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Steerpike Sep 27th, 2003 10:17 AM

Andalusia by train
 
My initial plan/thought is to train to Seville (from Madrid), spend 3 nights there, then either train or drive to Granada, and spend 3 nights there, then return to Madrid.

However, an alternative occurred to me, based on similar experiences in Italy. I could stay in a smaller town between the two (Cordoba?) and take a train into Seville or Granada each day- feasable?

If not, and if I stick to the 3 nights Seville/3 nights Granada plan, it seems hardly worth renting a car just to drive between the two, given the hassles of parking and getting out of/into these two cities? It would be nice to have a car to allow for 'day trips out of the city', and to stop off along the way, but ... I'm sure there is more than enough to see in these two towns to make smaller village stops something I can reserve for a 'return visit' (which I intend to make next year!)


ben_haines_london Sep 27th, 2003 12:36 PM

The reference library of a city near you may have the Thomas Cook European Timetable. Tables 671 and 672 show your trains. I am afraid that while Cordoba is handy fo Seville it is not for Granada, 3 or 4 hours away. Oddly, Seville to Granada direct is just 3 hours on the TRD trains. Seville to Cordoba is an hour on the fast AVE trains. So I think stay in Seville, and make day trips as you like to Cordoba and Granada.

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Maribel Sep 27th, 2003 12:45 PM

Steerpike,
Although I love to have a car in Andalucía to poke around the white towns and other spots in the countryside, if you're planning on a return visit, I'd just stick to the original plan.
I definitely wouldn't try to make a day trip to Granada from Seville with a 3 hr. one way train ride, a 5+ hr. Alhambra/Generalife visit, then Cathedral and Royal Chapel downtown plus a stroll through the Albaicín.
That's just too much.
And I would'nt try a small town between the two.
As you say, there's pleeeeeenty to see/do in those two cities to keep you busy.
If you wanted to include Jerez or Cádiz on this trip, both train-able from Seville on the Andalucía Express, or Carmona, also bus-able from Seville, I might do 4 days in Seville and 2 in Granada. Depends on how much you want to see outside Seville. Córdoba is only 40 min. away on the AVE, so that's quite easy.

Steerpike Sep 27th, 2003 01:53 PM

Thanks for the suggestions/info. Just from a quick 'rail europe' search on the web, I see that Cordova to Granada is 5 hours by train! So yes, Cordova is out.

My added complication is that I'm flying out of Madrid at the end of my visit at 1pm. Taking the train from Granada to Madrid is therefore not an option - the 07:55am train to Madrid arrives at 14:01! I'm looking into the cost of changing my departure flight to a later time.

I'm arriving in Madrid at noon. There is a 16:47 train to Granada arriving 22:49. So I could train to Granada first, spend 2 nights, then train to Seville, spend 4 nights, then train (AVE) to Madrid on the day of departure (trains depart every 30 mins and take only 2h 30m (!).

Would a car help, then? Could I significantly improve on the 6 hour Madrid->Granada time with a car? Even if so, I doubt I can even come close to the 2hr 30 min AVE time from Seville to Madrid on my departure day!

One possibility comes to mind - rent a car in Madrid; drive to Granada, parking the car somehow (!). 2 nights in Granada. Drive to Seville, ditch the car on arrival. 4 nights in Seville, then AVE to Madrid. I could make a nice long day of the drive from Granada to Seville. Or, simply drive from Madrid to Granada and ditch the car on arrival, training from that point forward.

Another option maybe to go Madrid-Seville; Seville-Granada; Granada-Seville; Seville-Madrid - taking advantage of the high speed AVE at start/end of journey, and enjoying the 3+ hour Seville->Granada train ride twice on separate days - i.e., 2 nights Seville; 2 nights Granada; 2 nights Seville. Doesn't sound good!

