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Thoughts on itinerary for Spain UNESCO site rally

Thoughts on itinerary for Spain UNESCO site rally

Old Dec 27th, 2008, 08:37 AM
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Thoughts on itinerary for Spain UNESCO site rally

We are in the very early stages of planning a (last minute) trip to Spain for February 2009. Initially we had planned on just DH, myself and our 8 month old (in Feb.) daughter going and we were planning to do some things in Madrid then head down to Zafra (per Josele’s wonderful suggestion) to base at the parador and explore the Extramudera area. Over Christmas dinner with extended family the conversation (the only “safe” thing I could think to bring up as a political debate was brewing) turned to UNESCO World Heritage Sites visited. DH and I began a list on our honeymoon (Evora) of the ones we have hit around the world and always try to get more in wherever we go with a goal of seeing them all! Suddenly the trip has blossomed/exploded into including my parents, my in-laws, my brother and his fiancée, my DH’s aunt and possibly my aunt and into a tour of UNESCO Sites in Spain. The only way to do this and keep my sanity is to do it as a rally of sorts. We will all fly into Madrid, base there for a few days then rent cars (two or three to a car…no vans after the Normandy affair a few years ago) and head out with a goal of a stopping point each night that everyone will meet up at, but people can go at their own pace, see what they choose along the way or see nothing and speed to the next destination. Everyone in the group actually enjoys driving so this will work fine (plus my DH and I and my parents are thinking about doing an organized rally in Argentina in a few years so this will be fun for us).

DH and I will have two weeks (firm and cannot be lengthened) so if others want to go on at the end then that is fine but I am making an itinerary for 13 days only. Whew…all that being said I am wondering what some of the experts thoughts are on the following VERY ROUGH itinerary. Please note that I have not determined how many days to devote to each area as I don’t know how much time I will have. With this group it will be better to keep on the move rather than have too much downtime but then again I don’t want to get everyone too tired out particularly in the beginning. Also several including DH and I have been to Spain and seen the biggies (Madrid, Sevilla, Granada, etc.). I know I will absolutely have to remove several things but I am wondering which. I have included the cities in the order I am thinking about doing them plus the sites we would want to absolutely hit in each (UNESCO sites). We would like to add things as time/energy levels permits (this is the benefit of the “rally” idea) Any thoughts?

Arrive in Madrid (Aranjuez Cultural Landscape, Monastery and Site of the Escurial)
Daytrip to Alcala de Henares (University and Historic Precinct of Alcalá de Henares)
Segovia (Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct)
Avila (Old Town of Ávila with its Extra-Muros Churches)
Salamanca (Old City of Salamanca)
Caceres (Old Town of Cáceres)
Merida (Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida)
Daytrip to Guadalupe (Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe)
Sevilla (Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville)
Daytrip to Doñana National Park
Cordoba (Historic Centre of Cordoba)
Ganada (Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín)
Ubeda & Baeza (Renaissance Monumental Ensembles of Úbeda and Baeza)
Toledo (Historic City of Toledo)
Cuenca (Historic Walled Town of Cuenca)

If it were only DH and I then I would remove Sevilla and Granada as we have already been, but half the group really wants to see the Alhambra as part of the trip and Sevilla is so close that it seems a shame not to just throw it in there. If we don’t see Donana National Park while in Sevilla then when will we ever get there? I am thinking about leaving the towns north of Madrid for another trip when we can go north to Santiago de Compostela but DH really wants to see Salamanca.

