spain trip report

Mar 8th, 2009, 07:41 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2008
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spain trip report

This is short trip report of my vacation to spain last june. Too late ,it is. But I just want to thank all those who helped me plan the trip and hope that my experiences help someone too. Though i never wrote, i read voraciously over the net and all the traveler's tales to a place you are planning to visit , or have already visited is great fun to read. To all those special people who posted photos of their trip, outlined the 'walks in madrid' and gave step by step instructions on how to book tickets on renfe a big Thank You.

Broadly, our plans were,
arrive into madrid, spend 4 days. Ave to malaga. 3 days in malaga. Bus to sevilla, 3 days. back to madrid by Ave, leave.
the two Ave tickets were booked. rest we planned to book along the way. Day trip to granada was planned from malaga by bus. Booked for the alhambra on the net for the afternoon.
Barajas airport , pronounced as 'Baracas' is where we landed at Madrid.It is well connected to the city centre by metro but if you have luggage better to take alternate means of transport. After a flight short or long, you would not want to be climbing up/down flights of stairs and also you need to get your bearings in place, look at maps to understand well the best routes etc. Just a suggestion but of course it is doable.On our last day we took the metro from atocha to the airport stopping at sol for lunch with our bags . we felt good we had not tried it on the first day that's all.The metro maps do mark stations with lifts if that can be helpful.My notes from the internet say T1 has renfe counter and the metro is below T2.
We stood at the pick up points for the hotel shuttle service.There was a list of hotels at the 2 bus stops.Our hotel website had mentioned the fixed timings of their shuttle service and the timing was convenient for us. But after 1 the next bus from the hotel was at 4 , so you need to check if it is available at the time you are landing in or else look for other means of transport.
We did not travel by taxi so i have no idea about it. it did take about half an hour to our hotel on Gran Via. Working out beforehand how to reach the hotel from the airport is quite important as when you have just landed in a new city you don't want to feel lost.

Once in the city centre and refreshed , in madrid you just can't go wrong. Every street is interesting to walk and there are quaint beautiful plazas everwhere.I think a hotel in the city centre is the most ideal. There were many hotels on Gran via , we booked at Best Western Atlantico and the location was excellent. Bang in the heart(and sol) of the city.Sol , Callao and Gran Via stations were within walking distance. This was good because it gave us access to different metro lines and we could take the shortest route possible.Our room was on the fifth floor facing the gran via and from up there, the hustle and bustle of the tourists and locals was simply amazing.There was something electric about it.I think it was the first time we could call a road facing room a room with a view. Though the lower floors might have been noisy we had no problem.

There were many posts about how safe madrid is and about petty crime. Though we stayed for only a few days i think it is nothing to be worried about.Every few minutes the police siren would go and there was police presence on almost every street and also at crowded metro stations at peak hours. I was impressed and felt vey safe.just take the normal precautions you would do in crowded places, While crossing roads in a crowd be alert and avoid desolate empty streets.
The hotel staff gave us some maps else there are tourist information kiosks near central metro stations. There are many city landmarks all within walking distance but you must study the maps well and decide your route. We first went to peurta de sol,with the symbol of the bear reaching up the tree. Walked to plaza mayor where a mexican festival was on with dancing and singing. A little ahead is the palacio real, real is royal in spanish.And the gardens of the Plaza de l'oriente.That evening we walked to Reina Sofia museum and returned late taking a train from atocha . had bought the coupon booklet for the metro from a corner shop at sol. it has 10 coupons, both of us could use 5 each or make 5 trips and it is has a long validity, don't remember how many days.

Spain welcomes millions of tourists every year and as a result is i think is very traveller friendly. Maps are convenient to read, help is at hand at every corner. The problem is solved before it comes up in your mind. Buses leave at timings co ordinated with train and such things.someone among the millions before you have faced that particular problem and they have solved it by the time you are there in that situation.
We did not understand spanish but did not have any problem. To ask for directions you could take your map/pamphlets and just point out to the place you want to be. But for information on timings of museums and the days they are closed etc. it is better to know beforehand from their website or ask at tourist information booths. Local peple and hotel staff may give wrong information as these may change from time to time.Accordingly you can plan your outings and day trips and don't waste time going to someplace before it is open/ on days it is closed.
Reina Sofia , admission is free on saturdays i think and open till 9 pm.The collections there and at the Prado which we went to next day are so absorbing that you leave only because it is closing time or you are totally exhausted and cannot walk another step.

