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Need suggestions for lodging & things to see in Madrid & Barcelona

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Mar 26th, 2014, 11:23 PM
  #1
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Join Date: Mar 2012
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Need suggestions for lodging & things to see in Madrid & Barcelona

My 20 year-old daughter and I will be spending about 8 days total in Madrid & Barcelona. My daughter will just have finished a semester at the University of Salamanca, and I'll be joining her to see the sights of these 2 cities. I need to arrive and depart from Madrid, and somehow get to Barcelona during my trip.
Decisions I'm facing:
1. How to split up our 8 days between the two cities. (I figure I might want to spend my first day in Madrid, getting adjusted to the time difference and taking an evening bus tour, as suggested in a forum post that I saw). We want to take day trips to Toledo and Valencia, and perhaps Segovia.

2. I need to arrange lodging in a safe area, but I don't have the budget for a high-end hotel. Suggestions in both cities for this, please? We need to be within reasonable walking distance from public transportation. And what are some of the best resources for arranging lodging in advance?

3. Which city would be best to take in a traditional Spanish show? Any suggestions?

4. My daughter wants to see the "Valley of the Dead", as that is where Franco is buried. Is that worth seeing?

Thank you for any suggestions you can give me.
Miriam_Kroschel is offline  
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Mar 27th, 2014, 12:04 AM
  #2
 
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Try to avoid staying in Madrid twice. If you do a simple computation, you will find that staying in Madrid costs more and leaves you with less time. However since you already seemed to have bought a round trip ticket to Madrid, it would be harder to avoid this. Nevertheless, can you travel on arrival day to Barcelona on arrival either via Vueling or via train?

You might say what if you are tired? What time are arriving in Madrid? If you are arriving especially early in the morning, what are you planning to do until you can check in? Can you instead use waiting to check-in time to kill one of the Madrid-Barcelona leg? The evening bus tour itself may be recommended, but on the arrival day? Would you not be dozing off in the bus?

What kind of Spanish show? Flamenco? Then it is Sevilla. But you don't have time to do this if you are doing Toledo, Valencia, Segovia, and the Valley of the Fallen. Here are my thoughts on these locations.

Toledo is unique and not to be missed.
Valencia is another Catalan city. You are already visiting Barcelona.
Segovia has the aqueduct and the castle as biggies. Neither take much time to visit. I spent much time of my stay in Segovia at nearby La Granja palace.
Sevilla has both architectures and Flamenco.
Valley of the Fallen is controversial to locals. Don't be surprised to receive cold reaction from some locals if you show interest in visiting the site.
greg is offline  
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Mar 27th, 2014, 01:45 AM
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Why don't you try and stay a night in Valencia? I loved it, and it's a nice break from the busy city life in Barcelona and Madrid.

I would do something like 3 days in Madrid (with one visiting Toledo for a day trip), one night and one whole day in Valencia, then take the train up to Barcelon and stay for four days there.

There is a high speed connection between Madrid and Valencia which takes under 2 hours. You can buy tickets here:

https://venta.renfe.com/vol/buscarTren.do

This way you're not travelling around too much, and can use Madrid or Barcelona as a base for day trips if you want to.

I stayed in this hostel in Valencia and would recommend it; it's not a 'party' hostel, they also have private rooms, the location was fantastic and the staff were more than helpful in answering the MANY questions I had for them!!

http://www.famoushostels.com/hostels/valencia-hostel/

Don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions!
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Mar 27th, 2014, 01:48 AM
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In Madrid I have really enjoyed flamenco at Casa Patas. The food there is good too, and if you have dinner in the attached restaurant before the show, they seat you up front for the show. But even if you don't dine there, it is an intimate space so all seats are fine.
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Mar 27th, 2014, 03:25 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2005
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2 weeks ago I stayed at the Hotel Principe Pio in Madrid. I paid 46 GBP a night for single occupancy of a large room. I could have had a room overlooking the Royal Palace but opted for a quiet room at the back. It's a little worn around the edges, but clean enough, the breakfast is adequate, but I considered it a good budget option.

The location is good near to the Royal Palace and Plaza d'Espanya. Right opposite the Sabatini Gardens. Easy walking to Plaza Mayor, and on a couple of good bus routes which can get you all over the city (need to cross the road up at the junction, takes 5 mins). I used the buses all the time, and would suggest you explore using google maps to see which lines and stops will get you where you want to go. I used the #39 (3 stops to Opera/Plaza Isabelle II), #46, #2, #C2 (circular route around the city) the most.

Loved the following private collection museums: Sorolla, Cerralbo, Lazaro Galdiano. Also the Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales.
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Mar 27th, 2014, 04:38 AM
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I recommend to see flamenco in Madrid.

Flamenco comes from the South/Andalucía, but Madrid is the flamenco capital of the world. All flamenco artists have to conquer Madrid to get to the top.

