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Cskinner May 19th, 2005 10:58 AM

First Trip To Spain Recommendations & Advice
I am planning my first trip to Spain in early October. We will be flying in to Madrid and will be staying for two weeks. We already have one week committed to a place just outside of Madrid, but want to travel a bit the second week. We would like to see Pedraza, Seville and Jerez, but are open to suggestions for alternate/additional destinations. We would like to stay in a mix of quaint, charming types of hotels/inns and maybe one big city type of hotel, however we need recommendations.

A friend who recently visited Madrid told me it was her least favorite city. She said it was extremely crowded and difficult to get around in. On the other hand, my brother-in-law, who is British told me that he though we'd have fun in Madrid. Thoughts???

And lastly, do you feel it's better to rent a car, or should we fly to Jerez and Seville and take cabs while in town?

Thanks so much!

nytraveler May 19th, 2005 05:19 PM

I love Spain - but Madrid is by far my least favorite place. It has nothing to do with the size - I adore NYC - and Mardid is not esp crowded - but the atmosphere.

It reminds me mostly of Chicago - very "modern" but with lots of 20's style skyscrapers - hot, loud, dirty - but with little real soul. IMHO there not much to do (Royal Palace and a couple of museums) unless your favorite thing is clubbing until 6am. Its really good for that - nothing like having all the home-going drunks screaming/fighting in the streets at 6am.

For a much more "Spanish" experience I love Andalucia. Very different from the rest of europe - with the roman, arab and early spanish influences - and a great mix of small cities, towns and beach resorts. As well as some truly breathtaking sights: the Alhambra, Ronda etc.

Robert2533 May 19th, 2005 06:50 PM

Madrid is the capital and center of Spain. It's also the major metropolitan area of Iberia, but it is also very cosmopolitan. We've always enjoyed the city and it's vibrant night life, but it's style is completely different from anything else you'll find in Spain.

harvey May 19th, 2005 09:09 PM

I would take the train from Madrid to Seville and then drive around Southern Spain. The drive from Seville to Arcos and the down along the Mediterrain and they North to Granada (the Allhambra) is great. Driving in the countryside in Spain in general is a joy. Enjoy.

Cskinner May 20th, 2005 09:32 AM

THANK YOU so much for your thoughtful responses. In researching the hotels in Madrid, it seems just as you describe it; very metropolitan, very busy, very much like a big city. I had planned to stay in Madrid only to recover from jet lag for a day at the beginning, and a day at the end of my trip to prepare to fly home. I need to be in Pedraza shortly after my arrival, so do you think taking a bus to Pedraza from Madrid is possible? If so, how does one go about booking this? After five days in Pedraza (we will be on a riding holiday there), we will be dropped off in Madrid and plan to fly to Jerez where we will stay for two or three days. We plan to rent a car in Jerez and drive to Seville after that for another two or three days. After Seville, we will drive back to Jerez where we will catch a flight back to Madrid, then home. Does this sound like a reasonable schedule? All in all we will be in Spain for about two weeks (plus two travel days). Thanks so much for your help!

NEDSIRELAND May 21st, 2005 02:10 AM

Cskinner writes: <<I need to be in Pedraza shortly after my arrival, so do you think taking a bus to Pedraza from Madrid is possible? >>

Possible? Probably; but I researched several Major Bus lines (Alsa, Auto-res and Continental-Auto) and couldn't find one that serves Pedraza. You may have to change to a 'local' bus line at Segovia, We daytripped to Pedraza by private auto with relatives from Madrid.

Worst case scenario: You may have to take a taxi there from Segovia (35km).

'De Madrid al cielo' (from Madrid to Heaven) is what Madrilenhos say. It's a great place to visit: the Royal Palace, Museums like the Prado. parks and gardens. I have visited most of Spain's major cities and I have to go along with your brother-in-law: Madrid is a fun city!

NEDSIRELAND May 21st, 2005 05:55 AM

Para solicitar información general de Pedraza contacte con:
Calle Real
40172 Pedraza (Segovia)
Tf. 921 508 666
Contacto vía E-Mail

Cskinner May 21st, 2005 04:25 PM

Thank you so much for your reply and your research into bus routes for me. I did (finally) find a private tour bus company that has regular service from Madrid to Pedraza. I found it on They even have schedules posted although I am not sure what the cost is.

