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makinghay Apr 3rd, 2013 10:29 PM

Spain Itinerary help
In researching our itinerary for Spain, I became intrigued with spending time north of Barcelona in the Costa Brava. We would have 3-4 days to explore, possibly based in Girona. Doing this would subtract from our time in Madrid, leaving only time for an overnight in Toledo and a day in Madrid itself. We are not "city oriented" and do enjoy just finding our way rather than hitting "must do's". But I am now wondering if the Costa Brava is as wonderful as my travel book makes it sound. I note that most travel books don't give the area much time. I am easily swayed by pretty words (a romantic, to be sure).

I would love input especially from those who are familiar with both areas. We will be in Barcelona in early May, and Madrid in early June for departure

. Most of our time will be spent in Granada, Seville, Cordoba, Ronda, and just exploring the white villages, Your input will be most appreciated! I keep changing my itinerary and it is past time to get a few necessary reservations.!

Muchas Gracias

Rubicund Apr 4th, 2013 01:21 AM

The Costa Brava used to be very popular in the 70's and 80's with European holidaymakers, before they moved on to the Greek Islands etc. At that time it wasn't a very pleasant place to stay, but it is now. The resorts of Tossa de Mar and the Bay of Roses are excellent places with some good hotels. It's close to the Dali museum and the scenery is lovely.(The Wild Coast).

However, 3 or 4 days in preference to Madrid would depend on wanting to chill out rather than see the city. Can't you divide that to a couple of days in each place?

Smeagol Apr 4th, 2013 03:02 AM

I would recommend the beautiful medieval town of Begur as a base for the Costa Brava. 40 minutes from Girona, close to lovely beaches and close to many of the lovely villages worth exploring. We went last year and it was great with fab restuarants. In fact we loved it so much we are going back this year. We stayed in Barcelona first then drive to Begur 1.5 to 2 hours from Barcelona.

makinghay Apr 4th, 2013 11:36 AM

Is Bay of Roses reached by bus from Cadaques? I will Google Begur. We prefer smaller towns and are definitely beach oriented. Is Begur user friendly for getting in and out for day trips?

Costa Brava plans so far include Girona, Besalu,Figueres, Cadaques, and Tossa. We will try to get to Girona on our arrival day, mid afternoon, after a lone flight from California. UGH! Just want to get there, then collapse for awhile and start having fun the next day.

Other tentative trip itinerary includes, 3 days in Barcelona, 3 in Granada, 3-4 in Cordoba, 6-7 in Sevilla (maybe Arcos instead because it is smaller?), 3 exploring villages via bus from Ronda, then the "leftover" time in Madrid (Sorry, Madrid). It's so hard to guess on how we'll feel about a place until we get there so could end up with extra days for Madrid. Any suggestions appreciated.

I know that staying in one place for longer is best in many ways, but there is just too much to miss in Spain!

Smeagol Apr 4th, 2013 01:39 PM

Begur is accessible but having a car would be a good idea, is this a possibility? You can easily get to Girona, Figureres, Cadaques , Tossa all from Begur. ( by car - I am not sure about public transport). We stayed at the Hotel Auguiclara (sp) chic little hotel with a friendly service and fab location, right in the heart of the town and walkable to some fab restuarants. Great beaches are a 5 to 10 minute drive away.
This time we have booked a villa.
If I can find it I will try and find the NY Times article that Ekscrunchy( a poster here) had posted he, who first brought this lovely part of Spain to my attention.

Smeagol Apr 4th, 2013 01:40 PM

That should say "had posted here"

Smeagol Apr 4th, 2013 01:54 PM

Ok that's the link hope it works!

makinghay Apr 4th, 2013 03:52 PM

Yes, Smeagol, it worked and was such a good read. Many thanks.

I have been trying all day to find a late afternoon train or bus to either Girona or Tossa. No luck. Byron at Rail Europe tells me to just take the Aerobus to Sants Station and go to the ticket office and find a "local train". I have searched for same, but without success. Anyone know about these trains?

Since we arrive at the airport at 2:30, that doesn't leave a lot of choices for train or bus travel. There is a 6:10 Sarfa bus (takes 2 hours to Girona. I haven't found a good bus to Tossa, but that would be fine,too.) Trains and buses from the airport seem to go first to the city, usually to Sant or Catalunya.

Perhaps if we go to Sant, store our luggage for a couple of hours (Is that possible?), that would work. We'd arrive in Girona after 8PM, but I guess we could snooze on the bus if the scenery allowed.

Alternatively, we could find a place for the night and begin an early departure to Girona, where I think we should rent a car. First I need assurance that the driving is not too hectic or dangerous. (Look again at the places we plan to visit.) We're sort of old and not as brave as we used to be...

