Spain then Cornwall in the Spring

Mar 10th, 2019, 02:33 PM
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Spain then Cornwall in the Spring

Hello there! My husband and I are planning a spring trip to Spain and Cornwall. We'll be coming from Los Angeles. I'm trying to decide on the details of our itinerary and what would be the best way to get from one place to another. We are thinking that we'd like to visit Madrid, Barcelona and San Sebastian as we've heard that those are the best cities for food. (Good food is a large part of why we travel!) Once we finish up in Spain, we would like to head over to Cornwall. I know there are several ferries from Spain to the UK. I'm trying to figure out if we should take a ferry or just fly from Spain to Newquay airport. Any thoughts about the logistics in Spain, i.e. the order in which to visit the cities and how to get over to the UK, would be much appreciated!
travelworm is offline  
Mar 10th, 2019, 03:14 PM
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We really need to know exactly how long the trip is and have you booked your flights yet? In to where and home from where?

Also -- AFAIK there is only one ferry a week to Cornwall: Santander > Plymouth. Though there are other ferries to Portsmouth

Last edited by janisj; Mar 10th, 2019 at 03:17 PM.
janisj is online now  
Mar 10th, 2019, 03:18 PM
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How long generally will you stay in each place?

Going by train? Good routes between those three cities Madrid-San Sebastian

Say you land in Madrid

then take train (or drive) to Donostia - which Basque locals prefer to the Spanish San Sebstian - we stopped in Burgos for a night on this route and loved it - especially famous old monastery.

Train or Drive to Barcelona - if time stop off in Pamplona maybe.

Fly to Cornwall.

book train tickets in advance - like 60 days or so to get much cheaper fares at Renfe - has tips on how to book your own discounted train tickets in advance. Many find Renfe flummoxing as expressed in many past posts here. General info trains - BETS-European Rail Experts and

Now all that route can easily be done driving - if time you could with a car go along the beautiful coast towards Barcelona or perhaps around the Basque area - even into a bit of France like St Jean-de-Luz - a really lovely beach area and nice old town - not just a resort - just a few miles from Hendaye, Spanish border town. But, if just going between those three cities the train is nice because once in those cities cars are useless.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 10th, 2019, 06:23 PM
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Good points! I haven't booked any flights yet. I'm thinking the trip will be about 2 weeks long. We'll probably stay a few nights in each of the Spanish cities. We're open to train travel if that's a good way to go. Thank you, PalenQ, for your advice on flying to Cornwall and the tip about booking train tickets in advance for better fares!

Last edited by travelworm; Mar 10th, 2019 at 06:26 PM.
travelworm is offline  
Mar 10th, 2019, 06:35 PM
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It really depends on what you want to see and experience, but FWIW, your plan sounds rushed to me. I wanted 5 full days for Barcelona, not counting any day trips or surrounding areas. I wanted 4 full days for Madrid, plus another 6 or 7 days for surrounding areas. I wanted 5 days for San Sebastian and Bilbao, not counting any other parts of the north of Spain or Basque country.

If food is a priority, I don't think you have a bad option in Spain.

You might want to do a bit more research before committing to a specific plan. JMO.

I'm sure you'll have a wonderful trip no matter what you decide1
kja is offline  
Mar 10th, 2019, 06:42 PM
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If you have two weeks total (14 days home to home) that nets you 11.5 days on the ground. If that is all you have I would do JUST Spain or JUST Cornwall and maybe a few days in London. . . . But you said 'about 2 weeks' which could be anything from say 11 to 17 days-ish.

So first you need to nail down how much time you'll actually have.
janisj is online now  
Mar 11th, 2019, 03:34 AM
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I suggest you google, “things to do” in each of the cities you are interested in. Also as a starting point, try, “X” days in each city and get an idea of itineraries that others have done. A lot depends on how you travel (including how much luggage you bring) and what interests you. We often travel fast and hard and have been very happy with two or three days, even in such cities as Barcelona, where we have returned multiple times. We don’t go into a city with the idea we will never return or that we have to see everything that might be there. And, we have never been disappointed in our travels. It doesn't matter if someone else might feel "rushed," it's all about you and your travel style.

