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Why Spain

Admittedly, on this forum, this is an unusual question because nearly all who frequently visit and contribute to this forum are fans of Spain--they have visited the country, perhaps more than once, and been seduced by what it offers. But my guess is that for most Spain was not a first choice, but a third or fourth choice--travel to Spain occurred only after travel to a number of other European countries (such as England, Italy, France and Germany).

As one who has a trip to Spain planned for May, but is (for several reasons) hesitating, I ask why did you go; did your visit meet or exceed your expectations; just how different was visiting Spain compared to visiting other countries in Europe; and what would you say to someone who has traveled to much of Europe, but who is asking whether Spain should be next. Based on what I have read over some time on this forum, my guess is that some will respond they went to Spain with reservations and were overwhelmed by its charms. But I am curious as to what the responses will be.

Posted by
6438 posts

We have always placed emphasis on other European countries and never got around to visiting Spain until this past June. We flew into Madrid, took a bus down to Granada to see Alambra and flew over to Barcelona. We had earlier stopped at a couple of the coastal cities on repositioning cruises and found them to be very congested seas of high rise condos--and poor quality beaches.
We absolutely loved Madrid, Granada and Barcelona. We found the people absolutely beautiful, and everything was modern by any standards. We will certainly be back to visit other regions in the future as it's a very large and diverse country.

Posted by
202 posts

I have visited the UK some 20 times and have also visited France on numerous occasions....as well as Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, and Italy.

In May 2019, I enjoyed very much the 8-day Rick Steves Barcelona-Madrid tour (including Toledo). I expected that I would enjoy Spain but not fall in love with it. That was the case. I was amused by Gaudi buildings in Barcelona, enjoyed Madrid, and was excited by our day in Toledo. I am very glad I went. But...Spain didn't touch my heart, and I don't feel an inclination to return. I did not see the countryside, and it may be argued that I haven't given Spain a fair chance. But it's to Italy I want to return...as well as seeing other new countries such as Portugal.

Posted by
2522 posts

This is an interesting question. My first trip to Europe was a backpacking trip in the late 1980s and Spain was my first stop in a trip that was focused on multiple stops during two weeks in Spain, followed by a breeze through the south of France, followed by multiple stops in Italy, and some single stops in Germany and Switzerland and then ending with a week in Madrid. Why did we pick Spain for the most stops and the majority of the trip? An interest in Spanish culture, the fact that I had just taken an intensive Spanish literature class in college, and that Spain was then, and still is, one of the cheaper European countries. I am not sure that Spain is a generally a third or fourth choice for a country in Europe though it might be for people on this board. At the Europe board at TripAdvisor, Spain has the most forum posts of any European country by about 400,000 posts and Spain is the only country in Europe with two of the top-ten most visited cities in Europe. I have now been to Spain 5 times, Italy 4 times, the United Kingdom 4 times, Germany 3 times, and France more times than I can remember. France is the place that has captured my heart but if my children had their way, we would spend our time in Spain, Portugal, or Italy so you just never know.

Posted by
3710 posts

I would suggest that Spain is more popular asa tourist destination as Germany (I love Germany but it's completely different to Spain). Of all the European countries I've visited, Spain is by far the most frequent.

Rome is my favourite city in the world, I will never tire of it yet the rest of Italy comes second to Spain. I prefer the food, the people, the culture, the personality and the wine.

Spain (Ibiza) was my first foreign holiday and it sparked a love of the Balearics, most noticeably Mallorca, an island loved primarily by the British and Germans and frequently overlooked in favour of the well worn path of Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Granada and Cordoba. That's not to say that those cities are not worthy of a visit, quite the contrary although Barcelona has failed to ignite my interest.

The Costa's may well be blighted by overdevelopment but it's easy to get out of the tourist zone and explore traditional Spanish towns and villages and there is so much variety across the whole country begging to be explored. If I look at a map of Europe, Spain stands out as the country that attracts me the most.

Posted by
1828 posts

... my guess is that some will respond they went to Spain with reservations and were overwhelmed by its charms.

That's me! For no apparent reason, I had the idea that Spain just wasn't as "pretty" as France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, England, The Netherlands - all places I visited before giving Spain a chance.

Honestly, I'm glad that I "saved" Spain for my later years so I can remember it better. The fears for my safety in Barcelona were ridiculously overblown. I'm obsessed with finding Priorat wines in my price range. Las Meninas in the Prado made me cry. And - the country was absolutely beautiful. I could go on, but I won't.

