Help me with Spain

Dec 9th, 2001, 08:09 PM
  #1  
Mary
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Help me with Spain

I just booked a condo in Costa Mijas for October of 2002. I know thats 10 months off, but I'm still excited and want to start planning now! Heres my questions. First, I know we can find good airfare prices from NYC to Madrid, but how about to Seville. Our plan is to go to Seville for 2 or 3 days before we check into the condo. We have 7 days at the condo and need advice on what towns to visit that make good day trips. We don't care about the costa del sol night life, much prefer historical sites and landscapes. Do we need 2 days to see Granada, or can it be done in 1 ? We'll rent a car when we leave Seville and drop it off when we go home, but if we fly into Madrid and take the AVE to Seville, does it stop in Toledo, as I've read here it does in Cordoba? Any advice wil be appreciated.
 
Dec 10th, 2001, 05:19 AM
  #2  
lisa
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Personally, I would spend 2 days in Granada and shorten your Seville trip by one day. Granada was our favorite city from our 2 week honeymoon in Andalucia. First off, it will take you almost a day just to visit the Alhambra and do it right. The Parador there is beautiful, we enjoyed lunch there. It is not my choice for accommodations (we like to be in the midst of the city), but others always recommend it. You will also want to enjoy the Albacin. There is also the cathedral and other sites. We loved Granada especially for its tapas bars and city "energy."

Seville has some lovely sites, but maybe because it was our last stop, we didn't enjoy it as much. Good restaurants, plenty of sightseeing and great shopping.

HTH

 
Dec 10th, 2001, 05:20 AM
  #3  
lisa
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Mary, one other thing. We flew NY to Madrid and then connected on Spanair to Malaga. From there, we rented a car and drove to Seville, Granada, etc. They are all easy drives.
 
Dec 10th, 2001, 03:33 PM
  #4  
Judy
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Our family enjoyed Toledo much more than Granada. We a good day and a half there, unlike Cordoba which can be covered in a day. There are many tours going out from madrid although we drove and did it ourselves. Judy
 
Dec 10th, 2001, 07:57 PM
  #5  
Mary
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Thanks Lisa and Judy for your good advice. I definitely want to spend time in Toledo either coming or going from Madrid. One more question. Lisa, when you saw the Alhambra, did you use a guide and if you did, did you find one there or before you left? Thanks again.
 
Dec 11th, 2001, 05:13 AM
  #6  
lisa
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Mary: We did use a guide for the Alhambra and he was great. When we arrived in Granada, we set about trying to reserve tickets to the Alhambra. They can be reserved (or purchased in advance, I guess) at the local bank. No dice, since it was Saturday when we arrived, wouldn't be open until too late on Monday, etc. We had heard horror stories about arriving there, waiting in line, and then not getting in (the tickets are timed).

Then, we noticed some little flyers in the lobby of our hotel for Alhambra tours. A bus picks up at most major hotels, drives you to the Alhambra, tour guide included, tickets included and bus ride back (which we skipped and walked down -- very enjoyable). It was only slightly more expensive than the entrance tickets themselves (I remember the difference wasn't more than $3-5). It was well worth it. If I had it to do over again, I would do it that way since our tickets were "reserved," we didn't have to get a taxi or walk there (seriously uphill), got a great guide and it was hassle free.
 
Dec 11th, 2001, 08:45 AM
  #7  
Maira
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Mary, you are a smart cookie planning ahead of time. Southern Spain has so much to offer, you need to time to make up your mind! Basic details such as rental car, good maps, route, advance tickets, learning some basic phrases in Spanish, guidebooks, it all takes time.

You can always fly Iberia Madrid to Seville (about 1 hour flight). Seville is a great introduction to Andalucia and I would allocate at a minimum a couple of days. Stay near Barrio de Santa Cruz, so you can walk to main sights. Pick the rental car on your way out on to Mijas. You can always depart Malaga Airport-Madrid. By the way, I am assuming that you are referring to Mijas Costa, or the beautiful Andalucian white-washed village of Mijas (gosh, you are so lucky!). October is a great month to visit Southern Spain.

