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Trip to Spain

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Jun 1st, 2012, 06:02 PM
  #1
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Trip to Spain

My husband, daughter and her husband are going to Spain on September 10th. We will be in Madrid for 3 nights and then train or plane to Barcelona for 4 nights. Which is the best way to travel from Madrid to Barcelona, high speed train or plane? Our only plans for now are a day trip to Toledo while we are in Madrid (is it worth it? Lots to see?) and a day trip from Barcelona to Montserrat. ( is this worth it) There are so many places to visit and Spain is such a big country. I have read practicallly every tour book printed and still am confused. If you have any suggestions on what to do in Madrid and Barcelona please give us your suggestions. We are a retired couple and my daughter and her husband are 40ish. We like scenery, churches, some museums and just walking through the cities. Any comments are greatly appreciated. Thank you.
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Jun 1st, 2012, 07:00 PM
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I prefer taking the train ..from center to center
it is more expensive than flying unless you can get Web discount on RENFE .
Toledo is a lovely city - easy to get to
I have visited Barcelona several times but never made it toMontserrat
always found so much to do and admire in the city.
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Jun 1st, 2012, 07:44 PM
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I prefer the train as well.

The museums in Madird are spectacular, but the art you want to see in Barcelona is in the streets and in the architecture. You are making a wise decision to limit your week stay to two cities.

We have not been to Monterrat in many years, but my memory is that was not a highlight. Go to the top of Montjuic.
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Jun 1st, 2012, 07:45 PM
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As noted, the train goes from city center to city center, so, regardless of price, the train is the most convenient option when traveling from Madrid to Barcelona unless you are looking to make a connecting flight at Madrid-Barajas airport.

As far as sightseeing goes, you might want to take a look at some of Maribel's Guides (www.maribelguides.com) to get a better handle of what to see and do.
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Jun 1st, 2012, 07:48 PM
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Oh you're in for such a treat! Madrid is a great city with lots to do and yummy food. Museo Sorolla is fantastic. Sorolla's wife left their house to the country after he died, and it has an incredible garden with beautiful tile work and fountains. His paintings and home are lovely. You and your daughter might enjoy shopping for some fun espadrille sandals at Casa Hernanez, which is on Calle Toledo - right off of Plaza Mayor, while the boys have a "cerveza" at one of the cafes. Mercado San Miguel isn't too far from there, and it's a pleasure to walk around to try different tapas and pasteries. Cava Baja is an excellent street for tapas. The walk around Plaza Oriente and the Royal Palace is really nice. I found the Prado to be quite overwhelming, so I suggest just focusing on the major masterpieces. I went to a bullfight at Plaza de Torros, but left after the first bull was killed because although I was prepared for the outcome, the drawn out cruelty of the kill was quite hard to stomach. The opening pageantry and matador's testing of the bull's strength and aggressiveness is worth seeing, so you can always do what I did and buy the cheapest ticket possible so that it's no big deal if you want to leave. Haven't been to Barcelona, so can't help there, but I think you'll love Spain.
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Jun 1st, 2012, 07:50 PM
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You like churches? You are in for a treal treat! You will be seeing two of the most fantastic cathedrals in the world.

One is Toledo. The cathedral is more than worth the trip there. Is is simply magnificent. The town is also beautiful - you will never want to put your camera away - and a wonderful contrast to Madrid and Barcelona. If you like art at all, see the El Greco paintings while you are there. Toledo is also famous for beautiful swords and marzipan candy.

In Madrid, even if you are not too into art, the Prado is one of the finest museums in the world and, IMHO, holds a collections of pictures that should not to be missed.

It isn't a real favorite with me, but the Royal Palace is worth a visit. There are many intersting things to see and do.
Madrid is great for tapas bar crawl and listening to Flamenco music.

The other masterpiece of a cathedral is Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Allow plenty of time to see all the exhibits of how it is constructed. Visit Casa Mila (La Pedrera) and visit Parc Guell to get an even better idea of the scope of Gaudi's genious. To me, these are the three most unique things in Barcelona and you won't forget any of them. I had seen lots of pictures of Gaudi's work, and didn't get it. Then I actually saw it and gasped at the creativity and beauty.

