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Blissful Airbnbs,Risky Segways,Vegan Tapas: Prague-Hvar-Andalucía-Madrid

Blissful Airbnbs,Risky Segways,Vegan Tapas: Prague-Hvar-Andalucía-Madrid

Old May 27th, 2015, 02:38 PM
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Thanks for the info on Madrid. I didn't care for it on my first visit, am thinking of giving it as second try this fall.
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Old May 28th, 2015, 12:40 AM
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CC-- Just back from a fabulous 3 week trip in Spain - every place we went had something special about it, and felt some lovely connection that was hard to leave. If there was a place we wanted to live, it was Sevilla -- oh, what a gorgeous city that is, and what a wonderful energy it has!

I will, hopefully, begin to work on my report sometime today.

Paule
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Old May 28th, 2015, 06:04 AM
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Thanks for the last installment CC, very enjoyable and it is filed away for more reference as we prepare in detail for our October trip. (I'll make a printed map where I mark things like "Panic - best bread" or "Café Federal - avo & toast", so we have options as we wander around. This might get ignored if we stumble onto something else, but at least we have known options on a convenient map that folds into a front pocket.)

With your son in Madrid perhaps we can be treated to another series?

Glad to hear you had a great trip Paule. Will keep an eye out for your report.
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Old May 31st, 2015, 05:00 PM
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crosscheck, I have just spent a wonderful part of my afternoon reading your report. My husband and I have begun planning our trip to Spain next April so all your info is wonderful.
Madrid: How did you find the the other agency to rent from? I have rented a couple of times through airbnb (Tuscany, Rome) and have had great experiences BUT if I can find it for less would be great! I need to find apts for Barcelona, Madrid and Sevilla.
So far our trip looks like this: arriving Granada then to the coast for a couple of days, Ronda, Sevilla, Cordoba (I was trying very hard to time it so that we would be there for the Patio Festival -- don't think its going to happen. Apparently the dates aren't set yet.
Again, thanks for taking the time to write!
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Old Jun 1st, 2015, 10:15 AM
  #105  
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Thanks to all for your comments and for sticking with me.

thursday, Looking forward to your Madrid take two. I think Madrid suffered for years from comparisons with Paris or Barcelona, but has now come into its own.

progol, Welcome back! Can't wait for your TR - I'm confident it won't be nearly as tardy as mine.

Nelson, Wow, love the map idea. I am in awe of your travel organization. Our son stayed in Madrid for just a semester, so sadly no more stalking him in Europe. But we are headed to NY for an extended visit, where we will bug him during his summer internship.

nanael, Thanks so much for the kind words. Whenever I find an potential airbnb, I google key words to see if it's listed elsewhere. I easily found an alt listing for the place in Madrid, but not for Hvar or Prague. The advantage to booking with airbnb though is that they become advocates if something goes wrong. Also, you might get better treatment because of the mutual rating system.

Will finish up shortly with our "find" for a premium budget flight home.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2015, 02:51 PM
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crosscheck,
I'm back and I'm almost done with my TR! I don't know if you've had the chance to look at it, but just in case you have the time, here it is:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...and-madrid.cfm

I'm working very hard on finishing it soon since I like to "finish" the last trip before I start planning the next one! At least, that's the idea.

I really enjoyed reading your TR and it really helped when I was planning my own trip. What helped me a lot was the reassurance about managing Ronda during a festival -- so helpful! Arriving in the midst of a zany event was truly not for the faint of heart, but between your reassurance, contact with our hotel and our trusty Google maps on the iPhone (no need for additional GPS), we aced it!

You hadn't finished the section on Madrid till after we returned, so I had to do without your guidance... but we managed to find our way and have a great time, anyway!

Give a hoot and a holler if you have time in NYC!
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Old Jun 12th, 2015, 07:49 AM
  #107  
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Hi progol, Loving your TR. I'm on a plane to JFK from Seattle now. Will contact you via TA if I have time for coffee.
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Old Jun 12th, 2015, 09:02 AM
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FINALLY, THE FINALE
Happy to be finishing this up a mere 10 months after our trip. (I wish I could say this was a new record for me, but I think my mañana attitude was at its worst in my India report.) Luckily, I just have to describe how we got home and I'm done.

CHEAPO DREAMLINER
I think I mentioned that our planning was so disorganized that we left for Europe without having a flight home. We did have enough miles for an uncomfortable, inconvenient itinerary, but we kept checking to see if a better opportunity materialized.

