First trip to Spain 1 month/May 24,2011

Old Sep 21st, 2010, 05:03 PM
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First trip to Spain 1 month/May 24,2011

My husband and I are flying in and out of Madrid in May and wish to be saturated by your experiences exploring Spain. We are open to all suggestions. We have made close friends from the France thread; even spending time together in France. We love driving, eating, small towns and villages, the Sea, and all things away from usual tourist haunts. During our last trip in France we found ourselves in tiny villages for a week where there were only 25 people..Meyrals ..fabulous. We love the countryside and with your information, planning will be easier and more fun. Thanks. Oh, yes we will be going to museums in Madrid and Toledo. We look forward to all your input. Curiousaboutit.
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Old Sep 21st, 2010, 05:10 PM
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IMHO the most interesting part of Spain - cities and small towns - is Andalusia - since it has a history different than anyplace else in europe. If it were me I would start there and spend at least 10 days hitting Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Ronda and other white towns. We also enjoyed Ubeda and spending time on the coast.

For other parts of Spain - the ATlantic coast is also different and interesting.

And we enjoyed tremendously visiting the roman ruins in Merida.
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Old Sep 21st, 2010, 07:45 PM
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Courisaboutit: How did it go?
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Old Sep 21st, 2010, 09:51 PM
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How much time are going to spend there?

Spain is geographical fiction. It is many cultures, languages, and histories that share common borders.

In Barcelona, Andorra, and other parts of Spain and France they speak Catalan which is based in Provencal.

In the Basque country they speak a non-arayan language of unknown origin.

And in Galicia they speak gallego which is part Spanish, part Portuguese.

I suggest you get a Rough Guide, Lonely Planet or Cadogan because small towns do not exist in Frommer's and Fodor's and read about which areas and towns that may intrigue you.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2010, 01:18 AM
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For our input I think you need to add some information please.
I understand your likes but these can be found all over, do you have anything more specific in mind?
You fly into Madrid, but where do you fly out of?
What method of transport are you using?

I would also suggest you read through
www.Spain.info
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Old Sep 22nd, 2010, 09:30 AM
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you could also do a search and look at the many trip reports here. I did that last year whilst researching stuff for our trip this past May. All were very helpful!
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Old Sep 23rd, 2010, 08:03 AM
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For a great trip I would plan to spend 4 nights in Madrid either at the end or beginning of your trip. I would go to Toledo as a daytrip. I would then spend 3-4 nights in Seville with a daytrip to Cordoba. I would then rent a car and travel to Ronda. You should explore all of the white villages from there and take it easy. From there to Granada for 2 nights. From there to Malaga. If you need more small town experience spend the night in Comares. End up in Malaga for a night and then take the hgh speed train back to Madrid. Then you should plan your next trip for next summer to the North Coast, ending up in San Sebastian for a week.
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Old Sep 24th, 2010, 01:45 AM
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Egbert..no coffee for you!
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Old Sep 24th, 2010, 07:14 AM
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I know, and I sound like a broken record too.
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Old Sep 24th, 2010, 07:43 AM
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LOL

Me too. At least you keep posting.

As a side thought; perhaps you need something stronger than coffee?
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Old Sep 25th, 2010, 07:24 AM
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If you go to wonderful Andalucía, with cities such as Sevilla, Córdoba, Granada, Málaga, Cádiz etc., I would strongly recommend Michael Jacobs' book Andalucía. An excellent introduction to the history, art and culture of the region that will make a huge difference when you go. Jacobs is especially fond of the many small villages in the countryside and up in the mountains, and he gives information and recommendations on places almost untouched by tourists.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Andalucia-Pa.../dp/1873429789
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Old Sep 25th, 2010, 07:29 AM
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What hasp happened to Curiousaboutit?
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Old Sep 25th, 2010, 11:52 AM
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Spain is a diverse and multi-cultural country. Read as much as possible before you arrive. One month will pass extremely quickly but you may try to cram in too much. The different regions are completely separate entities, with their own languages and traditions (although Castillian Spanish is universal). There are many cities to explore but there are also many "hidden" gems that you should discover on your journey. visit the Spanish tourist site and explore the different areas and get some information on nearby sites (apart from the more famous cities etc).
http://www.spain.info/en/
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Old Sep 25th, 2010, 12:16 PM
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If you want to make Flamenco a part of your experience, and I mean the real thing, not the prettied-up sappy stuff they put on for the big tourist dollars/Euros in the predictable places, then go to www.andaluciaflamenco.org and really explore the website.

Then go to www.flamenco-world.com/tienda and order the book Guide to Andalusian Flamenco (ISBN 84-8176-438-8) - among other great chapters it has a town-by-town tour guide with listings of Flamenco schools and live venus, grouped by Provinces - a real tour guide that comes incredibly handy. Plus all the biographical and musicl info you need to know.



