Spanish Spree: March 12 - March 24, 2007
24 Apr 2007 Amrita said
Me and my sister travelled on the "Spanish Spree" in March of 2007. I highly recommend this tour! I met a variety of people from all over the world including Japan, South Korea, Phillipines, Indonesia, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, UK, and of course Canada! Our group consisted of 25 people, so we all had the oppportunity to get to know one another. As well we all had two seats to our selves on the coach so we all enjoyed alot of sleep on the coach. We had a mix of newly married couples, single female/male travellers, and students. We had 6 males and 19 females! You will find that females outrank males on Contiki tours. Because our group was small, we were able to form close bonds with one another!
MADRID: The hotel was located 10 minutes from the "Marques de Vadillo" station on the light green line (casa de campo//canillejas). I paid 35 Euros from the Madrid Airport to the hotel. Many travellers (single female/male as well as couples) asked the tourist info. booth at the airport the cheapest & quickest way to the hotel, I found that many arrived at the hotel in 2 euros using the MADRID METRO system. It cost 1 Euro one way on the metro (and no, you do not have to pay more to change lines) - so in 1 Euro you may arrive in the centre of Madrid. The metro system map is really easy to use. It helps if you have a Spanish Phrase book in case you want a map, further directions etc. I recommend "Fodor's Spanish Phrase Book". I found it very helpful. You will have plenty of time to see Madrid after the tour of the Royal Palace (the tour guide is bit of a bore, but the place is beautiful and has tons of interesting history!). Watch out for the gypsies trying to give you rosemary as they almost pick-pocketed a female traveller on our group. So, j make sure you do not get to close to them or accept any gifts/offerings from them. Madrid is extremly safe at night, the people are friendly and helpful (especially if you try to use a bit of spanish with them
EXCURSION (Valley of Fallen): The local guide for the "Valley of the Fallen" was very informative, but a bit bore. The cathedral at the Valley of the Falllen is an architectural marvel (I won't say why!!!) and definite worth seeing if you absolutely must see a modern-day Cathedral.
EXCURSION (Los Gaylos): I heard that the meal was huge and very filling. I did not participate in this excursion however.
TOLEDO: This was a fav. among those who love gothic architecture, little remote spots, and people who love Maza Pan (a Spanish dessert). Unfortunately we found out that El Greco's house is closed for 2 years! This town is very cute and remote...The stay at Toledo is only a few hours, however still very enjoyable Make sure you have a big breakfast before heading off to Toledo as there is alot of pastries, bakery shops but no real good eateries.
CORDOBA: This was the definite fav. among our group. Cordoba is beautiful (especially the Jewish Quarter) and has a rich history. Everything is within walking distance as Cordoba is very small town. It is not very touristy at all this adds to its charm. Cordoba's hotel is the best you will see on the Spanish Spree. On the other hand the breakfast is the smallest you will see on the trip!
SEVILLE: GORGEOUS CITY! When you think of Spain and Spanish culture it is ALL IN SEVILLE. Seville is Spain in a nutshell. 10 of us caught a wonderful, authentic 3 hour Flamenco dance for 23 EUROS including one drink at LOS GALLOS (about a 10 minute walk from the hotel). Why catch a Flamenco show in Barcelona when Seville is known for its Flamenco?! LOS GALLOS was recommended in three guides including Fodor's, Lonely Planet & Eyewitness Guides. They seated us right in front of the stage!!! It was an incredible experience. I would recommend this to anyone.
EXCURSION (Seville Walking tour): You have to be up very early for the walking tour! The walking tour was absolutely fantastic. The tour guide had us laughing at every moment. She was entertaining, informative, hallirious, and so incredibly nice! She gave us little tid-bits on the Spanish culture that only a Spaniard could tell you. Make sure you bring extra money for drink with the free tapas!
GIBRALTAR: Is not part of Spanish terrority, but is owned by United Kingdom. The history, the view from Gibraltar is beautiful. Make sure you bring some pounds (although they do accept Euros) for shopping. The stay in Gibraltar is very short (literally 4 hours) - this is perfect as there is not much to see or do after you see the rock of Gibraltar. Check if your Visa allows you to come into the UK, as they do have a security check. The citizens from the Phillipines and Indonesia were not able to join us as they needed a separate visa to enter UK terrority.
TORMELLINOS: This a 'pit-stop' city. You must go into the city in order to enjoy your self, as this place is really really sleepy. We were in Tormellinos on St. Patrick's day - so we all managed to have a great time once we went out for drinks. Be prepared to drag your luggage uphill! As always, everyone was very nice here
GRANADA: The evening tour of the Alahambra is gorgeous. The tour guide was great. The Alahambra is not very crowded as they control the number of visitors they take per day. Hotel is a quick 15 minute walk into the city.
VALENCIA: We stop in Valenica in the late afternoon - it is a VERY VERY FAST visit in Valenica. Literally a total of 4 hours and then we head off to the Holiday Inn. The hotel is located far from the city, so you won't get an opportunity to go back after you check-in into the hotel. I wish there was more time in Valenica. You must try the Churros and chocolate..it is really good!!
BARCELONA: The hotel was located so far from the city!!!!! This was the complaint from everyone the trip! As well, the hotel was literally in the middle of a maze! Once you get into the city things begin to liven up!
The leather/porcelain stop was a waste of time (just another sales gimmic). So surpass this one if you have to.
If you are planning to spend a few extra days in Barcelona considering purchasing the 10 trips for 6.95 euros. This is a good way to go if you plan to make trips into the city.
EXCURSION (Tabalo de Carmen): I did not go to this excursion as I attended Flamenco dancing in Seville. I heard it was very good from other people.
I hope this helps everyone with there trip planning. I highly recommend this tour to everyone.
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