JUST RETURNED FROM SOUTHERN SPAIN

Old Mar 30th, 2003, 02:57 PM
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JUST RETURNED FROM SOUTHERN SPAIN

I just returned from Southern Spain where I spent 4 days in Seville, then on to Granada, Nerja, Frangialani, Ronda, back to Seville, then to Madrid just time enough to go to the art galleries. Thanks to my new best friend Maribel, I took her advice for every single move I made, including Casa 7 and all the roads and stops along the way for the southern trip to the coast. I must say, my husband came to agree that Maribel is an absolute genius. She spoonfed me for my entire trip, which was absolutely fabulous, so if anyone needs secondhand advice about train, hotel, restaurants, tickets, whatever, feel free. Thank you, Maribel, where ever you are. I wish there were a Maribel for New Castle, Australia.
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Old Mar 30th, 2003, 03:10 PM
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Hi mcrogers,
Thanks very much for your very kind words and the faith you put it me.
A genius I am not (my Mom reminds me everyday of all my foibles since age four...), but I'm sure glad you enjoyed your trip. Whew!
I'm glad you loved Casa 7 as we do, and all the other beautiful spots on your itinerary. I'd love to hear more about your journey when you get the chance.
Welcome home!
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Old Mar 30th, 2003, 03:27 PM
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Maribel, Are you as knowledgable about France, by any chance???
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Old Mar 30th, 2003, 03:51 PM
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wren,
No! I'm afraid not! I'm only good on the Pays Basque in the southwest, so I've happily and heavily depended on the many wonderful, highly knowledgeable and generous French experts on the forum for our summer trip to the Loire, Dordogne and Bordeaux, which is what I'm researching here right now.
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Old Mar 30th, 2003, 05:19 PM
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Maribel, Yes, we loved Casa 7 where we stayed the first part of our trip. My son, who is a student in Seville, lived by Plaza Nueva, so it was a good 15 minute walk for him. He had planned all the major sites to see,(Alcazar, Cathedral, Plaza de Espana, the River, the art Museum, the Park) but he didn't know about Casa de Palates (sp)which was a real treat and just around the corner from Casa 7, as was Bar Modesto, which we loved. We went to a Flameco called Carbonerai, which was impromptu and quite enjoyable, also in Barrio de Santa Cruz. Had a fantastic dinner at Enrica Becera. We took a train day trip to Jerez where we saw a lovely cathedral, the Alcazar, and did the winery--a ton of fun, had tapas at an outdoor cafe by the town square fountain. On our 5th day we rented a car at the Renfe station (avis)--it was so easy, and we drove straight to Granada, took 2 hrs, where we checked in to the Hotel Alhambra Palace, a great choice. We arrived at noon, and had 2:00 tickets, which we had purchased at the BBV bank in Seville, so we walked to the Arab area in Granada and had the very best snack of my life. The place is called Royal Kabob. I had a royal kabob. The Alhambra was magnificent as was San Nicholas watching the sunset. Of course we had drinks on the veranda overlooking the city prior to our cab ride up to San Nicholas. After sunset we walked back down to town and had tapas at Cervesa International, and it was so good we stayed for dinner. Huge proportions of meat and veggies, it was a great choice. Next day followed your perfect directions to Nerja and had lunch by the sea, but not at Balcon de Europa because we couldn't find it at first and navigating thru all that traffic, we grabbed the first parking spot we saw. But we walked along the coast until we found our way to Balcon de Europa and it was lovely and worth the trip. We took wonderful pics at Nerja. Then up the hill to Frigialani (sp) where I bought some inexpensive ceramics, wish I had bought more, and saw the beautiful homes on the bluffs, then on the superhwy 15 to Marbella. Unfortunately, we missed the exit to Marbella, and I am sad to say we didn't go back (I was traveling with 2 men!) But that was ok, because we were ready to land somewhere so we drove to Rhonda and the drive was spectacular. We stayed at the Parador, a beautiful sight and had dinner at Pedro Romero. This is getting long so I am eliminating all the oo's and ah's, but needless to say, the ride was spectacular all the way from Seville, to Granada, to the coast, to Ronda and back to Seville. Back in Seville we spent our last night at Alphonso XIII, which was a real treat, and said goodbye to our son Next day took the AVE to Madrid, checked in to the Melia Confort Galgos another great choice, then took a cab to the Prado and Reina Sophia Museums. The Prado is opened until 7 and the Reina Sophia until 9:00. That was lucky for us because we were headed back to South Carolina the next day. That evening we had dinner at La Trainer (sp) in Salmanca and a fantastic dinner, but the waiter was not happy to serve us, being American. Too bad. It took 10 minutes by cab to the airport the next day. Thank you, Maribel, for the trip of a lifetime. You are so kind to give of your time and knowledge to people you don't know. p.s. I apologize for all the misspellings of these beautiful attraction cities and monuments.
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 02:40 AM
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Mcrogers,
Your enthusiasm is palpable. I leave for the same area in two weeks. It was a pleasure reading your report; you sound like a terrific traveler.
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 06:29 AM
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Hey, sounds aweseom, I'm going down that way in two weeks, can't wait!
Thanks for some tips, I'll def. be trying to partake in some of the same sites!
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Old Apr 3rd, 2003, 09:17 AM
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I need some of that secondhand advice about train, hotel, restaurants, tickets, whatever. My Husband & I are going to Seville which will be our HeadQuarters. I need ideas for Seville & day trips also we do not want to drive, so is bus or train. Any info would be welcome. Thanks.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2003, 12:20 PM
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HiLaurai, While I loved the hotels in which I stayed, I have heard nothing but great things about Las Casas de La Juderia. It is less expensive than many of the better hotels as is Melia Colon. My friend stayed there recently and paid $100 per night, tho I doubt it would be that now during high season. Both of these hotels are especially convenient to Barrio de Santa Cruz, where many of the highlights are. If you are flying into Madrid it is very easy to purchase you train tickets on the AVE either at the airport or after you get to the Atosha station. The cab ride from the airport to the train is about 20 minutes and cost us 17 Euros. The train cost about 60 per person to Seville. My son flew down on Iberia and wished he had taken the train. As far as day trips: four easy ones that I know of are Jerez, Cordoba, Carmona, and Ronda. You can take a train to Cordoba, and Jerez. We drove to Ronda on our way back from Granada, and I promise, if you drive during the day, it is easy and beautiful and not confining like you would be on a bus. I know a bus goes to Granada, but there are several stops. It is very easy if you rent a car at the train station from Avis and just take their directions out of town. If you decide to do this let me know and I give you very specific direction or you can get a michelin 440 series map and find your way easily. Cabs are very inexpensive, no tipping, and I never took a bus. If you go to Granada, you can get tickets at the BBV bank in Seville, or at the Alhambra itself. We drove in the morning left around 10:00, arrived in time to grab lunch because the second tour starts at 2:00. We stayed at the Hotel Alhambra Palace, and it was just great, and you could walk everywhere. Many people strongly encourage the early morning trip, but it didn't suit our schedule and our choice was great for us. I wasn't planing to spend time in Granada, other than to see the Alhambra, then we drove on down to the coast the next a.m. If you get all your iteneray and directions in a handy little book, and don't forget (I can't stress this enough) to make a note of all your confirmation numbers, your trip will be wonderful and you will not stress out about where to go when, and lose time getting lost. If there is something in particular you want to see, find out exactly how to get there (post a question or whatever, and have it all written down) Especially when you go to Alhambra you must have your confirmation number. In Ronda we stayed at the Parador, another lovely hotel and convenient location. I liked the shopping in Ronda because it was so handy. Then the ride by to Seville was easy and took one and a half hours, then we dropped off our car and took a cab to the hotel. Easy as pie. Let me know if you need more details about Restaurants or anything, glad to help.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2003, 12:42 PM
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One more thing, Laurai, my son, who is studying there, said he picked up a book called "Let's Go Spain" and it is the most helpful book he has seen giving info on hotel, trains, buses, restaurants, everything. I have seen this at every bookstore here in the states.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2003, 04:45 PM
