Madrid area and Andalucia questions

Old Jul 11th, 2018, 12:04 PM
  #1  
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Madrid area and Andalucia questions

My husband and I are spending the first 2 weeks of September in Spain. We fly into and out of Madrid arriving on a Monday morning. We have 14 nights to visit Spain planning to hit the top tourist sites (a few museums, view pretty buildings and plazas and outdoor vistas). I have Alhambra tickets for the end of the trip and international airfare tickets but nothing else booked. Warning: We have a fast paced travel style. This is the itinerary in the works:
Sept 2 Monday: Arrive 8:20am in Madrid
Day 2 Tues: Madrid
Day 3 Wed: Toledo
Day 4 Thurs: Segovia & El Escorial
Day 5 Fri: Salamanca
Day 6 Sat: Sevilla
Day 7 Sun: Cordoba
Day 8 Mon: Sevilla
Day 9 Tues: Arcos, Grazalema or Zahera, Ronda
Day 10 Wed: Malaga
Day 11 Thurs: El Torcal de Antequera ( Hiking)
Day 12 Fri: ?
Day 13 Sat: Granada (Alhambra 8:30am)
Day 14 Sun: Granada
Day 15 Mon: Fly home from Madrid 12:30 Departure
Questions: For the visits surrounding Madrid, should we day trip and go back to sleep in Madrid using train travel or rent a car and drive between Segovia, El Escorial and Salamanca and then onto Sevilla? Should we stop in Cordoba in route to Sevilla or day trip from Sevilla?
When driving from Sevilla to see the White Villages, should we spend one night in Ronda and move onto Malaga the next day? I might want to book the Spanish guitar concert at 7pm in Ronda's Guitar House.
For Day 12, I'd like to go sea kayaking off Maro Beach but I'm not sure how to do that and then get to Granada for the early outing on Day 13 (Alhambra 8:30am entry)
Should we try to fly from Granada to Madrid on an early flight the same day we depart Madrid at noon thirty or fly/drive the night before.
We know we need the car to visit the White Villages and for the hiking in El Torcal's hills and maybe for the beach/coastal areas but we do not know if we can do the rest by train/bus and still fit in the hectic movement from one area to another. It's much nicer to view the scenery as passengers and not have to find parking. Other than slowing down, are there better options for places to visit so the movement flows better? I'd appreciate any suggestions you'd offer including overnight recommendations.
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Old Jul 11th, 2018, 12:14 PM
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I can't follow all of the questions, but here is what I would do:

Arrive Madrid, train to Cordoba OR Sevilla, stay a few days
pick up car, drive to Ronda, Zahara, Grazalema, OR Antequera, stay a few days
drop car, visit Granada a few days, train to Madrid for rest of time (doing day tips by train from there)

That would prevent you from having to split your Madrid time; however, it will only work if you can change your Alhambra reservation.
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Old Jul 11th, 2018, 12:14 PM
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Pretty face paced with lots of driving and little time in stops along way - trains are great for Toledo from Madrid but others would be good by car from Madrid - as all in a row. But really need to pare down a lot - consider returning car in Granada and blasting back to Madrid night before by high-speed AVE trains (going up to nearly 200 mph on much of the trip) - book train tickets early at Renfe for sweet discounted fares - www.seat61.com has keen advice on doing that yourselves online - other sites for lots on trains like first v 2nd class, etc also check BETS-European Rail Experts and www.ricksteves.com. But, really need to pare down a whole lot.
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Old Jul 11th, 2018, 04:33 PM
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I believe one should always be in departure city night before -could stay at airport hotel - unless your connecting flight Malaga-Madrid is tied in with other flight so if late or cancelled you don't lose you fare - otherwise things can happen always so be in Madrid and with that early a fllight - is check-in 12:30 or take-off - if trans-Atlantic you may have to be at Madrid airport few hours before.
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Old Jul 11th, 2018, 06:30 PM
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Thanks for the replies. yorkshire, the Alhambra tickets were not available for morning visits early in my trip, so I chose to go to Granada at the end. Would Antequera be a better base instead of Malaga after Ronda? PalenQ, I will plan to get a car for Segovia and Salamanca but should I drive to Sevilla from there or use the train? Take-off is 12:30 from Madrid, so I will check out the train sites you mentioned to book our travel for the night before.
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Old Jul 11th, 2018, 06:48 PM
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kja
 