Myself and my husband are vegetarians, so no mention of food. We survived on coffee, dry fruits, walnuts, bread, icecreams and 'Maoz' on called Hortaleza near sol. A great veg pita bread, hummus salad place.
Also no mention of tapas bars as we don't drink alcohol or wine.But every day was a great adventure with sixty seconds in a minute and each minute enjoyed to the brim.It was great to feel the pulse of a city like madrid.
that was end of day one.
liraindia is offline  
Mar 8th, 2009, 09:54 AM
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Great Liraindia. I look forward to more !
I do know there are some vegetaians out there looking to travel soon to Spain so I assume they will appreciate you specific tips too.

Your comment about being prepared and not depending entirely on locals for directions is well noted. Just because someone lives somewhere does not mean they have good directions to the main sights. The locals mean well but may be wrong (I learned that too.) But I did find them all to be very very willing to help, just a bit conflicitng in advice re directions sometimes as would happen anywhere.
amsdon is offline  
Mar 8th, 2009, 10:25 AM
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But was it the best veg pita and hummus salad of your life!
No food report! Aaack!
Just kidding, I think I'm hungry and had better eat.
Very nice report, looking forward to the Malaga section.
pdx is offline  
Mar 9th, 2009, 02:51 AM
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The local people we interacted with were undoubtedly very friendly and helpful. also madrid is so cosmopolitan we cud sometimes be speaking to people very new to the city.

first stop next morning was The Palacio Real.
This palace is closed to the public when in use for some official functions but otherwise accesible on purchasing the entrance tickets.It has innumerable rooms decorated with rich tapestry, ornate work on ceiling, beautiful chandeliars, interesting statues and other antique decor.It was good to go about on our own in the Royal palace at our own pace lingering in different rooms making our own observations. there are interesting bits of information to read in all the rooms pertaining to the different objects and not having to move from room to room with a crowd was good.But we did have to dodge them a bit.The armorie real was also interesting as also the royal pharmacy.
We had our lunch of dry fruits and nuts on the lawns outside the palace, with live music playing in the background. loved the street music everywhere giving the feeling we were in a movie was a part of the fun festive different times heard a group of musicians play classical symphonies and an old gentleman making melodious music with glasses.Also interesting were the statues, real ones everywhere at fountains,in squares, on buildings , in gardens ,on churches and also the real people posing as statues. the man caught on a windy day with the upturned umbrella and hair standing up or the coal miner and many others.There is one on calle mayor of a man looking over a railing. that is a real one, statue, not a person.
Walked to plaza espana , enroute are the jardine sabitini,the royal gardens.also passed the senate building with the Spanish flag. in the plaza are statues of don qixote and sancho panza. Nice gardens and many people enjoying the sun. at one end there were a group of youngsters playing catchy foot tapping music with... garbage drums of different shapes and sizes.
we next took the metro to santiago bernabeau to pay a visit to the bernabeau was interesting especially for my husband who is a great soccer fan.Though an expensive outing it was great to sit on the players /coach seats and take a picture of yourself emerging from the player's tunnel or giving a press conference.Also you are given the written directions and can move at your own pace from a panoramic view to the museum to the actual ground area ending at the.. souvenir shop.
late aft took the metro and back to our room to rest our aching legs. hubby had purchased the tickets for the entrance to the stadium but did not bother to ask which way, and we went the opposite side resulting in actually circling the outside of the stadium as well!!!Maybe it was his plan to do that after all.
Spent the evening at the prado museum. There was no queque to enter as at that time people would prefer the outdoors? it was good for us. we directly went to the first floor and were treated to The exhibition of paintings by Goya.It was very interesting to see his entire life's work, the commissioned art works as well as the dark sketches he drew later in life.Also very interesting was trying to decipher the styles of the variuos artists..Velanquez,El greco and the works we had seen the day before at reina sofia of Picasso and Dali.We were seeing works by these greats for the first time and have no idea if they are better than at other museums or the best but to see all those artworks was an enriching experience.

