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Need advice re: September Spanish itinerary

Need advice re: September Spanish itinerary

Oct 31st, 2008, 09:16 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2005
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Need advice re: September Spanish itinerary

My wife and I are going to Spain this September for our first time, and we are trying to plan our trip to give us as nice an overview as possible over a 17 day period.

Our planned itinerary is as follows:

Saturday Aug. 29 - 9:15am arrive in Madrid - Prado, Thyssen, Sofia and Royal Palace

Tuesday Sept.1 - 9:00am drive to Toledo -Cathedral, Santa Cruz, Alcazar, Santo Tome, El Greco house and 2 synogogues

Wednesday Sept.2 - 4:00pm drive to Granada - Alhambra

Friday Sept.4 - 10:00am - drive to Marbella - Stay at Villa Marbella (tripadviser #1 in Spain) and take day trips to Ronda, Nerja (maybe) and spend balance of time at beach

Monday Sept.7 - 5:00pm - drive to Savilla (drop off car)- just walk and enjoy for 2 days

Wednesday July 9 - 6:00pm - fly to Barcelona - Picasso, Miro, all of Gaudi, beach, Dali museum (day trip) and maybe Sitges beach(day trip)

Tuesday Sept. 15 - 8:00am - fly home to Toronto

Is there some location that we are either planning to spend too much or too little time in, or is there some location that we will be very sorry to have missed?

Please advise, as any suggestion or recommendation will be, as always, very much appreciated.
nevertooold is offline  
Nov 1st, 2008, 01:15 AM
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Assuming it's Sept 2009 you are going, and date of posting is 1 Nov not 11 Jan - bit of a double take there ..

I'm no expert. I love Spain but there are huge swathes of the country I haven't set foot in (next time, and the time after I will ...go to ....?)

But it looks like a fine plan to me. Personally I wouldn't go to Marbella, but if you want some beach time, and like you say, are thinking of it as a base for other trips, then why not. I have two thoughts:

If you left Marbella in the morning you could stop in Córdoba on the way to Sevilla. I thought the Mezquita was stunning.

Or cut some time from Marbella, and "tour" from there to Sevilla, stopping overnight somewhere small, taking in Córdoba and arriving in Sevilla either same day as planned or a day later.

You have five full days in Barcelona. Not too much, of course, but four days is also fine.

Just that you have a car but it sounds like you will be using it mainly to drive on the major highways to get from A to B at a time that suits you. Brilliant! But it would be a shame not to get the real benefit of having one, and that is to go the way less-driven.

Happy, happy travels.

afterall is offline  
Nov 1st, 2008, 01:18 AM
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I agree with afterall leaving Marbella out of my itineraty.
Cordoba is outstanding .

Graziella5b is offline  
Nov 1st, 2008, 04:30 AM
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Afterall and Graziella - thank you both for your comments.

The reason for the longer stay in Barcelona is that everyone we speak to says that it is a wonderful place to visit, and it was the initial reason for our trip.

We are presently planning 5 full days as Friday is a regional holiday and we fear that a lot of the city will be on "slow-down", and Monday being the day before we leave for home will likely be rushed and feel anticlimactic, so, 5 days instead of 4 seems better - but I also guess with time being available in Marbella for leisure and the beach, 1 less day in Barcelona would not be too bad an idea.

Would you consider recommending 1 day in Segovia instead of Cordoba?

By the way, Graziella, why do you suggest skipping Marbella entirely? It does give us a base for the white towns and, if we so decide, Nerja, while offering a highly recommended boutique hotel with a pool in the old town, apparently well removed from the "Miami Beach" area.

What would you recommend otherwise?

Thanks again.
nevertooold is offline  
Nov 1st, 2008, 05:28 AM
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I think you are trying to cover a very large area.

That is alot to do in Madrid on arrival day! Also One day of the 17 in Madrid is not enough IMO.

Also the drive from Madrid to Granada takes some precious time. Many people do the Madrid/Cordoba via thr Ave then Sevilla and on to Granada etc. I have done the straight shoot to Granada but prefer to break it up.

amsdon is offline  
Nov 1st, 2008, 05:29 AM
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By the way I love Segovia and Cordoba both and think they are worth your time and alot closer to Madrid as you know.
amsdon is offline  
Nov 1st, 2008, 05:36 AM
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Amsdon - We plan 3 complete days in Madrid, not 1 - the sites listed are planned for the entire 3 day stay.

