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Semana Santa - Trip Report - PART TWO - Thanks for Advice!

CONTINUED:

  • Cordoba - we really disliked Cordoba. Our hotel was garbage - Hesperia Cordoba (see my review separately), it was very touristy, the area outside the old town/Mezquita area was dirty, gypsies were ALL OVER and VERY aggressive, and prices were really high. We stayed two nights and regretted it. PLUS - when we went to the Mezquita, we were denied entrance despite them being open and having visibly posted open hours. So we didn't even get to see the one thing we went to see.
  • Madrid part 2 - we were flying out of Madrid, so we went back and stayed at an AirBnb. We selected a place a little outside of the tourist area thinking we'd appreciate the quiet, however it backfired. We arrived the Saturday before Easter, and at least half of everything was already closed for the holiday, and we weren't around much as far as restaurants or grocery stores. So we sort of stranded ourselves.

OVERALL THOUGHTS:

  • The language was a much bigger barrier than we'd thought. RS eludes to general pleasantries, "toilet, etc" and pointing to the menu as being enough, but it wasn't. We found MAYBE 25% of people spoke any English. I had to reach back to my high school Spanish days and use Google translate quite a bit.
  • Driving in Spain was like a sport - drivers were aggressive, the roads were mountainous, and if you don't have a lot of experience with a manual transmission, PLEASE rent automatic. There was a LOT of down-shifting to get my tiny car up the hills. Police were present on the roadways, too - so watch the speed limits and be careful. The views were breathtaking, however. Unforgettable.
  • The hardest part for me to express was that I do feel we weren't that welcome in some places as tourists. Now, to be totally transparent - we used our gringo Spanish 99% of the time, were VERY gracious and friendly and we still noticed that Spain Natives (or fluent speakers) were treated more quickly and better than we were. I know of a few times where other tables got service and food faster than we did. Granted, we were there during Semana Santa, the busiest time, so maybe the annoyance level was high?\
  • We took advantage of siesta quite a bit - for rest, napping or whatever. The weather was HOT - 80F or more every day with almost no cloud cover. So we needed breaks.
  • We saw dozens of Semana Santa processions and they are WONDERFUL in person. We are NOT religious, but loved the cultural aspect of it and it was all very moving.

All in all we had a great time, I appreciate all your advice and help. Cheers!

Posted by
4741 posts

Glad you kept a good attitude in spite of the setbacks. And I think you're right that the timing of your visit had a lot to do with some of the less pleasant aspects.

We visited Madrid and Granada a few years ago, and had an extremely pleasant time. I do speak some Spanish, but not fluently. It does help, however, to dredge up whatever language skills you have.

Thanks for your interesting report. I can't wait to read the hotel reviews!

Posted by
1322 posts

I am glad you overall had a good trip. Travel is hard work! I watched all the Seville processions online and it was astounding. However we were there a couple of weeks ahead of you and the people were the real highlight of our trip. Waiters, street musicians, taxi drivers, families and friends eating in crowded spaces like us - zero negative experience and more personal interaction than I have had in most other countries I have visited. So it really must have been the timing. Glad you kept on going!