Upon arrival to the Costa del Sol- Malaga area, you might get the impression that it is overcrowded and overdeveloped and some parts are--- Torremolinos, Fuengirola, they are concrete jungles. I wouldn't waste my time in those areas, although we had a great, great seafood meal at La Carihuela boardwalk in Torremolinos. Do not miss Granada, even if you have to do two separate day trips. The Alhambra is gorgeous and the adjacent Gardens are not to be missed. Alhambra is one of those places where a guide is a must. Otherwise you might miss on amazing details that local guides know by heart. Worth the money. If historical sights are your thing then the Cathedral in Granada is a must. Ronda is gorgeous, I always advice people to drive carefully, which actually goes for all of the region. Narrow streets on mountain routes with gorgeous ocean views is a dangerous combination. You want to drive back from Ronda with daylight. Gibraltar is interesting. We drove in, which smarter people don't do, they leave their cars outside. We didn't know and got stucked in traffic much longer than we cared to be. Once in Gibraltar, try to get to Europa Point (drive towards the Royal Navy Base). From the observation point at this site (in a clear day) you can see clearly the African Coast.

SouthernSpain is meant to be a explored, you will see white-washed towns that look like sugar cubes perched on the mountain, just go up, park and walk around. Is all part of the experience.

We also "discovered" the Roman Ruins of Baelo Claudia in the town of Tarifa. This out of the way sight is the remains of a Roman town that flourished off the coast of Tarifa and was later destroyed by an earthquake. Impressive ruins, temples and all. On that note, if at all posible the town of Merida near Seville is definitely worth a stop. Roman ruins with an impressive Roman amphiteather.

About Toledo and Cordova; Toledo is about 1 hour south of Madrid. Great city, if you want to drive from Madrid to Seville, you could stop in Toledo. If you continue south, stop in the town of Consuegra (windmills country; there is a car commercial with a little boy and windmills and a castle in the background, that's in Consuegra).

Anyway, at this point a good guidebook and a map are critical to go on with the planning. Get hubby involved (at some point anyway...)HAVE FUN!!!
 
Dec 11th, 2001, 08:46 AM
  #8  
mary lewis
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just another opinion - I would only spend one day in Granada - we found the only attraction worth seeing to be the Alhambra, which can be done in a day (we did it on our own, after buying a guide book). I would personally spend more time in Seville or the white towns such as Ronda. Nerja is also a beautiful little town on the coast.
 
Dec 11th, 2001, 06:44 PM
  #9  
Graziella
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I think that Granada merits at least two days, it is a charming town, and the Alhambra in itself would take most of one day. Do not rush in such an extraordinary place, enjoy the Palace, the Gardens and if you can take a tour in the Museum .
 
Dec 11th, 2001, 07:34 PM
  #10  
Mary
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Thank you Thank you Thank you to all of you who gave me such good advice! I am SO excited to go, and October is so far away. Maira, your message really helped, especially about getting my husband involved with planning. We are spending 2 days in Grenada and also Seville. Everything else is a day trip. Toledo, Cordoba are all day. Can I combine Ronda with Jerez or do they need a full day each? How about Nerja, full day or is half enough? I do have a Frommers Spain but I like getting the facts from you guys better! One more, on the map, Gibralter looks out of the way, unless its a not to be missed. Is it a not to be missed? Thanks in advance for your kind help.
 
Dec 12th, 2001, 06:23 AM
  #11  
zz
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If you decide to reserve tickets to the Alhambra in advance try www.alhambratickets.com or ph # in Spain: 902 22 44 60. It saved our day.
I like Lisa’s chose with tour guide, just make sure it gives you enough time to explore.
 
Dec 12th, 2001, 08:59 AM
  #12  
Pedro
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I really do not see Jerez and Ronda done in the same day. Maybe Arcos and Ronda but definitely not Jerez. I would stay there at least one day if you want to enjoy the visit. The same for Ronda, a city that demands a quiet visit not rushing ( 1 day in Ronda is fine, more if you want to explore the surroundings: La Pileta Cave, Grazalema, Zahara de la Sierra, hiking to El Pinsapar forest or La Garganta Verde, etc )
 
