First & Likely Only Trip to Spain

Apr 22nd, 2019, 12:20 PM
  #1  
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First & Likely Only Trip to Spain

Once every two or three years my wife and I like to explore places in the world. This year, after thinking about a safari-type trip to Africa, or SE Asia, we’ve settled on Spain. We’re just beginning to visualize a 3 or 4 week trip beginning apx. In the second week of Sept.

Following is a crude outline of one of many attempts at a rough itinerary for your freewheeling thoughts about it. In the end, it will probably end up much different. (We’re torn between staying in 2 or 3 places, or travelling around as shown.)

Considerations:

We’re in our mid 70’s but still somewhat adventurous and physically active (ski, bike, hike). We enjoy different cultures, history, sights, architecture, art, and the outdoors. You can get a feel for our travel style in our blog about a trip to Australia a couple of years ago: Lee's Random Ramblings: 30 Days Down Under - Part 1 - Overview & Index

We’re not foodies, food for us is just body fuel. My wife doesn’t do well in heat (yeah, Spain is a bit questionable for that). We’ve been looking at https://weatherspark.com to get a feel for the change in weather during the shoulder season, and we’ve been looking at https://www.rome2rio.com/ to get an idea of travel times.

1: Non-stop flight Seattle or Vancouver to Europe
2: Stay at a transfer point - 1 day, 2 nights
3: travel day: fly to Barcelona
4, 5, 6, 7: Barcelona – 4 days, 5 nights
8: travel day: fly to Granada: 1.5 hrs
9, 10, 11: Granada – 3 days, 4 nights
12: Travel day: train 2.5: hrs
13, 14: Ronda – 2 days, 3 nights
15: Travel day: train, bus, ferry: 5-6 hrs
16: Tangier, Morocco – 1 day, 2 nights
17: Travel day: ferry, bus: 6 hrs
18, 19, 20: Sevilla – 3 days, 4 nights
21: Travel day: train: 1 hr
22, 23: Cordoba – 2 days, 3 nights
24: Travel day, train: 2 hrs
25, 26, 27: Madrid – 3 days, 4 nights
28: fly, transfer, fly to Seattle or Vancouver

Last edited by elbegewa; Apr 22nd, 2019 at 12:22 PM. Reason: add thoughts
elbegewa is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2019, 12:25 PM
  #2  
 
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If you are worried about heat I would recommend some time in the north.

I would not not bother with Tangier for such a short time, Morocco deserves it's own trip.
thursdaysd is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2019, 12:42 PM
  #3  
 
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Agree about Tangier. Save Morocco for when you have some time to get to know the real country.
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Apr 22nd, 2019, 01:11 PM
  #4  
twk
 
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So, you are basically doing Barcelona, Madrid, and Andalusia on a 28 day trip (with a side trip to Tangier). I agree with the others about dropping Tangier, but I did enjoy a trip to Gibraltar. You might like that, and/or some of the surrounding coastal towns.

Sevilla, Cordoba, and Granada are likely to be rather warm, unless you catch a break. I would try to put those sites at the end of your trip. Madrid can get quite warm, too, but the odds are slightly better the further north you go. There are lots of great things to see in the north of Spain that might be better from a weather standpoint, but if this is your one and only trip to Spain, and Andalusia is your priority outside Madrid and Barcelona, then I wouldn't let the weather stop me--just push those back as far as you can.
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Apr 22nd, 2019, 02:21 PM
  #5  
 
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Book long-distaance high-speed train in advance for possible discounts at Renfe - Spanish Railways site which many find hard to use - www.seat61.com has sage tips on doing that yourselves. General info BETS-European Rail Experts and www.ricksteves.com. If take train Barcelona-Granada about 5.5. hrs I think - then look into the Spain Railpass which lets you decide which trains to take once there - above siteshave info on that.

