Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Thoughts and suggestions on Guides and Walking Tours and Neighborhoods Oct 2024

Thoughts and suggestions on Guides and Walking Tours and Neighborhoods Oct 2024

Old Mar 19th, 2024, 03:21 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 65
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thoughts and suggestions on Guides and Walking Tours and Neighborhoods Oct 2024

Hi crew and as always. Thank you in advance for your thoughts and guidance.
To make the most our our visit to Spain and her sights I like to when it makes sense hire a guide, or join a small to medium size group .I have learned that wandering aimlessly unless its on casual a stroll is not the best use of our limited time, Here are our dates and cities and sites we would like to see. Where does it make sense to maximize our experience with a guide or group?

Land Madrid 10/3 early am
Madrid 4 nights: Taking in a bullfight either 10/4,5 or 10/6..this is flexible
10/3 midday Intro Tuk Tuk tour for a city and site location overview
10/4-10/6 open schedule to see Royal Palace,Prado,Plaza Mayor,El Retiro Park,explore markets (Malasana,San Miguel)

Seville 3 nights: arrive by train midday to early afternoon (have yet to check Renfe sched)
10/7-10/9 open schedule to see Alcazar,Plaza de Espana, Seville Cathedral and Giralda, Santa cruise district, Tirana district

Granada 3 nights arrive by train midday (have yet to check Renfe sched)
10/10-10/11
10/10 Royal Chapel .. free time
10/11 Alhambra 9:00..hired Alhambra tours for 3 hours of the complex

Barcelona 4 nights arrive 2:30pm flight from Granada (Sorry Bilbo)
possible Tuk Tuk city overview 10/12 afternoon
10/12-10/15 open schedule for Sagrada (am),Park Guel (pm),Barri( book these 2 same day) gothic walk,ramblas,Picasso Museo
Given we will be in Barcelona Sat-Tues are there any closures or must see or no must see days that will collide with crowds, closures or such.

I have someone booked for a 3 hour guide for Alhambra.Where else does it make sense to hire or join a group?

Maribel gave some suggestions for neighborhoods to look to stay (Thank you Maribel)
Any thoughts on accommodations?
Madrid-Barrio de la Letras
Seville-El Arenal
Granada-Close to Royal Chapel, Cathedral or Bib Rambla
Barcelona-Eixample district
We don't need luxury accommodations and prefer boutique hotel with breakfast where possible if not decent 3+/4 type hotel accommodations are fine

I did not include a Flamenco show but if we wanted to see one, show only, no dinner ,maybe we can take one in if there are any thoughts?
By the way we like modern Jazz /Jazz fusion and Rock (not the crazy stuff) if there are suggestions.

Thank you in advance and will be back for restaurant recommendations !

Don




downtown is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2024, 08:46 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 9,731
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We enjoyed this walking tour in Madrid very much: https://www.walksofspain.com.
KTtravel is offline  
Old Mar 20th, 2024, 01:05 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,012
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Here you can take a look at Madrid-Barrio de las Letras:
https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer...G2lzBlvQ77iSvY
Revulgo is offline  
Old Mar 20th, 2024, 01:51 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,017
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Don,
Jazz
If you stay in the Barrio de las Letras for sheer convenience and great walkability (many hotels from which to choose), for jazz, you'll be close to Café Central at Plaza del Angel.
Flamenco
In Sevilla I would go to Casa de la Memoria, well reviewed by Fodorites, and one of the first of the now 20+ flamenco venues in the city. It's small and intimate, no drinks or food served, just pure flamenco.
Accomodations
Without knowing your budget....a few boutique 4-stars that I know and like (where I've stayed at some point in the last.....years!) and other Fodorites as well...But please go to booking.com, check the reviews and especially the booking review score

Madrid, Barrio de las Letras:
  • Mercure Centro (former Lope de Vega)
  • Roommate Alba
  • NH Paseo del Prado
  • DoubleTree by Hilton Prado
  • Catalonia Las Cortes
  • Atocha Tapestry Collection by Hilton
Barcelona Eixample: (you can get sticker shock here)
  • Granados 83
  • Roommate Carla (or the other 3 Roommates in the Eixample)
  • Midmost by Majestic
  • Any H10 in the Eixample (very dependable chain)
  • Hotel Granvia
Granada downtown:
  • Gar Anat
  • Casa 1800
  • Eurostars Aurea Catedral
  • Eurostars Puerta Real
Sevilla Arenal:
  • Gravina 51
  • Casas de El Arenal
  • Vincci Molviedro
  • Vincci la Rábida
But I also like staying in Sevilla at the H10 Casa de la Plata, near the Plaza de la Encarnación, an excellent location with a local feel. There´s also the Cetina, where I haven't stayed but has been well reviewed here. I'm going to see it next week.

Where else does it make sense to join a group?
In Sevilla, I would use Concepción Delgado of Sevilla Walking Tours or one of her guides for an excellent walking tour, cathedral tour or Alcázar tour. She is great and is a Rick Steves guide (as is Granada's Margarita Ortiz de Landazuri, whom you've booked for the Alhambra; she also gives walking tours of downtown Granada) .

