This year's vacation will be Northwestern Spain, arriving and departing from Madrid's airport, Barajas.
i've been to Madrid before and will spend my last night there prior to my flight home.
I'm looking for somewhere to spend my first and maybe second night to get over jet lag before renting a car and moving on.... thinking of taking a bus from the airport and spending this time in Valladolid. Anyone been there? Recommend it?
I've already spent time in Segovia, Avila and Salamanca and a few hours in Zamora...so looking for somewhere new.
My next stop would be in Leon for 2-3 nights.
So, what do you think of Valladolid? Any other suggestions?
Thanks very much!
Have always wanted to travel to Northwestern Spain, but somehow I always end up in Barcelona (cruises, conferences) or the south (compromises with traveling companions).
It has been awhile since I have traveled to Madrid, and it was before there were any Marriotts there. I do remember that I used Frommer's to pick my hotel (and will check and see if I have any info on the hotel as it was very nice), and my American Express to upgrade to a suite. Going through Frommers, I do see that they are recommending two of the Marriott properties as bests in 2 different categories.
The AC Santo Mauro is listed as best in the Romantic Getaway category, and described as follows:,
" ...opened in 1991 in a villa designed by a French architect and built in 1894 for the duke of Santo Mauro. As a sign of the times, more recent visitors have included Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. The lavish property has an ageless grace, although it has been brought up to state-of-the-art condition. In good weather, guests retreat to a beautiful garden pavilion and enjoy many facilities such as a gym and indoor pool. It's resortlike in nature, although situated in Madrid. If you can afford it, go for one of the suites with a fireplace. (http://www.frommers.com/destinations/madrid/0056020002.html#ixzz2ODWVgpCo)
They are also recommending the Ritz as the Best Historic Hotel, and described it as follows,
" Inaugurated by Alfonso XIII in 1910...the gathering place of Madrid society, is still the capital's leading luxury choice. This Edwardian hotel is mellower than ever before, the old haughtiness of former management gone with the wind -- it long ago rescinded its policy of not allowing movie stars as guests. Note: In summer, a tie is no longer obligatory and dress tends to be more informal (though the hotel still draws the line at shorts). The rich and famous continue to parade through its portals; today in the lobby you're likely to encounter nearly anyone, from the secretary-general of NATO to Paloma Picasso.(http://www.frommers.com/destinations/madrid/0056020002.html#ixzz2ODXAojy5)
When we arrived at the Madrid airport, it was very quick going through customs. I had arranged a car to take us to the hotel, not wanting to waste time in a taxi queue, but our room wasn't ready, so we left our bags in hotel lockup, and were off to the Prado. Hopefully the Prado has changed its policies, but they did not want to let me carrry my cameras, even if I didn't use them, and I didn't want to leave them in their coat check room, so finally after much discussion, they did let me carry them in my purse as long as I left all film behind with them. The hotel was conveniently located, and we were able to walk to the Prado, and the train station, as I bought high speed train tickets the day before we left for Malaga, after spending a couple of days of touring Madrid. This is when I learned to pack light, as I was use to my large roller bag and being away from home in the US traveling for work for weeks or months on end. When I got to Madrid, everthing was fine, including the train station which had this very interesting moving sidewalk that even moved upwards at a slight incline instead of escalators. When we arrived at the last station, a small town just past Malaga, we were three levels below ground with only a staircase to go up. It took 2 of us to drag the suitcase up those stairs. My last trip with a large roller bag. We took a cab to the Marriott Vacation Property near Marbella, and did day tripping with the tour service Marriott had engaged to Sevilla, Jerez, Gibralter & Morocco as none of us wanted to drive.
On the way back, we also stayed a couple days to take some time to see Toledo. I would highly recommend a day trip to Toledo from Madrid. We absolutely loved the city. The only problem we had was that I had bought tickets for the English speaking tour, as I was traveling with someone that understood no Spanish. Unfortunately, they had no other customers for English Speaking and put us in the Spanish speaking tour group, which for me was okay, but not for the person I was traveling with. I spent most of my time translating. And for the lunch, most of the guests were seated at these large tables, but since we were near the back we were put at a table for 4 with an older couple who spoke no English, so I struggled, switching back and forth between Spanish with them, and English with my traveling companion.
A very similiar thing happend on our tours in the south. They were sold as English speaking, but we were often with multi-lingual groups, and a guide who went through the tour in multiple languages. If there were only 2 or 3 languages, and ones I knew and enjoyed practicing, it worked okay. But sometimes there were up to 5-7 language groups together, which gave very little time to really ask questions. So if you plan on any organized tours, be sure to find out the specifics about this in advance. Usually I create a document with excerpts from my guide books, web research, that I can carry with me to read up on before I go, and after I leave but sometimes I also need it when on site depending on the quality of the guide services.
And on that note, we ran into a similiar experience in Granada when touring Alhambra. The bus tour took us there from the ship, but then you get a local guide assigned to go through Alhambra. Our guide was fantastic, and he did speak several languages. Unfortunately we had people from the ship that signed up for english speaking tour, as it was the only tour, but then tried to hijack the guide into other languages, again for me not a problem as I understand French and Spanish so can listen in French and read in Spanish, but for my traveling companion, a real problem, so I end up translating. There are many Arabic inscriptions in Alhambra, and luckily our guide was also able to translate those.
While in Madrid, I also wanted to try the local food specialties
Oh, I have to stop writing about the food, cause I am just getting hungry thinking about it.
