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14 replies
Spain, North or South though
cutewithoutthe_E
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Hey all, I am planning a trip to spain and only spain. I went around europe last summer (dublin, barcelona, paris, amsterdam, london, wales), and spain was my favourite climate / scene / culture. I was in barcelona last year, but want to explore the rest of the country in more detail.
 
I will be more than likely flying into ibiza from london to party for a couple days, then likely fly into valencia from there, stay a few days, but where to go after is up in the air. The trip has no concrete time frame, but it’s likely to be around 2 weeks, maybe 2 and a half in late august. It’s not so much planning how long to stay in places that i need helpt with, as I have a little experience with that from last year. My question (for people who have been around spain) is whether to go south and visit granada, seville and southern area’s i’ve heard great things about, or to head north through madrid possibly to bilbao, san sebastian etc etc. I want to hop from cities every 2-3 days, covering what i can. But to get a general idea of the trip i will plan I am trying to figure out wheter to head north or south. I know, both areas are great in their own ways, but any help in me making this decision would be amazing. My primary interests are partying, beaches n ocean (i know, less of this up north), and archietecture. I don’t mind hiting some non-touristy area’s, infact wouldnt mind that at all (minus ibiza and valencia obviously   ). Travelling will be more than likely by bus at night (hopefully) to save money on accomadation / not waste time during the day travelling.
Any advice from people with knowledge / experience about spain would be more than awesoem.
Peace,  C

luv_the_beach
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Depending on how much time you have total in Spain, I don’t see why you can’t do an overall tour of the country.  Getting around is very easy.  The nation’s passenger rail system (RENFE) is excellent and reliable.
 
Since you’re already going to “party big” in Ibiza, I suggest focusing more on sightseeing for the remainder of your time in Spain…you will come acress great nightlife and bars elsewhere too, so it all works out.
 
How Much time are you going to be in Spain?  My suggestion would be to pick one spot from various regions, to get an overal sampling of the country.  You’ve already been to Barcelona (Catalunya)….After Valencia, try visiting Granada, Sevilla, or Córdoba in Andalucía.  Then, on your way north, stay in Madrid (in the center of the country) with a daytrip to either nearby Segovia (Castilla y León region), or Toledo (Castilla-La Mancha); then head north, check out the Atlantic coast maybe (Galicia or País Vasco are gorgeous)…and then maybe you can fly back to London from Bilbao.  Also, when you land in Valencia, you may want to check out Costa Blanca; it gets crowded in July-August, but at other times, there’s some charming little towns to explore, like Altea.  Madrid has excellent nightlife that you can check out during your stay there.
 
How long will you be in Spain?


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cutewithoutthe_E
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I will probably be in spain for around 17 days (work permitting, at least 14), but more likely around 17.

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I’d definitely recommend Granada.  For me, the rest are kind of tough to choose from, but I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the places you’re considering, or the places luv_the_beach mentioned.  To make things more confusing, you migiht also consider going to Lisbon   [Smile]

luv_the_beach
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14-17 days is excellent.

Here’s some rough itineraries:

I’m assuming you’ll land in Ibiza day 1, spend days 2 and 3 there
head to Valencia day 4
then off to Granada day 6
north to Madrid day 8, spend days 9, 10, and 11 there, including a day trip to Toledo or Segovia
day 12 maybe to Santiago de Compostela and explore Galicia
day 15 head to Bilbao
day 17 fly back to London

Or

Land Ibiza day 1, spend days 2 and 3 there
head to Valencia day 4, spend days 5, 6, and 7 in Altea on Costa Brava
day 8 head to Madrid, spend days 9, 10, 11, 12 there, including day trips to both Toledo and Segovia
day 13 take the AVE to Sevilla
day 15 head back to Madrid
day 16 or 17 fly back to London

Or something else along these lines.

The possibilities are pretty much endless.  You can also focus on a certain area of the country; maybe the south and southeast (Andalucía and Valencia regions, exploring Córdoba, Granada, Sevilla, Málaga, Costa Brava, Valencia, and so on), or the Atlantic coast (Galicia, Asturias, País Vasco, and Cantabria regions); you can revisit Barcelona if there’s anything you missed there….or, an overall sampling of the country. 

I also like augustin’s Lisbon idea..that can definitely be worked into an itinerary.  You can also do less of Spain, and explore a bit more of Portugal, adding a second Portuguese destination.

I mean, are there any areas mentioned that intrigue you?


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Keleti
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I spent a few days just short of a month in Spain and Portugal last summer. I loved it but it was HOT! Very hot inland especially. Yes there as a heat wave last summer. However it is typically hot inland as there is no ocean breeze in Granada, Sevilla or Cordoba. Take a look at their typical temperature in August, they are very warm. So if you are traveling in August, keep the climate in mind. During the hottest part of the day many stores and tourist places are closed, so you will find it difficult to get out of the heat. We really appreciated our time on the coast when we could go for a cooling dip in the ocean.

