Please offer advice on Spain Itinerary

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Jun 14th, 2007, 10:59 AM
  #1
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Please offer advice on Spain Itinerary

Hello,
While researching for an upcoming trip I came across this wonderful site filled with generous and helpful information! Needing some advice, I thought I would give it a try. My daughter is going to be studying in Spain this fall semester. We had originally planned to visit her later but have now found the only time we can go is prior to the start of classes. (late Aug/early Sept) I know, maybe not the best time of year for southern Spain but I have learned that any time your 20 year old still wants to travel with Mom and Dad, you go for it! So I am scrambling to put together a reasonable itinerary to take advantage of this opportunity. I would appreciate any advice you would offer on the below travel plan. The only days that cannot be changed are the Madrid arrival and departure, and days 16-18 in Toledo. I can shorten the number of days in Madrid but we need to be there for at least the first 3.

Days 1-5: Madrid with side day trip to Segovia.(includes arrival day)
Day 6: AVE to Seville.
Days 7-10: Seville with side day trip to Cordoba via train.
Day 11: travel early to Rhonda via rental car overnight in Rhonda.
Days 12-14: travel to and visit Granada.
Day 15:travel to Toledo ( keep car or train?)
Days 16-18: Toledo (can't change these)
Day 19: Depart Madrid
Questions:
1.Should I skip/extend the overnight in Rhonda or one of the daytrips (Segovia/Cordoba)to allow more time elsewhere?
2.Drop the car in Granada and train to Toledo or keep the car and drive? Trains appear to go to Madrid..then back to Toledo.
3.So far I am having limited luck with finding hotels with "triples", but am still looking. If anyone has stayed in or knows of nice triples in these cities I would really appreciate your input. I have been looking in the 100-180 Eur range but knowing that it is a busy season and I am late, I am willing to be flexible.
4.Any other helpful comments/advice.

Thank you in advance for your help!


linde is offline  
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Jun 14th, 2007, 03:12 PM
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Having done this trip before, just be prepared for heat. What you have is fine. I just found Seville to be a yawner. Toledo was fun, be sure you find a damskeen artisian. It's incredible to watch and beautiful art.
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Jun 14th, 2007, 03:24 PM
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you should find triples at www.gtahotels.com

drop car in toledo. you definitely do not want it there at all.

you may want to make sure you have a pool ... this would be one place to have it those dates.

granada.. saray hotel is new and has one.

sevilla.. san gil hotel has one and is reasonable although off the beaten toruist path.
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Jun 14th, 2007, 03:35 PM
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You should have a great time with your daughter--we did with ours when she was studying in Italy--believe me, you will all remember this trip always.

Might check out flying from Seville to Toledo--there are some great fares with available--check out whichbudget.com for airlines.

We LOVED Seville. Recommend the flamenco show at Los Gallos and the restaurant El Caballo Rojo in Cordoba and get tickets for Alhambra in advance online.

Have a great trip and wish you daughter a wonderful semester--lucky her!
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Jun 14th, 2007, 03:39 PM
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....."Might check out flying from Seville to Toledo"

do you mean "madrid"?
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Jun 14th, 2007, 06:09 PM
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Don't skip Rhonda, it is a beautiful city. Are you visiting Granada or just using it as a dropping point? The Alhambra palace is breath taking. The Costa Del Sol is fabulous. Catch a bull show in Sevilla. Check out http://www.andalucia.com/home.htm for more info. This is a busy season in all of Europe. Are you asking for a room to sleep 3? You may want to ask for a room to sleep 2 with a roll away bed.
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Jun 14th, 2007, 06:38 PM
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LOVED Ronda -- I would even stay for two nights. And if you can, stay at Hotel L'Enfrente Arte. Amazing!

The rest of your plan sounds very civilized -- plenty of time to enjoy every place.
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Jun 15th, 2007, 03:03 PM
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Thank you all for your helpful feedback! I understand why this board is so active. Looking at guide books has been helpful but reading actual trip reports and receiving "live" feedback has really made me excited for our Spain adventure.