Also the drive to Granada is planned from Toledo, not Madrid, and will be done in the early evening so as to allow for maximum site-seeing.

nevertooold is offline  
Nov 1st, 2008, 06:03 AM
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Oh yes I mispoke that is much more more feasable.
amsdon is offline  
Nov 1st, 2008, 06:16 AM
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Madrid is a huge city - some museums are CLOSED on Monday !. I would give it more time ( jet -lag?)if you like art.
I love Barcelona and would not cut time there. If you plan to visit Dali, Gorina is on the same train line ( less than half hour before Figueres) and worth a visit.
danon is offline  
Nov 1st, 2008, 06:34 AM
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I just remebred from our trip last year -Sept 12 is a big national holiday . Check for openings of museums etc.
Palau de la Musica Catalana in Barcelona is a gem .
Spain is a big, wonderful country with a great deal to see . Last year we spend 17 days visiting Madrid , Toledo, Granada and Barcelona.
This year it was Barcelona, Girona, Santander, Bilbao and Santillana del Mar.
Next year we have planed on Seville, Cordoba, and the white villages.
If it is your first visit, the chances are: you will be back!
danon is offline  
Nov 1st, 2008, 08:12 AM
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Danon - thank you for your input.

The holiday is September 11 and that is one of the reasons that we are leaning towards 5 full days in Barcelona as opposed to 4 full days.
nevertooold is offline  
Nov 1st, 2008, 08:38 AM
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not a problem fellow Canadians!

Both Prado and Thyssen are closed Mondays (Sofia is opened).

I think the Palace closes early on Sundays. ( it is certainly worth a visit, as well as the lovely area near by).
If you arrive Sat., by the time you get to town, check in, find your way around the city, even without a jet -lag, you will loose half a day).
You might consider a longer stay in Madrid , a day trip to Toledo ( only 1/2 hour by AVE) and fly Madrid Granada. Rent a car when leaving Granada . ????

Make sure you book tickets to Alhambra ahead of time! If you have a car in Granada book a hotel with parking!

I have not visited Marbella.
danon is offline  
Nov 17th, 2008, 06:43 AM
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After reconsidering my options with the help of Maribel et. al. and after being able to arrange some favourable rates for different paradores, I have now rearranged (for the time being) our schedule as follows:

Aug.29 - arrive Madrid
(Roommate Laura)9:15am

Aug.31 - arrive Alcana de
Henares (Parador)3:00pm

Sept.1 - day trip Toledo (sleep

Sept.2 - arrive Segovia (La Granje

Sept.3 - day trip El Escorial
(sleep La Granja)

Sept.4 - leave La Granja (noon) for
Cordoba (Conquistador)

Sept.5 - Cordoba;
leave for Antiquera
(parador)in evening

Sept.6 - Granada day trip
(sleep in Antiquera)

Sept.7 - Ronda 11am (parador)

Sept.8 - arrive Seville (Amadeus)

Sept.9 - fly to Barcelona 6:00pm

Sept.10 -14 - Barcelona (B Hotel)

Sept.15 - fly to Toronto early am

Please note that we have a good rate at Antiquera so we do not mind driving there after dinner (we don't ordinarily eat too late)from Cordoba as it is on the Mapquest route to Granada, and, likewise, we do not mind driving back to it after our day in Granada as it is on the mapquest route to Ronda.

We also are hoping that, given this schedule our time in Seville (approx. 11:00am on Tues. to approx. 4:00pm on Wednesday) will be enough time to enjoy this city.

Any comments?

Thanks, as always.

nevertooold is offline  
Nov 17th, 2008, 11:17 AM
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Never are you going to have time to get to the city of Segovia to see the Alcazar & the Aqueduct?
I loved La Granja by the way.
amsdon is offline  
Nov 17th, 2008, 11:25 AM
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You know what you like, but I still think you are not giving much time to
Alcana de Henares - why?
danon is offline  
Nov 17th, 2008, 12:29 PM
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Amsdon - with a car, if we arrive in La Granja on or about noon, drop our bags in the room (we never unpack, nor do we eat lunch) and we have the rest of that day, plus the next morning and, if needed, the 3rd morning to walk through and see the Segovia sights (which, I understand, should easily be undertaken in less than a day), why am I not going to have the time to see Segovia and its sights?

In fact we were planning on spending the first afternoon and evening visiting Segovia - (how long does one need to spend at an aqueduct when considering that, for example, my wife and I spent 1 1/2 hours in Rome at the Colosseum and 3 hours in Athens at the Parthenon?)- the morning of the 2nd day at El Escorial, the 2nd afternoon relaxing at the pool, and the 3rd morning at the La Granja Palace.

Am I missing something?

Danon - When we began to plan this trip, our initial goal was to visit Barcelona for a week as we had heard so much about this wonderful city. The holiday was going to be combined with 10 days in France.

