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Flying open jaw: start in MAD or BCN (Sept. 18th - Oct. 5th).

Flying open jaw: start in MAD or BCN (Sept. 18th - Oct. 5th).

Old Jul 20th, 2014, 03:56 PM
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Flying open jaw: start in MAD or BCN (Sept. 18th - Oct. 5th).

Looking for help in planning our first trip to Spain! Not sure where to start, we are still learning about the country... would welcome suggestions based on places we want to visit (see below)!

Note that departing Montreal, we would arrive in Barcelona 3 hours earlier than we would in Madrid. Also, starting Bareclona would be about 150$ cheaper per person (not the biggest deal, but a perk).

Arriving: September 18th (5:40 pm Madrid or 2:25 pm Barcelona)
Departing October 5th (3pm via Madrid or Barcelona)


Below are the places we want to visit (Feel free to recommend something else).


The two big cities:
Madrid (day trip Toledo)
Barcelona

Andalucia Region:

Seville (trip Coroba)
Granada (trip to Alhambra)
Marbella
Malaga


PLEASE NOTE: Worth mentioning in case this changes feedback, we have 400,000 points to use towards free nights at all Melia hotels in Spain (over 183 locations) thanks to a gift given to my fiancee. So we want to make sure we profit from a few nicer properties in the Andalucia (costa del sol) areas if possible....

Thanks to everyone in advance!
JOSH18 is offline  
Old Jul 20th, 2014, 06:01 PM
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I would fly into Barcelona, see that, then fly to Andalusia (Malaga?) see that area and train back to Madrid to fly home.

BUT you have only 16 days on the ground and this includes getting from north to south and back to the middle - so you will either need to cut a couple of places or have a VERY rushed trip. (We have been to Andalusia twice - once for 10 days and once for 12 and still have a lot we want to see.)

So you need to get busy, pick carefully and cut a couple of places. (I would drop Madrid - not one of my favorite places - and fly home from Malaga.)
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Old Jul 20th, 2014, 06:12 PM
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I would fly into BCN, then train to Seville or Malaga, rent a car for some touring of the Andalusian countryside, then drive to Madrid via Toledo, and drop the car at Barajas airport before touring Madrid or flying home.
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Old Jul 20th, 2014, 08:55 PM
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I would fly into BCN.
Fly to Granada.
Pick up rental car when done with GRanada/Alhambra.
Drive Granada-Malaga-Marbella-Sevilla (though personally, I'd probably swap Marbella for Ronda)
Drop rental car in Sevilla.
Train Sevilla-Madrid (with stopover in Cordoba on the way instead of doing day trip to/from Sevilla).
Fly home from MAD.

P.S. nytraveler's caveat is worth while considering: You have not that many days to spend, and any itinerary that included BCN, Andalucia and MAD would be a rushed one, regardless in which order you visited each destination.
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Old Jul 21st, 2014, 02:07 AM
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Sevilla is the undisputed queen of the cities in the South, and the largest and most prestigious flamenco festival in the world goes on in theaters all around town every night Sept. 12. to Oct 5. A night at the Bienal might be a highlight of the trip and a crash intro to this beautiful and powerful art so important for Andalucía. http://www.labienal.com/en/

Only world class artists on stage, but Estrella Morente (song) on the 25th. and Rocio Molina (dance) on the 29th., both in the majestic Maestranza theater, would be sure highlights.
Estrella Morente, here in her 2001 Madrid debut: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUJA52_oDn8
Rocio Molina, unforgettable night in Gran Teatro de Córdoba in July 2011: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfSclwEVzGk

Molina: http://www.rociomolina.net/prensa/?lang=en
Morente: http://www.estrella-morente.es/estrellamorente.html
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Old Jul 21st, 2014, 05:13 AM
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I would fly to Madrid, take a look around Madrid, then rent a car from Madrid and drive south to cover Toledo, Cordoba/Sevilla/Granada/Marbella/Malaga, return the rental car in Granada and then fly from Granada to Barcelona, take a look around Barcelona then fly home. You have over 2 weeks to make this trip, it is enough time. The driving distances are not that great, the longest drive being Toledo to Cordoba which is about 3 hours.
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Old Jul 21st, 2014, 05:22 AM
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I would definitely fly between Barcelona and Granada; Vueling Airlines has several flights and offers reasonable rates if you book early enough.

