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#21542 - 01/03/03 03:25 PM Spain newbie
slymongoose Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/03/03
Posts: 14
Loc: chicago
This is last minute for me, but I'm planning my first trip to Spain in May and need much help on putting together an itinerary. It will be just me and my adult daughter and we'll be flying in and out of Madrid (we think). We want to take the AVE train down to Seville and then maybe rent a car to see some of the towns like Malaga, Granada, Rhonda, etc. We plan on then continuing up the coast to Barcelona. Is this feasible having only two weeks? Or would be better to take trains and buses between towns? We actually like moving around a lot and don't spend a lot of time in one spot, although I don't want to spend all our time waiting on transportation.
What is the best way to get back to Madrid from Barcelona if we drop off the car there? I think I definitely need some help here. Anyone?

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#21543 - 01/05/03 01:32 PM Re: Spain newbie
Carole Chiaro Offline
Executive Member

Registered: 01/29/01
Posts: 378
Loc: Danville, CA USA
Hi, newbie!! With two weeks, I think that your "tentative" itinerary may require more moving than you will enjoy. I'd begin by picking up a car at Barajas Airport (Madrid), drive to Segovia (we like sleepy Turegano as a base), continue south to "conquistador" country, i.e. Extremadura (Trujillo/Caceres), on to Sevilla (park the car, you won't want it!!) through the pueblos blancos to Estepona then Granada, followed by Toledo and Madrid. This might be a little longer than a two week trip but you'd see a lot. Ending in Madrid is a real treat as you'll be so well acquainted with the Spanish way of life that you will truly enjoy the big city (which really doesn't seem so big once you realize that you can walk or go everywhere on the Metro). You could drop your car off at the airport to make things easier (downtown locations are difficult) or at one of the railway stations. We rent from Auto Europe which provides good rates and no charge for dropping off at other locations. Please, e-mail me if you have additional questions. If you're more interested in the north and central areas, I have a great three week itinerary (you could revise it) with wonderful places to stay/eat/etc.--Carole

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#21544 - 01/06/03 10:32 AM Re: Spain newbie
slymongoose Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/03/03
Posts: 14
Loc: chicago
Thanks, Carole for your input. I think you're right, adding Barcelona on to the trip is a bit too much. I'll just need to go back some day to see it. I've used autoeurope before (in Italy) and I think they are the best. Thanks again for your input. I can't wait to see Spain!

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#21545 - 01/09/03 04:11 PM Re: Spain newbie
Cornelio Offline
Member

Registered: 10/28/01
Posts: 105
Loc: Dublin, CA
Hola SlyMongoose,

I'm not sure you should give up so easily on seeing Barcelona. I was in the reverse situation on my first trip to Spain many many years ago. I spent most of my time in Barcelona and up and down the Med coast but I also wanted to see Madrid. I decided to fly to Madrid for 2 days and using www.cheaptickets.com , I got roundtrip airfare of about $100, BCN-MAD-BCN.

Driving to Barcelona is probably a daunting task considering the time constraints and so if it is within your budget and if it doesn't seem too hectic, you could fly to Barcelona for a day or two. Checking cheaptickets.com real quick, it came back with $172 roundtrip from Madrid. Besides, you never know when you'll be able to return.

As for car rentals, everone probably has his or her own favorite rental company but I personally go with www.alamo.com because they are usually the cheapest that I can find whenever I compare prices on the internet. They subcontract with "Atenza" and when I travelled in Andalusia last year, I picked up the car at the Santa Justa train station in Sevilla and dropped it off in Cordoba, with no dropoff charges.

Whatever you decide, have a wonderful trip!

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#21546 - 01/10/03 06:37 PM Re: Spain newbie
travelmaven Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/15/02
Posts: 6
Hi,
Just returned from a 17-day trip to Spain traveling with my husband and a 14-year-old.
We, too, moved around a lot.
Spent first two days in Madrid sightseeing, orienting ourselves, checking out great artworks.
• Took bus to Toledo. Takes 50 minutes. Wonderful city, but one day is worth it.
• Took AVE train to Seville. Fast and easy. Spent four days there because it was Xmas but three would be plenty. Jewish Quarter is lovely.
• Rented a car from Avis. Picked it up at the airport. Completely easy and hassle-free. Driving from there was a breeze. The highways weren't too crowded, in great shape, signs easy to follow. Takes about 90 minutes to get to Arcos de la Frontera.
• Stayed at Parador in Arcos. Very friendly but a bit worn. Breakfast not very good. Scenery is gorgeous though.
• Drove to the white towns. Should have spent two or three days. Ronda is spectacular. Visit the bullring and museum. Hiking nearby if that's your thing, otherwise the scenery is enough. Drive between Arcos and Ronda is only about 45 miles but is very winding and beautiful. Many British travelers so lots of English being spoken there.
• We went back to Arcos and then Gibraltar but I 'd skip that and just drive south from Ronda to give you more time in the white towns.
• Stayed at the Nerja parador. It was spectacular. The setting is breathtaking and the buffet breakfast leaves you groaning. The spread is enormous and the view is so beautiful, especially if you watch the sunrise.
• About 10 minutes from Nerja is a town called Frigiliana. Don't miss it. Climb the stairs and find the outdoor restaurant that overlooks the valley. It has thatched umbrellas over the tables and grills a lot of kebabs, fish on an outdoor grill. You won't want to leave. In fact, if we go back we would try to find a rental in this area.
• From Nerja we drove to Alicante. About 2 hours. Again, pleasant driving.
• Didn't linger in Alicante but returned the rental car and flew to Barcelone. Cheap and quick (50 minutes on Iberia Airlines).
• Altogether, it was just the right amount of driving and wasn't too expensive.
• Spent 2 1/2 days in Barcelona. Could have used more. Then flew back to Madrid on Iberia Air. Didn't seem worth wasting the time to take a bus or train. Flight was 70 minutes.
• All in all, we would have spent more time in the white towns, Nerja, Frigiliana and Barcelona.
• We walked all day, almost every day. Ate good food. Saw lots of ancient buildings, cathedrals. Hit on some of the art masterpieces and did more touristy stuff than I'm used to, but being our first trip to Spain we wanted to get the overview. The pace wasn't too frantic for us, but ...
The weather was too cold for hanging out at outdoor cafes so if it was later in the year maybe that would have slowed us down somewhat.
• Bancotel is the way to go. Some of the hotel clerks were a bit snobby and disdainful when they saw the coupons, but too bad. We never would have been able to stay in the Alfonso XVIII in Seville or the Palace in Madrid otherwise. Be aware that not all 4 and 5 star hotels are equal. The Emperador in Madrid was just so-so and had the surliest clerks. Palace was wonderful.
In Barcelona, Husa Princesa is ideally located, and teeming with people. Seems like a lot of airline employees stay there. Rooms were wonderful but as we were leaving we did see a cockroach in our room.
Nunez d'Urquell in Barcelona was not that great. Teeny, tiny rooms. And they may have given us one of the less desirable ones simply because we used bancotel checks.
• One thing to consider is we were there in Dec.-Jan. Weather was high 60s on the coast and 50s in Madrid and Barcelona. Barcelona was very crowded and international. Don't know if any of it had to do with it being New Years Eve. However, I imagine the coast will be MUCH More crowded in spring.
Let me know if you have any more questions.

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