About a week into our trip, I received a kayak alert about a $322 Premium Economy MADRID-COPENHAGEN-LAX flight on Norwegian, another budget airline we had never heard of (but with some cred because it sounded so Scandinavian). I checked reviews and quite a few were horrendous, with angry accounts of being stranded in Copenhagen or Oslo for days. We figured we'd take our chances because we'd get to fly on a Dreamliner, not lie-flat but with a decent pitch, edible food and free wifi for part of the trip. We had a four-hour layover in Copenhagen and thought about running into town for a wienerbrød and a photo op, but abandoned that idea when we encountered the fabulousness of the airport. All in all, we were thrilled with the flight and would not hesitate to grab a bargain premium seat on Norwegian again.

TAKEAWAY
Yes, we broke travel rules. Hopped all over the place, booked trains and lodging just days in advance, risked August crowds and September heat. But we came back craving return visits to both Croatia and the CR (in that order)...and more in love with Spain than ever, super envious that our son got to stay for many months. Vejer is now up there on our bucket list along with Mallorca and the Camino...We might need more than a semester for our next trip.

RICK STEVES REDUX
We were in Seattle yesterday and had lunch with a former colleague who has settled in nearby picturesque Edmonds. When he mentioned that RS is a local hero there, we couldn't resist stopping in his travel store. My friend holds Rick in such high esteem (regularly attends his lectures), that I entered the shop ready to cut him some slack. But instead of embracing his hangout as the ultimate travel planning sanctuary, the lack of style got on my nerves: The store design was even more unappealing than the graphics on his books. (But to Rick's credit, he offers up all guidebooks, not just his own, as well wifi, photocopying equipment and his tacky but practical luggage). Bottom line: I appreciate his business skills and passion for travel, but I still think he has dumbed down and brought a mini mall aesthetic to Europe, and I'm not ready to forgive.

I know RS would not approve of my travel skills. But my last minute planning is getting less nerve-racking -- good prep for eventual retirement and inevitable spontaneity if we want to keep traveling with our grownup kids. With that in mind, I'm about to put in some kayak alerts because we just found out we can possibly get away with the fam for a week or so in August and maybe even longer in December. A world of airbnbs awaits.
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Old Jun 12th, 2015, 10:43 AM
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crosscheck - rules are meant to be broken and if it works for you, that's all that matters.

we busked it a bit in France recently and the two places we found on spec were just as good as the ones we booked in advance.

I would never just turn up in Venice, say, without a reservation, but there are few circumstances in which a room can't be found, somewhere. and some of them very nice as we can both testify.

Loved your report and admire your style - though I don't think that I'd go as far as to not have my return flight booked before I left.
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Old Jun 13th, 2015, 02:25 AM
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Thanks, cc - great report, all in all, and very helpful for my own planning.

Great info about your experience with Norwegian, tho, like annhig, I can't quite imagine leaving without my return ticket booked! I'd be on edge the entire trip. We also found AirBnB to be a great resource and will definitely use it again.

On RS -- I'm not quite as tough on him as you are, as I do appreciate his business skills in turning a certain type of travel into a huge industry. I find him very useful, provided you know why and how you're using him. And I don't turn to his books for the details. Supplement, supplement, supplement! Sometimes, he is cringe-making, but I don't think he's responsible for what you call the mini mall aesthetic -- there have been countless tour groups doing that long before he was around and will continue to do so. Maybe it's the pseudo semi-hip nomadic aesthetic he's brought to travel? I'm a little less forgiving about his personal morals, but that's another story.

Again, many thanks for a terrific report, and love your writing and your travel spirit!
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Old Jun 13th, 2015, 06:31 AM
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I do now have a return ticket for my next trip, but I have bought it very late in the planning process! If you are on a long trip (mine is over three months) and not returning at the height of the season, or during a holiday, the only real reason to have the return ticket before you leave is potential difficulties with your airline if you are visiting a country that may not admit you without one. Or if you are particularly concerned about the routing - I had to do a little digging to find an acceptable FF routing for my return. Of course, if you live in England and are visiting Europe, there are always the trains.

I agree with progol on RS. I use his books on occasion, when I am visiting a city he covers, but he far from my only source. I have taken a few of his tours over the years, and found the guides excellent, the hotels central and comfortable and the meals good. I am unlikely to take any more, as they mostly go to places I now prefer to visit independently (my last with him was to Bulgaria). Where RS shines is in getting Americans to travel to Europe for the first time.
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