Toros
The line up (carteles) for the Feria de Otoño at Las Ventas isn't up yet. Keep checking https://www.las-ventas.com

Madrid markets
The Mercado de San Miguel is a tourist magnet; a hugely popular and always crowded gourmet food court, not a market where madrileños do their day-to-day food shopping. To explore a genuine food market, I'd head straight to the Mercado de Antón Martín. It's the real deal.

Sat-Tues Barcelona closures
Picasso Museum closed on Monday. La Boquería market closed on Sunday.

Last edited by Maribel; Mar 20th, 2024 at 02:32 AM.
Maribel is online now  
Old Mar 20th, 2024, 03:19 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,017
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
3-star Barcelona hotel in the Eixample: Jazz
3-star Madrid hotel in Las Letras: Ibis Styles Madrid Prado
3-star Sevilla hotel in El Arenal: Adriano
3-star Granada hotel downtown: Shine Albayzín
Maribel is online now  
Old Mar 20th, 2024, 10:19 AM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 65
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Rev.. Thanks for this awesome Map
downtown is offline  
Old Mar 20th, 2024, 10:20 AM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 65
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
KT..Appreciate this suggestion
downtown is offline  
Old Mar 20th, 2024, 10:22 AM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 65
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Maribel Thank you for taking the time to lay all of this out. Going to take some time to soak this all up. And the 3 star accommodations you highlighted in the next message. So much awesome info!

Don
downtown is offline  
Old Mar 20th, 2024, 10:31 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,017
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I´ve also had a food tour with Andrés of Walks of Spain. He took the two of us, me and my husband, on a private tour. His is a food and wine tour.
Maribel is online now  
Old Mar 21st, 2024, 05:28 AM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 65
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thx Maribel, I looked at the link KT attached. Looks interesting. I trust the experience represented good value and an enjoyable time for you?

Also, Correct me if I am wrong please, there is no direct train from Seville to Granada?
And
Any thoughts on guides or walking tours in Barcelona?
Thanks for your input

Don
downtown is offline  
Old Mar 21st, 2024, 05:43 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 4,518
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Don,
We stayed at two of the hotels that Maribel recommends. In Barcelona we stayed at the Hotel Granvia. Excellent location. Beautiful hotel. In 2010 the price was very reasonable. Eixample neighborhood is a great location. Very convenient to sites and beautiful architecture.

In Madrid we stayed at the Mercure Centro. Very convenient to the Prado, Reina Sofia, Thyssen, Retiro Park, etc. We walked to most places but we did take a taxi to the Royal Palace.

And there are direct trains to/from Seville and Granada. You can also check out ALSA buses. They are clean, very comfortable, modern and air conditioned.
KarenWoo is online now  
Old Mar 21st, 2024, 06:01 AM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 65
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi Karen.. Thank you for your assistance and suggestions..10/7 the day we travel from Seville to Granada, I do not see direct trains. Maybe I am doing something incorrectly on Renfe?
My approach for accommodations is to check the usual hotel consolidators and fine tune the neighborhood. Not sure if I will book direct or though the consolidator. You have thoughts on this?
Thanks

Don
downtown is offline  
Old Mar 21st, 2024, 08:51 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 4,518
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by downtown
Hi Karen.. Thank you for your assistance and suggestions..10/7 the day we travel from Seville to Granada, I do not see direct trains. Maybe I am doing something incorrectly on Renfe?
My approach for accommodations is to check the usual hotel consolidators and fine tune the neighborhood. Not sure if I will book direct or though the consolidator. You have thoughts on this?
Thanks

Don
Hi Don,
Regarding the train, I guess it depends on the date. First, I checked for tomorrow and there are 2 direct trains so I mistakenly assumed that was the case every day. Then I checked just now for October 7, and you are right. There is nothing direct. You have to make one change. Try the ALSA buses. When we visited Andalucia in 2017, the train tracks to/from Granada weren't finished yet so we used ALSA bus from Cordoba to Granada, and then again from Granada to Malaga. They are excellent! No complaints at all.

For hotel reservations, I do typically book with booking.com because of their cancellation policies. And because typically you don't have to pay when you book. But I also check the hotels' websites. If their rate is lower and their cancellation/payment policy is the same as booking.com, then I will book directly with the hotel.
KarenWoo is online now  
Old Mar 21st, 2024, 09:07 AM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 65
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Maribel
Did some searching and see in a previous post you mentioned to someone that most likely all the trains have not been posted yet.We are traveling Oct 7 Seville to Granada. I did what you did just searched next Monday and see the direct trains listed, Also I see in the post that ALSA is a reasonable alternative. Problem solved.

I however would still like to see about a walking tour or Guide for Barcelona to make use of most of our time there.Does it make sense for a guide for Sagrada and or Guel? Maybe a neighborhood walking tour. Your thoughts if you have any on this please.

