenient (any tips on this?)

Would appreciate all help with this! Thanks in advance!
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Dec 10th, 2012, 09:43 AM
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Welcome to the Fordor's boards!

I think you need to first narrow down your wish list based on the time you have in Spain. If you are flying in and out of Barcelona then you will need to return to Barcelona for your final night.

You specifically mention 3 geographies (Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, and Granada) in addition to a vineyard visit (Ribera del Duero).

My personal minimums (this is the minimum, not max) at a moderate pace would be: Madrid-4 nights w/1 daytrip; Barcelona - 4 nights (but no time for daytrips); Sevilla-4 nights 1/daytrip to Cordoba; Granada- 2 nights. This is already 14 nights and you'd need to be in Barcelona for the final night for your return flight. This doesn't include exploring any vineyards. The most famous area for vineyards is probably La Rioja followed by Ribera del Duero. These are both outlyers from the geographies you've mentioned. If you want to visit one of these areas then I'd suggest 3 nights and you'll need a car for this portion of the visit. The area around Barcelona has vineyards which may meet your desires to visit a vineyard but honestly I'm not an expert in this area for the wines. In Andalucia you can tour sherry bodegas just south of Sevilla in the sherry triangle.

But overall trying to do all of this in 2 weeks woould be way too much IMHO. Honestly I'd narrow the focus down to 2 areas so the trip is at a more moderate pace and you get to enjoy the wine and food and culture of Spain since this is what you seem to want to do. This would also give you time to visit some smaller cities vs just the large ones.

As far as the weather goes it may make a difference if this is early February vs early March in many areas. Sevilla and Barcelona should be more moderate but Granada and Madrid could be chilly.
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Dec 10th, 2012, 11:04 AM
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And, the vines would be bare at this time of year !
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Dec 10th, 2012, 01:50 PM
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I can't see putting vineyards on a list of things to do in February/March.
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Dec 10th, 2012, 03:32 PM
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Thanks CathyM on your advice, I am keen to narrow down to just 2 areas too. Given the weather, which areas would be more pleasant? Barcelona and Seville I suppose? Is Granada worth exploring?

Bedar and StCirq - Despite the vines being bare, would the vineyards be open for visits? Am really very keen to visit a few of them!
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Dec 10th, 2012, 04:25 PM
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Wineries wil probably have more time to show you around in March than they will in other months. Most often in Span you need to contact wineries ahead of time anyway. Presumably you already know what a bunch of grapes and grape leaves look like. If you would like to learn about wine production and taste wines, there is no reason not to visit vinyards in February or March. If you want to take tourist snapshots of grapes and post them on the internet, well, no.

Spain has a mild climate by and large, so being in the countryside in February and March can be pleasant. But you should not commit to touring the countryside until you see a short-term weather forecast.

Granada is very much worth exploring if you are interested in fabulous architecture and the history of Europe. It is at an elevation that can make it very cold in winter, but generally the area around at lower elevations has pleasant temperatures even in winter. It is not a great wine producing area, however.

The Ribiera del Douro is in the northwest corner of Spain, and likely out of reach for you (and with quite unstable weather in winter). But near Barcelona there are very interesting wine producing regions and you can take day tours to them. However, if you are really serious about wine, especially reds, you just have to face the fact that the most delicious red wines of Spain and elsewhere are generally produced in regions that have cold and rainy winters. A Rioja lover wouldn't care and would head north from Madrid despite the cold. If you would like to enjoy warm temperatures for your Spanish visit, you have white wine and olive oil to enjoy and learn about. Luckily, in good bars and restaurants all over Spain they stock the best Spanish reds, so even if you can't meet up with the vintner, you can drink as much as you like.

There are message boards like Snooth where people who actually know something about wine in Spain can give you pointers about what vinyards you can visit while in Spain depending on what cities and sights you plan to visit.

http://www.snooth.com/talk/
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Dec 10th, 2012, 04:44 PM
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Well,sure, yongsie, you can probably visit vinEyards in Spain, as long as you're not expecting to see grapes on the vine. But I'd do some research ahead of time so you're not met with closed doors.
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Dec 10th, 2012, 04:51 PM
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"There are message boards like Snooth where people who actually know something about wine in Spain can give you pointers about what vinyards you can visit while in Spain depending on what cities and sights you plan to visit."

@eurotravelplan: Kinda arrogant wording and a generalization, don't you think! Personally I don't attest to knowing much about visiting the bodegas in the Ribiera del Douro or Catalunya but I've visited La Rioja in September seven out of the last eight years and can give some pretty good pointers on this area.

