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Trip Report - Sevilla, Granada, Estepona

Old Jun 29th, 2005, 02:29 PM
  #1  
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Trip Report - Sevilla, Granada, Estepona

Just returned from a two week trip to London, Spain, and Milan! I spent a little over a week in Spain in Sevilla, Granada, and Estepona. I'm going to try and organize the info so it's a bit easier to sort through. Hope it helps!

Sevilla -

Hotels:
Hotel Alminar - I cannot say enough about this hotel. A 3-star located VERY close to the Cathedral, I have never experienced this amount of service in my life (and I work for a hotel). I had made a mistake in my reservations and did not confirm my first two nights in the hotel. When I arrived at the hotel, they assisted me in finding another hotel in the same area that was the same price. When I needed tickets to Granada? They helped me get them. When I needed to figure out how I was going to get into the Alhambra without prior reservations? They made phone calls to get more info. Aside from the service, the hotel is brand new (opened in March I believe) and the rooms are very clean and modern. It truly was a pleasure to stay at this hotel and I have and will recommend it to everyone who travels to Sevilla. www.hotelalminar.com

Las Casas de las Mercaderes - Stayed here the two nights I couldn't stay at Alminar. Nice hotel not too far from the Cathedral. Moderately priced with a FANTASTIC breakfast(best spread I've seen at a hotel, especially since it was included in the price of the room!). The rooms were in serious need of an update though and a bit too far from the center of everything for me.


Sights:
Casa de Pilatos - Had not visited here my last trips to Sevilla, so I made it a point to go there. 8 euros and you get access to the whole place including a tour of the upstairs. IMO, the tilework was more impressive (probably due to their vibrance) than both the Alcazar and the Alhambra. There was also an original Goya upstairs. I'm very glad I finally saw it, but felt it was a bit small to have spent 8 euros. When I went, there were hardly any people so there were plenty of great photo opps.

Alcazar - My favorite part of Sevilla (and it doesn't hurt that students get in for free ) Definitely not to be missed. I can pass on museums and cathedrals after a while, but I don't think I'll ever get enough of the beautiful fountains and gardens that are so abundant in Spain. It got very hot in the afternoon so if you go when it's warm, be sure to bring a large bottle of water (although I did see some people sneak in with a bottle of wine for a picnic ) I always leave myself plenty of time to sit in the shade of the trees and smell the lavender when I visit.

Cathedral - As I said before, once was enough for me to the Cathedral, but that's just simply because it's not what I prefer. It truly is amazing and I've never seen so much gold before in my life. The views from La Giralda were fantastic. A lovely place (and I was able to sneak in from the side a couple times during the morning).

Plaza de España - The fountain is finally open again!! I've seen a lot of improvement in the tilework since I visited last October, so it's nice to know they're working hard to restore it.

Real Maestranza (The Bullring) - They have tours daily (every 1/2 hour?) in both English and Spanish for 4 euros. I really enjoyed it (and will take that as a substitute to see the actual bullfight).

Parque de Maria Luisa - If you feel like taking a stroll, this is a lovely park with lots of fantastic fountains (yay!). Not a good place to walk through at night, but definitely lovely during the day.

Aire de Sevilla - Not really a 'sight' but if you're in need of some relaxation or just want to see what it's all about, for 24 euros you can use the thermal baths, and have a 15 minute massage. A bit of a splurge if you're on a budget, but I really enjoyed it. There were hardly any other people there so it was nice to have the baths to myself. I was there for about 2 hours total. I'm sorry I can't give a better description...check out www.airedesevilla.com or I can answer any specific questions you may have.

Flamenco -
I'm a dancer (studied flamenco for a year as well) and so I can be quite picky. My suggestion would be to go to La Casa de la Memoria on Ximinez de Enciso. It doesn't have the 'comedy club' feel and is not as expensive as some of the other tablaos in the area. Arrive at least a half an hour early to get a seat in the front, or stand up in the back. More genuine than any of the other shows I went to and not as much of a spectacle.

I'm not a big restaurant person so I'm not one to suggest restaruants...however, if you're looking for sangria? Carmela on Sta. Maria La Blanca (right down the street from Hotel Alcantara and La Casa de la Memoria) has THE BEST sangria IMO. I truly believe it's something my blood was missing


Transportation:
To/From the airport (SVQ), you can take a shuttle that stops in the Puerta de Jerez for 2,30 euros. Obviously double-check the schedule, but it runs about every 30/45 mins. VERY easy to take and saves about 15/20 euros rather than taking a taxi. You get tickets on the bus.

I took the train to Granada (19,10). Very easy as well.

Granada coming soon...
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Old Jun 29th, 2005, 03:58 PM
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Ian
 
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Is Carmela on Sta. Maria La Blanca - the one in the small plaza with the fountain? In the shade of the Alcazar walls? If so, their Sangria is good, because I sampled it too.

Sounds like you had a great time.