I was going to go back to France in 2021, but I've been considering another trip to Spain instead.

Posted by
16123 posts

I don't really have a favorite country or city in Europe, but I suppose if pressed to suggest a destination for a one-and-only trip to Europe to someone else, I might choose Italy. I can't put my finger on why. But I've found much to love in every European country I've been to. I tend not to be terribly surprised about liking a place because I've been reading guidebooks to Europe for over 55 years.

During my college and working years I got to Spain several times, but not for long enough to really get a good feel for it, though I was left with positive impressions of Barcelona and Seville in particular. My first long trip to Spain was in 2016 when I covered roughly the northern 2/3 of the country in 88 days. I returned last year for another 6 weeks, primarily to see Andalucía and some previously-skipped places in the east. Both trips were great; they introduced me to places very few Americans go (e.g., Ubeda, Caceres, Teruel and northern Spain), and I especially got a kick out of the non-touristy places. I'm a visual person, and there's a great variety of architecture in Spain, which I find very attractive.

Having done my homework (and not caring for beaches), I have studiously avoided the coastal resort towns except for Cadaques in Catalunya, which I did enjoy. The only two places I don't recommend are Santander and Vigo, which just aren't all that interesting. I visited them for reasons of practicality (day-trips to nearby spots I wanted to see). Most likely every country has some places that are just not right for an individual traveler. My idea of a nightmare trip would be 2 nights in Barcelona (not long enough for anything other than a frustrating, crowded experience) and a week on the Costa del Sol. But I imagine there are some folks for whom such a trip would be heaven.

Posted by
2517 posts

I fell in love with Spain in the 70s when I lived there and my wife and I go back every couple years. To my wife and I, it’s like going home. We’ve visited all the major cities we want to, multiple times, and now concentrate on the small towns not on most tourists’ radar. The next trip there is already planned for later this year. After Spain, it will be time to return to France.

Posted by
3248 posts

Your first paragraph described our situation very accurately, although I was very interested in Spain as a child when our small town had a Spanish program with dancers performing.

To be fair to Spain, we probably didn’t visit it until 2017 because of it’s geography. It’s easier to combine France with Italy, Germany with Austria, or Switzerland with Italy than to combine a country with Spain which I liked to do when we were first doing our own itineraries.

Spain definitely exceeded our expectations! Our itinerary was Toledo-2, Madrid-3, Cordoba-1, Sevilla-4, Ronda-2, Granada-3, Nerja/Frigiliana-4, Malaga-1, Madrid-1. (We were supposed to fly home from Malaga originally.) Our first hotel in Madrid had a view of the Royal palace gardens - lovely, and we were so close to walk everywhere except catching a metro to the art museums. I guess I should just copy a link to my trip report, and you can read how much we enjoyed it!

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/1st-time-to-spain-trip-report

Posted by
2256 posts

I first fell in love with pictures and videos of southern Spain. Something about the architecture and general feel of the place felt a bit exotic, for lack of a better word. Flamenco. My first trip to the country was Seville and Granada and after some return visits...I can honestly say that those are two of my 4 favorite cities in Europe (the other two are Palermo and Siracusa).

I convinced my husband to go by showing him Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown from...2013?2014? It’s just called Spain but is all on Granada. It’s the best thing I’ve seen to capture the feel of the place. So my husband went with me and now he’s a Spain fan too.

There’s just the slightest bit of...I don’t know the word. It’s not chaos (that’s Italy), it’s like a sense of the unknown, wonder, unpredictability that I love. I like Germany and Switzerland but sometimes the efficiency and neatness feels constricting or cold to me. Not that the people are cold but just the vibe of the place. Give me a little more passion, a quality that I find in Spain!

Posted by
11499 posts

After several trips to Switzerland, Italy, and the UK between 2002 and 2010, we were invited to join friends at a vacation flat they had rented in Girona for a week for May of 2011. We booked our airfare into Barcelona and out of Madrid, and then they cancelled. So we went on our own and had a great trip with many wonderful experiences. Barcelona, Toledo, Sevilla during the Feria, and Granada were all interesting and very enjoyable. I loved the food—-having tapas for “dinner” suits our eating style, and I liked all the seafood, and the use of peppers more than tomatoes (which I don’t like). The people are gracious and welcoming, but somewhat reserved. The country overall is more affordable than other places we have been (Italy and Switzerland in particular).

