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Our completely revamped, circular tour of Andalucia--more help, please!

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Aug 19th, 2013, 03:28 PM
  #1
hax
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Our completely revamped, circular tour of Andalucia--more help, please!

Hi Spain experts!

Thanks for all your help in planning our October trip to Madrid and Andalucia so far.
Our itinerary has totally changed as we will now be joining up with cousins from Europe for five days. Because they want to hit all the "big" sites in Andalucia in the short time they have, we will be racing through some places we thought we'd spend time in, retracing our steps, and generally disregarding our own rules of travel. But spending time with my European cousins (Dane married to German) is too wonderful to pass up.

Our new itinerary:

Fly to Madrid/connect to Sevilla -
Day 1-4 Sevilla
HOTEL: Alma Sevilla
Day 5 Rent car, Drive to Cordoba--see sights--drive on to Granada
HOTEL: Casa 1800
Day 6 Granada and Alhambra 8:30 AM tour (bought tickets already)
Day 7 Drive to Malaga ( dropping cousins off at airport)
HOTEL: Castillo de Santa Catalina
Day 8 and 9 Drive to Ronda and tour/hike white villages
HOTEL: Aire de Ronda
Day 10 Drop car off in Sevilla, train to Madrid
HOTEL: Catalonia Las Cortes OR Suite Prado Hotel OR ME Madrid OR
Radisson Blu Madrid
Day 11, 12 Madrid, with day trip to Toledo
Day 13 fly home

Comments on itinerary or hotels? Anyone stayed at these? Most conflicted in Madrid, as standard rooms at Catalonia Las Cortes (first choice) and ME Madrid seem VERY small, and other choices are less money.

My cousins booked the car from Europe (much better rates), so may be hard to change, but it has been suggested we drop one night in Ronda and add to Madrid. I do hate to have two one nighters in a row (I hate one nighters in general). We thought it might be nice to take a break from all the museums and hike around the small white villages. The night in Malaga was a lucky strike extra--added it because we have to drive our cousins to the airport.

Will we be bored in the Ronda/Malaga section? Crazed in Madrid?

Also, as my previous post noted, although my husband loves to drive, he is not too crazy about heights. Read some scary posts about the drives between Malaga and Ronda. We want to drive scenic highways, but avoid death defying turns like those on the Amalfi coast. Any suggestions for best roads, towns to visit, etc. most welcome.

As are restaurant reco's in all locations!! In fact, ALL comments are welcome. You are all so helpful.
Thanks,
Hax
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Aug 19th, 2013, 04:28 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2013
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What a great itinerary! Can't think of any flaws.

Just a couple of suggestions: The cities in Andalucia can be a bear to drive, anywhere near the old centers. Plan ahead, now where you're headed to park then leave the car alone as much as possible while in town. Take the bus or taxi up to the Alhambra for example (also take the exact same credit card that you used to book, you need it for verification while retrieveing the ticket).

In Málaga, go up on the hill with the castle (Alcazaba), and check out City Hall down below (walking down is fun, walking up not so much...), quite a building inside and out!

We parked underneath the modern transportation hub and shopping center (trains and buses) called Maria Zambrano, we were glad we did.

From Málaga we drove the mountain route, hardly any cars, great road, great views, goes via Cártama and Yunquera and El Burgo - only slightly slower than the other way but what a drive!

In Cordoba, park in the Av. del Alcazar, hang a right just after crossing the river on the San Rafael bridge coming from Av. de Granada, it's your last chance - then walk to the Mezquita.
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Aug 19th, 2013, 05:46 PM
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Just about perfect given your commitments and interests. The force is strong in you.

Keep the 3 nights in Ronda - you can take your time getting there from Malaga, stopping somewhere along the way, have the evening and the next full day in Ronda at a nice slow pace and then leave whenever you want the second morning for Seville. If you think you want more time in Madrid, leave Ronda early and catch an early train.
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Aug 19th, 2013, 07:11 PM
  #4
kja
 
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> Will we be bored in the Ronda/Malaga section?

I didn't go to Malaga, but Ronda was the one and only place in all my travels that I left early. After something under a day, I had seen everything I wanted to see there and was ready to move on, particularly given how much I wanted to see elsewhere. Obviously, it depends on individual interests.

> Crazed in Madrid?

I was glad I had 4 full days for Madrid and 2 full days for Toledo and still didn't see everything I wanted to see. Again, depends on one's interests.
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Aug 19th, 2013, 07:38 PM
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Excellent itinerary! You're going to have a great trip. A few suggestions:

The mezquita in Cordoba will be a highlight -- it will be interesting to compare the art and architecture here to that of the Alcazar in Sevilla and the Alhambra in Granada. We also recommend crossing the old Roman bridge to get a different perspective on the mosque. You'll see the cathedral rising out of the roof, which is quite unique.

Google maps on our phone (works without data connection) helped us immensely to find parking in all cities. Especially for Granada, we recommend connecting with your hotel in advance to find the best areas to park.

We loved this tapas place in Granada: http://www.barlosdiamantes.com/ The location on Calle Navas is sufficiently old school (our favorite), but the location on Plaza Nueva is incredibly civilized.

Have a great trip!
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Aug 19th, 2013, 09:49 PM
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To those who left Ronda early - to each his own, but the old town is awfully charming to stroll around and - after the tourist buses have pulled out - begin to appreciate the local flavor.

Ronda is a good base for a day trip or two, for example to Arcos de la Frontera, just a bit over an hour away, uniquely draped down one side of a hill with formidable cliffs on the other side (drive right around down below to see the contrasts), and to Espera (don't expect anything much except a sleepy small town with its own slow rhythm, a proud palm-tree-flanked main drag bypassing the old town, as a stop along the way).

