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Spain, Morocco, Italy trip report w/ teenager

Spain, Morocco, Italy trip report w/ teenager

Jul 25th, 2018, 12:38 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
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Spain, Morocco, Italy trip report w/ teenager

I am a frequent traveler and used to post quite often on Fodor’s Travel Forum in years past but haven’t had the time in recent years! I thought I would change that and post on the Spain/Morocco/Italy trip my teenage daughter and I took last summer (22 July-7 August 2017). Our travel style is distinctly different from others, we are budget travelers who would rather spend our time and money seeing things in a city vs overpaying for a hotel room and not doing a whole lot. We travel with 1 carry-on suitcase each - no checked suitcases - to save time waiting in baggage claim and potentially lost luggage! I’ve been traveling extensively internationally with my daughter since she was 4 months old as I have family living in Europe, so she is well-exposed to other people and cultures (which I love!) We try to see lots of stuff when we travel and that might overwhelm some travelers who stay put in one city. My daughter had wanted to see Spain and North Africa – both places we had never been to, so we planned to see as much as we could! Be warned - this is a LONG trip report!

MADRID
We arrived in Madrid on Sunday July 23 early afternoon. The airport was relatively easy to negotiate, we found the yellow & white Madrid Expres Aeropuerto from Terminal 4S (outside “Llegadas” baggage claim area marked BUS), which runs every 15 mins into the center of Madrid. It cost 5 per person to get into Madrid’s Plaza de Cibeles (approx. 40 mins from airport). We walked to our Hostal Lido on Calle Echegaray 5. It was a small property off a quiet street above shops and restaurants, the ladies at the front desk were very helpful and attentive. Our rate for a double room with A/C was 99,62 ($115.00 USD). Since we arrived on a Sunday, we immediately wanted to go to EL RASTRO, the Sunday open market that is open from 9:00am-3:00pm (@ Plaza de Cascorro & Calle Ribera). We took the Metro to the La Latina stop and walked southward. We were told by the hotel staff to not carry large purses or such, so we were very attentive to our bags as we walked from one crowded stall to another. There were tons of people milling around and lots of commotion. There were stall after stall of jewelry trinkets (bracelets, necklaces, rings), small leather goods and purses, dresses, scarves, etc. It is a very jam-packed market that starts at the top of a street and spills down to the streets below. It was very chaotic but quite exhilarating. Afterwards, we walked towards Puerta Del Sol and found a nice sidewalk café with cool water misters over the outside tables. It was an awesome experience in the incredible heat and humidity (97 degrees with 75% humidity on average). I ordered my first paella in Spain and was hooked (I ordered it nearly every place we went!) I just love it! From there we ventured to the Plaza Mayor to see the ROYAL PALACE OF MADRID (past Plaza Mayor) open 10am-8pm, cost was Adults 10, students 5. It was a very nice respite to walk the cool corridors of the former Hapsburg ruling family home in Spain. It was very reminiscent of Versailles with the definitive Hapsburg stamp and style. The palace is on a hill overlooking many trees below (not a real garden like at Versailles but with impressive vistas). After leaving there, we took a Metro over to the Prado Museum which is free on Sunday afternoons between 5-7pm (enter Felipe IV Street). There was a huge, long line winding around the building that we stood in patiently for over 1 hour. It was worth the wait, the Prado is exceptional and similar to the National Gallery in London with its individual rooms of masters and art styles. We wanted to go there to see the Spanish masters and thoroughly enjoyed our visit!

On Monday morning we walked past the shops on the Gran Via enroute to the Buen Retiro Park. It’s a large park in the center of Madrid that has acres of trees, walking paths, a lake and a glass conservatory pavilion. We took photos of everything, it was just beautiful. Being an incredibly hot day (95 degrees), we walked over to the lake and rented a row boat for a couple hours. It was nice to float around, even in the heat! To get out of the heat, we went to the THYSSEN-BORNEMISZA MUSEUM which is free on Mondays between 12-4pm, it is a great modern museum located near the Prado. For dinner we ate at a fantastic tapas bar (standing room only around outside tables with little or no seating available). It was good but felt like “to go” food and a bit rushed since patrons were waiting for available table spaces and were ready to swoop. Afterwards, we walked over to Chocolateria San Gines for some fabulous chocolate-dipped churros. We had always heard the Spanish eat late, but they truly do eat VERY late. On the average, we ate about 10-10:30 pm every night, which is still nearly 2 hours later than the French and other Europeans who eat “late”.