C

luv_the_beach
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Summertime temperatures are not that different from the American South, with the exception that Spain has a dry summer climate (meaning: no humidity) making it more pleasant than the entire eastern half of the USA.  (Southeast Canada is also pretty humid).  I think the major problem lies in the fact that North Americans approach Spain with a North American mindset…for example, waking up relatively late when on vacation (9 or 10am), doing the bulk of sightseeing and errands during the height of the day under the hot sun (noon -5pm), and then returning home to rest.  This is the wrong schedule to live by, when you’re in Mediterreanan Europe. 

I always advise summertime visitors to Southern Europe to embrace the local lifestyle…it’ll make your time there a hundred times better.  Wake up early to do your sightseeing and/or any errands you need to do.  I think 7AM (or even 6AM) is a good time to wake up to get the day started (except for places like Ibiza where there is no sightseeing, just beach and party…then feel free to sleep in all you want).  At around noon to 1PM, it’s time to stop and have some lunch.  Siesta time starts at around 2 or 3PM, lasting until around 5PM.  This is the time of day when the sun is strongest, so avoid physical activity (this is the reason most North Americans find the “heat” unbearable, because they’re running around Madrid under the hot sun, at the peak of the sun’s strength.)  Go lounge in a leafy park, or go back to your hostel/hotel for a 2, 3, or even 4 hour nap (perfect for times when you were out the previous night and went to bed late), or if you had a very small/light lunch you can go to the beach in Valencia or Barcelona (and then just eat afterwards…you can bring sanwhiches to the beach)…siesta time is also the perfect time to spend in Madrid’s Prado or Reina Sofia museums (both are open through siesta time).  5-6PMish head back home (or wake up), maybe do some more errands (grocery shopping? local laundromat? whatever) or stroll on your way home…shower, get ready, and then it’s time to get out and enjoy the evening. 

Dress light during the day!!  Shorts and sandals, is what I do.  Because there is practically no humidity in the air to trap the heat, evening/night-time temperatures always dip to pleasant levels.  After sundown, ditch the shorts, and try dressing a tad spiffier.  Otherwise you’ll stand out as a big time turista.


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K3NN3TH
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I’ll be in Spain in July, and this information is really in-depth and helpful luv_the_beach, especially the Mediterranean life-style part.

Does the same go for Greece too? I think I am going to be in Corfu and Santorini in late June as well, then Madrid, Barcelona, Granada later in July.

High temperature won’t be a problem for me though, I hail from the ocean coast of South Texas, so scorching heat isn’t new to me, I am just interested in the life-style part. Just got back from spring break in South Padre Island which was ranked the #3 beach in the nation during this time, and I must say it was insane, can’t wait for the mediterranean!

Anyway thanks for your expertise, I think I am settling on Santorini and Corfu like you advised.

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Quote:
ORIGINAL: K3NN3TH

I’ll be in Spain in July, and this information is really in-depth and helpful luv_the_beach, especially the Mediterranean life-style part.

Does the same go for Greece too?



Yes, definitely. [Smile]

Siesta is observed, to varying degrees, in Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and southern France.  In some parts of the region, businesses just close for a 2-hour lunch/rest period.  In others, it’s taken more seriously.  Sleep is not necesarily part of siesta, but in all of southern Europe, lunch is [at least traditionally] the biggest meal of the day, like dinner is for Americans.  So in smaller towns, businesses close, people go home for a meal with their family, and then businesses may or may not re-open (depending on the region, day of week, etc).  Even in major cities, like Madrid, office workers take like a 2-hour lunch.

Businesses who rely mostly on tourists for their business stay open through siesta.  Expect places like Mykonos (in Greece) or Benidorm (in Spain) to be pretty much 24-hours.

Quote:
ORIGINAL: K3NN3TH
I think I am going to be in Corfu and Santorini in late June as well…



Same thing, depending on how much sightseeing you want to do (and both Corfu and Santoríni have quite a bit of sightseeing).  Main point: avoid heavy phyisical acitvity during siesta time.  Feel free to use siesta time to dash around Santoríni on your rented moped (but be careful), or to bum aorund on the beach, but wear sunblock.  If you have sightseeing planned (or any errands that will require you to be outdoors), wake up early, and do them in the morning.

Trust me, once you adapt to their rhythm, you’re gonna love their lifestyle.


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luv the beaches advice about clothing and when to do things is very suitable Southern Europe. However, whether or not the comment about the “typical north american mind set” was directed at my comment about the heat or not… here is some insight as a North American who has been to Spain.

My comment about the temperature is also as an experienced traveler – I have traveled to Southern Europe/North Africa 6 times, all during the summer months and I love the heat, even I found it very hot in Sevilla, Granada and Cordoba last year. It was still 49 degrees Celsius at 7 o’clock at night for three nights in a row. News reports I have been listening to this year indicate that, with global warming, they are predicting that temperatures for southern Europe are going to continue to be increasingly hot in the late summer months (one report was about the impact this would have on tourism in the area). It is certainly recommended to adjust your own schedule to whatever culture/country your are traveling in – especially those with siestas.



