Spain schedule - reality check please.

Old Apr 29th, 2016, 12:48 PM
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Spain schedule - reality check please.

Hi All,

I have been obsessing over the schedule of a trip to Spain, trying to make the most of our time while not stretching ourselves to far. I was hoping you could cast your collective eyes over the schedule and tell me if its balanced, if we are missing anything obvious, and answer a few questions I will post at the end.

Firstly, who are we. A fairly standard couple, as bad as that sounds. I will be turning 40 just after the trip, so we are more tapas and Rioja than dance clubs. We love our food, but basically want a little of everything, art, scenery and of course seeing the amazing historic sites. Probably the most important factor is that this still has to be a holiday as well.

Schedule:

- Arrive Barcelona on Saturday 8th October for 5 nights. Not planning on any day trips, just getting over travel, seeing Barcelona and drinking it all in. (Saturday 8th October to Thursday 13th October).

- Madrid for 5 nights. Include day trips to Toledo and Sergovia, otherwise mainly spending time in the many galleries. (Thursday 13th to Tuesday 18th).

- Toledo for 2 nights. Mezquita. (Tuesday 18th to Thursday 20th).

- Seville for 3 nights, no day trips just spending time visiting the many sites. (Thursday 20th to Sunday 23rd).

- Pick up a rental car and spend 3 nights getting to Granada. Plan is roughly to drive down to Jerez, Cadiz, through Ronda and the white towns, down to Malaga, along the coast through Nerja and up to Granada. Not sure where we will stay but preferences will be white towns, and maybe a night in Malaga. (Sunday 23rd to Wednesday 26th).

- Granada for 3 nights. Alhambra etc. (Wednesday 26th to Saturday 29th).

We will be travelling by train for all but Seville to Granada. Preference will be to leave early(ish) to still have the afternoon of the first day at a new destination.

Questions:

Firstly, can you reality check the above? Is this a little under ambitious?
I am struggling to find festivals etc in October to add something extra to the trip, what am I missing?
Where should we stay in the 3 nights driving between Seville to Granada?
Is the trip to focused on cities as opposed to smaller towns?

Thanks in advance, apologies for the length of the above.

Cheers
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Old Apr 29th, 2016, 02:16 PM
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Pretty good plan. I would take one day away from Granada and add it to your visit of various towns.
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Old Apr 29th, 2016, 02:56 PM
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Think you had a typo. Believe you would stop in Cordoba for the Mezquita the 18th to the 20th.
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Old Apr 29th, 2016, 03:50 PM
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Yes Cordoba = Mezquita. Sounds like a perfect plan to me. I'd keep that third night in Granada. We loved it and lots to do there besides the Alhambra. Here's our trip from last year (with photos). We visited most everywhere you're going, just in a different order.

http://travelswithmaitaitom.com/spain-2015/

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Old Apr 29th, 2016, 03:58 PM
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Hi All - apologies for the confusion, yes 18th to 20th is supposed to read Cordoba. Thanks for the feedback thus far. We had wondered about adding an extra day to the drive through the white towns but had considered stealing it from Cordoba as opposed to Granada. Will give it some more thought.
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Old Apr 29th, 2016, 05:52 PM
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Should be a great trip! IMO, it is most decidedly <b>not</b> UNDER ambitious. Just a few comments:

For me, 4 days in Barcelona would be a day too short, particularly with jet lag -- but it really depends on what YOU want to see and experience.

Again, whether your plan for Madrid works for you depends on your interests. FWIW, I spent 4 full days in Madrid (and would easily have enjoyed more), 2 full days in Toledo, and a full day in Segovia. And I mean it when I say those days were FULL!!! Do make sure you consider possible closures on Sundays and especially Mondays when planning your time in this area.

I like your timing for Cordoba (the city with the Mezquita), Sevilla, and Granada. Be sure to book your tickets for the Alhambra well in advance: I was glad to have booked a morning ticket (with at that time, at least, allowed me to stay until the end of the afternoon session) and a visit to the Nasrid Palace during the evening of THAT day. There were no evening visits to the Generalife when I was there (2004); if there had been, I would have sought one for the night BEFORE my main visit.