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Are you sure you can see and experience what you want with this itinerary? Your overall plan is in about half the time that I wanted for these areas – and I also travel at what many consider to be a ridiculously fast pace. I think you will spend a disporportionate amount of time in transit relative to the time you have on the ground, and you will spend so little time in any of the places you plan to visit that it isn’t entirely clear to me that you can see even a smattering of their highlights.

Whether to visit places as day trips or to move on is a personal choice.

Using a car for this trip will, IMO, just mean making it even more exhaustingly unpleasant. You won’t need a car at all if, for Day 9, you go to Ronda and skip the other white towns and if you choose a different location for hiking than what you specify for day 11. At this pace, I think you would really benefit from some down time on a comfortable train, and I certainly would NOT want to be on the same roads as you if you tried to drive while as tired as you might be if you pursue this plan.
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Old Jul 11th, 2018, 07:24 PM
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You’re moving too fast to enjoy the trip! We did a similar trip years ago (excluding the white villages). Here’s what I suggest:

3 nights Madrid (day trip to nearby areas via train.. we day tripped to Toledo and loved it).
3 nights Seville (day trip to Córdoba). I think we did 4 nights but our kids were younger so we had to go slow.
3 nights Mediterranean Beach- we did this after Granada (we chose Marbella because we had a time share but you can research a good spot for the water sport you want to do.)
3 nights Granada and I believe you could rent a car and visit Rhonda/white villages from here.
1 night Madrid - you definitely want to be back a night before your flight.

You have another night to add wherever you choose. You can do all the above via train. The train system is great and if you book early enough you can even get good deals. I would look into taking a regional flight back from the south to Madrid. We did that and found a bargain deal ($25 one way ticket from Malaga to Madrid). Good luck and you’ll love Andalusia !
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Old Jul 12th, 2018, 06:49 AM
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PalenQ, I will plan to get a car for Segovia and Salamanca but should I drive to Sevilla from there or use the train?>

Keep going with car but trains are great to Segovia and Salamanca but spotty from there to Seville.
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Old Jul 12th, 2018, 10:36 AM
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Well, it's a 6-hour train ride Salamanca-Seville (via back to Madrid) so if going by public transit look at buses which may be quicker and more direct. Or take trains to Salamanca and Segovia from Madrid - very easy and then train to Seville and go by car.

Last edited by PalenQ; Jul 12th, 2018 at 10:41 AM.
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Old Jul 13th, 2018, 09:23 AM
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Thanks for the thoughts and advice. When figuring day trips by train vs renting a car and staying overnight at the new locations, the time and effort for each method seems to be about the same. For day trips and trains, you have to get to the train station and allow time before departure in both directions. To change locations, you have to pack and check out and then find your new hotel and if you use a car, you have to get to the rental car place, get the car, and find parking at the new hotel, etc. Even though train routes are usually faster than driving routes, all things considered, I think time and effort are about the same, except for getting to ride ON the train instead of drive and navigate during the trip. But a car gives flexibility with stops and timing of movement. So I am always overwhelmed when trying to decide how I want to plan the trip.
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Old Jul 13th, 2018, 09:45 AM
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PalenQ, you are correct about the 6 hour train from Salamanca to Seville and driving direct takes 6 hours too. So, it seems backtracking to Madrid to take the 2.5hr AVE to Seville looks like the best option. kja, I have not looked at each area close enough to make my must-see list for each town but I think I would be happy just being there to see their main, top sites. Also, the area I chose to hike on Day 11 is so spectacular I would not want to miss spending time there. There are guided tours to that area that includes transportation so that might be possible without a car too. layanluvstotravel, did you use Marbella as a base for visiting other nearby areas? For the days we see Ronda, El Chorro (Caminito Del Ray) and Antequera hiking I would like a good base. I looked at Malaga but it looks like a big city that might be difficult to get out of each day for seeing those areas up in the mountains.
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Old Jul 13th, 2018, 10:03 AM
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huh, that's funny to me that you consider the effort the same when you list all the things you have to do to rent a car and change hotels versus just going by metro or walking to the train station (if in a small place) to do a day trip, but it's your time. to me, the effort isn't even close to being equal, renting a car and dealing with it and changing hotels every night is a lot more trouble.