To the OP: which 2 regions you pick for 2 weeks is solely up to your interests. Barcelona and Andalucia would likely have the best weather but you never know. If you chose Barcelona and Andalucia you could do something like Barcelona (5 nights), Sevilla (5 nights w/daytrip to Cordoba), Granada (2 nights). If you can't fly open jaw and need to return to Barcelona for the trip home then this would eat one night and you'd have one to play with. You could add time in either of the cities or take a day from Sevilla and spend 2 nights in Cordoba. Alternatively you could do the same substituting Madrid for Barcelona - this is probably easier logistically. Or you could do a Madrid/Barcelona combination with 5 night in each city and time for a daytrip from each. With the extra 4 nights you could just add on to Madrid & Barcelona or do a couple of nights in Toledo, Girona, Tarragona, Segovia, etc....or you could squeeze in 3 nights in Ribiera del Douro or La Rioja - I just don't know how happening it will be in these areas that time of year and it could be a little cold. If you do decide to visit La Rioja I'd be happy to give you my insights
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Dec 10th, 2012, 11:09 PM
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@eurotravelplan: good to hear that the vineyard would be open. have tried googling for recommendations/suggested routes but have not found much materials yet. I've done vineyard visits before, and felt the most enjoyable part is the interaction with staff/owner, feeling their passion in winemaking and of cos tasting and bringing bottles back home. Would like to do a mix of big/well-established vineyards and smaller scale local produce/consumption ones.

@CathyM: I am considering extending my trip to 2.5weeks so that I can cover all these main sights! Cant decide which place to drop. Am a major foodie so will be spending considerable amount of time wining and dining, and sourching for those places. Any food/wine blogs to recommend (other than chowhound)

I suppose Ribero del duero could be done as a day trip out of Madrid while La Rioja could be a day trip out of Barcelona? What will be the key differences between those two?

Thanks all for the help thus far! Will have 10 million more questions after the rough itinerary is out!
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Dec 10th, 2012, 11:24 PM
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If you're a serious foodie then you are missing the most food centric are of Spain, the Basque Country! I'm surprised you didn't bring this up before You could very easily spend 2.5 weeks just visiting the Basque Country and La Rioja. I think you definately need to realistically think about now much geography you want to cover at a pace that is comfortable for you to enjoy (in other words time to sit back and enjoy good food and wine without worrying about rushing to the next place). It appears like you have enough to consume 2x the vacation! Maybe a second trip to start planning already
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Dec 11th, 2012, 04:19 AM
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*I've been to Spain during many Januaries and I would not let the possibility of bad weather dissuade you.

*If you want value for money in food, I do not think that you can find a better place to visit than Sevilla.

*For big red wines, your best bet might be Priorat, which you can visit on a day tour from Barcelona.

*Madridi has nightlife, just as does any other large city. But to say that nightlife is the focus in the capital is like saying that nightlife is the focus in New York. Or Paris.

*Museums, architecture, food/wine? Pick 3: Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, San Sebastian

*If you are really serious about food, you should include at least a daytrip to beautiful Segovia from Madrid.
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Dec 11th, 2012, 12:07 PM
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Ah! The t10 card is for the metro and the bus, and it´s possible to be used by more than 1 person
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Dec 11th, 2012, 02:09 PM
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raquel, best to post as a person, not with your website.. some people may think you are embedding advertising in your helpful posts.
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Dec 12th, 2012, 05:27 AM
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Both Freixenet (world's largest fizz maker) (and a bunch of other cava houses in the same village) and Torres (world class wine maker) are a short train ride from Barcelona. Both the named vinyards are set up to receive visitors en-mass but will happily let couples drop by. You can get the addresses from their websites and use the rnfe website for train trips. If you want more details come back.
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Dec 12th, 2012, 11:58 AM
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Am open to taking internal flights, driving or train, whichever is the fastest and most convenient (any tips on this?)>

For a solo traveler driving can be tedious without having someone to talk to or share driving time with and Spanish trains are now amongst the very finest in Europe and between Barcelona, Madrid and Seville go up to nearly 200 mph! Trains will take you just about anyplace you desire - even smaller towns like Rodez, Jerez, etc near Seville and places like Granada (worth it if not just for its awesome Alhambra!)

For loads of great stuff about Spanish trains I always spotlight these IMO fantastic sites - www.renfe.com (Spanish Railways official site with limited in number discounted tickets that you should book well in advance to guarantee and may be hard to change - and www.ricksteves.com http://www.budgeteuropetravel.com/id30.html and www.seat61.com.
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Dec 13th, 2012, 07:33 AM
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and there are also overnight trains - spiffy Hotel Trains, some of which have private WC-douche in the compartment - running between Barcelona and Madrid and Barcelona and Grandad/Seville. As the countryside in between these cities is rather boring and desolate consider saving a night in a hotel and arriving bright and early in the next city, saving also on daylight travel time.
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Dec 27th, 2012, 06:48 AM
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thanks all for ur suggestions thus far! have decided to extend my trip to 18nights (26 feb to 16 mar), with the following itinerary

Barcelona - 6 nights
Flight to Granada - 2 nights
Train to Seville - 2 nights
Train to Cordoba - spend the day there
Train to Madrid - 4 nights
Drive to Ribera del Duero - 1 night
Drive to La Rioja -2 nights
Drive back to Madrid and flight or train back to Barcelona - 1 night in Barcelona
Flight back home

Any comments or suggestions?