Deeja, yes it will be warmer than I prefer for sightseeing so we will take it easy and enjoy the siesta to escape the sun for a few hours.

Lincasanova. Thank you for the hotel suggestions..I am hoping to finalize everything in the next few days. Every trip I ask myself why I spend so much time finding the perfect hotel when we really spend so little time in them!! We'll drop the car as soon as we get to Toledo. I considered not having a car at all, but it seemed to be the best way to see the towns between Seville and Granada. Is there anything worth stopping for on the drive from Granada to Toledo?

Artlover, This trip will be especially memorable for us as my daughter is the only one who speaks Spanish (although I have been brushing up) so it will be fun to put her in charge!! And yes, can't wait to see my first Flamenco!

Ciaokitty, Yes I had been asking specifically for triples...good advice to ask for a room that sleeps 2 with a rollaway. We will have 2 full days in Granada and the Alhambra is on the top fo my list. Their website is not taking reservations for visits after July, so I will ask my hotel to make them.
Abbydog- The hotel in Rhonda looks great and one I did not have on my list to contact..Thank you.
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Jun 17th, 2007, 03:58 AM
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Sounds like a great trip. Personally I was very disappointed with Toledo and Segovia -- very Disney-esque.

Congrats on spending 4 days in Seville -- we adore this city.

My new favourite city is Mérida. If you are interested in Roman ruins in is worthwhile to fit it in.

I have reserved triples at the following hotels:
Seville: Hotel Amadeus, Carmona Parador
Grenada: Parador (it is worth the price to stay one night there - we had a suite); Hotel Reina Cristina (valet parking too)
Jaen: Parador


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Jun 17th, 2007, 04:43 AM
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linde, if you are driving between Granada and Toledo, you could take a slight detour to Baeza and/or Ubeda. Both have very pretty town centres.

Much further north, you will probably be leaving the A4 onto CM400; this is the most direct route to Toledo. Near this interchange is Consuegra, a great photo stop for its windmills of Don Quixote fame. This is a nice place to have a picnic lunch too.

These highways are all in super condition, and the driving is easy (120kph). Make sure, though, that you know how to get to your destination once in Toledo, as the roads there can be confusing.
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Jun 17th, 2007, 11:03 AM
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I just returned from Sevilla this week where my 21 and 23 year old daughters and I had a fabulous time. We love Sevilla! I, like you booked reservations at the last minute and had difficultly finding triples that would take three adults (vs. an adult with 2 minor children).

We were thrilled with our hotel in Sevilla. We stayed at the Petit Palace Marques de Santa Ana. Our room, 107 was on the first floor up from the ground floor and was super quiet, with room darkening curtains. Were we surprised when we awoke the first morning and it was 10:30! There were two twin beds, and on the wall were 2 fold down twin beds (stacked like a bunk bed arrangement). I just pulled down the bottom bed and slept great.
The hotel was lovely and absolutely immaculate, as was our spacious room. It is part of a chain of modern, technological savy hotels that are "hip", sparse and modern looking, so if you are looking for a "pretty" hotel with lovely fabrics, etc. this is not it.
It has 24 hour computers with internet for free, so my girls were thrilled with this feature as keeping up with their e-mail while traveling keeps them happy & in touch with their boyfriends. Isabel at the desk speaks absolutely perfect English & became a good friend, as did Manu the house man.
I did read on Fodors that some people do not like this hotel because the door to the bathroom is glass (although is is partially frosted), therefore you do not have complete visual privacy in the bathroom and the shower. since we were just us girls, that was not an issue for us but it may be for you.
The location was also fabulous. The hotel is located on Calle Jimios, which is just a little alley (the photo of the hotel at the website is the front which faces this alley). Walk 10 yards down the alley and you are practically at the Ave. de constitution, staring directly at the Cathedral. We walked everywhere. It was a fabulous time to go because it stayed light until 10:30ish at night (I can't figure that out!) and there were tons of people walking everywhere.
so safety was never an issue (always a concern for a mother of girls!).