We returned last May, just to Catalunya for some hiking in the Pyrenees and the Costa Brava. Cadaqués is beautiful, and we would return for more hiking there. And more pulpo Gallego.

There are some dreadful coastal resort towns with high-rise buildings that should be avoided, however.

Posted by
5314 posts

My second trip to Europe was to Spain and I have returned several more times and will continue exploring this country. I studied Spanish in high school and college so it was a natural choice for me. I love the different regions, the art and architecture, Basque culture. I was very surprised to read that many put it way down their list as I think of it as a major destination in Europe.
I have also traveled in South America.
But I have visited Italy the most times, at least ten, followed by London, then China.

Posted by
2146 posts

I went to Europe 10 times before going to Spain-partly because on 3 trips there were family members who hadn't yet been to London, Paris and Italy. 2 other prior trips were to England when my husband was going there for work. I loved Spain-the Alhambra, Segovia, the Royal Palace and Prado in Madrid. However, it is not a priority for a return trip-I still haven't been to most of Central Europe and Italy and England call to us on a regular basis.

Posted by
6275 posts

We love Flamenco (but we discovered that from being exposed to it living in Chicago) Andalusia Tapas Rioja the later time for supper and clubbing. Better Weather off peak than the countries to the north. More bang for your buck and interaction with non-English speakers compared to the other Western Europe

Posted by
13787 posts

Sometime ago, I think in the 1990's, I was visiting NYC and saw a traveling exhibition of the Alhambra at the Met. I put it on my list of must-sees at the time. 20 years later, after I retired and began traveling extensively and intensively, Spain had long dropped off my consciousness. After a goodly number trips to Europe (UK, Paris, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and more), I was looking for "somewhere new" for a February trip. I turned to the Forum and someone (bless his or her heart) said that Andalucia is the warmest, driest part of Europe. That sentence jogged my memories of the Alhambra exhibition. In 2013 I went to Andalucia for 21 days (plus 2 in Madrid). My idea was that 3 weeks would allow me to see the area in depth and I'd cross it off my list. Before a week was out, I knew I'd be back . . . and 2 years later I spent another 10 days there, more time in Madrid and 5 days in Barcelona. A year later I was back for another 3week-plus visit, returned to Barcelona for a week, then Valencia for a few days and nearly 2 weeks in Andalucia - this time included Semana Santa. A year ago I went to the French Riviera for 10 days and couldn't resist tacking on a long weekend in Barcelona, which is becoming one of my favorite cities in the world. I hope to explore the north of the country this year or next year.

To end, I came back from my first trip to Spain saying, "it's better than Italy!!"

Posted by
94 posts

I'm from the UK and live in Italy. We've been to the Andalucía área several times recently and still want to go back.
Why Spain? People are friendly and pleasant and nice to tourists, eating out is flexible, cheap and easy, public transport is available, cheap and works, I always feel safe and at ease walking around, weather is usually better off season than anywhere else in mainland Europe, communication is easy (I speak pretty bad Spanish), fresh fruit, vegetables and fish are outstanding and easy to find because we stay in an apartment and like cooking (local markets and Mercadona supermarket). This is all the background, and then you can add the Alhambra in Granada, the Mezquita in Córdoba......loads of beautiful places to see and things to do, many are free at least once a week. I feel welcome and have a great time in Andalucía.....

Posted by
1557 posts

I think outside of the USA, Spain ranks a lot more highly on people's must see list, it is the second most visited country in the world, ahead of Italy, GB, USA, China, Germany, only France ranks slightly higher. As of 2019, it also ranks as the most valuable tourism brand in the world, by the WEF. I think because of the lack of any major historical immigration from Spain to USA, many Americans are initially unfamiliar with the country, as opposed to Italy or Germany, and consequently put it lower on their list.

After a while of going to the typical blockbuster destinations Paris, Rome, London, they think "hmm what about this country here, Spain, it seems petty detached from the rest of Europe" which leads to "we might as well give it a try, it may surprise us" which more often than not leads to "wow Spain really is different, and we really enjoyed our time there, I think we will be back next year!".

I think the secret of Spain lies in its sheer diversity in culture, food, landscape and everything in between. It offers something for everyone at any time of the year, there are many kinds of tourists who visit Spain after all, most find what they are looking for (and more). We are so popular, that we are being overwhelmed by our own success, which leads to our problem of overtourism in my country.