And though they once said 'that the pain in Spain was mainly on the train' that is no longer true and Spain has one of Europe's finest high-speed rail networks.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2019, 02:46 PM
  #6  
 
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Regarding Spaincompared to so many other places

Originally Posted by elbegewa View Post
Once every two or three years my wife and I like to explore places in the world. This year, after thinking about a safari-type trip to Africa, or SE Asia, we’ve settled on Spain. We’re just beginning to visualize a 3 or 4 week trip beginning apx. In the second week of Sept.

Following is a crude outline of one of many attempts at a rough itinerary for your freewheeling thoughts about it. In the end, it will probably end up much different. (We’re torn between staying in 2 or 3 places, or travelling around as shown.)

Considerations:

We’re in our mid 70’s but still somewhat adventurous and physically active (ski, bike, hike). We enjoy different cultures, history, sights, architecture, art, and the outdoors. You can get a feel for our travel style in our blog about a trip to Australia a couple of years ago: Lee's Random Ramblings: 30 Days Down Under - Part 1 - Overview & Index

We’re not foodies, food for us is just body fuel. My wife doesn’t do well in heat (yeah, Spain is a bit questionable for that). We’ve been looking at https://weatherspark.com to get a feel for the change in weather during the shoulder season, and we’ve been looking at https://www.rome2rio.com/ to get an idea of travel times.

1: Non-stop flight Seattle or Vancouver to Europe
2: Stay at a transfer point - 1 day, 2 nights
3: travel day: fly to Barcelona
4, 5, 6, 7: Barcelona – 4 days, 5 nights
8: travel day: fly to Granada: 1.5 hrs
9, 10, 11: Granada – 3 days, 4 nights
12: Travel day: train 2.5: hrs
13, 14: Ronda – 2 days, 3 nights
15: Travel day: train, bus, ferry: 5-6 hrs
16: Tangier, Morocco – 1 day, 2 nights
17: Travel day: ferry, bus: 6 hrs
18, 19, 20: Sevilla – 3 days, 4 nights
21: Travel day: train: 1 hr
22, 23: Cordoba – 2 days, 3 nights
24: Travel day, train: 2 hrs
25, 26, 27: Madrid – 3 days, 4 nights
28: fly, transfer, fly to Seattle or Vancouver

Hi, Your trip itinerary sounds quite nice, but having been to Spain several times, I'd make a couple of suggestions-

First of all, I definitely would not plan on spending 3 nights in Rhonda. There just isn't that much to see or do there. In truth, having been there, I wouldn't even recommend making a stop there unless you are just dead set on it. It is a very old town and very high in the mountains, but really, other than a cool ancient bridge, nothing special compared to so many other places. Also, Tangiers is another place I wouldn't bother going, unless you just want to say you've been to Africa. It is very much like a Mexican border town with hordes of hustlers (including children) following you about trying to sell you junk or take you to their 'cousin's' special store where you can "buy a Persian Rug very cheap"- lol!

Barcelona is awesome and you'll certainly enjoy your time there- Try to stay near the city center somewhere within walking distance to the Ramblas. I recommend one of the 'NH' hotels in the city center, several of which have a roof top bar and pool that offers incredible views of the City.

Madrid is also a lot of fun, but again better if you are near the center- There are some good hotels at decent prices in the area around 'Sol' which is one of the large plaza's and a subway stop. Lot's of cool stuff within walking distance.

Now, finally- Putting my nose where it doesn't belong, if I were you I would shorten up on most of the rest of your itinerary and consider some other options. Cordoba, Seville & Granada are all good stops, but other than the Alhambra & some flamenco, you might find you're just seeing a lot of the same. At the risk of offending you after you have obviously spent a lot of time & effort in planning, I suggest you consider one of two alternatives:

1) Skip Rhonda and Tangiers and add Marbella, Mijas (a beautiful white-washed village in the mountains above Marbella) and Gibraltar.

2) Skip Rhonda, Cordoba and Tangiers, and add Cadiz after you leave Seville. Cadiz is on a narrow island-like peninsula that extends out into the sea and has many great Tapas Bars and restaurants, as well as some really nice beaches on the leeward side.