CORDOBA
We left Madrid for Cordoba, taking the 7:35am train that arrived in Cordoba at 9:15am, adult ticket cost 45,10 each. Since we wanted to see the Cordoba Cathedral and knew there was no storage area for our luggage at the church, we left our bags at Secure Locker Cordoba, Avenida America 27 (70m to the R from main exit of train station), the cost was only 3/day for a small locker that fit both our carry-on bags plus a back pack. We took a taxi into the center of town (5 ride). LA MEZQUITA/CATEDRAL Calle del Cardenal Herrero, 1 in Cordoba is open 8:30-11:30am and cost 10 & TORRE (belltower= 2). The mosque (mezquita) and cathedral are quite impressive with huge open expansiveness and sweeping archways with stained glass windows high up in the vaulted ceiling areas inside dimly lit spaces. The outside area courtyard has some orange trees and fountains and is quite lovely. From there we walked over to the ALCAZAR in Plaza Campo Santo de los Mártires open from 8:00am-2:30pm tickets cost 4,50 each. This is where King Ferdinand & Queen Isabella met Christopher Columbus to hear his plans for exploration. We saw the ROMAN TEMPLE in the angle of streetsCalle Capitulares & Claudio Marcelo enroute to the ROMAN BRIDGE in the center of town off Av. del Alcázar (built in the early 1st century BC) across the Guadalquivir River (the Via Augusta, which connected Rome to Cadiz, passed over it). We were able to see everything we wanted in little over a ½ day and returned to the Cordoba train station mid-afternoon to go to Seville.

SEVILLA
Sevilla is about 45-50 minutes away south from Cordoba, with trains leaving every hour. Train ticket prices ranged from 20,80 to 30,40 each, dependent on the time of day/departure. Upon arrival in Sevilla, we took an Uber to our hotel, the Boutike Hostel, at Calle Sales y Ferre’ 18. It is an extremely reasonably priced hotel with exceptionally friendly staff, located in the center of Sevilla, within close walking distance to the cathedral. Our rate included a continental breakfast. We walked over to the Seville CATEDRAL at Av. de la Constitución (b.1528) open Tues-Sat from 11am-5pm, cost 9 Adult / 4 student rate & GIRALDA (belltower) included. The inside of the Seville Cathedral is magnificent and ornate with lots of Roman Catholic statuary and candles. Christopher Columbus’s tomb is there in the main sanctuary and is quite imposing. You access the Giralda (belltower) from inside the cathedral, so we walked up the sloping ramp steps up and up until we got to the very top. We were rewarded with beautiful overlooking views of Sevilla. It was very impressive to see the entire city laid out below. After descending from the Giralda, we went to the ALCAZAR,Patio de Banderas (royal palace dev. by Moorish kings) open Mon-Sun from 9.30am-19:00pm9.50 (general visit) + 4,50(upper quarter). Later that night, we went to see a fabulous, truly authentic Spanish flamenco show at CASA DE LA MEMORIA, Cuna Street, 6 (10 min walk from Cathedral). We saw the PASE 2 Show starting at 9:00 pm, 1 Adult and 1 student/reduced ticket cost 33 total for an approx 1-1/4 hour show. It was a great experience and involved a lot of audience participation, clapping, stomping, etc. Afterwards, we ate another late dinner at the Pando Restaurant (tapas style plates) across the street.

TARIFA
On Wednesday, July 26 we reluctantly left Sevilla for Tarifa in the southernmost part of Spain. We took the COMES BUS(“La Linea-Sevilla” screen sign on bus)from Sevilla’sestación el Prado de San Sebastián, 1 adult ticket cost 19,95€. Our 9:30 am bus arrived in Tarifa at 12:25 pm at a bus station on the outskirts of town. We took an Uber to the central area where we were staying. We liked the family-owned Pension Correo, Calle Coronel Moscardó, 8, next to the big San Mateo church in the old city center, just 2 blocks from the ocean. Tarifa is a delightful seaside town with crowded beaches, lots of wind and freezing cold water where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean Sea via the Strait of Gibraltar. (Tarifa is also close to Trafalgar where Nelson and Napoleon had their infamous 1805 sea battle). We saw views over to Africa and the “Pillars of Hercules” – the first pillar being the Rock of Gibraltar and the second pillar being the mountain Jebel Musa in North Africa (Morocco). We came to Tarifa so we could take a close boat ride over to Morocco the next day but found it so much more than a jumping off point, it was a delightful town with lots of vacationing locals and a fun beach vibe!