Any thoughts would be tremendously welcome!!!!
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Old Dec 28th, 2008, 02:01 AM
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This itinerary is too ambitious for a single trip. You could try it if you were travelling alone and ready (and fit)to run, but I think it is not possible in group.
First I would split: One possibility including Segovia, Ávila, Salamanca, Cáceres, Mérida, Guadalupe, and maybe include Sevilla or Cordoba (much more to see in Seville).
Another possibility including Alcalá, Cuenca, Toledo, Úbeda-Baeza, Córdoba and Granada.
Locations may look close in the map, but they are not, believe me. Then you have to add extra time to find your hotel.
Think about it.
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Old Dec 28th, 2008, 05:54 AM
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als0107 writes (in pertinent part): "Arrive in Madrid (Aranjuez Cultural Landscape, Monastery and Site of the Escurial)..." Escorial and Aranjuez are in opposite directions from Madrid. It would be difficult to cover both in one day.
"... Daytrip to Alcalá de Henares (University and Historic Precinct of Alcalá de Henares)..." Don't leave out the Juderia in Alcalá. It's still a thriving commercial area.
In Alcalá, you will find Storks on every chimney; and just off the Courtyard of the Complutense there's a bookstore where you can buy souveniers. I still have a sun shield (cardboard) with scenes from Alcalá in my car.
"...Daytrip to Doñana National Park ..." If you make it to the Doñana wildlife refuge, I recommend a stop at the Santuario de la Virgen del Rocio on the west edge of the Refuge south of Almonte: big happenings there Pentecost Sunday when a million Pilgrims make their way there as part of the Feria del Campo

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Old Dec 28th, 2008, 07:32 AM
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When you plan your trip further north there are more UNESCO sites then the few you have written about, Lugo, the Roman mines etc. Galicia wants to add a few more to the list so hopefully by the time you plan your next trip more can be included.
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Old Dec 28th, 2008, 10:45 AM
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I agree that way too much.
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Old Dec 28th, 2008, 11:03 AM
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Two I would not leave out are Toledo and Merida. Both are small/compact enough to enjoy as a short visit. The cathedral at Toledo is esp. nice.
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Old Dec 28th, 2008, 12:36 PM
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I agree with Josele this itinerary is way way too ambitious for one trip. To me each destination is a jewel.
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Old Dec 28th, 2008, 12:57 PM
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As usual, I completely agree with Graziella!
Way, way too much to capture in that time frame.
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Old Dec 28th, 2008, 08:19 PM
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I understand absolutely that this is way too much to do in one trip. I think my original post was not written clearly...wish I could blame that on too much eggnog but alas no just poor writing. We are definately going to trim it up and cut things out. I am just wondering you all's thoughts on where to trim. With the idea that we like to see the UNESCO sites and not just spend a lot of down time in one or two places. My thoughts as of today are to eliminate Salamanca/Avila/Segovia and go from Madrid (2-3 days) to Zafra and overnight there for 3-4 nights then go to Cordoba and on to Granada then up to either Cuenca or Ubeda/Baeza then fly back out of Madrid. Granada will definately only be one night and day as half the group has been there previously and the other half is just going to have to see it quickly because it is on their "must do" list.

I was not saying I wanted to do that whole list, just that those are the UNESCO sites in the general area we would like to visit and which could you see reasonably fitting into an itinerary.

Perhaps I am still not clear forgive me...6 month old daughter is on a teething sleep strike these last few days and I am delirious.
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Old Dec 28th, 2008, 08:25 PM
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Hi als0107,
Your new idea sounds much more manageable; from Madrid to Zafra to Córdoba to Ubeda/Baeza (rather than Cuenca, which just doesn't fit) then back to Madrid.
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Old Apr 6th, 2009, 07:16 PM
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Thank you everyone for your comments and suggestions. I am finally able to take some time to write a trip report and will be posting in the next few days but I wanted to thank you here too for your advice.

We ended up with the following itinerary:
Madrid (three nights) with daytrip to Aranjuez
Stop at El Escorial on the way to Segovia
Segovia (two nights)
Stop in Avila on way to Guadalupe
Guadalupe
Zafra
Sevilla (two nights)
Cordoba
Baeza
(Some then went on to Granada then Cuenca then back to Madrid but DH and I drove from Baeza to Barcelona due to a wacky flight home and necessity of getting home for an appointment).

It was actually a great trip for us even though it may be ambitious for some and doing it in seperate cars allowed me not to kill my in-laws before the trip was over. DD was able to nap in the car and none of the drives were too far each day. We saw some beautiful countryside (the drive from Avila to Guadalupe was probably my favorite) where we would like to rent a house on a future trip.

Thank you again for all your advise and I will post a report soon.
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