Posted by
811 posts

To practice my Spanish which I minored in college. Mexico didn't seem too appealing at the time to a single female and my high school Spanish teachers taught us about the Prado and the Spanish painters and the Alhambra which back then you could just go to without reservations-if only.

I found much to my shock that the food/wine/pastries was as good as France and that I felt wonderful walking around the city at night seeing families out and not holed up watching TV as in the US. The AVE must be the about the best train system in Europe. And yes, being able to use my Spanish and being treated like a regular person-getting a Spanish menu at restaurants instead of an English one was the icing on the cake.

Finally, it was enlightening to see how a dictatorship just 30 years ago could transform itself into a modern democracy with the EU.

Posted by
1008 posts

I grew up in a bit of a "Little Italy", so always wanted to go there. Spain wasn't really on my radar.

The first time we went, it was chosen by my sister as we were joining her and her family (kids were 11, 8, 7). We made lifelong memories with the family, enjoyed Spain but didn't fall in love with it as we have other places.

We went back in 2016 because our Transatlantic cruise disembarked in Barcelona. We considered flying or taking the train to just about everywhere else in Europe. In the end we figured we were in Spain, so we'd stay in Spain. We continued on for two weeks in Barcelona, Granada, Cordoba, Toledo and Madrid (my favourite).

Spain was a slow burn for me. I can't communicate at all, no matter how hard I practice Spanish. I do much better in French.

But I did love it, especially Madrid, for the sights, culture, cheaper meals, and more.

We don't currently have plans to return to Spain, but I'm interested in the northern portion. Someday.

A bit of an aside -- is it a generalization that Americans cope better in Spanish and Canadians in French?

Posted by
2256 posts

Andrea, I think the generalizations about Americans in Spanish vs Canadians in French might be based in some truth. In Canada everything is dual labeled in French, and it’s probably the most common second language taught in schools. Even if you don’t know French it’s kind of in the air in Canada. I think. I’m American so I might be wrong but I grew up near the US/Canada border, going to Canada often. I always noticed the French (and I wasn’t going to Quebec, more to Toronto or lakes in Ontario).

In the US more things are labeled in Spanish, in most any sizable city there’s a large Hispanic population so you randomly hear it spoken, and Spanish tv and radio is often heard in passing. Almost all schools offer Spanish as a second language and I bet it’s the most popular.

Background exposure plays a part in language familiarity. I studied a couple years of French but find it very difficult (the pronunciations especially, I can actually understand a fair bit in writing). Meanwhile I find Spanish more familiar. My Spanish is fairly bad, but I can make do. Which of course adds another layer of enjoyment to Spain.

Posted by
492 posts

We have been to Spain twice, and I have never had any reservations about visiting Spain! Since I was in high school, I have been interested in the Moorish history of Spain, and I had read about the Alhambra, about the beauty of Seville and its Moorish architecture, and the Mezquita (cathedral within a mosque) in Cordoba. I remember when the Olympics were held in Barcelona and have wanted to visit ever since.

I visited Spain before I traveled to France. I visited London, Rome, and Athens before I went to Spain but not by choice. Inexpensive travel opportunities presented itself to me for visits to Rome and London when I worked as a travel agent many decades ago. My first trip to Europe was to Athens when I worked for a company that had a travel office that planned group tours for its employees at very low rates. So I couldn't pass up that opportunity. But Spain has always been at the top of my list (#1 or #2), and I hope to return for a 3rd visit some day. So, yes, Spain also exceeded my expectations!

Please do not be hesitant to go to Spain!

Posted by
364 posts

I went to Lithuania for a Yiddish class in the summer of 2007. Now sometimes I feel like the class was a waste of money. At the time I was anamorate of the country, which might have something to do with ancestors having lived there before coming to the USA. But I didn't see much because I was there for a class. At least I got college credit for the class. In 2015 I took a 5 day trip to Quebec, Canada. Part of my brain wanted to see if I could travel on my own again. Another part of my brain was still afraid to do things my mother didn't approve of. She is anxiety ridden and travel phobic. I was 32 at the time. In 2016 I went to London, England. I am disappointed in myself for having spent all my time in London instead of seeing Bath or other towns. In this order my next trips were to Italy, Greece, Netherlands and Belgium in the same trip. So I am going to Spain in October. So not counting the class in Lithuania, I'll call my upcoming trip my 6th major solo trip, my 5th solo trip to Europe.