Please, someone,if you can give an accurate description on driving to the places I've mentioned, it would be so helpful.

I have to solve the "getting there" problem before I can make any lodging reservation.

Waiting and hoping...

Aramis Apr 4th, 2013 06:29 PM

Seville vs. Arcos?


Arcos has very little to do. Wonderfully situated but not a place I would park myself for days.

makinghay Apr 4th, 2013 08:41 PM

Seville then. Thanks.

Now, waiting for advice on driving to hilltowns. Really steep, curvy, narrow, or not so bad? I guess the Ti will have info on this. We'll make it....

Smeagol Apr 4th, 2013 11:16 PM

Where do you land into? Can you not get a car there? It will open up so many opportunities if you can get a car.
Driving was ok, ( well we got lost but ALWAYS DO) once you are out of Barcelona traffic was light to the Costa Brava and it was relatively easy the whole time we were there. sure Barceloan is busy as is any town, but I'd you plan to stay the I would rent the car on the day you want to leave, Girona was ok too, with plenty of car parks. Are you from the US? If so at least yo won't have to worry about driving on the "wrong side of the road" like we do! ;)
I am not a lover of driving abroad but it really wasn't that bad. Girona was busy but nowhere near as busy as say London or LA.
Your main concern in places like Begur will be the tiny street. ( we had a Fiat 500 and it was perfect - so if you get one of those pack light)

Egbert Apr 5th, 2013 10:19 AM

Oh yes Seville for at least 5 nights. Very easy to rent a car from santa Justa train station and the drive into Ronda, Grazelema, Setenil, etc. is not nearly as treacherous as some make it sound.

makinghay Apr 5th, 2013 11:39 AM

We arrive into Barcelona. I guess we could rent a car at the airport. Should we expect gridlock traffic from the airport to Begur at around 3:30pm? (Remember that we will be sleep deprived!) If not, that could work. Smeagol, did you rent at the airport or in the city?

Yes, we live in California. We do drive on big freeways, mountain roads, and in San Francisco (but hate the gridlock), and avoid LA traffic at all costs.

Part of my concern is not being able to read the foreign signs quickly enough and making a lot of mistakes. My husband has little tolerance for getting lost and I am not inclined to ..too nervous if hectic conditions. If traffic is barely moving, at least it is pretty safe. My fear is fast moving traffic and a slow moving brain!

I am guessing that driving in Andalusia is worse than the Costa Brava. Egbert ??? We'll decide that after we've arrived.

Smeagol Apr 5th, 2013 01:04 PM

OMG driving in Spain is easy peasy compared to SF and California ( we just did this trip in November I hated those freeways!) signs are in Spanish AND English, honestly it's a really easy drive.
We stayed in Barcelona for a few nights without a car and then rented from a city location. We did get a bit lost going OUT of Barceloana ( we were not very prepared, I neglected to get a map/ GPS) but honestly it really is easy to get to the Costa Brava once you are on the main motorway ( and I suspect very easy from the airport.) I think the route is the A7 or maybe AP7. Maybe you can have the route all printed out before you go and or hire a GPS.
We plan to do this route again this May.

makinghay Apr 5th, 2013 01:43 PM

Well,Smeagol, you've pretty much convinced me. We'll be driving there in May also. Watch out!

Smeagol Apr 5th, 2013 01:48 PM

Would you consider staying in Barcelona first, so you don't do the drive tired?
If you do make it to Begur , I can let you know some of the restaurants we went to which we enjoyed.

sd_montras Apr 8th, 2013 06:12 AM

3.30pm is lunchtime in Spain and though there might be some traffic heading back to work, it's likely to be quiet. The route is also easy - follow the signs for AP7 and Girona. The AP7 is a toll road - the tolls take credit cards, but have some Euro coins as a backup. After about an hour on the AP7 (about 50 miles), you'll see a junction for the Costa Brava marked as St Feliu de Guixols, Platja d'Aro and Palamos. This road is dual carriageway all the way to Palafrugell. Keep on the dual carriageway all the way to the end at a roundabout. The roundabout has signs directing you to Begur to the right (about 3 miles further on on easy country roads).

makinghay Apr 8th, 2013 09:48 PM

I will copy your instructions in case we do drive. Most likely will rent from Girona as needed.

I followed your previous advice and booked a room in Barcelona...close to bus we can rest up a bit and leave for Girona or Begur in the morning.

My current problem is trying to find info I need on Vueling. I'll search the forum first and come back here if I don't get the answers I need. Like, why are the referring to a seat as a "berth" on the flight time I want, instead of a "seat" as is stated on every other choice? !!!

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