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Some Final Questions on our Spain Trip Plan rescheduled (and shortened) due to a family medical emergency

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Oct 15th, 2007, 08:24 PM
  #1
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Some Final Questions on our Spain Trip Plan rescheduled (and shortened) due to a family medical emergency

A number of you helped us last July plan our September/October Trip. The links to those threads are:
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...t=0&dirtyBit=1
http://www.fodors.com/forums_reg/pgM...nses=0&start=0

On September 5th my 89 year old mother fell and we have been at her side ever since providing support and care management for her hospital and rehab. Needless to say we cancelled our trip. Fortunately, we were able to work it out such that we took only minimal financial losses. My mother is on a good track to recovery so we have decided to take a reduced version of the trip now. We rescheduled it this past weekend and leave at the end of this week. Our revised itinerary is shown below (essentially we cut out the Basque/La Roija region). Our questions are:

Which route should we take from Granada to Ronda? We are trying to decide on going via the coastal route traveling south to Nerja & Malaga and then traveling north to Ronda versus driving directly west to Ronda by the shortest routh . The coastal route will allow us to see that area of the country but will reduce our time in Ronda.

What are your favorite restaurants, tapa bars and entertainment (e.g. flamenco) in Madrid, Cordoba, Granada, Ronda, Seville & Barcelona? We have a good handle on the sights to visit but are somewhat overwhelmed by the number of options for eating and entertainment.

Revised Itinerary:
• Day 1-JFK-Madrid
• Day 2-5 Madrid-Westin Palace-Explore Madrid & surrounds.
• Day 6 Train to Cordoba; Explore Cordoba then rent a car and drive to Granada
• Day 6-7 Granada-visit Alhambra; NH Victoria
• Day 8 Drive to Ronda; explore in route; Ronda Parador
• Day 9 Drive to Seville; explore in route (Arcos & white villages)
• Day 9-12 Seville-Hotel Alfonso XIII; Explore Seville & surrounds.
• Day 13 Fly to Barcelona
• Days 13-17 Barcelona-Hotel Majestic-Explore Barcelona & surrounds.

Note: We have a good idea of the alternative side trips (referred to as surrounds above) in Madrid, Seville and Barcelona but plan to decide what we do when we get there and see out we are proceeding with our favored in-city sights.
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Oct 16th, 2007, 12:40 AM
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• Which route should we take from Granada to Ronda?
Taking the coastal option will not only be longer (2,30hrs. vs. 4,15hrs.) , but you’ll take a more crowded itinerary, with heavy traffic in several spots once driving around Malaga that may increase your driving time. Indeed there shall be more picturesque views, especially the part Marbella to Ronda. If you take the short one, you can make a stop at Campillos to see the Church façade, which is very beautiful. The part Campillos to Teba is under repairs.
There is another option, going Malaga to Ronda via Ardales, the one I take, (with another short part in bad shape past Ardales). Seeing your itin., I recommend the shortest route. The part Teba to Ronda is very beautiful too.
The drive to Arcos, I rec. drive to Grazalema and make a stop at the plaza, continue to Arcos and drive to the plaza with the mirador. There are signs to the Parador, which is in the very plaza. Some fodorites had problems to get there due to narrow streets and wrong turns, so be careful. You can have lunch at the Parador. Then you’ll have to drive to Bornos , Villamartin and PuertoSerrano, to head to Seville.


• What are your favorite restaurants, tapa bars and entertainment (e.g. flamenco):
For the Sevilla part, read a recent report by indiancouple, very useful and detailed. ComfyShoes’ one is useful as well.


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Oct 16th, 2007, 12:47 AM
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For Flamenco, Seville is the capital. I went to Los Gallos, but there are other choices mentioned in this forum.

If you want to learn more about this performance art, visit the Flamenco Museum in Seville. There was a discussion on this topic:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=35079834

Your have combined car, train, and plane trips well. My in-laws drove everywhere, relying on their U.S. travel mentality and regretted doing so. They rented a car upon arrival in Barcelona, lost afternoon trying to find a parking space. The car sat in the parking lot for next 4 days collecting rental and the parking fees. They had a hard drive to Granada without any time to visit anything in between. Then again got thoroughly lost in Granada and the car sat in a parking lot again for next two days.
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Oct 16th, 2007, 03:11 AM
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Another vote for the shorter route via Antequera. The coastal route is nice since you get to see the sea, but I don't know if it's worth the detour.
Along most of the coast you will be stuck on the A7 motorway anyway. N340 (closer to the coast) is usually not a scenic alternative, as you will pass many urbanisaciones - formerly small villages exploded into endless apartment complexes.

