Back from two weeks in Spain!

Old Jul 27th, 2010, 10:42 AM
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Back from two weeks in Spain!

Hi Everyone,

We're back from our two weeks in Spain! It was an amazing trip filled with culture, fun and lots of sun Here are the highlights of our trip:

We spent 3 days in Madrid. On one of those days, we did a day trip to Toledo. I was so glad that we chose to do a few days in Madrid. Although it's a fairly new capital (compared with other European capitals) Madrid is so pedestrian friendly! It has beautiful museums (we went to the Prado and Reina Sofia), lots of beautiful squares and walks, the Royal Palace, El Retiro Park and just a great place to relax in preparation for our trip to Andalucia. Oh and of course we were there when the Spanish team won the world cup. WOW! It was amazing to witness all the joy (and some of the chaos as well, lol).

We took the fast train to Toledo. WOW! Toledo was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. The entire, old town is an outdoor museum. It felt like we had travelled way back in history. We toured the cathedral, saw a small surviving mezquita and walked all over the place. We had lunch, sweets and just enjoyed our time in Toledo.

After Madrid, we took the train to Seville. Seville was our favorite part of the entire trip! It is FILLED with culture and so beautiful. We spent 4 days in Seville. We could have easily spent another 2 days in Seville. On one of those days, we went to Cordoba on a day trip. In Seville, we visited the Cathedral/Giralda tower, the Alcazar, walked and got lost in all the narrow alleys of Seville, saw the bull ring, walked by the river, and walked, walked and walked seeing all of Seville's beautiful architecture and plazas! In Cordoba, we visited the Mezquita (wow so beautiful), all the narrow alleys and streets, a Jewish synogogue, and the Alcazar with its beautiful gardens.

After Seville, we took another train to Granada. We spent 3 days in Granada. Although I enjoyed Granada, I would say that 2 days would have been enough. Of course, the Alhambra was beautiful! We also wandered all over the Albaycin, sat at the San Nicolas view and, again, walked everywhere! We also saw the cathedral from the outside and the market place (Alcaitheria).

After Granada, we took the bus to Malaga and eventually ended up in Marbella. The old town of Marbella is picturesque and worth a few hours. However, Marbella has to be my least favorite part of the trip. Maybe I'm not a big beach person but it just didn't have the same excitement for me as the other places we had seen. We spent 3 days in Marbella and I would have to say that 2 would have been enough.

After Marbella, we took a domestic flight back to Madrid, spent a night near the airport and returned back to the states the next morning. Here are some of my observations about Spain:

1. The gelato was DELICIOUS! We had fig flavored gelato in Seville and it was to die for! I enjoyed just eating ice cream in Spain and wandering around the neighborhoods.

2. The Spanish people are so nice! You see old couples walking late at night, so content, so happy and just living the simple life. It was so beautiful to witness!

3. The cities we visited were very pedestrian and kid friendly. Before we left, I read so much about pick pocketing in Spain that I became a bit nervous about it. Luckily, we didn't experience any crime. After the Spanish won the world cup, we did see a bunch of hooligans trying to tip over a car in front of our hotel.... but that was it ;-)

4. Spain's mass transportation is amazing! We used the trains for all our trips except for our trip from Granada to Malaga. The bus station was a tad chaotic but still easy to use. We did use the taxis a few times as well. The cab drivers were all very nice and noone tried to cheat us. In Granada, one taxi driver refused to drive us to Alhambra since we were 5 people. We decided to hike it (which was actually pretty fun!). Other than that one cabbie, noone else had any problems with us being 5 people.

5. You can easily use the metro to go from the airport to your hotel in Madrid. It'll require you going up and down a few stairs but so much cheaper than taking a taxi. If you're young and healthy, go for it! It's quite a nice experience.

Let me know if you have any questions!
layanluvstotravel is offline  
Old Jul 27th, 2010, 11:13 AM
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hi layan,

nice report. would you like to tell us a bit about where you stayed, what and where you ate, a bit more detal about some of the things you saw and did?