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My husband and I would like to hear your exact travel route since we will be in Southern Spain in early June after attending a conference in Toledo. We'd like to visit Cordoba, Granada, Seville, Cadiz, Jerez and whatever else is suggested. How many nights should we stay in each place?(We have a total of 5 nights. Where do you recommend that we stay in Seville? What is Casa 7? We will have a car so what's the best travel route? How long a drive to each place? If we stay at one parador, which do you recommend? And, finally, how do I hear from the "genius" Maribel? Thanks
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Old Apr 4th, 2003, 07:38 AM
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Hi Judyjr, I just posted a very lengthy report for you, but it didn't post. I haven't had this happen before. But until I get some time to start over, let me suggest that you type in "low road" from Granada just exactly like that in the text search box and read what Maribel has to say. There is no better discription. I can make one correction: where she says the coastal road is N320, it is actually N340. Also, I explained in my previous post how to print out info., you probably already know this, but my husband had to show me. Highlight the postings you want to print then click on "file" at the top of your screen, then click on "print", when the big box comes up, click on "selection", then "ok" That will help you to establish a file of printed material to which you can later refer. I will get back with you when I have a little more time.
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Old Apr 6th, 2003, 06:08 PM
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Hi mcrogers,
Thanks for the "low road" reference.I truly regret that your first message didn't post. I found Casa 7 and will try to stay there. At this time our trip looks like this: Conference in Toledo (3 days) then down to Cordoba (1 night) then we're not sure if we should go to Seville (2 nights), Rhonda (1)then Granada (1) OR should we reverse the order from Cordoba?
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Old Apr 6th, 2003, 06:12 PM
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Maribel, if you are out there, do you have any other suggestions or advice for us? We thought we'd try the parador in Cordoba, Granada, and Rhonda and Casa 7 or Casa Judeiria in Seville. We will have a rental car. Thanks
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Old Apr 6th, 2003, 07:06 PM
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re the parador in Granada: Be advised that it is up on a high hill above town convenient to the lAlhmabra but not much else. If you like to walk the streets and mingle, suggest you consider staying in downtown. I am not sure, but think the parador in Cordoba is also out from the areas of interest.
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Old Apr 6th, 2003, 09:56 PM
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Judy,
I personally wouln't stay at the Parador in Cordoba, because it's several km outside of town (a 10 min. taxi ride) and also a modern building rather than historic. We've enjoyed the NH Amistad, right on the Plaza de Maimonides in the heart the Jewish Quarter and a short walk to the Mesquita. It's arguably the nicest atmospheric 4 star there, made from 2 18th century mansions, keeping the original mudejar patio (although the bedrooms are quite modern with all the expected amenities that NH generously provides).

There are varying opinions regarding Granada's Parador de San Francisco on the Alhambra hill. Some say it's overpriced and simple rather than lux in decor (it is the most exp. parador); others say one should stay downtown to soak up the city life; others say that downtown is quite scruffy, etc. We really enjoy staying above the noise, commotion and terrible traffic and find the Alhambra setting both romantic and restful, plus downtown is a very short and cheap cab ride away. There's also a very convenient minivan that departs every 15 min. from below the main Alhambra entrance and takes you down to the Plaza Nueva for sightseeing, shopping,dining, etc.
Another minivan takes you to the Albaicin, the Arab quarter.
This month we'll be staying at the Parador for sentimental reasons, while in the past we've stayed very happily at the lovely 4 star Alhambra Palace just a short walk away from the Alhambra grounds. Our visits have usually coincided with the International Music and Dance Festival held in mid-June on the Alhambra grounds, which we've enjoyed attending and another reason why we prefer to stay on the Alhambra hill.

