Best 1st time cities/towns?

Jun 17th, 2006, 05:56 AM
  #1  
JBQ
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Best 1st time cities/towns?

I am trying to decide between doing a ten day trip to Portugal and Spain or just Spain. What would be a good first trip plan for first timers to Spain? My husband and I are in our "very" early 30s, active,and love experiencing local food and culture. As a history teacher, I love to see the sites but more importantly I love to experience the culture. So with that being said what would be a easy and realistic plan for a 10 day trip this August for just Spain or Spain and Portugal?
JBQ is offline  
Jun 17th, 2006, 07:02 AM
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I can't help you with your query, but suggest (as others will) that you repost your question with the words Portugal and Spain in the header as a lot of people on this site only read what is of interest to them. This way you will get more help from those who know about Spain and Portugal.
speckles is offline  
Jun 17th, 2006, 07:17 AM
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You may not like the answer but I would not do Spain in August. If you must, then do the northern coast from San Sebastian to Asturias. It takes 4 weeks to see Spain---Andalusia is the best part but not in August.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jun 17th, 2006, 07:25 AM
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I agree w/ both speckles and bobthenavigator -- re-post w/ a better title, and Spain (or most of it anyway) is HOT in August.
janisj is online now  
Jun 17th, 2006, 07:33 AM
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I think two weeks in Spain alone is the better plan if you really want to take time to experience the culture -- or I should say cultureS -- of Spain.

I agree with the advice that Spain in August is hot, hot, hot. If it were me, I would look at touring the Atlantic coast of Spain rather than the Mediterranean.

I'm trying to find a polite way to say this, but I would ignore most advice that insists that "Andalucia is the best part." Andalucia has many fine sights, but most tourists have never seen the other parts of Spain, especially the Basque country, which only recently freed itself from terrorist worries.

Also, people vary in their reasons for traveling to Europe. Some people NEVER want to encounter signs of modern life -- meaning, the way European culture actually is TODAY. They carefully edit cars or utility poles out of their photographs, won't eat the food of creative chefs, want to spend all their time in "quaint" places. They are looking to escape to a lost time.

I also enjoy history and historical places that are beautifully preserved. But as an American, I enjoy going to Europe to see how other people are living today. Throughout Spain, you will find a very interesting modernity. These are people who are very proud of their association with Picasso and other forms of modern art and architecture. They are also very determined to move ahead after the closed years of Franco.

something to consider ....
nessundorma is offline  
Jun 17th, 2006, 07:38 AM
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PS: In more direct answer to your question:

I recently had a marvelous time touring the Basque Country, chiefly San Sebastian, and then driving through parts of the Pyrenees to get to Catalonia, where I visited both the interior and the coast. Among the highlights of my stay in Catalonia was the historic town of Vic and visiting the Roman ruins at Empurias, and relaxing in the very picturesque coastal towns of Calella da Palafrugell and Cadaques. I also visited Girona, Barcelona (for the second time) and Madrid (for the third). Most of the time in the Pyrenees I drove through France, but next time I would stick to the Spanish side.
nessundorma is offline  
Jun 17th, 2006, 07:45 AM
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OK--let me rephrase.
Andalusia is the part that most tourists envision as Spain---the Moorish influence. I have traveled 4 times for 2 weeks each in Spain and two other trips in Portugal, and Andalusia is the first place I would visit in Spain---just not in August.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jun 17th, 2006, 07:55 AM
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And let me add that I think Granada -- in Andalucia -- is one of the most glorious sights in Europe, and would also be at the top of my list for any first time visit to Spain -- although in August, it is not optimal, and the gardens are not at their best.
nessundorma is offline  
Jun 17th, 2006, 09:10 AM
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Sapin in August: hot and dry in Madrid; hotter and dry in Seville/Granada; hot and very humid in Barcelona.

Stay in air conditioned accommodations; walk onthe shady sides of streets; go out touring early in the day.

It will be busy in the big tourist centers. Is the heat a reason not to go? IMO no, especially if that is otherwise the optimal time for you to do so.

Just be prepared to enjoy it and take the appropriate clothing, too.
Dukey is offline  
Jun 17th, 2006, 10:28 AM
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Unfortunately the part of Spain that it sounds like you would enjoy the most - Andalusia - is incredibly hot in the summer - routinely over 100. And many places do not have AC - or limited european style AC.

We loved it in the end of April/early May - but then daily temps were in the low 80's.

If you can - plan on another time of year.

The Atlantic coast is where the wealthy of Spain traditionally spend the summer - to get decent weather - but then you're seeing only a small part - and IMHO certainly not the most historic and interesting parts.
nytraveler is offline  
Jun 18th, 2006, 03:10 PM
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In 10 days you should do just Spain imho.
lobo_mau is offline  
Jun 18th, 2006, 03:57 PM
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I love both Spain and Portugal and though I have spent more time in Spain, I think that for 10 days, Portugal is a very manageable and wonderful place to visit. You can get to a lot of the historic and beautiful places in 10 days: Coimbra (oldest University), Porto (great wines. . . try to find a 77 and get ready to cry), Lisbon (big city, not a favorite of mine, but I would not miss it, if anything just to see the Gulbenkian Collection), Sintra (very near Lisbon, beautiful beachside city with magical places around every corner), and then maybe even an overnight to the Azors or down to Lagos (though August is a wild party season there).

Yes, Spain and Portugal are really hot in August, but I have spent the last 6 Augusts there, and have found them totally fine as long as you stay hydrated and don't overdue the mid-afternoon walking.

And, having said all that, I just realized that you said either just Spain or Spain and Portugal. So, what I just said is sort of extraneous.

If you are just going to do Spain, choose a region to discover and stick to it. Andalucía in August is the hottest region (save Madrid, which is pretty hellish) and has a good concentration of historic sites. (assuming you arrive to Madrid) You could start in Córdoba, go down to Sevilla, head down to Málaga via the White villages, get a little seaside action there, then go to Granada and back to Madrid, having seen a lot of what the region has to offer. I think that has a lot of historic value and you will get what you want out of the vacation.
laclaire is offline  
Jun 18th, 2006, 06:02 PM
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I'm also a history teacher, or was, and would highly recommend Lisbon and the small places like Sintra. It will be much more pleasant there in August than Granada [which I also love]. The maritime museum in Lisbon is fascinating for its insight into Portuguese history from 15th century on, and there are plenty of reminders in the city itself of the importance of the Portuguese Empire at its height.
Suelynne is offline  

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