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Madrid plus Castile or Madrid plus Eastern Andalusia for a week in April

Madrid plus Castile or Madrid plus Eastern Andalusia for a week in April

Dec 28th, 2008, 07:30 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 228
Madrid plus Castile or Madrid plus Eastern Andalusia for a week in April

Hello all,
We are planning our trip to Madrid in April and we are still undecided on which area to cover along with Madrid. We are a couple in early thirties and we are slow paced and like to cover little but do it well. We are more into food, watching flamenco, bullfights,walk around beautiful streets then we are about museums and castles (but I love visiting monasteries). We spent three weeks in spain on our honeymoon and we covered Ronda and the white villages, seville, and Barcelona. We enjoyed Ronda very much and we liked Seville fine and we did not like Barcelona very much.

My husband likes to drive very much but absolutely refuses to do a series of one nighters. So the question is Madrid with segovia and pedraza, or Madrid with Cordoba and Granada. We love little picturesque villages, so feel free to suggest any as we haven't booked anything yet.

Thanks so much
lol is offline  
Dec 28th, 2008, 07:59 AM
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What dates in April?
amsdon is offline  
Dec 28th, 2008, 08:23 AM
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Hi Amsdon
Anytime during the first Half
lol is offline  
Dec 28th, 2008, 08:41 AM
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Easter will be in the first half of April so you should book your accommodation ASAP especially if you want somewhere specific.
You do not say how you intend to travel.. Note…the more information you post here the better.

Flamenco is a southern thing but you will find it in Madrid, nothing further north to my knowledge.
Bull fighting, the further north you are the less chance of finding an event, but it is not impossible. Personally hate bull fighting so hopefully someone will give you the dates for events
All the other things you will find in abundance all over Spain, but I have to say for Monasteries one of the best places in Spain is where I live The Ribeira Sacra.
ribeirasacra is offline  
Dec 28th, 2008, 08:48 AM
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You could think about including La Vera Valley to the Madrid/Pedraza trip--you could include the Monastery at Yuste in your plans..
ekscrunchy is offline  
Dec 28th, 2008, 11:43 AM
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I read that Easter in Zamora is worth seeing, extremely traditional, but less of a crazy mob than Sevilla.

Unless you had your heart set on Semana Santa somewhere, I would head to Madrid first, (where you would check out flamenco) then go north for Easter if that works for your schedule.

Scrunchy & I have done Maribel's recommended visit to Pedraza which is lovely and quiet. There is a very small castle in Pedraza too.
Maribel mentions a castle route including Coca which I have not seen & sounds right for you guys if yu want castles.

Ribiera Sacra is right flamenco is a southern thing. But you will see plenty in Madrid.

And I am still looking forward to someday spending a night at the Meson Gonzles in Sacramenia and a meal in their butcher shop/kitchen (also Maribel recommended)

amsdon is offline  
Dec 28th, 2008, 11:58 AM
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LOl we also really enjoyed L a Granja & it's on the way to Segovia.

amsdon is offline  
Dec 28th, 2008, 12:27 PM
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Hi all,
ekscrunchy and Amsdon, where exactly is La Vera Valley and Mezon Gonzles? I tried to search the net but came out with nothing.
Thanks a lot
lol is offline  
Dec 28th, 2008, 01:05 PM
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I have only been to Segovia and also Pedraza.

Sacramenia is a small town in Segovia province. Meson Gonzales does not have a web site yet, I have called them (Spanish only) http://www.midworld.net/?section=acc...5632b2a24bbcaa

Hopefully Maribel will give better insight she has actually been to Meson Gonzales.

I am not sure about La Vera, ??
Scunchy might mean La Vera in Extramadura? Perhaps her trip reports reveal this..

amsdon is offline  
Dec 28th, 2008, 01:13 PM
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Oh, that is what I meant...I did write about our visit in my report--I can bring it up for you if you don't find it..

Also, here is some info:

ekscrunchy is offline  
Dec 28th, 2008, 01:16 PM
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Hi lol,
From your description of your likes, I do think that Andalucía is just a very good fit, particularly since you liked Ronda and Sevilla (and have yet to see Córdoba-Granada),
but here are some considerations:

Since your dates of the first half of April coincide with Holy Week (April 5-12 and school holiday), as amsdon says, you'd need to book ASAP for lodging in Córdoba and Granada, as those cities will be quite busy -not as jam packed as Sevilla, but busy nontheless.
And you won't find bargains in your lodgings during this prime season.

Flamenco you'll have in abundance your two southern cities, but bullfighting is a different story. The season in Sevilla begins on Easter Sunday, but major ferias in Córdoba and Granada take place in May and June respectively.

