September Honeymoon in Spain

Old Mar 11th, 2016, 06:49 AM
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September Honeymoon in Spain

Hi Everyone!

My fiance and I have decided on exploring Spain for our Honeymoon this upcoming September. We fly out on August 28th and plan to return on September 10th, giving us roughly 13 total days. We are the type of people that don't like to cram too much in, thus I *think* my plan is to stick to the Eastern half of Spain and go from North (as in Barcelona) to South. I would love to get to San Sebastian, Western Spain & of course Portugal as well, but too much to ask for only 13 days. We haven't purchased flights, but for "maximizing my rewards miles" purposes, we will likely be flying in and out of Madrid. My original thought would be to spend 2 days in Madrid, then head to Barcelona, and then head South from there. Does anyone have must-see cities or recommendations along the way? Is it worth spending those 2 days in Madrid on the front-end? Should we be sure to spend our final days in Sevilla for the Flamenco Festival?

A bit about us-we absolutely love to travel. Our last two bigger trips have been to China and Morocco, so we'd like to head back to Europe for a bit "easier" travel coupled with amazing food and experiences! We enjoy seeing a variety of landscapes / doing a variety of different things on vacation. When we were in France in 2012, we spent time in Paris, Annecy, and Cannes--this was amazing as it allowed us to do history / everything incredible in Paris, the mountain/lake life in Annecy, and the beach life in Cannes. This is ideal for us as we were able to see 3 vastly different areas within the country. For Spain, we are hoping to achieve the same thing. We would love to visit a Vineyard in the Spanish Countryside, take an authentic cooking class, hit up a futbol game if schedules align, enjoy the Spanish people and culture in general through great food/drinks/music, and of course, spend some time doing nothing at all on a beautiful beach. I will be doing extensive research for particular hotels, cooking classes etc. BUT, if anyone has recommendations of what cities we should plan to include in our trip, that would be an amazing start!!

Many thanks in advance!! We want to live like the locals for the most part, not tourists, so feel free to let us know anything special for restaurants, bars, etc. THANK YOU!!
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Old Mar 11th, 2016, 06:55 AM
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If your plan is to see Barcelona and then head south, you'll be better off flying into Barcelona and return from Madrid, Sevilla, or Málaga, instead of having to backtrack and loose a day or two traveling within Spain.
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Old Mar 11th, 2016, 08:45 AM
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Also you need to be aware that when you are there southern Spain - ad possibly even madrid will be VERY hot - as in close to 100 degrees. (Seville can hit 120 in the summer.)

We have visited Andalusia in late April and it was already in the high 80s - by the time we got to Madrid 10 days later it was 99.

So at that time of year I would stick to the Atlantic coast (where it is MUCH cooler) possibly with the addition of Barcelona which is usually not SO hot.

Or - if you want to stick with this itinerary I would not go between June to September.
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Old Mar 11th, 2016, 12:06 PM
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Hello!

Thank you for the replies. The dates are non-negotiable as we are looking to honeymoon directly following the wedding. As far as flying into Barcelona and out of Madrid, that would be ideal, however it is double the amount of reward miles that would be required to go in/out of Madrid, so again, not feasible.

I appreciate the heads up about the heat-yikes! This is something we will just have "deal with" as September travel to Spain is happening! Now, any specific cities anyone would suggest or activities in the cities? Thanks!
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Old Mar 11th, 2016, 03:11 PM
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<Should we be sure to spend our final days in Sevilla for the Flamenco Festival?>

Your only option would be to see fabulous Rafael Riqueni in the grand Maestranza theater on Sept 9. Still some good tickets left: http://www.labienal.com/las-campanas-de-santa-ana/

He will be joined by some of the greatest.
Belen Maya: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeHSftbpbtg
Estrella Morente: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Np5kLHhX7BQ
Antonio Canales: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJWe_Tomnwc
etc.

Andalucia is hot in September, and nytraveler always wisely reminds us of the summer heat down here. But some 3,5 million international tourists comes here every year during July, August and September - and increasing - for many good reasons, and the temperatures don't normally pull people off unless they are especially heat sensitive. http://www.andalucia.com/spain/statistics/tourism.htm
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Old Mar 11th, 2016, 05:37 PM
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Yes, but this is often more of a shock to americans - who are used to strong AC everywhere in the warm weather - not hit or miss AC in many places.

If it has to be that time of year I would do the Atlantic coast - esp San Sebastian (which is where the well to do Spanish go for summer vacations) - and perhaps Barcelona (not quite as hot as the south usually)

In the south be prepared for lots of things to be closed in the afternoon and opening again early evening due to the heat.
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Old Mar 12th, 2016, 01:04 AM
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Temperature statistics for Andalucia in first half of September says average highs in low 80's along the coast and high 80's inland. wetteronline.de

Summer is the main tourist season down here, the Spanish themselves flock to the coast.