We were too tired to go to retiro park and turned back to see some innovative subway art at plaza mayor. They were paper ribbons tied to subway vents on the ground which glide into artistic designs when trains pass underneath.We just soaked in the atmosphere and enjoyed 'people watching'.it's just like others have said, girls are very stylishly dressed and well groomed, mothers with cute babies in prams, couples and families on an outing and dogs of every breed and color.Madrid (and all other places we visited in spain too) is so bright and sunny, the light quality must be definitely superior. The place is really very 'photogenic'and the magic is preserved in our photos too.
School summer vacation rush would not set in till july is what we had learnt so we had decided to plan our day trips after reaching Madrid.This way we would'nt feel compelled to go somewhere if we just wanted to spend some more time in Madrid.Also there are many places to visit and we definitely could not see them all in a few days and wud have to choose.We thought of taking a conducted day tour but were happy we went on our own.The connections are excellent and if in any doubt , just have to ask someone and they would guide you.
Could'nt leave earlier than 8.30 next morning.The callao bus station was a stone's throw from our hotel. Took the bus to Principo pio the main bus station for the Sepulvedana bus to Segovia.The complex is also where the metro station is but there are clear directions. we bought return tickets at the counter for the next bus leaving in about 1/2 hr.The bus journey took about 1 1/2 to 2 hrs but it was an interesting drive.Enroute saw the gigantic lone cross up in the hills , at el escorial. it was quite spectacular.
liraindia is offline  
Mar 9th, 2009, 10:58 AM
Join Date: Dec 2004
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Thanks for the report and I look forward to more! I will be staying at the Best Western Atlantico in mid April for three nights. Your report is very interesting since I will be walking a lot of the same routes that you have done. please reveal any interesting sights that you saw that will not be in a tour book. Thanks again for your report.
HarryS is offline  
Mar 10th, 2009, 07:33 AM
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This report is turning out to be anything but short. But it is good to bring back memories of our holiday in Spain.

We started walking left from the bus station at Segovia. It was a long winding road and luckily we asked someone at this point for directions.We retraced our steps,crossed the road then took a left at the roundabout.very soon we were on a wide pedestrian street when it started brought down the temperature even more and it was quite cool and pleasant.
In front of us the aqueduct loomed large,all the pillars and arches standing through the centuries.It is an ancient structure, so massive and real.climbed up the steps on the left side and after looking at the views from the top entered into the labryinth of lanes and alleys.The main street was crowded with people and shops. we walked by quaint squares to reach the colorful plaza mayor. visited the gothic cathedral and the little museum inside.there were fewer people as we went to the alcazar, the castle fort which was distinctly the model for the Walt disney castle.Though not opulent as the palace in madrid it was very interesting to see the different rooms and ceilings. the old castle was destroyed by fire in the 19th century and rebuilt later. parts of the old castle rooms displayed a mujedar architecture like arches and the decorations on the ceiling. quite unique.Also beautiful view of the segovian countryside and saw the twelve side roofed vera cruz,church of the Knights Templar.
We had also purchased a ticket to the tower. though we read the board saying 265 steps(i think)it was only on embarking on the adventure that we realised it is not for the faint hearted. the steps were narrow ,twisted and seemed infinite. On reaching the 'summit' the view was amazing. From the tower saw our very own episode of Nat Geo.At the top of two tall trees in the castle garden were two huge nests with large eggs in them and two pairs of stork , white and grey were hovering about their nest.It was very interesting and i missed carrying my binoculars.
The climb down was equally dizzy and we were glad to reach terra firma. naturally we now 'noticed' all the warning signs at the entrance to the tower. But it was good fun.
In the morning the streets were busy and like i'd read, was amazed at cars going up/down steep narrow streets.On the way back it was siesta time and the tour groups had left too.We strolled by souvenir shops which were just beginning to open again . the 'house of pines' and other quaint old houses in the jewish quarter was interesting.later walked back to the bus depot and were on the 4.30 bus to madrid.Rested our legs in the bus journey and when we reached madrid were good to go after a short break at the hotel to freshen up.
Though all sights within the city centre are walking distance by day 3 we realised that sometimes it is better to take a quick train/bus so that we don't get too tired walking to the destination.Also some parts of the road are an uphill walk and in summer it is quite tiring.We realised it the day before while returning from bernabeau. We walked from metro pl de espana to our hotel at callao and though the distance seemed short it was a long walk in the sun.
In the evening we took a metro to Retiro park.The station exit area was a little empty with just 2/3 people hanging about. Retiro park was simply amazing.We just wandered about,sometimes sitting by the lake side and in the gardens.The paths are named paseo de argentina, mexico, peru. it was fun to take pictures against the roadsigns.The park was filled with people young and old and the 'outdoors' culture was invigourating.Families, couples, children and joggers with pets were all having a good time.
On the way back we packed some dinner from Maoz. it felt good going back everyday to a familiar place for some spicy falafel and hummus.By day 4 we were old timers there.

