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Please help with Spain itinerary (Seville/San Sebastian)

New York
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Please help with Spain itinerary (Seville/San Sebastian)

qMy husband and I visited Barcelona (with some day trips to Rupit, wine tasting, Montjuic)for eight nights back in 2008 and fell in love. We have decided semi-last minute to go back to Spain for what will probably be our last big trip for a while. To cut to the point, I am having a really difficult time settling on where I want to go. I have a bad habit of jamming my trips with too much traveling in an effort to see everything, without really spending too much time in one place - and I want to avoid that to a certain extent. I just found Spain so magical and I want to visit every place I read about. I feel like a five year old in a candy store. I've gone through probably five itineraries already and convinced myself it was the right one, before I read about another location and everything becomes a mess again Here's where I could use some sound advice. The overview:

- Traveling late August/early September for up to 13 nights. I know it will be hot in the south.

- About us: Late 20s/early 30s. Both New Yorkers and we like to keep busy. Total foodies - I mean literally to the point where I will drive pretty much anywhere if I think its warranted. With that being said, I'm going to try to keep the super-pricey (100euro + pp) meals to a minimum. We like museums to an extent, but not really too into art. Neither one of us are into going to museums all day every day. Very into interesting cities/towns with extensive history - we absolutely loved Rome for its deep history, but with the risk of sounding classless, didn't love all the art in Florence.

- Must visit: San Sebastian and to keep it vague, somewhere in southern Spain. I know they are on totally different parts of the maps, but I'm hoping that with flights from Seville into Bilbao or Madrid/Barcelona into San Sebastian, we can swing this somehow. I know a few people who have been there and it just sounds totally up my alley (already dreaming about pinxto hopping). So that's a non-negotiable. Also want to see some of the "other" part of Spain. I keep settling on Seville, but I can't tell if its because I'm really most enticed by it or if I just hear about it more than everywhere else.

- Would like to visit: Granada and Madrid.

- If I somehow manage to squeeze in a night in Barcelona (say, at the tail end after San Sebastian to fly back to NY), that's a plus, but obviously not a necessity. I'd like to go back to Cal Pep and wander around.

- Logistically, we are flying on miles (United) so have to fly into Madrid or Barcelona. Could fly into to Seville in a worst case scenario, but options are not pretty (two layovers, though short enough, would cause us to travel upwards of 15+ hours and probably be exhausted).

One of the thoughts was fly into Madrid, spend 4 nights, train to Seville, spend 4 nights, fly to Bilbao, spend the day and/or night and bus to San Sebastian for 2-3 nights, then fly to Barcelona and spend the final night or two just revisiting some old favorites. I figured this leaves some time for day trips out of Madrid and Seville, but I'm not sure if the back end is too hectic and given the choice, I'd switch out Barcelona for Grenada.

Was then thinking maybe cut out the Madrid portion all together, and just take a quick detour to San Sebastian from Seville.

Apologies for being all over the board (or map) here - any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.

Malaga, Spain
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for Malaga, Andalucia, Madrid, Zaragoza, Valencia, Seville
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1. Re: Please help with Spain itinerary (Seville/San Sebastian)

Randi:

I just spent 5 days in Bilbao and had a wonderful time. There are so many places to see there that we were completely occupied. The gardens were wonderful with flowers everywhere. Plenty of places that serve wonderful pinchos. The Guggenheim is having a wonderful exhibition of David Hockney.

The old town has been cleaned up and has many shops on streets for pedestrians only. The modernist buildings are beautiful.

You can look for the tourist office website there and send them a note to send you a tourist package. I received my package in 2 days.

I would stay in Seville for 3 days. Take the AVE from Madrid to Seville. Read Buying Renfe Tickets Online.

St. Louis, MO
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2. Re: Please help with Spain itinerary (Seville/San Sebastian)

I think you would be totally fine with just 3 days in Madrid and 3 in Seville, using the extra days somewhere else. My husband and I have visited these cities for the same amount of time and were easily able to see most of the popular sites, plus just roam around and people watch. I will add that we also went to Toledo from Madrid one day after deciding not to stand in a VERY LONG, pretty much stationary, line at the Prado (a new Picasso exhibit had just opened).

On another note, you mentioned you want to go to southern Spain (Andalulsia?), which I realize is why you mentioned Seville. We really enjoyed Seville (mostly Bario Santa Cruz). But Granada is magical - the Alhambra (make your reservations in advance and go by about 9 or 9:30 a.m. Count on a half day to see it), the cathedral with the tombs of Ferdinand and Isabella, and most especially the Albacin and Sacromonte. Be sure to go at night and view the Alhambra from there when it's all lit up! Also, Ronda would be a lovely, RELAXING place to spend a day and night - or even just an evening and half a day. It's a charming and scenic town surrounded by rolling terrain. A very easy drive from or to Seville. If you haven't already, read up on these places before finalizing your itinerary. Sorry, as I know you have struggled with it already. But I think these are some of the most quintessential places in Spain - the Spain that most people picture in their minds.

I am going through sort of the same thing you are - trying to narrow down an itinerary that will include parts of Asturias, maybe the coast as far east as San Sebastian, plus fit in Granada and Ronda (again). Maybe w/a stop in Cordoba. (We are even going at the same time you are! ) Of course, then there is Segovia on our way up to the coast, so it's all driving me crazy! . . . . And btw, we also were not as wild about Florence as everyone else. While we did like it, there were many places in Italy we liked much more.

