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Spain Trip Report: Road Trip, Aching Thighs, Pieces of Heaven, Fabulous Time

Spain Trip Report: Road Trip, Aching Thighs, Pieces of Heaven, Fabulous Time

Oct 22nd, 2005, 09:44 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 34,738
This is wonderful!! Thanks so much for taking the time to write this! Poor screaming thighs
My son is going to Madrid in the Spring, I am copying this and sending it to him
Thank you~
Scarlett is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2005, 08:40 AM
Join Date: Jul 2005
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I copied and pasted this report to Word since I don't have the patience to read the screen for 38 pages (single column) that were copied into Word...at least without a laptop. That said, when I read it, it will be such fun. Liked your organization by places and then your feelings. Can't imagine why you don't like Sevilla, but if you got a hot day, maybe that's a reason. Got to read more.

Anyway, thanks for complete report!!!
holakjs is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2005, 10:07 AM
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Great Report Chele! WE have taken two road trips in Spain and have never had problems. We did have to pull in the mirrors in a narrow street in Granada In the cities the car got parked and we used public transportation.

I too was not overwhelmed by Sevilla but like Cruiseluv, I did not actively dislike it. Ronda, oh Ronda! Beautiful. And Cuenca - wonderful!!!!! I stayed in the casas colgantes (San Jose?) with a room that had an enclosed balcony over the gorge. It was awesome.

The mezquita catedral in Cordoba is something else! Maybe you get a chance in another trip.

You should try norhtern Spain, it is amazing (right Cruiseluv?). I am hooked.
marigross is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2005, 02:22 PM
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Thank you all for such wonderful responses! I'm already trying to plan the next vacation, but G just told me last night he thinks it best if we finish paying off this one first. Yeah, maybe he's right.

Sue, going into Madrid everything was fine. Finding which gate Iberia was flying out of from Heathrow was a bit of an unknown, and confusing to boot since it was a rather short connection time, but we did manage to leave and arrive into Madrid on time. And our luggage arrived on time. However, I think I attribute that more to British Airways, as I noticed before our luggage left LAX it was tagged "Short". And the BA ticket counter agent was very specific in stating she had checked our luggage through to Madrid.

It was our return to LAX that that things got a bit screwy. Our flight to London was supposed to leave at 1PM. When arrived at the airport, we discovered it had been changed to 1:15PM. Not really a big deal, but our connection in London was still going to be tight. (we were supposed to arrive in London at 2:20PM and leave London at 4PM) We didn't board the plane until after 1PM - though there were few passengers - and we ended up not actually taking off from Barajas Airport until 1:50PM. So most of my irritation came from knowing I had a short connection in London and not really knowing what was going on with my luggage (except that it wasn't going home with me). As it turned out, we ended up 20 minutes late into London, arriving at 2:40PM.

On the other hand, our flight from London left roughly 15 - 20 minutes late, and we ended up arriving 20 minutes early. And we recieved multiple apologies from the pilot of BA for being late, which funnily enough I appreciated!

Not sure how often this happens with Iberia, but it just goes to show that I didn't observe one of the smaller rules of travel: always make certain the agent knows to check your baggage through to your destination and check the baggage claim tickets before walking away from the counter!
Chele60 is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2005, 02:27 PM
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cruiseluv & marigross:

After we had started to figure out our itinerary, I had started to read up on northern Spain and it became a real toss up for a while which direction we should go in! But we both figured that southern Spain was the place most familar and we could always decide to return to cover the "upper half"! (Which, from the pictures I've seen, seems absolutely beautiful!)
Chele60 is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2005, 03:35 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
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Thank you for such a comprehensive wonderful report! Spain is on my 'someday' list. The pictures of Ronda have always fascinated me so enjoyed reading about it. It's also always nice to hear the driving is doable.
hopingtotravel is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2005, 04:25 PM
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I have never been interested in traveling to Spain but this report just might change my opinion.

Thanks for the great report.
march123 is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2005, 06:40 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
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Your comments on road travel in Spain are right on.

Just a comment and a suggestion: in Spain, as in other countries in Europe, the road signs will not say North, South, East or West like they do in the States, so we always take a compass for the car with us. It is a great help and does not take too much space in the suitcase.

Good report! Sorry you missed Cordoba!
Luhimari is offline  
Oct 24th, 2005, 08:41 AM
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I'd never thought about this until you mentioned it now, but you're right and that is perhaps what made navigating the roads in Spain so easy for me. I'm absolutely hopeless when it comes to east, south, north, west. Much better when the signs given tell the end destination ("Seville", "Malaga", "Cuidad Real", etc.), and that's the way the signage reads in Spain. Maybe that's way I thought this was all such a snap - even when we were lost in some of the smaller towns. We would just look for the signs that would point to various hotels or landmarks, and from there I could usually determine where we were. Thanks for pointing that out, I'd never realized that!
Chele60 is offline  
Oct 24th, 2005, 09:48 AM
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Thanks for the wonderfully descriptive report
TexasAggie is offline  
Oct 26th, 2005, 06:07 AM
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Thank you Chele. I had such a good time reading your reports. All 38 pages of them. I copied and pasted to word and printed single column which took 38 pages. Well, worth the paper, I might add.

First, I think you, the Super Planner, and G are a perfect travel combo. If you have two planners, that's headache, no planners is caos.

Second, you sort of slipped it in later that G is fluent in Spanish. Does help. As I read about all those conversations, e.g., talking to the old lady in Toledo, I wondered about that. On another board, you said he was Mexican-American. On the negative, did he get any remarks from locals about that? Chuckling at his accent for example. Just curious. Language is a big deal with me.

I took notes on the Paradors 5 Nights Card. Sounds like a possible deal.
Any details?