When you book your accommodations do you use online sites for info then book direct?
And boy oh boy some accommodation prices are high!..I generally try to stay in the $175-$225 range with breakfast.
I'll be also looking at ABNB for Madrid and Barcelona..might be worth it there we'll have 4 nights each there
Thanks!

Don
downtown is offline  
Old Mar 21st, 2024, 09:41 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,017
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Yes there are direct trains called AVANTS but their schedules are only posted a couple of weeks in advance and they are cheaper than the AVES that requiere a train change in either Córdoba or Antequera. If you look at the Renfe schedule for tomorrow or Saturday, you’ll see the Sevilla-Córdoba AVANTs listed. They take 2 hours 33 minutes and the ride is DIRECT, priced at 47:20. Alsa bus costs 26 and takes 3 hours. www.alsa.es

I have a definite opinion on hotel booking in Spain, as I do this constantly. I do my research with Booking.com and check carefully the rating of each hotel (I’ m picky) and read through the reviews for items that are important to me, such as location, quiet, bed comfort, quality of breakfast (although we often just grab breakfast outside of our hotel, as we’ll do tomorrow in Córdoba).

Then I go directly to the hotel website and compare the rate to Booking’s. I have a “genious” discount on Booking, nevertheless, the hotel website rate is often equal or less than the Booking.com rate, especially if I join the hotel’s free frequent guest program, as is the case of tonight’s stay at the 4-star Palacio de Colomera, as I’m an H10 Club member and receive a small discount plus complimentary welcome drink and sometimes late check out privileges.

Yes the Alsa bus from Sevilla to Córdoba is also a good option and may have a better departure time. As mentioned above, It takes a bit longer but it’s also cheaper. I’ve done both bus and train.

I’ve taken the food and wine tour with Andrés of Walks of Spain. It’s not a walking tour of monuments but instead takes place in Old Madrid and is food/wine focused. Andrés took me (and husband) around on a private tour several years ago so that we could get to know his product. Unlike large corporate owned food/wine tours, he is a one man show, one of the first to offer these tours in Madrid.

For Barcelona I’ve used Forever Barcelona (full disclosure: the founder Marta is a friend), but the tours although excellent, are expensive.

I’ve seen several enthusiastic reports here about the “free tours” of Runner Bean, but I’ve never used them. Another full disclosure: several of my friends, including one who posts regularly here, are highly regarded professional tour guides, so naturally I use them. Professional tour guides have high standards, need to be licensed, undergo intense study and are the only ones that are allowed to take their clients into monuments to explain. But many folks do just fine with a city walking tour with one of the Free Tours groups, like Runner Bean or Guru Walks. It is customary to tip these guides, however and their company does charge them an amount for each of their participants. I would tip 20 euros if satisfied with the tour.

On another note the Tourist Board of Barcelona does offer walking tours of many, many different types.
See www.barcelonaturisme.com
Maribel is online now  
Old Mar 21st, 2024, 01:08 PM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 65
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Maribel. Wonderful information!. Thank you.Enjoy your stay and also thanks for taking the time to advise while you are away.
I will keep you up on my itinerary, I owe you that.

Don
downtown is offline  
Old Mar 22nd, 2024, 06:50 AM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 65
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks Karen. If I see a direct train I will book it. Otherwise I will Otherwise we are fine with the bus. Thanks for your input.

Don
downtown is offline  
Old Mar 23rd, 2024, 01:32 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,017
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Don,
A very important update!
Please do get those Cathedral-Mosque tickets online a day or two ahead. We arrived this morning at 10:30 am and found a very long line at the box office and although one can purchase tickets at the machines with credit card, the first available timed ticket was for 1:30 pm.
The crowds are tremendous leading up to Holy Week in Andalucía and I don’t expect them to be any lighter in September.

So….anyone headed to Córdoba this year, just get your Cathedral-Mosque tickets online!!
Maribel is online now  
Old Mar 24th, 2024, 04:20 AM
  #19  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 65
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Maribel
Thanks for the heads up. I don't believe we will be headed to Cordoba Our trip is set for 10/2-10/16.I've secured our Alhambra tix and a tour with Margarita. I'm working on the Alcazar with guide and other venues I will need a ticket in advance to such as Sagrada and Park Guel. For Sagrada and Park Guel I may use a Rick Steve's Audio. Have you ever used his audio guides?

Don

downtown is offline  
Old Mar 24th, 2024, 10:49 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,017
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Si no, I haven’t used his audio guides, but they get good reviews from other posters.

If you can secure a guided tour with Concepción Delgado of Seville Walking Tours, she’s great and also does tours for Rick Steves. We’re in Sevilla right now and the city is packed with visitors for Holy Week, so you may want to secure a walking tour in advance.
As I’ve said on this forum often, there’s really no slow season anymore in Sevilla.

So happy that you’ve secured an Alhambra tour with Margarita
Maribel is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -