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The Train In Spain And Maybe Take A Plane?

The Train In Spain And Maybe Take A Plane?

Old Apr 3rd, 2014, 04:34 PM
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Great, we are going to go to Spain one of these upcoming years, and I could use a good plan. Look forward to seeing yours evolve.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2014, 04:44 PM
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BTW, I wouldn't drive into Toledo. I parked my rental car in a free lot by the bus terminal outside the walls and took the bus or taxi to get back and forth. I'm not afraid of tiny, narrow streets but I really doubt that my GPS would have found my hotel in Toledo and those streets were very, very narrow!!!
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Old Apr 3rd, 2014, 04:52 PM
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I'm going to put in a vote against more time in Madrid. I didn't find it that different from the other cities, I didn't find the palace that interesting, and I found the art museums too heavy on Madonnas and martyrs.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2014, 04:55 PM
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I would do it this way:


Barcelona
Train to Madrid for x nights -- day trip to Toledo
train to Sevilla for x nights (day trip to Cordoba)
Rent car, make way to Granada, on to Cuenca
Last night in Madrid (having gotten rid of car)
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Old Apr 3rd, 2014, 04:59 PM
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PS: I think thursdaysd went to the wrong museums in Madrid. You can look online at the collections and see the art prizes of Madrid are not Madonnas and martyrs -- unless you consider Goya's and Picasso's political paintings depictions of martyrs. I don't like palaces period so I'll refrain from comment there but the joy of Madrid is its nightlife and food if you are not a museumgoer. So if those things put together don't interest you than you are wise to limit your time in Madrid other than using as a good base (with great food at night) for visiting other places.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2014, 05:08 PM
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I was raised in LA and can understand the attraction/dependence on a car (we now live near San Francisco). We rented a car in Spain for several days on our '12 and '13 trips - and regretted it. In both years, we either returned the car early and in a different city, or picked it up a day later. In 4+ years total time-on-the-ground in Europe - we've never done this "shortened" car thing before.

We've spent at least 2 months vacationing in Europe every year since we retired early in '99 so we could travel more. Compared to what we've visited in France & Italy (where we've spent most of our time) - we didn't think the Spanish countryside was nearly as interesting/scenic. But the cities were fantastic - especially Barcelona, Madrid, and Sevilla. Toledo and Salamanca were enjoyable also. Cadiz was the "surprise" of the cities we visited.

We spent 3 nights in Granada and 2 nights in Cordoba - and thought that was fine. Actually, if the Alhambra and Mezquita were not there - we would only give these cities a B-. IMO, if you got to Granada early and did a night thing at the Alhambra in addition to a day visit - two nights would work.

Stu Dudley
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Old Apr 3rd, 2014, 05:16 PM
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>>Spanish countryside was nearly as interesting/scenic<<

Around the Madrid area and Granada to Cadiz.

Pyrenees were quite scenic - but not as scenic as the French side, IMO.

Stu Dudley
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Old Apr 3rd, 2014, 05:49 PM
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Spanish countryside - I think the more scenic bits are in the north, along parts of the coasts, and of course, the Pyrenees.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2014, 06:45 PM
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I'm also a sucker for a car and had I known about the places Robert wrote about I might have done things differently. Like you, we thought we needed to do as much as we could on our short two week trip because we didn't expect to ever get back to that neck of the woods again.

We started in Barcelona for a few days, took an overnight train to Granada (glad we did it but it's a one and done thing for us) for 2 nights, rented a car and drove around the white villages of Andalusia for 3 days (stayed in Ronda which we loved), drove to Seville (dropped the car at the train station) for 2 days then took a train to Madrid and stayed with friends for a few days before flying home. We stopped in Cordoba on our way to Madrid, stored our luggage at the train station and toured the Mezquita for a few hours before continuing on to Madrid. We also went to Toledo as a day trip from Madrid.

We rushed around quite a bit but had a good time and were glad we did everything that we did. The bonus for us was staying with friends in Madrid - we had a great time and really enjoyed the city, the wild nightlife, some great restaurants and the museums. Can't wait to read your trip report!
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Old Apr 3rd, 2014, 07:02 PM
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"and I found the art museums too heavy on Madonnas and martyrs"

Strange, to say the least when referring to Madrid's three main museums, the Thyssen-Bornemisza, Prado and Reina Sofía. And lets not forget the outstanding Sorolla Museum, among others. I don't think you'll find many martyrs at the Royal Tapestry Factory or Railway Museums.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2014, 08:23 PM
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The following are excerpts from a trip report from a few years ago regarding The Thyssen and Reina Sofia. Of course certain may have been moved or on loan. But you get the essence of the visits.