<be prepared for lots of things to be closed in the afternoon and opening again early evening due to the heat.>

Everything will be open, but of course many follow the traditional siesta and keep closed from about 2pm to 5pm when most people have a hearty lunch.

Lunch is the main meal of the day for most people in most of Spain. Most local restaurants will serve up a bargain three course Menu del Dia with drinks included for some 8-15€. All restaurants that are full of Spanish at lunchtime are good.
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Old Mar 12th, 2016, 02:17 AM
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If in/out via Madrid was non-negotiable, I'd probably use (or rather waste) day one to get to Barcelona.

You will arrive in MAD quite early in the morning from the US (I guess), so while it is usually not advisable to book two legs of a flight on seperate tickets, you could look into flexible tickets MAD-BCN which you could change even last minute. They are more expensive obviously than super low-fare tickets, but so are flexible tickets for AVE.
The advantage would be that you did not have to trek from Barajas airport to Atocha train station "downtown" but just stay at the airport to catch the next flight to BCN.

After x days in Barcelona, you could fly low-cost to Granada. Takes just 90 minutes.

Andalucia is a pretty huge territory and a great area to explore by rental car. A typical route could take you from Granada to Sevilla via whatever of the famous white villages or larger towns like Malaga or Ronda.

And go back to Madrid by train.

The higher elevations of Andalucia stay somewhat cooler during the mid-day heat than the lower places, but it will certainly be warm enough to enjoy the nights in outdoor terraces of the restaurants.

If you adjust your sightseeing to the climate and see each day as two halves with some downtime between lunch at 2pm and getting "busy" again at 5pm, and stay up till past midnight life is pretty easy in the South.

Having a place to stay with a pool is a good idea to cool off during siesta.

The odd thing about making a daily agenda of sightseeing and exploring is that sites like castles or museums often do not "obey" siesta but are open 9-5 or 8-6 as elsewhere around the world.

If a site needs somewhat strenous or mostly outdoor exploring, like climbing a hill to visit a castle or a park, I'd schedule that in the early morning hours. It usually does not get that hot until 11am.

It's a different matter in Barcelona where hardly any store closes for siesta in the areas relevant for tourists. You can expect almost every place to be open 10-8.

Anyway, it never hurts to double-check the opening hours of any site you may plan to visit to be on the safe side. And buy tickets in advance for Alhambra.
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Old Mar 12th, 2016, 10:18 AM
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<let us know anything special for restaurants, bars, etc>

Here are some good honeymoon restaurant options in Barcelona, from world class to traditional places. Have had excellent meals in all of these restaurants in the past couple of years.

- Tapas from heaven in Tickets, ranked among the 50 best in the world, fun and very affordable for what you get: http://www.barcelonabook.com/tickets...estaurant.html
- 7 Portes from 1836 is an institution in town, tons of history in the walls, fabulous rice dishes, old world atmosphere ++: http://7portes.com/en/
- Small and timeless Ca'l Estevet for traditional Catalan cuisine: http://www.restaurantestevet.com/en/
- Rock'n roll Xemei in the local atmosphere Poble Sec district. The Bigoli en salsa Veneciana is to die for:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URRlEVRrWxM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Lvcjtoh0tU

Some great bars.
- Boadas: http://boadascocktails.com/en/
- Dry Martini: http://www.worldsbestbars.com/bar/ba...ry-martini-bar
- Ideal: http://www.idealcocktailbar.com/en/index.html
- Absentha in the fun Barceloneta district: http://www.absentabar.es/

Dry Martini and Ideal are both in Carrer Aribus with lots of local atmosphere, upscale nightlife: http://suitelife.com/blog/moving-to-...-world-of-fun/
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Old Mar 12th, 2016, 10:57 AM
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I'd spend the time in San Sebastian and explore the French and Spanish Basque Country. San Sebastian is foodie heaven and such a romantic city. The beaches are gorgeous too.
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Old Mar 14th, 2016, 10:00 AM
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Hi Everyone!!

Thank you kindly for these suggestions! I was a bit surprised to see "100 degrees up to 120 degrees" in the South because weather.com and other sites tell me a vastly different and more comfortable temperature for September...but then again, I'm used to being able to run into strong AC to escape hot days so that makes a difference, too!

I have read GREAT things about San Sebastian, so maybe thats the right we go? A couple of questions:

1) Is Madrid worth spending time in? I feel like many people have mixed feelings on Madrid. If it is worth spending a couple days in, anything we should do in particular? If not, would you suggest flying in and heading straight to San Sebastian?
2) If we end up doing San Sebastian, would you suggest doing Madrid + San Sebastian + Barcelona and then heading back to Madrid to fly out? Or if we only used Madrid as a means of flying in/out, would you suggest San Sebastian + Barcelona + _____ then to Madrid to fly out? I would like to get to 3 vastly different cities. And ideally, one of those more Spanish country side, secluded winery experience.