If you have your heart set on the south (and warmer temps), you could take the AVE to Córdoba from Madrid, then rent a car for the drive to Granada, so as to catch part of Holy Week there so as to be there for the procession that begins at the Alhambra. But if you want a car for day trips from Granada, you should plan to stay on the Alhambra hill and park it in the lots there for easy access in and out of the city. A car and downtown Granada are a terrible combination!

But for any day trips from April 5-12, remember that during Holy Week there will be much more traffic on the highways and city streets closed off to traffic for the processions. Also, you may not want to do day trips then at all but rather simply stay in these cities to soak up the festive ambiance and enjoy the pageantry of the processions.

Since your husband doesn't mind driving, here are some possible day trips, or you can see some of these on the move from Córdoba to Granada.

From Córdoba:
Priego de Córdoba (with a highly picturesque Judería), Zuheros and Cabra, around the Parque Natural de las Sierras Subbéticas, plus Montilla for the wines.

From Granada:
certainly north to Ubeda and Baeza, two Renaissance gems worth an entire long day. These two aren't tiny, but they both have very moving Holy Week processions in their own right. In Baeza you can visit the churches where the floats (pasos) will all be displayed ahead of time.
And on the way up you will want to drive to the top of the hill above Jaén to the Parador and castle for spectacular views.

as amsdon suggests, if you can do without the bullfights, or if you can see one on a Sunday in Madrid at Las Ventas along with flamenco before moving one, you could certainly travel NORTHWEST. This way you avoid the crowds and added cost of an Andalusian Holy Week, that is, if you don't mind the chilly weather. We saw Good Friday processions in Burgos last year, which we thoroughly enjoyed, but it was quite frosty!

Holy Week is magical in the south, but it also can be inspiring, somber and very moving in the Castilian cities, especially Segovia, Salamanca, Valladolid and Zamora, with its own Holy Week museum.

While I LOVE Segovia & Pedraza, those two bases are nearby and don't allow you to cover as much ground as you could moving on to another Castilian capital. (But since you're slow paced travelers, that may be just fine). As amsdon says, this Segovia province is all about doing the castle route-the driving route I have in my Segovia guide.

If you want to cover a larger area, you might choose another Castilian capital as a second base, such as Salamanca, which is quite beautiful (with day trips to Ciudad Rodrigo for the Charrada festival on Easter Sat. and La Alberca de Salamanca).
The area between Salamanca and Ciudad Rodrigo is black-hoofed pig (pata negra), cattle and fighting bull ranch country, the land of the dehesas, grazing land populated with holm oak, so look for the "toros de lidia" (fighting bulls) signs along the highway. You should pass a ganadería (bull raising ranch) or two.

Some noted monasteries in mid-Old Castile:
Las Huelgas Reales and
Cartuja de Miraflores
Santo Domingo de Silos
(Burgos province)

Santa María in Medina de Campo
Santa Clara in Tordesillas
(Valladolid province)

but they're very spread apart, not like the rich concentration in Galicia's Ribeira Sacra.
And they're not a quick drive from Segovia or Pedraza.

A third possibility would be Madrid then Extremadura with bases in La Vera valley and Cáceres, but it doesn't fit as well with the description of what you enjoy. I see this as a third trip for you, after finishing Andalucía or the jewels of Castilla León.

You really will enjoy the roast lamb Mesón González, which has a proper dining room but only open in high season. The rooms at the mesón are just basic and Sacramenia a true, dusty "blip in the road", so I wouldn't recommend it as a budget lodging alternative to Pedraza's Hospedería.
For that I'd choose El Zaguán in Turégano.
Maribel is offline  
Dec 28th, 2008, 01:29 PM
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Hi amsdon,

Or the charming Posada del Duratón in yes, another dusty, blip in the road, Sebúlcor, but it gets you very close to the truly spectacular Hoces del Duratón Park (gorge) and the Hermitage of San Frutos plus closer to Peñafiel, its castle, its asadores and the wineries of the Ribera del Duero.
(We've stayed here).

Maribel is offline  
Dec 28th, 2008, 01:32 PM
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I think that Andalucia and Castile are very different one from the other. The people also are kind of opposites.
I love both.
Castile is less known to the American Tourist and certainly it is not the land of flamenco.
For monasteries, I belileve the Monasterio de las Huelgas in Burgos is fascinating.
Considered one of the richest in all Spain, it is a Cistercian convent founded by Alfonso VIII in 1187 at the behest of her British wife Eleanor. THe abbess of Las Huelgas ,like for instance the abess of Fontenvraud in France, enjoyed more power and influence that any other woman in Spain except the queen herself, until her power and influence were revoked in the XIX Century.
THe tours take you through the English Gothic church,
which also serves as a pantheon for Castilian Kings.
The tombs were by the French during Napoleon's invasion of Spain. Only one tomb was spare, by chance, and this tomb produced such an amazing and fine collection of goods as to form the nucleus of the Monastery's Museo de Ricas Telas, this museum has a fascinating collection of fabrics and medieval dress.
Near Burgos the Cartuja des las Miraflores is, Burgo's second great monastery. Recently remodeled it has the mosst amazing work of GIl de Siloe, the great sculptor who was commissioned by Queen Isabel of Castille to sculpt the tomb of her parents. This a fantastic piece worth the trip to Burgos.
Burgos itself is for me a charming city. Austere. Nothing of flamenco. But not many tourists, it has a magnificent cathedral with the tomb of EL Cid, himself, and many little churches worth visiting since Burgos was in the Camino a Santiago.
If you think you might enjoy Castille, so much more austere that Andalucia but so interesting there are many unique places like Covarubias I believe the oldest medieval town in Spain. Charming. Much , much more, whatever is your religious believe, if you believe in God, listening to the monks singing in the Monasterio de Santo DOming de Silos is very special.
No doubt many more places,that I do not know. Cuenca comes to my mind too, although it is a little far and I think it is located in Old Castile.
Cuenca is located is on a high rock between two valleys. It is an amazing city.

