Author Topic: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018  (Read 4586 times)

jamesbond007

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Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« on: January 10, 2018, 03:32:59 PM »
Hi MMMers,


We are planning our vacation to Spain in October 2018. Hopefully less crowd. We'll see. Here is the outline.


Day 0: Leave SFO
Day 1: Arrive in Barcelona
Day 2: Barcelona (Full day)
Day 3: Barcelona (Full day)
Day 4: Barcelona (Full day)
Day 5: Travel to Granada. (~8 hrs by train). Sleep in Granada.
Day 6: Alhambra and other stuff. Sleep in Granada
Day 7: Depart to Sevilla. Arrive in Sevilla. Some sightseeing
Day 8: Day trip to Cordoba. Back to Sevilla
Day 9: Sevilla
Day 10: Return to Barcelona.
Day 11: Return to SFO

Now the questions I have or where I need your help.

1. Does this sound OK? (I am obviously leaving out Madrid but I am finding it very hard to find anything interesting besides the palace)
2. Am I missing anything?
3. I want to watch a Barcelona game at the Camp Nou.
4. We will be traveling with our 4 YO.
5. We are vegetarians. What do we do?
6. Do we need a car? With a 4 YO?
7. How soon should we make train (renfe) reservations?
8. Where to stay?

I don't mind extending my stay if it makes sense. I haven't decided on a budget yet.

Thanks.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2018, 04:43:33 PM by jamesbond007 »

SimpleCycle

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2018, 04:24:01 PM »
I think you’re not taking travel time into account.  It’s almost 8 hours from Barcelona to Grenada by train.  I don’t see a travel day.

I think with kids it’s important to keep things fairly simple.  I’d say two main destinations not too far from each other.  Either Barcelona and Madrid or Barcelona and Valencia.  We spent 5 days in Madrid with our 15 month old and found plenty to do, but it depends on your interests.

Plan to stay in an apartment style flat.  They are affordable, allow you to self-cater some meals, and can have a separate sleeping area so you can stay up after kiddo bedtime.

Your kid will be jet lagged.  This might work to your advantage because the Spanish eat dinner very late.  Like 10 p.m.  This was hard on our toddler, because she was all out of sorts from the jet lag and didn’t know when to eat and sleep.

Spaniards understand vegetarianism, but I suspect many think it includes seafood and seafood stock.  I would write out in Spanish (and Catalan if you can manage the translation) what you don’t eat so you can refer to it when ordering.  Worst case just show it to the waiter.  Paella is made with seafood stock unless otherwise specified.  Tapas places should have some veggie options, and there are veg friendly restaurants.  Use Yelp and TripAdvisor to find them.

I hate driving so that colors my response, but we did not rent a car nor did we bring a car seat.  We did public transit, which necessitates packing light.  We did laundry at the apartment.  Dryers aren’t readily available, so you hang to dry.

jamesbond007

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2018, 04:45:24 PM »
I think you’re not taking travel time into account.  It’s almost 8 hours from Barcelona to Grenada by train.  I don’t see a travel day.

I think with kids it’s important to keep things fairly simple.  I’d say two main destinations not too far from each other.  Either Barcelona and Madrid or Barcelona and Valencia.  We spent 5 days in Madrid with our 15 month old and found plenty to do, but it depends on your interests.

Plan to stay in an apartment style flat.  They are affordable, allow you to self-cater some meals, and can have a separate sleeping area so you can stay up after kiddo bedtime.

Your kid will be jet lagged.  This might work to your advantage because the Spanish eat dinner very late.  Like 10 p.m.  This was hard on our toddler, because she was all out of sorts from the jet lag and didn’t know when to eat and sleep.

Spaniards understand vegetarianism, but I suspect many think it includes seafood and seafood stock.  I would write out in Spanish (and Catalan if you can manage the translation) what you don’t eat so you can refer to it when ordering.  Worst case just show it to the waiter.  Paella is made with seafood stock unless otherwise specified.  Tapas places should have some veggie options, and there are veg friendly restaurants.  Use Yelp and TripAdvisor to find them.

I hate driving so that colors my response, but we did not rent a car nor did we bring a car seat.  We did public transit, which necessitates packing light.  We did laundry at the apartment.  Dryers aren’t readily available, so you hang to dry.

Thank you. I updated my plan above based on your travel times. We traveled to Italy when our DD was 15 months old and she did OK. Again, she was 15 months then. Doesn't mean she would be fine when she is a 4YO. How did you book your train/bus tickets?

SimpleCycle

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2018, 04:52:31 PM »
Thank you. I updated my plan above based on your travel times. We traveled to Italy when our DD was 15 months old and she did OK. Again, she was 15 months then. Doesn't mean she would be fine when she is a 4YO. How did you book your train/bus tickets?