Thanks again for all of this help!!
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Old Mar 14th, 2016, 12:36 PM
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Btw are you sure you have 13 days? When we fly from the west coast we lose a day. So depending where you fly out of you may not arrive til the 29th.

My feeling is if you fly into Madrid you should spend some time there, but as @cowboy says, go straight to Barcelona and stay in Madrid at the end. Amazing art, Retiro Park, Toledo for a day trip....we enjoyed it. And Madrid is very different from Barcelona or San Sebastián.
Do you care for Rioja wines? Logrono is about 2 hours by car from San Sebastián.
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Old Mar 14th, 2016, 12:48 PM
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Yes, Madrid is definitively worthwhile. It is a capital city, whereas Barcelona is a provincial one. If you want a vineyard experience, head north to SS, and then over to BCN so you can cross that off your list. Save the glories of Andalucia for another trip in somewhat cooler weather. On a later trip you won't have to squeeze in the northern spots.
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Old Mar 15th, 2016, 04:48 AM
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San Sebastian is a very good idea, my favourite city on the planet. http://www.euskoguide.com/places-bas...stian-tourism/

But be aware of the Euskal Jaiak cultural/sports festival in the beginning of the month and the 63rd edition of the San Sebastian film festival towards the end of the month. Could be great fun in different ways, but you should know that Euskal Jaiak is much party and that hotels etc is much more expensive during the film festival.
http://www.donostiakultura.com/index...id=254&lang=eu

Donostia/San Sebastian is also European Capital of Culture 2016: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRWCdjw1C8Q

Madrid and Barcelona are very different and fabulous big cities, nothing provincial about Barcelona.

As said, temperature statistics for Andalucia in first half of September says average highs in low 80's along the coast and high 80's inland. wetteronline.de
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Old Mar 15th, 2016, 07:09 AM
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<<Andalucia is hot in September, and nytraveler always wisely reminds us of the summer heat down here>>

Yeah, and nytraveler always exaggerates the temperatures past the breaking point of reality.

Highest recorded temp in Spain = 116.9 F

Highest recorded temp in Seville = 116.6 F . . . and that occurred in 1946 in early August. The Summer of 2012 was a nightmare for the Spaniards but that's both a rarity (Spain is not Phoenix with 110F every year) and the highest temps occurred in early/mid August.

Your likelihood of getting 120 in Seville in September is slim to none.

Thinking Bedar said "provincial" about Barcelona meaning non-capital; if he meant it as a derogatory comment, that's wrong - Barcelona is an international city.
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Old Mar 16th, 2016, 06:07 AM
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Hi All!

Thank you! So I am thinking we do this for an itinerary... but please correct me if I'm wrong:

Land in Madrid and immediately take flight (or other mode?) to San Sebastian. From San Sebastian head to Barcelona & then Barcelona to Madrid to spend 2 days and then fly out.

So we will spend time in San Sebastian, Barcelona, & Madrid.

From these cities, we will likely do 1 day trip to wine country (from SS) and another 1 day trip to somewhere outside of Madrid (Toledo or any other suggestions welcome).

We are booking flights soon, and if we still must do in/out of Madrid, we will work it out in the way I explained above. Right now, it is looking like we can take a flight out of DC the afternoon of the 28th (Sunday) and land at 8:30am on Monday. We're flying first (thank you to AMEX miles!), so I expect us to be pretty well rested based on other times I've done this. With that being said, we will really be able to make the most of that Monday the 29th by landing at 8:30am.

Does this sound like an ok travel plan? I will have more questions pertaining to food/drink/activities, but trying to lock down cities that make the most sense & these sound great to me, but wanting to check with the Spain experts here

Also, silly question, but what is the normal futbol season? Are teams playing in September? Would love to catch a game in Madrid or Barcelona if at all possible.

Thank you!
Rachael
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Old Mar 16th, 2016, 11:11 AM
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Your trip sounds great ! If you can get open jaw tickets, that would be better, but the trip is fine as is. As I said above, save Andalucia for another trip and do it and this trip to the north justice.
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Old Mar 17th, 2016, 07:31 AM
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Thanks @Bedar! Good advice and glad you think this will work!
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Old Mar 17th, 2016, 10:25 AM
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It sounds good I would want to spend 5 nights in San Sebastian that time of year, it's spectacular, and a good choice for a honeymoon. Actually I would spend all my time on the north coast but I've been to Madrid and Barcelona already. Maybe 3 nights in Barcelona and 3 in Madrid. Madrid is a fantastic city too. That trip is like visiting three different countries.
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