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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 29th, 2008, 06:30 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,309
Just to let you know that Velázquez, Rodríguez, González and other similar spanish surnames end with a Z, and not an S.
josele is offline  
Dec 29th, 2008, 07:05 AM
Join Date: Dec 2006
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I am sure Maribel has been clear, Pedraza is very beautiful, but very very quiet during the week and what she accurately describes as sleepy.
We loved it that way but it is something you should know.

If indeed you go there in addition to Yantar which is the retaurant specializing in the roast lamb, we also drove the extra 7 minutes to a fantastic retaurant Codex Calixtinus, Juan Manuel is the owner http://www.restaurante-calixtinus.es/home.html

amsdon is offline  
Dec 29th, 2008, 12:33 PM
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I describe the gorge of the Duratón to my friends the same way your relatives have described it to you-it's a truly spectacular sight to see, particularly from the dramatic vantage point of the Ermita de San Frutos. Just breathtaking with hundreds of griffon vultures circling above.
In April we introduced American friends to the site, and they were in awe. I never tire of walking down there. I was introduced to it by Maria H, a fellow Spain lover Fodorite. Here are some images:


Since you've decided to explore new territory but close to Madrid, I suggest Segovia for your first base. It's a beautiful, charming small city. Just feast on isabel's gorgeous photos:


From Segovia, you can easily explore Avila and walk atop its walls, take a guided bilingual tour of the Bourbon summer palace of La Granja and gardens, often called the Spanish Versailles, and other driving tours I explain in the Segovia guide. Since you've read the guide, you can pick out what most appeals to you and the pace you'd like to keep.

And since you enjoy fine food, certainly venture to Codex in Cañicosa during your Pedraza stay. It's the area's most elegant dining.
La Olma in Pedraza is also a lovely place to dine, and El Yantar is THE place for baby roast lamb, as amsdon and escrunchy know so well, plus
great roast lamb at Figón Zute el Mayor, (Tinín) in Sepúlveda, Mesón González in Sacramenia, José María in Segovia, La Portada del Mediodía and Posada de Javier in Torrecaballeros....all those places and more I've recommended in the Segovia file.

Maribel is offline  
Dec 29th, 2008, 01:57 PM
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hi lol,

if you are spending 4 nights in Madrid and only have another 4 ngihts, with 2 spent on the way back to Madrid, IMHO you don't really have time to get to the south.

we loved salamanca, which would make a very good base for two or three nights; we also liked Burgos [despite having our car broken into].

have a great trip,

regards, ann

annhig is offline  
Dec 30th, 2008, 12:08 AM
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Posts: 228
Hi guys,
Thanks for all the great advice, I have a lot of research to do.
Maribel, I have yet to hear your opinion on Salamanca. Should we consider it for those 2 nights instead of Segovia since many fodortites rave about it?
Also my husband does not eat lamb and we both don't eat pork. So are there any good dinning in Pedraza options for those into seafood and poultry?

Thanks a lot
lol is offline  
Dec 30th, 2008, 07:21 AM
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One of the interesting things about Spain in general is the fact that even inland they serve alot of fish, and it's very good.

In Segovia there is a restaurant called Narizotas (big nose) It is on the way from the plaza in Segovia towards the aqueduct, very short walk about 3 minutes.
It has a different menu than those heavy on lamb.
amsdon is offline  
Dec 30th, 2008, 07:44 AM
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just chirping in here and not sure if someone already addressed your last nigh tplans.

i do not recommend staying as far as pedraza from barajas unless you have an afternoon flight.

alcala de henares would be better, or do madrid at end of trip and leave from there.

lincasanova is offline  
Dec 30th, 2008, 10:41 AM
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Regarding lin's concerns about your last night plans:

We regularly stay in Pedraza the night before our transatlantic flight. But we do so because our flight leaves at 1 pm.
Our last trip from the door of our Pedraza inn, leaving at 8 am, to the car rental drop off at Terminal 1 took us 1 hr, 15 min., but we know the route well, having done this several times. We also have preferred status with our airline and use the first class check in counter, where we never encounter a line. If you have an afternoon flight, it's fine, but I wouldn't do this if my plane departed in the a.m.

Regarding Old Castile menus and the abundance of pork products:
Segovia is the land of roast lamb and roast suckling pig , and Salamanca, the land of the Iberian pig, their pork products being quite famous. In the Segovia province, their "cochinillo/tostón" (roast suckling pig) and "lechazo" (baby roast lamb) are two hugely popular specialties, so your dining will be more limited. That said, fish (of high quality) will be served at restaurants other than at the most traditional of the roasting taverns, the "hornos de asar" (like Tinín), so you will always find a very good fin or shell fish dish at a regular restaurant.

I also recommend Narizotas, Di-Vino and Villena (with a Michelin star) in Segovia for non-traditional fare.
In Pedraza, the menu at the very attractive La Olma is also more varied. A new restaurant, La Taberna de Antioquía, serves fish dishes including their special black rice with baby prawns and squid. And La Posada de don Mariano's restaurant, Enebro, will have a more varied menu than your typical "horno de asar", or "yantar" (roasting oven places).

