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base for Andalucia

Old Aug 14th, 2017, 01:35 PM
  #1  
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base for Andalucia

We are trying to plan our Christmas Spain trip. We are not set in stone for anything except Arrive BCN 21st December and leave from Lisbon Jan 2nd.
Things I don't want to miss:
-Gaudi stuff
-Alhambra
-Flamenco
-Food and food markets
We were in Rome last Christmas and saw all the big sights which was great but this time we want to do it different. We plan to spend 2 nights in BCN- We don't want to do museums this time but may like a food tour and to see the markets and of course Gaudi.
-Then we thought of flying to Seville, renting a car and heading to home base for the next 7-8 days. Christmas complicates things since everything will be closed but we plan on hitting the markets on the 23rd and stocking up on food to make in the apartment. Day trips will be made from base (Granada, Jerez, Ronda, Seville, gibralter, maybe morocco (I know don't do it).
Then head to Lisbon for 2-3 nights and new years.

We were thinking of Arcos de la frontera for a base camp. We will have a car, and parking and my husband loves to drive all over the world. It seems to me this is centrally located enough to hit what we want to see.....the only hiccup is I'd like to stay in Granada for one night.

HERE is my question. Would Arcos de la frontera be a good base...again we are not focused on churches, museums, but we ARE focused on food and food markets, and beauty! Of course if we see a nice church we will go in but we are not focusing on it.
Thanks for your help... this may all change in the next month!!! lol!
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Old Aug 14th, 2017, 01:53 PM
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I should add that one of our favorite things we did in Italy last year was rent a car out of Rome, drive to Orvieto (our favorite), food at the gas station (Autogrills!!) and Siena where we traded the car in and took the train home (although ... the trains stopped running for no good reason and we ended up having to sleep in Grosetto and no one spoke English.. thank god for google translate but it's a good story!) Anyway that may give you a little insight to us
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Old Aug 14th, 2017, 02:27 PM
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Sort of sure we are going to Rota end of September and I have Lagos on my list. Not long of a drive to see the caves. Friends just came back and loved it there. Everyone has told us to skip Morocco but my husband does want to see Gibraltar. Park on the Spain side and walk across is the easiest they say. Sorry, not sure about your base.
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Old Aug 14th, 2017, 02:39 PM
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Thanks Macross! Let me know what you think of where you go! I realize that Morocco will be a big pain in the rear but we have 2 teens we are bringing really want to go, and what the heck, when will I get to go to Africa or Morocco... our next trips are Norway, Scotland and Germany... only so much time and money!
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Old Aug 14th, 2017, 02:47 PM
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2 nights = 1 full day and maybe a bit more, not nearly enough time for what you want to see in Barcelona. The main Gaudi sights are Sagrada Familia, La Perdrera and Park Guell. Be sure to get reservations. And there are other great modernist sights in Barcelona, particularly the Palau de la Musica Catalana.

Also you're omitting Cordoba, to me the second best sight in Andalusia after the Alhambra.

I think you will have to significantly prune your itinerary. I know, it's painful but I have to do it every trip.
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Old Aug 14th, 2017, 03:06 PM
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So, looks like a tapas tour, starters in a number of places; but with teens I am guessing interest level is short. As mentioned, there is a lot of Gaudi in Barcelona, and he is only one of the numerous Modernista architects who, in my opinion, have even more beautiful buildings. But that is me.
How are you getting to Lisbon? Hopefully not renting a car. If not, then work backwards and figure out what is running and how to see Lisbon and then figure out travel.
BTW, Renfe changes its train schedule in early December and it seems to load in batches, so some schedules may be ready the posted 62 days ahead, others may be closer to 30 days. As there are 4 of you, you can buy the Mesa fare which is a table for 4.
You can fly to Granada, but take into consideration lost luggage, flight delays or cancellations time to, from and in airports....just saying. The train is at least reliable.
May I suggest Barcelona, to Granada overnight, see the Alhambra, pick up car there, drive to Gibralter and do the walk on ferry to Morocco. To Arcos for the day trips, but I would leave the last trip to Seville, drop the car there and fly to Lisbon from there.
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Old Aug 14th, 2017, 04:27 PM
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@mimar there is just never enough time! But yes we may have to prune a few things.

@quiltingmamma, thanks for the reply! No car in Lisbon! The Mesa fare sounds good...it's so expensive to do anything with 4 ppl which is one reason we are getting the car.
do you suggest an overnight train to Granada?
I was thinking Granada before Arcos but Christmas seems to get in the way!! If we stay the 2 nights in Barcelona we will arrive in Granada the 23rd-24th and have to get to Arcos and find food for the next three days while checking in all on Christmas eve. Is that doable?! its all so confusing!
If the country didn't close up 24-26th it would be a lot easier to plan... lol.
But any help I can get I totally appreciate.
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Old Aug 14th, 2017, 04:33 PM
  #8  
kja
 
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IMO, no, Arcos de la Frontera would not be a good base camp for the places you hope to see. Others might disagree! In particular, a visit to the Alhambra really takes a full day, and so two nights there (more if you want to see any of the rest of Granada). I believe it’s about 3 hours each way, with is much more than I, personally, want for a day trip. And don’t forget Cordoba – the Mezquita is one of the world’s gems IMO, not just a highlight of Spain.

You can get estimates of general travel times (and methods) on rome2rio.com or google maps; for good estimates of driving times, use viamichelin.com

I agree with Mimar that 2 nights is very little for Barcelona. I would add the Casa Botllo and Palau Guell to Mimar’s list of moderisme treasures there.

