Advice on the Mediterranean

Apr 23rd, 2016, 08:49 AM
  #1  
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Advice on the Mediterranean

Hello all, new to the forum here. My partner and I are just starting to plan a 10-day trip for next year, either in the spring or fall (depends on where we decide to go). I have seen the Mediterranean, Greece to be exact, but he has not and I just want to return because I loved it so much. What's not to like right?

I'll try to provide as much info as possible. We're in our 50s, in pretty good shape, and appreciate ancient ruins/sites as well as modern art, beautiful gardens, walking (but not laying) on the beach, and of course we love delicious food and wine. Another consideration is while not total vegetarians, we eat very little meat. Seafood is welcome however. We're not big shoppers (although those Mallorcan textiles and Andalusian leather goods are tempting!), but do enjoy browsing and strolling through small towns/villages, and just people-watching. One thing we don't need is a wild nightlife. This may seem minor but we have a really low tolerance for humidity.

Here's what I loved in the few places I've been. The rolling olive groves in the Peloponnese, Mycenae, Santorini (was there in October years ago, so no crowds), and Crete. Wish I could have seen more of Crete and revisiting is a distinct possibility. I also liked the dry, craggy landscapes of Castilian Spain, Cuenca and the abstract art museum were wonderful IMO. I love white towns, so another Cycladic island or Southern Spain are considerations.

We have a long list of contenders, these are in no particular order. Hopefully your input can help us whittle it down.

-Cyclades/Crete or just one or the other
-Cote d'Azur (though put off by the probable glitz factor)
-the Balearics
-Costa Brava
-Andalusia
-Sardinia
-Corsica
-Sicily
-Amalfi Coast/Capri (hesitant about the number of tourists though)
-Aeolian Islands

We're open to all suggestions, any advice is appreciated. Thanks.

-
Tralfaz77 is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2016, 09:05 AM
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-Cyclades/Crete or just one or the other

You know Greece already, so no further comment needed.

-Cote d'Azur (though put off by the probable glitz factor)

Prejudice. The Côte d'Azur has not a glitz factor with the exception of a few grand hotels and a few yacht harbours. But you find there some of the most scenic coasts of the Mediterranean if not the world. Although I love Greece, still my favourite destination (if you know where to stay, of course not in Nice).

-the Balearics

A popular vacation place for Germans and Britons. Heavy mass tourism at some places, but also lovely high-class resorts at other places. Limited sightseeing opportunities on most islands except Mallorca. Forget leather shopping - mostly cheap stuff for tourists.

-Costa Brava

A most beautiful white town: Cadaques. Fantastic art by Salvodor Dalí. Bizarre coastline at Cap de Creus.

-Andalusia

Not recommendable from June to September, just too hot. Strong Moorish influence, but if you are interested in Arabian culture and architecture, why not going directly into an Arabian country, e.g. Maroc?

-Sardinia

Boring.

-Corsica

Looks a bit like the Esterel Coast on the Côte d'Azur. Very scenic, otherwise limited sightseeing options.

-Sicily

Quite diverse. A bit of everything: archeology, Europe's most impressive volcano, Norman and medieval history, Italian art of living, the Mafia (yes, you meet them!)

-Amalfi Coast/Capri (hesitant about the number of tourists though)

Not too bad in spring and fall. Dramatic coastline, lemons and stunning archeology in Pompeii.

-Aeolian Islands

Another part of Greece. When it comes to Greece, I am not too fond of the islands. Peloponnese (which is almost an island) and Greek mainland (which has many peninsulae) has more to offer without the hassle of ferries.
traveller1959 is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2016, 09:20 AM
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Aeolians are off the coast of Sicily, not Greece...
jamikins is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2016, 01:13 PM
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Andalucía or Sicilia fly & drive.
MyriamC is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2016, 01:29 PM
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-Cyclades/Crete or just one or the other
we loved Crete : good food, nice people, super view, ruins, not too touristy if you avoid the resort region (Paphos ?)
-Cote d'Azur (though put off by the probable glitz factor)
overcrowed, overrated
-the Balearics
night life for Germans ;-)
-Costa Brava
lazy beach for lazy Belgians
-Andalusia
a must for us - been when was a kid, don't remember much
-Sardinia
not been
-Corsica
superb, good food, strange people, not much in terms of ruins, wildlife, scubadiving
-Sicily
Like Crete, bigger and more ruins : for me the top
-Amalfi Coast/Capri (hesitant about the number of tourists though)
not been yet because ? and way crowded
-Aeolian Islands
great but you can get bored pretty fast - not much to do.

My totally biased opinions...
Whathello is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2016, 03:50 PM
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If anyone calls Sardinia boring then they clearly haven't been. It is a nature lover's paradise. You need a car, though, to explore the inland.

http://www.sardegnaturismo.it/en/Holidays

Amalfi Coast/Capri - you can visit there and see no tourists. You just have to be selective about time of year and where you stay. Choose one of the lesser-known villages like Scala - where you're on the Ravello/Amalfi bus route but no one goes there because they all rush like lemmings or indoctrinated Rick Steves followers to Ravello.
Positano is also a paradise - just stay on the Fornillo side. Get out early when everyone else is still asleep or at the hotel buffet. Use the ferries to get around.
http://www.positano.com/





Traveller1959 - Pompeii is not on the Amalfi Coast.
Blueeyedcod is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2016, 11:03 PM
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Andalucia could be adventure for a lifetime, spring and fall are best times of year to go.