Next day we decided to leave early for Atocha to catch a train to toledo. We also had to print our Ave tickets to malaga which we had booked over the net.Atocha is a train station but was a landmark in itself.The greenhouse with large trees and the thousands of turtles in the pond inside a train station was a first.We stood in a wrong q at first , the city train one. the person at the counter directed us to the 'renfe'reservation office.we took our number, waited for our turn then went to the assigned counter number to make the booking.Luckily we got the tickets on the next train leaving for toledo.For the next day's ticket to malaga we had to use the machine and asked a young staff to help. she just punched in our code and out popped our tickets.It was very simple. We then went on to the departure area.The train tself was sleek and fast and we reached toledo within an hour.the train station at toledo is small and really beautiful with colorful tile work and stained glass windows.Though we walked to the old town area taking pictures of the Alcazar along the way, it ia a rather long walk and would recommed taking a city bus to the old city centre from outside the station at least one way.I had written down these notes too but read them only in the train on my way back. We ascended the steep slopes observing the quaint old houses, shops ,buildings on the way and reached the plaza de ayutamento.We went to the tourist information office here to collect the map and were told that the Alcazar was closed for renovation/repair. We had been touring a palace a day for the last two days and were happy to just get lost in the maze of narrow streets.Liked the ride in the train -car which in abt 45 mins takes you around toledo,through other distant parts of the city and for views of the alcazar and river tagus.Visited the cathedral and later walked around browsing through sovenir shops in this land of Don Quixote and sancho Panza.Once again in the afternoon the streets were empty and we had the town to ourselves.It was interesting to see the old town preserved as it would have been centuries ago.
liraindia is offline  
Mar 10th, 2009, 11:04 AM
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I am enjoying your report,I am taking notes and it is making me anxious for April to come for my trip. The train-car tour you mention where do you go to buy tickets? Sounds like a nice idea since I will only be in Toledo for a day.
HarryS is offline  
Mar 11th, 2009, 03:00 AM
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This train-car leaves from Zocodover plaza,that is where we got the map from the tourist office too.sorry i got the name wrong.We asked someone at the plaza where we could get the tickets. A train (on tyres) was standing there ,full of people and when the next arrived this one left.If you stand with your back to the tourist office building then you need to enter a lane to your right at the far end of the plaza. A few buildings inside is the office where we purchased the tickets.we thought we wud walk around some more and then when tired take the train so took the tickets for a later time, 12.30 0r so. That was good as the crowds thinned out by then as tour groups leave by afternoon,maybe.We had the small six seater carriage to ourselves and there were few people in the others too.There is a taped audio commentary playing which was good. had to pay attention to listen to it but the voice would go on and on in spanish (which we don't understand at all) when we looked around and then in a few lines it described the same(probably) in English.About history of the town, the rio tajo ie the river and the areas we were passing by.

We had about a month to prepare for this trip.It was too short a time to read and decide, book air and train tickets and confirm hotel bookings. Then make notes about the places we were going to and sightseeing tips. It was really exciting.
Thinking back now, even the 'mistakes' were positive experiences. Walked about in circles in toledo and got lost in malaga and seville too.Have many snaps of my hubby pouring over a map at a square, not quite sure where we were.When we got lost in malaga late evening ,in the maze of streets around Larios street did not want to open the map we very much had with us as we would stand out as obvious tourists.Overheard other couples arguing too, both looking tired saying 'i think it's that way' and pointing in opposite directions. That had to be in the barrio santa cruz in seville. In the end,it was a great holiday.

In Toledo,some of the places we wanted to go were closed for repair/renovation like the Alcazar . some others as it was weekly off/siesta time.nevertheless had a good time. We walked back to the train station this time not so tiring as it was downhill, by the old city gate and remnants of the city wall.We had booked a return ticket for the 5.20 train. the station was full of tourists returning to madrid.A short train ride and we were back at Atocha.
That evening we went to the terrace at the hotel.Thanks to the digital cameras we took about 50+ snaps of the gran via and lovely panoramic views of the city.Also spent some time at Sol, and pl mayor for the last time.
That was end of day 4.
Checked out early next morning ,made our way to sol to take a metro to atocha.In our excitement we took the wrong line.Luckily husband noticed at the very first stop and we went back to sol. Finally managed to reach atocha just in time. Since we had been there the day before we managed to breeze into the 'boarding' area with just 15 mins for the train to leave.The train itself was full of teenage kids probably on a school excursion. getting onto the train and the journey was a merry noisy adventure.
In 3 hours we reached malaga. we caught up on our rough guides and reading notes during the journey. At the exit from the platform we were greeted by a copy of Picasso's Guernica. The renfe station itself is like a modern shopping complex.First went to the adjoining bus station and bought return tickets to Granada for the next day.Then took a cab to our Hotel Ataranzas located midway between the beach and the renfe station.It was a good location , a short walk from Larrios street and the rooms were decent but not as goodlooking as the pictures on the website.
liraindia is offline  
Mar 11th, 2009, 07:53 AM
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Thanks for the train information. It is always nice to hear others admit to getting lost on occasion. We do it a couple of times on every trip to a new country. Some of our best memories happened from a wrong turn. i look forward to your next report.
HarryS is offline  
Mar 11th, 2009, 12:12 PM
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Too late to recomend you a different hotel in Malaga, but if you post your photos anyplace, I may tell you where you were "lost".
josele is offline  
Mar 12th, 2009, 04:23 AM
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we were 'lost' on our way back to our hotel from pl merced in the lanes and by lanes parallel to larious street. All because my husband confidently led us into the wrong street initially.
It was about 4.30 in the afternoon when we started out to explore. The city was just waking up from the siesta.Larios street wore a deserted look but it was markedly pretty.We saw this street at different times of day and night over the next 2 days. Merry and lively by late evening and so romantic in the soft night lights.It was definitely the most charming pedestrian street we had ever seen.