I skipped most of the hill towns. Of those you mention, I visited only Ronda, which I'm glad I saw. Personally, I wouldn't have given up time in Toledo for any of the other white towns ... JMO.

If it helps, remember that Madrid and Barcelona are, for many of us, the easiest cities in Spain to reach. So if I had to shortchange any of these destinations, those are the ones I would look to, since they are the ones I could most easily revisit. Just a thought....

Hope that helps!
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Old Apr 29th, 2016, 08:39 PM
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Your plan is one of the best time wise that I have seen. Keep the day in Granada. It is a beautiful, vibrant city - the hills, the walking, the olive groves, music, dancing.

I personally prefer Toledo to Córdoba, so if not spending a night in Toledo, do stay late and have dinner in some local (non-touristy) place.

I feel confident you won't need it, but you can always make a list of extra things to do as short day trips if you come to want them.
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Old Apr 29th, 2016, 08:54 PM
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A rare thread asking for a trip reality check when the trip is in fact pretty real! Looks good to me, this opinion based on our experience, 3+ weeks visiting some of those places last October.

Definitely not under ambitious. You can still completely wear yourselves out. There is a lot to see.

A few comments:
If possible, on your day trip to Toledo stay long enough to have dinner at the Parador or La Ermita. There is also a small bar next to La Ermita for just a drink and tapa. Stay up there for sunset and watch the lights come on over the city, very magical.

If you want to catch a flamenco performance we saw a spectacular one at Arte y Sabore in Cordoba, We booked in advance and had front row seats. Mesmerizing!

In Ronda we saw an absolutely riveting and passionate show at El Quinque, possibly our favorite of the three we attended on our trip

Be sure to read maitaitom's report. It's enjoyable but also full of informational gems. His recommendation of restaurant Aben Humeya in Granada steered us one of our most enjoyable meals.

Yes, in October there seem to be few festivals. The only one we saw was a feria in Jaen, which for various reasons we didn't actually visit even though we were staying just up the hill at the Parador. If we had another night there then we would have.

Have a great trip!
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Old Apr 29th, 2016, 11:24 PM
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Sounds like a great plan!

Guide to festivals in Andalucian towns in October: http://www.andalucia.com/festival/monthlyguide-oct.htm

You'll be a little late for the Feria in Nerja (October 8-12), but this is more or less what it's like when Andalucian towns put up a celebration: http://www.explorenerja.com/fiestas/feria_de_nerja.htm
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Old Apr 30th, 2016, 01:11 AM
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You will find that the countryside is very beautiful in Spain - Mountains, Meadows, black steers, stork nests, olive and orange orchards, villages.

With your relaxed schedule you will have enough time to enjoy overland drives.

The region around Madrid is especially pretty. Make sure to see El Escorial which can be combined with Avila.
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Old Apr 30th, 2016, 06:29 AM
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You asked for a white town to stay after Jerez, Cadiz, Trafalgar. I would recommend either Arcos de la Frontera (already on the road to Ronda) or Vejer de la Frontera (closer to Cape Trafalgar and the coastal motorway).
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Old Apr 30th, 2016, 07:08 AM
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I returned from a another trip to Madrid yeasterday.
Have been before a number of times .
Finally made it to El Escorial ...very impressive, but with the limited time ,
I would rather visit one of the other towns or add to Madrid itself.

Also, I spent a couple of nights in Salamanca ( thanks you kja !)
Only 1:30 from Madrid ( an hour from Segovia ) this is one of the most beautiful towns in Erope I have seen.
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Old Apr 30th, 2016, 07:11 AM
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Maybe OP should add a day for the Madrid region and take off a day from the Malaga area.
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Old Apr 30th, 2016, 02:13 PM
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September is a big month for festivals, so you'll miss those. Barcelona has its main street festival (La Merce) the last week in September. Hotels are a lot more expensive then, so going in October, you'll profit from that. They do have a festival on Las Ramblas for the patron saint (Lady of our Rosary -- festes del Roser) on October 7th. Usually there are activities for a few days before it but not after, but you could probably get some schedule from a tourist informaiton booth on Las Ramblas. It's mostly sightseeing activities of some things in the area, some visits are free.

Barcelona has a huge jazz festival in October also, with some big names. But that's mainly at the end of October so I think you'll miss that.