For ancient ruins/sites, modern art, beautiful gardens, walking (but not laying) on the beach, and delicious food and wine, you'll be hard pressed to find something better than Malaga city and the close by Axarquia region. The region is huge on seafood.

Malaga city:
http://www.malagaturismo.com/en
video intro: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/de...pt-secret.html

The Axarquia region, just east of Malaga city: http://www.rusticblue.com/andalucia_...a_axarquia.php

Great beachfront restaurants/chiringuitos specializing in fish and seafood all along the Malaga coast. Very popular with locals, Sunday lunch at the favourite chiringuito is a higlight of the week for many malagueños: http://www.spain-holiday.com/Malaga-...nt-restaurants

About Andalucia in general: http://www.andalucia.com/
kimhe is offline  
Apr 24th, 2016, 03:14 AM
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Thank you everyone for all your help. I've been able to pare down the list. Here's where I am so far.


I've decided against Greece, despite having not seen enough of Crete I would like to go somewhere new.


Traveler and WhatHello:

Thank you for confirming what I thought may be true of the Balearics.

Sardinia and Corsica are out too because I don't think there's enough to want to make us stay for 10 days.

The Costa Brava's off the list as well. I have been to Barcelona and Figueres, but regretfully missed Cadaques due to time restraints. There are some beautiful gardens along the coast, but again not enough as a whole to sustain us for 10 days.

Sicily/Aeolian Islands are no longer an option because for some reason they just don't speak to us as much as the remaining options.

The beauty and ancient sites of the Amalfi Coast/Capri seem wonderful but my concern is that this may be an area of more tourists than locals. Let me know if I'm wrong.

So I'm left with the Cote d'Azur and Andalucia. I hesitate with the latter because I think the Mediterranean may be more beautiful in France. Both have a nice combination of what my boyfriend and I are looking for and certainly enough to keep us busy for 10 days.

Kimhe,

Thanks for all the info on Malaga. Do you like it better than Seville, Cordoba or Granada? We wanted to avoid the Costa del Sol for fear of it being too blingy, but sounds like Malaga may be worth the trip.


One question for everyone is how do France and Spain compare cost-wise? I know we ate pretty well in Spain for a reasonable price.
Tralfaz77 is offline  
Apr 24th, 2016, 03:16 AM
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<>
I have been and I found it 'boring'. We toured the island for two and a half weeks in June 2015, from north to east, to south, to west and everything in between. Yes, it's a nature lover's paradise and a dream for beachgoers, but I missed the 'flair' of places like Andalucía or Sicilia. I missed sitting on nice squares in lively towns, people watching. Alghero was okay-ish on that point but I was not impressed by the other towns.
MyriamC is offline  
Apr 24th, 2016, 03:23 AM
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@Tralfaz77
You can easily avoid the crowds and the bling of the Costa del Sol. For the third time we will make a nice loop this June: land in Málaga and stay 5 nights (some city time and daytrips into the mountains), then to Ronda for 2 nights (and drive the Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos), then to Sevilla for 4 nights, then to Conil de la Frontera on the beautiful Costa de la Luz for our remaining 7 nights. (We have 'done' Granada and Córdoba in 2014). We then drive back to Málaga for our flight back home (cheaper than one-way flights).
MyriamC is offline  
Apr 24th, 2016, 04:08 AM
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'Yes, it's a nature lover's paradise and a dream for beachgoers, but I missed the 'flair' of places like Andalucía or Sicilia. I missed sitting on nice squares in lively towns, people watching.'


Thanks for this, I kind of got that sense about Sardinia. It's about the whole picture, architecture, landscapes and pleasant towns/streets to explore. I am curious about the food though, how was that?
Tralfaz77 is offline  
Apr 24th, 2016, 04:32 AM
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To be honest, I don't remember much of what we ate. It must have been nothing special, otherwise I would have known 'cause I'm a food lover.
MyriamC is offline  
Apr 24th, 2016, 05:27 AM
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Easter next year is April 16. If at all possible try to be in Seville for the Holy Week (especially for Thursday night). The processions are absolutely amazing - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Week_in_Seville
nochblad is offline  
Apr 24th, 2016, 05:37 AM
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Tralfazz

I think if you research Sicily even just a little, you will find that it offers everything you want and more. Because the island has been conquered by just about everyone over the centuries, its a wonderful mix of culture, architecture, food. Plenty of Greek temples and Roman ruins. Lively markets in Palermo. Gorgeous beaches and coastlines. I visited for 3.5 weeks in spring. During that entire trip I,had a pizza once and meat twice. The others meals were all amazing fresh seafood.

My original interest in Sicily was the Aeolian Islands, but once I started researching, my week in Lipari quickly became the 3.5 week trip.