Graziella5b is offline  
Dec 28th, 2008, 01:40 PM
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What I meant was the French desecrated the tombs in LAs Huelgas. During the XIX century when Napoleon invaded Spain.

Graziella5b is offline  
Dec 28th, 2008, 01:45 PM
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AS always Maribel yuo have my mouth watering at the thought of asadores I must be ike Pavlov's dog.... ((&))
amsdon is offline  
Dec 28th, 2008, 01:50 PM
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I love your description!

Ditto to what Graziella has told you so eloquently, both to the difference between Andalucía and Old Castile and also regarding Burgos-a low key but very charming city, with those possible day trips to Covarrubias, Santo Domingo de Silos, Peñarranda de Duero to the south and...
Santo Domingo de la Calzada and Nájera (Santa María la Real) to the northeast.

But a trip to Castilla-León is more about soaking up its rich patrimony: castles, convents, monasteries, Romanesque churches, history (El Cid), the Road to St. James than it is about the rest of the things you enjoy doing.

I see your decision as whether to complete your explorations of Andalucía, which you really enjoyed, or to venture into a new, unexplored area, more somber, more austere, as Graziella points out, less "folkloric" (using that term in a very positive way).

A nice decision to have to make!

Maribel is offline  
Dec 28th, 2008, 05:49 PM
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Hi Maribel,

We visited Covarrubias and the Monasterio de Santo Domingo de Silos thanks to your good advice!!!

You probably do not remember because you constantly provide so much of great guidance to all of Fodorites .... for you it must has been one of many suggestions, for us it was wonderful....

Thank you once more. Muchisimas gracias !

I am pleased that you agree with me. In turn I agree with you that lol is now facing an important personal decision.
Graziella5b is offline  
Dec 29th, 2008, 03:23 AM
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Maribel writes: "... Or the charming Posada del Duratón in yes, another dusty, blip in the road, Sebúlcor, but it gets you very close to the truly spectacular Hoces del Duratón Park (gorge) and the Hermitage of San Frutos plus closer to Peñafiel, its castle, its asadores and the wineries of the Ribera del Duero. ..."
A relative described it to me as Spain's Gran Cañon del Duratón. Similarities are the Vultures that nest on the cliffs.

lol, if you're really into Corridas you can find some in Comunitat de Valencia where they continue after San José (Fallas de Valencia) down the coast to Benidorm & Alicante.

Also, as I recall, Toledo used to have a Corrida on Palm Sunday.
NEDSIRELAND is offline  
Dec 29th, 2008, 03:47 AM
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Hi all,
I am still processing all the great info that you all gave me, thanks a lot. I have read Maribel's guide on Madrid, Toledo, and Segovia which are great and very helpful.
We are going to stay for about 3-4 nights in Madrid in order to see the bullfight on sunday and catch a late flamenco show on friday or saturday. We have decided to stay a total of 8 nights.
About that decision, hmmm. I think I prefer exploring new territories.
So 4 nights madrid
2 nights in another area near madrid, please help me decide that
2 nights pedraza driving back to madrid airport for flight home

Thanks so much
lol is offline  
Dec 29th, 2008, 03:56 AM
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If you are thinking flamenco, bulls and what is essentially the "true" Spain, I would have to recommend the Jerez area. It is the home of the flamenco arts, spanish sherry and the andalusian dancing horses. It is also very conveniently located for exploring the white villages of Arcos, Vejer, Lebrija et al. The beaches of Rota, Chipiona, El Puerto de Santa María and others are about 20 minutes away. It really has a lot to offer.

You can get more information on the city and attractions on one of the official websites, which is www.turismojerez.com For accomodations check out my website www.rentandaluz.com I have been living in Jerez with my spanish wife and son for about a year, and I can not talk the place up enough.

Well, good luck and enjoy your trip.
RentAndaluz is offline  

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