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Got back on 10/19 - Madrid, Sevilla, Ronda, Nerja, Granada, Barcelona - by train and by car. Thanks for everyone's help - happy to return the favor.

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Oct 23rd, 2000, 12:36 PM
  #1
Colleen
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Got back on 10/19 - Madrid, Sevilla, Ronda, Nerja, Granada, Barcelona - by train and by car. Thanks for everyone's help - happy to return the favor.

We had a wonderful, safe trip and can offer information on the cities, towns, routes, and sites we visited. 4 nights in Madrid (at Hotel Mora - excellent location!), 2 nights in Sevilla (at Hotel Simon - a little palace!), 1 night in Ronda (Reina Victoria - lovely, easy to get to), 2 nights in Nerja (Hotel Carabeo was an incredible find. 6 rooms overlooking the Mediterranean - and cheap!Excellent restaurant), 1 in Granada (Hotel Macia - good location but short on hot water), and 3 nights in Barcelona (Meson Castilla - lovely place, exc. breakfast, room smelled of mildew, unfortunately). We travelled by train and we also drove for 3 days (Hertz, from Sevilla to Granada). Let me know if I can be of any help. Everyone's assistance helped to make our trip so enjoyable. (We had absolutely no safety problems, nor did we see or hear of any.)
 
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Oct 23rd, 2000, 03:54 PM
  #2
jill
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Hello Colleen: I am going on business to Madrid and ending in Barcelona in May, wanting to stay one extra week, and never have been there before. Looking for something relaxing and warm. Any thoughts?
 
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Oct 24th, 2000, 01:34 AM
  #3
Paige
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Hey Colleen! We're going to Spain next week and have reservations in Sevilla at the Hotel Simon (4 nights) and in Granada (4 nights) at the Hotel Macia. They didn't by chance have hair dryers in the room, did they? If you took one, did you have any problems plugging it in? I have a German dryer and I've stayed at hotels in Switzerland and Italy where the outlet holes were too small (anyone know why?). I just won't take it if I can't plug it in!
Did you have breakfast in the hotel? How was it? Any other scoop to tell me? We're also going to Cadiz, Arcos de la Frontera, Ronda and Cordoba. Thanks!
 
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Oct 24th, 2000, 08:25 AM
  #4
Colleen
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Jill - For the "relaxing, warm" part of our trip we went to Nerja, which is a small resort about 30 min. from Malaga, 90 min. from Granada. Loved it! As Rick Steves says, it's the best town on the Costa del Sol. And if you can get one of the 6 rooms at Hotel Carabeo you'll want to stay forever. (Reserve today!)We had the one small room that overlooked the street - most if not all of the others have private terraces overlooking the gardens, pool, and Mediterranean, but we still loved the place. Great ambience, great water pressure(!), fluffy bathrobes, first class all the way and it's extremely reasonable (our room was $67). Find them at www.bd-andalucia.es/ing/34b.html. Their restaurant, "34," is another great experience. The town was friendly, full of ex-pat Brits and Irish, and the beaches were sunny and warm. You'll like Nerja. If Judi reads this she can give you the web address for Nerja - it's one of the few Spanish towns on the web. She rents an apartment there for the week and returns frequently. If we don't hear from Judi here, I'll get you her e-mail address. Let me know if you'd like any more info.
 
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Oct 24th, 2000, 08:34 AM
  #5
Colleen
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Paige - I brought my hairdryer and adapter (worked fine - a 2 round, 1 flat-type plug). I think Simon had a hairdryer and I know Macia did. Sometimes the hotel dryers weren't very powerful so I used my own. Breakfast at Simon was extra, a la carte, and the choices were cereal (called Corn Flakes, but they were all sugary, chocolatey thing), eggs, breads, continental breakfast. At Macia breakfast was 700 p extra, I think, served in a downstairs dining room. Buffet, including all the usual items.
We drove from Sevilla to Ronda (no time for Cadiz, Jerez or Arcos, but plenty of scenery)and stayed at the Reina Victoria (our most exp. hotel: $100). One of the reasons we picked it over others is that it was easy to find and had parking on the grounds. This is a lovely place with a pool and a great view of the gorge and the valley. Huge balcony in our room. Good hairdryer, too. We stopped in Cordoba on the way to Sevilla by train, but couldn't miss the Mezquita. Let me know if I can give you any more info.
 
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Oct 24th, 2000, 08:49 AM
  #6
Judi
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I have posted several times before about Nerja, our favorite place in Spain. We have been there twice in October for two weeks each time. This year we opted for a cruise which although nice, was not nearly as fun or inexpensive as Nerja. We'll never do that again! Please email me if you would like information. Colleen, I'm so happy that you loved it as much as we do and that the Hotel Carabeo was great. It is in a wonderful location and I have recommended it solely on that point. If anyone is interested in weekly rentals I have a good contact for that also.
 
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Oct 25th, 2000, 04:20 AM
  #7
Paige
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Thanks, Colleen! I'm going to leave my dryer at home. There's not room in my bag anyway! By the way, did you do any shopping? Did you find anything particularly interesting? I'm always on the lookout for Christmas presents for my family. Also, was it warm enough to swim outdoors while you were there? Thanks!
 
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Oct 25th, 2000, 06:15 AM
  #8
Kristi
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Paige, I brought back jewelry for my friends. There's some beautiful jewelry made in Toledo that's black and gold. We saw it all over Andalucia, not just in Toledo. The large department stores, El Cortes Ingles, in Spain also sell it. You can also find beautiful inexpensive silver filigree jewelry in Cordoba.