MOROCCO
On Thursday, July 27 we boarded a 9:00am FRS Boat from Tarifa that took 1 hour to get to Tangier in Morocco. It was a completely different world as soon as we disembarked from the boat. There is no sense of personal space, people were approaching us right and left offering their tour services, trying to sell items, etc. and following us quite close. It was very uncomfortable as 2 women and IMO if we were traveling with a male as added “protection” we would not have been as pestered. The ferry terminal is a walk from the center of Tangier, you cross a boulevard from the ferry terminal and have to ascend large hills via multiple steps and winding streets to get up into the “medina” or center of the city; whereas the new city is built down below by the port area. The first thing we saw was the GRAND SOCCO at Pl du 9 Avril 1947, as it’s considered the entrance to the medina. It’s a large, sloping, palm-ringed plaza with a central fountain that stands before the keyhole gate Bab Fass. The Grand Socco is the hub in Tangier’s old town with streets radiating out from all around the center. The Cinema Riff is across from the center and lots of crowded shops and restaurants are all around. The PETIT SOCCO (meaning "Little Square"), also known as the "Souk Dakhli", it was once home to many notable writers and affluent people. The square lies in the area on which the forum of the Roman Tingis once stood. The Petit Socco was once one of the greatest souks in Morocco, people came here to buy food and clothes. In the 19th C the area grew wealthier and trade with Europe accelerated. By the early 20th C, businessmen, diplomats and bankers had their offices located around the square and cafes, hotels and casinos were in this area. We had heard it was a great place for mint tea or orange juice and found a little café to try it. It was a little unexpected to walk into a café and find it full of men, no women around. We were quickly reminded of how different the Muslim culture is regarding women, it was a bit uncomfortable with all the stares, but we were determined to enjoy our beverages. Afterwards, we wandered around looking in the little shops and walked through the open public market which sold all kinds of meats, fruit, nuts and vegetables. It was an intoxicating experience with all the smells and clamor. We wandered off from the Grand Socco down a side street and happened upon the TANGIER-AMERICAN LEGATION MUSEUM at 8, Rue d'Amerique that’s been around since 1821. It’s a free building to tour with neat period documents and information on Morocco’s exchanges with France, U.S., etc. The information desk clerks were very friendly and informative and it proved a nice respite from the heat! From there we walked further into the medina area and found a local gyros/falafel restaurant that served as a bakery on the 1st floor. We had a reasonably priced lunch on the 2nd floor overlooking the scene. As we exited the restaurant onto the street, everything was hustling and bustling around us as the midday pedestrian traffic had really picked up. At times it was quite unnerving with people following us and grabbing our arms. I had to keep reminding myself that it is different in a 3rd world country and they do not operate under the same personal space allowances one expects when in Western Europe and in the U.S. To escape the frenzy, we walked up to the GRAND HOTEL VILLA DE FRANCE Avenue d'Angleterre to see where Henri Matisse stayed while he was in Morocco painting. The hotel concierge gave us a tour of his Room 35, a corner room on the 3rd floor with big windows with shutters that open out onto some great views of Tangier all the way to the harbor. His room has been left more or less intact with period furniture and bedding so not much has changed. Matisse painted his colorful ‘Goldfish’ there, among other paintings of the Tangier harbor, etc. We also learned that the Beatles and Rolling Stones have stayed at the Grand Hotel Villa de France as well. We enjoyed some refreshing Moroccan mint tea on the lovely umbrella-shaded terrace overlooking a tranquil garden. It was very soothing compared to the chaotic atmosphere in the medina below and we could have stayed there forever! However, my daughter was intent on buying a carpet, lamp, bowl and we both wanted Argan oil, so we set off to do some more shopping/haggling. We were fortunate to find a nice owner of a small shop that had these items and gave us both good prices for them. We walked back to the ferry terminal in the early evening and happily returned to Spain and a soothing sangria!

LA LINEA (GIBRALTAR)
On Friday, July 28, we left Tarifa for La Linea de la Concepcion to go to Gibraltar. Gibraltar is an English territory in Spain and the Spanish do not provide bus transportation into Gibraltar. Everything goes to the line (La Linea) before Gibraltar. We took the COMES BUS (“Cadiz-La Linea” screen sign on bus) at 12 noon and arrived in La Linea at 1:00pm (4,46/per ticket). At the La Linea bus station, you exit on Calle San Felipe and walk about 800 meters across the line/border into Gibraltar. We crossed a busy street and walked through English-controlled customs for Gibraltar. Once outside customs, we stood in line for bus #5 to take us into the center of town. Bus #5 leaves every 15 minutes and cost about £2.50each OR you can pay in euros too. We stayed at the O’Callaghan Eliott Hotel at 2 Governor’s Parade, which was in the middle of town off Main Street and had a great sea-view room, despite the construction going on in the hotel.