We didn’t do much intracountry travel.  We booked a day trip bus in person, and the people there spoke English, which saved some confusion I’m sure.  Our other destination was Morocco and we flew.

My experience is easygoing kids tend to be easygoing travelers and high needs kids tend to be high needs travelers.  So your daughter will probably do well!  I have one of each. :)

terran

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2018, 06:37:03 PM »
Consider flying in/out of different cities. It's often as cheap or cheaper and then you don't have to waste time getting back to the original city. Works best with larger airports of course, so YMMV.

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2018, 06:52:17 PM »
I just did almost the exact same trip two weeks ago, but in reverse.  Fabulous trip, I'd do it again in a heartbeat.  As terran suggests, I would definitely consider flying between Seville and Barcelona.  It is probably cheaper than the train, and a lot less time.  Taxi from each airport was around 30 Euros. 

You must book tickets to the Alhambra well in advance, and it is a real pain.  For some reason, our US credit cards didn't work, so asked a friend in Germany to get the tickets for us.  Her credit card didn't work either, so she had to borrow her brother's.   I don't know what the issue was, but it is a must see, so do what you have to do. 

I love Madrid.  In addition to the Palace there are a number excellent museums and lots more.  You can also do easy day trips to Toledo and Segovia. 

terran

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2018, 07:21:06 PM »
I just did almost the exact same trip two weeks ago, but in reverse.  Fabulous trip, I'd do it again in a heartbeat.  As terran suggests, I would definitely consider flying between Seville and Barcelona.  It is probably cheaper than the train, and a lot less time.  Taxi from each airport was around 30 Euros. 

Good suggestion, but I was actually suggesting flying open jaw between SFO and different cities coming/going instead of roundtrip to avoid having to get back to the first city.

Telecaster

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2018, 07:51:13 PM »
I just did almost the exact same trip two weeks ago, but in reverse.  Fabulous trip, I'd do it again in a heartbeat.  As terran suggests, I would definitely consider flying between Seville and Barcelona.  It is probably cheaper than the train, and a lot less time.  Taxi from each airport was around 30 Euros. 

Good suggestion, but I was actually suggesting flying open jaw between SFO and different cities coming/going instead of roundtrip to avoid having to get back to the first city.

Even better. And that's actually what I did.  I flew into Madrid and flew out of Barcelona just for that reason.  Then, I actually took the train from Madrid to Seville, which probably about the same amount of time/price as the plane and definitely more comfortable. 

SmallCheese

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2018, 04:52:43 AM »
Just took a trip to Barcelona right after Christmas. We wandered around the city a good bit no guided tour, just a (terrible) map. We went up and down Las Ramblas. It's a big touristy street with some vendors; some interesting people watching. After that we just sort of meandered around the side streets and took in some of the historical sites.

There's a park area around Montjuic you can walk to or take a mini cable car (not worth it IMO to take the cable car once I realized where exactly the park was) with some great walking spots, gardens, and a castle. And one of the roads up there led to the old Barcelona Olympic stadium, which was very cool to see.

At night, the Font Magica puts on a quite impressive light and music show. Allegedly. The fountain was broken the entire weekend we were there so I missed out!! :( But apparently it's quite a sight to see.

We didn't make it to the Sagrada Familia, but if you're interested in architecture or churches I think that's something to see.

We also did a day trip to Montserrat to see the monastery. There's some great hiking up there if you've got the time. Just a note-- we took the train up there and back. There were no seats left on either and it's an hour trip, so just be prepared you might stand for the whole thing.

The weather was gorgeous and we had a fantastic time.

401Killer

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2018, 05:53:46 AM »
I would look into San Sebastian on the north coast. That city is simply jaw dropping...

terran

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2018, 07:22:03 AM »
We didn't make it to the Sagrada Familia, but if you're interested in architecture or churches I think that's something to see.

Definitely do this. It's a cathedral that's been under construction for like 200 year or something. Designed by Gaudi to have nature inspired themes like columns designed to look like trees (more to evoke the feeling of trees than to be replicas of trees).

lentil

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2018, 07:54:00 AM »
On the vegetarianism question, it wasn't hard for us to find tons of excellent veggie options in Spain (especially if you eat cheese and/or eggs). Most bars/cafes have the ubiquitous Spanish tortilla (traditionally: eggs, potatoes, olive oil), which made for a really cheap and easy off-hours snack when our stomachs were all confused by the jet-lag. But there were a lot of other options too.

My traveling-while-vegetarian strategy has been made easier by renting through AirBnB (or similar sites). I like apartment living for other reasons, but having a kitchen especially makes things easier in terms of (a) food budget, (b) jet-lag digestive confusion, and (c) dietary restrictions. And shopping can be a fun experience in itself! So we usually plan to eat in quite a bit, while still allowing plenty of time to go out and spend time in the place we're visiting.

