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Returned from 2 weeks in Southwestern Spain

Returned from 2 weeks in Southwestern Spain

Old Oct 29th, 1999, 03:22 PM
  #1  
Ray Golli
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Returned from 2 weeks in Southwestern Spain

Many of the comments posted on the forum were helpful so I would like to return the favor. We had a whirlwind 2 weeks in Oct taking us from Madrid to Toledo, Malagro, Granada, Rhonda, Cadiz, Seville, Cordoba and back to Madrid (actually Acala de Henares). Obviously, we did this trip by car. The major roads are very well marked and we had almost no trouble venturing from city to city. The driving is much more sane than in Italy. Drivers are courteous, signal their turns, and don't drive at really high speeds. We were not on any schedule so it was impossible to get into Paradores upon arrival. I suggest that you make reservations in advance if you want to stay in a Parador although we had no trouble finding good to excellent hotels without having reservations. We ate in a Parador within the Alhambra grounds. The food there was excellent. That is more than I can say for most of our other meals except for restaurants that were recommended. Other forum contributors have mentioned the language barrier and that is part of the problem. Very few hotel clerks and restaurant personnel could speak English. We got along ok but many times were surprised at the meals presented. That was our fault, of course, not theirs. All of the cities mentioned above are vibrant, active and very beautiful. Traffic is heavy and parking can be a problem. Others had remarked about staying outside of town; I would second that and which we did. It's hard to pick a favorite city and attraction although the Alhambra in Granada and the Mosque in Cordoba are a must along with the Prado Museum in Madrid. I would definitely go again. I'll try to answer any questions............
 
Old Oct 29th, 1999, 03:59 PM
  #2  
Maira
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How did you like Seville? Where did you stay in Madrid? How do you enjoyed Toledo? What did you see in Malagro?

I, too, love Spain, an amazing country of contrast.
 
Old Oct 29th, 1999, 04:55 PM
  #3  
Patrick Ashton
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While we're at it, anybody want to comment on our intended driving itinerary for September of 2000? Starting 3 nights Barcelona, 2 nights Bilboa, 1 night Leon? or Gijon? or Oviedo?, 2 nights at Santiago de Campostela, 3 nights Porto, 3 nights Lisbon, 2 nights Faro, 3 nights Seville, 1 night Ronda, 2 nights Cordoba, 1 night Toledo, 3 nights Madrid. (Have been to Granada & Malaga before, so missing them this time.)
 
Old Nov 1st, 1999, 08:53 AM
  #4  
Ray Golli
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To Maira, et al:
Seville is wonderful with special interest in the Plaza de Espana, the cathedral and belltower, the Alcazar Palace, and Santa Cruz quarters. Toledo was my wife's favorite city. The city is very medieval with quaint streets. The cathedral is a treasure. We went to Malagro because it's about halfway from Madrid to Granda. Our intent was to stay at the Parador. Unfortunately, it was a holiday weekend for Christopher Columbus. What we found though was a festive plaza area and the most beautiful wooden resident doors....one after another, street after street....of any city and county I have ever been in. We did not stay in Madrid but out past the airport in Alcala de Henares the university city. We took the bus into Madrid (bus runs every 15 minutes). Traffic from this direction to the airport is horrendous, however. Fortunately, we recognized the problem the day before departure. It took us 3 hours to go the 8 miles from Henares to the airport! Better to have stayed in Madrid and have gone against the traffic to the airport. A word to the wise............
 
Old Nov 1st, 1999, 09:33 AM
  #5  
BOB THE NAVIGATOR
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Patrick, You have a nice trip here but
I do not agree with your locations in
Portugal. From Santiago come down as far
as Viano do Castello and stay at the
Poudada there--Santa Luiza--and a great
location to explore the Minho area. Porto is not much except for 2 hours to see the wine deal. After that, go down
to Sintra to stay, not Lisbon. You do not want a car in Lisbon and you can day
trip easily from Sintra or Cascais. Stop
at Obidos enroute to Sintra. At the
Algarve, do not stay at Faro--too big.
Stay further west at Lagos or Praia de
Rocha to see the best of the Algarve.
 
Old Nov 1st, 1999, 09:59 AM
  #6  
Maira
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Ray--- sorry we are taking some spotlight from your post to address Patrick's, but two quick suggestions to Pat:

- Stay in Leon. Try to stay either at the Parador or La Bodega Regia Hotel. This last hotel is absolutely charming, resembles a medieval house, the rooms are beautiful, great breakfast included, the staff is fabulous and the restaurant downstairs (I heard) is great. You can't drive within the medieval walled town, but the staff at La Bodega will assist you with appropriate parking and unloading (BTW, the bank across the street was designed by Gaudi; the shells on the road in front of the hotel indicate that's part of the Pilgrim's Way; we did see a number of pilgrims as Leon is a popular stopover). The price, $80/double is a steal. In Leon do not miss the Royal Pantheon; best preserved medieval frescoes I have ever seen; no words to describe.

- Follow BOB's advice on Portugal to the
letter.

Ray, great point about the traffic to the Madrid's airport. Loved you tip about Malagro.
 
Old Nov 4th, 1999, 09:38 AM
  #7  
Sandra
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To all: My husband and I are so happy to be going to Spain in late March. We are planning a trip to Madrid, Cordoba, Sevilla, Toledo and thinking about Cadiz and Ronda. However, I don't know where Ronda is geographically and what the attraction is there and in Cadiz. Can anyone educate me and provide suggestions? My heart jumps when I think of our trip coming up!
 
Old Nov 4th, 1999, 10:07 AM
  #8  
Monica Richards
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Sandra:

You can check out our trip to Spain and Portugal at www.markandmonica.com/travel/iberia.htm. Ronda is East of Seville, about a two hour drive if memory serves. I loved the hill towns, especially Ronda and the cave paintings nearby. Didn't make it to Cadiz.
 
Old Nov 4th, 1999, 02:09 PM
  #9  
Ray Golli
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Sandra

If your in the near vicinity, Ronda is very worthwile seeing. It's a medieval hill town, very interesting. There is a huge gorge that cuts through the town with an ancient bridge that crosses. A restaurant right at the bridge has a patio for a scenic view. One of the oldest bull rings is there which is now a museum. We stayed in a great old hotel, the Reina Victoria. Ronda is west of Granada about 2-1/2 hrs and southeast of Seville about 2 hrs.
Cadiz is southwest of Seville about 1 hr and west of Ronda about 2 hrs. The only reason we went there was to see friends at the US Naval base outside of Cadiz. It's nice but will take you out of the way from other locations.
 
Old Nov 4th, 1999, 02:36 PM
  #10  
merriem
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Ray, what an informative post. I just made reservations to fly to Spain, four of us, my son and his wife, and my husband and of course me. We are flying to Madrid, and looks like we will stay there for three days. Although I have lived in Spain(MANY years ago)the rest of the party have not been to Madrid. Did you think renting a car was better than taking the train? We arrive on March 14 and leave the 26th. Since we were in Barcelona in April, are leaning on going South. I lived in Sevilla. We thought we would just go as the spirit moves us.....any suggestions. My husband would like to go back to Barcelona and see the rest of that area.
Like he says....there is a northern half of Spain! Any ideas are greatly appreciated. No problem with the language, as our son has his master's in Spanish, and daughter-in-law is from Mexico and speaks Spanish and Italian. Now I won't get a chance to practice my horrible Spanish!
 
Old Nov 5th, 1999, 08:38 AM
  #11  
Ray Golli
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Merriem:
From our perspective, renting a car is far more convenient than taking trains. Foremost it gives you the flexibility to where and when you want to without being a slave to specific locations and schedules. There were 4 of us on this trip. We rented a mid-sized Opel which had plently of room for the passengers and plently of room for luggage. The cost for 11 days without insurance was just $250 plus gas. The 4 of you on trains, buses and cabs will likely be much more than that.
 
Old Nov 5th, 1999, 09:22 AM
  #12  
merriem
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Thanks for the info...as we are leaning to go north of Madrid...can't do it all in one trip..renting a car sounds good. Did you need an international driver's license, and from where did you make the arrangements on the rental car. We would only want to rent after our three days in Madrid. Thanks for the info.
 
Old Nov 5th, 1999, 09:22 AM
  #13  
merriem
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Thanks for the info...as we are leaning to go north of Madrid...can't do it all in one trip..renting a car sounds good. Did you need an international driver's license, and from where did you make the arrangements on the rental car. We would only want to rent after our three days in Madrid. Thanks for the info.
 
Old Nov 5th, 1999, 11:05 AM
  #14  
Rex
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Follow-up to merriem:
.
I don't know if you mean by "north from Madrid" to include heading east also or not - - but a great place north of Barcelona is Seu d'Urgell. Absolutely still connected to the 18th century and several centuries before that as well.
.
Best wishes,
.
Rex
 
Old Nov 6th, 1999, 09:14 AM
  #15  
Ray Golli
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Merriem, et al:
Good question on international drivers license. Most countries it is good to have but not a must....in Spain it is a MUST. Your AAA or drivers license bureau can help. We have found that Auto Europe offers great rental rates (even though they work with Avis and others). Their tele# in the States is:1-800-223-5555.
 
Old Nov 6th, 1999, 11:09 AM
  #16  
graziella
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Hi ...I agree with Maira, Leon is fantastic and there are not too many tourists.
I also agree with the Posada Regia recommendation
their restaurant la Bodega Regia is superbe let the maitre and owner order for you, ... very nice people he and his wife who also is a chef, excellent food ..
I envy you, great trip, everything in Spain is very nice, be a little careful and alert here and there inthe big cities specially in Madrid and Barcelona

the Paradores are a great choice. They have all kind of offers for discounts. Buen Viaje. ( e mail if you need the address and phone and fax of the P>Regia in Le
 
Old Nov 11th, 1999, 02:51 PM
  #17  
Patrick Ashton
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Just got my computer back into operation and welcome the comments to my intinerary. Have adjusted plans to follow Portugal suggestions, and have also added Leon. Now after trying to book by October 1, 2000 return to states, would you believe Frequent flyer seats already gone (the states part, not the trans-atlantic) so have an extra day at end of trip near Madrid. What about Salamance or Segovia for a night before going to Madrid and after Toledo?
 
Old Nov 11th, 1999, 04:04 PM
  #18  
Maira
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Ray-- agree with you on the car.

Patrick---- if returning to Madrid from the East, stay at Salamanca and return early to Madrid, so you can make a stop at Segovia. Salamanca is absolutely beautiful; the Plaza Mayor is magnificent. The buildings are made of this type of material that reflect a beautiful golden glow under the sunset light; breathtaking!! We stayed at Palacio de los Castellanos, a 15th Century palace turned hotel. Very close to all the main sights, quiet, very nice, about $100.00/ night for a double with bath. The rooms were large and very comfortable. Their phone number is 92 326 1818.

In Segovia do not miss the Alcazar. On your return trip to Spain (because return you must!!), plan on spending more time in Segovia.
 

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