One last thing- you might check into taking 'night trains' that have sleepers for some of the longer jaunts between cities. These save you wasting a day traveling, as well as the cost of a hotel- Just a thought.

Again, these are just my suggestions and I'm sure others will disagree, but I offer them humbly simply as an attempt to help.
ClanMurray is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2019, 02:53 PM
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Posts: 8,990
I would take two nights out of Ronda and add Toledo.

Here is our 2015 trip report link(below with photos.

https://travelswithmaitaitom.com/spain-2015/

We spent five nights in Barcelona
Three Nights in Granada
One Night in a Zahara de la Sierra ... stopped at Ronda for lunch ... not overly impressed
Three nights in Sevilla
One night in Cordoba
Three nights in Toledo (our favorite
Four nights in Madrid.
Don't miss the Spanish GinTonics
maitaitom is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2019, 02:57 PM
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I rather liked Ronda, although admittedly I was using it for some RandR during a lengthy trip.

What night train? With the advent of high speed AVE trains they are a thing of the past. Very good thing too, given my experiences with Spanish night trains.
thursdaysd is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2019, 05:00 PM
  #9  
kja
 
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You've already gotten some great advice!

I enjoyed a night in Ronda, but agree that it's not of the same caliber as most of the other places you are considering.

I haven't been to Morocco yet, but agree that it would make sense for you to wait until you can spend more time there, and instead use the time in Spain.

I like your time allocations. If you need one more day, I would think you could take it from Granada.

If you can, do add 2 or 3 nights in magnificent Toledo and 3 or 4 nights in stunning Salamanca.

I disagree strongly with the idea that "you might find you're just seeing a lot of the same" with the places you mention. IMO, they are substantively different from one another -- intriguingly so! To each his/her own.
kja is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2019, 09:01 PM
  #10  
 
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We loved Cordoba so wouldn't want you to miss it. I would agree with some of the others about Ronda. We enjoyed it because it came in the middle of a busy trip and we were ready for some down time but it isn't a "must" like your other destinations. You could likely shorten your original trip and leave a little later if you want to aim for cooler weather Just a thought...
KTtravel is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2019, 11:44 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 65
My 2 cents worth

This is the trip we took in 2016 with my parents in law:
5 nights Barcelona, Daytrip into Ceret and Collioure in France
Daytrip to Girona
Fly Vueling to Malaga 4 nights: Daytrip Gibralta
: Daytrip Granada
Drive to Seville 5 nights Daytrip Jerez
Daytrip Cordoba
Fly Air Nostrum Valencia : Daytrip Cuenca
Train to Madrid 4 nights : Daytrip Toledo
: Daytrip Segovia
I would give Tangier a miss, make Morocco a trip on its own.
We used trains for most of the daytrips and booked our day at Alhumbra with a tour guide as both Mum and Dad slight hearing loss, and I felt they
would get more out of it going at their own pace. The tour group picked us up from the car park after and took us to a resturante overlooking the site for lunch, and then back to our car.
I booked lunch in one of the "hanging houses' in Cuenca, this was a lovely day out, and the fast train was easy, there and back. We were there over Easter, the weather was good, cooler which suited us all.
It was a trip to remember, lots of great memories.




misskdonkey is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2019, 05:29 AM
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I highly recommend NOT doing Granada as a day trip. Seeing the Alhambra in the evening is magical.

I would also consider spending time in Salamanca, which I loved.
thursdaysd is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2019, 08:23 AM
  #13  
 
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Originally Posted by thursdaysd View Post
I rather liked Ronda, although admittedly I was using it for some RandR during a lengthy trip.