We saw the Alcazaba and the Cathedral and visited the Museo picasso. Had a nice time seeing all the paintings and it was interesting to read about picasso's life,see his style changing over a period of time.Spent some time in the souvenir shop too buying some prints.Also in this building ,in the basement are old city remains accidentally discovered on work on the foundation.It was interesting to see parts of old city walls, stone rooms, houses, cellar and ancient artefacts.
We then walked to the pl. Constitucion and later to pl merced close by where the house on the north side is where Picasso was born.
At 8 , we were early for dinner by Spainish standards but the restaurant was open and ready to serve us. We trooped into Canadu, a lovely vegetarian restaurant.Other than the food at Maoz,we had been on a diet of dried kiwis and figs,bread and ready to eat curry and this was our first proper three course dinner.Munched on the olives promptly placed on our table as soon as we sat down and read the menu which was in spanish. It looked very interesting and we wanted to try out everything.We had a good relaxed dinner and by the time we left the restaurant was full.Bars and cafes in the open squares were crowded with people. It was on this night that we took a long detour out of pl merced. Finally asked a police car and got onto Larios street (from where we knew the route to our hotel.) here we spent some time resting on one of the benches admiring how beautiful it looked at night.
That was end of day 1 in malaga.

The next day we had to catch a bus to granada at 9.We were ready by 8.15 so decided to walk down to the bus station and were there in about 20 mins. There were few people at the counters so purchased the ticket to sevilla for the day after.
We then boarded the bus to granada.Enroute saw some breathtaking scenery, rocky cliffs and amazing rock formations.We reached granada bus station at 10.45 and everyone made their way out to catch the city bus which was waiting.There was a small kiosk on the way out from where we got the a map and directions to the Alhambra. Got down at the cathedral with help of co passengers.
We decided to go straight to the Alhamra though our time at nasrid palace was 3pm. had read on the net about the crowds there and was also trying to be clear about the entrance timings.Since we could see the alcazaba before that thought best to go right away. also had to print the tickets.We gradually started to trek up the hill first past rows of small shops then on a road with trees on both sides. Walking right on after the entrance we came to the ticket office. here there was a short q and we joined it , trying to ask the guard if this was the one for net bookings. he did not answer us but when we reached the counter we were directed to the area outside where there were machines to print our tickets.We had only to swipe the credit card which was used to buy them and they glided out.Hubby went in to get the audioguide, he kept our passports as id. Usually we left the passports in the hotel safe so we had made a note to carry it with us that day.
We had an hour to spare and relaxed on one of the benches outside.Also it was 'terribly' hot and i was wondering what it would be like in july/august. As back home where we live it gets very warm in summer,we had so far gone to cooler climes for holidays.We were looking forward to the sunny weather in spain but there was a heat wave in granada, sevilla and cordoba when we were there with temperatures above 40C/105F
By 1.30 the area was crowded and there was a long q for the tickets. we retraced our steps to the main entrance and explored the alcazaba and the other palace of carlosV. The audio guide was good and gave interesting information.The scenery from the tower was beautiful and we could also see the snow capped sierra nevada mountains in the distance.There was not enough time to go to generalife and return so waited around the entrance to nasrid palace. We joined the q formimg at 2.45 and it began to move in half an hour's time.being early in the q is unnecessary as once inside there is no time limit to come out.The carvings were exquisite and it did look like lacework on stone.Lingered on in all the rooms and patios listening to the audio guide.I think I had very high expectations reading all the reviews or maybe because I had seen similar beautiful monuments closer home ,or the anxiety in getting the timing right due to the regimentation, I was not bowled over or overwhelmed by it.It was unique and very beautiful, no doubt and well worth a visit. Later we made our way to the Generalife gardens.