You wouldn't need a car at all for those trips except for Salamanca (the ones up north), as that is really too far for a day trip by train. But since you don't seem to mind the car business at all, I guess that would work.

I really don't understand the end of your trip. If you have to fly out of Madrid, surely you are going back to Madrid the day before you leave, aren't you? If you were someplace a bit more direct to Madrid by train, maybe I could see it (although I wouldn't do it), but not when you are in Granada of all places. Of course the trains from say Seville don't go to the airport, anyway. there are no early morning flights from Malaga to Madrid. The is one at 7 am from Granada, so I suppose you could take that if you really wanted to do it the same day, you should get into MAD at 8 am, that should work.
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Old Jul 13th, 2018, 02:18 PM
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"a few museums" and I have not heard one word about the Prado which I find odd.
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Old Jul 13th, 2018, 02:39 PM
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honestly, castlesANDfalls, there's fast paced and then there's suicidal, and I would put your trip into the latter category.

to start off with, i would suggest actually staying in Madrid at the beginning of your trip and not banking on wanting to do all of those day trips - if you are nicely tucked into a hotel in Madrid then you can decide the night before whether you want to head off the next morning, or mooch about Madrid. Much more restful than moving around on a day to day basis and probably cheaper than hiring a car.

Then I would want at least 4 nights in Sevilla [could you overnight in Cordoba en route?] in which case perhaps you could manage with 3.

And you should use your Day 12 for Granada, which frees up Day 14, Sunday, for traveling back to Madrid for a night before your flight hime.

That seems like more than enough for a first trip to me.
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Old Jul 13th, 2018, 05:50 PM
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kja
 
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Originally Posted by castlesANDfalls View Post
When figuring day trips by train vs renting a car and staying overnight at the new locations, the time and effort for each method seems to be about the same. For day trips and trains, you have to get to the train station and allow time before departure in both directions. To change locations, you have to pack and check out and then find your new hotel and if you use a car, you have to get to the rental car place, get the car, and find parking at the new hotel, etc. Even though train routes are usually faster than driving routes, all things considered, I think time and effort are about the same, except for getting to ride ON the train instead of drive and navigate during the trip. But a car gives flexibility with stops and timing of movement. So I am always overwhelmed when trying to decide how I want to plan the trip.
Having a car can offer a freedom not otherwise available and a chance to see places that are not readily visited via public transportation, and certainly, there are times when I choose to rent a car, too! But there are disadvantages to having a car, too. For example:

- Some of those “oh, doesn’t that look charming!” places aren’t actually that charming, and by the time you get back on the road, you can end up with less time than might be ideal for visiting the places that were your priorities.

- Driving can be stressful – and I say that as someone who loves driving! But some roads are challenging, unexpected detours or GPS failures can be a bit daunting, and driving into cities (and finding parking) can make the last part of a long trip less than pleasant.

- Driving – or at least responsible driving – can also pose constraints on the driver. For example, the driver may be unable to truly enjoy spectacular scenery, as s/he needs to pay attention to the road -- sometimes, very careful attention! And depending on how much one eats and one’s size and and how long one relaxes over a meal, even a glass of wine with lunch may carry risks.

- Driving is generally not a particularly green choice – and for some of us, that is a worthy consideration.

