Ugh! 11 nights still up in air...

Aug 13th, 2013, 10:39 PM
  #1  
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Ugh! 11 nights still up in air...

We do not like to plan our trip details in advance, but in this case wanting to see the Alhambra and booking extra flights, requires that I firm up our plans asap. We do like to spend time driving to really explore areas off the beaten path. At the risk of irritating the forum community, I am asking again for your kind opinions and good insights. Looking for balance (city/small towns/beach/nature), but also don't want to miss key places (Alhambra).

We fly into Barcelona (7 nights) and home from Bilbao - 18 nights total. With child, good traveler. I have 11 nights to decide on. I had nailed our trip down to: Barcelona (7), Granada (2), Seville (4 - w/day trip Cordoba), San Sebastian/Bilbao (5), however I have nagging questions/doubts.

1. Are we short changing Basque country with only 5 nights?

2: Would you skip Seville (this time) because of weather, either going to Malaga instead or allocating more time in the Bilbao/San Sebastian region?

3: Is it a worthwhile drive (interesting scenery/opportunities to stop in small towns etc) from Granada to Bilbao? We would stay somewhere (Borgus?) on the way to split up the drive. Or are we much better off flying/train? We want a car for San Sebastian/Bilbao area.

4: I really want to see the Alhambra at night (Nasid palace), in addition to a morning visit. I've read that it's better to see it in the daytime first. If you did both, do you think it matters? One itinerary won't allow for this, which is my concern. Also, thinking of staying at the Hotel America in the Alhambra, and so I wondered if walking around there at night would be enough, instead of doing a night visit?

5: Would you rent a car to get from Seville to Granada (stop in Cordoba) to better explore white towns on the way?

Many thanks for reading and your insights!
adventura12 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2013, 10:48 PM
  #2  
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Forgot to add the most important point - we leave next week, so will be in Spain in August/early Sept.
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Aug 13th, 2013, 10:51 PM
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What time of year is this trip? I think first you'll need to compromise and understand with 18 days, traveling with a child and this large of a geography you'll have enough time for highlights but not alot of in depth exploring (which is fine).
CathyM is offline  
Aug 13th, 2013, 11:08 PM
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Would you rent a car to get from Seville to Granada (stop in Cordoba) to better explore white towns on the way?

Absolutely.
sparkchaser is offline  
Aug 13th, 2013, 11:12 PM
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What are your plans for those 7 nights in Barcelona?

Re, the Hotel America and the Alhambra at night. You might consider going over to the parador and having dinner on the balcony which overlooks the Alhambra. We did this (we were staying in the parador) after having visited during the day and thoroughly enjoyed the overlook and accompanying dinner music.

Do I think you need to see it both during the day and also at night? Not necessarily but if you can at all possible take away some time from one of those other places...I realize this may not be possible.
Dukey1 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2013, 11:17 PM
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If you're planning to be in Granada overnight, I highly recommend visiting a hammam. I really enjoyed the Hammams de Al Andalus: http://granada.hammamalandalus.com/en/
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Aug 13th, 2013, 11:35 PM
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Are you locked into staying 7 nights in Barcelona? If you have your heart set on Alhambra at night, the simplest way is to take away from Barcelona as you have more time there to compensate for one less day. Somewhere between Granada and Bilbao? Burgos? (Borgus) does not split your travel time evenly. Segovia (plus La Granja de San Ildefonso) or Toledo are more interesting places and also closer to the mid point of your trip. If you are interested in Flamenco, Sevilla is not to be missed.
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Aug 13th, 2013, 11:49 PM
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1. Are we short changing Basque country with only 5 nights? No, its about right.

2: Would you skip Seville (this time) because of weather, either going to Malaga instead or allocating more time in the Bilbao/San Sebastian region? No Seville is great, Malaga is ok but Seville is better

3: Is it a worthwhile drive (interesting scenery/opportunities to stop in small towns etc) from Granada to Bilbao? We would stay somewhere (Borgus?) on the way to split up the drive. Or are we much better off flying/train? We want a car for San Sebastian/Bilbao area. I'd not drive all that way, you need to drive and drive.

4: I really want to see the Alhambra at night (Nasid palace), in addition to a morning visit. I've read that it's better to see it in the daytime first. If you did both, do you think it matters? One itinerary won't allow for this, which is my concern. Also, thinking of staying at the Hotel America in the Alhambra, and so I wondered if walking around there at night would be enough, instead of doing a night visit? I don't think the time of day makes a lot of difference, what is good is being there when others are not, so first thing is very good while 12:00 avoid like the plague.

5: Would you rent a car to get from Seville to Granada (stop in Cordoba) to better explore white towns on the way? Getting in and out of seville and cordoba by car can be trying. I might take the train Seville to Cordoba and then hire a car.
bilboburgler is online now  
Aug 14th, 2013, 03:19 AM
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if you're staying in Barcelona and don't intend to take days out of the city, then IMO 7 days is too much. Barcelona needs 4 or 5 days tops to see it.