Reina Sofia

The Museum is across the street from the busy Atocha Station. The building looks like an amalgam of different uses with the elevators added on the outside while the inside varies from an now enclosed cloister to an office building.
There are two floors of permanent exhibits the 2nd and 4th and both are Spanishcentric.
The 4th floor is filled with post war Spanish artist with a Motherwell thrown in. The second floor has the name brands-Picasso, Dali, Gris, Miro, occasionally interrupted by a Kandinsky, Magritte, or Tanguy. They do have an exceptional collection of photographs particularly Man Ray’s silver gelatins including those of his friends Bunel, Dali, and Andre Breton. There are also photos of the Spanish Civil War some which were taken by Robert Capa.

The Dalis remind us that he was a brilliant, inventive craftsman who added thoughtful and quirky touches. There are pieces from his twenties to his nineties. The later paintings demonstrate a simplicity toward his work,

The focal point of the museum is Guernica and the attendant studies. There is great controversary even now whether it should have been moved from an annex of the Prado. To me, this is a family fight. It remains one of the greatest pieces of art, an unapologetic anti-war statement.

Other pieces I found interesting were:

Daniel Vazquez Diaz, La Fabrica Dormida (1925). It is at once both very industrial and dreamy.
Sculpture by Julio Lopez Hernandez, Pareja de Artesano (1965). It is older couple in front of a workbench filled with tools. It is made from wood, polyester and The detail of the faces, clothes, and tools is wonderful.
Eduardo Arroyo, Madrid-Paris-Madrid (1965). This is a two panel work which depicts the artist leaving Madrid as a clown returning to Madrid from Paris, as basically the same artist but personally more sophisticated. Very clever.

Thyssen
I went to the Thyssen Museum which is in a renovated palacio. The walls where the collection is hung are salmon colored (I guess they can turn into the world’s largest restaurant if things go bad.) The lighting is a combination of indirect natural lighting and electric. Those paintings that have glass have a glare. Although the collection is arranged chronologically, the works are laid out on both sides of a corridor with rooms off the corridor. You look like a drunk as you zig zag across the hall. I also lost track of what I saw in the rooms and did not see. The guards are always speaking in knots, so I think we can conspire to borrow a few paintings.
It is hard to believe that a family who started the collection in the 1920’s amassed so many pieces. They start in the 1300’s and proceed through the late 20th century. There are Dutch masters, impressionists, and a number of Americans including Sloan, Homer, and Copley. They seemed fond of the Hudson River School of art and befriended Lucian Freud.

Some of my favorites are:

Hugo Erfurth with Dog by Otto Dix (1913)
Carl Lee Schmidt by Oskar Kokoshka (1911)
Corner House by Ludwig Meidner (1913)
And the wittiness of Max Ernst

We can also blame Ferninad Bol for painting Young Man with Feather (1647)
It is probably the first known portrait of the idiotic pose that many writers are given to these days, with one finger across the chin and the rest of the fist supporting the chin.

There was also one called Reclining Nude Shepherdess by Berthe Morisot (1891). I may be wrong, but I don’t think you see too many reclining naked shepherdesses.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2014, 08:42 PM
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We've been to the Thyssen at least a dozen times in the last ten years, always for the special exhibits. We just saw the Cézanne and the Darío de Regoyos special collections a few weeks ago. Cézanne is running through the 18th of May.

We also where able to see the special collection of Mirós from the collection of the Reina Sofía here in Seattle last Saturday, some we had seen before in Madrid, but others where from the private collections and assembled by the Reina Sofía for the tour.

The Reina Sofía in Madrid houses Picasso's Guernica, making it well worth a visit in itself.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2014, 11:51 PM
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"I doubt if I will ever get near this area again"

My reaction to the realization that I might never return to an area seems quite different than yours: Rather than trying to cram it all in (my take on your itinerary), that realization makes me want to maximize the time I have to actually see and experience the places that I choose to see, while minimizing the time spent traveling between places (unless, of course, the point of the journey IS the time in transit). Rather than spend my time skimming the surface, making tough choices about what to see and what to skip in any place I do visit, and spending time getting from place to place, I choose to skip some places entirely, even if I am sure I would enjoy them. I’m most likely to skip or skimp on places that have international airports, because those are the ones that I can most readily visit again. Another argument for my approach: If I am mistaken, and if I can return to the region, the LAST thing I want to do is spend all that time re-tracing all that extra travel time so that I can go back and finally see the things I skipped the first time. In fact, I might end up not returning specifically because it would mean wasting so much time going from place to place!

