Ride or drive? Queries for Spain

Feb 22nd, 2008, 11:28 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 10
Ride or drive? Queries for Spain

We are two retired women, not very spry and not aggressive drivers (but not fearful either). In spite of these limitations we are planning an independent trip to Spain. We will be traveling from Oct. 18--26, heading to Toledo, Cordoba, and Granada. We are trying to decide whether to drive the whole loop or to do a rail/drive combination. Feedback? Advice?

We have three specific queries. (1) If we drive, we would prefer to avoid in-town traffic. Can you recommend places to stay on the outskirts of the three cities? They should be easy to reach by car but near enough that we could easily get taxis to the main attractions.

(2) If we arrive in each city by rail, will we be able to find porters to help with our luggage? Do Spanish trains have high steps?

(3) Is it out of the question to hope for a one-way car rental between Cordoba and Granada? We could go to one or the other by train and drive between them, and it would be nice not to have to waste a day on a round trip.

Information deeply appreciated.
genieb is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2008, 11:57 AM
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I think you'd have to backtrack to Madrid from Toledo. There is not an onward train to Granada or Cordoab that I am aware of.

I recall just stepping onto the train. I would suggest packing light enough that you can get to a cab from the train on your own.

One thing you might consider is that part of the appeal is staying within the heart of these atmospheric places (where everything is walkable), so I'd hate to stay on the outskirts just to have a car for getting between them.

For a longer trip exploring small towns, I'd say go for it with a car, but for these concentrated trips, my advice is to train. Bus was quite comfortable as well, but don't know that that helps.
yorkshire is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2008, 12:04 PM
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I can help you with a couple of things:

1. Hostal Cardenal in Toledo has parking and is located next to the set of escalators that will take you to the old part of Toledo. So you would not need taxis. Alternatively, you could stay at the Parador or another hotel just outside the city but with a view. From there you could take taxis, or even walk to the old city and major sights.

3. I have not checked this particular combination of cities, but we have rented cars many times in various European destinations, including several in Spain, and usually drop them off at a location different from the pick up spot.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2008, 01:40 PM
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I usually hate to give answers that ignore the initial questions, so accept my apologies in advance.

Yet, I do not see many benefits in traveling by car from one major city to another. The trains do that much faster and give you more time to explore the cities. If you had smaller towns or villages in between which you wanted to see, then one could say that it was better to drive than to take the train.

Maybe you can get a rental car for 1-2 days while you are in Cordoba or Granada to explore the villages and countryside.

One-way rentals usually do not come with a surcharge (at least none of my 10+ rentals).
Cowboy1968 is online now  
Feb 22nd, 2008, 08:58 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
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We stayed at the Hostal del Cardenal last February.The hotel does not have its own parking. There is a small public lot (maybe 30 spaces) outside the entrance but there is no guarantee you will find a space. We paid what appeared to be a homeless man 5 euros to "watch" our car. There are 2 flights of stairs to get to the lobby of the hotel and you may be lucky to have one of the available staff carry your bags. It's a lovely historic hotel with a wonderful restaurant, however, the escalator near the parking lot does not go all the way up to the cathedral or the main plaza-it's still a hike. I would suggest that you take a train from Madrid (40 minutes)to Toledo and then a taxi into the upper town and spend one night there. You can then take the train back to Madrid where you can rent a car and drive to Cordoba and on to Granada or take the train. Otherwise, you can rent a car in Toledo and drive from there.IMHO, I would go back to Madrid, take a train to Cordoba and then either rent a car there or take the train to Granada. We rented our car in Madrid, drove to Marbella and used it as a base to go for day trips to Malaga, the white hill towns of Ronda & Grazalema, Granada and Gibralter. While in Grenada, we left it in the parking lot of the Alhambra for the day and then took the bus around the city and back "up" to the Alhambra parking lot.We also drove it to Seville for 2 nights, Toldedo for one night and then to the airport. It was alot of driving but there were 4 of us.

Other than getting from place to place, a car is unecessary in each city. The train seems like a much better option.
mkk4050 is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2008, 11:03 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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What benefit do you intend to get by driving?

The rail/drive tradeoff depends much on the value you place on driving.

For example, for my in-laws, it is not a trip unless they drive. I don't have any problem this. By knowing their value system, I can skip items irrelevant for their circumstances. For example in one city they were visiting, the fact that driving actually takes longer, costs more, and have to park far away and need to walk more, and get to see less attractions needed not to be pointed out to them.

From what you have revealed, I see that moving luggages and steps are your concerns. How much luggages are you carrying? Are steps your concern even without luggages?

Is driving an integral part of trip or does it have value to you only when it does something tangible: saves time, let you visit places not easily accessible by train (none of the cities mentioned are of this type?)

I presume you are entering and leaving Madrid. If I were to do this trip, I would buy air ticket all the way to Granada and make my way back to Madrid.
greg is online now  
Feb 23rd, 2008, 01:25 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,314
I agree with most of mkk4050's post. Only that you give these homeless at parking lots no more than 1 eur., and they really do not look after the car at all.
The drive from Madrid to Cordoba is very boring and featureless, I recommend doing this part by AVE train; Driving from Cordoba to Seville or Granada you find many places of interest to make stops, for example Ecija and Carmona; or Baena, Alcalá la Real.
josele is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2008, 09:27 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2008
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Many thanks to all of you for your prompt and helpful responses. I will share them with my traveling companion when she gets home Monday from Egypt and Jordan. (Now there's a traveler.)
Meanwhile you've helped me refine my thinking about this trip.
genieb is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2008, 12:30 PM
Join Date: Aug 2007
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"Other than getting from place to place, a car is unecessary in each city. The train seems like a much better option."

ditto !

if you can, travel light!
danon is offline  
Feb 28th, 2008, 04:29 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 91,597
I would never rent a car in Europe, if it is on a route that I can easily use a train. Soooo much more relaxing imo.
suze is offline  
Feb 28th, 2008, 08:00 PM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 666
Driving in Granada and Cordoba is not easy!!! I vote for the train.
cferrb is offline  

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