I'd then fly down to Malaga and pick up a car for Granada. The cost will be more than offset by not paying for hotels on the way South. I've never heard that you should see the Alhambra at day/night in any order. I'm not sure that it makes any difference. Then head for Seville and Cordoba.

I'd then fly up to Bilbao for the balance of your trip.
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Aug 14th, 2013, 05:20 AM
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Try to be in San Sebastián on September 7! Then the week long celebration of Euskal Jaiak starts with Cider Day (Sagardo Eguna). Free cider, food, music and dance and a genuine Basque fiesta. Starts at 11am in Plaza de la Constitución in the center of the Parte vieja/Old town.
http://www.lacunza.com/events/cider-day.php

The following week celebrates all that is Basque, sports (among other things, spectacular row both races with thousands of spectators all along the La Concha Bay, and of course Pelota), open air concerts (music, dance, traditional poetry) and - perhaps more than anything - food. http://www.lacunza.com/events/euskal-jaiak.php

San Sebastián with kids: http://www.sansebastianturismo.com/e...all-the-family

Updated info about San Sebastián: http://www.sansebastianturismo.com/en/
kimhe is offline  
Aug 14th, 2013, 07:19 AM
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Wrong date above!!!

Cider Day in San Sebastián uses to be on the first Saturday in September, but this year it will be on Saturday August 31.

Processions from 10am, transporting the cider onto Plaza de la Constitución.

From 11am to 2pm there will be music, free cider from more than 50 producers and sale of the traditional "cider food" Tortilla de bacalao. Also traditional Basque "singer-poets" Bertsolaris from 12.30-13. http://www.donostia.org/info/ciudada...274&idioma=cas

And then starts the Euskal Jaiak week!


http://www.donostia.org/info/ciudada...274&idioma=cas
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Aug 14th, 2013, 08:44 AM
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My 2 cents on your questions:


1. Are we short changing Basque country with only 5 nights?

I could (and do) spend 2 weeks in the Basque country as it is so interesting. But with 5 nights you should be able to see the highlights. I'd stay in San Sebastian for all 5 nights or perhaps 3 nights in San Sebastian and 2 in a smaller fishing village (ie. Getaria, Lekeitio, Hondarribia). Do a daytrip to Bilbao. Definately have hotel reservations for this part of Spain in August.

2: Would you skip Seville (this time) because of weather, either going to Malaga instead or allocating more time in the Bilbao/San Sebastian region?

It will be hot but I woldn't skip Sevilla - it's a gem. Start sightseeing in the morning and plan a long lunch siesta during the hottest time of the day. 4 days for Sevilla and 1 allocated as a daytrip to Cordoba is the minimum I would stay.

3: Is it a worthwhile drive (interesting scenery/opportunities to stop in small towns etc) from Granada to Bilbao? We would stay somewhere (Borgus?) on the way to split up the drive. Or are we much better off flying/train? We want a car for San Sebastian/Bilbao area.

Personally I'd fly from Sevilla to Bilbao - there are very inexpensive flights. Given the limited amount of time in the Basque country I wouldn't waste a day en route. Be prepared to pay alot of money to park a rental car in San Sebastian or Bilbao. A car is great for exploring this area but the parking is expensive.


4: I really want to see the Alhambra at night (Nasid palace), in addition to a morning visit. I've read that it's better to see it in the daytime first. If you did both, do you think it matters? One itinerary won't allow for this, which is my concern. Also, thinking of staying at the Hotel America in the Alhambra, and so I wondered if walking around there at night would be enough, instead of doing a night visit?

I'd definately recommend both a night and day visit but I don't think it necessarily needs to be done in any order. Make sure you have booked your tickets for entrance in advance or you may be disappointed to find no tickets available. I prefer to stay in the center vs up the hill where there's not much going on in the evenings.


5: Would you rent a car to get from Seville to Granada (stop in Cordoba) to better explore white towns on the way?


I wouldn't rent a car - you just don't have time to explore with 2 nights in Granada and 4 in Sevilla (and a daytrip to Cordoba). If you had a couple of days it would be great to rent a car and base yourself in Ronda giving yourself time to explore this area.

If I were to change anything in the itinerary I'd probably reduce 1-2 days in Barcelona and add them to Andalucia (giving time to explore the white villages) or the Basque Country (more time to explore). The weather in the Basque country will likely be much better than the heat in Andalucia. 5 nights in Barcelona would be adequate to recover from jetlag and have a nice visit in Barcelona. it would also give you a chance to explore more of the smaller towns. With a child I'd probably have hotel reservations for all of these places but definately the Basque Country. Otherwise you could spend precious time trying to find a place to stay.
CathyM is offline  
Aug 14th, 2013, 09:41 AM
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Take Cathys advice!
Egbert is offline  
Aug 14th, 2013, 10:14 AM
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Thank you so much to all who responded. I am very appreciative. I cannot tell you how tremendously helpful your insights have been! I have been weighing these things for quite some time, so it is super helpful to hear back from people who have been to these places and had their own experiences to share.

I think CathyM made a wonderful point, that I was slow to grasp. With 18 nights and covering so much ground, we can only expect to see the highlights, especially with a child. I will have to give up on my ideas of deeper exploration. This seems so obvious now!

