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Patrick Apr 9th, 2005 06:00 PM

Plan for Salamanca, Avila, and El Escorial
Doing some preliminary thinking for summer 2006. We would like to return to Madrid, thinking of maybe spending a week. The above mentioned three places are the ones we missed before. So if you were staying in Madrid, how much time would you allow to go do these three places and how? We're thinking we could spend one, two, or even three nights out from Madrid. Should we go stay two or three nights in Salamanca and go out from there as day trips? Do one each way coming and going from Madrid? Somewhere else in the immediate area I'm missing? I'm thinking of Palacio de Castellanos as a hotel.
Important point: no car, want to do this with public transportation (don't argue please).

mercy Apr 9th, 2005 08:17 PM

In March 2004, a friend and I took a bus from Madrid to El Escorial. The trip was about an hour and I do not remember the name of the station from which the bus went, but we took the Metro to this station, and got on the bus there. There are two routes that go in that direction--one stops at the famous monument which Franco (I think) had errected (it is mentioned in all the travel book citations about El Escorial.) The other route goes straight to El Escorial. It was an interesting day trip and traveling through the countryside was quite interesting. Another city, which is very interesting, and not all that far from Madrid is Segovia, which has wonderful ancient aqueducts. mhm

artlover Apr 9th, 2005 08:17 PM

We're going to be doing something similar by public transportation next month (Madrid-Avila, Salamanca, Leon, Segovia) and will report back as soon as we return.
Best wishes,

cruiseluv Apr 9th, 2005 09:27 PM

Hi Patrick,

From Madrid you can take the express bus ( to Salamanca ( 2.5 hrs)We stayed at Palacio de Castellanos and we liked it a lot. If you have the time, I would recommend 3 nights in Salamanca .
Avila you could do as a day trip from Madrid or from Salamanca. I think is closer to Madrid. Bus company from Madrid- Avila is There are trains as well. From Salamanca to Avila is Auto-res. AS mentioned by Mercy, El Escorial you can easily do by public transportation from Madrid.

Patrick Apr 10th, 2005 07:32 AM

Thanks all. We have done Segovia and Leon (the BEST parador in Leon) by car, staying in both a couple of nights.

I didn't know about the Madrid to Salamanca bus which sounds better and quicker than the train! I guess maybe our best bet would be a day trip to El Escorial from Madrid separately. Maybe take the bus to Salamanca for three nights, and one of our days while there do a day trip to Avila -- I see it's only one hour by train--.
Thanks for the info.

bobthenavigator Apr 10th, 2005 07:43 AM

Patrick, I did that area 2 years ago--you will like it. I think you can do either Toledo and Segovia as day trips from Madrid if you choose. However, I do love Salamanca and suggest 2 nites there and see Avila for 3 hours going or coming--good hotel choice. El Escorial is a 2 hour diversion as your return from Salamanca. Actually, I spent my last nite there before going to the airport--not a bad idea.

Eloise Apr 10th, 2005 07:49 AM

I dislike buses and prefer trains. With an early train from Madrid to El Escorial (that did not go to the Valley of the Fallen, which did not interest me), I was able to visit El Escorial in the morning and continue with the train to Avila for the afternoon and return to Madrid in the evening.

I also took the train to Salamanca. The Palacio de Castellanos is a good choice, in my opinion.

cova Apr 11th, 2005 12:46 AM

I would look into one of these hotels for Salamanca :
Melia Las Claras Boutique Hotel
AC Palacio San Esteban
(specially this last one, it was built in a part of the San Esteban convent, and gets rave reviews).

And depending when you are travelling, AC and Sol Melia have very good internet offers. My sister managed to snatch a two nights for one at 100 Euros last February for Las Claras (including breakfast) and she says it was amazing. August is also a good month for offers.

The Palacio de Castellanos is very popular with wedding parties nowadays, and it is almost impossible to get a booking. Very nice, but not so easy to book or to find offers.

