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Spain Trip this Sept - Suggestions please!

Spain Trip this Sept - Suggestions please!

Old Aug 23rd, 2005, 07:32 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 30
Spain Trip this Sept - Suggestions please!

Hi All,

My husband and I are (late as usual) planning our trip to Spain. We arrive in Madrid on Sept 8 and have booked 2 nights hotel in Spain (Hostal Hispano-Argentino) in the city center by the Prado. Otherwise, we have no set plans and are really open to your suggestions. We fly out of Madrid (to Greece!!) on Sept 17 (evening flight).

Our thoughts (so far) are as follows:

Bus trip to Toledo - 1 day?
Somehow get to Avila and Segovia (1-2 days?)
Train/Bus/Car (please suggest) to Seville, Gibraltar, ??? Malaga???, ???Cordoba, and back to Madrid.

How crazy are we to consider all of this for a 10 day trip.

If any of you have suggestions for modes of transport (we don't mind renting a car if that is the better way to go), accommodation (we'd like to keep our accomm. budget under 100 Euros per night on average), and sites (we like some history, culture, etc., please advise!!

We are in our late 40's/early 50's and if you can believe it, this is our first trip to Europe!!

Thanks so much!!

Europe_Neophyte is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2005, 12:30 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 257
Well, here's an opinion for what it's worth

Days 1-2. Base in Madrid. Spend one on a day trip to Segovia. Forget Avila. Don't stay near the Prado. The real action is at the other end of town near Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol. Stay around there. I like Hotel Santo Domningo. Don't linger in Madrid. It isn't that interesting a place.

Day 3. Take train to Toledo for the day. Be sure to stay within the city walls. Hotel Pinto El Greco is nice enough.

Day 4. Train back to Madrid (or Madreth, as the locals say,)transfer to the high speed AVE train to Cordoba. See Mezquita and Alcazar. Hop back on AVE and continue to Seville in the evening or stay in Cordoba overnight and train to Seville in the morning.

Day 5-6-7. Seville. This is the Spain that you really want to see. Possible day trip to Jerez for Sherry tasting and horse show - Thursdays only.

Day 8 Drive to Nerja. The last nice place in Spain on the Mediterranean.
Stay on the Balcon de Europa. There probably isn't time, but Ronda is terrific place to visit on the way. Really needs a day. Maybe day 7 in Rhonda? Hotel San Gabriel is the best hotel deal I've ever encountered.

Day 9. Drive to Granda. No trip to Spain is worthwhile without seeing the Alhambra. The top sight in Spain and may in all of Europe.

Day 10. Drive to Cordoba. Drop car and take AVE back to Madrid

Whatever you do, don't miss Toledo, Seville, the Cordoba for the Mezquita, the Granada for the Alhambra. Ronda is almost a don't miss. I'd rate Segovia and Ronda even. Forget Gibralter (long lines and a tourist trap) and Malaga (not really a tourist town.)

Yes 10 days is really tight. with another 2 or 3 days, you'd be in good shape.
metellus is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2005, 01:47 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 30
Hi Metellus!
Wow, you are awesome!! This is a fabulous itinerary. You should consider tour guiding as a profession!!

Re: Madrid: what do you mean when you say that the "action" is at the other end of town? Are you refering to restaurants, cafes, entertainment, etc.? (I already looked at the hotel in Madrid that you recommended and it looks amazing).

Based on your recommendation we will probably plan on only 1 night in Madrid and then head out to Toledo.

Is it advisable to arrange car rental here in the US or is it just as easy to do it over there?

Also, as far as money goes, are ATM's that access US banks easy to find?

Did you have any experience with internet cafes along the way?

Thanks so much for all your help!!


Europe_Neophyte is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2005, 01:57 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 5
For travel within Spain, don't forget too look at some of the discount european airlines. We were able to get a cheap flight from Madrid to Barcelona for about the same price as a train and didn't have to waste a day travelling!

Our trip was also 10 days. After a night in Madrid, we spent 3 nights in Barcelona then travelled overnight by train to Granda where we stayed 2 nights. After that 2 nights in Cordoba and back to Madrid.

I agree with Metellus that you shouldn't waste too much time in Madrid, unless you plan to spend all day in museums - they have some large ones. We also saw a bullfight there which was quite a spectacle (if that's your thing).

Grenada is an absolute MSUT on your list. There you'll find the Alhambra, the Albacin, and the surrounding Sierra Nevada - all breathtaking!

Don't stay long in Cordoba: I'd see the Mezquita, and move on. We also caught an evening flamenco performance that was quite good. But you could probably do that in Seville, which I've heard is a much more interesting city. I'm sorry we missed it.