Eastern Canada is reasonably close but still foreign. England has almost the same language, so it seems like a Logical next place to visit; London has good museums like the British museum. Ancient Rome was a grandiose and influential civilization, so it seems like an obvious place to see. Ancient Greece seems like almost as grandiose and important; minimal research suggest that Greece is reasonably safe and easy enough to visit. I liked the Old Dutch paintings in the Detroit Institute of Art, so the Netherlands popped into mind as a possible place to visit. I already have learned some Spanish, I had vaguely heard of the moors and the Spanish Inquisition, the country popped into mind as a place I could investigate whether it is a safe place to travel or whether there is enough to do there... I had thought about traveling to France, Germany, or Russia. A lot of times, the choice to visit one country instead of another place is just because you want to travel somewhere but the actual destination is not rational, except that of course you have to pick a place that is safe enough..

Posted by
2517 posts

Mike L - you’re the first person from Detroit I have ever heard refer to Canada as foreign. Cross the Ambassador bridge and you’re there. My family is originally from Detroit and lived near Christ Church.

Posted by
1856 posts

I visited Spain on my third ever Europe trip out of nineteen, it was on a Trafalgar tour because I was going solo and booked in a hurry. No time to plan, I had just been laid off of a job. Also spent time before and after in Madrid. Spain is a tier one European destination in my opinion. As a bonus it’s very easy to do on public transit. And the trains are faster than they were fifteen years ago. Other countries like France and England, in my view you need to drive for the best visit. (The white hill towns never called to me and anyway there is always Ronda that you can get to without a car). I did not make it to Germany until my sixth trip though I love Germany too. I have visited perhaps over twenty countries and never said to myself, that was really bad. If there is a country out there that would fit that description I guarantee you that Spain is not it.

It depends on what you like but for me Madrid and Seville are highlights. The Prado is right up there with any single museum in Europe that I have visited. The Alhambra is a one-of-a-kind sight. Watch Rick’s videos. I like Barcelona too but not as much as Madrid. Also, Spain has become fairly inexpensive to visit as they never made it back fully from the financial crisis. I last visited in 2005 with my former travel partner, and again briefly on business in Barcelona in 2010. Main reason I have not been back is that there are so many other places to see. Also, every stop I’ve been to was great and I would be tempted to revisit them all again. I can imagine going to France without a return to Normandy (and have), but I cannot imagine returning to Spain without seeing Seville again.

Posted by
3710 posts

MikeL from Detroit.

You live in Detroit yet you focus heavily on the safety aspect of visiting European countries! Trust me, you probably have more to worry about travelling around your neighbourhood than you do visiting much of Europe.

Focus on what interests you rather than the safety aspect, you're considering Spain, Greece, England not Juarez or Honduras or even Detroit!

Posted by
364 posts

I grew up in a ritzy suburb. My apartment complex is in a reasonably safe area and not in one of the gang controlled ghetto neighborhoods. My mother grew up in Detroit and she feels like the city is an unsafe place. Also among other fears, she has a phobia of travel and being in big cities alone, so it took awhile to quit feeling like travel was something I wasn’t supposed do - plenty of Americans don’t even have a passport or go their whole lives without leaving the country. ...

Getting to Canada from Detroit is not as simple as just driving across the ambassador bridge or through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. You have to go through the boarder security checkpoint where the boarder guards ask accusing questions, and sometimes they make you wait inside a little building while they search your car and investigate you. And if Windsor, Toronto, or Niagara Falls don’t seem foreign enough, Quebec, with their insistence on speaking French, does seem foreign. But they do use the same electrical outlets as the United States.

Posted by
187 posts

Spain was not at the top of our travel list but we went in October/November and loved it. We had previously been to England, Scotland, France, Italy, Switzerland, Greece, Turkey, South Africa, Botswana, and several Caribbean islands but kept putting off Spain. We were very pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed it. The people, the sights, and the food were all wonderful and the trains were comfortable and ran on time. We visited Barcelona, Granada, Seville, Cordoba, Toledo, and Madrid and each place had something special to offer. To make things even better, Spain was probably the least expensive place we have visited (except Barcelona). We would be happy to return and explore some more!

