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Help appreciated planning our trip to Madrid

Help appreciated planning our trip to Madrid

Old Nov 23rd, 2016, 07:26 PM
  #1  
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Help appreciated planning our trip to Madrid

My husband and I are looking forward to a trip next September 4-18 leaving from Minnesota and arriving in Madrid. We are planning three days in Madrid, then on Zaragoza, San Sabastian, Bilbao and ending in Santiago de Compostela before heading back to Madrid for our flight out. We would also like to include a stay in Rioja Wine Country but not sure how that would fit. Any suggestions on timing, things to do or hotel gems to stay would be most appreciated. We have been to Southern Spain twice so this is a change we are excited to see. We are open to trains but my husband is comfortable renting a car. we enjoy the beech but also like to be active.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2016, 07:38 PM
  #2  
kja
 
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With 13 days on the ground, that would seem to me to be a very ambitious plan. It depends on your interests and preferences, though. I trust you have already consulted some good guidebooks? The ones I have found most helpful for these areas are the Michelin Green Guide and Rough Guide. And I trust you've also looked at the many trip reports and planning threads that include these areas on this forum? Such a wealth of information!

If you can fly into one city and out of another, it would greatly simplify your logistics.

For a stay in La Rioja -- if you can fit it in -- consider Laguardia.

You might find some helpful info in my trip report:
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-catalunya.cfm
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Old Nov 23rd, 2016, 08:05 PM
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Starting with on;y 12 full days on the ground, 3 locations might be more appropriate. To save a hotel change, I suggest you take a cab to the Atocha station in town and catch a train to Zaragoza [only 1:20].
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Old Nov 23rd, 2016, 11:39 PM
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Why Zaragoza? You either have to return to Madrid, head to Pamplona (by train and bus) or move on to Barcelona in order to get to San Sebastián (flying).

How do you plan to get from Bilbao to Santiago? Fly or bus?

Flying our of Madrid cuts at least one day from your trip. Can't you fly out of Santiago instead?
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Old Nov 24th, 2016, 01:02 AM
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I’ve been living in Madrid all my life (almost 40 years!). I have found this website looking for information about a trip to Scotland (summer 2018) with my kids and wife and I have seen this message about Madrid . I’m not a native English speaker as you can guess reading this post.

I don’t really know how many days you’ll need in Madrid to discover it. As you can imagine I am already discovering new charming corners almost every day. Three or four full days would be enough I think.

As you say that you don’t mind driving a car, I’ll give you some advices of places around Madrid, for 1-day-visit from Madrid or to include them in your roadtrip to the north. Most of them are World Heritage Sites (WHS) so you can imagine that are wonderful places (see the photos on Internet and you’ll want to go there right now):

- Royal Palace of Aranjuez (WHS)
- Monastery and Site of the Escorial (WHS) (very near is La Granja de San Ildefonso, an old royal summer palace).
- Toledo (Historic City) (WHS)
- Segovia (Old Town and its Aqueduct) (WHS).
- Cuenca (Historic Walled Town) (WHS). Impressive town. My wife is from here so… . Superb typical food. Superb sightseeing. It’s a bit far (about 100 miles) but the road is very good so you can go in 1-day-visit or even better you can go north later via Siguenza (nice town), Soria (not very known but beautiful province), Santo Domingo de Silos, Burgos (Cathedral. WHS), Santo Domingo de la Calzada, placed in La Rioja, most famous place for wine in Spain.

I wouldn’t go to Zaragoza in a first visit to centre and northern Spain (sorry people from Zaragoza!). I like the city but I think that are more impressive things to expend the time on. Instead of it, I’d use Burgos (Cathedral. WHS) as the way to the north.

San Sebastian is a must. Bilbao is fine but I wouldn’t expend a day. Almost every place from there to Santiago de Compostela is wonderful: Santillana del Mar, Llanes, Santander, San Vicente de la Barquera…

Have a nice trip to Spain!

Regards,

Hector
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Old Nov 24th, 2016, 01:45 AM
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Very much agree with Hector that San Sebastián is a must, and that the coastline west from San Sebastián is wonderful (inland also).

Could give you tons of tips about beautiful San Sebastián, the culinary capital of Spain and all of Europe. Have lived here and visited almost every year since 1987, my favourite city on the planet.

