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Laura Sep 22nd, 1999 08:18 AM

Itinerary for Southern Spain
My husband and I are contemplating 11-day trip to Madrid and Andalusia in early April. How does this itinerary sound? <BR>Day 1 Arrive Madrid <BR>Day 2 Madrid <BR>Day 3 Day trip to Toledo,return to Madrid <BR>Day 4 Fast train to Seville <BR>Day 5 Seville <BR>Day 6 Rent car, drive to Ronda, spend night <BR>Day 7 Drive to Granada; spend night <BR>Day 8 Granada <BR>Day 9 Bus or train to Cordoba, spend night <BR>Day 10 Return via fast train to Madrid <BR>Day 11 Depart Spain <BR>Would love to spend more time in the countryside, but can't figure out how without missing must-sees in cities. Also,is 2 days in Seville enough? Is car better than bus from Seville to Ronda to Granada in order to see more countryside? To go from Granada to Cordoba, is bus or train better? How far in advance should one make train reservations and can you make them by phone? Thanks for advice or other suggestions.

Maira Sep 22nd, 1999 08:58 AM

Sounds like a keeper! <BR> <BR>One way to fit in more Spanish countryside is to fly into Malaga (skip Madrid) and drive from there to Seville (just a suggestion...I liked Madrid). <BR> <BR>Have you look into spending an overnight in Toledo and driving from there to Seville? You may enjoy La Mancha Region which is very characteristic of Spain. <BR> <BR>Never done the train, always a car for me. BTW, Southern Spain is one of the most convenient (and easiest) places to have a rental car. What you may want to start doing ASAP is making hotel reservations. April in Andalucia is a very special time (Festivities associated with Holy Week) and hotels fill up very early on. <BR> <BR>Your trip sounds wonderful! Have the best time!!!

Ruth Sep 22nd, 1999 10:26 AM

We were in Southern Spain last May. Seville was nice, but I loved Granada. The Alhambra was fabulous but another high point was walking up the hill into the San Nicolas mirador neighborhood and seeing all the lovely squares there. People very friendly.

Anne Sep 22nd, 1999 10:46 AM

We spent 2 1/2 weeks in Spain this summer. It's a wonderful country. I think your itinerary looks great. I would suggest that you consider an overnight in Toledo. It's a short train ride back to Madrid so you can still get the AVE train to Seville as you planned. Toledo is lovely at night. Two days in Seville is enough -- that's what we did and we had time to see all the major sights (cathedral, Alcazar, Plaza de Espana via horse-drawn carriage, flamenco). Driving from Seville to Ronda is best so that you can stop at hill towns along the way (Grazalema is a good one). I think the drive from Ronda to Granada is a long one, the train would be a lot easier on you. Have a great trip!

Maribel Sep 22nd, 1999 04:06 PM

Laura, <BR> Looks like a fine, well-thought out itinerary for 11 days, and I believe that you will really enjoy a full 3 days in Madrid-it has so much to offer (although you might like to spend night 3 in Toledo then return early on morning of day 4 to catch the AVE to Seville, since you will probably be returning to Madrid from Cordoba by late morning, day 10). Your two days each in Seville and Granada are a wise plan. <BR> As Anne has told you, a car rather than bus from Seville to Ronda is a much better option. It will allow you the flexibility to stop in Jerez for a visit to a sherry bodega or, if it happens to be a Thursday, to see a performance of the Cartusian horses at the Royal Andalusian Equestrian School, and also in route from Arcos de la Frontera to Ronda, you'll be able to detour to one of the three loveliest "pueblos blancos" (El Bosque, Zahara de la Sierra and Grazalema) in Andalucia, giving you a better flavor of the countryside. <BR> If you take the inland route from Ronda (through Los LLanos de Antequera) to Granada, it is a very easy 110 mile drive-should take you 3-3 1/2 hrs. <BR> The 4 hr. train trip from Granada to Cordoba requires a change in Bobadilla, but there are 8 daily buses to Cordaba, and it's a 3 1/2 hr. ride. <BR>Train reservations for all Spanish trains, including the AVE, can be made in advance through Rail Europe (phone: 800 4-EURAIL). <BR> I would certainly second Maira's suggestion to make your hotel reservations in Seville as soon as you have your dates. The Holy Week processions there are world famous (from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday, April 20-23 next year, and hotel space extremely hard to come by on short notice (and also quite expensive). <BR> Flamenco is best seen in the tablaos in either Madrid (such as Cafe de Chinitas) or in Seville (El Arenal or Los Gallos are two reputable ones) rather than in Granada. <BR> You might also want to reserve tickets (timed slots) for your Alhambra visit by faxing the ticket office at least one week ahead (fax: 34 958210584) or purchasing them upon arrival (day 7) at the Banco Bilbao Vizcaya on Plaza Isabel Catolica in the city center or perhaps at a BBV branch office if you happen to pass by one in Madrid. <BR> Also I would suggest that since signage is rather poor on highways in Andalucia, you might want to pack a very detailed road map of the area, such as the Michelin 446. <BR> April is a perfect time for a visit to southern Spain. Hope you have a wonderful journey! <BR> <BR> <BR>

Maribel Sep 22nd, 1999 04:26 PM

Laura, <BR> Forgot to add that if you are traveling during Holy Week next April, it would, indeed, be best to buy your AVE tickets in advance, as many, if not most Spaniards are on holiday for at least a portion of that week, and the AVE seats could be very hard to come by if you wait until you arrive in Madrid to secure them.

Laura Sep 23rd, 1999 04:38 AM

Thanks to all for the wonderful information. We will definitely spend the night in Toldedo as <BR>suggested. This is a terrific forum! Any recommendations for hotels in Madrid? (We tend to go for smaller and charming, but comfortable).

Maribel Sep 23rd, 1999 05:16 AM

Laura, <BR> In the moderate category ($100-150 per night), I would suggest the new, small Prado Suites or the larger Tryp Reina Victoria, both in the Plaza Santa Ana area, within easy walking distance of the three "Golden Mile" museums (Prado, Reina Sofia, Thyseen), the Plaza Mayor and Palacio Real. <BR> A great budget choice (under $80) very popular among posters on this Forum is the friendly Mora, across from the Prado. <BR> If by chance you're interested in a small, very upscale, 4-star property in the $180-250 range, I can recommend the <BR>Villa Real, next to the venerable Palace and the Parliament building, again within easy walking distance of most all major sites.

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