Google “food guide for Spain”, and you will see various suggestions of great places to eat. You might want to drill down on specific places (via their website, yelp, etc. if you find ones that interest you to get current info). Celebrity chef Jose Andres, who famously refused to go through with plans to open a restaurant in the Trump DC hotel, makes a lot of suggestions about eating in various Spanish cities including Madrid and Barcelona,
whitehall is offline  
Mar 11th, 2019, 05:00 AM
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I've taken the Ferry from one to the other and they are a little dull, however there is a bit of whale watching on deck in the evening with a trained crew of whale watchers to knock the edge off. Trouble is you can see a long way but you are a long way up.
bilboburgler is offline  
Mar 11th, 2019, 08:29 AM
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I agree that you should do a LOT more research before you book tickets so you don't get frustrated. That happens to me a lot. I think -'I'd like to see Barcelona, Madrid and San Sebastian and about 2-3 days each'. But then when I start researching I realize how much there is in - and most importantly near - each of them. Then I realize I don't have nearly enough time and get frustrated trying to either cram in too much or pare it down.

So you need to decide if you'll be happy with just an introductory taste of each city, which would be doable in a few days so you could fit them all in a week (leaving a week for England). One problem I see is that each of those 3 Spanish cities are a few hours from each other meaning you are going to loose at least a half day each time you move, plus probably a full day getting to England.

One option you could consider is skip England this trip (that saves one whole day of traveling) and give each of the three Spanish destinations 5-6 days which allows a fuller experience plus some day trips from each.

Or pick only one or two of the Spanish cities plus England.

On longer trips (like 4-5 weeks or more) I like to include two totally different areas (countries/cultures/landscapes) but for a two week trip the necessity to fly in the middle of it can eat up a lot of precious time.
isabel is offline  
Mar 11th, 2019, 11:02 AM
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Personally, Spain and Cornwall strikes me as a strange combination, especially with only two weeks' time, but if that's what you want, why not? Except that you're going to eat up some valuable time getting between them.

I have recently (in the past year or two) spent 10 days each in the area around San Sebastián/Bilbao and Cornwall, and could have spent plenty more time in each.

Madrid is one of my least favorite cities in Europe, except of course for the art. I must have missed out on at least some of the great foodie experiences there, except for the suckling pig (which I could happily live without ever again), and the Museo de Jamon, which admittedly has a certain panache. Cornwall has some very good food, but also some pretty standard bland British fare, which is to be expected. The seafood is very, very good, as one might expect.

If you do decide to combine Spain and Cornwall in one trip, I'd fly between them.
StCirq is offline  
Mar 11th, 2019, 12:00 PM
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So this is a great forum, and I'm so happy for you that you posted here. Just be prepared that most of us (not all!) preach a lot about slowing down, taking more time in places. As experienced travelers, we know the time cost of such small things as checking in and out of hotels, simple things that eat up precious minutes of your trip, things that people just don't really think about in the planning process.

With that in mind, thinking about your minutes and hours:
I LUV Spain (three or four trips)
I LUV Cornwall (returning this summer)
I'm just not getting the connection between the two. Can you explain the reason for the Cornwall part? We totally get the Spain part for food. And while we totally get Rick Stein etc influence in Cornwall, and while we never felt at dire straights with food in Cornwall--and no, we are not into cream teas, etc--it's not quite the same thing.

If you can explain, a lot of us may be able to help you further along YOUR desired path.

Wishing the ultimate best in travel planning,
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Mar 12th, 2019, 03:44 AM
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The connection between Spain and Cornwall

AZ and others, thank you for all your thoughts shared thus far! I value hearing from those with experience in visiting where I am headed. We are planning to use our miles to fly on business class from Los Angeles next spring. I plan to do a LOT of research before booking the flights. Since we’re burning up a lot of miles, we decided we wanted to hit a few places during one trip. We should probably make the trip about three weeks instead of two given the time spent traveling from one place to another. I will plan for that! My husband is generally not a big fan of travel because he does a lot of it for work. This trip is based on places he wanted to see. He worked with some folks from Spain for a project and afterwards was inspired to visit Spain. He wanted to visit Cornwall because we both enjoy the British drama Poldark. We even went so far as to making Cornish pasties at home. While in Cornwall, we hope to search out the best Cornish pasties!
travelworm is offline  
Mar 12th, 2019, 07:33 AM
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OK--I get it now. You have a reluctant traveler, and you need to make the most of it while he's willing to see something.

In addition, you and I are totally simpatico on using miles for 1st Class/Business Class. I work hard all year gathering points to attain flying status and more miles on various credit cards just so that I can call the shots on international travel. Often, the flight opportunity has dictated not only travel dates, but also our ultimate location.

I honestly think if you are willing to just dip a toe into Cornwall, your two-week and a bit more Spain/Cornwall timing is quite possible. I'm suggesting just a "toe" into Cornwall because the Poldark part is rather easily taken off the bucket list by engaging a personal tour guide. I can suggest two, and the internet has more. But you have to engage your guide FAST, and I also strongly suggest making your Cornwall hotel reservations fast.