I had researched Fodors & noted that lots of people recommended Amadeus, etc hotels in the Barrio santa Cruz.
However, I was not able to get any of those places. I was really sad that we were not staying there, but after having stayed where we did we agreed that for us our hotel was perfect!

The hotel's listed rate is approx. 385 Euros/night, but for some incredible reason I was able to get it on venere.com for 160.50 Euros/night.
When I actually checked out, they gave it to me for 150 Euros/night, so it was meant to be!
A tip: when you price shop on Trip Advisor with all the different discount sites, just because one/some of the sites show "no vacancy" for your request, go on through the entire list.
I do not know why, but every single site (Hotels.com, etc) showed no vacancy for the Petit Palace Marques de Santa Ana, but venere.com popped up with an offer! The same thing happened to me making our reservation for London (for this same trip). I wanted to stay at the Luna Simone and all the trip advisor connectors showed no vacancy. So I called the hotel to just ask if they would put me on a waiting list, but the attendent offered me a room right then! So it is always worth a direct phone call to a hotel if you've got one that you really want that shows "unavailable" on the internet.

Being girls, we adored the evening paseo walk through the shopping streets (follow the tour in Rick Steves). We also did the Rick Steves walk through the Jewish Quarter, and we followed Rick Steves guide through the Cathedral & Alcazar. For a cheap lunch eat at the "100 subs for a Euro" place (they offer 100 types of petite sub sandwiches, each only 1 Euro) next to the Starbucks across from the Cathedral. Yum!
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Jun 17th, 2007, 01:51 PM
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Hi ML Mon, we also spent five days in Marques de Santa Ana in Seville and liked it very much. Location was superb for us right in the Arenal. We have stayed in a couple more of the hi techs hotels , Petit Palace Italy in Madrid one night and a few nights at Petit Palace Dos Torres in Salamanca. We loved them all, however apparently sometimes they have interior rooms which are not that nice, specially the Dos Torres. I found out reading alfter I stayed there in trip advisor, but ours was beautiful in the second floor facing a little sq with trees, and of cours the hotel is located meters away from the Plaza Mayor.
We also got a good rate, including breakfast which is very good. What I mean to say is that sometimes in the hi tech hotels it is important which room you get. We have no complains what so ever and were very happy in all the hotels I mentioned.
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Jun 18th, 2007, 05:55 AM
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I agree that Ubeda and Baeza are terrific. Try the local food at Restaurant Museo Agricola in Ubeda.
Check this site:
http://geneura.ugr.es/ubeda.html
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Jun 18th, 2007, 06:52 AM
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Hi , Linde I have 4 children and grandchildren and I agree with you go for it...I am not going to discuss the itinerary too much because this is very personal. I am going to tell you only a few things that might be helpful, if by any chance you will stay in Madrid during a week end, look for week end rates . You will delightfully surprise, usually they also include buffet breakfast. One way to do it is to check with solmelia, they have tons of very nice hotels all over Spain. Many in Madrid.
Also Melia offers to the members of their card MAS
a free buffet breakfast if you pay for one.This is a good savings since breakfast go for more 12 euros. Sometimes much more.
The chain hi-tech that has the hotels Petit Palace has triples. I like their hotels, however this triples I am told have one bed hunging from the wall also these hotels have a lot of nice things like flat tvs, free internet , showers with jets, but the walls and doors of the bathrooms are made of tinted thick glass. Beds are very good, breakfast too.
I find a bit out of the way the drive from Cordoba to Ronda and then back to Granada, personally I feel Ronda is over rated, I would simply go to Granada from Cordoba by car and then coming up towards Toledo I would visit for instance UBeda-Baeza two jewels with nice hotels and a nice Parador.Then I would be near the N IV towards Toledo.I would return the car in Toledo upon arrival. Then a short train ride to Madrid avoiding the inconvenience of driving in Madrid. Good luck.
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Jun 18th, 2007, 07:30 AM
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One more thing , should you be driving near Jaen, with a good map you can go up the hill were is located the Parador, have lunch there, visit next door Fortress of Santa Catalina. The view from the hill is fantastic, Jaen is at your feet, and the hills are covered with olive trees.
For instance if you decide to go from Granada to Ubeda, leaving in the morning, you can have lunch in the Parador in Jaen, then continue a short drive to Ubeda. I see the drive to Ronda, long and not that fun, well as I say everything is very personal.
I have no words to tell you what a jewel Ubeda and Baeza are. In both cities they have walking tours.
You need them to get aquainted with so many historic buildings, little streets, and history.
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Jun 18th, 2007, 10:17 AM
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MLMom
I am booked at the Petit Palace Marquise de Santa Anna, Seville Aug 17, 18, 19, 20 with my husband ( We are in our 50's)and our 16 year old son. I am so glad I choose wisely but have some questions. We are only paying about 150 per night for our triple but we are traveling through Spain by car. They have told me that parking is 20 E per day plus tax and breakfast is 14 E per day plus tax. This is so expensive. Did you have a car. We can't figure out what to do. I know we don't Need a car there, but we need it before and after. It seems so foolish to pay for rental and parking just to be able to get in and continue out. Did you eat breakfast in the hotel? If not any suggestions? How about other meals? We usually only eat a BIG breakfast and then dinner. Do you think we should request a room on the lower floors for quiet or is the whole Hotel equal?
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Jun 18th, 2007, 11:02 AM
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I just returned from Seville and due to the car rental rates, it was cheaper to pay the 50€ than to do 2 rental contracts (not even figuring in the time involved in returning and renting again).