Now on second thoughts, as I think back it was one of the'memories of a lifetime'experience.

We returned the audio guide, took a bus downhill and spent some time at pl neavu. Bought some souvenirs and had some icecreams( v v tasty) to beat the heat.We were taking the bus back to malaga at 8. at 7 we caught the city bus to the main bus station. it was a little crowded now as opposed to the morning. the bus to malaga was fully booked and a few people who did not have tickets had to wait for the next bus.It was so hot that day, it seemed there was no airconditioning in the bus.Were very sweaty and tired by the time we reached malaga.
The roads wore a desertd look as we made our way back to the hotel. We were in madrid when Spain won the quarter finals,my hubby would catch a bit of the game at corner shops and cafes.That day spain was playing in the soccer semis. Hubby,being a great fan reiterated his having sacrificed seeing the match to treat me to this trip to the alhambra.He did manage to see the last few minutes on TV and then all hell broke loose. Spain won and all of Malaga was celebrating. It was crazy seeing the excitement, cars blaring 'victory horns', people going about congratulating each other with the spanish flag.It was an amazing experience.

Next day, we had plans to go to mijas/ ronda but had not booked bus tickets.The weather in malaga was sunny but very pleasant and we decided to spend the morning at the promenade go to the beach and just relax.
liraindia is offline  
Mar 16th, 2009, 04:58 AM
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Day 7,
Left the hotel in no hurry, and walked on the main road Alameida principal, past colorful florist stalls onto the promenade and park by the sea.We enquired at the tourist office in the pl, at the beginning of the promenade for timings of buses to nerja /mijas.But once we went further onto the beach we were enthralled by the deep blue waters of the mediterranean sea. There were several people on the beach, but it was not crowded.We did not realise how time flew by in the clear cool waters.
Later on our way back we stopped at the pl de toros de Maestranza. we wanted to have a look at the bull fighting museum but it was closed as they were preparing for a music concert in the evening.We spent the rest of the day in the old town area, shopping for souvenirs for friends and family.Had a good dinner at canadu and returned late to our hotel. it was one of our 'just laze around' days but looking back i regret not having taken that bus to nerja/mijas. However by day 3 in malaga we had made up our minds that we had to return sometime in the future to soak up the sun,explore the white towns and relax on its beaches.

There was a general store next to the hotel and we bought bread, cake, yoghurt, juice and water for the next day.'Naranja' juice was our favourite, that's orange juice. Patio de naranjos were everywhere in Andalusia,in Granada,Cordoba and sevilla.It was a sight to see the trees laden with oranges in these patios though probably ,in season they are everywhere.Curiously in an indian language, it's a similar sounding word 'narangi' for orange.

Day 8
We checked out of the hotel by 9. They called a cab for us which arrived at the doorstep in 2 minutes and we left for the bus station.Waited for our bus to seville,put our bags in the luggage hold and soon we were on our way.We did pass through quaint white towns on hillsides and began to have our first pangs of regret at not having visited them the day before. It was about 1.30 when the bus drove into sevilla and no prizes for guessing why the roads were so deserted.We were so excited to be in sevilla that we did not realise how hot it was.'Siesta' makes complete sense when the temperatures are soaring way above 100F.
liraindia is offline  
Mar 16th, 2009, 06:19 AM
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Lirindia enjoying your report.

