I just found out I get to go to Spain, just for a week, out of the blue. I will be by myself most of the time, though I need to stay in Madrid for the first few days in support of another person. I don't like to drive and I do like to take trains. I found the main train web site (renfe I think) and I checked a bunch of books and spain travel videos out of the library. Also just recently I watched that wonderful pbs video 'cities of light' so I"m really excited, hoping I'll get to get a sense of the multiplicity of cultures element in things I see .
I can see all kinds of great things to do in Madrid. I booked a not-too-expensive hotel there for 3 nights near the Parque de Retiro. It looks like I can walk around there and see great museums and lots of sights for 3 days. I need to stay in Madrid at least through Monday morning (arriving late Thursday) ' 'I like to walk around and see a place if I'm going there. Even if I only have a few hours, I like to follow up a museum visit with at least walking into a grocery store, buying a drink and chatting up the storekeeper. (I have survival Spanish - mostly speak in present tense, but I like working on my Spanish) I look for parks and places where people are hanging out and I take a lot of photos of everyday things.
In addition to Madrid, I'd really, really like to see the following places. But
A) I don't know how practical going to all of them is. Can anybody advise me? And would you suggest the train or a bus of some kind?
B) I'm not sure how many days I ought to be sure to take away from Madrid to make it worth taking time to go to some or all of these places (I can't leave Madrid before Monday at the earliest and I have to be back in Madrid by Thursday night, to fly back home early on the following Friday)
1) Toledo - I think that's practical and I see it's on a 'purple' train line. I think that means I have to make a reservation ahead - and I assume that's possible once I'm staying in Madrid.
2) Cordoba - I also see it on the train map south of Toledo.
It seems possible to see a bit of both Toledo and Cordoba and spend just one night away from Madrid. Does that seem right?
3) The Alhambra Palace- I see that it takes 4.5 hours by train from Madrid to 'Granada' - though I assume I would actually go on from Cordoba, if this is practical. If I visit Toledo, Cordoba and the Alhambra Palace would I need to plan 2 nights away? (Monday and Tuesday night). I could then spend Wednesday enjoying myself and take the train back to Madrid Wednesday afternoon - train schedules permitting'''
And once you ARRIVE in Granada - what do you have to do to get from the train station to the Alhambra Palace?
4) Well of course, I'd really like to go over to Morocco since I'd be so close. Is that practical, given that I need to be back to Madrid on Thursday night (my plane goes out early Friday) ?
I think to do that I leave from Cadiz. Yes? I know I found it in one of the library travel books, somewhere. And I think I take some kind of ferry boat, go over, walk around saying 'wow' and photographing like mad, keep my wallet velcroed to my skin and then come back the same day. (I assume it's ok to take my nice big SLR camera as long as I've glued my valuables to my skin)
Thank you in advance for any help you can give me. Exciting to get to plan something like this so quickly.
If you only have a week... I would stay in Madrid the entire week and go to Toledo on an overnight. You could take the fast train to Cordoba and spend the night, but tickets aren't exactly cheap... this may not be a biggie to you, but have you looked at how much it will cost to get down there?
There is SO much to do in Madrid and you could easily spend 2 days in Toledo... save Granada and Cordoba for another trip (and definitely Morocco for another trip.)
If you do decide to get to Cordoba or Granada I would choose one, not both so that you'd have a couple of days to really explore (Tuesday and Wednesday.) Cordoba would probably be the better choice, since it takes less time to get there.
Muchas gracias, Shannon. This is EXACTLY what I need to know.
I didn't think about the cost. I should have since train travel is costly where I live! And, as this was a sudden opportunity, I am trying to stick to a tighter-than-normal budget.
So, I'm guessing two days and one night in Toledo might be the most relaxed, (and I will see what the train costs) and I would get to see lots of beautiful things, walk around and feel like I'm really there!
There is also Segovia... that would be a nice day trip too.
You know, you could get an apartment for a week and then make day trips instead. This would be cost effective AND help with the no pork/garlic thing, because you could make some of your food at home. What time of year are you going?
That would have been a good idea. I've rented short-term flats in 4 other countries and it has worked well.
I didn't this time, because it's always possible that I might have to jump on a bus or train and go to a family member who will be on a business trip in the area. Otherwise, you're right a flat is much easier (and less expensive) with cooking. And I like the opportunities to go to the grocery store as well - always a cultural opportunity both socially and product wise. I like that feeling of really living in the neighborhood - even when it's a tourist-centric neighborhood.