And Casa Patas, which Nikki mentions above, has been the best tablao (flamenco restaurant) in Spain in recent years.
http://www.casapatas.com/

Some clips from Casa Patas the past two years:

Fuensanta La Moneta, voted best female flamenco dancer 2009 by Spanish critics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbO_lw2xWtU

Pastora Galván, voted best female flamenco dancer 2010 by Spanish critics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SY6Vy9tKW3U

Olga Pericet, voted best female flamenco dancer 2011 by Spanish critics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55waEsaBzjM

Fantastic and cutting edge Israel Galván, he has revolutionized male flamenco dance during the past decade: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VL9Wav9v7Jc

Estrella Morente, now the world's most famous cantaora (female flamenco singer): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sejSYMSQDZo

Major flamenco performances in Madrid theaters are updated here. All the greatest artists perform here regularly: http://www.deflamenco.com/conciertos...en-madrid.html
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Mar 27th, 2014, 05:42 AM
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Great value, fine hotel standard accomodation as central as it gets. Private bathroom, TV, A/C, safe, 24 desk etc:

Barcelona:
Banys Orientals: http://www.hotelbanysorientals.com/en/
The area, El Born: http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.c...s/el-born.html

Madrid:
Plaza Mayor: http://www.h-plazamayor.com/en/
http://www.booking.com/hotel/es/plaza-mayor.html
Persal: http://www.booking.com/hotel/es/persalmadrid.html

Both hotels are very close to majestic Plaza Mayor and vibrant Plaza Santa Ana, and they are both 250 meters from the heart of the city Puerta del Sol:
Plaza Santa Ana: http://www.gomadrid.com/sights/plaza-santa-ana.html
Plaza Mayor: http://www.gomadrid.com/sights/plaza-mayor.html

Updated info about Madrid and Barcelona, sights, things to do etc.
Madrid: http://www.esmadrid.com/en/portal.do
Barcelona: http://www.barcelonaturisme.com/
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Mar 27th, 2014, 07:40 AM
  #8
 
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Go googling re the sites - cities the size of Chicago and Philly tend to have a lot of information about them.

For Barcelona, look here for apartments: www.apartur.com.

Valencia is probably worth a visit, not just a day trip (ask kimhe or other Spanophiles). It's 3+ hours by train each way from both Madrid (high-speed) and Barcelona (not high-speed).

State a per night lodging budget for more recommendations. Central apartments will be better value than hotels. Anyplace "central" in either Barcelona or Madrid will be close to the cities' Metros.
BigRuss is offline  
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Mar 27th, 2014, 08:58 AM
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Valencia is beautiful, worth several days and 1:40 min.on AVE from Madrid.
danon is offline  
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Mar 27th, 2014, 09:00 AM
  #10
 
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Are your eight days on the ground time, or do they include some travel days? An extra day or two makes a big difference on what you can do. Exactly how many nights, arrival and departure times are helpful in giving advice.
Also, what are your particular interests in each place?
Are you going to Salamanca also?
Toledo is wonderful and an easy day trip from Madrid.
Valencia is not a good day trip from anywhere, just way too far.
You may have a special reason for choosing Valencia, but it is not a great fit with Madrid and Barcelona. Getting there will eat up a half day each way, so a day of travel total out of your eight days just to spend whatever time you allot for it. If it is super important to you, perhaps recs. can be made for something similar or even better.
Best to put all your time in Madrid at the end.
Barcelona is certainly worth three days.

I know this is adding a hotel change, but if you do not want to head straight away to Barcelona, consider this.
Day 1 Arrive Madrid, taxi or train into city. Train (about 25 minutes) to Toledo for your afternoon and first night. It is magical at night and the cathedral is amazing.
Day 2 Train to Madrid and fast train to Barcelona. Afternoon & evening Barcelona.
Day 3 & 4 Barcelona
Day 5, train back to Madrid, afternoon & evening, Madrid
Day 6, Day trip to Segovia
Day 7, Madrid
Day 8, Valley of the Fallen?

What actually seems more cost effective and good use of time would be:
You are already at the airport. Catch a flight directly on to Barcelona the day you arrive.
Day 1 arrive Madrid, fly (or train) on to Barcelona, late afternoon, evening recoup in Barcelona
Day 2 & 3 Barcelona
Day 4 most of day in Barcelona, catch late train to Madrid, sleep in Madrid
Day 5 Madrid
Day 6 Toledo
Day 7 Segovia
Day 8 Valley of the fallen

These itineraries give you basics to play with and change to suit your own interests.
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Mar 27th, 2014, 09:21 AM
  #11
 
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Valley of the Fallen is a monument to a fascist dictator built by slave labour.
There are many other ( worthwhile )places to visit in and around Madrid.
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