I was just speaking from personal experience that it made the week we were in inland Spain quite uncomfortable at times, even with adjusting to the local life style and making plans to find somewhere cool for siesta – the shade just didn’t cut it when it was in the forties. For instance we planned our trip to the Alhambra for one of the first entrance times and still had to cut our trip around the place short because my travel companion (also an experienced traveler) got heat stroke (yes we had hats, water, etc). If you are able to have an air conditioned hostel/hotel, that would certainly help during those high temperatures to and have a nap. As I said, it was difficult (not impossible) to get out of the heat during siesta when we were in Sevilla, Cordoba and to some extent Granada. We found that internet cafes were often air conditioned and we planned our internet time for siesta when possible. We had a car, so we also did a lot of our driving during the hottest part of the day.


My comments before and this post are not to discourage anyone from a trip to Spain in July or August but to provide some recent personal experience as an experience north american traveler, we knew it would be hot when traveled there but were still surprised by just how hot it was.



I found Madrid and coastal cities had more places to choose from to cool off during the siesta (museums in the former, the sea for the later) which made the days more enjoyable as a whole. 

I also visited Lisbon, but it was my least favourite place on my trip, but that is just my opinion.

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No, my comment was not directed at, you Keleti… [Smile] but you did bring up something that I thought was important to discuss. 

You’re well-traveled (far better travelled than me), and you know a lot of things, but millions of North Americans and Northern Europeans are not, and therefore, do not adjust to the lifestyle in Southern Europe…the people I see walking around Rome, Athens, Madrid at 3PM when all the locals have disappeared. (And then when the foreigners go to bed at 11PM, the locals come out to play)…Or the people you see in a Spanish restaurant that order 4 platters of the same tapas, thinking that it’s an individual meal… []  haha, anyways:

I’ve never been to North Africa or India, or the countless other places hotter than Spain, but I do have a lot of experience in Southern Europe, traveling and living in the region, and my roots are from there too.  I’m kind of obsessed with the region, and always go back…at the expense of seeing other parts of the world.  Bad, I know, [sm=s14.gif] …but I just can’t get enough of it.  Your personal experience is your personal experience, no one can refute that, however it is important to remember you were there during a heat wave; and I’m glad you mentioned that.  Heat waves happen, and they suck, I know…I’ve been stuck in one before.  But they are not the norm; you were just unlucky.  (I’ve been in Spain during a cold wave in the summer of 2001, temperatures were below summer norms). 

Global warming is another issue, but we don’t know how this will impact or is impacting Southern Europe in the near future.  Some theories say that Global Warming will disrupt the Gulf Stream that warms up Europe, thus making Europe Southern Europe included colder (contrary to rising temperatures everywhere else on the globe).   While heat waves do occur every 2-5 years for a couple of weeks, cities like Athens and Barcelona have also experienced snow in recent winters…to put this in perspective, Barcelona and Athens have a Mediterranean climate, identical to the Los Angeles area (and yeah, I know LA gets Pacific breezes along the coast, but it gets hot inland).  [In any case, this is a serious issue the world needs to address, but it’s not definite if it has yet to impact Southern Europe in a major way.]

In any case, travelers should approach the Med with a new mindset.  If a heat wave happens, it happens.  But it is not the norm.
 
[Smile]


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cutewithoutthe_E
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Hey all. Thanks for all the advice, especially on where to go. i had no idea about some of the stuff you all mentioned about the cities like san sabestian having great food and beaches. I just reading most of it now, engineering classes at uni have taken over my life as of late. Nevertheless i really appreciate all the advice. I do know about the ciesta thing, I was in barcelona for about 5 days and got a feel for it. As for the heat, Toronto reached temps of 45 celcius with humidity last year and it didn’t faze me one bit so i think im amped for it, especially since i love warm weather. Again, thanks for your input everyone, it is much appreciated.
 
C

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I suggest San Sebastian and all northern seaside, less touristic but “the other Spain”. You can get beaches, surf, mountains, great food and party too.
See these sites on San Sebastian:
www.sansebastianturismo.com
www.todopintxos.com
www.maribelsguides

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I think people from the Southern US who have ever done any kind of outdoor work can adjust well to the Spanish schedule.  In fact, the traditional (as in back when everyone was a farmer) Southern schedule included lunch as the main meal of the day and a siesta.  This is still reflected on the weekends, especially Sunday when Sunday dinner is followed directly by a nap or at least a time of rest and socializing.

That said, I just got back from Spain and I can see where it would be hard to find time to stop and rest.  Not that I didn’t take siesta several times…it was vacation after all.

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Hi everyone,

I have three days and deciding between Porto/Madrid/Granada/Selville.

Options:
a) Madrid or Porto for 2 days and either Granada or Selville for 1?
b) Granada/Selville 3 days split

Anyone have suggestions, comments?

http://www.eurotrip….

I am leaving from Toronto with $2000 for 22 days
London, Amsterdam, Paris, Nice, Monaco, Barcelona
Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Budget, Itinerary, Nightlife, Food, Sights
I am leaving from Barcelona, Spain and traveling for 11 days
Barcelona, Ibiza Town, Madrid, Seville, Lisbon
Requesting help with Hostels, Itinerary, Nightlife