If your budget is a bit higher, Lladro porcelain is much less expensive in Spain, especially if you apply for a VAT refund on your way out. I think Lladro is price fixed in Spain like it is here so you'll get the same price everywhere although we were able to negotiate a couple of times for paying cash, Lladro frowns on retailers who give discounts.
 
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Oct 25th, 2000, 06:27 AM
  #9
Paige
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Kristi, do you know what the black and gold jewelry is made from? Is it real gold? Sounds interesting.
 
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Oct 25th, 2000, 09:44 AM
  #10
Colleen
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Paige - we're not big shoppers, but I did see a lot of the black & gold jewelry and was tempted to buy a bangle bracelet. Didn't, though. I did look for and found a leather case for eyeglasses - 1,500 pesetas, about $8. Those might make nice gifts for the reading-glasses set. Lots of leather items to choose from. Knives - Toledo, in particular, is known as a center for excellent blades (swords, initially). We bought a set of kitchen knives (much needed) in Barcelona. Those who sew might like the high quality scissors, decorated in the black & gold style. We saw some really cool glassware - Gaudi inspired, in Barcelona. But there's so much more to see than the inside of shops! Fun to look, though.
Enjoy.
 
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Oct 25th, 2000, 11:16 AM
  #11
Kristi
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The jewelry was fairly inexpensive so it must be costume jewelry. But I've had it for 3 years or so and it hasn't chipped or turned my skin green. If you want to see a sample of it, I found a picture of it at www.aimjewelry.com (didn't buy it there though, I got it in Spain) or do a search for Toledo gold. From that website it looks like the top of the jewelry might by 24K inlaid.
 
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Oct 25th, 2000, 12:10 PM
  #12
Judi
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I love the pottery that I bought in Nerja. I pack an extra bag to lug it back. Last time I bought two beautiful Picasso designed platters and gave them away. I will HAVE to return to get one for myself!
 
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Oct 25th, 2000, 01:04 PM
  #13
Kimberly
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I am planning my first trip abroad for this summer. I'm hoping to spend about one month in Spain. I appreciate all your details, but I still have some questions. I will be on a fairly tight budget but do you suggest renting a car or relying on the train and public transit? Will I limit my options if I don't rent a car? Did you have any problems with ATMs, Visa, cash? What worked out the best? I'm sure I'll have more questions but that's all for now. thanks
 
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Oct 25th, 2000, 01:47 PM
  #14
Susan
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The jewelry is Damascene. The black is an enamel. Gold can be 14 or 18 k depending on source. Moors brought the technique from Syria. Most patterns are traditional - geometrics, swirls, some fruit and flowers. Very few animals shown. That comes from Koran limiting art to inanimate objects.
 
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Oct 26th, 2000, 02:49 AM
  #15
josť
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Hello Colleen: we are thinking on a similar trip to yours (Cordoba, Granada, Ronda and Sevilla, have already been in Malaga and Nerja) but as we live nearer -some 1,000 km. north of Andalucia- are not sure if we should drive ourselves there, or do it easier and fly there or go by train. I'm afraid that all the route is not possible to be made by train, for example, to go from Granada to Sevilla via Ronda. Any advice about how to to the trip? Thanks.
 
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Oct 26th, 2000, 08:33 AM
  #16
Patrice
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Hey there! Nerja sounds wonderful. We're leaving 11/10, my niece is in Alicante (doing a year overseas--student in Boulder, Co). Any info on other coastal towns between Alicante and Malaga? Wondering if anyone's rented a motorcycle to get around, we travel pretty light. Anyone get all the way over to Portugal? We have 2 weeks, so I'm still trying to figure out how big/small of a territory to cover.

Thanks for any and all help,

Patrice
 
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Oct 26th, 2000, 08:48 AM
  #17
Colleen
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Kimberly - Driving definitely gives you flexibility and options, but it can be very difficult to navigate and park in cities and towns. How about a combination of car and train travel? Since you'll be there a month, consider a rail pass. Raileurope.com has information, as does ricksteves.com, and maybe Fodor's. And you can check the train routes and schedules at renfe.es, and click English. (Renfe is the railroad company in Spain.) Even if you have to read the Spanish version, it's easy - select departure and arrival cities and you'll get a full schedule of trains. The beauty of a pass is that it lets you avoid long lines and communication problems in order to buy each point-to-point ticket. Just keep in mind that a pass doesn't guarantee you a seat, so when and if it's really important that you get on a particular train, go to the window and buy a reservation (day ahead, if possible). We really enjoyed the days we drove, but planned it so we didn't have to go into cities of any size. I can't imagine driving around trying to find a hotel! But people do it, so it can be done. A little too stressful for me, I'm afraid. But a few days on your own in a car would be fun. As for ATMs, they were everywhere, and most that I glanced at accepted Visa. I was concerned about encountering difficulties, so I brought travellers checks, but didn't need them. We brought a couple hundreds dollars in pesetas with us to get started, and brought 2 debit cards from different banks. We had no problems, and I'd rely on ATMs in the future. Just don't run short. Let me know if I can help with any more (e-mail me directly, if you want to.)
 
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Oct 26th, 2000, 08:53 AM
  #18
Colleen
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Jose - The cities you'll be visiting sound "doable" by car, but if you want to check train routes and schedules, go to renfe.es -- you can enter your departure and destination cities and see what the schedule is. Train travel is relatively stress free, but driving allows more flexibility. Get out the maps, check the trains, make a tentative plan, and see what suits your travel style.
 
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Oct 26th, 2000, 09:05 AM
  #19
frank
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On the budget point - trains come at varying prices depending on their speed.
Buses are cheaper and usually fast & comfortable - also they go everywhere.
 
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