Another building that doesn't get as much attention, but is absolutely wonderful, very decorative, and well worth seeing, is Palau Musica.

I've been to other Picasso museums and made other choices for my time in Barcelona, but I understand it is a wonderful museum.

I, myself, was not so impressed with the Barcelona cathedral, but since you like churches, if you have time, and are nearby, you might enjoy it.

Fun to walk the Ramblas, but lots of the food is poor quality. Choose carefully if you eat there.

You are visiting two wonderful cities. Oh, take the fast train between M & B, and take a train from Madrid to Toledo.
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Jun 1st, 2012, 07:55 PM
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Forgot to add that Toledo is definately worth seeing. It's absolutely charming and just what I had envisioned Spain to be. There are lots of places to eat in the main plaza.
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Jun 1st, 2012, 09:22 PM
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P.s.
Early Sept can be hot in both cities!
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Jun 2nd, 2012, 09:25 AM
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Yes sounds like a great itinerary. Toledo is worth it. I haven't been to Montserrat. I would consider a trip to Cadaques. Oh and definitely the train, it's great. too bad we'll never have a high speed train system in the U.S.
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Jun 2nd, 2012, 09:52 AM
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If I only had one daytrip from Madrid I'd choose Toledo. Personally i'm not a big fan of Montserrat but others really like it. I prefer Girona. You'll be a little stretched to do any day trips from Madrid or Barcelona with the limited time you have for the visit. You may end up just staying and enjoying your base cities.
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Jun 2nd, 2012, 10:04 AM
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Cathy makes a good point....both cities have more to offer and enjoy than you can possibly cover in a few days.
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Jun 2nd, 2012, 11:40 AM
  #12
 
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Trains allow you to get up and walk around and as a personal choice I prefer the slower trains as you don't see much of the country side on the fast one. Madrid is great..Toledo is great. Barcelona is great (in a different way) and Monserrat is interesting. Sitges is beachy and pricy. local trains service rhem all and are very reasonable. If you do the trains and are 65+ you can get a gold card and save some $. They cost 5E and can be purchased at travel agents or the big department store in their travel dept. Am not sure if you can get on at the train station. there is also a place @ the Madrid airport.. i found that it paid for itself on the first trip and then saved about 20-25E the rest of the 3 weeks in April. You are in for a wonderful experience but please do keep an eye on your stuff..the bad guys and gals are very slick.
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Jun 2nd, 2012, 11:53 AM
  #13
 
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you can get the "tarjeta dorada" for seniors over 60, not 65, at the train station also.
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Jun 2nd, 2012, 12:00 PM
  #14
 
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tarjeta dorada can be purchased at the train station. As lin said, 60 does it
discount is 25 -40 % depending on the line and the day of the week.
danon is online now  
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Jun 2nd, 2012, 12:13 PM
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Sorry about the 65..must be my age showing as forgetful as I seem to be... the rest is right though and well worth the 5Euros...
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Jun 2nd, 2012, 01:08 PM
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Most other senior discounts here ARE 65+.. so .. just setting it straight for the younger ones! Renfe, for some reason, is more generous in that way!
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Jun 2nd, 2012, 01:16 PM
  #17
 
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quick 2 cents

With 4 people, a car rental is very cost effective. Roads in Spain are quite good and easy to navigate
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Jun 3rd, 2012, 05:40 AM
  #18
 
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Madrid > Barcelona by car.
A minimum of 6 hr 30 min actual driving time, plus rest stops (and possibly a meal break). I would estimate an 8-hour journey minimum. The you still have to navigate your way into Barcelona at the end of the long day on the road.

Madrid > Barcelona by AVE (high speed train).
2 hr 45 min. That is city centre to city centre, effortlessly (for the passengers).
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Jun 3rd, 2012, 08:33 AM
  #19
 
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AVE is fantastic.....I was able to get Web price of 47 euros each time.
With only7 days in Spain, spending a whole day driving seems a waist.
danon is online now  
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Jun 3rd, 2012, 09:31 AM
  #20
 
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Monasterio de Piedra is an amazing place to spend the day just outside Zaragoza in Catalayud area if you do decide to drive and visit places along the way. There are a number of lovely places to overnight in Catalayud.

http://www.google.es/search?q=monast...w=1920&bih=861
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