I did choose spring because like you I cannot tolerate heat and humidity together. I live on a desert climate and can do heat with no problem, but not humidity!
Dayle is offline  
Apr 24th, 2016, 06:32 AM
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I love both Sevilla, Cordoba and Granada, but I have a special soft spot for Malaga (3000 year old Phoenician Malaka). Easy-going, laid-back and genuine, and not as crowded with tourists as the three more famous Andalucian cities. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/journalis...pleasures.html
http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...-culture-spain
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/25/ar...-hub.html?_r=0



The Cote d'Azur is very, very beautiful, and even though Andalucia is one of my favourite parts of the world, Cote d'Azur wins the Med beauty contest with me also. But the Andalucian Costa de la Luz is also very beautiful, so is the coast around Nerja a little east of Malaga city:
Costa de la Luz: http://www.andalucia.com/costa-de-la-luz/home.htm
Nerja, east of Malaga city: https://www.flickr.com/photos/trondjs/3735908317/

In general, Andalucia is much lower costs. You can for example do as the locals and have your main meal of the day at lunch-time, from about 1.30-2pm. Then most local restaurants serve a bargain three course Menu del dia (today's menu) with wine included for some 8-12€. That is not much more than a starter in most restaurant in Menton, Cannes, Nice etc. http://www.spainatyourpace.com/menu-...-menu-del-dia/

Two examples, Nerva in Malaga city, Menu del dia at 10€. In any menu del dia, you can normally choese between at least three starters, three mains and a couple of desserts. Cofee and wine/beer is normally included: http://azahar-spain.com/azahartapas/bar-nerva/

La Marina in Nerja is seafood heaven, and the Menu del dia is 8,50€: http://www.guideofnerja.com/pages/gu.../marina_en.htm
kimhe is offline  
Apr 24th, 2016, 06:53 AM
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Bookmarking
limmy is offline  
Apr 24th, 2016, 06:55 AM
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>> The beauty and ancient sites of the Amalfi Coast/Capri seem wonderful but my concern is that this may be an area of more tourists than locals. Let me know if I'm wrong.<<

I have been to the Amalfi Coast twice, once near Positano in May and once over Easter in Amalfi. Both times it was not crowded at all (except Capri which is flooded by cruise ship excursions). But things are in mid-summer different, for sure. And driving the very narrow coastal road is the main experience of the Amalfi Coast. So, it is a matter of timing.

>> So I'm left with the Cote d'Azur and Andalucia. I hesitate with the latter because I think the Mediterranean may be more beautiful in France. <<

First factor, timing. The Côte d'Azur is crowded in July and August. These months are prohibitive. But during the rest of the year, it is beautiful. I have been there 20+ times, usually in September, October or November, also in February, April and May. All these months are splendid, with flowers everywhere.

As said, Andalusia is prohibitive from June to October - it is too hot and many place do not have A/C.

Comparing the Côte d'Azur and Andulusia is like apples and oranges. What I have seen from Andalusian beaches, did not appeal to me too much, maybe except Cap Trafalgar which is a beautiful, natural, sandy beach (which looks a bit like the beaches on Sardinia).

The main attractions of Andalusia are in the hinterland - in cities like Cordoba, Granada, Sevilla, Carmona. Also, you find many white towns there, Vejer de la Frontera and Ronda among the most beautiful ones.

Spain is generally much cheaper than France, especially food and drink is DIRT CHEAP in Spain. After dinner, order a Cardenal Mendoza and watch the following ritual and think of my words (I don't mind if you drink on my health)!

But a few words about the Côte d'Azur. There are many prejudices and misconceptions about this regions in the world and especially here on this forum, mainly because the region is so large and so diverse.

Many Americans reduce the Côte to Nice and Èze. Nice is a big city with an ugly beach and heavy traffic. It has its charme and world-class art museums (the Chagall museum is breathtaking) and is worth a daytrip, but I would not stay there.

I always recommend renting a car and driving along the Côte, because it has some of the world's most beautiful coastal roads. You find there everything you can think of: Roman archeology, medieval towns, picturesque villages, rows of luxury hotels, wide sandy beaches, hidden coves, scenic hiking trails, modern art everywhere etc. etc.

The only thing is, you need some tips where to go and where not. There is a handful of Fodorites here who regularly travel to the Côte, each of them can give you valuable advice.

But you are right to decide first where to go. If you have made your choice, start a new thread with your destination in the title to get better response.
traveller1959 is offline  
Apr 24th, 2016, 06:58 AM
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Bookmarking, too. Always intersted in restaurant recommendations for our upcoming trip.
MyriamC is offline  
Apr 24th, 2016, 07:11 AM
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<and many place do not have A/C >>
We have always been in June and we have always had hotels (also 2*) or apartments/houses with A/C. Twenty or so years ago, A/C was not the standard. Now it is.
MyriamC is offline  
Apr 24th, 2016, 07:48 AM
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Not for most people, this is peak season. I also prefer to go to Andalucia in March/April/May/October/November because it's more tranquile and less tourists, but I've been many times in the summer months and had fabulous stays without even thinking about the temperatures.
kimhe is offline  

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