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Old 16th May 2007, 06:09 PM   #1
Chris M
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Default Advice on where to go in Spain

I thought this forum would be a good place to ask where I should go in Spain this summer.

I am going to go with my girlfriend and I just don't know where I could choose to satisfy both of us. You see, I want to practice my Spanish and want to see the 'real' Spain for a change, and since my girlfriend doesn't speak Spanish, she would be more interested in touristy things. So I need a place that can offer both of these. Also, there has to be nightclubs around the place and maybe a beach. I was thinking Barcelona, but then I was thinking no since they speak Catalan there. Then I was thinking Madrid, but then I don't know if my GF would like it there. The truth is I don't know where to go, any suggestions? And also, any suggested hotels where we could stay in the suggested location?

Many thanks
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Old 16th May 2007, 06:25 PM   #2
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Hi Chris,

Don't stress about the Catalan in Barcelona. Everyone is bilingual and it's not a problem, I promise you. Avoiding Barcelona because of the Catalan, is a bit like not going to Wales because they speak Welsh.
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Old 16th May 2007, 07:43 PM   #3
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Right ok. So is it Reus or Girona? Which would be best?
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Old 16th May 2007, 08:01 PM   #4
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From a "getting into Barcelona from the airport" viewpoint, they're both the same (so I'm told, but I'm lucky in that I always fly direct from Barcelona).

If you can't get direct into BCN, then I'd decide based on:

1. Whichever offers you the best choice of departure airport in the UK
2. Lowest price
3. Any airline other than "Ryan-Hell-in-the-Air" (I'd rather stick pins in my eyes than fly with them again! jeje)
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Old 16th May 2007, 08:18 PM   #5
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Really? I was going to use RyanAir beacause it's so cheap! What's wrong with them?
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Old 16th May 2007, 09:05 PM   #6
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Imagine an airline that does everything it possibly can to make the face-value ticket prices SOOO ridiculously cheap, that every last tiny aspect of anything that could be taken as adding to "a pleasant travel experience" has been completely abliterated, and then you might be somewhere near describing Ryanair. It's the pits. I know that price is important (to me too, very much so) but even I have my limits, even when we're only talking about 2 hours of my life spent on one of their planes.

They make out they're doing us all a favour by allowing extra cabin baggage, but they back it up by charging for check-in baggage. The real reason is of course that they then save on charges from their ground-handling agents. The upshot of it all is a cabin crammed with oversized bags that almost every other airline wouldn't dream of allowing in the cabin, and rightly so.

They also don't want the hassle and miniscule extra cost of allocating a seat number to each passenger, so instead you get an almighty rugby scrum at the boarding gate as everyone surges forward, wanting to get on first so they can sit together etc.

Combine just those two aspects together at the same time, and you've got one hell of a crush on your hands at boarding.

I don't know what they pay their cabin-crew, but some of them look at you like you're the biggest inconvenience to their busy lives. I know I don't like "false" plesantries, but huffing and puffing at simple requests isn't right, and it isn't nice. Chewing gum in a Vicky Pollard style while boarding is another small, but very annoying thing (to me), that many of them do.

My last point is probably more controversial, but it's quite simply, that cheap flights have allowed "cheap" people to fly. Every scrote and scally in the UK can now slip on a shell-suit and head off to the sun, and many of these people sadly do not know how to behave outside of their homes in situations where they have to share space with other human beings.

Cheap flights have been great for me, as I could never afford the traditional cost of flying, but I would hope that I know how to behave in public whatever the cost of my ticket was.

There's nothing remotely enjoyable about flying these days in general, and none of the cheaper airlines are much good, but to me, Ryanair is just the absolute worst of the worst.

If it's a choice between a seat with them for 50p or, say, £20 with another airline, I'd gladly pay the extra. £20 is nothing these days, especially when you compare to the cost of train travel in the UK for example.

Ok, rant over now. Blimey, I feel like one of those old women who write into "Points of View" with letters that begin with "Dear BBC, Why oh why oh why..." jeje
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Old 16th May 2007, 09:10 PM   #7
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One more thing I've just remembered... A friend flew with Ryanair from Girona recently, and took the RYANAIR dedicated bus from Barcelona to Girona. It was late, so he missed his RYANAIR flight. There was no come-back, no point complaining, in their eyes he was late so he missed his flight. Simple as that! He had to pay for a new flight.
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Old 16th May 2007, 09:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pepino View Post
From a "getting into Barcelona from the airport"
3. Any airline other than "Ryan-Hell-in-the-Air" (I'd rather stick pins in my eyes than fly with them again! jeje)
I flew EasyJet from Madrid to Paris around April 28th. It was ok but naturally my wife and I are gifted at having kids in the seats behind you who are testing their newly found karate skills on the back of the seat.

Fortunatly it was a very short flight.
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Old 16th May 2007, 09:42 PM   #9
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Must admit, of the cheap airlines, I have only ever flown with BmiBaby, as they are the only cheap operators from out "local" airport (100 miles away!)
I have generally found them to be ok, and everyone does still get an allocated seat, so no stampede. They did leave my bags behind in Malaga once, as they were overloaded, so simply threw a few suitcases out! They are also now charging for cases to go in the hold, and we booked this week for September, and lt's already gone up in price from when we last paid a few weeks ago.
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Old 17th May 2007, 10:46 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris M View Post
Right ok. So is it Reus or Girona? Which would be best?
Nooooooo fly to barcelona airport - there is a train every half hour that takes you in to the Centre or out to the Costa brava as far as Blanes. Both Girona and Reus are 12 - 20 miles from town. The main thing is its easy to get back to the airport too.

Last edited by gary; 17th May 2007 at 10:48 AM.
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Old 17th May 2007, 10:47 AM   #11
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Really? I was going to use RyanAir beacause it's so cheap! What's wrong with them?

Nothing wrong with /Ryanair but they dont fly to Bacelona - you'll have to spend more on onward transport.

Easyjet, Jet2 Ryanair and BmiBaby are much of a muchness - Of the four I prefer Jet2 as they have assigned seats so there is no bunfite at boarding if you want the extra legroom - If you ask for seats 14C and 14D (across the aisle) theyll give them to you - they are over wing seats and do spaced further apart - they keep 14a and 14F for those who pay for extra legroom and 14B and 14E for anyone travelling with them. At the end of the business if the plane is not full you could have six seats between two of you!!

Last edited by gary; 17th May 2007 at 10:53 AM.
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Old 17th May 2007, 11:31 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gary View Post
Easyjet, Jet2 Ryanair and BmiBaby are much of a muchness - Of the four I prefer Jet2...
I've never tried Easyjet as they don't fly into Manchester. I've always had to use Monarch for direct Man-Bcn flights, but last month, Jet2 have started the same route, so I'm booked with them to visit the UK at the end of June. We'll see how they are. Ages ago, Iberia used to fly direct, and way way back, BA did, but they both dropped out unfortunately.

Monarch are alright. I love the way they massively inflate the official flight-time, so they can have a delay but still arrive on time! "Here we are in sunny Manchester, a whole 5 hours ahead of schedule!" (I'm exagerating of course). They're OK at the end of the day and I've never had a major problem with them.

I still stand by everything I say about Ryanair. They're the anti-christ of airlines in my opinion, and the only reason I don't want them to go bust is because their presence helps keep the other airline's prices down to a competitive level.
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Old 17th May 2007, 12:00 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris M View Post
I thought this forum would be a good place to ask where I should go in Spain this summer.

I am going to go with my girlfriend and I just don't know where I could choose to satisfy both of us. You see, I want to practice my Spanish and want to see the 'real' Spain for a change, and since my girlfriend doesn't speak Spanish, she would be more interested in touristy things. So I need a place that can offer both of these. Also, there has to be nightclubs around the place and maybe a beach. I was thinking Barcelona, but then I was thinking no since they speak Catalan there. Then I was thinking Madrid, but then I don't know if my GF would like it there. The truth is I don't know where to go, any suggestions? And also, any suggested hotels where we could stay in the suggested location?

Many thanks

I booked a hotel on the front at Calella from this sites sponsor holidaysinspain.com I got a good deal for August. The link is just below in my signature -

HINT there is plenty of accommodation get the flights FIRST then worry about the beds
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Old 17th May 2007, 01:28 PM   #14
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Thanks Pepino & Gary. I've been roaring with laughter during my lunchbreak reading this... proably because everything you've said is abolutely true!!
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Old 17th May 2007, 01:36 PM   #15
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Thanks for the advice so far.

But any advice on other places to go in Spain to match my requirements? :-)
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Old 17th May 2007, 02:35 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris M View Post
Thanks for the advice so far.