After checking in, we walked over to the Rock of Gibraltar. It’s called the TOP OF THE ROCK and the line for the cable cars are at the base station, located at the southern end of Main Street alongside the Alameda Gardens.The cable cars cost £14.50 (Adult RT) and £13.00 (student/under 18 RT), and run every 10-15 mins during the day. The waiting time in line to get to a cable car was about 30 minutes or so. While in line, there is signage all about warning of the ape/monkeys above at the rock and not to feed them. It takes only 6 mins to get to the top of the rock. It was a fabulous adventure to be at the top of the Rock of Gibraltar! There were amazing views overlooking Spain, into Africa and both the Mediterranean and Atlantic meeting at the Strait of Gibraltar below us. It was quite windy with winds blowing in from the Atlantic Ocean, but the air was fresh and clear at the top. There were lots of Barbary apes around that were quite aggressive. When tourists put their backpack or bags down, the apes would scamper over and grab it and flee away. We saw several groups of families this happened to and saw that we had to hold on to everything and not set anything down – even to take a quick picture! The apes even went into the snack shop and would steal bags of potato chips up on the shelves! The owner ran out several times after them, but they were too fast!

MALAGA
On Saturday, July 29 we left Gibraltar for Malaga (3 hours away). We took a taxi from the O’Callaghan Eliott Hotel to La Linea, then walked to the Linea Bus Station on Calle San Felipe (fare cost £6-8 and the taxis only accept cash, no credit cards). We took the AVANZA PORTILLO BUS (“La Linea-Malaga”direction) at 8:50am and arrived in Malaga at 11:45am (13,16 + 2,50 fee/per ticket). Once at the Malaga bus station, we got an Uber to the Casa Al Sur Terraza Hostel at Calle Marmoles, 28 ((about 20 mins away). It was a budget property, very reasonable and full of single and student travelers. The lobby area was decorated with colorful, tropical pictures and had a fun atmosphere. The major downside was that there was no A/C in the rooms, only floor fans, which didn’t help much in the extremely hot temps! We walked over to see the ALCAZABA Calle Alcazabilla, 2. The Alcazaba is a palatial fortification built by the Hammudid dynasty in the early 11th century. This is the best-preserved alcazaba in Spain, it is open from 9:00am-8:00pm Adults 3,55€, students/under 18s 0,60€. We saw the ROMAN THEATER located at the foot of the Alcazaba on Calle Alcazabilla, 8, open from 10:00am-6:00pm, it’s free to walk around in the ancient amphitheater built in the 1st century AD, plus they had a visitor center about everyday Roman life. From there we saw the Malaga CATEDRAL (LA MANQUITA) Calle Molina Lario, 9 (b. 1782). The missing tower has led to it being popularly known as La Manquita (one-armed), ticket costs for Adults 5€ / students under 18 2€. Since Malaga was the birthplace and home of the great Pablo Picasso, my daughter was estatic to be there since he is her favorite artist. We were on a mission to see all things Picasso! We went to the PICASSO BIRTHPLACE MUSEUM located in Plaza de la Merced (b. 1861), open from 9:30am-8:00pm cost is €3 / 17 & under w/ adult are free. We walked through his 2-story birth home which is still intact and off a cute little plaza. After that we walked passed the CERVANTES THEATER Calle Ramos Marín, near Plaza de la Merced & Picasso’s birthplace house, enroute to the PICASSO MUSEUM Palacio de Buenavista @ Carrer de San Agustin 8, open from 10:00am-7:00pm €7 Adult / 18 and under are free. The Picasso Museum was delightful with Picasso’s work organized in time periods and styles throughout – a fabulous, easy to navigate little museum!