Regarding breakfast, I always take it at the Paradors but at hotels I go out to the Bar -- the rate you quote is normal.
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Jun 18th, 2007, 11:12 AM
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Your trip sounds great, and I think you will have a great time!

I'm with deejal01 - I was very underwhelmed with Seville. It was my least favorite place to be in Spain (I found Madrid to be more pleasant!). Your mileage will probably vary.

I absolutely loved Ronda! We spent two nights there and I could have spent a week, easily. The town becomes something so much different after all the daytrippers leave. There is a small park sort of behind and next to the bullring (called the Alameda?). My suggestion is to go there in the late afternoon/early evening. The Rondaleños will out during the paseo and it is a delightful experience.

Besides Jaen on the road between Granada and Toledo, there are the windmills at Consuegra! Actually, there are lots of windmills throughout Castille-La Mancha, but this site is closest to Toledo. It doesn't take long for a photo op, and they are truly beautiful. For some reason, seeing the windmills of Spain was truly a highlight of our trip for me. And, if anyone in your group has read "Don Quixote" they will certainly love it!

I do have to agree with a previous poster who brought up Mérida. We visited there and absolutely loved it. While Ronda was the city I love the best, Mérida came in a very close second. It's not crowded with tourists at all and had more of a small town feel to it. And the people were very friendly. A wonderful place, though it will probably be even hotter than southern Spain at that time of year!