The three hotels are quite near, so I am not recommending you something like going to the Parador (great views but located across the river ... not so nice for the late nights ...).

The cathedral has opened part of its terraces, so you can enjoy an amazing view over the roofs of the old town.

Rgds, Cova

Patrick Apr 11th, 2005 05:18 AM

Thanks for the additional hotel information, cova, I will check them out.

You said: "The Palacio de Castellanos is very popular with wedding parties nowadays, and it is almost impossible to get a booking. Very nice, but not so easy to book or to find offers."

Even if I'm booking over a year ahead? We're talking about late June or early July of 2006. Assuming we can get a booking, would you like it more or less than your other suggestions?

Patrick Apr 11th, 2005 05:24 AM

Ah, never mind, cova. I just looked at both those sites. Much of the idea of this little side trip would be for the atmospheric feel of an old place. That second one might be fine if in New York, but nothing like where I want to stay in Salamanca, Spain -- no matter how nice it is. And the newly build Melia doesn't do much for me either. We love nice paradors, but I agree, I don't want to stay outside the town. The Palacio de Castellanos sure fits the bill! We will also probably try to stay during the week, not a weekend, which might help from the "wedding" stantpoint. But thanks, anyway.

lindilindi Apr 11th, 2005 05:27 AM

I took the Madrid-Salamanca bus last October. It actually stops in Avila. You might want to go Madrid-Avila-Salamanca.
The bus was a comfortable tourist-bus, very big seats and they were showing a movie on board with headphones available.

cova Apr 11th, 2005 05:41 AM

Hi Patrick,

I think that during the week should be OK. You know, the problem with the weddings in Salamanca is that if you have studied at the university, you have the right to get married at their chapel. Lots of people from all over Spain study there, so when the moment comes, many of them decide to marry there and they drag the whole family and friends with them. Traditional wedding days in Spain are Friday evening and Saturday (the whole day). Also, as there are so many alumni, you really have to book your wedding a long time in advance (I am already invited to two weddings in June and September 2006, and I was invited once 18 months in advance to a wedding that went cancelled a week before its celebration :) ... ).

The Palacio de Castellanos is very well positioned to allow for the people to simply walk up and down the University, so you might find people staying there from Thursday until Sunday.

I suppose NH will have a decent cancellation policy, so you should be able to book in advance and then cancel if there is any problem.

If you are looking old world charm, the Salamanca parador wouldnīt do it, either. It is not one of those renovated old palaces, and the best thing are the views (you can have them by walking over the old roman bridge ... I still remember when we used to drive over it on our way to the Duero river area).

BTW, the train and the bus express service donīt have a lot of difference. The train is maybe 5 minutes faster and 12 cents cheaper, so everything is up to you regarding that.

Rgds, Cova

Patrick Apr 11th, 2005 06:29 AM

Hmmm. Is that 12 cents one way or each way? Makes a difference. LOL.

Thanks, cova -- and others.

Ozarksbill Apr 11th, 2005 07:25 AM

We were in Salamanca a few years back to study Spanish mysticism and stayed at a religious center so can't help on hotels. But this is indeed a charming old university town with the largest plaza in Spain (see Michener book). It's fun just to stroll around and savor the atmosphere.

We took day trips to places like Avila associated with St. Teresa and Segovia where St. John of the Cross is buried. There is good train service from Madrid which passes by Escorial which we didn't see...but instead savored the great art at the Prado.
Ozarks Bill [email protected]

cruiseluv Apr 11th, 2005 08:48 AM


When we went to Salamanca last year I walked into the AC Palacio San Esteban and indeed it seemed very modern and sleek. However, although the Palacio de Castellanos building and public areas are full of character be aware that the rooms are pretty much modern. I can't remember if you can tell from the website.

Patrick Apr 11th, 2005 08:59 AM

From the website, I'd think the rooms are pretty contemporary -- not "modern" -- big difference. But thanks for the heads up. Yes, I suppose the rooms aren't as full of character as the rest of the hotel.

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