Sparkchaser - thank you for the link to the hammam. It looks really amazing. Not sure how we can visit it though, since we have a child with us. Maybe we can go separately, taking turns watching our son.

Kimhe - thanks for all the wonderful links. I'm relieved to see that this year's dates for the Basque celebration overlap with our visit to San Sebastian. This is an added bonus!

I was considering renting a place just outside San Sebastian, with free parking to stay. Given all that will be going on in San Sebastian - would you instead stay in San Sebastian and then rent a car for a day or two? Any recommended areas to stay for families? We are not into partying into the night...

CathyM - Many thanks for your response, you've made some fantastic points. I've rented a place in Barcelona for 7 nights, but am strongly considering that we will just leave early - in order to spend more time elsewhere. Originally I had thought we could do a day trip outside of Barcelona, but I am reconsidering that.

Thanks again!
adventura12 is offline  
Aug 14th, 2013, 10:49 AM
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Personally I'd stay in San Sebastian vs outside the city - but that's just me. I don't want to worry about getting in and out of the city and instead enjoy the atmosphere.

As for Barcelona if you want to keep the 7 nights and do a 2-3 of daytrips that also works. My personal favorites are Girona and Tarragona - easily accessed by train from Barcelona. Other people love Montserrat. Other daytrips include (but are not limited to) - Vic, Sitges. If you give up time in Barcelona it would give you more time to explore Andalucia or the Basque Country - it's all a trade off! My 2 favorite regions of Spain are Andalucia and the Basque Country so I may be biased

Whatever you decide your trip sounds wonderful - it's not too hectic and you'll experience 3 very unique and different areas of Spain.
CathyM is offline  
Aug 14th, 2013, 02:28 PM
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I very much recommend to stay in San Sebastián itself for the atmosphere. Stay in the new part of central San Sebastián (El Ensanche/El Centro), it's the area around the cathedral (Buen Pastor) and Calle San Martín down towards the sea and the Old town. Or stay just across the river in the local feel Gros area, nice and still very central.

Here are some excellent apartments in peaceful areas, yet in the midst of everything. Just stay out of the Old town/Parte vieja.

In El Centro: http://www.friendlyrentals.com/en/ap...ent-7483-5.htm

http://www.friendlyrentals.com/en/ap...tment-74-5.htm

In Gros: http://www.friendlyrentals.com/en/ap...ent-7170-5.htm

http://www.friendlyrentals.com/en/ap...ent-5894-5.htm
kimhe is offline  
Aug 14th, 2013, 04:42 PM
  #17  
kja
 
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> I really want to see the Alhambra at night (Nasid palace), in addition to a morning visit. I've read that it's better to see it in the daytime first. If you did both, do you think it matters?

I was VERY glad to see it during the day first and then at night. But any order of visits is better than visiting at only one time!

> and so I wondered if walking around there at night would be enough, instead of doing a night visit?

For me, the night visit to the Alhambra wasn't just about the gardens -- it was about siting in various parts of the Nasrid Palace and experiencing the night time sights and sounds and smells. So for me, the answer would be no - nothing would substitutes for a night time visit to the Alhambra itself!
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Aug 14th, 2013, 05:34 PM
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And you could be up for a great flamenco experience in the open air Generalife theater in Alhambra. The grand scale performance "Duende" every night at 10pm until August 31. Created by brilliant flamenco dancers from Granada Fuensanta la Moneta (voted best female flamenco dancer 2009 by Spansih critics) and Manuel Liñan (recent winner of the prestigious Premio Max prize as best male dancer 2012). http://andalsurexcursiones.com/en/ne...-the-alhambra/

The performance is a tribute to the greatest Spanish poet of the 20th century and grand scale flamenco aficionado, Federico García Lorca from Granada, killed here shortly after the Civil War started in 1936, the famous composer Manuel de Falla (1876-1946), and fabulous cantaor (flamenco singer) Enrique Morente (1942-2010), also from Granada.

Review in the major flamenco magazine Deflamenco:
http://www.deflamenco.com/revista/re...1082013-1.html

The Generalife theater: http://www.granadafestival.org/escen...el_generalife/

A clip from the performance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWDeu6dJnPg

Fuensanta la Moneta: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbO_lw2xWtU

Online tickets: http://www.ticketmaster.es/nav/en/te...nde/index.html
kimhe is offline  
Aug 15th, 2013, 10:37 AM
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By all means stay in San Sebastian. Find a quiet hotel that is not near a disco though.
Egbert is offline  
Aug 16th, 2013, 03:17 PM
  #20  
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Sorry, I got very busy and wasn't able to acknowledge all the wonderful advice and insights CathyM, kimhe, kja and Egbert kindly provided. Many, many thanks! I know kimhe recommended staying in the center, but at this points I'm having difficulty with that. I've found a comfortable apartment with parking in Aiete, north of the park. 10 - 15 minutes from the beach and center. This is a good rate and would allow us the flexibility of a car. Please advice if this is a bad idea! We are soon to leave! Again many thanks for all the information, I'm bringing it all with us. Will report back when we return!
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