Spain's National Day is October 12th, surprised you didn't notice that. So that's your last day in Barcelona. It may affect some museum or site openings, but probably not a lot as Catalonia isn't that big on it (it isn't their national day, which is in September). IN fact, last year there were demonstrations on it and I wouldn't be surprised if there were this year, also. Stores are allowed to be open, anyway.
http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...y-celebrations

Seville has a famous guitar festival in October, also, but it's at the beginning of the month. So your itinerary just manages to be in places when their festival is over or upcoming but not during it. http://www.guitartfestivalsevilla.com/
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Old May 1st, 2016, 02:40 PM
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Hi All,

Firstly thanks to everyone who has taken time to respond. Its reassuring to know that we have got the basics right.

It has made me question a couple of things, as much as we have tried to avoid 1 night stays we could turn Toledo into an overnight stay instead of day tripping from Madrid.

This would either mean spending a night less in Madrid (the more obvious choice) or dropping Cordoba by a night. That would mean back to back one night stays which does not sound ideal.

I have been tempted by Salamanca and it does seem an achievable distance from Madrid, but to justify this we would have to steal 2 days away from other destinations and where could you do that?

Thanks again for the time you have taken to respond, its a great help having access to this kind of collective experience.
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Old May 1st, 2016, 02:50 PM
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IMO, Toledo, Cordoba, and Salamanca each deserve 2 night stays. Just my opinion.

I"ve already given a rationale for shortchanging either Madrid or Barcelona on this trip, given that you can't see everything on this one trip and can probably return to either of those cities (which have international airports) most easily. And since Barcelona is the biggest outlier in terms of location of the places you are considering, you might wait to see it until another trip. Again, though, just a thought.
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Old May 1st, 2016, 11:00 PM
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We returned from Spain on the 1st of April, this was our 7th trip there in as many years. We love Spain!!
In Barcelona this time we stayed in Eixample (we usually stay in Raval or the Gothic area), anyway, this is a really nice area around Placa Tetuan, close to everything, lots of nice places to eat etc. It also gave us time to explore the El Born area. This is near the Picasso Museum and the Chocolate Museum. Its a very pedestrised area, lots of great resturants (Montiel, Calle Flassaders 19 was the best for us.) We would stay here again.
Book your tickets for Sagrada Familia before you go, and I would suggest early morning. There is usually crowds of people here, often school groups so book ahead.
They have introduced a new ticket at Casa Mila too, which gives you the option to visit any time you want (once only use ticket), this gave us the oppotunity to visit at the most convenient time for us.
In Madrid we stayed in Opera, and had one of the best meals of our trip @ Algarabia, really excellent.Enjoy your trip.
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Old May 2nd, 2016, 11:31 AM
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Auckland,
Don't drive yourself crazy fine tuning your trip. Everything you have planned will be wonderful. There are several worthwhile things to see in Toledo, but the most incredible for me is the Cathedral. I have seen a good many, and that one leaves me speechless. I don't think you need the night in Toledo if you can stay late. See when the train runs back to Madrid. There is also a little train that runs through the mountain around Toledo in the evening. It is fun seeing the city from a short distance.
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Old May 2nd, 2016, 12:24 PM
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You're being very thoughtful in your trip planning - that's great to see!

I too would drop a night from Granada, but I have no specific rationale other than that we did not find the city very interesting, other than the Alhambra and Albayzin. We stayed in that area, which I liked, but it did mean a bit of a hike to other parts of the city.

I loved Cordoba, we spent two nights and one full day there. Our last morning, we visited the Mezquita again (free to individual tourists before noon) before we headed out. We love history, and I am particularly interested in the Moorish history of Spain. Because Cordoba was the capital, there's a lot to see there (if you like that kind of stuff). The former Jewish synagogue and the old house that's nearby (sorry too lazy to look up the name) give a different perspective on the history of the area.

And in Sevilla, if you like Roman mosaics, definitely visit the Palace of the Countess of Lebrija.

An overnight stay in Toledo would be good; we began our trip to the region by picking up a rental car from the airport and driving directly to Toledo. We, too, do not like one-night stays, but it worked out very well for us to plan it that way.
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