After talking with people and doing much research, it became clear that we should narrow our trip to Spain alone. The question then became "Where in Spain can we visit and get the "most bang for our buck"?

Due to logistics and perceived priorities, the trip has been narrowed down to the above itinerary, with every location having a specific time allocation so as to meet our needs.

With respect to Madrid, we were at first not going to include it at all because of the distance from Barcelona, but when France was removed, much more of Spain became available. Our sole goal however, was to see the 4 main sights and then "get out of Dodge". Neither my wife nor I have ever had a burning desire to see Madrid, but we do want to see the galleries and Palace. If Madrid totally surprises us and we fall in love with it, we will just have to someday return - as so many people say you have to in any event. We feel that every city and town can have a "magic" appeal - it is just that in our case, and for this holiday, it is better to see Madrid in 2-3 days and enjoy the galleries in that time, and leave other days available to see Toledo, Ronda and Granada, while leaving an acceptable number of days left for Barcelona.

Re: Alcana - we would like to stay at some paradores and be able to relax while still having the option to site-see. This paradore (35 miles from Madrid) is new, looks fabulous and has a great rate for these 2 days. We plan on going there on our 3rd afternoon in Madrid and spend the rest of the day relaxing by the pool while wandering the town in the evening.
As Toledo is a bit over an hour to drive to (basically the same time and distance from Madrd, by car), we plan on waking early the next day and driving there for the day - which is what we could have also done had we stayed in Madrid, but we would not be able to be returning late in the day to a lovely pool. As well the next day we are able to have an option of spending a leisurely morning in Antiquera, or if we are "antsy", we can drive that much sooner to La Granja and Segovia.

It just seemed like a nice option after a hectic 2 1/2 days in Madrid.

By the way, my wife and I tend to have a maximum 3-day tolerance for locations while in Europe - day 1 is exciting, day 2 is comfortable and day 3 is tending towards "antsiness" (with obvious exceptions for beach holidays, cruises and sight-seeing meccas such as Paris (7 days) and Rome (5 days).

Thanks for your comments.

nevertooold is offline  
Nov 17th, 2008, 12:46 PM
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To be perfectly honest, I think you are underestimating how much heat will affect you at that time of year. And that you are trying to cover way to much territory. I'm also sorry that right now you've scheduled yourself for a day trip to Granada, which means no chance to tour it at night, which is extraordinary.

I don't know if you still intend to attempt a day trip as far as Figueras from Barcelona, but that would be too far in my book.

I see from your original post that you want an "overview" of Spain, but not only is that a misleading way to look at Spain, this trip excludes too much of Spain to be any kind of overview, so even with all the running around, you wont' even come close to that mythical overview.

Because Spain is really more than one culture and peoples, violently and unhappily forced together into one abstract centralized political state, I suggest you drop the idea of an "overview" of some unitary historic place, and instead set a pace that allows for a deeper appreciation of the various cultures of provincial Spain, and how they've interplayed with larger cultures.

Which of the several cultures of Spain you would find most rewarding, I don't know. But right now I think you've got a hodge podge, with just a glance at this and that before you dash off to the next glance. The sophistication of much of what your chasing I think will elude you unless you drop some geography and spend more time taking things in.
zeppole is offline  
Nov 17th, 2008, 01:02 PM
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People take different approaches to traveling.

We like to stay in one place for a week and avoid "antsiness" by taking day trips ( prefer public transit to driving; for example :Madrid - Toledo is 1/2 hour by fast train, no worries about traffic, parking etc., and one can still have a night in Madrid). On the other hand, we cannot stand beach holidays, sitting by the pool, and cruises.

So, if your itinerary suite your style, you don't mind driving and changing hotels, etc. , you will able to see quite a bit of this wonderful and divers country.
danon is offline  
Nov 17th, 2008, 01:08 PM
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danon is offline  
Nov 17th, 2008, 02:43 PM
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Danon - I have just been reading some of your other postings.

If you were me, what ahanges would you specifically recommend - We are not intending to do a "Thursday....Belgium" sort of trip, but we are trying to visit the main sights (we will have a car for the Alcana - Seville portion) without giving up some sought-after mini-relaxation opportunities.

I love driving in Europe and do not mind reasonable hotel switches.

Just as people seemed to recommend that we forego Marbella, is there some other aspect of my revised trip that you would change?

PS We have no desire to visit the Alhambra at night if we are there in the day and as Alcala does allow for some down time at a refurbished parador an hour from both Cordoba and Granada (if Mapquest is to be believed), we do not mind the potential latter part of evening drives back and forth.

Perhaps we could skip Ronda which is not on a direct route to Seville from Antiquera and add more time to Seville.....

nevertooold is offline  

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