Good luck w/your planning. You'll figure it out. (And so will I - Pretty soon I hope!)

Northampton, MA
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3. Re: Please help with Spain itinerary (Seville/San Sebastian)

Trying to fit that many places into a trip means it will not be relaxing but full of stressful traveling days. It's like going from NY to Chicago to Florida. It is always better to split Spain into 3 or 4 trips. I would fly into Madrid, head directly to Seville for 4 nights by plane or high speed train. Going all the way to Andalucia and missing Granada is inconceivable to me so I would spend 2 nights there. From there you must fly into Bilbao. You can spend a night or two there if you like but for me San Sebastian deserves at least 4 nights in the summer, I would prefer 7 but that's just me. From there you can head back to Madrid for a few nights before flying out. Keep in mind these are just my biased opinions and that everywhere except San Sebastian will be excrutiatingly hot at the end of August.

St. Louis, MO
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4. Re: Please help with Spain itinerary (Seville/San Sebastian)

I agree it's always nice to be able to travel at a more relaxed pace if & split a trip to most anyplace into 3 or 4 visits. But frankly, most of us can't be sure we will have the time, money or health to make it back. Or, if we do, it could be many yrs. before we can. Our first trip was merely a train trip of a major city in several European countries when I was 20 yrs. old. Our Spain stop was 3 days in Barcelona. It was over 25 yrs. before we were able to cross the pond again, and have since done it several times.

Actually, the distances between the cities mentioned above is not as far as between the American cities mentioned. The American cities vary from about 1,200 km (700+ miles) to well over 1,300 km (800+) miles apart. As a comparison, one of your greatest distances - the driving distance between San Sebastian and Seville - is somewhere in the neighborhood of about 570 miles. As CuthbertJ says, it can be stressful - depending upon your style and temperment, and mode of transportation. (We drive from our home to New Orleans, Louisiana in the states all the time, straight through w/a stop for lunch and gas/comfort stops only. That is about 9 1/2 hrs. Piece of cake for us & gets us there in time for dinner without even having to get up very early!) To me, going by car is RELAXING - until you get into a major, unfamilar city, then you need to be armed w/a city map for sure. A GPS is a plus, but you can't always COUNT on a GPS because there are always little "things" that can be a bit off base w/a GPS. Also, being on a narrow street w/little space (sky) above you can interfere w/the signal. (My husband and I have found driving in Spain to be very similar to driving in the U.S. than either England or Italy, for instance.) Others prefer the train. Plus flying between some of these cities is so well priced! So there are various modes of transport to use, or what is probably best, is a combination. (You would be better off w/a car if you wanted to go between cities in Andalusia, IMO and along the N. coast of Spain.) Also, in a car you can then "tweak" your itinerary en route if you haven't reserved every hotel in advance or else are allowed to cancel. (Many accommodations will allow free cancellation as long as it's at least 24 hrs. in advance or your arrival.)

As the saying goes - different stroke for different folks!

New York
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5. Re: Please help with Spain itinerary (Seville/San Sebastian)

Thank you all for your suggestions - I am thinking about skipping Madrid altogether as I am finding myself more interested in the other areas. What do you think about this? Fly into Madrid, and then straight to Granada for what will end up being 3 nights/2 days. Unfortunately that will waste almost a full day traveling. High speed train to Seville to spend 4 nights, with a day trip to or two. Fly into Bilbao and spend 5 nights in San Sebastian - maybe rent a car for a few days to explore some surrounding areas (suggestions appreciated!). Then spend a final night or two in Barcelona so I can get my fix there :) Other option is I can do it backwards - 1 night in Barcelona, 5 nights in San Seb, fly to Seville, 4 nights, train to Granada, 2 nights, then fly home from Barcelona. Thoughts? Thanks again!

Northampton, MA
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6. Re: Please help with Spain itinerary (Seville/San Sebastian)

3 nights in Granada is one too much even though it's one of my favorite cities on the planet. I would put San Sebastian near the end. Madrid is a fantastic city but I would have no problem skipping it in August. did anyone mention the heat?

New York
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7. Re: Please help with Spain itinerary (Seville/San Sebastian)

mlbcruiser, I kind of share a similar style with you. I commute to and from the 'burbs to NYC every day (3 1/2 hrs round trip) so I'm used to trekking around, and it really doesn't bother me unless there's a blizzard. And while I often like to comment "how I would kill to sit on a beach with a waiter bringing me a pina colada", I know in reality what happens - I sit for an hour and then get bored. I am pretty go, go, go and that's just me.

Cuthbert, the reason I was thinking 3 nights in Granada was b/c I'd be arriving so late I would really only have one full day if I spent 2 nights. I have heard about the heat, so that's a consideration too. I found a flight that would get me into Barcelona with another flight that would get me to Granada mid-afternoon, so I'd have a day and half there with two nights. Then head over to Seville for 4 nights with a trip to Ronda/Cordoba, then head up north and probably spit time between San Sebastian and somewhere else.

St. Louis, MO
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8. Re: Please help with Spain itinerary (Seville/San Sebastian)

Yes, Randi, sounds like you and I are cut from the same mold! One tip about Ronda, we were SO lucky to be there after the buses left for the day. One thing about visiting ANY city in Spain during the day only is missing the whole different way a city or town "feels" at night. But sometimes it's unavoidable. Might be for us w/re: to Cordoba.

9. Re: Please help with Spain itinerary (Seville/San Sebastian)

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