Your report makes me note that I must spend some time in Malaga thank you.
amsdon is offline  
Mar 16th, 2009, 06:31 AM
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On the map our hotel melia sevilla looked just a few lanes away from the pl san sebastion where our bus journey ended.I am reluctant to take a cab when in a new city. I somehow feel if we have a bad experience it will mar/overshadow all the good time we had there and spoil our excitement.So generally prefer to walk to places if possible or take public transport.That is why we ended up walking to our hotel, dragging a bag each and it was a not too long 10minute walk to our hotel.We had booked here,in a room overlooking the Pl mayor.The room and the view was very good. The hotel was also close to many bus stops and well located for taking the bus to the train station. However I would have liked to stay closer to the cathedral, Pl neavu and if i had done little more research would have stayed in Barrio santacruz.At that time of the year, good comfortable room with airconditioning was important and did not want any surprises.hence we chose this hotel and except for having to walk a little extra to get to the area around pl neavu it was not so bad.
We got a map from the front desk with info of places of interest and timings etc.Since the next day, sunday ,some of the places might be closed earl and we even wanted to squeeze in a trip to Cordoba if possible, we spent some time poring over the map deciding for ourselves where we would like to go.About 3.30 left the hotel for our 'city tour'. Our first destination was the cathedral and the giralda tower which closes at 5, so we were among the very few tourists(am sure no local would be out in that sun)hurrying across the avenida carlos V.We saw the stationary tram train, took photos against it but did not want to venture on it. As our intention was to reach the cathedral at the earliest,did not stop to read when , where ,which,how .Only after walking for sometime did we realise that the same 10 min walk could have been made in the tram, with ease and great comfort.We felt like kicking ourselves for not remembering these tips we had read on the net.Though at all times later we preferred to walk along the pedestrianised avenida de la constitution, it is useful to know that the tram only makes a journey to pl neavu, stopping at the cathedral and back. there are no different lines and routes.It is just this one short straight route , which takes you to the city centre.
We did manage to reach the cathedral in time and also climbed up the 34 ramps to get a view of the city from the giralda.Also in the cathedral is a small museum /gallery about it's history, and the tomb of cristopher columbus, Christobel Colon in spanish.Saw a floor mosaic of the giralda tower near the coro.After spending some time at the top looking at the colorful buildings in barrio santacruz ,the pl de toros and the great view on all four sides, we made our way down and past the patio de naranjos to the small souvenir shop,finally leaving through the mujedar style exit.we were the last ones to leave and found ourselves at the edge of barrio santa cruz.
liraindia is offline  
Mar 16th, 2009, 07:41 AM
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thanks amsdon,
we really want to go back to malaga sometime.We also liked the fact that it was a well connected city at the same time it had an old town centre and a good beach, pleasant was not too quiet/remote nor crowded.You can get up in the morning and decide if it will be a 'lazy day' or 'day for some action 'with lots of options for day trips.
liraindia is offline  
Mar 16th, 2009, 09:40 AM
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We took a break on pl de san francisco, studying our map preparing to enter the barrio santa cruz.Once in the narrow lanes flanked by the bright colorful walls it did not take us long to realise that not every small lane is on the map.We tried (in vain) not to get lost.We caught a glimpse of some lovely tiled patios and balconies with beautiful decorative grills.These were probably hotels/hotel apartments.we were looking for a vegetarian restaurant to come back to later in the night but we were unable to find it. after a while we came to pl santa cruz, then to the murillo gardens with a tall monument to 'Colon'and walked along the path along the walls of the alcazar gardens.We then walked to pl de espana, crossing the Maria luisa park on the way. There was not a soul to be seen inside and we were wondering how long this 'siesta' would last.There were few people in the pl, a contrast to the merry,lively pl mayor in madrid.Spent some time seeing the beautiful tilework and on the arched bridges.After a while we went back to the room to freshen up and rest a bit. it was beyond 8 when we left again walking towards the pl de san fancisco.We could not but feel 'why on earth are we here when the people of sevilla seem themselves to have gone to some cooler spots to escape the heat.We strolled on avenida de la constitution and sat for some time, having icecreams near the cathedral. there was music being played,a beautiful soulful melody .Thinking back now I like the fact that without it's crowds, sevilla had a character of it's own. being in madrid was vibrant like being in a modern racy movie clip and sevilla was like an old classic romantic black and white movie.
We came back to the room a little after 11.We did not know if it was safe to stay back longer as there were not many people on the road.The pl de espana which we could see from our room and the roads were still.Either that or the minute we went to sleep the party started all around town and all the people of seville made merry.
liraindia is offline  
Mar 25th, 2009, 04:48 AM
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Day 9
First stop today was at the tourist office on the ave de la constitucion.They had good brochures giving detailed information of the attractions , their timings, costs etc.We felt we should have visited them the day before itself. the flyers also had details about the day trips, eg cordoba, train and bus timings etc.
We then walked to the river side by the torre del orro ,reaching the pl de toros.there was a tour starting just as we purchased the tickets. think it is every hour. The days of the bull fights seemed to be dodging us. there were many posters in the towns we had visited so far but never on the days we were there.So it did not come to the point where we had to decide whether or not to go for one, but this tour of the bull ring and the museum at seville made up for it to some extent. One has to pay attention as this young girl( who said she belongs to family of bull fighters who own the ring in seville) who with a straight face gave detailed descriptions of the history of bull fighting and the way it is done etc. listening to her anecdotes was very interesting , we got the whole picture or at least could imagine it .that was sufficient for me.
We then walked to the barrio santa cruz , bought some souvenirs to take back with us.The bells atop the giralda began to ring (at 12 it think), as we made our way to the casa de la memoria de al andalus to buy tickets for the flamenco in the evening.
The day before we had seen 3 marriage parties. In the pl de espana and the garden, the bride and groom in all their finery were having a photo session.we were not the only people soaking in the sun, but had charming company.
But now,it was starting to get very hot and there were few people other than us gallivanting around.we decided to take a train to cordoba to see the mesquita as anyway everything would close for siesta.Took the circular route C2 bus to the santa justa station from prado san sebastion. though at the stop the map seemed like there would be only 3/4 stops to the station,these are the main ones only, the bus stops at others in between. we asked someone and luckily did not get down earlier. at the station almost everyone gets down and many get in so you will not miss it.We hurried to the ticket counter. again as everything is in spanish stood in a wrong q for a few minutes(think it was advance booking one).also as the people mostly know spanish only, they very much wanted to help but there was a little communication gap.
But thanks to the patient guy at the counter, with a little help we had the tickets we wanted. the tickets for the andalusia express cost much less and take only 1/2 hr extra.we had a few hours in cordoba and we would be back in sevilla by 8 to go for the flamenco show at 9. it was good to be in the air conditioned comfort of the train when it was blazing hot outside.the train both ways was dot on time. On reaching cordoba , took the citybus waiting outside and were dropped near the mesquita. it is pronounced without the s; we did not know that till we asked an old lady for directions and she could not understand as i was pronouncing it with the s.Walked from the bus stop, through quaint narrow streets.The mesquita was very interesting. afterwards spent some time in the patio de los naranjos. explored the streets around in the jewish quarter. the houses were different from those in segovia/toledo. they were whitewashed and quaint in a different way, also not as colorful as in sevilla.had ice creams, bought souvenirs, it was time to leave for our 6.30 train. there was still more than an hour so we spent a long time in the bus seeing the town from the coach window.This is the circular route so unless you have time do not sit in the bus going the wrong way. it takes almost 45 mins(i think). the driver told us so when we asked about the station but since we had time, thought it was ok. it was good fun initially seeing the parts of town but in the end i was hoping there would be no more detours and we would be on time.There is a stop by the river on the main road, near the mesquita if you want to avoid the full circle.We were in sevilla by 8. it had been a great outing. there is only so much you can do when the temperature is 105F outside and we had balanced time indoors and walking outside. It was good we did not stay couped up in a room or restaturant all the time. Also it gave us a sense of adventure in smoothly using the bus/train transport without any glitches and mistakes.