Most major cities have vegetarian and/or vegan restaurants. For instance, googling "vegetarian restaurant barcelona" gave me a bunch of articles like this: https://www.timeout.com/barcelona/restaurants/vegetarian-delights. There are even entire websites devoted to helping veggie travelers find food, like Happy Cow. So, as part of our vacation planning, we often do some online research ahead of time, and plan for a special meal (or several) out. I really like tasting good, local food where I don't have to negotiate for things to be cooked differently. But you can probably find a few veggie options at many restaurants these days, providing you have enough Spanish to read a menu (and if you don't, there will be more touristy restaurants with bilingual menus anyway).

My biggest dietary challenge while traveling to Europe is that my stomach just doesn't handle an eight hour time difference very well. I seldom feel hungry, but will crash dramatically if I don't eat regularly (I'm not 4...but when I travel, I can act like I am!). So I think there's a lot of value in carrying snacks wherever you go, and having small snacks regularly, until your stomachs/brains/bodies catch up. It helps keep everyone happier, and helps prevent those "oh no, we all need food RIGHT NOW" moments that result in dropping $40 for some stale sandwiches at the museum cafe.

jamesbond007

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2018, 08:22:31 AM »
Thanks so much for the suggestions. I will look into flying into Barcelona and flying out of Sevilla/Madrid. I will save a day if I don't go back to the originating city. I will try to extend a day and spend 2 days in Madrid. Thanks for the tip on vegetarian restaurants. I will check. I have to get creative if I want to get into Alhambra with a US credit card. I don't know anyone in the EU region. Let's see.

merula

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2018, 08:39:04 AM »
I married into a Spanish family and spent 4 months in Barcelona in college.

1. Does this sound OK? (I am obviously leaving out Madrid but I am finding it very hard to find anything interesting besides the palace)
It sound OK if it's what you want to do. The palace in Madrid wasn't something I found all that interesting, but I loved the Prado (top tier art museum) and the Reina Sofia (museum housing the 20th century pieces that used to be part of the Prado collection). Also various parks and plazas, restaurants, etc.

2. Am I missing anything?
Spain is a widely-varied country. You're planning to see a part of Catalonia and three cities in Andalusia. You're missing most of the coast and all of the Basque Country, Galicia, central Spain, etc. That said, there's only so much you can do. If you have your heart set on Granada/Sevilla/Cordoba, more power to you, but I found the food, sights and architecture of those cities to be very similar.

3. I want to watch a Barcelona game at the Camp Nou.
During the season, football teams in Spain typically play one game per week, alternating home and away, and virtually always on a Saturday or Sunday. Games are also usually late at night, which may not work well with a 4 y/o. (In general, Spain has a very different definition of "late at night" than the US. Most restaurants won't open for dinner until 9 and eating dinner at 9 is about equivalent to eating dinner at 4:30 here. Between 10-11 is most typical.) So, if your schedule works out that you will be in Barcelona while FCB is playing a home game, go for it, but understand that it's not likely unless you are solely planning around the game. That said, Camp Nou has a museum and offers tours even when the team is not playing.

4. We will be traveling with our 4 YO.
Great! I've found that Spaniards are much more accepting of children in what would be "adult" spaces in the US (restaurants, coffee shops, museums, etc.), but there also tends to be a higher expectation of their behavior. If your child misbehaves, the expectation is that you will step out with them until they are ready to return; there isn't so much of a "kids will be kids" attitude. When I was last there, restaurants would often bring my son (1.5 at the time) treats from the kitchen (one time it was a giant plate of house-made potato chips) and pay special attention to him.

5. We are vegetarians. What do we do?
First, understand that just because something looks vegetarian, it may not be. Also, standards of what is and is not vegetarian are completely different in Spain. Chicken and other poultry aren't considered meat, nor is lard, and the concept of veganism in most places is met with utter confusion. This is going to be most true in Andalusia, less so in Barcelona.

Historically, Andalusia was Al-Andalus, the heart of Muslim Spain. After the reconquista, many Jews and Muslims converted to Christianity and it became commonplace to add pork products to virtually every dish in order to prove your true Christianity. This means that many, many traditional dishes looks vegetarian (because they're peasant food and peasants couldn't afford much actual cuts of meat) but contain lard or other pork products.

In Barcelona, you're going to see much more seafood, and seafood products or fish stock in a lot of dishes. A vegetable paella, for example, will usually have fish stock and clam sauce.

What are your particular restrictions? If you're OK with eggs, tortilla española will almost always be OK to eat (and ubiquitous). Otherwise, do some reading on traditional dishes and their usual ingredients and learn how to ask about concerning ingredients. (For example: Is the vegetable paella made with fish stock? ¿La paella de verduras está hecha con caldo de pescado?) Simply asking if a dish is vegetarian isn't likely to get you the right result.