Ian
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Old Jun 29th, 2005, 04:54 PM
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Kalikiana, Glad you enjoyed Alcazar and the Alhambra. I LOVE the Alcazar and the beautiful gardens. We went on the bullfight tour rather than the actual bullfight also. I wasn't too sure that the bull fight was something I wanted to see. Am waiting for the rest of your post!
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Old Jun 29th, 2005, 05:34 PM
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Kalikana-

Thanks for the info. I'm planning for my own trip to Spain in October.
Tell me more about the Hotel Alimar.
Did you like your room? What kind of view did it have? Did you have a single, standard or superior room? Any idea what the difference is between the standard and superior rooms? How was the breakfast?
Sorry for asking so many questions, but I'm trying to find the perfect hotels for myself and my (slightly picky) mother. ;-)

Thanks!
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Old Jul 1st, 2005, 06:11 AM
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I loved my room at Hotel Alminar. I had a single for the last time I was there, but it was a double the other two times. I'm honestly not sure of the difference between the two types of doubles. The rooms that I was in (22, 12, and 11) all had views of the street (Alvarez Quintero). It is located VERY close to the Cathedral so I kept my windows open and had my wakeup call every morning at 9:30 when the bells rang. The first floor has small balconies on the rooms (really just large enough to step out on, not to sit or anything) but I enjoyed being able to people watch from there. The rooms were a good size (the doubles were pretty standard, and the single was large compared to any others I stayed in on my trip) and the rooms were very clean and modern. The breakfast left something to be desired...very plain, just croissants juice, coffee, etc. I think there's a terrace on the roof where you can sit as well, however I did not go up there (I would have liked to, but I just forgot!)

There are pictures of the rooms on the website as well. www.hotelalminar.com

Hope this helps!
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Old Jul 1st, 2005, 10:53 AM
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Kalikiana-
Thanks! Now, how about more info on Granada? Did you stay there as well?
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Old Jul 2nd, 2005, 09:47 AM
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Nice segue to my Granada report... I was only there for about 24 hours, really just to see the Alhambra before going to Estepona for a few days.

Hotel:
Hotel Guadalupe - If you're going to just see the Alhambra, this is the place to stay. It's located practically across the street from the entrance. However, if you're going to be there for a few days, it would get to be a bit of a pain going up and down the hill to town. See, the Alhambra is situated on a hill and the town is at the foot of the hill. There are busses that go inbetween, but I'd still suggest staying somewhere down the hill if you're going to be there for a couple days. I would definitely recommend Hotel Guadalupe though, it was very nice and I thought it was a great deal. Breakfast was not included but they had a restaurant on site. They also had a little bar downstairs in the lobby and a computer that guests could use for free. I believe it was less than 7eu to get from the train station to the hotel.

The Alhambra -
Simply beautiful. I had not reserved tickets online (did it too late) so I was quite nervous about going. Definitely reserve ahead of time if you can. The ticket booths open at 8am and so I went at 7 to stand in line to get day-of tickets (since they only give a certain amount of those out). There were only 4 other people in front of me so I got tickets no problem. I've heard horror stories of long cues waiting for tickets but I didn't have any problem getting in, nor did the people who were coming in later than I did. I'm very glad I went early though, we got some great pictures without a lot of tourists. Went to the Nasrid Palaces first, then through the Genaralife (gardens) and the Alcazaba (fortress). We were done in about 3 hours. There are places all over the Alhambra to get somethin to eat and plenty of places to rest in the shade when it gets hot.

I'll try and clarify for the tickets since it can be a bit confusing when you buy them:
You can either go in the morning, the afternoon, or the night. Your ticket lets you in during either the morning, afternoon, or night...but there is a time on the ticket which is for the Nasrid palaces only. You can go through the rest of the Alhambra at any time, before or after. The only thing you're on a set schedule for is the Nasrid palaces. And even that, if your ticket says 8:30, you can be in there as long as you want, you just have to enter at a specific time. BUT make sure you leave yourself time to get to the palaces on time since it is a bit of a walk from the entrance. It's not as complicated as people think...you either go in the morning, afternoon, or evening, and then you have a specific time to go to the Nasrid Palaces. And here I thought it was all complicated...
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Old Jul 3rd, 2005, 04:49 AM
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The hotel in Granada looks great too! Thanks for the info.
Estepona is someplace I know nothing about. Looking forward to hearing more...
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Old Jul 3rd, 2005, 07:14 AM
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Nice to know you had such a good time What happened in Estepona ? Did you finally like it ? I'm waiting forward the rest of the trip .
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Old Jul 4th, 2005, 07:34 PM
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Thanks so much for the information on flamenco in Seville, which is a real love for me. I really appreciate the information coming from a dancer and will file this away for next visit.

Also am curious about Estepona as we drove by there but didn't stop.
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Old Jul 8th, 2005, 08:45 PM
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Sorry for the delay on Estepona, but here goes:

Hotel:
Hotel Aguamarina - Very happy with this hotel. 2 blocks from the beach, at a very affordable price (48eu/single). The room was very large and had a little balcony as well. Also very close to the bus station, which was an unexpected plus! Breakfast was included and was in the restaurant of the hotel. Had a bit of trouble making reservations at the hotel as they did not answer their email in a very timely manner...but somehow managed to make the reservation.

Now, Estepona itself...I enjoyed my time there, but as far as beautiful beaches go...not on the top of the list. There is just so much construction that it's kinda hard to have your breath taken away. I didn't mind because I just wanted to go to the beach every day, but...yeah. I was there for the festival de san juan--very cool. Just a big beach party, lots of bonfires and barbeques. At midnight it's good luck to jump over the bonfire and into the water. There was also a town market one of the mornings I was there...it was pretty much just one huge flea market with everything from clothes to jewelry to produce to pottery, etc...but I did buy 1k of cherries for 1,50. I had a tough time finding the place as it was a ways away from the beach. I went to Palm Beach, one of the beach bars a couple times and really enjoyed it. It had a younger staff and I think they have salsa nights every week or something. Didn't try any of the food though, just went for the atmosphere.

I went to check out Marriott's Playa Andaluza...what a construction zone. I was very unimpressed. I'm happy with where I stayed. In the middle of pretty much everything, VERY close to the beach, it worked for me.

Not too much else, I really just used Estepona to truly relax on the beach this trip. Nothin fancy.

Mission accomplished.
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