BARCELONA
On Sunday, July 30 we left Malaga for Barcelona. We took the Renfe AVE train from Malaga’s Maria Zambrano train station at 8:40 am and arrived at the Barcelona Santa station at 2:25 pm. It was a long train ride along the beautiful Costa del Sol coastline and interior! We took an Uber to our hotel which was located near the Barceloneta Metro station, Hostel Gargallo Lyon, Carrer del General Castanos, 6. It was just a few blocks from the main beach and walking distance to the pedestrian/restaurant zone and quite lively. We hit the ground running and took Metro Line 2 then switched to Metro Line 5 to the “Sagrada Familia” stop. The Metro exit is literally right in from of the SAGRADA FAMILIA. Gaudi’s famous church is located at Carrer de la Marina and is open from 9:00am-8:00pm. We took pictures of the famous structure, it was packed with tourists in front, we did not go inside. Instead, we went from there to see Gaudi’s other work, the CASA BATLLO, a building located at Paseo de Gracia, 43 open 9:00am-9:00pm 23,50€, 20,50€ (junior/student rate). Again, this was another packed location with tourists taking photographs of the building front. The Casa Batllo is located closest to Metro L4 at the ‘Passeig de Gràcia’ exit. From there we went to the PICASSO MUSEUM Carrer Montcada, 15-23 in Ciutat Vella, it was open late from 10:00am-8:00pm and cost 11€ (Located off Metro: Jaume-Arc de Triomf – Liceu). On Monday, July 31, we explored the packed and colorful public market in the Ciudad Vieja district, the MERCATO DE LA BOUQUIERA La Rambla, 91. It was started back in 1217 when merchants set up tables near Barcelona’s old city gate to sell meat. It has formally been open since 1840 and is full of fruit, meat, seafood and souvenir vendors along with food available to eat at small countertops and little café areas scattered about the mercato. It’s full of beautiful colors – esp the fruit as it’s displayed in brilliant hues together like tables of bright fuschia pomegranates and displays of red strawberries that taste as good as they look. From there we walked over to the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter) area located in the center of the old city (It stretches from La Rambla to Via Laietana, and from the seafront to Ronda de Sant Pere. It is a part of Ciutat Vella district). The Barcelona CATEDRAL has stood majestically in the Pla de la Seu since 1298. Near the cathedral are some fun sculptures spelling out Barri Gotic that are neat to pose next to for a different photo op! From there we had another Gaudi work to see and headed over to LA PEDRERA OR Casa Milà, 261-265 popularly known as La Pedrera or "open quarry" (a reference to its unconventional rough-hewn appearance). It was built as 2 apartment blocks with separate entrances. It is a modern building with curves and balconies across the façade, with a great balcony deck to view from. A truly amazing building! Our last stop of the day was at Park Guell. It was on the outskirts of the city and required lots of stair climbing. Not until we got to the top at the entrance to the park, did we see an escalator nearby which brought people up (of course we didn’t see it from the direction we were walking from!) Despite the super hot day, we were rewarded with amazing view overlooking Barcelona and could see all the way to the waterfront and beyond. Gaudi made several other whimsical buildings and attractions in the Park Guell that my daughter took off to explore while I rested and looked at the views! We finished off the day with another late dinner along the oceanfront promenade with some terrific seafood paella and mussels/pasta dish – yum!

ITALY
On Tuesday, August 1 we left Barcelona for Italy. We took Metro L4 Yellow Line to Placa Catalunya 14 and caught the Aerobus A1 bus to the Barcelona Airport. Luckily the busses were leaving nearly every 10 mins and it only took us 35 mins to get to the airport (Terminal 1). This convenient airport bus cost 5,90€ each, which we paid in cash to the driver. Upon arrival in Italy at the Naples Airport, we had a reservation with SEAHORSE CAR SERVICE/AIRPORT SHUTTLE that picked us up directly outside the arrivals terminal. It cost us 80,00€ cash paid to the driver. Our driver took us to Amalfi, to our hotel the Residenza Del Duca, Via Mastalo II Duca, 3. We have been to Amalfi several times before so there was nothing “new” for us to see. We love the Amalfi Cathedral and fun shops all around the piazza. We were thrilled to eat margherita pizza with mozzarella di buffalo again – best lunch ever! The beaches in Amalfi are rocky with lots of pebbles to walk over. The ocean temp was so refreshing after another long, hot day. On Wednesday, August 2 we took the ferry over to Capri – one of our favorite places! In the Marina Grande where the ferry docks, you can catch a smaller boat that does a tour around the island. The ticket office is a little box near the disembarkment area. The price of the boat tour around the island had gone up from 11,00€ to 17,00€in the space of a couple years, but it was still worth it seeing the Faraglioni Rocks, the Arco Naturale, turquoise water grottos, and of course the famous Blue Grotto. The Blue Grotto was an additional 14,00€ticket to go inside. We transferred to a small tinder boat that held 4 of us, plus the guy rowing the boat. We ducked our heads going into the small opening. The Blue Grotto never fails to amaze me with its brilliant cobalt blue hues, it’s simply magical. After our return to the Marina Grande, we walked over to the bus stop near the waterfront to catch the 2,00€ orange bus up to Anacapri. These are small, pullman style busses that hold about 10 people sitting and 8 or so standing (cramped). You get off at the last stop in Anacapri, in little Piazza Vittoria. The chairlift is located across the way on the R hand side. The chair lift/funiculare costs11,00€ each RT and takes you to the top of Monte Solaro. During the summer months, there is a gelato/café type place open that sells refreshments, with tables around to sit and enjoy the view. On a clear day, the views are just spectacular across the Bay of Naples, down the Amalfi coast to Salerno.

