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Advice re: point of entry, lodging, itinerary, etc.

Tuscaloosa, Alabama
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Advice re: point of entry, lodging, itinerary, etc.

We are planning to visit Andalucia for 18-20 days next May. We would like to fly into the area, rent a car, explore the area at our leisure, and then fly back out of the same airport. I am in the early stages of planning our trip, and would be grateful for some informed opinions on a few questions.

1. Point of entry/departure. It seems that the two choices here are Malaga or Sevilla. It looks like Malaga's a little easier to get to and a little cheaper. Are there just as many car rental options in Malaga as in Sevilla? Any reason we might want to use Sevilla instead of Malaga as our point of entry/exit?

2. I'm a planner by nature, and usually when we take driving trips like this I figure out in advance where we will go each day, how long we will stay, and where we will sleep. I book all accommodations in advance. I am considering, for this trip, taking a looser approach, and not booking hotels in advance, so that we can have some more flexibility. If we find a place we like, it would be nice to be able to stay longer, rather than be slaves to our pre-booked itinerary. We will have guidebooks and GPS, so it seems like we should be able to find accommodations as we go, rather than planning all that out in advance. On the other hand, I don't want to wind up sleeping in the car, should we not be able to find nice places with rooms available! My question is this: In mid-May, sticking mostly to small towns, are we likely to be able to find nice simple places to sleep without having prior reservations? That might be impossible to answer, but it's definitely a question on my mind.

3. Regarding our itinerary. I'm roughing out a loop from Malaga-Granada-Cordoba-Sevilla-Faro-Jerez-Grazalema-Ronda-Malaga, and hoping there will be time to also "follow our noses" and take detours as whims strike us. We are not interested in spending a lot of time in the bigger cities; we're more interested in small towns and countryside. Still, does that seem like too much ground to try to cover in 20 days? I really don't want to feel like we're rushing.

4. Finally, I see all over the place that I will need an International Driver's Permit to drive in Spain with my USA license, but I don't see anywhere how I'm supposed to acquire one of those. Could someone point me in the right direction?

Thank you very much in advance for any insights you can offer on these questions.

Olvera, Spain
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1. Re: Advice re: point of entry, lodging, itinerary, etc.

I have picked up cars in Málaga, La Línea de la Conceptión and Sevilla and I think the easiest of them all is Málaga. There are many car hire companies on site at the airport and others on the periphery. Personally I like Sixt which is a German company although many others on here like Helle Hollis. There are others which most of us avoid such as Goldcar and Firefly.

If you decide to start your trip in Sevilla I would recommend doing without a car for three or four days to see the city. A car is not necessary in Sevilla as there is excellent public transport plus parking can be very expensive, hotels charge around 20€ per night to use their car park. Four days in Sevilla would allow you to see the city without undue haste and include perhaps a day trip by train to Carmona.

I do not use hotels but rent either a house or apartment. This might be an idea when exploring the more rural areas of your tour. Most home owners would expect a minimum of a three day hire. This has the advantage of a base where you can come and go as you please, buy in something for breakfast and eat out the rest of the day. If you want to stay with hotels then I don't think May would be problematical when looking for a bed for the night. June, July and August would be a different story.

The area that I know best is around Olvera which is in the far north east of Cádiz province where it meets Sevilla and Málaga provinces. I have visited a number of the small towns in the area including Ronda which is spectacular, Grazalema which is very pretty and also Setenil de las Bodegas, Teba, Zaharra de la Sierra, Ubrique and Júzcar. I spend four weeks a year in Olvera and a further two weeks in Chiclana de la Frontera which is just a little south of Cádiz city and Jerez de la Frontera.

Follow this link …about.com/od/internationaltravel/a/Internat… I found it on Google, it gives some information on the International Drivers Permit which may help you out. And finally, I think in 20 days with a good plan you will be able to see quite a lot. The weather will not be too hot which is a bonus when sightseeing. The one thing you must bear in mind is that this area of Spain takes siesta in the afternoon throughout the year. Shops will close at 1.00 pm and re-open between 5.00 pm and 5.30 pm remaining open until 9.00 pm. Bars and cafés remain open throughout the day until about 4.00 pm when they close until around 7.00 pm or 7.30 pm. You will not get an evening meal much before 8.00 pm, many Spanish families do not eat until around 9.00 pm.