I do love Salamanca, and I studied there as a teenager. My favorite Spanish cities all begin with S (with the exception of Pamplona):
Segovia, Salamanca, Sevilla, Santiago de Compostela, Santander, San Sebastián, in no particular order.

I haven't put my Salamanca guide up on my web page yet, but I plan to do so. Salamanca is just a lovely city with beautifully harmonious architecture-buildings of soft, warm local sandstone (piedra de Villamayor) which take on a beautiful glow at sunset. It boasts not one but two cathedrals, and it city is made for leisurely strolling. It's a lively university town as well, once once of Europe's most prestigious seats of higher learning, in its Golden Age called Spain's Oxford.

From Salamanca you could take a day trip either to La Alberca de Salamanca, a highly atmospheric medieval village nestled in the Sierra de Francia or to Ciudad Rodrigo, a small city near the Portuguese border, which celebrates the Fiesta de la Charrada, a folkloric music festival, on Easter Saturday at 5 pm in the square, if your dates were to coincide.

If you do have an afternoon flight and plan to stay somewhere within a 90 min. drive of the airport, you wouldn't want to try to access the airport from Salamanca, since it's too far a drive from Madrid. But you could certainly visit Salamanca first, then Madrid, as lin suggests, if need be.

So for your Old Castile provincial capital base, I see Segovia, Salamanca or Burgos (the latter two would be a 2 hr. 30 min. drive from Madrid) as strong contenders. Burgos has an exquisite Gothic cathedral and the other historical wealth that Graziella explained so well to you. Segovia and Salamanca are really two magical cities for me.

I think it just depends on how far afield you want to explore.

Hope this helps you a bit more to decide.

Maribel is offline  
Dec 30th, 2008, 11:38 AM
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Hi all,
Maribel, I get so excited when I get a lengthy post from you, it means I am definitely closer to making up my mind. I am so looking forward to your Salamanca guide.
After reading this info I think the following.
4 nights in madrid then pick a rental car from downtown madrid for 5 days. Drive to either Salamanca or Burgos for 2 nights then head to Pedraza for 2 final nights. Our flight home is at 15:45 so I think if we leave Pedraza around 10:30 and allow 2 hours for the road and 3 more hours at the airport to drop off our car and catch our flight that would be ok, right?

Some thoughts
1-Since we are spending the last two nights in Pedraza, I think we can see Segovia from there, right?
2-how big is Burgos? Is it a town or a village. can we drive from there to see the chanting of the monks at Santo Domingo de Silos? Can anyone recommend some reading on the net on Burgos. The sites I found were not user friendly.

Thanks to all very much
lol is offline  
Dec 30th, 2008, 12:17 PM
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Regarding the rental car pick up in Madrid, when we travel to the north, we pick up our vehicle at Estación de Nuevos Ministerios rather than at a downtown location. All the major car rental players are there. The agents will show you how to exit and get on your way to the north quickly.

After trying all different pick ups, we find the Nuevos Ministerios pick up much quicker and easier to get on our way to the north than from a car agency in the impossibly congested Plaza de España-Gran Vía area or Atocha station to the south. It saves us considerable time and stress.

Your questions:
Yes, you can see Segovia from Pedraza. I would get an early start, though, and take the whole day. The drive takes about 40 minutes. I'd leave the car at the parking lot on Paseo Ezequiel González across from the bus station (follow the P signs), since most of the parking spots near the Aqueduct are blue zones, requiring meter feeding every 2 hrs. From there it's an easy walk to the tourist office and Aqueduct at Plaza Azoguejo, where you'll want to begin your touring.

Burgos is a city, population: 174,000

The Monastery of Santo Doming de Silos is an easy drive from Burgos, but to hear the monks' chants, timing is EVERYTHING. Here's their web page, only in Spanish:

Click on "visitas", then "horario de oficios" for the mass times. You'll then see the times that the chants are sung, from lunes (Mon.) to domingo (Sun.) to
festivos (holidays).
At the 13:45 mass there is only partial singing (not much), so I would try for vespers (vísperas) at 7 pm
during the week because...
you'll also want to visit the gorgeous cloister, the art museum and the pharmacy during your visit. These are "must sees" as well.
So click on "visitas al claustro".
You'll see that the complex is CLOSED on Mon., Sun. and holidays in the am (mañanas)
but OPEN from 16:30-18:00 every day but Mon.
with TWO exceptions:
Maundy Thursday (jueves santo) and Good Friday (viernes santo).
So, you'll need to plan your excursion to Santo Domingo de Silos carefully, particularly during Holy Week so as not to be disappointed.

When we visit Santo Domingo de Silos, we make a loop. We drive down the quick A 1 to Lerma, then go east on the BU-V 9021 to charming
then south to Santo Doming de Silos
then down the BU 923 past the gorge of Yecla down to
Peñarranda del Duero
to visit its wonderful Renaissance Palacio de Avellaneda (with impressive coffered ceilings) and the second oldest pharmacy in Europe,
then back west on the BU 925 to Aranda de Duero where we catch the A 1 back to Burgos.

