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#94533 - 01/10/16 03:09 PM Retired///First trip to Europe
CraiginUSA Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/24/15
Posts: 7
Loc: State of Oregon
Hi, I'm retired so putting a trip to Europe together takes me a lot of time to do. In 15 months from now in April of 2017 I plan on flying to Barcelona and spending several days, picking up a cruise to Italy then back to Barcelona. I want to take the AVE train to Madrid so I can see what the country side looks like. I've studied Spanish for 20 years and French for 14 months. Once in Madrid I'll tour the historical sites then fly to Paris for a week. I am aware of the discount airlines from Madrid to Paris. Here are my questions. With AVE from Barcelona to Madrid how far in advance do I need to buy a ticket? In other wards can I buy the ticket when I get to Spain since I would then go on a cruise so the ticket could be bought over a week in advance? When flying from Madrid to Paris, how far in advance do I need to book the discount airline? Can both tickets be bought from a travel agent when I get to Barcelona? My fear is that if I try to book tickets on European owned companies I might really screw it up and a travel agent in Europe would be very helpful. My last question is how long would a tourist want to stay in Madrid to see the great places there such as the historical sites? I've been told 4 night but can't help but feel 5 nights would be better. This is my very first post here so I'm sorry it's so long. I've never been to Europe. And in case I don't find a way to reply to your posts since I'm new here: Thank you in advance for any help you can share. Craig in the State of Oregon.

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#94534 - 01/10/16 05:22 PM Re: Retired///First trip to Europe [Re: CraiginUSA]
Puna Offline
Executive Member

Registered: 07/07/00
Posts: 1674
Loc: Charlotte, NC. U.S.A.
Hi Craig - Congratulations on being retired and traveling!!

I'm going to leave your train/plane reservations to MadridMan or someone more current on info that I am. As far as the amount of time you spend in Madrid - if you can schedule a week that would give you time to visit Salamanca and Toledo if you want.

I can't imagine spending less than 5-6 days in either Madrid or Barcelona; there is just too much to see, do and experience to try and cram it all in to 4 days per city. Having a full week not only lets you meander as you feel like but also allows you to really enjoy everything.

You might want to arrange a Tapa Tour with MadridMan so you can not only more easily get your bearings in Madrid but also make a friend in the process.



Edited by Puna (01/10/16 05:23 PM)
_________________________
emotionally & mentally in Spain - physically in Charlotte
http://www.wendycrawfordwrites.com/

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#94537 - 01/11/16 09:30 PM Re: Retired///First trip to Europe [Re: CraiginUSA]
chivasusa Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/20/12
Posts: 117
I agree a tour with MM would be a good start since you will be a first time visitor. You need at least 5 days and a week is better. Your prep is part of the fun. Get Alistair Boyd's guides MADRID AND CENTRAL SPAIN and THE ESSENCE OF CATALONIA. You won't regret it. Also Sandra Gustafsons CHEAP EATS SPAIN and CHEAP SLEEPS SPAIN. I like Hotel Plaza Mayor in Madrid and Residencia Colon in Barcelona. But with your research and interests you may go elsewhere. Madrid is a good center for day trips. Toledo is one day trip. Be sure to buy your return trip ticket from Toledo in advance. [late afternoon return tickets sell out] I like going to El Escorial but not everyone does. In Barcelona see if you can see a concert in Palau de la Musica. Also 2 important Cathedrals in Barcelona. If you go to Toledo Cathedral look for the Transparente. If you like ART go to the Prado in Madrid , price break at the end of the day. Don't try to see everything in Prado. Bosch, Velasquez , Goya, El Greco, are my favorites. AVE is costly, buying in advance [6 months] can save a bundle, unless you like traveling seat of the pants [ I do] and if your travel dates are firm , book flights and AVE from home online , don't really need an agent.

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#94539 - 01/12/16 06:42 AM Re: Retired///First trip to Europe [Re: CraiginUSA]
Arturo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/11/01
Posts: 183
Loc: New York, NY USA
The AVE runs frequently between Barcelona and Madrid. I usually buy my tickets a day or two in advance. Remember that Easter is April 16 however. Trains will be more crowded during Semana Santa.

Don't forget to buy the Tarjeta Dorada which costs 6€. See info on the RENFE website.

If you are 60 years old, make the most of the advantages and convenience of travelling by train and apply for a Tarjeta Dorada card. This card will entitle you to purchase tickets for any train and class. On Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays you will receive a 40% discount. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays the discount will be 25%.

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#94540 - 01/12/16 11:15 AM Re: Retired///First trip to Europe [Re: CraiginUSA]
CraiginUSA Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/24/15
Posts: 7
Loc: State of Oregon
Hello Everyone, Thank you for the very helpful information, on tourist sites, ticket purchases, and just good helpful advice. I appreciate it and have added it to my travel note book.

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#94541 - 01/12/16 11:59 AM Re: Retired///First trip to Europe [Re: CraiginUSA]
Puna Offline
Executive Member

Registered: 07/07/00
Posts: 1674
Loc: Charlotte, NC. U.S.A.
My favorite museum in Madrid - and almost anywhere - is Reine Sofia. (http://www.museoreinasofia.es/en)

Also http://www.museothyssen.org/en/thyssen/home

Not to be missed is Sorolla Museum - little known and a jewel. (http://museosorolla.mcu.es/)Do a search for English info if needed.




Edited by Puna (01/12/16 12:04 PM)
_________________________
emotionally & mentally in Spain - physically in Charlotte
http://www.wendycrawfordwrites.com/

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#94564 - 01/26/16 12:10 PM Re: Retired///First trip to Europe [Re: CraiginUSA]
CraiginUSA Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/24/15
Posts: 7
Loc: State of Oregon
AVE: Can someone answer a few more AVE questions for me: 01) Where at in Barcelona is the main AVE station to catch the train for Madrid? 02) I will have a large suitcase, will AVE put it in storage on the train or do I hold it by/near my seat? Someone told me I would carry on my large suitcase but if so wouldn't that crowd the seating area or put my luggage at risk of being stolen if it was near me but not where I could see it. Thank you!

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#94565 - 01/26/16 04:58 PM Re: Retired///First trip to Europe [Re: CraiginUSA]
Puna Offline
Executive Member

Registered: 07/07/00
Posts: 1674
Loc: Charlotte, NC. U.S.A.
Craig, did you get the email I sent via MadridMan mail?
_________________________
emotionally & mentally in Spain - physically in Charlotte
http://www.wendycrawfordwrites.com/

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#94566 - 01/26/16 05:30 PM Re: Retired///First trip to Europe [Re: Puna]
CraiginUSA Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/24/15
Posts: 7
Loc: State of Oregon
Hi Puna. Thanks for letting me know about the e-mail. I just now checked and appreciate the information on sites to see in beautiful Madrid. Thank you

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#94567 - 01/26/16 06:51 PM Re: Retired///First trip to Europe [Re: CraiginUSA]
chivasusa Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/20/12
Posts: 117
AVE to Madrid is out of Sants. That's northwest of the center. Easy taxi ride. Only one or two stops on the route. I would get up on the stops and get near my bag so no one accidentally takes it. AVE has pretty good food service on the levels above coach. I think the meal is included. Arturo's advice about the discounts sounds good. If you are sure about the date I think it is cheaper far in advance. I rode the last one out of Sants I think it was 90 euros on coach. That was in 2012. Be careful on your airport and train transfers in Spain, especially on metro, very little violent crime but widespread pickpockets. So take a money belt. Also when you step out of a hotel you can be accosted by con men posing as police. All of this has happened to me.

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