regards, ann
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Old Jul 27th, 2010, 03:51 PM
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Great report! Thanks for sharing.
Nepenthe is offline  
Old Jul 27th, 2010, 06:32 PM
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Yes I agree very nice report. Thank you for taking time to report back, many forget to do so. Like Annhig I too would love to hear more details re your hotels etc.
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Old Jul 28th, 2010, 07:46 AM
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Thanks for the report, once again confirming that:
Madrid is a great city, Toledo is a gem, Seville will probably be your favorite place in Spain, there is no need to rent a car in Spain, the Spanish are nice, and Marbella is the Jersey Shore (as in the tv show) of Spain.
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Old Jul 28th, 2010, 09:15 AM
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Nice report. I am surprised that you were able to put 5 people in a taxi. Taxis are only allowed to hold 5 people total , including the driver, unless they have a special car/van. I don't even know how you could FIT 5 people plus driver in the car!
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Old Jul 28th, 2010, 10:24 AM
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LOL @ Egbert! That sums it up pretty well. I'm also interested to hear from the OP about any good or bad hotel experiences.
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Old Jul 28th, 2010, 03:02 PM
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Egbert - right on! Well,....I am so certain about Marbella.
I was there about 10 years ago. Our hosts kept showing us the glitz and glamour and all we wanted to see was the old town and the beach!!
I wonder if it has changed much in that time....
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Old Jul 28th, 2010, 03:03 PM
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that should have read - I am NOT so certain about Marbella.....
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Old Jul 29th, 2010, 05:15 AM
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you wrote about bus station was chaotic. Could you please tell a little what did you mean by "chaotic". I will be travelling the same trip in September and I will be using buses from Seville to Granada and from Granada to Malaga. Also, is it safe to ride with the laggage on the bus? Thanks
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Old Jul 29th, 2010, 06:49 AM
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Hi Everyone,

ok, here's some more details:

Madrid: we stayed at the Husa Del Arte hotel which is a very short walk from the Atocha train station and metro stop. It is very convenient to the museums, El Retiro Park, Botannical Gardens. It also has a few restaurants and cafes around it. Superb service, clean rooms, highly recommend! We got a special offer by contacting them directly (there were also pretty good deals on their website as well). Since we're 5, we got 2 rooms. The internet charge was a tad expensive but the airconditioning worked great.

Seville: We stayed at the Best Western (Cervantes hotel is its local name). It isn't in the "middle" of everything...kind of on the side but still within walking distance to the cathedral/alcazar/tourist area. It's in a quiet area and once you study the map and learn how to get where you're going... it's great. Again, I highly recommend it. Best of all (for my workaholic hubby) the internet was free, the airconditioning worked great and the rooms were clean. It also has a nice courtyard downstairs that you can hang out in (but why would anyone want to hang out in a hotel in beautiful Seville???) The employees were all very friendly as well.

Granada: Again, we stayed at a Best Western (Dauro II). For some odd reason, the taxi cab driver didn't recognize the hotel by its name. He did recognize it by the street name though. I would say it was a great hotel but they did have an airconditioning problem. To be fair, their airconditioner seems to have not been working but they did get it repaired because the last day it was on blast! Again, it was clean, friendly service and TERRIFIC area! The hotel is in an area with lots of cafes, restaurants, etc but you can't hear anything from your room. The internet is free here too.

Marbella: we stayed at the Marriot Vacation Club (timeshare)...of course, it was all 5 stars (but internet was expensive)..very nice (if not bordering on boring because it was so superb, lol).

Airport in Madrid: we stayed our last night in Clement Barajas hotel. The internet was free here and they give you 3 free refreshments in your refrigerator. Excellent service, there's also a free airport shuttle to the airport every hour (and they can pick you up too for free). The room is what you can expect from an airport hotel.... clean and minimal. Excellent choice if you are using it just as an "airport" hotel. Of course, it is far from the city center (but there is a metro about 10 minute walk away).

Rightwest---- it is very safe to ride the bus with luggage. We didn't have any problems and we had 4 bags. By chaotic: the monitors showed that our bus was in lane 10 so we stood in that line. By the time it was our turn, the bus driver told us we were in the wrong lane and we had to rush to the right bus (which was in a different lane). That was weird and we ended up all sitting in different seats. Just make sure to ask the driver to confirm that you are in the right line.

linca--- my husband sat up front, I'm petite and tiny, my girls are also very petite and skinny as bones and then my son. The four of us fit quite comfortably in the back

As for food---- since we're a family, we did a lot of grocery store shopping (El corte de engles was in every city we visited). We ate at Seville's San Marco restaurant (the location that use to be an Arabian bath). I highly recommend it for the setting and the food was pretty good. (it's Italian).

We ate a lot at a franchise called Fresc Co. It is a salad buffet with a few hot items (like Paella, rotisserie chicken, fish, etc). You also get desert and coffee. We loved the location in Granada and Madrid. The Seville location was not very good. We also had delicious ice cream everywhere We had delicious breakfast and deserts at La Campana in Seville (you can't miss this bakery!). Right across from La Campana, is another (maybe French?) cookie/chocolate place.... mmmmmm! Really what we did was.... look for places that were packed with people, look at the menu and go for it! That's why I really can't recall a lot of the names. We also enjoyed eating lots of chocolate filled napolatins! Yummy.

For what we did... we followed the Rick Steves Spain book. We toured a lot of the famous Cathedrals, Alcazars, museums, parks. We did a lot of walking and discovering on our own.

In every city we visited, we made sure to get a free map from the tourist information office. It was really very easy to walk around and enjoy being in Spain!
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