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Help please with Daytrip from Madrid to El Escorial and Valley of Fallen

Help please with Daytrip from Madrid to El Escorial and Valley of Fallen

Old Apr 15th, 2005, 03:52 PM
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Help please with Daytrip from Madrid to El Escorial and Valley of Fallen

I would like to daytrip from Madrid to El Escorial and also include a visit to Valley of the Fallen. I won't have a car so will have to rely on bus or train. I can see how to get to El Escorial, but can't figure out how to get from there to the Valley. It seems so "natural" to do these together so there must be a way. Thanks and appreication for any advice you can provide. Jim
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Old Apr 15th, 2005, 04:41 PM
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There are plenty of day tour companies that do this combo; Julia Tours, Pullmantour, etc.. the prices are very similar and so is the quality. I would go for the guided visit, the advantage being that they take care of transportation from Madrid, guided visit, and tickets. This visit also includes Avila, which is an impresive walled city with beautiful history. Typically, the hotel has plenty of information for these tours and they arrange the reservation.
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Old Apr 15th, 2005, 07:12 PM
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Last year, we took public transportation to El Escorial. We took the Metro to the Atocha Station. From there, the busses departed frequently to El Escorial. Also, from the same station, similar busses departed to El Escorial and the Valley of the Fallen.Each route has a different number.

We did not do the latter trip, as it seemed that it was a bit more complicated to get from the bus stop to the "Valley." The El Escorial bus stop was convenient to the site and there was an interesting town area to explore.

A guided tour may be more inclusive, but we enjoyed doing it on our own. It was also less expensive than the guided tours. mhm
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Old Apr 16th, 2005, 07:03 AM
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Viajero, do you know if anyone does the trip without going to Avila? We'd love to do Escorial and Valley of Fallen from Madrid, but then we plan to stay in Salamanca for several days and would rather be doing a full day in Avila on our own from there.

I like the idea of the "package tour" despite normally shuddering at the thought of tours, because like Mercy, it seemed complicated to try to do both on your own, and I couldn't see how to get from one to the other without returning to Madrid, but there may be a way.
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Old Apr 16th, 2005, 09:02 AM
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I wish I could point you to a good tour that doesn't do what ours did, but it certainly looked like no one escaped the drill.

It was one of the worst, most tourist-trapping experiences we had: tour from Madrid to Escorial, Los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen), and Toledo. All busses funnel tourists into a single restaurant for a lunch of canned soup, canned veges, gluey chicken, and a single glass of sour wine. Then all busses funnel tourists to a quick tour of the site in question -- and then in Toledo we were forced to spend almost twice as much time in the "factory" and "showroom-giftshop" to buy the overpriced metalwork that is its specialty. There were several tour bus companies all in a conga line for these things -- no one was better or worse (Julia, Pullmantour, etc.).

I urge you to do whatever it takes to visit these sites without using the standard, hotel-arranged bus tours. It may be that you can figure out the public transport; it may be that you can arrange for a private driver; and it may be that a travel agent can put you on a smaller tour that promises ONLY to get you to Los Caidos and no other commercial enterprises.

That said, DON'T skip Los Caidos -- it's amazing and unforgettable.
 
Old Apr 16th, 2005, 09:12 AM
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Cassandra, you've clearly explained why I normally "shudder" at the thought of those tours. You've described a couple of my very limited experiences. Once on a day stop from a cruise ship in Caracas, we decided we'd better take the "tour" as it was difficult to figure out the logistics on our own. Nearly half the entire time was spent at a "glass blowing factory" in the middle of nowhere. Who cared? We never did really get to see Caracas, except on the bus whizzing through to get to the glass blowing factory!