6. Do we need a car? With a 4 YO?
No, and I wouldn't recommend it. Public transit, both within and between cities in Spain is excellent.

7. How soon should we make train (renfe) reservations?
The earlier the better, in order to get the cheapest tickets. If memory serves, Renfe tickets are available a year in advance, so you should be good to book anytime.

8. Where to stay?
I have had good luck with private rooms in hostels (free breakfast and it's easier with kids to have a kitchen, I think), pensions and Airbnb apartments. In Barcelona, I'd recommend staying in the city center. Barri Gotic is the old city, which is beautiful and medieval, but kind of expensive. El Ravel and La Ribera are the hip, artsy neighborhoods flanking it. Les Corts is where Camp Nou is located; it's a Metro ride from anything else but is a great local upper-class neighborhood.

A few other notes:
-Be aware that while Spanish is spoken and understood in Barcelona, it is not the local language. That is Catalan. It's helpful to be able to read a few key phrases as most signs, if they're in only one language, will be in Catalan.
-There isn't really an "off season" for tourism in Spain. Be prepared for crowds.
-Barcelona has a problem with pickpockets; they primarily target tourists. Do whatever you can to not stand out, and don't be obviously inebriated or lost. If you do get pickpocketed, the best thing you can do is confront them in Spanish. They are looking for easy prey and will often give items back once they realize that you're not that.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2018, 08:41:14 AM by merula »

Telecaster

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2018, 10:30:32 AM »
We didn't make it to the Sagrada Familia, but if you're interested in architecture or churches I think that's something to see.

Definitely do this. It's a cathedral that's been under construction for like 200 year or something. Designed by Gaudi to have nature inspired themes like columns designed to look like trees (more to evoke the feeling of trees than to be replicas of trees).

Co-signed.  It is a true stunner, unlike any other cathedral.   Also Park Güell, besides being a nice park, has some nice Gaudi architecture.  You need a ticket to enter the buildings, but the park itself is free.   The Casa Batlló on Passeig de Gràcia in my opinion is well with the visit, especially if you have an interest in architecture.  Book in advance for all of those. 


jamesbond007

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2018, 10:39:06 AM »
I married into a Spanish family and spent 4 months in Barcelona in college.

1. Does this sound OK? (I am obviously leaving out Madrid but I am finding it very hard to find anything interesting besides the palace)
It sound OK if it's what you want to do. The palace in Madrid wasn't something I found all that interesting, but I loved the Prado (top tier art museum) and the Reina Sofia (museum housing the 20th century pieces that used to be part of the Prado collection). Also various parks and plazas, restaurants, etc.

2. Am I missing anything?
Spain is a widely-varied country. You're planning to see a part of Catalonia and three cities in Andalusia. You're missing most of the coast and all of the Basque Country, Galicia, central Spain, etc. That said, there's only so much you can do. If you have your heart set on Granada/Sevilla/Cordoba, more power to you, but I found the food, sights and architecture of those cities to be very similar.

3. I want to watch a Barcelona game at the Camp Nou.
During the season, football teams in Spain typically play one game per week, alternating home and away, and virtually always on a Saturday or Sunday. Games are also usually late at night, which may not work well with a 4 y/o. (In general, Spain has a very different definition of "late at night" than the US. Most restaurants won't open for dinner until 9 and eating dinner at 9 is about equivalent to eating dinner at 4:30 here. Between 10-11 is most typical.) So, if your schedule works out that you will be in Barcelona while FCB is playing a home game, go for it, but understand that it's not likely unless you are solely planning around the game. That said, Camp Nou has a museum and offers tours even when the team is not playing.

4. We will be traveling with our 4 YO.
Great! I've found that Spaniards are much more accepting of children in what would be "adult" spaces in the US (restaurants, coffee shops, museums, etc.), but there also tends to be a higher expectation of their behavior. If your child misbehaves, the expectation is that you will step out with them until they are ready to return; there isn't so much of a "kids will be kids" attitude. When I was last there, restaurants would often bring my son (1.5 at the time) treats from the kitchen (one time it was a giant plate of house-made potato chips) and pay special attention to him.

5. We are vegetarians. What do we do?
First, understand that just because something looks vegetarian, it may not be. Also, standards of what is and is not vegetarian are completely different in Spain. Chicken and other poultry aren't considered meat, nor is lard, and the concept of veganism in most places is met with utter confusion. This is going to be most true in Andalusia, less so in Barcelona.

Historically, Andalusia was Al-Andalus, the heart of Muslim Spain. After the reconquista, many Jews and Muslims converted to Christianity and it became commonplace to add pork products to virtually every dish in order to prove your true Christianity. This means that many, many traditional dishes looks vegetarian (because they're peasant food and peasants couldn't afford much actual cuts of meat) but contain lard or other pork products.

