Salamanca -- train or car?

Old Sep 22nd, 2003, 07:49 AM
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Salamanca -- train or car?

I'm planning a trip for two involving a 2-3 day excursion out of Madrid to Salamanca, Avila and perhaps Segovia. I see the train ride from Madrid to Avila & Salamanca is short, but that Segovia is off the line. Any recommendations out there regarding the pluses and minuses of training it versus renting a car? And any suggestions on how much time to allow in each place? Thanks.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2003, 08:34 AM
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Rent the car--do Segovia 1 nite, see Avila enroute to Salamanca, stay there 2 nites--or reverse.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2003, 10:36 AM
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If by car, do the reverse. You want to approach Avila from the west, preferably in the late afternoon.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2003, 10:51 AM
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Foodiehiker,
You're right about Segovia being off the line. By public transportation it's quicker to do Segovia from Madrid by La Sepulvedana bus (1 hr. 15 min. flat). So, to see all three efficiently, I'd opt for a rental car.
Ditto to what Bob has told you. First Segovia, spend the night, then Avila in route to Salamanca, then Salamanca for the final 2 nights. But before leaving Avila make sure you drive down to the 4 Postes, the viewing area where you'll see tour busses parked and 4 pillars. From that scenic view point you'll be able to take that perfect snapshot of Avila surrounded by those impressive walls. Well, it may or may not be "picture postcard" perfect-the last time we took that photo there were construction cranes everywhere in sight! Oh well...
Of your 3 cities, Avila is the one that can be seen in the least amount of time. You can walk a portion of the walls in both directions, but you must pay a small fee to do so.
From Salamanca it should take you about or under 2 1/2 hrs. to drive back to Madrid.
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Old Sep 25th, 2003, 04:00 PM
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I think Avila has more to offer than Segovia. Car will be the most efficient, plus you don't mention stopping at the Escorial as you leave. You will fall in love with Salamanca, and it's very special at night.
The Paradors in Avila is well located. The Segovia is out of the city and a bit cold looking. The one in Salamanca looks like a big hospital from the outside and is inconvenient. In Salamanca, check out the lovely Hotel Rector. Couldn't believe the price for such an upscale hotel, and the service is excellent.
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Old Sep 26th, 2003, 06:20 AM
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Foodiehiker,
I concur with Aleta's recommendation of the intimate "boutique" Hotel Rector in Salamanca, a Karen Brown favorite (www.karenbrown.com), or if full, another K.B. and Fodorite favorite, the beautiful NH Palacio Castellanos, which is closer to the Plaza Mayor, also with garage. The Salamanca Parador is currently closed for a long overdue renovation, but I don't see how they can make it look any less institutionalized from the outside, and it isn't convenient for touring.
We've stayed for several nights at Avila's Parador and used it as a base to explore Segovia and to tour El Escorial. That would be another possibility if you want a more atmospheric, historic, antique filled Parador for that first night. But I do truly love Segovia, and its own Plaza Mayor can be very magical at night. The lovely Hotel Infanta Isabel (another Karen Brown favorite) sits right on Segovia's plaza, facing the gazebo and the Cathedral. Many Fodorites have enjoyed their stay there.
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Old Sep 26th, 2003, 02:51 PM
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I can only second that a car is the absolute best way to see these places. I would spend the most time in Salamanca, then Segovia and finally Avila, but you really can't go wrong in any order. Maribel's itinerary sounds perfect. I can only add that the parador in Avila is wonderful. I stayed there as a wee lad twenty years ago, and still remember it vividly: wonderfuly preserved, with a great view from the terrace and gardens. We stopped in for lunch on our trip last September (great meal), and I took the same picture of the gate in the wall (the famous one, usually crowned with a stork's nest, does it have a name?) that my father took twenty years ago.
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