But: If you decide for the coastal route, I would suggest a side trip (only a few km) to Frigiliana, a nice village nestled in the foothills of the Sierra de Almijara (exit 292 from A7, then northbound for 10-15km).

But you will also see many White Villages during the rest of your trip, so it's definetely not worth to take the coastal route just to see Frigiliana.. only if you're in the area anyway and have time to spend.
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Oct 16th, 2007, 06:09 AM
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My favourite town nearby Madrid for a day trip is Segovia.
http://www.segoviamint.org/english/segovia.htm
Restaurants: CANDIDO or DUQUE.
Typical plate: roast suckling pig.
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Oct 16th, 2007, 08:54 AM
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kja
 
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Hi, rlm346 -

I trust that your mother (and you!) are recovering from the fall and its consequences.

I had a wonderful meal in Cordoba at El Caballo Rojo.

Hope that helps!
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Oct 16th, 2007, 09:56 AM
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Precisely I was today taking some friends to Frigiliana and Nerja caves, but it was cloudy/raining there and did something else (it's been sunny and hot in Malaga city). The point is, you have no time to take the coast route, do sidetrip to Frigiliana and arrive in Ronda at a decent hour. You'll see no Ronda at all, and end up very tired and stressed..
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Oct 16th, 2007, 10:02 AM
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Hi-
My mother and I did much the same trip as you, even staying at the Westin Palace in 2005. We did not go to Barcelona however.
We also drove from Granada to Ronda along the coast and then up. I must say it was a little confusing as the highway signs did not match the road map. Indeed, it was a stressful ride.

Here's my travelogue where I detail all the places we ate (loved those tapas bars!) and all the other details:
http://www.wired2theworld.com/
Click on the link to "Madrid and Andalucia 2005"
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Oct 16th, 2007, 10:13 AM
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I had to smile when I read Kristina's remarks as roads seem to get re-numbered every year ;-)

It may be a good idea to make a plan of your route with several points of references in between, as most road signs will also give the name of the town they lead to.

But from an overall perspective I found driving in Andalucía to be not very stressful, if you allow yourself a moderate timing when traveling on winding mountain roads.

It's also a good idea to let locals pass (who usually cannot take half a day for one scenic stretch of the road), whenever possible.
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Oct 17th, 2007, 09:18 AM
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Hello rlm346,

sounds like a lovely trip. i would like upon your return to let me know how you like the hotel majestic in barcelona and also hotel alfonso in seville as i am going in feb and also staying at these hotels and would like to know ifyou likethem and are they central location.
thanks duchess
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Oct 17th, 2007, 10:37 AM
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In Barcelona, I loved El Quim in the Boqueria for late breakfast/lunch and http://www.calpep.com/ for late dinners (reservations necessary unless you want to wait in a long line to sit at the bar -- worth the waith though!) Have a wonderful time!
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Oct 17th, 2007, 07:15 PM
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Thank you all for your comments. The consensus seems to favor going more direct to Ronda from Granada and enjoying the sights along that route; plus having more time to enjoy Ronda. I appreciate all the restaurant and flamenco suggestions. Duchess, I will let you know about those hotels.

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Oct 17th, 2007, 07:44 PM
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We just returned from a week in Seville (w/day trips to Cordoba and Ronda/White villages). For tapa here are our notes:

Cordoba:

Casa Pepe de la Juderia, C/Romero 1. Very good tapas w/modern feel--limited menu but there's also a restaurant. The gazpacho (pink creamy soup w/shrimp) and aubergine cooked in a batter w/honey sauce were a huge hit. This is also where we had the best cheese of the trip.

Seville:

Bar Estrella, C/Estrella 3. Probably my favourite place w/mix of locals and tourists. Extensive, inexpensive tapas menu w/friendly staff.

El Rinconcillio, C/Gerona 40. Supposedly the original/first tapas bar in Seville/Spain. Good menu and very friendly staff (contrary to what I'd read). Get the tortilla con queso (see Kristina's report above) or fish (my in-laws raved about this). Probably the best spinach and garbanzos we had and we had lots.