- One of the best things about taking public transportation: It can sometimes give you wonderful opportunities to interact with people from the area, or gain insights into local norms and traditions.

- If there is any chance that you will have jet lag, I would strongly encourage you to take public transportation for your first night or two. Although many people are not aware of it, there is mounting evidence that driving with jet lag is just as dangerous -- to yourself and others -- as driving drunk, and nothing you can do will prevent the microsleeps (which you might not even notice) that are the apparent culprit. And please note – microsleeps aren’t dependent on getting sleep or not, they result from shifting your waking / sleeping cycle away from the one to which you are accustomed. Seriously -- NOT a good idea, no matter your other constraints and no matter your prior experience!

And as mentioned upthread, this itinerary is so very, very, very fast-paced that you will be hard-pressed to get sufficient rest to be a safe driver. In contrast, trains and buses will give you a chance to relax or even nap -- and I, for one, think you will need that. Your trip already devotes an extremely high percentage of time to transportation; at least give yourselves the best chance you can to be able to see something of the places you are madly dashing around to visit!
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Old Jul 13th, 2018, 07:56 PM
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Thanks for all the thoughtful advice. I still need help choosing a base for 3 nights after Sevilla. We could fly, train or drive from Sevilla but we will need a car after arrival in that area. I have trimmed a little off the list so now I have:
3 nts Madrid (with a daytrip to Toledo by train) Yes, we will visit the Prado while in Madrid.
1 nt Salamanca (driving from Madrid with a stop in Segovia) Plan to drive 2.5 hrs after 1/2 day visit in Salamanca to drop car in Madrid and take AVE to Sevilla arriving after 8pm
4 nts Sevilla (with a daytrip to Cordoba by train)
3 nts at the undetermined base (Maybe Malaga, Marabella or Antequera) Pick up a car for Ronda and hiking
2 nts Granada (dropping the car on arrival)
Fly to Madrid from Granada 6:20pm departure (1 nt Madrid airport area)
Fly home from Madrid 12:30 departure
The day we leave Sevilla, we plan to hike near Antequera in El Torcal later afternoon. The next day we will drive to Ronda and maybe Zahara too and return to base. The next day we will hike 3-4 hrs in El Chorro at Caminito Del Ray and go back to the base, then drive to Granada. We want to mix in some natural, outdoor areas along with monuments, churches and museums. If we feel Sevilla needs more time, we can plan a return trip and add in Portugal.
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Old Jul 14th, 2018, 06:16 AM
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Train to Seville from Madrid and pick up car - trains go nearly 200 mph and only a few hours leaving you much more time in Seville.
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Old Jul 14th, 2018, 01:30 PM
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4 days in Seville is plenty - well 3 days with day trip to Cordoba - book those train tickets in advance if want to take faster trains and get discounted tickets - as explained above.
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Old Jul 14th, 2018, 02:52 PM
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We recently spent two nights in Antequera on our way from Malaga to Ronda and loved it. We did some hiking in El Torcal and it was a wonderful otherworldly experience. It started out sunny and then the fog rolled in obscuring the amazing formations Unfortunately for us it was also very wet and muddy from nonstop rain but we had a grand time anyway. I think it’s a little visited gem of Andalusia.
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Old Jul 14th, 2018, 06:11 PM
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We were in Madrid and Andalucia last September, so based on our itinerary and experience, 4 nights in Seville is a good amount BUT without daytripping to Cordoba. 4 nights gives you 3 full days. We had about 3.5 days, and that was enough to see what we wanted to see. If you daytrip to Cordoba from Seville, you really only have 2 full days in Seville. Also, if you can, I recommend spending 1 or 2 nights in Cordoba. it was one of our favorite cities. It is quieter and less crowded than the other cities, and very pretty with its white-washed buildings, colorful patios, and flower pots attached to walls. The Juderia is a gem. We loved the Mezquita, the Alacazar, the Palacio de Viana (house with 12 patios), and the Roman Bridge.
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