By way of explanation, I had no interest in Poldark when we left for Cornwall last year. I read the entire series on the ground and THEN came home to watch the series. Our trip mission last year was to spend ONE DAY researching the stomping grounds of my husband's great grandfather. Everything else we would see in Cornwall would be gravy. My trip problem was that my husband HATES renting cars internationally, and while I could figure out how to get everywhere with a good BritRail SouthWest Pass and buses and a few taxis, the area where his ancestor was born (and a locale in which he barely survived) was in the middle of nowhere.

I hired a personal guide for the two of us for one day, a person with a lovely, comfy SUV. Once I engaged him for the day, I figured, what the heck, let's book another day at the end of the trip where my public transport options were once again sparse. With those two days in his company, I learned that these guys can do everything from picking up at Heathrow or Newquay (both very workable for you) to suggesting the best Cornish pasty, etc.

Your options:
You can research "Poldark Tours" on the internet for professional group tours (my husband would rather die than be stuck with others)

or rent a car ( here's the official Cornish Tourist office link for a self-guided one: )

or you can QUICKLY contact my guide James to see if you can snag his services to make your days go the way YOU want them to go...

And if James can't do it, another guide that I liked who contacted me just 24 hours too late after my inquiries was:
Very Special Tours of Cornwall - Individual, guided and accompanied personal Tours of Cornwall, for one person on their own or up to parties of 8 people.

Again, happy planning,
My last year's trip report for Cornwall you may find to be helpful is at
Cornwall Without a Car--DONE!

This year's trip mission will be to spend ONE DAY only in Devon viewing the stomping grounds of MY great-great grandparents before we work out way down to the Falmouth Sea Shanty Festival again. We will then be flying from Newquay to Northern Ireland to see one of the few parts of Ireland we have not yet seen.

AlessandraZoe is offline  
Mar 12th, 2019, 08:50 AM
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The Cornish Riviera around Torquay (home to Faulty Towers TV hotel) is a lively resort area with nice beaches all around. And annhig is offering fresh garden produce and pasties so make a stop there.
PalenQ is offline  
Mar 12th, 2019, 09:07 AM
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I really don't see a need to hire a guide for Cornwall or Poldark themed sites. . Cornwall is such a fabulous region and meandering, discovering on one's own is part of the fun. But if that is the type of travel you prefer - of course hire a guide

If you can stretch the trip out to 3-ish weeks you could do 10 days in both Spain and Cornwall or maybe a bit more in Spain and just a bit less in Cornwall. I would not mess with the ferries -- you can fly to any number of airports large and small. And since you wouldn't be dealing with jet lag if you've done Spain first - you could drive directly after landing.
janisj is online now  
Mar 13th, 2019, 04:22 AM
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travelworm: So I'm sure by now you've figured out you are doing flights not ferries between Cornwall and Spain. You also know by now that you could spend two weeks in Cornwall itself -- or just three days -- so I'd love to move onto the Spain part because my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Darn, I'm going to drive you crazy because as soon as I think of food in Spain, I think, "Valencia", which is not on your list. I still envision standing in the Mercato Central there, amazed at the varieties of paella for take-out. We were only able to spend 2 days there, but I told my husband this city got a "gotta come back" rating from me. And in my notes, I see I have written down, "Come back. Look for food tour!"

By way of explanation, one of my best friends runs food tours in my city, and she helped convince my husband this was the best way to learn about the culture of any city. He's become a fan. With enough wine, he's happily made orecchiette in Puglia and tortelli di patate in Tuscany. Our stand-out food tour was of the Testaccio in Rome. One of my favorite Paris foodie experiences included spending over an hour shopping in tiny stores for the ingredients, learning how to do quite precise mise en place, and then getting to enjoy the results.

So it's along those lines that I hope you intend to book a food tour or cooking class in each place you visit. For example, the Mercato Central in Valencia is such a food tour in itself, a cooking class that includes a shopping visit would be ideal. A quick Google search showed a zillion of these.

But heck, if you only went to San Sebastian, that would be enough of a foodie experience, that's for sure. Our next trip to Spain is for sure going to include San Sebastian and Galicia.

Goodness, now I have Trip Planning Envy....
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Mar 14th, 2019, 03:49 AM
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Food tour in Valencia is on my radar now!

AZ, thank you for the tip about Valencia! I will definitely look into that. We haven’t done many food tours before, but I do like the sound of it. We did a pizza tour in Chicago once and enjoyed it. I just remember it was too much food though. But my husband and I both love to eat, so this makes great sense!
travelworm is offline  
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