In terms of Granada: do you want to do more than just the Alhambra? Many folks don't and are satisfied. Having a car there would be helpful if you want to do more.

I think Cowboy1968 has given you some very very good advice.
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Old Jul 21st, 2014, 09:28 AM
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If you are not going to spend any time in Barcelona, and only want to head south after landing, then flying is a good option. Note that when flying discount airlines, there are severe luggage restrictions. They are designed mostly for weekend travelers, so pack light.

If you are going to spend time in Barcelona, then the train is the best option.
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Old Jul 21st, 2014, 01:35 PM
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I agree with nytraveler and Cowboy, I'd fly into BCN then fly to the south after you've spent your time in Barcelona. It takes too long to take the train between those points. VUeling flies direct to both Granada and Malaga. I think it might make sense to start in Granada if you want to see it, then maybe the bus to Malaga and then the train to Sevilla from there.

Luggage isn't a problem on airlines like that, you just have to pay a little to check it, that's all. Most airlines you just don't see it itemized. The allowances are normal (ie, 23 kg for the checked bag). Just buy the Optima fare which includes one checked bag plus seat selection, it's only about 15-20 euro more than the basic fare. If you don't want that fare, you can just check a bag for only 13 euro. The only severity might be the carryon but then it's only severe if you are trying to travel for a trip and don't want to check a bag, otherwise it's fine (10 kg).
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Old Jul 22nd, 2014, 08:43 AM
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Thanks for all the feedback!

We added an extra day at the end of our trip - and booked our flight.

Arriving BCN: 2:25 PM
Departing MAD: 4:55 PM

@nytraveller - Fly from BCN to Malaga or as others suggested, Granada?

@kimhe - Wow, will there be outdoor shows?

@Christina, i notice you're not advising to rent a car.

@Robert2533 - Please explain, why is the Train the best option only if I'm spending time in Barcelona (which I am).

More questions:

Flying from BCN south to Andalucia - which city: Seville, Malaga or suggested Granada?

Renting a car - reserve in advance (popular sites?) Should I rent for the entire stay or on specific days (I read it's practical when seeing white villages)? Is dropping off in different location expensive in Spain?


I'm reading a lot of good things about Cadiz, which I did not list in my initial post...


Looking forward to building my Andalusian itinerary. Provided I won't have a car while touring Seville and Granada, or relaxing in Malaga / Marbela, when should I fit in road trip to visiting white villages?

18 nights total

Starting
4 Nights Barcelona

3 Seville (day trip Cordoba)
2 Granada
2 Malaga
2 Marbella (or Ronda? Other? We have Melia points and want to take in beach resort)
2 Cadiz? Jerez?

Ending
3 nights Madrid
JOSH18 is offline  
Old Jul 22nd, 2014, 09:07 AM
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In terms of elapsed time, I don't know that flying from BCN to, say, Seville, is especially quicker than the train. The RENFE site shows some 5 1/2 hour trips on AVE trains; by the time you add in the journey time to El Prat and from SVQ to the city, plus check-in and security time, actual taxi and flight time, bag claim and typical airport scrums, my guess is that you're also looking at least at 5 hours or so. It might hinge on where in Barcelona you're staying, traffic time (or train time) to the airport, etc.

Andalusia is great driving country, and I'd be tempted to head down toward Cadiz and Tarifa for your beach time. Some of the hill villages, like Vejer de la Frontera - http://gardyloo.us/20120226_37s.JPG - are gorgeous and easily accessible.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2014, 09:20 AM
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I would recommend renting a car and keeping it from the time you arrive in Granada or Seville to the return in Madrid and use it to get to all the places you want to see. But I prefer driving and like driving in Spain, like the freedom, others prefer bus and train. If you do want to rent a car, it is best to reserve in advance in order to get better rates.
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