In Barcelona, you're going to see much more seafood, and seafood products or fish stock in a lot of dishes. A vegetable paella, for example, will usually have fish stock and clam sauce.

What are your particular restrictions? If you're OK with eggs, tortilla española will almost always be OK to eat (and ubiquitous). Otherwise, do some reading on traditional dishes and their usual ingredients and learn how to ask about concerning ingredients. (For example: Is the vegetable paella made with fish stock? ¿La paella de verduras está hecha con caldo de pescado?) Simply asking if a dish is vegetarian isn't likely to get you the right result.

6. Do we need a car? With a 4 YO?
No, and I wouldn't recommend it. Public transit, both within and between cities in Spain is excellent.

7. How soon should we make train (renfe) reservations?
The earlier the better, in order to get the cheapest tickets. If memory serves, Renfe tickets are available a year in advance, so you should be good to book anytime.

8. Where to stay?
I have had good luck with private rooms in hostels (free breakfast and it's easier with kids to have a kitchen, I think), pensions and Airbnb apartments. In Barcelona, I'd recommend staying in the city center. Barri Gotic is the old city, which is beautiful and medieval, but kind of expensive. El Ravel and La Ribera are the hip, artsy neighborhoods flanking it. Les Corts is where Camp Nou is located; it's a Metro ride from anything else but is a great local upper-class neighborhood.

A few other notes:
-Be aware that while Spanish is spoken and understood in Barcelona, it is not the local language. That is Catalan. It's helpful to be able to read a few key phrases as most signs, if they're in only one language, will be in Catalan.
-There isn't really an "off-season" for tourism in Spain. Be prepared for crowds.
-Barcelona has a problem with pickpockets; they primarily target tourists. Do whatever you can to not stand out, and don't be obviously inebriated or lost. If you do get pickpocketed, the best thing you can do is confront them in Spanish. They are looking for easy prey and will often give items back once they realize that you're not that.

This is a lot of amazing information. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Just to throw some light on our preferences, we are not the ones who enjoy beaches or nightlife. We find them boring. But we are big on art, history, nature, and architecture. I skipped Madrid with the intention of returning to Spain to cover the West and the North including Madrid. I found that it is practically impossible to see everything in 2 weeks.

Camp Nou: Yes. Wanting to see a game is a hit or miss. Especially when we don't have the schedule for the next season. The team could very well be on an International break. But, I am planning to spend the weekend in Barcelona so if there is a game, I could go. Worst case, I will just go to the Camp Nou museum.

Vegetarian food: I will try to educate myself more.

Speaking Spanish/Catalan: I can speak some basic Spanish but I plan to use Google Translate for both Spanish and Catalan. I did this when I went to Italy and South Korea and it worked very well. I hope it works well with Spanish/Catalan too.

Similar architecture: When you say Sevilla, Granada, Cordoba have similar architecture, I understood why you said that. Anything you recommend to add/skip based on this? Maybe add another city (San Sebastian in the North?) to get a mix. This obviously prolongs the duration I spend in Spain but I am OK with this.

Renfe tickets: I am having a tough time finding tickets on Renfe. Maybe because they don't show connections? I will keep trying.

SmallCheese

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2018, 03:36:14 AM »
Oh! Picasso Museum!

merula

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2018, 09:11:09 AM »
Glad you found it useful!

Speaking Spanish/Catalan: I can speak some basic Spanish but I plan to use Google Translate for both Spanish and Catalan. I did this when I went to Italy and South Korea and it worked very well. I hope it works well with Spanish/Catalan too.

Be aware that if you learned Spanish in the US, you likely learned a Latin American accent, which is far different from Spain. (I've never really understood why US schools teach Parisian French but Mexican Spanish. You'd think Quebecois would be more immediately useful, or if it was in the interest of "teaching the language from its origin", madrileño Castellano. Oh well.) You might try looking at some YouTube videos or podcasts from Spain; one example is https://lightspeedspanish.co.uk/.

Another option is Spanish-language films set in Spain: Pan's Labyrinth, Todo Sobre Mi Madre, Volver, etc.

Similar architecture: When you say Sevilla, Granada, Cordoba have similar architecture, I understood why you said that. Anything you recommend to add/skip based on this? Maybe add another city (San Sebastian in the North?) to get a mix. This obviously prolongs the duration I spend in Spain but I am OK with this.

San Sebastian is my absolute favorite city in Spain. The food is astoundingly good, just utterly amazing, as are the views. Not too much of the museum scene, though you could hop over to Bilbao for the Guggenheim. San Sebastian is a tourist city, but generally for domestic tourists, not outsiders, and October would be off-season.

Renfe tickets: I am having a tough time finding tickets on Renfe. Maybe because they don't show connections? I will keep trying.
I may have been wrong about the Renfe tickets being available a year out; it looks like they're now available about 45 days out. I'd suggest looking at the timetables and planning on that; keep and eye on them and book them as soon as you can.

I was going to recommend taking night trains as a way to get from place to place, but those appear to have been discontinued, which is a real shame. When weighing train versus flying, be sure you consider airport travel (airports are generally a ways outside the city, where train stations are central) and luggage restrictions on budget airlines. And maybe also how your kids feel about trains and planes? I took my 5 y/o and 3 y/o on a 7 hour train ride last year and they *loved* it, because they could see things out the window and wander around and eat in a dining car, etc. They like planes, too, but get frustrated at being so enclosed.

Kimbl

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #18 on: January 15, 2018, 03:53:37 PM »
My mother's family is from Zaragoza so every so many years we all go for a few weeks in the summer to visit.  Usually we either fly into Madrid or Barcelona and take the train to Zaragoza.  Zaragoza is our "base camp" and we take 1-2 days trips if we want.  In Zaragoza we rent at an extended stay hotel (apartments, really) in the city center.  Very easy.  Don't have to eat out every meal with the kids if we don't want to.  Take public transportation everywhere.   

One year we decided to do a tour around the country (Madrid, Toledo, Sevilla, Malaga, Cuenca, Zaragoza plus numerous small villages on the way) in 14 days with rental cars since there were ~20 of us altogether.  It was god-awful and I will never do it again.  We had 4 children with us that trip ranging from 4y-10y.  It was over 100F every day.  We missed a few scheduled stops because the travel was just too intense for the youngest one and she got car sick several times. I also tend to get car-sick as did several other of the adults so we were always fighting for the front seats :).  We also got lost more than a couple times.    We saw a lot of great things but it was just too much in too little time.  I prefer to go to one place and really explore that area.  Very relaxed with little to no schedule.   I'd rather take the kids to play in a park all day than worry about seeing every museum.  They learn a lot more playing with kids their own age and trying to communicate in half Spanish/English that any tourist attraction. 

One good thing though with that trip was staying at Paradors when we could.  These are hotels in historic buildings often in lovely locations.  The prices aren't too bad at least in the smaller towns.  (This is one site in English so you can see where they are: https://www.parador.es/en/find-your-parador). 

I am also a vegetarian and don't eat dairy at all and eggs rarely.  Very challenging at least in Zaragoza. Zaragoza is not as touristy as the other major cities so not as many non-traditional restaurants.   I agree with a previous poster that fish/seafood is not considered a meat so lots of confusion about that.    My salads kept coming to the table with tuna so I had to make sure I specifically said "sin carne, sin pescado" .  Honestly, I gave up after a few days about being strict as long as it looked vegetarian even though I know it tasted like there was some sort of meat in it.  Or just ate around things. My family in Spain tried very hard to accommodate me and I had some very delicious vegetable dishes in their homes.  It was just harder at the restaurants.  I ate a lot of tomatoes and potatoes and bread when we were out and about.

I absolutely love Spain and its culture and fantasize about retiring there someday.   I think I need to start planning my next visit...



 

Samuel

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2018, 04:28:30 PM »
Camp Nou: Yes. Wanting to see a game is a hit or miss. Especially when we don't have the schedule for the next season. The team could very well be on an International break. But, I am planning to spend the weekend in Barcelona so if there is a game, I could go. Worst case, I will just go to the Camp Nou museum.

If they are playing out of town you can always find a bar and watch the game with the locals. That can be a lot of fun too. They're very into it.

And yes, while it will be crowded (go very early or late) to me the Sagrada Familia is the single biggest must see in Barcelona. There is literally nothing else like it in the entire world.

The Palau de la Música Catalana is also pretty cool if you're into architecture. They do tours of the building in the day.

Telecaster

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #20 on: January 15, 2018, 04:51:13 PM »

The Palau de la Música Catalana is also pretty cool if you're into architecture. They do tours of the building in the day.

They also have regular concerts. 

Samuel

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #21 on: January 16, 2018, 08:42:52 AM »

The Palau de la Música Catalana is also pretty cool if you're into architecture. They do tours of the building in the day.

They also have regular concerts.

Oh yeah, that too... They're a bit pricey, but of course it is a rare opportunity.

I actually happened to be there right at the start of the concert season and got a ticket to some kind of awards/concert event that was much cheaper than a full concert. It was 30-40 minutes of talking and handing out awards to a handful of musicians (which I spent intently trying to understand any of the rapid fire Catalan), then a 50 minute viola performance.  Afterwards I could walk around and check out the theater a bit more. Pretty cool, even though I was waaaaay underdressed.

merula

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #22 on: January 16, 2018, 10:40:48 AM »
And yes, while it will be crowded (go very early or late) to me the Sagrada Familia is the single biggest must see in Barcelona. There is literally nothing else like it in the entire world.

You're welcome to your view, but I really, really loathe that church*. It probably wouldn't be so bad if not for every single non-Spaniard I've met taking a similar view, and yet I've never heard anything similar from a Spaniard, even those who adore Gaudí. There are just SO MANY MORE sights that focusing on that one incomplete church* is a narrow view at best.

I also don't think it's close to the best representation of Gaudí's work. But, in the interest of full disclosure, my favorite Gaudí sight in Barcelona are the street tiles.


*Sagrada Família is not a cathedral. A cathedral is the seat of a Bishop; there is only one Roman Catholic Cathedral per RC diocese, and thus only one in the Archdiocese of Barcelona. Sagrada Família is a minor basilica and expiatory CHURCH.

I agree with a previous poster that fish/seafood is not considered a meat so lots of confusion about that.    My salads kept coming to the table with tuna so I had to make sure I specifically said "sin carne, sin pescado".

I was discussing this concept with my husband (US-born, Spanish heritage). He googled "vegetarian Spanish dishes" and the first result was for squid. Maybe the basis of this (like the pork thing) is Catholicism? Fish aren't meat for fast purposes.

jamesbond007

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #23 on: January 16, 2018, 12:45:50 PM »
How feasible is it to cook my own food in an apartment? Like real hot food.

NeonPegasus

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #24 on: January 16, 2018, 01:14:29 PM »
DH and I honeymooned there in 2002. It's been so long that most of my advice will be somewhat outdated but here are some thoughts.

1. Do not drive. DO NOT DRIVE. Don't. It nearly killed my new marriage. There are signs to get you from city to city but for some reason, there are no f-ing signs in the cities on the streets. As soon as we reached our new city, it took us 2-3 hours to find our hotel. Also, some of the streets are so narrow you have to pull in your side mirrors to not scrape the buildings. They have a great train system.

2. Try to stay in a parador. They are castles that are converted into hotels.

3. Double bed in Spanish is "cama matrimonial", not cama doble. Cama doble gets you twin beds. Not fun for a honeymoon.

4. Avoid the gypsies with rosemary by the Alhambra.

5. Pick up some veggies/fruit at markets. I recall feeling overwhelmed by all the meat. But the olives and oranges are the best I've ever had anywhere. Oh, and the gazpacho. It's incredible.

6. Granted, I didn't have kids while there but I remember being shocked to see kids at a restaurant at 10 pm on a Tuesday. I think your child will be welcome.

cristiansp

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #25 on: January 16, 2018, 01:55:10 PM »
I wanted to respond to this post because I just couldn't help but remember my trips to barcelona <3.

Eating as a vegetarian? Tripadvisor is your friend, obviously. However, I still remember this amazing vegan place, called CatBar, where I had a really beautiful hemp burger. My friend, not vegetarian at the time, tried it and said it was the best burger she'd ever tasted. If you get the chance, seek it out.  https://www.facebook.com/CatBarCAT/

merula

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #26 on: January 16, 2018, 05:05:58 PM »
How feasible is it to cook my own food in an apartment? Like real hot food.

Super, amazingly feasible. There are little markets and grocery stores ALL OVER the place, and groceries (for the most part) are much cheaper in Spain than the US. Plus, if you're going to one of the markets, you can get almost anything in the portions you want.

Restaurant tips: MAOZ. I cannot believe I forgot to mention this in any of my previous posts. I don't know where the chain originated, but they're both here and in Barcelona. (I ate at the Barcelona one first.) It's a completely vegetarian falafel restaurant; no meat products at all. I think the base sandwich is actually vegan, and then you add toppings (some of which are dairy) at the open salad bar.

jamesbond007

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #27 on: January 16, 2018, 05:17:28 PM »
How feasible is it to cook my own food in an apartment? Like real hot food.

Super, amazingly feasible. There are little markets and grocery stores ALL OVER the place, and groceries (for the most part) are much cheaper in Spain than the US. Plus, if you're going to one of the markets, you can get almost anything in the portions you want.

Restaurant tips: MAOZ. I cannot believe I forgot to mention this in any of my previous posts. I don't know where the chain originated, but they're both here and in Barcelona. (I ate at the Barcelona one first.) It's a completely vegetarian falafel restaurant; no meat products at all. I think the base sandwich is actually vegan, and then you add toppings (some of which are dairy) at the open salad bar.

Thank you.

Daisy

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #28 on: January 16, 2018, 09:35:09 PM »
Since you say you like art and will be in Barcelona, you should consider a day trip from Barcelona to Figueres, Salvador Dali's hometown. There is an amazing Dali museum there. We took a day trip from Barcelona by train to get there.

https://www.salvador-dali.org/en/museums/dali-theatre-museum-in-figueres/

You are also missing the best part of Spain, the northwest, but that's probably my biased opinion based on family heritage. :-) Spain cannot be covered in just one trip.

