questions about Spain

Jan 9th, 2002, 03:08 PM
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questions about Spain

I'm going to Spain for a couple of weeks in March 2002 (March 15-31). It will be my first time there. I was hoping you could give me some advice and opinions...

1. I'd like to visit Madrid, Barcelona, San Sebastien, Bilbao, and Seville. Is this reasonable, and if so, what's the best way to arrange the trip so I'm not zig-zagging around any more than necessary?

2. There's a Real Madrid v. FC Barcelona match in Barcelona on March 17. Would it be a fun experience for someone like me who doesn't know much about soccer? Should I try to go? What's the best way to get tickets?

3. I'll be in Spain during Semana Santa (March 24-31). Should I make sure to be in Seville that week? If I can't be there for the whole week, would it still be good to go for two or three days of the festival?

4. I know it's a challenge to find a place to stay in Seville during Semana Santa. Does Semana Santa create problems finding a place to stay in any other cities in Spain?

5. Do the trains run to and from Seville on a normal schedule during Semana Santa, or does rail service stop or decrease in any way? I don't want to get stranded there and miss my flight home from Madrid.

6. Has anyone out there been to the town of Hondarribia in the Basque country, near San Sebastien? Is it worth checking out?

7. Is it possible to see professional jai alai in the Basque country? Fun? I'm having trouble finding out where it happens, when it happens, if it happens, etc.

8. What's the best day trip from Madrid?

9. What's the best day trip from Barcelona?

Thanks very much for any help you can offer. If this long message violates some kind of posting etiquette, my apologies.

Jan 9th, 2002, 05:09 PM
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I think that your itinerary is very ambitious as it covers a lot of geographic area including the 2 largest cities in the country. You might want to rethink some of it and focus on either the North or the South of the country and not both. Your second week is Semana Santa which will be a fabulous time to be visiting almost any location in Spain, but if you do not have reservations someplace booked very soon (at least for the Maundy thursday through Easter Sunday time) you will really have trouble. Basically the entire country shuts down for those 4 days. Many businesses, restaurants, etc.. are closed for the entire week as people travel back to their hometowns to spend it with their families.Wherever you end up for that time be sure you are staying at a convenient place to watch all the processions. NOTE: cities of all sizes are absolutely jammed and you must plan to walk as all major streets are blocked off from cars and the crowds are tremendous.
I am not a soccer or jai lai fan so I have no clue about that question.
Most trains will be on a holiday schedule which I think will mean FEWER not more trains so without a reservation it would be a dicey time to rely on just walking on.

Good Luck,

Jan 9th, 2002, 06:56 PM
Marc David Miller
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I toured Spain last January in two weeks--Madrid 4 days, fly to Bilbao 1 day, fly to Barcelona 5 days, fly to Sevilla/train to Cordoba 2 days, train to Sevilla 1 day, fly to Madrid/NY. Flights were very convenient;
Jan 10th, 2002, 12:50 AM
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Seville is beautiful during Semana Santa, it´s true there are crowds, but
there are also ways to avoid them and still see the processions in less crowded areas. I live here and I hate crowds, but you can easily walk your way around them. There is a very special atmosphere, micture of fun and reverence, but you can enjoy the spectacle even if you are not religious, just in the purely aesthetic sense.
You will have troubles reserving a room in the center, but you can book something around the Nervión residential area (10 min. bus or cab ride from all the action) or out in the suburbs, which also helps relax in a quiet spot after a lot of walks and crowds. Taxis are cheap and easy to find
or call.
You might want to book in Seville on the first days of the Holy Week.Most people come in the second half of the week, since Thursday and Friday are national holidays. The processions start on Sunday March 24, and although
some people will say the most beautiful
are on Thursday, it´s not true. There
are some just as beautiful any day of the week, and less crowded.
As far as the trains, there are basically just as many, but book in advance through the RENFE website.

The best daytrip from Madrid? That´s a tough one. Some people think it´s Toledo,but my experience is it´s too confusing to do in one day on your own, maybe on a guided tour.
Segovia is easier to navigate and beautiful, great castle (the Alcazar).
I would probably have to say El Escorial is the best all around.

I hope this helps!
Jan 10th, 2002, 12:55 AM
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I would highly recommend a visit to Fuenterrabia.If you are going to San Sebastian, it is only 20 km away. Fuenterrabia/Hondarribia is one of the beautiful and historical cities of Basque Coast, situated on the Spanish-French border. Presiding over the town is an ancient fortress converted today into a Tourism Parador. The Fishermen´s quarter is a fine example of Basque seaboard architecture. It is also a perfect place to taste Basque Cusine.

I do not know about Jai-Alai in Guipuzcoa, but you´d problably find some Festivals in the French Basque Country (Anglet, St-Jean de Luz, Bayona).

If you need more information about Fuenterrabia or San Sebastian do not doubt to email me.
Jan 10th, 2002, 04:04 AM
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3& 4.
Semana Santa is fascinating in the whole of Andalusia, not only Sevilla, and yes, accommodation is a problem. I stayed in both Granada and Cordoba, and had trouble getting a room in both places, when I hadn't booked. There was no chance from Good Friday on, and I had to move north. Train reservations were also a problem. But it's the most amazing experience. I'm not sure where you're from, but there's nothing like it in Australia. Make every effort to get there.

Q8. The best day trip from Madrid, for my money, is Toledo. It's a stunning place, a piece of Moorish Spain, in the centre. A guided tour may be good. Spend at least a day.

Have a ball - I wish I was going again!

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