On Thursday, August 3 we decided to do the ‘Walk of the Gods’ from Amalfi to Positano. It was another blistering hot day and even hotter up in the hillsides after we took the bus to the neighborhood stop to begin the hike. We wandered on the trail through empty lots, fields, passing abandoned, rundown old houses. The ocean was always there providing a serene backdrop to the very hot day. We picked some grapes along the way and had a great adventure!

On Friday, August 4, we took an afternoon ferry boat from Amalfi to Sorrento to our next hotel, the Hotel Tirrenia, Via Capo, 2, 80067 Sorrento. After checking in, we spent the afternoon walking along the Corso Italia and looking in the shops, etc. Sorrento is another one of our favorite places in Italy, we always look forward to returning and visiting with friends. A great restaurant recommendation is the Ristorante O' Murzill' on Via Accademia, 17. Expect a line, so put your name in and wait. Excellent local dishes served in a cozy little space – we liked it so much we ate there twice! On Saturday, August 5 we headed out to Naples to see the BAIA SOMMERSA in Pozzuoli, close to the small cities of Baia and Bacoli. To get out there, we took the Circumvesuviana Train from Sorrento into Napoli Centrale, then transferred to La Cumana da Montesante line and got off at the “Fusaro” stop. From there it was an approx 20 min walk to the port of Baia dock and the boat. Cost is 10 per person, reservations are required in advance. It’s an underwater archaeological/ecological park located in Bacoli with a complete Roman city submerged under the sea. The Roman town was built over natural volcanic vents and became famous for its healing medicinal hot springs spas all around the city. Unfortunately, due to this seismic area, Baia got largely submerged by this volcanic activity which lowered the land. The entire area is known as I Campi Flegrei (Phlegraean Fields) and was home to many Roman emperors’ villas. Julius Caesarhad a villa there, and much of the town became imperial property under Augustus. Many of the villas had large swimming pools and there was a domed casino. Baia was the Las Vegas of its time, a luxury, hedonistic getaway for the Roman elite. Nero had a notable villa constructed in the middle of the 1st century and Hadrian died at his in ad 138. The great orator Cicero composed speeches from his oceanside villa. They have glass bottom and glass windowed boats that go out over the area and you can see the ruins underneath the surface. As a Roman historian, it was a totally worthwhile experience and very interesting to see.

ROMA
On Sunday, August 6, we had friends to meet in Rome and needed to be up there in time to go to church with them. We took an early morning Circumvesuviana Train from Sorrento to Napoli Garibaldi, then transferred in Napoli Centrale to a Roma Termini train and got there on time! Once at Termini train station, we had to go downstairs 1 floor to catch the Metros. We took the Metro B line (towards ‘Rebbibia’), exit Policlinico stop (2 stops from Termini) and walked the 15 minutes to our friends’ condo. It is near the Sapienza University, east of Villa Borghese. After church we wanted to explore the Roman Forum buildings and since it was the first Sunday of the month, the entrance fees were free! We spent hours wandering around the city, stopping for gelato near the Pantheon, and eating a great pizza dinner up near the Spanish Steps area. Sadly, we had to leave on Monday, August 7 so our adventure came to an end. For our return to Fiumicino Airport, we splurged a bit and rather than take public transportation (the Leonardo Express from Termini train station), we got a ride from our friends’ driver service in a cool, comfortable new Mercedes Benz. Arriverderci!

Last edited by Huitres; Jul 25th, 2018 at 01:28 PM.
Huitres is offline  
Jul 27th, 2018, 04:34 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
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Great trip report, thanks for sharing. Good information about travelling between destinations too, which is helpful. It sounds like you had a great holiday.
Andee01 is offline  
Jul 27th, 2018, 10:42 PM
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You took a lot of time to write and it is greatly appreciated. You certainly do the research and plan well. You give so much useful info. Thank you very, very much.
Sassafrass is online now  
Jul 30th, 2018, 08:14 AM
  #4  
twk
 