Other things to do:
There is so much wonderful information online, that if you have a smartphone or notebook, just skip the hardcopy and look it all up online.
More Madrid links on MI
Hotel Ritz Madrid http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madrt
AC Santo Mauro, Autograph Collection http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madma
AC Hotel Aitana http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madai
AC Hotel Aravaca http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madac
AC Hotel Arganda http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madar
AC Hotel Atocha http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madat
AC Hotel Carlton Madrid http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madca
AC Hotel Coslada Aeropuerto http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madco
AC Hotel Cuzco http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madcu
AC Hotel La Finca http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madfi
AC Hotel Los Vascos http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madva
AC Hotel Madrid Feria http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madfe
AC Hotel Monte Real http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madmr
AC Hotel Recoletos http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madrc
AC Hotel Rivas Vaciamadrid http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madri
AC Hotel San Sebastian de los Reyes http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madse
AC Palacio Del Retiro, Autograph Collection http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/hotels/madre
WOW, Gem! What a treasure trove of information! Thanks so very much for all of your time and hard work on these replies!!!
I have been to both central and southern Spain on two prior trips. Last year was Toledo, Consuegra, Avila, Salamanca, Zamora, La Granja, Segovia, El Escorial and Valley of the Fallen before spending 5 days in Madrid. Quite a few years ago, we did Andalucia for about 2 1/2 weeks. Loved both trips!!!!
This year, I'm planning NW Spain. I'm looking for recommendations as to spending my first night or two in Valladolid or somewhere nearby to recouperate from jet lag before renting a car and continuing on with my trip.
My only time in Madrid on this trip will be my final night so I can be close to the airport. I've stayed in the AC Recoletos so think I will stay there again... Pretty good location for walking or bus to pedestrian area. And some good restaurants very nearby.
Have you been to Valladolid?
THanks so very much for all of your info!!!
We are now at the farthest recesses of my memory!
I've been to Oviedo, and would imagine that you'd enjoy a couple of nights there. It has quite a rich cultural heritage. What I remembered most clearly though - about Asturias in general - are firstly the regional cheeses, cabrales in particular, and the sidra - which is worth exploring, even if you don't drink! A real expert pours it from way above his/her head - to aid carbonation, I seem to recall - and it has to be consumed quite quickly.
Aviles was, I think, the centre of Spain's steel industry, and so mightn't be too scenic. I confess never to have been to Gijon.
If I didn't make this point in an earlier e-mail, I'd make sure you leave enough time to take in the Galician coastal region.
Thanks so much for the great info, Arkwright! Very sorry for my delay in replying.
I had read that Aviles was industrialized during the Franco era. I also read that it has one of the best preserved medieval centers in all of Spain and one of the best harbours on the Cantabrian coast. Maybe I will stop there for a few hours instead of staying for a few nights. Now thinking that I may make Oviedo a 4 night stay and day trip to Gijon.
On the Galacian coast, where would you recommend? I'm thinking of 3-4 nights in Santiago de Compostela. I've been looking at Pontevedra but haven't checked whether that is a realistic daytrip from SdC yet. Or possibly A Coruna (for an overnight) which I'm having doubts about since the pictures I've seen look like a bunch of high rise apartments right on the beach, not the quaint seaside villages that I associate with that area (this is my mind, not necessarily a reality! LOL!!!)
Do you have any suggestions of Galacian coastal towns, please?
Willl have to post my initial itinerary so I can get your valuable feedback. Will try to do that soon.... we all have to make our hotel reservations by May 15, correct?
Thanks very much!
Just a few notes to send you on your way - to what, I'm sure, will be a memorable and very enjoyable vacation:
1. Yes, of course you must visit Santiago, but do be prepared for a very, very busy location. Wherever possible, make advance bookings - i.e. for hotels and particular restaurants you might want to use.
2. Likewise, traffic on the coastal Rias Baixas roads also tends to be heavy.
3. Over the last decade there has been significant investment in motorways, but these will normally involve a toll charge. The "locals" hate this and tend to revert to smaller roads which, predictably, causes further congestion.
4. A little coastal village I'd mention is Muros, not too far from Santiago, via Noja. When I visited last, it seemed to be little changed from when I first stayed that - 30 + years ago!
All best wishes,
Thank you for all of your helpful advice!
My initial itinerary is shaping up as:
Fly JFK to MAD
Bus to Valladolid - 2 nights
Rent car, drive to Leon - 2 nights
Stops at Asturga and O Cebreiro before Lugo - 1 night
Santiago - 3 or 4 nights w day trip to Gallician coast
Oviedo - 4 nights w day trips/visits to Aviles, Gijon, Santa Maria de Lena,
Our Lady of Covadonga and Altamira caves (at some point as day trip or on way to) Santillana de Mar -2 nights
Stop in Bilboa [Guggenheim and a look around, will have more time to explore on next trip]
Burgos - 2 nights
Madrid - 1 night
Fly MAD - JFK
What do you think? I'm not a huge fan of 1 or 2 night stays but it is what it is, unfortunately.
Oh, and on the train from Madrid to Malaga, I did meet Michener's next door neighbors from Buck's county PA.
Talk about conincidences. I was just telling my brother about the book, and they over heard me, and introduced themselves. They have retired to Spain, so they were obviously much younger than Michener when they were his neighbors.
You may have seen site but here it is anyway.