Dec 12th, 2001, 12:21 PM
  #13  
Maribel
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Mary,
If Toledo is a "must see", you'll need to drive from Madrid to Seville and stop in Toledo on route. Since the AVE doesn't pass thru, your only way to hit Toledo and those famous La Mancha windmills in Consuegra (Lexus? commerical)would be by car on your way south. But I wouldn't throw in Cordoba as well-would be too much! I'd save C. as a morning trip via AVE from Seville-only 40 min. If Toledo isn't a must, you could take a morning AVE from Madrid, get off in Cordoba, store luggage in the lockers at top of escalator, & grab a taxi to visit the Mosque/Jewish Quarter (allow about 4 hrs., including a tapas lunch), then hop on the next AVE to Seville. We've done this; it's easy. Or fly directly to Seville (for around $100)on low cost Spanair (check fare on Travelocity, Expedia, Orbitz). Re Seville, I agree with Maira. Try to stay 3 days in the romantic Santa Cruz district (you'll have great memories of this!) where you can walk easily to all sights. Consider Casas de la Juderia, Casa del Rey de Baeza, tiny Casa #7 (perfection!), or for a splurge Casa Imperial or on a budget, Hosteria del Laurel. I don't recommend a 2 1/2 hr. (one way) drive north to Merida in the Extremadura region. I'd stick to Andalusia on this trip, spend your time savoring Seville and visit the Roman ruins of Italica instead, only a 15 min. bus ride away(closed MON).
On your drive from Seville to Mijas-Costa, you could stop in Arcos, Zahara (one of those fascinating white towns) and Ronda along the route (no long detours), but that's a very full day of sightseeing. I agree with Pedro that adding Jerez (and mid-morning sherry sampling!) to Ronda is just too much. And I'd also do the Ronda-coast stretch before dark. One endless curve after another-drove it recently myself-wouldn't call it treacherous because it's been widened for heavy truck/bus traffic, now has guard rails and is well-maintained, but the driver needs to be very alert, and at night you won't be able to enjoy those beautiful ocean views before reaching San Pedro.
From your condo, you'll have Mijas pueblo at your back door (but gone a little Hollywood/"Disneyfied") and 3 more great, authentic white towns: Ojen, Coin, Monda. For landscapes, also El Torcal National Park due north. You can day trip EAST over to pretty Nerja, taking a 6 km detour to the blindingly white Moorish town/arts colony of Frigiliana (great photo op and good ceramics shopping-see it while it's still relatively unspoiled but just about to explode). Going WEST, taking the toll highway (A 49) you can skip that unsightly concrete jungle and speed down past Marbella to the chic yacht harbour at Puerto Banus and points beyond where the drive becomes more scenic. Take a detour up into the Sierra to 2 more picturesque white towns, Casares and Gaucin, to get a real flavor of rural Andalucia.
 
Dec 12th, 2001, 12:23 PM
  #14  
Maribel
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A couple of thoughts on Granada:
If you can, try to fit in an overnight to Granada. A day trip is feasible, but fairly exhausting. And another magic memory will be an evening spent strolling the Alhambra hill after a fabulous dinner on the terrace of the 15th c convent-Parador. And stay at the quaint little Hotel America next door to save some pts. Also don't miss viewing the Alhambra at sunset from the Mirador San Nicolas in the Albaicin quarter. One incredible view! And either opt for the Alhambra tour with personal guide or purchase your timed tickets in advance on the web or at any BBVA bank in Spain (less time-consuming on-line), then rent the audio guide in English as your "guided" tour.
I highly recommend the Michelin #446 map (and www.viamichelin.com) Since signage is often poor, it's been invaluable to us many a time. To reach the Alhambra without getting trapped for hrs. in the maze of downtown Granada, take the Carretera de Circunvalacion before entering the city-will whish you up to the Alhambra parking lots. Then use the shuttle bus to get down to the Cathedral/Royal Chapel and taxi or walk to the Albaicin.
We like the Cadogan and Insight Andalucia guides because of their detailed cultural/historical info.
Your trip sounds terrific; have fun!
Maribel
 
Dec 12th, 2001, 01:11 PM
  #15  
Barb
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If you like a smaller ancient city with interesting sites add San Sebastian to your itinerary. Friends have travelled to Toledo - they say one day is all you need and then you get bored. Not much in the way of great dining at night. Make sure you have a voucher for your car and not just a reservation/confimation number. We had so many problems in Madrid two years ago I almost had to threaten a car rental agent. We also drove to Bilbao to see the Guggenheim - way cool. Seville is a university town still in October. Enjoy - Spain rocks!
 
Dec 12th, 2001, 05:50 PM
  #16  
Mary
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Thank you again, to Pedro, Maribel,zz and Julie! You've given me so much to think about in terms of what we're going to have to see. I think its time to buy a guidebook a bit more detailed then Frommers. I can't tell you how much I appreciate you people on this forum. Its hard to find people in my everyday life that are as enthusiastic about travel as you guys. Not to mention your knowledge. Thanks again.
 
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