I notice that the train to Granada departs from "Chamartin" station, while the AVE to Seville departs from "Atocha" - are they both reasonably easy to get to from the airport?

sanschag Sep 27th, 2003 02:27 PM

We're planning a very similar trip for Nov. One thing to look into is flying Madrid to Granada or vice versa. Iberia has fares for €34 (incl taxes) either way. Our plan is as follows:
Th: Ar Madrid late evening (coming from Germany), night in Madrid
Fr: Train/Bus to Toledo; night in Toledo
Sa: Morning back to Madrid; night in Madrid
Su: Madrid; night in Madrid
Mo: Day trip to Segovia; night in Madrid
Tu: Day trip to El Escorial & Valley of the Fallen; night in Madrid
We: Fly to Granada; night in Granada
Th: Granada; night in Granada
Fr: Train to Sevilla; night in Sevilla
Sa: Sevilla; night in Sevilla
Su: Train to Madrid; night in Madrid
Mo: Morning flight home

Alternatively, we might switch Sevilla and Granada. We know we'll be missing quite a bit, but my wife has been before (12 years ago) and we're trying to limit the trip to 6 vacation days.

Hope this helps and enjoy your trip.
Paul

patg Sep 27th, 2003 07:22 PM

The bus from Granada to Madrid is faster and runs much more often. It is under 5 hours.

car Sep 28th, 2003 12:56 AM

Steerpike
I think you should consider the option of taking a bus from Madrid to Granada.
www.continental-auto.es
They run 10 or 11 times a day for 13€
The departure is from a Bus station call "Avenida de America" connected by express bus with the airport and metro.
Granada to Sevilla by train or bus, same bus site, or train in www.renfe.es
Then back from Sevilla to Madrid via AVE
. By the way it does not run every 30 minutes , but it does every hour or hour and a half, and it does take 2 1/2
hours. I your way back to madrid you can make a stop in Cordoba and then take a train 2 or 3 hours later.
Regarding your car question, The Madrid Granada car trip takes about 5 hours and is relatively uninteresting.
You can rent a car in Granada for the day and visit Cordoba,If it does not fit in your train back from Sevilla, while Granada's Alhambra is and outstanding visit , the city of Cordoba and the Mesquita are much more interesting than Granada itself.
Regarding the train stations Chamartin and Atocha, they are both metro connected with the airport allow 1 hour.
By taxi it will be 30/45 minutes and 20/22 euros.

NEDSIRELAND Sep 28th, 2003 08:19 AM

There's an AVE that departs Sevilla at 8:00 AM (arr. Madrid Puerta de Atocha 10:30 AM) and another at 9:00 AM (arr. Atocha 11:30 AM). Be prepared to walk 100m to the Taxi Queue and to wait 5 or 10 minutes before you are 'on your way' to Barajas airport. For a 1 PM flight I wouldn't cut it any closer than the former. Some airlines (RyanAir for one) close their check-in 40-minutes prior to departure.

Myer Sep 28th, 2003 11:49 AM

Have you tried checking out planes faires from Granada to Madrid? You may find a 1 hour plane flight is not too expensive.

Steerpike Sep 28th, 2003 04:05 PM

A quick search of Iberia's site shows several Granada->Madrid flights, around $90 per person. My travel agent may be able to improve on that.

I'm thinking of doing this - arrive madrid noon; train, bus or plane to Granada (depending on cost, availability, etc - at least I have options!), arriving around 8pm or earlier - still in time for a dinner!

Spend 2 nights in Granada (since people are saying that Granada is not that great other than the Alhambra); train to Seville; 4 nights there, then AVE to Madrid. Even with my current arrival/ departure times, this should work.

Separately, I've asked my agent about a) arriving a day early, and b) leaving on a later flight out of Madrid (fees are going to kill me but ...)! With one extra day, I could stop in Cordova for the night on the way back to Madrid, and enjoy a dinner and partial next day there before catching AVE to Madrid.


patg Sep 29th, 2003 08:05 AM

With such a short time, try to avoid the long bus/train trip from Madrid-Granada. (I have family in Granada, and can attest to how dulling the ride is, especially right after arriving from overseas.) There aren't many convenient afternoon flights either- 4:10 p.m. or 5:10 p.m. are your choices, but they do get you in earlier than the train, and save you the hassle of finding the train station on very little sleep. The best way, I've found, is to fly from Granada to Madrid for my early afternoon departure. There is a 10 a.m. flight that gives you a comfortable amount of time on each end. A night or two at the Alhambra would be a great finish for your trip.


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