First & Likely Only Trip to Spain

Apr 28th, 2019, 09:45 AM
  #41  
kja
 
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The trains and buses connection the destinations you are considering are, IME, comfortable and convenient.
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Apr 28th, 2019, 03:10 PM
  #42  
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Yes, Annhig's itinerary is very close to what we seem to be honing in on.
We've unfortunately decided to eliminate Tangier ... I'm fascinated by the Moor history in Spain, and thought that would be a good combination. I was even tempted to fly to Casablanca, but that's all cramming 10 pounds into a 5 pound bag.

We're still researching whether to stop in Ronda or elsewhere for a bicycle stop.

Annhig's ideas about flights are similar to ours. Going we want a non-stop to Europe, coming back we're willing to transfer on the east cost if need be , since its all during one of those strange day flights that's not really a day flight. But problems:

1. We'd like the marginally extra room in Premium Economy (aren't ready to spring for business class) -- and there isn't much premium economy nonstop from Seattle to EU, but there is lots from Vancouver. Flights from Vancouver are significantly cheaper, with many more options re airlines and destinations in EU, though when factoring in the hassle of getting there and the cost of hotel rooms on way back, the difference in $ gets less. (When we lived in Vancouver 30 years ago it was always cheaper to fly via Seattle. Now, when we live in Seattle, international flights are way cheaper via Vancouver.)

2. Our first thought was to transfer in AMS ... we've done that several times to northern & central Europe and like the airport there. But strangely, all of the various booking sites we use don't show AMS (nor CDG) as an alternative to/from Spain, and when we enter the legs as separate legs, the cost goes way up. We hate transferring in LHW, and with Brexit coming up fear that it'll get wore. So the best options seem to be FRA or (from Vancouver, MUC) or possibly Toronto. There are good 3 - 4 hour connections outbound via Lufthansa at FRA, but return is bad, would have to leave Madrid at 6AM, or if later, have only 2 hrs connection in FRA - that seems too tight for the mess that is the airport at FRA..

Condor has good prices and 3-4 hour transfer options SEA - FRA - Spain, and they have Premium Economy, though the pitch is 2" less than the alternatives and the seat with 1" less such as Lufthansa and Air Canada (or KLM or AF). Anyone have thoughts about their comfort?

It'll just take a bit of time to work through the various permutations. Then we'll be back asking, on separate threads asking about places to stay and things to do in individual locations.
The New Yorker just had an interesting article on AirBnB in Barcelona: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2...n-of-barcelona. It sounds like the same problems Vancouver and Seattle are facing, adding to a housing shortage for residents. For us, it tends to be a wrestling match between our ideals/conscience and our pocket book.

Last edited by elbegewa; Apr 28th, 2019 at 03:15 PM. Reason: add wording
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Apr 28th, 2019, 05:08 PM
  #43  
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@Dreamon - Info re Spain's Via Verdes is at Welcome to Spanish Greenways web
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Apr 28th, 2019, 05:28 PM
  #44  
 
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Seville is more interesting than Granada, IMO..
I woild take a day/ night from Granada and stay in Seville a day / night longer.
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Apr 28th, 2019, 06:36 PM
  #45  
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I agree that you could pare a night from Granada, but I'd put it to Toledo. The trip from Sevilla to Cordoba is so short that I would think one could get the better part of a day in Sevilla, giving you a generous 2+ days for Cordoba. And I'd push on through without overnights in Amsterdam or wherever you end up en route, but that's just me. And at the risk of beating a dead horse, I'd limit your time in Ronda, adding time to Toledo (for 2 nights) and Barcelona (particularly if you decide to go "straight" there) -- but I do understand that you want a bit of something different mid-trip.

Of course, we all would (and have!) approached your challenge differently and there's no right answer.

You'll see and experience some wonderful things no matter what you choose!
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Apr 29th, 2019, 02:12 AM
  #46  
 
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elbegewa - my understanding [as appears on the cod itinerary] is that you were thinking of stopping off a couple of nights in your transfer point then travelling onto Spain. No probs if you've changed your minds but if you did that it would partly get round the problem of where to fly from as you could use EasyJet or Vuelling to get to BCN.

of course on the way back it might create difficulties if your connection was delayed.

If I were facing the problem you have, i would prefer the potential difficulties to be at the North American end, so I would be inclined to look for somewhere in NA with good flights to Madrid then work back.