Posted by
3816 posts

Having visited 78 foreign countries, I have my top five favorites in the World:
1)Italy
2)Great Britain
3)Japan
4)Egypt
5)Peru

Of course, many others have been wonderful, Spain, Portugal, Greece, France, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Ireland, Chile, Argentina, Australia, NZ, China, Israel and more. Once you have traveled a lot, you look for places that you haven't visited.
Our next trip is a safari in Kenya/Tanzania.

Posted by
581 posts

On my very first trip to Europe, I backpacked with a college friend and we visited Italy, Germany, France, England and Ireland. I picked Ireland and my friend picked England. I would have gladly traded England for Spain but we were compromising.

I finally made it to Spain (Madrid and Andalucia) in 2016 after three previous trips; a honeymoon in Italy, a vacation in Ireland and a vacation in France. I guess you could say I got a taste for places in college and wanted to return to see more. Five vacations later (Italy, France, Belgium, Scotland, and England), we’re returning back to Spain this upcoming Spring and exploring Barcelona and Mallorca. I hated that we didn’t have enough time to visit BCN on our first trip and I’m excited to return and check it out.

I was blown away by the Moorish architecture in southern Spain. The Alhambra is one of my all time favorite places I’ve ever been. I was surprised about how much I loved Granada. I found flamenco to be electrifying and incredible. I was disappointed in Seville. Madrid met my expectations based off everything I’d read - maybe even exceeded slightly because so many people don’t seem to like it much. I thought it was a cool city; I did find it a bit overstimulating compared to other cities (very loud, big, and busy). I didn’t connect strongly with the Spanish people; some were very friendly but many were aloof. I loved, loved, loved the wonderful tapas and wine and sangria. After four years, I’m excited to return and check out a new corner of the country. There are many places in Spain that I’d like to get to eventually, but so far I do not get a hankering to go like I do for France (my own personal favorite country so far). We return to it this fall to explore the Dordogne. I undoubtedly have many, many return trips waiting for me in the future there. :) so many regions to explore!

Edited to add: I also have many other countries I want to explore. Immediate contenders: Czech Republic, Greece, Morocco, Turkey, Egypt, Portugal, Romania, and Wales.

Posted by
13 posts

To Mike L
I'm surprised to read your comment about your "memorable"  European tours. I understand that anywhere you go, there will always be a certain location where you would not expect to experience. No matter how glorious the description might be.

To be honest, most of what you've said are mostly negatve impression of places you've visited.
I 've been in most-traveled destinations in Europe and Asia and I've seen cultures and people's customs that for most people in developed countries   would find offensive.
I am not offended by what I see in those countries. What I do find offensive is, when people use those negative comments to add shock value to their expressed opinion.
You mentioned you live in a ritzy neighborhood. I don't know what your definition of "ritzy" is.

To me being ritzy is being in a rich neighborhood. . .and rich people don't live in apartments.
They live in mansions.

Posted by
364 posts

Vic: Can you restate, or repeat, in phrases that would be familiar to me, what negative comments you saw?? Can you restate or repeat, in phrases that would be familiar to me, what you think you saw, if anything, that you think you or somebody should take offense to??

Posted by
13787 posts

Richard, after all the responses, are you still hesitating?

Posted by
320 posts

A thanks to all who have responded, often in considerable depth, to my thread question. They have overall reinforced my intent to visit Spain on my next European trip.

And Chani, thank you also for your interest on whether I have decided to go forward with my May visit. The answer is that I have not yet decided and expect to make a final decision in three weeks. But the main reason for my reluctance has nothing to do with Spain's appeal and attractions. The reason is a personal one. My dog, who has been a fantastic pet ever since he was picked up at an animal shelter perhaps 14 years ago, has become old. In the last few months--but especially in the past few weeks--his decline has become increasingly noticeable. My daughter, who cared for him when I last went to Europe, has since relocated. The challenge of providing care for him--as well as the guilt over leaving him--for an extended period has frankly become the major factor.

Posted by
13787 posts

I'm so sorry to hear that. In your place, I would probably stay with my dog to the end, then take a trip to buoy my spirits.

PS - I was in Lafayette for an all-too-short visit over a decade ago. I loved everything about it, even in August.

Posted by
320 posts

Thank you for the kind words, Chani. August in south Louisiana? You're a trooper. I frequently say August is our worst month--much too hot and humid, and the hurricane watch has begun.

I have time before making a final decision. I use Delta mileage points when I travel to Europe, which means I try to book flights 10 months or so before traveling. The flight - cancellation fee is only $150.