Glad to know that G was a good driver, but sane enough to say "no" to Madrid.

I loved your itinerary. I had been traveling 20+ years before I ever went to Merida. What a shame! Actually, our youngest daughter and I took a night train from Ciudad Real. Slept most of the way. (I can sleep anywhere)
On the way back, I could see why the Conquistadores left Spain. Most of them came from Extremadura. It is desolute, but Merida is cool. The ruins, etc. In our 24 hour visit we managed to see the Parador as well which we liked.

My husband really like the Alcazar in Sevilla as well. Couldn't get over that Columbus meet with Isabel there to plan the trip to the New World. (I could!)

One mistaken metaphor on Sevilla. "Take it or leave it. Sevilla puts on a flamenco dress and hides behind her fan pretending to be something she really quite isn't" What!!! Flamenco is Sevilla. It doesn't belong any place else.

La Giralda (tower beside the Cathedral in Sevilla) used to be prettier, but now with crazies there are bars on windows so no one can jump. I climbed to the top last Jan with my cousin. My story there was earlier in the day we saw a group of good-looking American guys..jeans, hands in pockets...looking in the stores. Then as we climbed, we saw the same guys examining the displays and consturction of the tower. I thought they were college guys on break. So I asked if they were engineers or architects. No, they were pilots...on break from Iraq. In spite of my personal feelings about that, I just wished them the best.

Yes, isn't Ronda wonderful? I visited the Parador last Jan. Liked it. Of course, the town is something else.
What courage on the exploration of La Mina. My thighs could handle it but not my psyche. I am afraid of heights! Good job, girl!

Major blunder you admitted. You gushed about the Alcazar in Sevilla and the Alhambra in Granada. You would have been in spiritual awe of the Mezquita/mosque in Cordoba. As part of its 1000 year b-day, they installed lamps that better mimic the oil ones of 1000 years ago. It is marvelous. Save that for the next trip!

Loved to read your feelings about the Muslims structures you saw.

I have been to all places you describe except Pedro Muñoz. What a special experience.

Cuenca's parador. I didn't know that Felipe and Letizia honeymooned there. It must be special, but your choice of a hotel that answered your emails, etc. It's that telling!!!

Growing up in a small town, I got a kick out your remarks regarding that. I remember a few years ago, I returned to my hometown, and a lot of people said "Hi". I thought they couldn't have remembered me. Then I remembered we said "hi" to everybody. Someone looking very out of place might just get a look as you suggest.

Interesting report on changing of the guard at the Palacio Real. Lucky you!

What! You are tired of Spanish french fries!? Our kids say they're the best in the world, or rather our friend Paquita in Oviedo makes them the best.
(I guess Belgium is really the place for FF.) But, what a hoot! The two for you in that Ribs Steakhouse, La Casa de las Costillas. After so much of the Good Travellers, you two finally broke. Funny!!!
holakjs is offline  
Oct 26th, 2005, 06:19 AM
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P.S. I loved everything about your report. Your candor, enthusiasm, and energy made it very special. íMil gracias!
holakjs is offline  
Oct 26th, 2005, 09:45 AM
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Holakjs ~

Thank you so much for your kind comments!

Yes, G and I discovered we do travel very well together. We had taken a number of smaller trips together, but this was our first big, long trip!

G is originally from Texas and Spanish was his first language. Strangely enough, many in Spain thought he spoke with a South American accent and thought he was from there. Although I'm not exactly fluent in Spanish, I can usually follow the drift of a conversation, and I can read (and passably write) Spanish whereas G never learned to do either. Together we manage to get by rather well.

The "Tarjeta 5 Noches", or 5 Nights Card for the Paradors can either be a great value or totally useless to a tourist. It really depends on planning and where one will be staying. What I did was know my dates of travel and then map out my itinerary first. Then I checked for parador availability along the way. There are restrictions, so it is important to "know before one goes." For example, the parador at Toledo does accept the 5 nights card, but there is an additional charge. The other paradors simply accepted the card. Very popular paradors are seldom if ever available on the 5 nights card - I believe the one in the Alhambra is one of them, though you can use the card toward the cost of the room. We found it to be a bargain, but then we went to places that were more out of the way than usual.

I was really surprised at the homesickness! Normally, on any trip that lasts more than a week I do get one day where I miss home. No matter what is going on, it's just not "right" or "good enough." I recognize when this is happening and keep it to myself and forge ahead, and normally after a few hours or, at most, a day the feeling goes away and I'm back in the swing of things. But this time the feeling just extended itself. I think perhaps G and I were feeding off of each other - will have to change that attitiude in the future!

Again, thank you for the kind comments!
Chele60 is offline  
Oct 26th, 2005, 05:00 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 336

Great trip report! I lived in Spain for a semester in college and get very "homesick" FOR Spain sometimes. This helped me just like your steak and fries with ketchup helped you!

I'm sorry to hear you didn't like Sevilla, which is where I spent my semester. I was there from January to April and loved it. My host "mom" explained how unbearable the weather gets in the summer and that she escapes to the mountains for the entire season. I had heard from a number of people how unpleasant it can be. Also, the shock of bigger city after the small towns probably shaped your opinion as well. I think your initial orientation in the city can skew your perspective as well. I lived in a very tiny neighborhood, and took classes in another tiny neighborhood, although close to El Centro... and my walk between the two was through tiny neighborhoods! If you ever go to Spain again, I would urge you to try again - during the early spring or late fall!

I too love Ronda... I've written down your restaurant recommendation. I think Spain, at least the southern half, is a country that can easily and best be done by car. It allows you the freedom to see what YOU want to see.

Thanks for sharing!
ceb1222 is offline  
Jan 25th, 2006, 01:30 PM
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