I’m not trying to say that my choice is right for you – I’m just offering my thoughts on the matter.
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Old Apr 4th, 2014, 05:51 AM
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I think you should spend a few more days in Seville, a city which I absolutely love. I recently went there for the second time and spent 5 days there. My decision to return was based on the presence of my daughter who is spending a semester abroad there. Even though I had already seen a lot of the city, Seville has so much to offer. It was wonderful to just wander the streets of this beautiful city and of course the food is fantastic.

I don't know if May is set in stone but Feria in 2016 is towards the end of April. This is a huge annual celebration in Seville. On the other hand you might prefer to avoid the crowds.
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Old Apr 4th, 2014, 07:45 AM
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Córdoba in May is often a good idea, the whole month is more or less one long traditional Andalusian festival. May starts with the Cruces de Mayo/May Crosses festival (all of Andalucía), then on to some two weeks of the famous patio festival before May ends with the flamenco inspired Fería de Córdoba, a smaller version of the Feria de Abril in Sevilla. http://www.andalucia.com/cities/cordoba/festivals.htm

May Crosses: http://www.andalucia.com/festival/maycrosses.htm
Patio festival: http://www.andalucia.com/cities/cordoba/patios.htm
Feria de Córdoba: http://www.cordoba24.info/english/html/feria.html
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Old Apr 4th, 2014, 07:46 AM
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You guys have made great suggestions, and from them I have come to one conclusion…I'm even more confused about my Spain strategy, but also that I am really excited about visiting.

As my dad used to say…"There's the right, the wrong way and Tom's way." That usually means we'll screw up along the way, but that always makes for some funny memories as long as we don't get ourselves killed.

As far as "cramming" a lot into our itinerary, we don't see it that way. We certainly go at a fast pace (faster than most, I presume), but we always have plenty of time to enjoy wherever we visit (see any of our trip reports). We pretty well know what we want to see before we get there and don't miss very much, so I don't believe we skim the surface (I don't need to spend five hours at the Picasso Museum studying his paintings).

We usually take early trains or drive early, so transit time is also not a factor. When we drive, we usually find interesting places along the way to visit, as well. In all our trips, I don't think we have ever "wasted" time (ok, maybe that day and a half visiting Aix-en-Provence was a waste).

Maybe we'll return to Spain…maybe not. I have no idea how many years of travel like this I have left, and I have a lot of other places I'd like to travel, so I'm going to soak up as much of Spain as I can on this trip. If I miss an art museum or flamenco show along the way, so be it.

Thanks again for all the suggestions, and I'm sure I'll only have a couple of dozen more questions before we depart (geez, I still have a 20th anniversary trip to Paris this autumn to plan out).

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Old Apr 4th, 2014, 04:24 PM
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From the trip reports you've written that I've read, I don't think you have typically skimmed the surface of places in the past.

I'm sure you'll have a great trip no matter what you decide. And I'm sure you'll make us laugh when you tell us about your adventures.
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Old Apr 4th, 2014, 04:58 PM
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kja…one of your comments made me ponder something today (and I seldom ponder except as to why I still root for the Padres). You wrote, "unless, of course, the point of the journey IS the time in transit…" I've been thinking about all our trips today, and amazingly we've had a number of memorable events during our time in transit. I'd never, ever thought about it before. It's really interesting (well, to me anyway). I might start a post on this (you'll get the credit). Thanks for the comments!

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Old Apr 4th, 2014, 05:14 PM
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I'm glad you found it interesting and worth pondering! I've definitely had some memorable moments while in transit, often unplanned ones. And I have planned some small segments of trips around journeys where the point of those segments was the transit (e.g., train or boat rides) -- which is, of course, a somewhat different thing. I haven't yet taken any of the long transit-as-a-main-focus trips (e.g., the Trans Siberian Railway), but look forward to the day I do!
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Old Apr 4th, 2014, 05:31 PM
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I agree with you, Tom, rent a car for some of your trip. We did a similar trip going to most of the places you are planning and had a car and loved driving. There's nothing like the freedom of going where you want and when. Some of the best experiences pop up when driving.
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