My original itinerary was (in nights) Madrid (4), Seville (4), Granada (3), and Barcelona (5), with day trips to Toledo and Cordoba. After review of comments on this forum, the revised itinerary is Madrid (3), Toledo (1), Seville (4), Granada (3), Cordoba (1), and Barcelona (4). The changes resulted in only minor changes to hotel reservations booked. Had I, say, reduced the stay in Seville to three nights, I would have needed to change every hotel reservation made.

Like so many, I was reluctant to book one - night stays. But I read too many positive comments about Toledo at night and Cordoba in general (including yours) that I decided to make the revisions.

Finally, something I will do when I go is take Spanish Civil War tours in Madrid and Barcelona. Even as civil wars go, it was a terribly brutal war. It was the clearly the most significant event in Spain in the last century, but one that it seems Spain has tried to forget about.

Posted by
364 posts

If you could write yourself a more detailed itinerary, listing the major activities you want do each day, you might get a better idea of exactly how many nights you need in each place. I am taking a similar trip but skipping Barcelona. I probably will spend 2 nights in Cordoba. I don’t know whether I want to spend a night in Toledo or go as a day trip. I haven’t figured put whether I need 3 or 4 nights in Seville. I posted a supposed itinerary for myself. I probably will change my mind a few times about a lot of it before I make my hotel reservations.

Posted by
13787 posts

I like your itinerary. There is no ideal one, every place will have more to see and do that the time you have. Expect to go back. . . Spain is as habit-forming as Italy.

August was due to a 5-day event in New Orleans. At least I got to see Nola before Katrina, and I am so glad I chose to spend time in your friendly town, so much better than the big city.

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136 posts

My husband and I have traveled widely, and our love for Spain began in 2010 when we were offered use of a holiday house on Ibiza. As luck would have it, this was during the 2010 World Cups. We watched the quarter finals from a bar where staff and patrons did a little happy dance singing "yo soy espanol, espanol, espanol" with every goal or favorable turn of events. Although we were not soccer fans, who could not be drawn in by the passion? We then traveled to Barcelona, and were there for the semi-finals. We were at dinner and the wait staff were trying not to look at the TV screen until everyone, staff and patrons alike, abandoned all pretense and watched the game. When Spain won, the city went crazy, with fireworks, honking, and happy crowds shouting through the night! That night was when Spain became our country. Since then our daughter has gone to live in Barcelona, and we are there 2-3 times a year, visiting the major sights and more out of the way places like the Pyrenees, Costa Brava, and Priorat. We have considered moving to Spain for at least part of the year. Did you know it is deemed the healthiest country in the world? Our grandchild was born there, and the medical care was as good if not better than in Boston, where we're from. And in Barcelona, food is so fresh and inexpensive, it ruins you for going home to the supermarkets.

Enough personal history. Your revised itinerary looks good. Having overnight stays in Toledo and Cordoba decompresses your time in those charming cities, and I'm glad you are taking the time to do them. The Toledo cathedral is wonderful and La Mezquita is one of the most amazing places of worship you will ever see. Did you know you can visit there at night? We could not do that because we were only there for the day, but you can, and it is supposed to be magical. The Alhambra is not to be missed, although the city of Granada is worth spending time in, and it actually had a good free city tour. (make sure to tip the guide, that's their remuneration). You didn't indicate whether you are an art fan, but one interesting correlation is to see the original Las Meninas by Velasquez at the Prado and then see Picasso's version of Las Meninas at the Picasso museum in Barcelona. Also visit La Reina Sofia in Madrid, which had a great exhibit on the historical backdrop to Picasso's work, including the incomparable Guernica. Since you are interested in the Spanish Civil War, you might want also to visit Montjuic Castle in Barcelona. Most people value the castle primarily for the views but it also has a number of interesting exhibits with military and/or political topics, including a very moving exhibit on graffiti from people imprisoned in the dungeon over the years. It is the human side of history. You also will learn more about the independence movement in Catalunya. We try not to get political when we go there, but I really believe that an interest in the issues of the countries you visit makes you a traveler and not a tourist.

Anyway, I'm sure you will have a wonderful trip! And I totally understand about your concerns about your dog's health and well-being. Our 7-year old Aussie was diagnosed with cancer shortly before I was to leave for a long-awaited visit to a friend. Needless to say, the visit was postponed. Some things are important.