I recommend to get a table at Casa Urola, I always have my first night meal here. The major regional newspaper El Diario Vasco voted it best restaurant in Guipuzkoa last year (Premio Más Gastronomía 2015), ahead of all the Michelin star restaurants. http://www.casaurolajatetxea.es/es/b...a-2015_11.html
Two soles (suns) in the Guia Repsol, the Spanish equivalent to the Michelin guide: https://www.guiarepsol.com/es/gastro...48758408507291

And a fabulous pintxos bar on the ground floor, one of the two-three best in town these days: http://allaboutfoodmag.com/de_pintxos-en-casa-urola/
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Old Nov 24th, 2016, 01:56 AM
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... and of course, spectacular city beaches in San Sebastián/Donostia: http://www.sansebastianturismo.com/e...o-to-the-beach

A fine and to the point intro to the city: http://www.euskoguide.com/places-bas...stian-tourism/
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Old Nov 24th, 2016, 01:58 AM
  #8  
kja
 
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For a different perspective -- San Sebastian is the one place in Spain that I found least interesting and least satisfying, by far, of any place I've visited in my 7.5 weeks in this otherwise absolutely stunning country. To each his/her own!
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Old Nov 24th, 2016, 02:39 AM
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kja, last time I was in San Sebastian was almost 30 years ago... maybe the city has changed a bit. I need to revisit it.

Happy to know that the other places you visited where fine!

Hector
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Old Nov 24th, 2016, 05:05 AM
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San Sebastián has not changed much over the past 30 years, very much the same place that I fell in love with in the late 80's. Since then you have of course got the controversial Kursaal conference center, the modern center of town is made all pedestrian, the old San Martín marked is now a bit too hip, and the food extravaganza is perhaps getting almost too crazy, but very much the same place.

Of course the occasional visitor can be underwhelmed visting a couple of days, but San Sebastián is highly reommended in dozens of the world's major newsapers and travel magazines for a myriad of reasons.
http://www.sansebastianturismo.com/e...-in-the-top-10

Calle 31 de Agosto in the Parte vieja/Old town is on NYT's favourite streets in Europe list: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2...eets.html?_r=0

I hope and think San Sebastián can take the attention in the future also, as it has done since Spanish elites started to flock here in the mid 19th century. Tons of local identity and culture. As the lyrics in the 1861 San Sebastián March goes:

Sebastian bat ba da zeruan, Donosti bat bakarra munduan
hura da santua, eta hau da herria - horra zer dan gure Donostia!
(There is only one San Sebastián in heaven, and there is only one Donostia on earth. The first is a Saint, the other is the city, our San Sebastián!)

Here sung a capella by Leire, the then lead vocal in San Sebastián's very popular La Oreja de van Gogh (van Gogh's ear): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unQc7KP66Hc
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Old Nov 24th, 2016, 05:10 AM
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... and these are the correct links:
http://www.sansebastianturismo.info/...-san-sebastian
http://www.sansebastianturismo.com/e...-in-the-top-10
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Old Nov 24th, 2016, 08:28 AM
  #12  
 
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We have found www.maribelsguides.com incredibly helpful, perfect advice, on our three trips to Spain. Print out the regional or city pdfs and toss them when leaving that area. Hotels, dining, even laundry info afe included at all,price points.
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Old Nov 24th, 2016, 08:50 AM
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With the amount of time you have, I would consider cutting Santiago from the trip so you can fully enjoy the other destinations. Since you will arrive after a long overnight flight(s), I think you might consider extending your stay in Madrid to 4 full days.

We recently rented a car upon arrival in Madrid and drove to the Ribera del Duero wine region, a drive of about two hours. If you are not absolutely set on Rioja, you might want to consider this wine region instead. We spent two nights in one of the most fantastic hotels I've ever experienced: Le Domaine, in the Abadia Retuerta vineyard.

From there, we drove to Burgos but you could go ahead and make either Bilbao or San Sebastian your next stop. Then visit the stretch of coast between the two before flying home from either Bilbao or San Sebastian.

I can offer some great hotel options if you provide some information on how much you would like to spend.
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Old Nov 25th, 2016, 08:21 AM
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Hector is right. Skip Zaragoza, San Sebastian in early September is so good you might not be able to find a good hotel room if you don't book by March. Some really beautiful places on the coast in Cantabria and Asturias as Hector mentioned. Burgos is also great if you can fit it in.
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Old Nov 25th, 2016, 08:32 AM
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I can only weigh in about Madrid with my TR:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...and-london.cfm

I wished for more days and that I'd gone to Toledo. My emphasis was on art so that could make a difference for you.

If it is possible to fly into one city and out of your final, you will save much stress and time.

Have a super time!
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Old Nov 27th, 2016, 04:01 AM
  #16  
 
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Perhaps see genuine flamenco in Madrid, the flamenco capital of the world? Flamenco comes from the South/Andalucía, but everyone has to conquer Madrid to get to the top.

Only top of the shelf artists every night in
- Casa Patas, the best tabalao in the country (that is the world) in recent years: http://www.casapatas.com/
- Corral de la Morería is the most famous: http://www.corraldelamoreria.com/en/index.html
- Cardamomo is perhaps the most cutting edge these days: https://cardamomo.com/en/

Also some other great tablaos in Madrid, but you can almost never go wrong in any of the three mentioned above, would most probably be a huge experience.
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