We'll be in the Ronda Parador next week-sigh!
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Old Apr 7th, 2003, 08:46 AM
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I just got back from 5 weeks in Andalucia. I will not add to the info on big cities like Granada and Seville which I have seen many times over the years and find I am now "Cathedral-ed" out nor the touristy towns that seem to be losing their charm like Ronda,Mijas,and Frigiliana. We prefer to spend our time visiting small villages in the more mountainous areas. So these comments will be for those with the time to get off the "tourist track"and spend time in " white villages" with few Tour Busses in the Plaza.
I would recommend a tour that starts with a drive north of Motril taking A 348 east though the Alpujarras region of the Sierra Nevada mountains finishing in Almaria. This drive is about 150 kms though some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere. You are at times at 2550 metres and viewing the snowcap for at least a third of the trip. Villages worth a visit Orgiva,Bubion,Pitras and Yegan. Most only have one Hotel or Guest house and a couple of bars . Great area for trekking both organized and on your own, following ancient paths though Olive groves,across mountain streams of ice cold water and along ancient goat tracks.
My next reco is a trip though the area surrounding Grazalema Park west of Ronda.Highly recommend a tour that includes Zahara de la Sierra (stunning views from the Castle you can climb to at the top of town)then Grazelema ( visit one of the last woollen blanket factories in Spain where prices are one third of London etc) . The road to Grazelema from Zahara though the Paloma Pass is not for those with a fear of heights but is stunning! Out side of Zahara on this road is a small olive Oil factory that is worth a visit. the owner Juan will give you a tour though this 250 year old mill. His family has been there for 500 years. On the wall are numerous photos of bull fights and bullfighters. Also pictures of Orson Wells and Hemingway who where close friends of his parents since the family also raises bulls in the area.
Other options in the area are the town of Ubrique which is full of leather factories and shops. Also at Benaojan you will find the Caves of Pileta which have many 20,000 year old cave paintings. The cave tour is abut one hour in length and involves carrying Coleman type lanterns since there is no electricity in the cave complex. A couple of books that helped me plan trips and accomadation are by Guy Hunter-Watt ( a relative of mine who lives in a village near Ronda) 1. Walking in Andalucia: A guide to Some of the Very Best Walks in Southern Spain's Natural Parks
2.Small Hotels and Inns of Andalucia: Charming Places to Stay in Southern Spain
3. Walking in Adalucia 2003
Hope this is of some interest to those looking for the "different and small"
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Old Apr 7th, 2003, 09:04 PM
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duke,
Thanks for the feedback about your trip. I remember your planning. We're headed to the Ronda area next week (just 2 nights) and will make sure to stop at Juan's olive oil factory outside of Zahara. Glad you took the Puerto de las Palomas pass for the incredible views, although it certainly isn't for the faint of heart, you're right. I'm lucky to have a superb and very adventurous driver who's always ready to explore far off the beaten path.
Glad you enjoyed your 5 weeks of explorations!
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Old Apr 8th, 2003, 12:45 AM
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I just returned from Spain,and thanks so much to this site and all the responses, our trip was fab!
We did Madrid, so much to see and do there it is great. From there, high speed train to Seville. The orange trees were in full blossom and they were intoxicating. Great city, lots to do and see.
Then Granada - Alambra - wow, Cordoba, the history, not to mention the olive groves on the way and the beauty of the Sierra Nevadas! The countryside is something to behold and then we ventured over to Lisbon in Portugal, this city reminded ms so much of SanFrancisco. The steep streets, the cable cars, a bridge that was so much like tha Golden Gate. Portugal, although so different from Spain, was a great experience. If you can make it there, it is worth the effort.

Again, thanks to all who helped me plan my journey.
dc
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Old Apr 8th, 2003, 05:24 AM
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Mirabel! Thanks for all your help when we were planning . Hope you have a great trip yourslf.
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