Cordoba, Granada, and Sevilla are nice as well.

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #29 on: January 17, 2018, 10:23:38 AM »
Since you say you like art and will be in Barcelona, you should consider a day trip from Barcelona to Figueres, Salvador Dali's hometown. There is an amazing Dali museum there. We took a day trip from Barcelona by train to get there.

https://www.salvador-dali.org/en/museums/dali-theatre-museum-in-figueres/

You are also missing the best part of Spain, the northwest, but that's probably my biased opinion based on family heritage. :-) Spain cannot be covered in just one trip.

Cordoba, Granada, and Sevilla are nice as well.

Thanks for the tip. Will try to fit this into my plan.

Telecaster

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #30 on: January 17, 2018, 12:17:33 PM »
How feasible is it to cook my own food in an apartment? Like real hot food.

The El Corte Ingles department store on the Plaça de Catalunya (can't miss it, you'll likely walk by it a couple times a day), has a *great* grocery store in the basement. 

merula

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #31 on: January 17, 2018, 12:46:28 PM »
How feasible is it to cook my own food in an apartment? Like real hot food.

The El Corte Ingles department store on the Plaça de Catalunya (can't miss it, you'll likely walk by it a couple times a day), has a *great* grocery store in the basement.

ECI is expensive relative to other stores, but they have EVERYTHING, and it's the only place in Catalunya you're guaranteed to be addressed with Usted.

If you're out in Les Corts to see the stadium, there's another ECI out there.

BuildingmyFIRE

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #32 on: January 18, 2018, 11:01:03 AM »
Anyone have advice for where to (1) go (2) eat (3) in the northwestern region around  A Coruna, Santiago de Compostela, Oviedo, etc in August?  Not sure if we'll get as far as Santander and Bilbao.  Thanks!

Catbert

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #33 on: January 18, 2018, 11:50:41 AM »
You might want to look at www.rootofgood.com.  Justin and his family of 3 kids (the youngest is about 5) went to Europe for 9 weeks this past summer - part of the time in Spain.   

Daisy

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #34 on: January 18, 2018, 12:12:38 PM »
Anyone have advice for where to (1) go (2) eat (3) in the northwestern region around  A Coruna, Santiago de Compostela, Oviedo, etc in August?  Not sure if we'll get as far as Santander and Bilbao.  Thanks!

That's where my grandparents are from. I went in the 90s with my parents to visit "the homeland". We drove around all over - Santiago de Compostela, La Coruña, Vigo, Oviedo, small towns around Oviedo such as Lastres (beautiful town on the Cantabric Sea built on the side of a cliff), Gijon.We mostly went to visit some distant family. I was too young at the time to remember specific suggestions for you.

The scenery was beautiful and different from southern Spain - lots of greenery and mountains. You may be surprised to find Celtic influences in this part of the country and will probably hear a lot of Celtic music, not flamenco. You will get more of the Celtic influences in this part of Spain as the Moors did not travel that far north - so no bullfighting, flamenco, etc. One of these days I want to attend the grand Celtic music festival in Ortigueira in Galicia. It is held in July. http://festivaldeortigueira.com/

Some memories are:
- took a day trip on a "lancha" (ferry) in the city of Vigo to see the coastline
- La Coruña - a very active and busy city
- Santiago de Compostela - the main church where the Camino de Santiago ends (well it truly ends west of Santiago de Compostela but many walkers end it here)
- Attending a queimada ceremony https://matadornetwork.com/nights/queimada/
- Gijon - had the best grilled sardines in my life on a restaurant by the water
- Oviedo - a beautiful old city with a lot of elegance
- Lastres- a small town built on a cliff by the water
- Asturias (Oviedo is the capital) - eat fabada and ask for sidra (cider) and watch the elaborate ritual as they pour a glass with the bottle over their head and the glass behind them - asight to see.
- Cantabric Sea - a beautiful blue color contrasting with the greenery of the countryside
- Driving through the Pyrenees - not for the faint hearted

Foods to eat:
- In Galicia - caldo gallego, above mentioned queimada
- In Asturias - fabada asturiana, sidra (cider)
« Last Edit: January 18, 2018, 12:15:27 PM by Daisy »

Jaayse

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Re: Help me plan my vacation to Spain in October 2018
« Reply #35 on: January 18, 2018, 03:05:22 PM »
Oh! Picasso Museum!

+1 for the Picasso Museum, it was great, and most of his work is not what you think of when you think Picasso. 

I also want to +1 for the trip to montserrat, extremely beautiful views and there are many ways to get up there that can be fun.  I also went to the museum up there and enjoyed the audio tour.

I recommend getting a subway pass when you are there.  I stayed in an airbnb and used the subway to get everywhere.  I really enjoyed walking around the gothic quarter as well and walking around to all the Gaudi architecture.  You will have a great time!