I highly recommend Barcelona. It's an extremely rich and lively city. You could easily spend a week there. But it's far away from all the other cities mentioned, so you might have to skip it. If your time is tight I'd also skip Gibralter and Malaga, especially if you're going to be hitting the beaches in Greece.

In general I would use trains rather than cars. The trains in spain are pretty good and you get a chance to rest since you're not driving.
Mark12345 is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2005, 02:05 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 5
I with drew money from ATMs in every city I visited without a problem. No need to go exchanging money. All ATMs (I think) had english as an option. I also made credit card purchaces with no problem.

Used one internet cafe in Barcelona with no problem. It was geared towards tourists so there were enough english signs to figure it out.

Another tip about the Alhambra - it's a good idea to get your tickets in advance, even a few days.
Mark12345 is offline  
Old Aug 23rd, 2005, 02:46 PM
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Thanks for your notes Mark...very very helpful.

More questions: Other than booking a hotel before we arrive in Madrid (and perhaps for tickets to the Alhambra), do either of you (or anyone else) suggest that we book hotels in advance? In my thread regarding our Greece trip, many ppl were saying not to bother booking in advance. They said that given the time of year, we should have no problems finding plenty of places at reasonable prices.

What do you think??

Also, if we are going to take trains, do we need to book those in advance or can we just show up at the train station an hour before the train leaves and buy tickets?

Thanks again for all your collective help!!

Europe_Neophyte is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2005, 04:34 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,774
Madrid is NOT my favorite city but there are certainly a lot of things to see around town. Check out www.maribelsguides.com (a formerly very active fodorite) for her wonderful guides to Spain.

Also you might want to take it easy on the day you arrive to recover from jetlag.

Do not rent a car right away it will only be a burden if you want to spend time in Madrid. Pick it up on your way out of town. We drove from city to city and then parked the car and forgot about since it is useless in the old towns (Cordoba, Toledo, Granada,etc.). Nevertheless, we were very happy to have the car and not be restricted by the public transportation timetable between cities. Maybe you can take the AVE from Madrid to Sevilla and rent the car there.

In my opinion, the area around the Prado and Parque del Buen Retiro is a bit more refined/residential than around the Plaza Mayor so I would not dismiss it right away. Consider your personal preferences when selecting an area. Nearby Santa Ana district is also hopping. Distances in Madrid are very short and most 'attractions' are within walkable range. The Metro is superb.

I dont know how many museums you can take, but the Prado deserves a couple of hours. The Thyssen is great and the Reina Sofia is outstanding. The Palacio Real/Plaza del Oriente/Catedral de la Almudena are much visited places.There are two tiny museums which I find to be must sees: Convento de las Descalzas Reales and Museo Sorolla.

From Madrid you can take day trips to Avila (**), Segovia (***)or to El Escorial/Valle de los Caidos (1/2*). The Escorial is beautiful but I found the valley more disturbing than impressive and very eery! It would not be high on my priority list (I only made it out there on my 3rd trip to Spain).

Some people take Toledo (**) as a day trip from Madrid as well but I certainly found more than enough things to see spending 2d/1n there. But considering your 10 days I would not invest a night there.

Do not miss the Mezquita in Cordoba (***)! Sevilla (***)is amazing and does deserve two nights there. A lot of its magic is the experience of the old town and that takes a while to soak in.

I fell in love with Ronda (***), I was happy to be winging it because we decided to stay an additional night there just because we liked it so much! With your short stay I don't know if you can fit this in and still make it to Granada (***+). To me, the Alhambra is the escence of moorish Spain!

Spain is such a wonderful country that you cannot go wrong with whatever itinerary you choose.

marigross is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2005, 09:53 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 30
Hi Everyone,

These are all fabulous suggestions and great advice. I can't tell you all how helpful my husband and I have found everyone's posts here.

We will certainly consider the relative merits of train travel vs car travel. Given that neither hubby nor I speak much Spanish (virtually nil outside of cervesa por favor!), does anyone suggest one mode of transport over the other solely based on that??

Thanks again for all your input!
Europe_Neophyte is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2005, 04:21 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 257
"Re: Madrid: what do you mean when you say that the "action" is at the other end of town?"

I mean that this is where people tend to congregate, where the restaurants and nightlife is. It is the old part of town. Peublo del Sol is probably the social center of Madrid and this area is where the main shopping is.

The locals in Madrid liove their their late night stroll. Not just teenagers, but entire families will be out walking at 1:00 every night of the week.

Remember, things get going very late in Madrid. Resuarants don't even open until 8 or later and 10:00 is normal dinner time. Then people stroll around and maybe end up with a late night chocolate and churros, a local custom that you shouldn't miss. Chocolateria St Ginés is the place to go. I don't think that it even opens until midnight. Walking around Plaza Mayor and Puerto del Sol, which are very near one another,
metellus is offline  
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