But any advice on other places to go in Spain to match my requirements? :-)
I have the same problem - Gill is a sunshine kinda gal and Im addicted to the Spanish bit of the holiday

At christmas we are going to a resort based round Malaga airport, last Year it was Benalmadena - sadly she was quite ill over new year last time we went but I did get chance to study the Railway Timetable at Arroyo de Miel and it seems that Sevilla is only an hour and a half away by train - so thats my next project. I know Gill wont mind if I stay over one night so thats a possibility, if the sun aint shinig she might even come with - but that changes the nature of the trip to being a more retal therapy based event (for one of us the other is a sort of on tap bag carrier - you work it out)

Do consider a split tour - say 3 nights in madrid and the other 5/10 in the costas - Fly to MaD then train to coast & flight home from there - easily done these days if you book it youself. theres plenty of guidance about where to eat/drink and what to see at Bens other site

http://www.notesfrommadrid.com

next time I do madrid Im going to make a serious attempt at conquering cava baja and in Barcelona it'll be Paseig del Born - both are kicking districts that are off the tourist radar, and very lively in a non guiri kinda way - both found via contacts on this site... so youre in the right place

PS If you do the split thing do the city break first... we did it the other way round at Barcelona and felt that we would have been better 'tuned in' to the city experience beforewe did the resort. You get so relaxed that all you want to do is loaf around like a boneless cat (sorry deano) aqnd the pace of city life is a jolt straight off the beach. (Bear in mind that there are several lovely beaches actually IN Barcelona of which Bogatel i think is maybe the nicest - but Pepino will set us traight on that....)

Last edited by gary; 17th May 2007 at 02:54 PM.
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Old 17th May 2007, 02:58 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris M View Post
Thanks for the advice so far.

But any advice on other places to go in Spain to match my requirements? :-)
Ah yes, we almost forgot.. jeje

I'm forever banging on about Barcelona, so sorry to do it again, but it does match your requirements in many ways. It's got the nightlife (which ranges from 100% guiri to 100% Spanish), it's got shopping, architecture and history etc. On the other hand, it's well placed to explore Catalunya by train. You could combine a trip to Barcelona with a few mini trips out into the smaller towns. Tarragona, Girona, Vic and so on.

For me though, I really want to head over to Galicia or San Sebastian at some point this summer if at all possible.

Quote:
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(Bear in mind that there are several lovely beaches actually IN Barcelona) of which Bogatel i think is maybe the nicest - but Pepino will set us traight on that....
Yep, I agree. Of the 5 or 6 beaches that Barcelona claims, it's probably the nicest. There's a nudist stretch of beach too if you feel the need to toast your sweetbreads! jeje.

You can easily walk along all of the beaches as they're continuous, and pick a spot you like. Barceloneta beach is crammed on sunny days, whereas Bogatell is a bit quieter, but you still have the Chiringuitos bars so you can drink and snack directly on the beach. I've not been here through a full summer yet, so maybe all the beaches will become crowded later in the season, but for the moment, it's just building up nicely.
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Old 17th May 2007, 03:04 PM   #18
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Sitges is a nice quiet resort a 20 minute train ride from barcelona, be careful that you dont jump on the express train or you finish up in Villafranca

We did New Year in th Ante Mare 2 years ago - great
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Old 17th May 2007, 07:39 PM   #19
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San Sebastian is a good choice. They do speak Basque there but you hear more Spanish than Basque. From there, you can take day trips to Bilbao, La Rioja, Biarritz in France, Hernani (to visit the Chillada Sculpture Garden) or any of the smaller Basque villages along the coast (usually more Basque is spoken as the smaller the village is).

I think the night life must not be too bad there since there are a lot of bars and the Basque people like to party a lot. But someone else may have to verify that.
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Old 17th May 2007, 08:51 PM   #20
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As far as flights go, I'd agree with Pepino about avoiding Ryanair. I fly to the UK once a month or so and always go from BCN rather than Girona or Reus. The airport bus is cheap and quite quick to Plaza de Cataluña and a taxi will set you back 20-25 Euros. I've used a variety of airlines: Iberia, BA, Monarch, Jet2, Easyjet depending on where I'm flying to and who is paying! I'm even catching a direct flight with FlyGlobeSpan to Aberdeen later this month. This is probably tempting fate, but so far I've not had a bad flying experience with any of these airlines - just the airports...

If you have time in Catalunya there are many beautiful things to see as Gary and Pepino have already mentioned - the Costa Brava, Girona city, the Pyrenees, Olot, Sitges, Montserrat and many other places

Having said that, we're off to Asturias this summer where it should be a bit cooler and greener.
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