Planning out the detailed itinerary now, am considering dropping a day in Barcelona for the rest of the journey. Have considered renting a car in Andalusia to drive to Acros de la Frontera to see the white towns, but seems abit rush and would prefer to travel coastal regions in spring/summer.
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Dec 27th, 2012, 08:05 AM
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You're really rushing Andalucia, especially if you're the type of traveler who does not want to rush. 2 nights in Granada is sufficient but Sevilla really deserves 4 nights. You don't have time to do any exploring of white villages with your current itinerary.

Is there a way you could return home via Madrid instead of having to backtrack to Barcelona for the return flight? This would save a night you could add to Sevilla. If not, then if you're set on visiting all of this geography I'd probably cut a night (or even 2) from Barcelona and add to Sevilla.

Personally I'd cut the entire 3 nights out of the Rioja and Ribera del Duero which would give you time to adequately visit Sevilla and even visit Arcos or another white village as a daytrip from Sevilla (or the coast which you say you prefer). Rioja/Ribera del Duero is an outlyer and you only have 3 nights in which you'll be driving as a solo traveler. Plan another 2 week vacation for La Rioja and the Basque Country - perhaps you'd find someone to go with that could drive. Or with more time you could use public transportation. Just my 2 cents....
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Dec 27th, 2012, 08:07 AM
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When in Barcelona, try to get a table at Tickets. Ferran Adrià - the worlds most famous chef the past decade (El Bulli) - opened this very special and quite affordable tapas bar last year. They only take reservations two months in advance and only on-line. All tables use to get booked within a few hours, so if you want to be sure to get a table, book shortly after midnight two months in advance of when you plan to go there. (in other words, you should book now...)

Info and reservation: http://www.ticketsbar.es/web/
Videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24MqdqnO49k
http://www.41grados.es/

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Here's a great site with updated info about wonderful Sevilla:
http://www.exploreseville.com/

Azahar lives here and has got lots of great tips on tapas bars and restaurants. http://azahar-sevilla.com/sevilletapas/tapas-101/

Be sure not to visit only the beautiful but very touristy Santa Cruz district. I especially like the Arenal area just west and north-west of Santa Cruz, the San Vicente and San Lorenzo district just a little further north and the vibrant Triana district - a cradle of flamenco culture - just across the city river Guadalquivir.

Some favourites in these neighbourhoods:
San Lorenzo, Eslava: http://azahar-sevilla.com/sevilletapas/category/eslava/
Arenal, Enrique Becerra: http://azahar-sevilla.com/sevilletap...rique-becerra/
Triana, Primera del Puente: http://azahar-sevilla.com/sevilletap...ra-del-puente/

If you want to experience real deal flamenco, I can recommend intimate Casa de la Memória in the midst of the Santa Cruz district. Popular with tourists but only great artists perform here. For example Pastora Galván was voted best female flamenco dancer by Spanish critics in 2010, and she dances here regularly. No food, no drinks, just flamenco. Would at least give you a glimpse into the beauty of this art so important for Sevilla and Andalucía. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractio...Andalucia.html
More info: http://www.casadelamemoria.es/

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In Córdoba, I recommend to have lunch/dinner in "Roman" Córdoba just a few minutes walking north of the Mezquita.
Loads of affordable and traditional tabernas on almost every street corner around central Plaza de la Tendillas and much more local atmosphere. Had excellent meals in some of them last summer. At night, the two of us used to pay some 30-35€ included a bottle of wine and a couple of brandys. Taberna Salinas is one of the more famous, recommended by the Michelin guide: http://www.tabernasalinas.com/

I loved Taberna El Gallo in C/Mária Cristina, 6, two minutes from Plaza de las Tendillas, and next door to the Roman temple ruins. Great wines - try the dry Amargoso - and excellent tapas. In one word: Genuine!
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restauran...Andalucia.html
http://cordobapedia.wikanda.es/wiki/Taberna_El_Gallo

Here's a list of more tabernas in Córdoba. http://www.cordoba24.info/tavernen/h...vernen_en.html

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Always updated on Madrid: http://www.esmadrid.com/en/portal.do

-

Some concerts:
The world's most famous female flamenco singer Estrella Morente performs in the Madrid Opera/Teatro Real on March 5th. Presentation of her latest album. She will also perform this in Granada on the 8th in the Palacio de Expociciones y Congresos. Have seen her three times, and two nights were unforgettable. http://www.estrella-morente.es/estrellamorente.html

One of the worlds most prestigious flamenco festival goes on in Jerez de la Frontera - a short bus ride from Sevilla - from February 22 to March 9. Mostly a local and knowledgeable crowd on these events, could easily be a highlight of your trip. (Would very much consider taking a couple of days off Barcelona and add to Sevilla with daytrips to Córdoba and Jerez)
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Dec 27th, 2012, 08:27 AM
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Very much agree with CathyM, would seriously consider to take the three Ribera del Duero/Rioja days off - and perhaps one of the Barcelona days - and add them to Andalucía.

And remember, Jerez is known not only for flamenco and horses, but above all for the wines. Many of the bodegas are open to the public:
http://www.andalucia.com/cities/jerez/sherrybodegas.htm
http://www.cellartours.com/spain/spa...-frontera.html
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