But to hit vespers at Santo Domingo de Silos, you'd need to do this itinerary in reverse, but after vespers, skipping Covarrubias (see it at another time), since you don't want to visit it in the dark!

For a shorter excursion, go straight to Covarrubias then to Silos and back to Burgos and forget the southern portion.

Maribel is offline  
Dec 30th, 2008, 12:38 PM
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Regarding web sites, have you tried the pages of
the Castilla y León tourist board?


Or this one:


Maribel is offline  
Dec 30th, 2008, 01:13 PM
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Hi Lol,

AS mentioned here by the experts it's much better leaving Pedraza when you have an afternoon flight. FWIW, we did have a morning flight and allowed plenty of time, traffic was fine. But we were stressing a bit. Afternoon is much better plus you get breakfast again this way and more time with the storks.

amsdon is offline  
Dec 30th, 2008, 01:19 PM
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LOL. Yes, definitely more time with the storkies whose nest was right outside our balconies at the Hospedería!
Maribel is offline  
Dec 30th, 2008, 01:23 PM
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Bookmarking. . . I hope that's OK. This is great information!
enzian is offline  
Dec 30th, 2008, 01:38 PM
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Bookmark awayˇ

Speaking of stress,
We gave poor Belén, the manager at the Hospedería quite a workout when we forgot to set our clocks ahead for DST the night before! She assumed we knew, got up early to prepare a paired down version of the full buffet breakfast for us (she's done that for us twice now), and when we didn't appear at 7:30 (our alarms hadn't even gone off), she saved the day by calling our rooms. I

ve never dressed so quickly in my life! Our friends were depending on us to get them to Barajas with plenty of time to spare (we were staying on in Madrid), and we were all stressed to the max. We downed our breakfast and coffee in under 10 min., packed up the car and out the door, luckily with plenty of time to spare, since their flight didn't depart until 12:50. Belén is a true gem!
Maribel is offline  
Dec 30th, 2008, 01:54 PM
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Thanks, Maribel! My husband says Spain is next, and we've been studying Spanish diligently. I received my free Fodors's on Spain (for being quoted in the Alaska book) yesterday.

But the information here is the best of all. So I'll just sit back and read. . .
enzian is offline  
Dec 30th, 2008, 02:13 PM
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When you decide on an itinerary, post away! In the meantime, enjoy your reading!
Maribel is offline  
Dec 30th, 2008, 03:24 PM
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Just a logistics point to consider when deciding on a Old Castile provincial capital base prior to Pedraza-

Salamanca lies northwest of Madrid. To reach it you'll go through Avila.
To drive then from Salamanca to Pedraza requires going down southeast again to Avila, then through Segovia and up, northeast to Pedraza, which is a longer drive.
But it would give you a chance to stop in Avila for lunch and to walk atop its beautifully preserved walls.

Burgos, logistically, is a better "fit", since it lies due north of Pedraza.
But going up to Burgos from Madrid, then back down to Pedraza takes you on the same route, the A-1, which doesn't give you a change of scenery, other than your day trip to Santo Domingo de Silos.

It depends on the amount of driving you wish to do.
Hope this helps you more to decide.
Maribel is offline  
Dec 31st, 2008, 02:27 AM
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Hi Maribel, I checked out the links to Burgos, I like it very much.
We don't mind driving, but we don't want to spend our time on the road instead of exploring a certain place.
Can you please tell me how long the drive form Salmanca-Pedraza/Burgos-Pedraza be.
Also do you recommend
1-We substitute pedraza with another place still close to madrid
2-do pedraza as soon as we land in madrid, pick a car at the airport drive to pedraza
3-do Burgos and salamanca and skip pedraza
4-ask for a GPS when we book the car to avoid getting lost.
Feel free to recommend another place altogether that would make a better fit. We are not set on anything yet.

I love quaint, relaxing, picturesque villages and my husband wants to hear the chants at silos but we also want to get a taste of Salamanca. We are too greedy I know.

Thanks so much

lol is offline  
Dec 31st, 2008, 06:19 AM
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hi again lol,

in all things spanish, I msut of course defer to Maribel and the other spanish experts on this forum.

and looking at the map, I can only agree with Maribel that Burgos will require quite a lot more driving than your other options.

the following looks like a workable route to me -

day 1 - head north out of Madrid to segovia, spending lunch-time at el escorial.

overnight in segovia.

Day 2 - north again to Valladolid, see the polychromatic museum [see recent thread] head south-west for Salamanca. Overnight there.

Day 3 - Salamanca. overnight here.

Day 4 - Back to Madrid via avila [realy grusome remains of st. teresa, as well as the walls, as I recall] as suggested by Maribel.

if you have another night, you might spend it in Toledo.

i don't see why this wouldn't work in reverse, but others might.

if it has to be Burgos, I would head there straight away, spend 2 nights, then return via Salamanca, 1-2 nights. IMO that would give you the most sightseeing for the least travel.

have a great trip,

regards, ann
annhig is offline  

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