As you drive across the countryside, don't be in a rush, enjoy the way the light plays on the hills and on the white towns, look for the occasional ruin on a hilltop of a former castle or fortification - and get back to Ronda with its many choices for an evening stroll and dinner - a couple of days spent there will be a nice change from hectic cities.
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Aug 19th, 2013, 10:08 PM
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kja
 
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> To those who left Ronda early - to each his own, but the old town is awfully charming to stroll around and - after the tourist buses have pulled out - begin to appreciate the local flavor.

I should have added that I enjoyed Ronda. As michelhuebeli says, it is lovely after day-trippers leave. I meant that I had stayed less than 24 hours: I had arrived in the late afternoon and planned to leave the next day near the same time. Instead I left around noon. I certainly do not regret my time in Ronda -- indeed, I enjoyed it and was glad to have a brief stop there. I'm only providing my personal perspective on whether the time being considered for Ronda might be too much. And as I said, it depends on individual interests.
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Aug 20th, 2013, 04:28 AM
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A couple of recent articles about Málaga, one of my favourite cities in the country:
"Secret Spanish pleasures"
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/journalis...pleasures.html
"Picasso's city of hidden treasures"
http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/200...el?INTCMP=SRCH
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Aug 20th, 2013, 10:47 AM
  #9
hax
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Wow, thanks everyone! Great info. Glad to hear our itinerary seems fine. I don't expect we will spend the two full days in Ronda--rather, hope to spend time there and then visit some other white villages as well.

Michelhuebeli, is that the 367/357 route from Malaga to Ronda? Or another way? Not too scary?

Would 3 1/2 hours be enough to allow to drive from Ronda to Sevilla and drop off our car at the train station? I will need to book our train tickets next.

Thanks, all!
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Aug 21st, 2013, 04:44 PM
  #10
hax
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Just booked our train tickets for 1:45 out of Sevilla to Madrid. Very easy. Think it's safe to leave Ronda at 9:00 or 9:30 am? Not sure how much time it takes to return the car.

Next up, our train tickets for our daytrip from Madrid to Toledo. I'm leaning toward the 7:20pm return. Too late? There is also a 5:20.

Thanks so much!
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Aug 21st, 2013, 07:23 PM
  #11
kja
 
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> I'm leaning toward the 7:20pm return. Too late?

Dinner hour is quite late in Spain and your time in Toledo is extremely limited. I'd go for the latest train possible!
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Aug 22nd, 2013, 04:49 AM
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Toledo to Madrid is only about 35 minutes, which you would know having checked the schedules, so you get back before 8 pm if you take the 7:20. You can't eat dinner before about 8:30 anyway so why not stay in Toledo longer.

It is about 2 hours driving from Ronda to Seville, Santa Justa. Allowing 1 hour more if there are traffic issues, 30 minutes to return the car, and 30 minutes to comfortably find and board your train means 4:00 is about the right time cushion, making 9:30 a pretty safe departure time from Ronda.
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Aug 22nd, 2013, 08:19 AM
  #13
hax
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Thanks, kja and Aramis! 7:20 it is. Balancing short time in Toledo with short time in Madrid.
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Aug 23rd, 2013, 11:02 AM
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"...Michelhuebeli, is that the 367/357 route from Malaga to Ronda? Or another way? Not too scary?..."

You start out heading west on the 357 as far as Cártama, take a left onto 355 to Coín, then it's the 366 to El Burgo and on to Ronda. Nothing scary at all, very few cars, good two-lane road, a great drive! Not much civilization along the way but great views - take a sandwich if you fear getting hungry, although it doesn't take very long, under three hours and that includes a few stops to get your camera out.
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Aug 23rd, 2013, 09:25 PM
  #15
hax
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Wonderful. Thank you so much, michelhuebeli!

Has anyone stayed at any of these Madrid hotels: the Catalonia Las Cortes, Radisson Blu Madrid or Suite Prado Madrid?

Thanks!
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Jun 26th, 2014, 11:21 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2014
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Hax,
I am planning a similar trip and would love to copy your itinerary. Since your trip, is there anything you would change or anything I definitely shouldn't miss? We are thinking 10 or so days with my wife and I visiting the same cities leaving from San Diego in July of 2015.
Email me if you would like at [email protected]
Thanks.
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Oct 1st, 2014, 11:22 AM
  #17
hax
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Hi SDMinnesotan,

Sorry for the delay in replying..haven't been on Fodors in a while.

We had a fabulous trip (which I still mean to report on thanks to advice we found here. Our trip was complicated by the fact that we were coordinating with others, and some health issues that popped up.

That said, we loved all the cities we visited. Highlights were Sevilla in general, the Mezquita in Cordoba and the Alhambra in Granada. Those last two are NOT to be missed. Don't forget to buy your tickets to the Alhambra well in advance.

My cousins rented a car and drove from Sevilla to Cordoba to Granada to the airport in Malaga. We rented a car from Malaga to Ronda back to Sevilla. Highly recommend the freedom of a car. We drove around the white villages for a day--really lovely--we just avoided the scarier routes.

Our only real regret was we wish we had more time to spend in Malaga. Only had one night and dinner there--no daytime--and we were surprised how lovely and vibrant the center was. Would have loved a full day to explore. If we were traveling alone, we might have spent the night in Cordoba, which was quite charming, and would have tried not to have to circle around.

We loved all our hotels, although the Catalonia Cortes paled in comparison to the others in terms of charm and helpfulness of the staff.

You will have an amazing trip, I know! Let me know if you have any other questions.
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Apr 27th, 2015, 08:31 AM
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Bookmarking!
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Apr 27th, 2015, 08:47 AM
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Bookmarking -- just home 2 days from Barcelona and Extremadura and now thinking of a return trip, this time to Andalucía.
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