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Could use some advice

Hi everyone,
I'm planning our upcoming Spain trip in June, 2016. Like a few others, we are flying into Barcelona and out of Madrid. Our flights are booked leaving from LAX in California, June 15, which is a three hour drive from our home, and will require a night before and after in a hotel. As you can see, we will have a lot of travel time under our belt, by the time we return home. lol
With that in mind, we want to spend our 14 days/nights in Spain actually enjoying the country, spending as little time as possible commuting from city to city. However, the more I read on Spain the more I want to see. I've been looking for hours today at the various trains and schedules and just can't decide which routes are best to get us to our desired locations, the quickest way possible.
I realize that this trip has 13 or 14 hours total train time. We'd prefer to use rains rather than fly for comfort, but also because I'm not convinced that flying saves that much time or money. I'll book the earliest times that I can, but I don't know if there's any other way which will allow us to see all of these amazing cities.
Here's the itinerary, I've come up with. I would appreciate any feedback and advice.
6/16 Fly into Barcelona - arrive 8 a.m. Although we'll have jetlag, we'll get right out there! Stay 3 nights
6/19 - High Speed train to Seville, earlier the better. Stay 3 nights
6/22 - Regional train? to Granada. Stay 2 nights
6/24- Train to Cordoba Stay 2 nights
6/26 High Speed train to Madrid - 4 nights (Two possible day trips, Toledo and Segovia)
6/30 Fly home :(
Thanks,
Terri

Posted by
961 posts

Have you considered going to Granada from Barcelona? Then from Granada over to Seville? It makes more sense geographically to not back track to Granada from Seville. Also, you might think of adding another night to both Granada and Seville and doing a day trip to Cordova from Seville. It's only about an hour and makes an easy day trip. As many places as you are trying to see by train, only staying two nights anyplace is going to mean more moving from place to place rather than actually enjoying each destination.

Posted by
2458 posts

One thing to consider is that sometimes the bus is better from Granada to Cordoba or Seville. The train is good, of course, but does not have as many departure times. If you can't find the times you want, look at ALSA bus company.

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks for the replies. Yes, I did consider Barcelona to Granada, but I know that the only way that would work is to fly. Everything I've read discourages me in the fact that you don't save that much time flying, because of the early arrival times, security, and time from airport to city center. We've enjoyed train travel in the past because it's more relaxing, less, hassle, more comfortable, and affords one the opportunity to see some scenery. I assumed, perhaps wrongly so, that the high speed train time of 5 hours from Barc to Seville, would be about the same time, give or take a little, but more enjoyable.

Also, I'd originally planned 4 days in Barc, but felt that we'd really like Cordoba, any might enjoy a couple of nights there. I'm expecting it to be slower paced.
Thoughts?

Posted by
12 posts

Mira, I have not scheduled any train tickets yet. As of yesterday, they were not open for our dates. I will definitely consider the bus, if I can't get desireable times or prices on my dates. Thank you for that advice.

Also, if anyone has hotel recommendations for any of these cities, please pass along. I mostly look at 3* facilities, but I do realize these vary from place to place. I also like to stay somewhere that reflects the feeling of the country I'm visiting. However, these particular hotels don't necessarily have the charm that I prefer, but the location or the prices is what guided me.
I have booked a few already, but can cancel if need be, without a charge. This allows me time to continue to look, but at least the security of knowing that I have something in place.

These are what I've booked so far.

Barcelona- Hotel Boutique Hostemplo
Seville- Hotel Derby
Granada- Casa del Capital Nazari and Shine Albayzin

Posted by
4556 posts

Terri,

With that in mind, we want to spend our 14 days/nights in Spain actually enjoying the country, spending as little time as possible commuting from city to city. However, the more I read on Spain the more I want to see. I've been looking for hours today at the various trains and schedules and just can't decide which routes are best to get us to our desired locations, the quickest way possible.

  • I think your itinerary is a bit ambitious, as you plan to visit 6-7
    destinations during your 14 day trip.

  • Unfortunately, you will lose time each time you relocate from one
    destination to the next...

  • Keep in mind that 3 nights will only give you 2 full days (Barcelona & Sevilla)

  • By the same token, 2 nights will only give you 1 full day in Granada
    & Córdoba.

  • And... 4 nights in Madrid, will give you 3 full days in Madrid, but
    if you plan to take a day trip to Toledo & another day trip to Segovia,
    that will leave you with only one day to explore Madrid.

  • I'd also suggest traveling from Barcelona to Granada. If you don't
    want to fly, you may take the train on this route, but it will take a
    bit longer than traveling to Sevilla.

  • I'd suggest booking your tickets to the Alhambra as soon as your Granada dates are set, especially since they sell rather quickly: http://www.alhambra-patronato.es

We enjoyed our stay at Hotel Anacapri in Granada; Hotel Amadeus & Hotel Fernando III in Sevilla, & Hesperia Córdoba in Córdoba.

Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
1100 posts

please consider........
Barcelona to Granada should be via air and is a logical place to commence your journey into Andalucia.
From Granada take a train, or bus, to Seville.
From Seville take the train to Madrid and do Cordoba as a day trip.

Thoughts.......
You need to immediately check on ticket availability for entry into Alhambra as entry books months in advance.
You are traveling in a season where heat and crowds can be daunting and will impact the efficientcy and effectiveness of the journey.
Please do not be a luggage donkey as the more you "sacrifice" in carrying luggage shall dynamicslly increase your travel pleasure.
Immediately force your tummies to adapt to the Spanish clock for eating and to gain the pleasure of living according to the opportunities available via local culture.