BTW, note that many things in Spain are closed on Monday, and often for all or part of Sundays too; and many things in Spain will also be closed daily for a very long mid-day break.

Good luck!
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Old Aug 14th, 2017, 05:10 PM
  #9  
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We were posting at the same time!
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Old Aug 14th, 2017, 05:12 PM
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The logistics with Christmas in the middle is making my head explode!!

Ok maybe this may make more sense:
Arrive BCN Dec. 21st. stay for 4 nights
Dec 25th leave for Granada (or early the 26th????) stay in Granada 25th and 26th o the 27th drive to Arcos or Seville.
Stay in Andalucia until Jan 31st when we fly to Lisbon.
Fly out of Lisbon Jan 2nd.

Or any other suggestions??
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Old Aug 14th, 2017, 05:45 PM
  #11  
kja
 
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Frankly, none of us can tell you how much time to give any particular location -- it really depends on your interests and preferences!

My recommendation: Get some good guidebooks (or spend some time with a few in your local library) and plot your wish list on a calendar. Each time you propose to change locations, pencil in your transportation, add some time on either side (for getting to/from your lodging, checking in/out, packing/unpacking, getting lost/oriented, etc.).
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Old Aug 15th, 2017, 03:21 AM
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That's a great idea kja: I'm scouring 2 books right now with one on the way, and I've printed my google calendar. But I have not put the travel times in, great idea. Thanks!
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Old Aug 15th, 2017, 12:46 PM
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rivermama, I'm 60. I no longer consider overnight trains however, it could be an option for your family. You need to review what that entails. It it means numerous stops, well, some don't sleep well under those conditions.
I use the calendar method particularly for the crucial dates. and fill in as I go on. I also use an Excel spreadsheet for organizing things as I tend to have options for flexible dates, long travel periods, and want to see several options. Also allows columns to put in costs and see how I need to pare back on the budget and where I can do that.
As much as we suggest to rein in, only you can decide whether that suits you and your family and where to do it. Some travelers state you lose 1/2 a day every move. For your itinerary, that is a lot of time lost, but if you are thinking car, then you can consider it 'sightseeing' time.
At least you have the calendar working for you, as Mondays are statutory holidays.
Let's think outside the box for your food if that is still messing with your mind. You may need to alter diet a bit to be canned items, or less fresh items. Amazon carries folding tote bag type cooler bags that don't take up tons of room. Bring one (or two) and use those for the minimal amount of fresh food. If you have ever camped, you should be able to get your head around food in coolers instead of a fridge. You might need to keep it in the tub if in a hotel room until you can get it into the car and then apartment (in case it leaks). If never camped, then maybe it is a stretch, but you should be able to think beyond the norm. I also suggest you consider trying another forum that has a lot of local feedback - maybe they can tell you what would be open these dates to supplement some non-perishable items - even if it is a gas station convenience store (milk, eggs, bread and beer/wine). Now, won't your kids talk about that Christmas dinner for a long time?
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Old Aug 15th, 2017, 03:50 PM
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What can you get at the Autogrills besides panini?
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Old Aug 15th, 2017, 04:54 PM
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@quiltingmamma once again thanks for the helpful hints! We plan to stay mostly at airbnb's and will definitely need to think outside the box for traveling. Overnight train sounds horrible! unless I have a bed to sleep in.

@scrb11 panini is a lot better than what we have at our gas stations! and chocolate croissants!
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Old Aug 15th, 2017, 07:04 PM
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Ah, ok I thought maybe some of the big ones served good hot food or something.

But yeah when in Italy, nicer to go to one of those off the autostrada than something like McDonalds.
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Old Aug 16th, 2017, 04:09 AM
  #17  
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@scrb11 my husband did say the big ones serve pasta, but we didn't get to a big one.
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Old Aug 16th, 2017, 04:56 AM
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We did a similar trip this past Xmas. A few suggestions

- I suggest the Hotel Guadeloupe in Granada. It's right by the Alhambra main entrance and has an arrangement with the parking lot. We also had a car and Granada is challenging to park. The hotel was fine and very convenient for your short visit. You can walk down to the main square in 10 minutes or there is a jitney bus every 10 minutes.

- I'd consider using Seville as your base for 5 days - you can do Flamenco there (and in Granada too) and visit the fantastic sights - we've spent two weeks in Seville over the last two trips and would go back in a minute

- from Seville you can do a day trip to Cordoba (highly recommended) and Cadiz/Jerez. We stayed in Cadiz for 4 nights over Christmas and really enjoyed the history there

- food tours in Seville - ex-pat Canadian - her blog and FAcebook is also great for restaurant suggestions

http://azahar-sevilla.com/sevilletapas/

- it would be a long day but you could drive from Granada to Gibraltar (3 hours or so) and spend a few hours there then drive to Seville (same drive time). (although I hate leaving luggage in a car) We enjoyed our day in Gibraltar but we had a lot more time than you have - not sure I'd squeeze it in over 12 days but that's me not you!
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Old Aug 16th, 2017, 07:29 AM
  #19  
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@Elizabeth, thanks I've bookmarked that website it looks great! I will check on the hotel (there will be 4 of us and sometimes it's cheaper for an airbnb)
There is just too much to see!
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Old Aug 16th, 2017, 02:21 PM
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For 2 nights I'm not sure airbnb will be that much cheaper considering the cleaning fee and I can't underestimate for you how complex driving in Granada old town can be and how small parking spaces might be. If you're happy to stay a little outside of old town you might hit the jackpot - don't know.
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