I didn't realize that finding accommodations would be so frustrating, difficult and time consuming. Many of the hostals, apartments and hotels I have contacted won't accept reservations for March 2003 until January. My initial thought was to stay in Madrid on the Huertas at Rosa and Alberto Garcia-Hill Heras\' apartment , but they won't accept a reservation until January.

After receiving valuable advice laugh from many of you, and after doing further research on the Fodors European Board, I've decided to not stay at the Tryp Capitol on the Gran Via (see pictures at Spanish Living ) because of the noise and hustle and bustle on the Gran Via, and instead stay at the Hostal Adriano for 6 nights in March. The Hostal Adriano is located at Calle de la Cruz 26, which appears to be a short walk to both the Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol. I've traded some very nice emails smile with the owner, Alberto DiStefano, who writes in perfect English. Subsequently, after reading Mongo's positive messages about the Hostal Adriano , I understand that the DiStefano family lived in Minneapolis for a period of time. Because this exchange of messages has been so pleasant, and the location is so ideal, I've abandoned my idea of keeping my fingers crossed that the Hotel Suecia might have availability for the 6 nights in March, so that I can use the Bancotel vouchers. Seems that many of the hotels that participate in the Bancotel program in Madrid and Barcelona, only accept vouchers for the weekends.

If anyone has any current information about the Hostal Adriano , I'd certainly appreciate reading your reviews.

Anyway, I've FINALLY made my decision smile laugh . Now, I just have to keep my fingers crossed and hope that the elevator being installed at Hostal Adriano is operational in mid-March. Schlepping up four flights of stairs with my duffle bag is not going to be a pretty sight. frown mad

Now off to figure out where to stay in Barcelona. I'm booked into the Hotel Rivoli Ramblas on Las Ramblas, but have been advised by friends that used to live in Barcelona to stay elsewhere; also, the Hotel Rivoli Ramblas has received a lot of negative reviews on the Fodors Rants & Raves pages. Does anyone have any suggestions for me for hotels in the Exiample District for up to $100 per night for four nights? Otherwise, I'll end up splurging and making a reservation through Bancotel and stay at the Ritz -- 150 Euro/night (3 vouchers/night) through Bancotel versus 360 Euro/night booking directly through the hotel. I'll need to buy 1 additional voucher instead of a whole checkbook of 5, so if anyone has a Bancotel voucher for sale, or knows where I can just buy 1 voucher (I have to buy 5 complete checkbooks), I'd appreciate a heads up.

By the way, through Bancotel , in Seville, I am staying at the Hotel Alfonso XIII (3 vouchers/night), a Westin property, and in Granada, I am staying at the Melia Granada (1 voucher/night).

Thanks for all of your sage advice smile thus far, I'll have many more questions later.

Muchas gracias! cool