however we must have become overconfident. As we took the bus at Santa justa to the city centre , we hopped into a waiting bus at the very same spot we had alighted ealier in the afternoon. after the ride in cordoba we should have understood what a circular route means.If you get in the wrong route it will be a very long ride. We usually would ask the driver or co passenger about our destination to confirm it is the right bus.But did not do it this time as we felt we were now'experts' familiar with all the routes. Though another time it would have been a good idea to take a tour of sevilla, of parts on the opposite side of the river, the triana and other neighbourhoods, all in the price of 1 ticket. That day we ended up being late for the flamenco had just started and we explained to the girl at the ticket counter that it was our last day in sevilla and we would not get another chance as we were leaving the next morning.we had not booked the tickets but only reserved them and to our surprise they were still available. maybe the fewer people because of the hot summer weekend or that it was the final of the soccer world cup.We entered in after the singer finished his song. the flamenco performances were simply mesmerising. The songs, the foot movements they were simply outstanding. The atmosphere in the patio, with the stage just a row of seats away was too good. The only other flamenco i had seen was a show at Goa, India. the dancers danced to recorded music and it had acrobatic dance moves.after seeing the flamenco in sevilla i wished i could have stayed back for one more day to see it again. it was so different and beautiful.the experience will never leave me.

Later that night watched spain win the soccer finals and there were fireworks and celebrations well into the night.

We left next morning. Took a bus to santa justa station, then the ave to madrid. from atocha we took the metro to the airport. Stopped one last time at sol , and by evening were on the flight back home.
We had tapas portions of the sights and experiences in Spain and hope to be back sometime.
I started to read about istanbul as we will be visiting turkey next month. I happened to read a question about flamenco in sevilla and could not believe that the name of the place I was so enchanted by, had slipped my mind.Hence decided to write the report and relive the most amazing experiences we had.
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