As I have posted elsewhere, in addition to the trains (www.renfe.es), in Spain there is a long tradition of city-to-city express buses running up and down the freeways, with very few stops en route.

They are usually way cheaper than trains, and less complicated. You can book in advance, but you can just go to the departure point and chance it.

Many leave from a central bus "station" called Estacion Sur (south) - check out these sites:

www.estaciondeautobuses.com
http://www.madrid-guide-spain.com/ma...ional-bus.html
www.movelia.es/default.asp?idioma=EN
www.continental-auto.es/index.do
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Old Sep 28th, 2010, 10:53 PM
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Hi, this is curiousaboutit. I am sorry for the long silence following my request...I will add more "personalized" information tomorrow. I have so many questions to ask. Thank you all in advance for your wonderful recommendations. Until Wednesday ..
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Old Sep 29th, 2010, 03:21 PM
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Hi, this is Curiousaboutit..I have read many of your threads, intrigued by it all and find it dizzying. I am no where near knowing in which direction to start, if we should take a train to Barcelona and rent a car to drive down the coast..winding around to stay for a week in one of the towns in the Andalusian region and slowly drive north..or what. Someone suggested the costa de Cantabria ( Santander) then wind around there to Barcelona and the south..I am so all over the map. My husband and I really got to know all of France and Italy (several 4 to 5 week trips) and became intimate with its towns and corners of tiny charm. We have no agenda other than avoiding tourists if possible and to soak in (in 1 month) a dose of Spain.
We are energetic and up for your suggestion and pointed questions that would nail us to being more specific so you can firm up our trip.
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Old Sep 29th, 2010, 05:46 PM
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Oh..as of 5 PM Wednesday the Euro is $1.36+..therefore if there are suggestions coming about where to stay in any of your favorite towns we can go to 100€ for a double. We love seafood and will try anything unique to eat. We are not familiar with the rich history nor landmarks as we were in France and Italy therefore I cannot get a handle on where to begin nor to focus. HELP.
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Old Sep 30th, 2010, 12:34 AM
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It is said the drive along the Mediterranean Sea coast is not very inviting. A lot of construction has gone on and there is very little nature left. Hence the reason why others have suggested the coast along from Bilbao- westwards to you. It is far more natural.
You have not stated how long this trip is, but to head from BCN down to Andalusia and back up to SS is an incredible journey. Put your destinations in to Google maps to see how long you will be sitting in your car for. When you do not forget that the times stated do not include meal toilet or coffee breaks. Neither time lost for road works or after getting lost.
RE Accommodation: It is going to be hard to give recommendations but here are 2 listing sites which may help you get an idea of prices etc.
www.booking.com
and
www.toprural.com
Both have reviews of the establishments listed.

The reason why you cannot get hold of where to go is you have to choose an area. Spain is very rich in its diverse history and all of these monuments are doted all over the country. You are going to have to settle down on area decide not to travel so far in your car and get to see something.
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Old Sep 30th, 2010, 09:22 AM
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If you want to avoid tourists you must avoid Barcelona number one, the Mediterranean coast, the Alhambra, Ronda from 10am to 5pm and the Santa Cruz neighborhood in Sevilla. You will need at least a month and a half to see all of Spain.
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Old Sep 30th, 2010, 10:12 AM
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oh I agree, it's very dizzying! and I had already been to Spain before. Alas, it was many years ago and I was there as a student, so planning our trip (hubby, daughter and me) was quite a different experience! Once you figure out which towns you have narrowed down to visit, it becomes a little easier. Plus, you've got alot of time to plan and replan and then plan again

as for tourists....well....that was one thing I was a bit disappointed in. I thought that by going in May we'd avoid the summer rush of tourists. um, NOPE!! We're going again in March and I'm gonna guess we won't see as many tourists? We were also in Madrid during the big soccer championship game. and, oh my!! but there were TONS of people everywhere! Lots of Germans in town to go to the game. But, the biggest groups of tourists that I ran into were Toledo, Sevilla and at the Alhambra in Granada.

I'm going to write again that if you do a search on trip reports here, you can find a wealth of information you may not find in guide books because these are people's own experiences. Those might prompt you to say "oh wow, that sounds cool!" and then add it to your list.

Good luck with the planning. I enjoyed mine, but then I am a planner anyway. Here's what our two week trip consisted of, briefly:

flew into Barcelona, spent 3 nights
high speed train to Madrid, spent 5 nights (one day trip to Toledo)
high speed train to Sevilla, spent 2 nights
rental car to Malaga, spent 2 nights
dropped car off in Granada, spent 2 nights
train (AVE not available) back to Madrid for one last night there before flying home the next day
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