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Andalucia Itinerary - What do you think?

Mark

10+ Posts
#1
Arrive in Madrid from the US drive to Cordoba, train times don't seem to work.
3 nights in Cordoba,
2 Nights in Sevilla,
3 nights in Jerez
2 nights in Granada
1 night back in Madrid
Return to US
 

Mark

10+ Posts
#2
I was just looking for feedback on nights inn each town, too little, too much etc.
The stay in Jerez will include a trip to Gibraltar.
 
#3
Our trip to Spain doesn't commence until the end of the month, so I'm basing my thoughts on six months of research, rather than direct experience. I think you have too many nights in Jerez (we are skipping it altogether) and not enough in Granada and Sevilla. You might also cut back on Cordoba a bit (we are doing it as a day trip from Sevilla - only about 45 min by train). Not sure that Gibraltar is worth the effort - but that's just me.
 
Last edited:

Mark

10+ Posts
#4
Thanks Bruce. We are flying into Madrid and arrive at 6:40 am, the ave train is at 1:00 PM and otherwise it is 4 hour bus ride to Cordoba. So we decided to drive and the first day is lost, so 3 nights in Cordoba. We will have 1.5 days in Sevilla and know another night would be optimal. My wife will drag my butt to as many sites as possible with a cafe between stops. Jerez is important as I am really into wine so I wanted the only 2 days possible that I could visit sherry bodegas, Gibraltar is a must see for my wife. I was was also concerned with short changing Granada.
 
#5
You don't say when you are travelling and that might be important. Renfe (Spanish train system) doesn't post their schedules until at least 60 days before the travel date for regular trains and 90 days for AVE. If you are searching for trains in, say, September, you won't find much. But there are lots of AVE trains going from Madrid Atocha to Cordoba. I just did a quick search for May 1 and there is one leaving almost every half-hour in the morning (not all are AVE) and somewhat fewer in the mid-day period.

The Renfe site is pretty challenging unless you speak Spanish. I've been booking all my train tickets on trainline.eu which is dead simple and does not charge additional service fees - you pay the Renfe price.

To get some idea of the schedule, just look a few weeks down the road without actually booking something. It might be a good idea to look on the same weekday you will be travelling - things might be different on a weekend, for example. Then, just wait until you are inside the 90 day period before booking. Oh, and don't bank on the 60/90 day thing - Renfe is notoriously lackadaisical about putting up the new schedules. Keep checking.

Another great site for learning about European trains is The Man in Seat 61. He has a full page on each country - look for Spain.
 

Mark

10+ Posts
#6
Bruce, Late September early October. Checked out trainline already checking the end of May. Hence my comments about train times. So felt I need to cut to the chase and make some decisions now. So do I wait til August to see the train schedule or book a car now? already booked rooms in Córdoba.
 
#7
I don't think you should have any difficulty booking either the train or a car in August. I wouldn't wait until the week before you leave, but by early/mid July I would think the AVE schedule should be available. Will you need a car for other parts of your trip? I usually avoid driving as much as possible, especially in the cities. The car is a real pain. All of the locations you have in your itinerary are easily accessible by train. The exception might be Gibraltar - I can't really help you there.

I was booking all our trains (we have about 8 trips altogether) in early March for travel during May. I had no problem - lots of selection. You can also book buses on some routes using trainline.eu. We ended up taking one from Sevilla to Granada. Apparently, there is some maintenance on the tracks outside of Granada and the bus is just as quick and a lot cheaper.

Of course, you could also reserve a car now as insurance and then cancel if you get the train you want. Provided you don't have a pre-paid car reservation, of course.
 

Mark

10+ Posts
#8
Understood cars are a pain in cities, but have a lot of experience in small cities in Europe just coming back from staying in Colmar and Reims always look for parking issues and try to make sure we have parking covered. Once in town the car will stay put. If in Wine county cars are a must. Have had some TGV horror stories, so stay off and we enjoy driving though Europe. Typically in a large city no car and rent when we leave.
 
#9
You seem to be doing too much packing/unpacking.I would certainly spend more nights in Sevilla, a most fascinating city. As someone else said, Cordoba is just a 45-minute train ride from Sevilla on the AVE. You can also count me as not a fan of Granada, except for the Alhambra of course.

I second the recommendation of trainline.eu. The RENFE site is just awful, even if you speak Spanish. And also that it's worth looking at buses -- certainly between Granada and Sevilla they are quicker and cheaper than the train. You can see timetables and book on alsa.com.

Cars are a pain in Spanish cities. Local police are enthusiastic about clamping/towing if you misunderstand parking restrictions (easily done). Much more so than in France. If you do drive between cities, just return the rental car when you get there. What kind of TGV horror stories do you have? AVEs are very comfortable in Spain, albeit a bit pricy compared to standard trains.
 
