First Timer to Spain

Old Jan 25th, 2006, 12:16 PM
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First Timer to Spain

My husband and I are planning a 3 week trip to Spain during September 2006 for our 30th wedding anniversary. We plan to stay in Madrid. Our interests include Jazz, Salsa, cultural events, shopping and some site seeing. What near-by cities should we visit on this our first trip, considering our interests?
Old Jan 25th, 2006, 12:23 PM
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How did you settle on Madrid for 3 weeks?

I would probably plan on breaking the trip up and staying in other cities as well, say Barcelona, Palma, Sevilla and Grenada. Each has different sites to see that are worthwhile rather than staying the entire time in one city.
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Old Jan 25th, 2006, 12:44 PM
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Gracias Buongiorno. Our main lodgings will be at Madrid, since a friend of a friend is lending us an apartment. Although we don't mind staying 1 or 2 days at different cities, we don't want to go over budget. I know a special trip should not include a tight budget, but....
Old Jan 25th, 2006, 12:58 PM
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Some easy cities to visit would be Toledo, Segovia, and Avila. El Escorial may be of interest. If you do a search on the web, you will find out tons of information on this. Haven't been, but have heard that Salamanca is quite a place to visit and can be done from Madrid, but the distance seems a bit far to me.

We stayed in Toledo and fell in love with the city. Though a lot of people visit as a day trip, we just couldn't understand that but that's why people are individuals.

A possible overnight trip from Madrid would be Cuenca. Intriguing little city with a personality all to itself.

Really, I would strongly suggest you look into getting out of Madrid for at least a week, either heading north or south or possibly flying to Barcelona. It sounds expensive, I know, but when I compared costs in Spain to the U.S. I discovered that Spain was cheaper, overall. Granted, we didn't stay at 5* hotels, but we didn't stay in dumps either. It really is more affordable than a lot of people think.

Whatever you decide, enjoy. Spain was everything I imagined and more!
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Old Jan 25th, 2006, 04:39 PM
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September 2006 Sevilla celebrates the Bienial de Flamenco: do a google search on that for events and schedules. I think one of the final Competitions/performances is at Sevilla's Maestranza Plaza de Toros.

Free lodging is nice; but if you're going to be in Spain in September, Sevilla is the place to be! It's only 2.5 hours on the train and there's a 25% discount for 'same day return,' so you might squeeze in an event or two in Sevilla.
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Old Jan 26th, 2006, 06:11 AM
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Thanks Chele60 and NEDSIRELAND for your recommendations. I don't do much traveling, so this is the reason why going to Spain is so overwhelming for me and I have no ideas. I am going to get indepth info. specifically regarding the south of Spain, which friends recommend is nicer vs. north. I'll leave north for a second trip. Thanks for your insight.
Old Jan 26th, 2006, 08:36 AM
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do an overnight in salamanca. a world heritage site.. university town.. and lots to see.

segovia, toledo, aranjuez (royal boat museum)and perhaps pedraza, el escorial, can be day trips.

you may be interested in going to the american women's club one day to meet settled expats, and attend an activity there.

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Old Jan 26th, 2006, 09:33 AM
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Anna_Issa ~ I just wanted to re-assure you with travel plans to Spain. I had roughly the same amount of time that you have when I started making plans for our trip, and I was admittedly a bit scared and overwhelmed. It was our first trip to Europe and there was a LOT to learn, and we needed to do things on a budget as well. So I can relate to people's concerns!

But, the good thing? There are tons of resources out there and you have time on your side. Lots of good information here, but I would also recommend another site, for a lot of the "nuts and bolts" regarding Spain. There are folks there who travel and live in Spain who can answer the most mundane questions and there is lots of information to search on.

I was in Madrid for 4 days, and I believe I could have easily spent much longer there. Some folks really take a dislike to Madrid, but I just didn't find that. Plus, because it is right in the middle of the country, it is so easy to get to everything else. I thought about your question last night, and I think some possiblities might include:

1. Definitely take the AVE (high speed train) to Seville. How long you stay is up to you, but do consider at least an overnight.

2. I would try to get the Alhambra. It really is not a sight to be missed, IMO. This could easily be combined with a trip to Seville. Take the AVE to Seville, then either car/bus/train to Granada to visit the Alhambra before returning to Madrid. Perhaps include Cordoba. This would give you the highlights of Andalucia.

3. Consider a short hop to Barcelona. Some might say this is a bad idea, but if you are concerned with finances at all, you can sometimes get a great deal on flights between Madrid and Barcelona, spend one or two nights in Barca to see the highlights, and come back to Madrid.

4. Based in Madrid, you might be able to take the bus (buses in Spain are relatively inexpensive and more comfortable than their US counterparts) to Leon for an overnight stay. Part of northern Spain, but I understand it is just gorgeous!

5. Toledo, Segovia, Avila, El Escorial are all easily done as day trips from Madrid.

I know there can be a lot to research, and it can seem overwhelming, but the best thing to do is to break it down. Find things to do in and around Madrid. Then branch out and find out what sounds appealing to you and your husband and see if you can work it in. Before you know it, you will have the vacation that is just right for you and your husband.
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Old Jan 26th, 2006, 10:15 AM
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Spain is a wonderful experience, and Madrid is certainly a highlight. However, most of Madrid can easily be seen and witnessed in 4-5 days. Don't miss the Prado Museum.

We have been to Spain almost a dozen times, and here is a list of our favorite cities and towns near Madrid: Segovia, Salamanca, Cuenca, Alcala de Henares, Almagro, and Toledo. I list Toledo last because it is constantly overrun with "daytrippers" from Madrid which really detracts from the overall experience...we're talking busloads of tourists! And, if you can, stay overnight in the government-run parador hotels in any of these same towns; they're a wonderful (Spanish) vacation experience in and of themselves!
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