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overwhelmed ! to reserve or not to reserve

overwhelmed ! to reserve or not to reserve

Old Sep 9th, 2004, 01:56 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Sep 2004
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overwhelmed ! to reserve or not to reserve

my husband and I are travelling to Spain - landing in Madrid on Nov 10 for 20 days (yay!). we are planning on reserving a room in madrid for two nights then moving on (we live in San Francisco and are not so interested in big city). i am trying to be a non-planner and "see where we land" - everyone keeps telling me rooms wont be a problem. We are leaving our itineray pretty open - toleda, granada, salamanca, seville and lisbon are on our hit-list - but am concerned we'll be shut out of great places to stay and spend precious siesta-time drive around looking for a place to stay. What are your thoughts? Thoughts also about renting a car and being able to park it would be helpful too! muchas gracias!
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Old Sep 9th, 2004, 02:02 PM
  #2  
rex
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I am firmly in the reserve camp. And I would urge you to look at the lovely treasure chest of places to stay at www.parador.es - - almost more than you could check out, even in 20 days.

Maybe they don't fill up for Novemeber, but why not turn this into a ten week vacation - - researching and mentally exploring, starting today!?

The better you plan, the better you can construct a jigsaw puzzle of all the places you might like to fit into the picture.

Best wishes,

Rex
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Old Sep 9th, 2004, 02:10 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
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..I share your quandry and have for years! ..I too like to wander. I have over the years compromised. As a student with lots of time and no money, definitely wandered. I have also wandered as a "grown-up" say 2 week vacation, off season small area. I usually though book say 2-4 places over a full 2 week period...I then wander out from each of these on day trips. I spend little time looking for a place and yet have a chance to wander and feel unconstrained. Also if you "just show up" to an isolated place, the roomrate may not be favorable..unless you negotiate well (..and I could never play poker). Spain has some beautiful pradors and the most popular ones have to be prebooked.
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Old Sep 9th, 2004, 02:11 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
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i wouldnt worry about it.
here are a few websites where you can check out local availibility to give yourself an idea about occupancy.

i like the AC hotel chain. very predictable, minimalist, clean and modern. on outskirts of some bigger cities so easy off the highway.
can sleep there for about 50 euros at times with bancotel.com coupons you can buy at any travel agency in spain once you arrive.
in fact, you may want to plan a little around those coupons.

there are several threads if you do a search.

also, the paradors are a MUST to see and sleep at one or two if you have the chance.
www.paradores.es
castle hotels in most cases, or if not, at least in a scenic spot for a nice lunch, breakfast or coffee.
always visit them in the cities and towns you stop at.

on a trip this extensive where you have so many options, and do not know what the weather and social aspects may bring, reserving at beginning and end leave you open for a bit of adventure..

but you might want to reserve in toledo and avoid the weekend there.. and reserve your last night before the flight.

also, solmelia and tryp hotels have websites.

do dress for cold.. although if the sun comes out most places it is pleasant in nov.

have fun.
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Old Sep 9th, 2004, 02:47 PM
  #5  
 
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You have a car and 20 days in November so do not even think about making a reservation, except for your last day to turn in the car and get back to the airport. Hotel reservations will act as handcuffs. Be free and be a serendipitous wanderer.

And please write a report like that of stormygirl. See her post. We loved it.
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Old Sep 9th, 2004, 03:53 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
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I hate to wander around a strange city or town in late afternoon or evening, looking for suitable lodging even though finding such shouldn't be a problem in November. So I would make a list of places where I might want to stay (tel. #, etc.), so I could call ahead early in the day or the day before to make sure they have what you want available.

That time of year you might consider BancHotel vouchers. Many properties don't accept them during high season but do in off-season. You might also look into Paradores Nacionales '5-night' package if you plan to stay in the Paradors.
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Old Sep 9th, 2004, 06:00 PM
  #7  
 
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If you are really concerned about "great places to stay" (luxuroius, or with a specific location, ambiance or amenities) I would definitely reserve in advance.

However, if you are looking for something basic and functional and willing to be flexible about details of accomodation (location, amenities) and price you should have no trouble finding places as you go. (You may, in fact, luck into some great places - but you really can;t count on it.)
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Old Sep 10th, 2004, 10:58 AM
  #8  
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I will most definitely reply with a "stormygirl" type message. I already have a great feeling about this trip because I stumbled on this aspect of Fodors I did not know existed and am loving all the news, humor and advice. What a great thing technology can be!!
You guys are ALL great. Thank you.
marlis is offline  
Old Sep 10th, 2004, 11:23 AM
  #9  
 
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Posts: 93,718
I think it might be easier by car than train and in the countryside over the city (not having reservations and arriving a new place). Although if budget or luxury (having it or lack thereof) are not concerns- you normally find hotels walking distance from any major train station.

I would absolutely advise packing light with a single 22" or less rolling suitcase per person to allow you ease of mobility.

I would also do research ahead of time so you have a list of likely good choices for hotels for the cities you plan to arrive in. And hopefully assure you don't happen to arrive a town with a huge festival or annual event going on that particular day.

Why I don't travel this way is it would make me worrisome and insecure (just a personal trait not a universal statement). Plus I'm not willing to spend precious time looking for a place to stay when there's so many better things to be doing! My concern is not that you won't find *some* place to sleep but that you end up spending more time than you'd like in search of lodgings.
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Old Sep 10th, 2004, 11:33 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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My motto when travelling is -"if you fail to plan - you plan to fail."

That said, if you get there and discover something better, be prepared to scrap the plan. Be flexible. Give yourself some options. My experience has been that if you don't have a place to stay, you waste far too much time looking for one. And get very frustrated in the process.

Some people like to just show up and go figure.
To each his/her own!

JoeG
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Old Sep 11th, 2004, 12:17 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 316
We do both. We always make reservations the day of our arrival and the night prior to our departure. In between we may book some places where we know we will be. At that time of year I would tend to wing it with the exception of arrival and departure unless you have a very firm itinerary. Some of the nicest places that we have stayed have been spontaneous-usually in pensions of homes of locals who tend to be extremely gratious during the off season. If we are staying at 4 or 5 star places we often use the web (at local internet cafes)to get much better deals.
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