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Thanks for sharing. The luggage check shop in Cordoba was of particular interest to me as we intend to do the same thing--spend the day in Cordoba on our way from Madrid to Seville.
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Aug 6th, 2018, 08:52 AM
  #5  
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Thanks Andee01, we had a lot of fun! I like to be organized so I don't feel as lost or appear like a tourist in a new city. To me, knowledge is always power and better to be aware and prepared in advance so we know how to hit the ground running when we get to a new place. Spain was wonderful and we hope to go back again and see other cities we missed!
Huitres is offline  
Aug 6th, 2018, 12:22 PM
  #6  
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Thank you twk I was concerned when I inquired directly with the Cordoba Mosque and they said they did not have a storage area for small luggage. The luggage check shop was very easy to find, we literally exited the back of the train station and walked across the street on the R (it parallels the train station on the side). The owner may try to sell you a larger locker area, but the small unit fit our 2 carry-on size luggage suitcases and my daughter's back pack just fine. Also, the train station is a bit far from the central area where the Mosque and Alcazar are located -- IMO too far to walk to unless you feel up to it. We found it easy to hop in a taxi since they were so plentiful around the station picking people up, and took the quick 10 minute ride into the center of Cordoba. While we liked Cordoba, Seville was by far our most favorite city in Spain! Have a great trip!
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Aug 6th, 2018, 12:33 PM
  #7  
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Thanks Sassafrass! Trip planning is a must. I have been a quasi travel agent for my family and friends and have planned many trip itineraries for various groups and individuals. It is my passion and I love traveling! I try to get all the details of when I am in a new city because when I return, I want to know exactly what to do, as I am sure my other fellow travelers would want the same. Prices and entrance fees are very important to know as well, so I know how much euros to take out that day. Also, there are often many discounts available (student, under 18, military, educator, etc) that travelers don't know about until they ask! While my trips may seem packed and regimented, I've never been disappointed because I am able to see everything I've wanted to in each city I visit. Happy travels!
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Aug 6th, 2018, 01:27 PM
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Your trip planning is very impressive! Thanks for sharing your trip details.
HappyTrvlr is online now  
Aug 7th, 2018, 03:32 AM
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Great report. And it's nice to see someone who travels "fast" and enjoys it. I travel slower than you but still often include one nighters and people on this board love to say there is 'no value' in one night stays. You've proved that's not true, although most of the places you went could use more time than that. I especially appreciate your take on Morocco. Thanks for posting.
isabel is offline  
Aug 7th, 2018, 11:58 AM
  #10  
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Thank you HappyTrvlr...trip planning is my "thing"
Huitres is offline  
Aug 7th, 2018, 12:09 PM
  #11  
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Thanks Isabel. I agree, we do travel fast, although I prefer to use the word "efficient" My daughter and I never feel rushed at the sites, we see everything there is to see there, then move on to the next. Obviously places we truly love and time permitting, we stay for a couple days or even a week(s) but being this was our first time to Spain and Morocco, we had a goal to see as many places as it was feasible given our plans. I was pleased we were able to see the main highlights of each of the cities we visited and it was great! Re: Morocco, I had wanted go there as my cousin was the set designer for 'American Sniper' and they filmed the movie there for 6 months. She lived in an amazing building and loved the whole scene. I think it does matter how one travels - if with an American film company and famous movie director Clint Eastwood, you get a lot more perks, luxurious accommodations and better treatment than we did going as random travelers. Our experience was totally different from hers. I didn't like Morocco much (especially the way I felt the women are regarded as 2nd class citizens), but my daughter is a bit more open-minded and told me she wants to return and go to Marrakesh and Casablanca next time!
Huitres is offline  
Sep 29th, 2018, 11:50 AM
  #12  
 
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Thank you for posting your trip report. I really enjoyed it! I also enjoy the Amalfi Coast and it is a repeat destination for me. I understand your feeling about Morocco and the harassment women experience (especially if you are of child bearing age) as I have experienced it in Tunisia and Egypt.

How lucky you are to travel with your daughter! I appreciated your fast paced itinerary, it was well organized, and it was fun and exciting to read.
ToujoursVoyager is offline  
Oct 1st, 2018, 02:33 PM
  #13  
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Thank you ToujoursVoyager (BTW, love your moniker). My daughter and I enjoy every trip we take and have gotten used to our "style" of travel. I understand that the alacrity with which we travel doesn't suit everyone! But at least when we leave a place, no stone is left unturned, so that is fulfilling to us. We haven't made it to Tunisia or Egypt....I would like to see the ancient cities that were once Alexandria and Carthage, both in those countries. Did you see them? From your inference, I would imagine it being a similar experience to our Morocco sojourn so would need to prepare myself. It would still be nice to see those 2 places for historical reasons at least! Thanks for your input and nice words.....
Huitres is offline  
Oct 1st, 2018, 03:49 PM
  #14  
 