Las Columnas, C/Rodrigo Caro 1. Extensive menu / inexpensive.

Casa Román, Plaza des los Venerables. We stopped here often since it was next to our hotel/Apartamentos Murillo. We had great food w/mixed service at prices that reflect the location. My MIL loved their jambon and desserts and I loved their peppers (cooked simply w/leeks--divine). Lots of locals despite the location.

If you find yourself near Zahara de la Sierra, I encourage you to visit Molino El Vinculo on the outskirts of town. The owner staffs their shop where he sells light/fruity olive oil and just about every other local product. Meeting him is worth the stop.

We went to Los Gallos for flamenco in Seville and really enjoyed it. Get there early (15 minutes minimum) or you'll end up in the balcony. We went to the early show but I wish we had gone to the later one since our audience was ho-hum. I also wish we had time to check out some of Indiancouple's suggestions for other less known flamenco sites.

I'm not sure if you'll have your car in Seville but if you need parking we used the lot next to the Murillo gardens for the few days that we had a car (approximately 15E per day). Let me know if you need more details. We had GPS as well as printed directions from Mappy since we'd read that a lot of the road #s had been changed. This only seemed to be a problem for us when we drove to Toledo so just an FYI that I hope you won't encounter.

Definitely buy a Seville map once you arrive. We had a DK map, hotel map and they weren't enough if you were trying to find a small road (of which there are many).

Best wishes for a terrific trip and to your mum for a full recovery.




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Jan 15th, 2008, 01:11 PM
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Duchess,

You asked me back in October to let you know about the Hotel Alfonso & Hotel Majestic when we returned. I am sorry I am so late in responding to you. A number of personal commitments delayed me in doing a trip plan, which I am about to embark on now. However, I wanted to get to you first since you are traveling next month.

Hotel Alfonso in Sevilla: Excellent. We had a Grand Deluxe King that we were able to reserve with senior discount but had to pre-pay to get the best rate. The location is perfect being near everything we wanted to visit, the staff was very helpful and pleasant and the room was fabulous. We were there for four nights. The first night we had a room that overlooked the atrium but we switched the next night to an external room with a balcony which looked towards the fountain (although trees blocked a good view of the fountain) and had an angled view of the top of the cathedral. Both rooms were luxuriously decorated and large. You may recall that we had to cancel our trip due to my mother’s illness and then rescheduled it. While my pre-paid reservation did not allow us to get refund for cancellation, the hotel did issue us a credit that was applied when we rescheduled. I would definitely stay there again on our next trip.

Hotel Majestic in Barcelona: Good-Excellent. We had what they called a Privileged Double and stayed for four nights. The location is also excellent right on Passeig de Gracia although Barcelona attractions are so spread out that the best location depends on what you want to see. It is a block away from the Gaudi buildings Pedrera and Casa Batllo (which we could see from our room). We were able to press hard for a room with a view and we had just what we wanted. I don’t remember which floor but we were on the next to the top floor and looked out over the front door of the hotel down the street. We loved it. It had a double window that opened to a mini-balcony (not really for standing on) so you could clearly see, hear and smell the air of the city. The room was a bit on the small side considering the rates with the King bed pretty much filling the room. It was nicely appointed. I am told that with the privileged double you either get a view or a larger room although we did not see any other rooms. The hotel also has a rooftop terrace that offers a great view of the city. The only negative was that the staff, and particularly the concierge, were a bit stiff. They were efficient but cold. You often felt like you were bothering them. We would return to the hotel for the reasons described above but I would likely try another highly rated hotel on my next trip.

In general, I found what has been recommended many times in this forum and on Trip Advisor that you need to press for a great room and view wherever you are. We did that at the Westin Palace in Madrid as well as the two hotels above with great results.

Regarding Andalusia: We took the high speed train from Madrid to Cordoba then drove to Granada (for two nights), then Ronda (for one night) and finally to Sevilla. We stopped at a number of villages along the route. We very much enjoyed driving in Andalusia in October. And, Ronda was spectacular, not to be missed. We stayed at the Parador and had another great room. It was a corner room with two balconies, one overlooking the gorge away from the city and one overlooking the gorge towards the city.

I hope you enjoy your trip as much as we did.
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Jan 31st, 2008, 02:35 PM
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bookmarking thank you!
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