#10
VeronicaFrance, I appreciate your thoughts. Traveling from Avignon was not the end of the world. We had a 10:10 train from Avignon to Gare de Lyon. Arrived with plenty of time say 9:30. Something was strange the platform was packed. The rugby World Cup was in France and found the Australian Rugby team and asked what was going on. Oh they said the 9:20 did not show. So now we have two sets of travelers trying to get on the same train. Train arrived I was the last one on. It was not a double decker and had a baggage space in the rear of the car. Of course no one from SNCF set foot on the platform or on the train. We were all left to fend for our selves. My wife sat on the floor of the Aisle for the 3 hour ride while I stood In baggage. We had reserved seats and knew they were no longer attainable. Of course to top It off the RCR and Metro were on strike when we got to Paris. I am not complaining as we know to expect these to happen. It somewhat enriched the experience of traveling in Europe. It’s always something. It is life accelerated and you need to bob and weave to make sure you don’t get smacked In the face. We enjoy the adventure. I sit here in Tampa, FL writing so far with a 2 hour weather delay trying to get back to Philly. We are evaluating our options between our stays in in Jerez and Granada.
 
#11
Hi Mark,
I just returned home last night from a couple of weeks in Seville and Madrid and. at risk of piling on, wanted to repeat some of the points other posters have made.

Are you really locked into staying in Cordoba? Because it is such an easy day trip from Seville, it might simplify your life if you stay in Seville an extra 3 nights and use it as a base for day trips.

In terms of cars, I was told that more and more cities in Spain (and certainly, Seville is one example) cars are pretty much banned from large parts of the centre. So if you rent as soon as you arrive, you'll have to stay in hotels farther out from the centre, with parking. Not the end of the world, but it can complicate things. It might be easier to land in Madrid, take the train straight down to Seville, and stay there for a while. Even rent your car there.

I live in Rome and use Trenitalia a lot -- sometimes it is quite good but my experience with Renfre was so much better. (even the railway stations were in great shape).

Hope this helps!
Sandra
 
#12
We will wait unit til 60 day booking period arrives to decide if a train makes sense to get to Cordoba and Sevilla
Changed out Itinerary to 2 night in Cordoba and now 3 nights in Sevilla and 2 nights in Jerez with another night between Gilbraltar and Granada
Fly to Madrid
Arrive Madrid 6:40AM Train or Drive to Cordoba overnight in Cordoba
overnight in Cordoba
Train or Drive to Sevilla overnight in Sevilla
overnight in Sevilla
overnight in Sevilla
Drive to Jerez overnight in Jerez
overnight in Jerez
Drive to Gibraltar overnight along the Cost del Sol somewhere
drive to Granada overnight in Granada
overnight in Granada
Return to Madrid
Fly back to US
 
#13
I am wondering why Gibraltar is a must see? Pretty uninteresting place. Even half a day there would be half a day better spent elsewhere. Just my two cents.
 
#14
I agree, my wife seems to think it is an important must see. Hopefully I can convince her not to go. I'd rather spend another night in sherry country
 
#15
While not wishing to inflame any marital discord, I too see no reason to visit Gibraltar. Another night in the Sherry Triangle, perhaps to visit Sanlucar de Barrameda, would be my cup of manzanilla.

For us, the whole of the Costa Del Sol was a bust. If we wanted cozy tea rooms, pints of bitter, fish and chips and "real" English breakfasts, we would have booked a trip to England.

If somehow Gibraltar comes off the table, a drive from Jerez on the A384 provides an opportunity to see Zahara de la Sierra (just off the highway a little way), Olvera, a pleasant town with fine views from the church/castle balcony, the El Chorro natural area with easy walks and interesting rock formations, the Camino del Rey if you're not concerned with heights and can get a ticket. One could overnight in Antequera with its large dolmens before an easy drive into Granada on the A 92.
 
#16
Dennis, Thanks for you comments and suggestions. Wife is on board (I think) Saluncar is on my list. Have Wine trade connections, so hope to visit Bodegas there as well as Jerez. Will probably bail on Costa del Sol.
 
#17
Mark:
Winnowing down your choices will be a problem. Unless you have a special interest in seeking out the "drinking mice", I would give Tio Pepe a pass. Lustau and Tradicion were favourites in Jerez.

In Sanlucar, I have a special fondness for Hidalgo La Gitina. It's not the best manzanilla but it was my first. A better choice is Barbadillo for both the tour and tastings. The tourist office also had a list of bodegas open that day for tours

In El Puerto, we liked the Osborne and Gutierrez Colosio tours and tastings.

I'm sure your connections with offer professional advice. These are just ones I liked. Most if not all have web sites where one can make reservations.

Salud!
Dennis
 

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