Travel impacts......
You are short changing Barcelona w only three nights.
Two nights in Granada is good, but please consider both Seville and Cordoba offer excellent alternative experiences to Alhambra (especially if you cannot obtain tickets). I strongly ask you to consider dropping Granada and doing the following:
Five nights in Barcelona then take train to Madrid
Four nights in Madrid then take train to Seville
Four nights in Seville then take train to Madrid the evening prior to your departure home
Spend your last night in Madrid and then head home.
This schedule allows focus upon creating memories based upon experiences gained within each destination. Sure you visit a little less geography, but have more time to absorb each destination.

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks again for all input. I hate to give up La Alhambra, but perhaps you're all correct, in the fact that I'm trying to squeeze in too much. If I do drop Granada, wouldn't it be wiser to go directly to Seville from Barcelona and work up? What advantage do I gain from going to Madrid and then south and then returning to Madrid that last night? I'm confused.

Posted by
1100 posts

Rereading my post made me understand your confusion, the following is my recommendation:

"Five nights in Barcelona then take train to Madrid
Four nights in Madrid then take train to Seville
Four nights in Seville then take train to Madrid the evening prior to your departure home
Spend your last night in Madrid and then head home."

You could take a flight from Barcelona to Seville and avoid a bit of backtracking.

Posted by
2 posts

I wouldn't give up Granada. The Alhambra and the mirador are out of this world. The moorish influence and tapas scene, makes Granada an unforgettable city. It is small, so very walkable and easy to navigate.

Posted by
3696 posts

Unless you are going to return simply to see the Alhambra (probably unlikely) I would not give it up if you will regret not seeing it. I would rather fit a lot in and see all the highlights than miss something I really want to see. Having not been there you can't say how much time you will need in each city. I found that I could see all I needed to in 2 days in Barcelona... I know others will disagree, but it satisfied me. I know I would not give up being so close to a sight I wanted to see on the off chance that I would return...
I tend to agree that hopping on a train or in a car can often take much less time than a flight, once all the time is calculated, not just flight time.

Of course... it is the dilemma... too much to see, too little time.
I like to do whirlwind trips the first time I am in an area... It lets me know if I want to return, and if I don't I feel like I have seen enough to make me happy. Not everyone has the luxury of all of the return trips that many who post here have. I try to do each trip with as few regrets as possible, and see everything I want, even if I come home exhausted:)

Posted by
4556 posts

Terri,

I wouldn't give up visiting Granada... Unless you really want to skip it.

Keep in mind that you will receive all types of different suggestions on the forum, but ultimately it's your trip ;-)

As I mentioned before, I think your itinerary is a bit ambitious, but if that's the type of trip you want, then go for it!

Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
1551 posts

I think your itinerary is fine. In an ideal world we'd have unlimited travel time, but this gives you a good view of Spain and where you'd like to visit again. Your profile lists Visalia, so you're used to summer heat. Get as many advanced entrance tickets as you can. Standing in line in the heat is a killer.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
12 posts

Thank you so much everyone. I really am taking in and considering all of your well intentioned advice. The two things holding me up right now are the inability to get train tickets as of yet, and the Granada delima. Once I have those tickets in place and my dates are set, then I'll start trying to get tickets for the sights I wish to see. But, I will look into Alhambra tix right away to see if they are available.
I guess, we could do a day trip from Seville, but I realize that would be a very long day.
Also, we've traveled a few times now to Europe, and I always pack nothing but a carry-on and my purse. It isn't easy but I make it work, so no worries about me being a luggage hog. :)
Last night I was almost convinced that I should give up Granada, but I think that I'm going to try to stay with the original plan. I checked out flights and there are only three offered that day, and the times won't work. So, I'm going to try for the train and hopefully get decent times. If not then maybe I'll have to resort to dropping Granada. In my heart, I know that we'll probably never return to Spain, so yes I do want to see as much as I can.
Because I'm a teacher, we must travel when I'm out of school, which is why we end up traveling in the busiest and hottest time of the year. Although, I could travel longer, my husband can't. This will actually be the longest trip we've done by a few days.
In order to add a 4th day in Barcelona I could stay only one night in Cordoba, and if Madrid needs another day, I can drop Segovia. We may be too exhausted anyway.
Thoughts??

Posted by
12 posts

Sorry about the misspelling of the word dilemma. Where is spell check when one needs it. :)

Posted by
158 posts

Have you considered not staying overnight in Cordoba? We have similar plans but a few more days. We'll do 3nts Barcelona, 4 nts Seville, 2 nts Granada (visiting Ronda en route from Seville to Granada), 3 nts Torremolinos (arranged it this way so the kids could have a few days on the beach near the end of the trip), 4 nts Madrid. We plan to visit Cordoba en route from Torremolinos to Madrid. Its' not perfect but its one less night stop and we'll at least see the Mesquita. We'll visit Segovia as a daytrip from Madrid. If you drop the two nights in Cordoba and visit en route to Madrid you could add two extra nights somewhere else.

Posted by
7124 posts

Hi Terri,
You may have missed my PM.
This is your most efficient use of time.

6/16 Arrive Barcelona
6/20 Fly to Granada
6/22 Train to Córdoba
6/23 Train to Sevilla
6/26 Train to Madrid
6/30 Depart Madrid

Train Barcelona to Sevilla is nearly 6 hours - a whole day wasted. Flying to Granada makes more sense, especially since Barcelona airport is modern, efficient and close to the city centre.

Posted by
3542 posts

Have to agree with everyone, fly Barcelona - Granada.

Vueling Air has many flights a day. It's a budget European carrier. Travel time between the two is 1 hour 25 minutes. Train to airport is 16 minutes.
It's an inetereuropean flight so at most you need to be at the airport an hour to 1 1/2 before.
20 minutes into Granada by taxi.

Tickets will also be less expensive.

Flight to Seville is 1 hour 35 min.