Also many thanks for the information on the tourism office in Pedraza. Will definitely come in handy.

So many plans to make....

Thanks again!

NEDSIRELAND May 22nd, 2005 05:00 AM

I found that site that has 1-bus daily (15:30) to Pedraza. Be sure to check beforehand to find out which Madrid Bus station they leave from: There are at least 3 Possible bus stations. It might be worth a call to Linecar

If you go (horseback?) riding around the Duraton Gran Canyon, be careful: There are some high cliffs. Also: on the cliffs above the valley there are Vultures' nests. They could come up and 'spook' your mounts.

Cskinner May 22nd, 2005 05:07 PM

Again you are a wealth of information. As it turns out, I believe we will attempt to take the train to Segovia then a taxi to Pedraza. Much more flexible schedule and less confusing. After twenty some hours on an airplane, I would not want to attempt to find an obscure bus depot and take a bus to a small town in a country where I do not speak the language. Could end up anywhere!

As for the horse riding, we will play that one by ear. But will definitely keep the information about high cliffs and vulture's nests filed away. Would not want to put a damper on our trip to Spain by getting thrown from a horse down a canyon cliff(!).

MANY THANKS AGAIN for all the information.

ciaony May 23rd, 2005 04:29 AM

It seems to me like there are Madrid people and Barcelona people.
I prefer Madrid, wasn't crazy about Barcelona. People tend to agree with me completely or disagree entirely.

My favorite place is San Sebastián.

I live in NYC.

cruiseluv May 23rd, 2005 04:56 AM


I'm glad to learn that I'm not the only person in the planet that's not crazy about Barcelona! I prefer Madrid, in fact, I Like Madrid a lot. But the first 2 times I went to Madrid I didn't care for it that much , it was after that. Maybe is the kind of place that "grows on you".

I'm planning to go to San Sebastian this summer. Why is it your prefered place in Spain?

ciaony May 23rd, 2005 05:49 AM

San Seb is the perfect city.
It has the beauty of old Spain but even looks a bit like a mini Paris.
The beach is exquisite, although you've seen clearer water, it is quite beautiful.
Its quiet when you want it to be and vibrant and lively when and where you'd expect it.
The food; its quality, abundance, variety and presentation are without peer.
The city is full of daytrippers before dusk and, at night, the city's all yours.
Try to stay at the Hotel Londres but any will do nicely. Just try to get there.

NEDSIRELAND May 23rd, 2005 07:21 AM

05/20/05 Cskinner wrote: <<After five days in Pedraza (we will be on a riding holiday there) >> and your reference to the Equestrian School in Jerez, led me to believe that you would be horseback riding near Pedraza: That's why I gave you those Caveats.

05/22 You wrote: <<As it turns out, I believe we will attempt to take the train to Segovia then a taxi to Pedraza. Much more flexible schedule and less confusing. After twenty some hours on an airplane, I would not want to attempt to find an obscure bus depot and take a bus to a small town in a country where I do not speak the language. >> A good choice! It may cost you 30 to 40 Euro but the taxi is more likely to take you to the place where you will be staying (Pedraza is mostly a 'park at the edge of town and walk' kind of place. I don't know where the bus would leave you.

There are several car rental Agencies in Sevilla's Santa Justa rail station. You could take AVE Madrid-Sevilla, pick up a rental car there, and drive to Jerez (and other interesting places in the vicinity: el Puerto de Santa Maria, Cadiz, Sanlucar de Barrameda, Arcos de a frontera, etc.

Cskinner May 24th, 2005 07:57 AM

Nedsirelnd - Thanks so much for the detailed information. It's great to be given information of all the small details that can make a trip better. The information about Pedraza is very helpful, as is the information about the trains and car rentals. We had planned to take the train to all of our destinations around the Seville area (Jerez, Cadiz, etc.), but might opt for the rental car since it will be much more conducive to changes in schedule and getting to places that the trains don't run.

As for the riding part of our trip (the first week only), we booked a riding holiday through a company that packages equestrian vacations. That week will be devoted to training at a small facility near Pedraza. The rest of the vacation will be played by ear as we want to have fun exploring Seville and the surrounding area. Being horse enthusiasts we don't want to miss the School of Equestrian Art or the Spanish Military Stud. And of course the tack stores --- must remember to bring home gifts for my horses!

Thanks so much for your great insights and information. They are much appreciated.

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