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Thank you for the great info. Gibraltar is in our plans for Nov. We are leaving from Cadiz so am following your instructions for the bus. Did you see the new Holiday Inn Express? I am thinking about that.
I keep thinking about that ferry ride. I have read some stories that it is packed. Would you do it again?
Macross is online now  
Oct 2nd, 2018, 07:19 AM
  #15  
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Hi Macross: Gibraltar was great, a bit of England plopped down in Spain, rather unexpected but charming in its way (although the Spaniards don't feel the same!) Per the Cadiz-La Linea bus info here TRANSPORTES GENERALES COMES, it appears the COMES bus from Cadiz bus leaves only twice a day at 10:15 am and 4:30 pm and gets to La Linea in 3 hours' time. The "entrance" or Customs area in Gibraltar isn't very easy to find since there is a busy road around the entire circumfrence, so look out for directional signs or ask people when you leave the La Linea bus station so you get to the right place. Not sure which Holiday Inn Express you are referring to? There is one near the Gibraltar airport, but we did not go there so I did not see it. If you end up staying there, you could easily take a taxi to the center of town. Also, are you referring to the Tarifa-Morocco ferry ride? It was not very packed or overly-crowded. It was similar to other ferries we've taken on the Amalfi coast so didn't seem overwhelming. Have a great trip! November should be wonderful weather-wise and still warm down in southern Spain with little to no tourists about!
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Oct 2nd, 2018, 08:46 AM
  #16  
 
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Thank you. We go to Rota via space a military flights but last trip we never made it to Gib. I read about the ferry on TA. We might end up renting a car but we were more worried about where to leave it as we didn't want to drive it into Gib. Hence, the bus from Cadiz. The base has a tour that they recommend to use in Tangier. I will look at your hotel. November and first part of Dec, should be some decent weather.
Macross is online now  
Oct 4th, 2018, 07:18 PM
  #17  
 
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@Huitres: IMO Egypt is different from Morocco and Tunisia. Visiting Egypt was an amazing trip because of the ancient history and urge you to consider it. It is unavoidable that I will take my two daughters when they are older (unless the political situation makes it unsafe) because I would like them to witness the grandeur of Pharaohs. The highlights for me were in the South and I was blow away by Abu Simbel and Karnak. I was disappointed in Cairo and how the Nile river is used as a big garbage dump. We used a local company called Memphis Tour who tailored our itinerary to our requests. We did not travel independently and we did feel safe. If you are passionate about ancient history, you will love it.

I visited Carthage when I was 19 years old and barely remember it, so I can't tell you more. As far as Alexandria, it was my favorite city in Egypt and it was nice but I did not do the trip to Egypt to see Alexandria. My focus was not to visit cities or pay attention to modern history. I immersed myself in the world of hieroglyphics, rosetta stones, old Gods, imagining what a different world it was...
ToujoursVoyager is offline  
Oct 5th, 2018, 07:13 AM
  #18  
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ToujoursVoyager: I definitely want to see Egypt and that area some day and will make sure to include Alexandria and Carthage for my historical interests. Thanks for the tour rec, it sounds like the best way to travel. I like your travel tips too! I have had several family members visit Egypt and Cairo specifically and they all have said the same thing about the garbage and trash in and around the Nile River basin. However, I love ancient history and I am sure I will appreciate the whole experience as I do want to see the pyramids in depth! I have been traveling internationally with my daughter since she was 4 months old, IMO kids are never too young to start traveling! She has been to many different parts of the world and I feel is the better for it now that she's turned 18. It has really helped her perspective and understanding of other peoples, cultures.
Huitres is offline  
Jan 15th, 2019, 10:20 AM
  #19  
 
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Huitres, I regret missing your wonderful TR! This summer we were not too attentive to Fodor's. However, we're catching up, and really enjoyed following along with your interesting and action-filled trip. On previous trips, we visited southern Spain and Barcelona. But, like you, we've never visited Portugal. Always more places to explore, right? Thanks again for your great report.
tomarkot is offline  
Jan 16th, 2019, 07:15 AM
  #20  
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Thanks Tomarkot! I appreciate your kind words. Indeed our Spain itinerary was full but quite enjoyable in that we saw everything we had wanted to see in each of the towns. If more time had allowed, I would have liked to stay more days in each of the places (esp Sevilla and Barcelona). Glad you enjoyed Spain too - it's a beautiful place with wonderful, friendly people.
Huitres is offline  
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