What night train? With the advent of high speed AVE trains they are a thing of the past. Very good thing too, given my experiences with Spanish night trains.
Can't really speak to the available of night trains today, as it has been almost 3 years since I've ridden one in Spain, but my experience then was just fine. Good accommodations and hot coffee at my door upon being awakened. I do see online where a number of the routes appear to be "temporarily suspended", particularly the Barca to Granada train which might have been a good one for the OP to consider.
ClanMurray is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2019, 12:16 PM
  #14  
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Thanks for the many suggestions ... they'll help with our second stage of planning ... we'll likely have more specific questions a lit later.

If we eliminate Tangier it makes the planning easier. The reason we included it is that we thought getting a glimpse of a "Moorish-like" place(?) or north Africa (even though it might be sort of "Tijuana-esque") would be a nice companion to the Moorish history of Andalucia. We'll be giving that lots of thought. It would be great to see Morocco on a dedicated trip, but given our age (75) and the wide variety of interests we have, we don't know if we'll run out of time/energy before getting there.

The reason we picked Ronda for a stop is it seemed like an easy place to get to by train/bus and could possibly be a base for either renting a car and/or bicycles to explore some of the white towns. Or would there be a better place to do that?

Also: we'll probably cycle a bit here and there. Are there any recommendations for nice Via Verdes in Andalucia, especially some that would be easy to access by train or bus and where rental bikes could be found? (Or suggestions about biking or bike tours in some of the cities, too?) A total round trip of 50 km (25 km one way) without hills, less than that with hills, would be about our limit.
elbegewa is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2019, 01:31 PM
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Just a thought on driving to and from Rhonda- I don't profess to be an expert on all the roads in that region, but the area around Rhonda is quite rugged. May be better now, but when I was there a few years ago, the roads were kind of like driving CA 101 along the coast, but much more narrow and less well maintained. It was kind of scary, especially when you met an oncoming bus or truck. In fact, I can remember looking down one of the very steep drop offs and seeing a wrecked bus just like the one I was on.

I really think you'd like the Marbella area as a 'home base' to branch out from. It's well located to see a lot of Andalusia being only an hour drive to Rhonda, and Algeciras (the Port if you do decide to do a day trip to Tangiers) and even less than that to Mijas, Torremolinas, Malaga, etc. That area around Torremolinas has some nice casinos that feature variety shows with flamenco & the like. Granada to Marbella is around a 2 hour drive along the Costa Del Sol if that interests you at all.

I wouldn't particularly recommend visiting Malaga, as it's a pretty touristy area/cruise port and I think your time can be better spent elsewhere, but it is the primary regional airport hub for that part of Spain.
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Apr 23rd, 2019, 03:58 PM
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Torremolinas - stayed there a week with school kids I was chaperoning and it was all tourists - Malaga has tourists but also a real old town and castle or something on a big hill blah high-rise Torremolinas I would never recommend to anyone except someone wanting a good beach for a longer stay.
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Apr 23rd, 2019, 05:10 PM
  #17  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by elbegewa View Post
The reason we picked Ronda for a stop is it seemed like an easy place to get to by train/bus and could possibly be a base for either renting a car and/or bicycles to explore some of the white towns. Or would there be a better place to do that?.
I don't know about bicycles, but yes, Ronda is easily reached by train or bus. I think whether to visit or not depends on (a) how important it is to you to stop in one of the white towns and/or have a bit of a respite mid-trip and (b) what you are willing to cut or shortchange so you have time for it. No right or wrong answers, just a difficult decision.
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Apr 23rd, 2019, 05:28 PM
  #18  
 
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If you are going for a month it is sensible to plan some down time in the middle of the trip.
thursdaysd is offline  
Apr 24th, 2019, 12:45 AM
  #19  
 
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We went to Spain for about four weeks in March 2015 - 5 nights Barcelona, 4 nights Seville, 3 nights Granada, 2 nights Ronda, 2 nights Cordoba, 2 nights Toledo, 3 nights Merida, 2 nights Segovia, 2 nights Salamanca and 3 nights Madrid.

I loved the trip so much and would like to go back for another month some time in the future. Madrid was my least favourite place.
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