If I can help further please fire questions at me. I am sure others will come in on our conversation with plenty more suggestions.

Saludos. Lindsay

Edited: 26 December 2013, 23:32
Chicago, Illinois
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2. Re: Advice re: point of entry, lodging, itinerary, etc.

the international driving permit is the easy part -- you just pick one up at AAA -- you need photos

here are some of the places we recently visited -- we spent 2.5 weeks in Spain without a car, but of course with one you have the hassle of expensive parking but also the freedom to get some places we missed without having a car.

janettravels.wordpress.com/category/spain/

we flew open jaw into Paris and out of Madrid and flew from Paris to Seville with Vueling

one advantage of starting with Seville is that you don't need a car there at all (and it is easy to do the trip to Cordoba by train from there too) and so you could avoid the hassle and expense by picking one up as you leave town and head for the white villages.

Edited: 27 December 2013, 00:13
Malaga, Spain
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for Malaga, Andalucia, Madrid, Zaragoza, Valencia, Seville
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3. Re: Advice re: point of entry, lodging, itinerary, etc.

Traki:

You should choose the Malaga Airport because it is the biggest in Andalusia and it will be easier to arrive in Andalusia through this airport.

Here are some good hotels I have stayed in with parking (11 euros a day for parking minimum):

Granada - Vincci Albayzin

Cordoba - Hotel Cordoba Center

Seville - Hotel Becquer

Ronda has a parador with parking, although I have not stayed there because I live in Malaga, not far from Ronda.

Read the top questions in the forum of each city.

Read Buying Alhambra Tickets Online and BOOK EARLY.

Here is some info about Malaga:

Malaga is the capital of the Costa del Sol and has beaches, plenty of sunshine, and one of the best climates in Spain. It is also one of the most beautiful and relaxing cities in Spain, and 100% Spanish. Malaga has 14 museums (among them Glass and Crystal Museum, Carmen Thyssen Museum, Automobile Museum, and the two Picasso Museums), historic churches (four founded by the Catholic Kings), and monuments that include two castles (Alcazaba and Gibralfaro). The sights are mostly downtown and completely walkable. There are very good restaurants, tapas bars, and nightlife. Shopping is wonderful and the city is very safe. The Malaga Park is a very large semi-tropical park and beside it is a new park called the Palmeral de las Sorpresas at the port. Muelle Uno is a new shopping/restaurant complex at the port. The Gardens of La Concepcion are the largest tropical plant gardens in Europe. There are about 1000 buildings from the 19th century downtown, one of the largest and best conserved collections in Spain.

The natives have the great charm of Andalucia and are among the most friendly people in Spain. It is easy to do day trips to the white towns of Ronda, Mijas, and Nerja, since Malaga is the transportation hub of its province. Malaga Airport is the third largest airport in Spain and has direct connections with many European cities. One can take the AVE from Madrid to Malaga. Read the top questions in the Malaga forum.

Good hotels:

5-star: Vincci Posada del Patio

4-star: Hotel AC Malaga Palacio – The rooftop restaurant is a romantic place during twilight with a great view of the port.

4-star: Hotel Molina Lario – The hotel restaurant Café de Bolsa is a very good restaurant.

3-star: Hotel Don Curro

The Restaurant El Pimpi at Calle Granada, 62, has Andalusian decoration and music and one can have tapas and try Malaga’s sweet wine here. This is the restaurant that celebrities are brought to. Movie stars and members of royalty have all been here.

Malaga was named by Trip Advisor as the 7th best destination in the “Traveler’s Choice 2013 – Top 10 Destinations of Spain” list.

Tuscaloosa, Alabama
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4. Re: Advice re: point of entry, lodging, itinerary, etc.

Thank you all for your suggestions and input. I appreciate it.

5. Re: Advice re: point of entry, lodging, itinerary, etc.

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