Since then I always ask about stops for shopping. When they proudly tell me about the opportunity they are offering to do so, then I quickly say, no thanks, that's not what I'm interested in. When they stammer a bit and say, well during our lunch break you might be able to squeeze in some shopping, then I know the tour is not geared towards some planned rip-off, kickback shoppping deal.
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Old Apr 16th, 2005, 04:56 PM
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Thanks for the discussion. I really don't want to consider one of those packaged bus tours as described. But I have done more research on this and now am convinced that there are two (and probably only two) ways to get from El Escorial to the Valley. The first way is a once a day bus that leaves El Escorial at 3:15 in the afternoon and comes back at 5:30. The bus company is Herranz and the price is reasonable - 7.80 euros which includes round-trip and admission to the site (no bus on Monday when the sites are closed). I found this comment on a web site: "The Autocares Herranz ticket office is within a strange little bar at Calle Reina Victoria, 3. The only bus leaves, from just around the corner, at 3:15 p.m., except on Mondays. Rather than risk having a problem at the last moment, it is wise to buy your ticket as soon as you reach town."

I think the only other way is a taxi which is quite expensive - probably at least 20 euro each way. If anyone comes up with any other alternatives, I would still be interested. Thanks, Jim
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Old Apr 17th, 2005, 04:52 AM
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Cassandra's post reminded me of a warning issued by the Tour Guide on the packaged tour I took to El Escorial; do NOT take any tour that would combine El Escorial with Toledo or El Escorial with Segovia. I don't believe Julia Tours even offers one. As far as Toledo, take the half-day tour, stay away from the lunch-inclusive one. This is one of the reason you research a trip before you jump into a new destination, so that, later on, you don't make off base generalizations.....

I speak Spanish fluently, have traveled Spain extensively, both by car and using public transportation and STILL strongly recommend a guided visit to El Escorial from Madrid. By the way, I have also driven to El Escorial from Madrid (twice on one day, but that's another story...).

Patrick, tour companies offer half-day tours that only include El Escorial-Los Caidos. They typically leave early from Gran Via and you are back in Madrid by 1pm. The convenience of hassle free transport is worth it.
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Old Apr 17th, 2005, 12:31 PM
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Viajero2, could you please explain why you recommend a guided tour to these places rather than going independently? Is it the hassel of going on your own, safety issues or other reasons? Thanks, I like getting the advice from someone who has been there. Jim
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Old Apr 17th, 2005, 12:49 PM
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I think Viajero2 did that in the second post of this thread above. Ease of transportation, having the guided tour (as opposed to doing it on your own, I assume) and tickets taken care of).

I'm only guessing buying the entrance tickets is a pretty minor concern, but from the descriptions above about trying to do both destinations by public transportation, I can certainly see the advantage of the tour transport arranged and timed out appropriately. My other guess is that if you go on your own, you may not be well timed for an English tour. One problem with attractions like this is that the tour in English may not be available except at a couple of times a day -- with a "package" you arrive and the guided tour is timed accordingly.

For years I've fought the idea of taking those guided tours, but I've also sure missed a lot when we do things like this on our own -- mainly not being able to match up to the tours as I've just described.

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Old Apr 17th, 2005, 02:31 PM
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I've been doing some reserach on this for my parents who will be in Madrid this summer. The following link shows excursions out of Madrid provided by Julia tours. One of them goes to El Escorial and Valle de los Caidos:
http://www.spanish-fiestas.com/excursions/madrid.htm
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Old Apr 18th, 2005, 11:28 AM
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I don't know how confident and independent minded you are but have you considered renting a car for the day? Yes, spoken like a true car-dependent American but what's wrong with maximizing your holiday. Roads are good, come and go as you please, do some research ahead and have your route all planned. We rented a minivan for six from www.rentacar-europe.com in Sevilla so we could casually hit the 'White Towns' at our own pace. Did it all online w/ credit card...very hassle free. For me, there is nothing like traveling and not having to conform to a transportation schedule. And to complicate things, I would highly recommend stopping at Segovia as well. We easily spent a whole day there wondering, touring, eating, drinking. Great town.
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Old Apr 19th, 2005, 07:37 AM
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Thanks for all of your good ideas and suggestions on this topic. tgordo, I had not planned to rent a car on this trip, but will reconsider that; I would believe you are correct that it might be the best way to see that area.
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