<<When we lived in Vancouver 30 years ago it was always cheaper to fly via Seattle. Now, when we live in Seattle, international flights are way cheaper via Vancouver.>>

isn't that always the way?
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Apr 29th, 2019, 05:29 PM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by annhig View Post
on the way back it might create difficulties if your connection was delayed.
As I understand it, if you book through on the same ticket, it is up to the ticketing airline to get you (and your luggage) on to your destination if there is a problem, including a delay. That would probably mean ruling out the cheapest flights, though.
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Apr 30th, 2019, 03:19 PM
  #48  
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Thanks to all, I've gotten lots of ideas from you.

Air tickets are now bought, and the *rough* itinerary planned. Now we'll do more research on each individual location and will likely have additional separate posts for more specific parts of the trip. There's plenty of time before our mid September trip.

As we do research, the length of time in individual places will likely be redistributed a bit ...and in a number of places we've left enough time we (we hope) to be able to take a few spontaneous down days based on how we feel and the weather

Revised plan:

Days 1 & 2: fly Seattle to Frankfurt to Barcelona (via Lufthansa ... that gave the best combination of time, transfer, and costs for premium economy - more leg and seat room is worth the cost for us)
Days 3-6: BARCELONA 5 nights, 4+ days
Day 7: travel: fly to Granada
Days 8-10: GRANADA 4 nights, 3+ days
Day 11: travel day: train to Ronda, 2.5 hours

Days 12-13: RONDA, 3 nights 2+ days (A number of you have suggested deleting Ronda, and we would do so but the Via Verdes de las Sierra draws us: I've spent some time researching Via Verdes throughout Anadalucia for short bicycle trips. For both convenience of getting there, the visuals, and the relatively cooler average temperatures per https://weatherspark.com/, and a few other bicycle things in the area, that seemed the best for what would work for us. Plus it isn't far from some of the white towns.)

Day 14: travel day: train to Cordoba, 2 hours
Days 15-16: CORDOBA, 3 nights, 2+days
Day 17: travel day: train to Sevilla, 2 hours
Days 18-20: SEVILLE, 4 nights, 3+ days
Day 21: travel day, bus or train to Merida, 3-4 hours

Days 22-23: MERIDA, 3 nights, 2+ days (Extremurda hadn't been on our radar, but several mentioned it, and it resonated with me from my days studying Latin in high school)

Day 24: travel day, bus or train to Madrid, 4 or 5 hours
Days 25-27: MADRID, 4 nights, 3+ days (maybe include a long day trip to Toledo)

Day 28: an evening flight to Frankfurt. (The alternative was a 6 AM flight to connect to Seattle ... argh ... we found by leaving late in the day the "normal connection" and normal price was with a connection the next morning. So we'll stay in Kelsterbach near FRA airport ... we've done that before - stayed at Ibis there - they (and many hotels there) have free shuttle service.)
Day 29: fly home to Seattle, exhausted.

Last edited by elbegewa; Apr 30th, 2019 at 03:24 PM. Reason: rewording a few things
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Apr 30th, 2019, 10:48 PM
  #49  
 
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Sounds wonderful - Enjoy!
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Apr 30th, 2019, 11:32 PM
  #50  
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Have fun!
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Apr 30th, 2019, 11:41 PM
  #51  
 
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Sounds perfectly wonderful, would like to do something similar, maybe next year or in 2021...😊
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May 1st, 2019, 11:59 AM
  #52  
 
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Where are you staying in Merida?
Will you have a car?
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May 2nd, 2019, 02:46 PM
  #53  
 
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Great itinerary. Good job done.

I have three recommendations - the first is the hotel I stayed in in Madrid, the https://en.catalonialascortes.com

very comfortable and central and I got an excellent rate by booking very early.

The second is the hotel we stayed in in Granada which is right opposite the Alhambra - Hotel Guadalupe | Junto a la Alhambra, Granada | Web oficial

again very comfortable and when we went [admittedly 10 or so years ago] it was very reasonable. others here have been since and also liked it, I believe.