Good luck and I hope you have the greatest time ever! We so loved our time there - it certainly was a trip of a lifetime!
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Jun 18th, 2007, 06:04 PM
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Sephlll,
You will have a wonderful trip in Spain! Some answers to your questions about the Petit Palace Marques Santa Ana:
~Make sure you read my comments about the glass bathroom doors, etc. and the lack of visual privacy. Just so you know!
~your 16 year old son will love being to check his e-mail anytime he wants. The computers are right in a niche in the lobby, so it is convenient anytime.
~We loved our room, 107. This hotel is located on a little side alley (Jimios) so I really don't think that there would be any noise from any direction that would bother any room. Just to be safe, though, you could request a "quiet" room (which we did).I had read alot of comments on Fodors about the noise from late nite revelers in the Barrio Santa Cruz area hotels, so this was a plus for this location.
~There was no view (I do not think that any window in the hotel would have any type of view except the walls of the adjacent buildings!) but you do not need one since you will experience the fun of Seville all day.
~In regards to the parking, the parking garage is attached to the hotel in an enclosed garage type area (we saw the doors with the sign on them). By outward appearance it looks small, and I do know that when we checked in the desk attendant told another guest standing next to me that the parking garage was full. So I would definately clarify with them that they would guarantee a spot in the garage. Because if you do not park there, I do not know where in the world you would park! We did not have a car.
~I believe that there are two Petit Palaces in Seville, so make sure that you follow directions, etc. to the correct one.
~If you are driving, It would be best to enter from "Garcia de Vinuesa". You will turn on "Castillejo" and just 10 feet ahead, directly in front of you, is a little cafe that sells smoothies, or crepes or something like that. Now look down the alley to the left: at the top of a building you see the word "Hotel" and the funky little symbol for the high Tech hotels (a gingerbread man outline filled with colored splotches). Just drive down that alley! It is a narrow, one car, one way alley so you should enter from this direction.
~I don't know what to tell you about the breakfast. We did not take it, but we were offered it when we checked in (for the hefty price), so maybe you can check things out & then make a decision. We are not big b'fast eaters; I hate to admit it, but we just bought a gigantic muffin from the Starbucks on the corner (1 minute away) for 2 something Euros and that was enough for us. Then we would sit outside at the cafe tables and watch the world stroll by! They do have a good assortment of muffins, etc. there
but I do not know about getting heartier b'fasts anywhere. sorry!
~Note that the dining timetable is different from ours. Remember that they do not usually eat supper until 9-11ish at night, so keep that in mind.
~If you need questions answered (esp. about the car, etc) you could always call the front desk and ask to speak to "Isabel". She usually works the day time shift and can help you with anything! The other girls at the desk do speak english, but Isabel understands and speaks flawlessly.
~let me know if you have any other questions.
~I envy the fun you will have!
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Jun 19th, 2007, 07:38 AM
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Hi linde, only to say that we had the breakfast in the Petit Palace Marques de Sana Ana and was very good.
I was checking in my guide book, and I must confess that if I were you, I would love more and more the idea of going from Granada to Ubeda-Baeza leaving aside Ronda.
Jaen is perfectly placed for a stop between Granada and Ubeda-Baeza. The Parador has also a great pool, but is the location perched right at the top of the Santa Catalina hill which makes it so attractive. The panoramas from here across the surrounding country side are superb.
From there you only have 30 miles to Baeza, or 35 to Ubeda. The parador in UBeda is totally different it
was the palace of a Bishop and it is located in the heart of the old town. Thus you have to choose carefully the rooms some are not as nice because of a lack of view.
Some one mentioned the windmills between Granada and Ubeda, but this I believe is wrong, the windmills are North of Jaen as far as I know.
Ubeda is so unique at times Arab,at times Baroque.
The greatest triumphs of the Renaissance echo through its silent streets.
The history of UBeda, like that of Baeza is strewn
with the rivalries between the nobles who inherited the land after the Reconquest. In an effort to outdo
one another they built magnificents palaces.But that is not all, there are many other wonderful places and steets to visit. The University in Baeza and much more.When I put all these in a scales versus Ronda...Ubeda+Baeza win by far . But of course each person is different and likes different things.Besides if you are going North towards Toledo you shall be perfectly placed to star your trip North from Ubeda-Baeza, then driving through Castilla La Mancha you might encounter the windmills.
The only part of this suggested trip is that you have to know before hand how to get up the hill in Jaen to the Parador and next door Fortress of Santa Catalina.
Although there are always sings for the Paradores you should ask before hand. An e mail to the Jaen Parador will do. There is free parking on both Paradores. In Ubeda parking is actually on the street but they guide you and everybody parks this way.
Next time we go there I shall consider staying in Baeza, there is no parador, but very nice hotels some with pools too.Baeza's historic center is one of the richest architectural ensembles in all Spain.
As I mentioned there are excellent walking tours of both cities, they even offer a discount if you buy both together, but anyway they are very inexpensive, like 10-12 euros each tour. Good luck.
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