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Christmas/New Year's in Spain: 8 nights, 1 city or 2?

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Sep 5th, 2007, 03:58 AM
  #1
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Christmas/New Year's in Spain: 8 nights, 1 city or 2?

Hello Fodorites!

We (couple, no kids, 40s, we like shopping, sight-seeing, just walking around, and LOVE great food!)are considering traveling to Spain 12/24 to 1/2. The cost of open jaw tickets (into Madrid, out of Barcelona) are the same as Barcelona RT (from Portland, Maine). I was thinking of 3 nights in Madrid (12/25-12/28) then taking the train (we both LOVE train travel) to Barcelona(12/28-1/2). Accomodations seems easy enough for Barcelona and I have already sent inquiries for availability through some of the companies that rent apartments thanks to previous posts. Found several places in the Gothic area and El Borne. So, Barcelona is definately in...would you split the time with Madrid with 8 nights? Stay the entire time in Barcelona? In either scenario we'd do short day trips rom both to see other parts of Spain. If we split the time do you have advice for apartments or other accomodations in Madrid? Thanks so much!
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Sep 5th, 2007, 12:59 PM
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Doing both cities isn't a bad idea, just be aware that there will not be much open when you arrive on Christmas Day. It's also fairly quiet on New Year's Day, so you should plan ahead and at least schedule lunch on both days.

You may want to refer to Maribel's Guides to Madrid and Barcelona for helpful information on what to see and do during your stay (http://maribelsguides.com)
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Sep 5th, 2007, 01:20 PM
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I highly recommend the Hotel Intur Palacio in Madrid. Very central, close to everything. walking distance to the most obvious sites, like the Prado, Puerto del Sol, Plaza Mayor.

In Barcelona, we stayed at Hotel Actual in the L'Exiample district. Hotel Actual is a great choice if you are not into the party scene along Las Ramblas. Trains are not 24 hours and competition for taxis are fierce after a night of drinking and partying.

We went for 10 days, flying into Barcelona, train to Valencia, Vueling Air to Seville, AVE train to Madrid, and homeward bound. I know that sounds like a whirlwind tour, but it really wasnt bad.
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Sep 5th, 2007, 01:48 PM
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Definitely do both. We did Valencia as well - in a shorter timescale, but we had been to Barcelona and Madrid before.We took the train from Valencia to Madrid and really enjoyed the journey.
If youre planning to go by train, make sure you book early. We foolishly decided to leave the ticket booking until we were in Spain and didn't realise that it was their busiest time. We had to go to a TA and get flights from Madrid to Barcelona,but were pleasantly surprised at how cheap flying was compared to the train.
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Sep 6th, 2007, 03:52 AM
  #5
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Thanks for the suggestions. Are we making a mistake going during Christmas/New Year's? I didn't even think about what would be closed on the day we arrive. We picked this week because my office traditionally closes for the whole week.
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Sep 6th, 2007, 04:25 AM
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Spain "christmas" holidays times vary. The traditional holiday for christmas is 3 kings day on the 6th of january, when presents are given. Because of this, shopping is pretty much on until then (with sales after).
Barcelona is a definite must-see.
Very pretty around christmas and a lot less tourists. There's a lovely christmas market outside the cathedral. Check way2stay.com for apartments, very helpful customer service.
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Sep 6th, 2007, 04:42 AM
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3 kings day is the last day of Christmas in Spain. The most important day is Christmas Eve, December 24 where everybody joins their family to have dinner together. It is very difficult that night to find any restaurant opened , even most hotel restaurants are closed.
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Sep 6th, 2007, 05:54 AM
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On January 1st shops, museums and good restaurants are closed, even the open top touristic buses. Since noon some bars are open.
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Sep 6th, 2007, 10:36 AM
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We'll arrive on Christmas Day after flying through the night on 12/24. I guess I am still unsure of whether this is a good time to go...any suggestions of things to do/see on Christmas Day, New Year's Day? Tickets aren't booked yet, we were going to do that tonight. Should we wait until later, maybe March?
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Sep 6th, 2007, 03:58 PM
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Okay, tickets are booked! DH did not seemed too concerned about arriving on Christmas Day. It will be quiet, but that's fine and will let us get our bearings...so to speak. We'll be in Madrid first...so I want to make arrangements for dinner on 12/25 and know I need to try and book EARLY. Any suggestions? Suggestions for Barcelona on 1/1? I'll check out Chowhound too. We'll get an apartment in Barcelona, have already checked out way2stay, cocoon, etc. Is there anything like way2stay in Madrid? How should we book the train trip from Madrid to BCN? Thanks for any help you can provide...it is GREATLY appreciated.
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Sep 11th, 2007, 04:32 AM
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We spent the 1 1/2 weeks during this time period in Spain one year. It was fantastic! Seville is wonderful, are you sure you don't want to spend some time there? New Year's Eve in Seville was alot of fun. We flew into Madrid spending a couple of days there, not our favorite city in Spain, then took the train to Seville. We rented a car here and toured Southern Spain, then drove back north. We flew back to the US on Jan.6, 3 Kings day and the flights were very full!
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Sep 11th, 2007, 04:39 AM
  #12
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
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hello sofee train madrid to bcn takes 6 hours, are you sure you'd not rather fly? you can get a great price flight on vueling.com. however the scenery's probably great madrid-bcn on the train. Renfe online is probably your best bet for the ticket.
What neighbourhood are you looking at in BCN?
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Sep 11th, 2007, 08:51 AM
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Actually, with the new high-speed line to Tarragona, it takes around 4 and a half hours between Madrid and Barcelona.

So it is not so bad to think of the train instead of the plane when doing Madrid-Barcelona ...

Rgds, Cova
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Sep 12th, 2007, 03:35 AM
  #14
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Thanks everyone! I really appreciate all the advice. My DH would be seriously disappointed if we didn't take a train!

Images: Thanks for you endorsement of traveling to Spain at Christmas.

Travel-Buzzing and Cova: Should we book the tickets with Renfe online ahead of time? Or buy the tickets when we get there?

We are flying to Madrid, spending 3 nights. We should arrive downtown somewhere around Noon on Christmas Day. Working with some nice folks at Chowhound to find a dining option for lunch (we'll make that our big meal). Maybe we'll grab a bottle of wine from duty free during our connection at Heathrow! I'm looking forward to strolling less crowded streets!

On 12/26, we'll explore Madrid. On 12/27 we'll do a day trip likely to Toledo.

12/27 is the train to Barcelona. Then we spend 5 nights in Barcelona. So New Years Eve is there. We'll do a day trip from there as well, maybe Monserrat?

We fly home on 1/2 from Barcelona.

Research on the weather seems to suggest mid-40s in Madrid average? A bit warmer in Barcelona? In any case it's a fair bit warmer than our home in Maine at that time of year!!!!

Keep the advice coming! Very much appreciated!
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Sep 12th, 2007, 03:57 AM
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haha grab a bottle of wine when you arrive in spain, or the equivalent 3 bottles that you would spend on one in heathrow. There should be little "foreign-run" convenience stores open on xmas day for this. most convenience stores sell most wines, liquors and beers.
havent gotten the madrid-bcn train so cant advise, i "assume" its cheaper to book ahead. if i find out i'll post it.
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Sep 12th, 2007, 04:11 AM
  #16
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Of course, spanish wine is preferred! I actually nice a nice Rose last night from Spain.
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Sep 12th, 2007, 04:45 AM
  #17
 
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Torres- Viña Esmeralda, about 7 Euro in the supermarket (which is top shelf price!). delicate floral white wine and it's stunning.
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