Finally the hotel I stayed at in Toledo also had an excellent restaurant which I can thoroughly recommend. https://www.hotelsanjuandelosreyes.com

it's quite near the Monasterio of the same name so it would make a good place to pause if you were doing a walking tour of the sights of Toledo.
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May 2nd, 2019, 11:37 PM
  #54  
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cdnyul: We've no idea yet about lodging ... we just finished selecting our general itinerary and are just starting to look at specific hotels and things we want to do. Hopefully we'll have them nailed down by end of May. We'll probably stay in a mix of hotels and BnB's (not AirBnB).

Annhig: Ah, you're right on time ... we're now just starting to look at hotels. Your recommendation in Granada looks great, and its within our normal budget. We'll check into it. Your recommendation in Madrid also looks great, but looks to be beyond our normal budget ... saying that without having a clue yet about normal and comparative prices in Madrid.

We usually stay at medium prices 3*, sometimes less, sometimes more. Me? Even at my age I'm into camping and staying in hostels, but my better half reminds me, and makes sure that we do, act and live our age.

Last edited by elbegewa; May 2nd, 2019 at 11:40 PM.
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May 3rd, 2019, 06:09 AM
  #55  
 
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<<
We usually stay at medium prices 3*>>

This won't help you get recommendations. "Medium prices" means nothing, or rather means 1,000 different things to 1,000 different people.

3* also means nothing - the star rating system in Europe bears little resemblance to that in the USA.

How much, in euros, are you willing to pay for a hotel, and what sort of amenities do you need (elevator, workout room, English-speaking staff, business center.....)?
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May 3rd, 2019, 07:09 AM
  #56  
 
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Two things you need to know:
  • Kja is THE expert on Spain here. Kja's advice on flamenco, which is much more than the dancing, has been spot on.
  • Annhig's hotel recs are right for you. I'll add two Madrid hotel recs once I look back at past trips.
I am SO happy you are starting to get the idea to spend at least the night in Toledo. It's just magical when all the tour buses have gone. I'll see if I can dig up my trip report for that one because timing between tour buses is the key to enjoying it. We stayed in a highly recommended (and darn cheap) Toledo hotel with a wonderful location but wished we had stayed in Ann's rec. In fact, we ate breakfast at her rec twice. We wanted to concentrate on El Greco, and that location is perfection for it.

More later. I am so excited for your trip. We have spent so much more time in France (we must have been Parisians in a former life) and in Italy (crowds aside, we love Rome), but when anyone asks us our favorite country, our gut reaction is always, "Spain!" I hope you realized you've just scratched the surface.

AZ
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May 3rd, 2019, 10:12 AM
  #57  
 
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There was a person who was an expert on flamenco , but I don’t think it is Kja
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May 3rd, 2019, 11:47 AM
  #58  
 
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That was kimhe, but a tiny amount of of his knowledge rubbed off on some of us.
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May 3rd, 2019, 01:42 PM
  #59  
 
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glad to have been of help, elbegewa. I would suggest not leaving it too long to book lodgings; I am finding more and more that I can get really good rates, and on free cancellation terms, by booking direct with the hotel really early. Of course that's not always possible but I spotted the cheap rate at the Cortes about a year in advance so booked it straight away; I'd not have been able to stay there otherwise. When I'm by myself I like to be well within my comfort zone and this is a very nice hotel in a very central position but you should certainly be able to find other very reasonable hotels this far out. I find TA and booking.com really useful for focussing on what facilities and location I want, and how much it's going to cost me, even if I end up booking direct. And it's quite surprising how much variation there can be in prices, even for the same rooms. And IME when staying somewhere like Madrid it's worth paying a bit more for a centrally situated hotel because it makes getting around so much more enjoyable when you can walk almost everywhere.

Nelson - you're right, it was kimhe who was the flamenco expert. I wonder what happened to him.
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May 3rd, 2019, 03:39 PM
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annhig, I suppose kimhe is hanging out in flamenco clubs all over Spain, at least I hope so! I still have some of his suggestions on file, or can dig them up, if the OP asks.

Originally Posted by annhig View Post
Granada which is right opposite the Alhambra - Hotel Guadalupe | Junto a la Alhambra, Granada | Web oficial

again very comfortable and when we went [admittedly 10 or so years ago] it was very reasonable. others here have been since and also liked it, I believe.
Yes, we were among the others who went there on your recommendation, in October, 2015, and were very pleased with it. Aside from proximity to the Alhambra we enjoyed the walk into town on the Cuesta de los Chinos, though not every goes for the hill.
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