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South of Spain - good base for sightseeing?

Discussion in 'European Timesharing' started by spackler, Jun 28, 2016.

  1. spackler

    spackler TUG Member

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    Our family is hoping to take a trip to southern Spain for next year's spring break (end of March/beginning of April). We're less interested in hanging out at a resort all day & would prefer a good, centralized location that's ideal for day trips. Close to a beach would be nice as we'd probably do a day there, but it's not a main priority.

    Any suggestions? We'll be exchanging thru RCI's Wyndham portal.
     
    khosannhua likes this.
  2. myoakley

    myoakley TUG Member

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    The south of Spain is a fantastic location for sightseeing. You can visit the highlights of Andalucia: Malaga, Sevilla, Toledo, Cordoba, Granada (the Alhambra), plus many more small, picturesque towns. You won't have to spend a single day hanging out at the resort if you don't want to!
     
  3. Passepartout

    Passepartout TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    There is so much of interest that you can see great stuff from any point you choose. From beaches, to Roman ruins, to Moorish castles, to olive presses, street markets, museums, galleries, the Costa del Sol is a wonderful area.

    I've told my wife that if I should just disappear some day, that is where she send the search party.

    Jim
     
  4. Rene McDaniel

    Rene McDaniel TUG Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    We just returned from a week in Southern Spain. You say you would be with family -- what ages are your children or family members? Would you rent a car or do excursions arranged through the timeshare?

    There is a lot to see in Southern Spain, but the drive times do add up when you are doing day trips. We were based in an RCI timeshare for week on the outskirts of Malaga. We flew in a few days ahead of time and booked an apartment in the historical center of Sevilla on Booking.com. Definitely one of our trip highlights & so much fun staying right in the heart of things. On our timeshare check-in day we picked up our AutoEurope prepaid rental car at the Sevilla train station and drove 2.5 hours to our timeshare near Malaga.

    Our favorite daytrip from the south of Spain was a trip to Tangiers, Morocco. We drove our rental car about 2.5 hours down to Tarifa, Spain. It was the most fantastic day of our vacation. We also did an equally-long daytrip to Granada to see the Alhambra. But by the end of the week, any long drives (2.5 hours each way thru the mountains) were starting to wear on everyone. We made our prepaid appointment times (you must prebook weeks in advance), but were too exhausted to see more of the city of Granada, itself. Possibly taking one of the pre-paid tours (90 Euros/each) would have prevented that. Other days were spent in the Costa del Sol area -- Malaga, Nerja, Mijas, etc.

    Once I get over my jet-lag I'll have to sit down and write a couple of timeshare reviews for TUG. The earlier part of our trip was spent in Barcelona (fantastic city), after that we flew Vueling airlines ($138/roundtip) between Northern & Southern Spain. We had an open jaw flight: Barcelona to Seville, then return: Malaga to Barcelona.

    --- Rene
     
  5. spackler

    spackler TUG Member

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    We'll be with my teenage daughters. Usually, we rent a car so we can be a bit more independent & go at our own pace.

    Looking forward to reading your timeshare reviews; thank you for the to-do list so far!

    (Tangiers might be fun, but I've elsewhere that is not the "real" Morocco", just tourist Morocco)
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2016
  6. Passepartout

    Passepartout TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    Tangier is not my favorite part of Morocco, Give me Fez or Essaouira, or Marrakesh, but 'tourist Morocco' is better than no Morocco.
     
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  7. Rene McDaniel

    Rene McDaniel TUG Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    I also had apprehensions about Tangiers, so we talked about it as a family, weighed the pros and cons -- then decided to just do it. We had very low expectations as a lot of the Tripadvisor reviews are very negative, especially for the tours run by the ferry company FRS. I believe the tipping factor for us was --- well, when would we ever get back to Morocco? Probably never. We've already got an enormous list of places to see on our bucket list, and Morocco's not on it.

    Once the decision was made, then the next question was: #1- doing it on our own (didn't appeal, didn't want the constant sales harrassment), #2 - doing the inexpensive tour organized by the Ferry Service, or #3 - paying for the ferry and hiring one of the private guides recommended by Rick Steves.

    Again, our expectations were low because of the whole "TJ of Morocco" description. Also, costs factored into our decision. The roundtrip ferry cost was about 60 Euros each (180 Euros total for the 3 of us). The wierd thing was: Purchasing the ferry's "1-day Cultural Tour" which included: the roundtrip ferry, lunch, bus tour, and the tour guide was 59 Euros, or 1 euro less than the cost of the standalone ferry ticket. If we would have pre-booked one of Rick Steve's guides we figured that our costs for the day might have been twice as high as we would need to pay for the ferry, meals, any transportation, and the cost of the guide.

    So, with exceptionally low expectations we booked the FRS Ferry "1-day Cultural Tour", and ended up having a truly marvelous day. The tour bus was luxurious and we spent a couple of hours going from one end of city to another. Our tour guide was excellent and a really really nice guy. We saw much more in 1-day on the tour than we ever would have seen on our own. We went to the famous caves, saw the gorgeous beaches, toured lots of neighborhoods, had an opportunity to ride a camel -- not as easy as I would have thought!

    In the afternoon we did a fairly long walking tour of the city, the kasbah, the medina. The guide explained all the sights, and answered any questions. We had a really great lunch with live musicians (which would not have been as easy thing on our own as we were there during Ramadan - no food or drinks while the sun is up). After lunch there were stops at an store touting Argan oil and also a cute purse shop, but it was not a big deal. We listened, didn't buy anything, and it didn't take very long. Actually, I was happy to sit by that point. At the very end of the day, we had 1-hour on our own for shopping in the Medina or more sightseeing. All for the same price as the ferry ride alone.

    So, we were very glad to have chosen the option we did. My 22-year old daughter really enjoyed it and we all got some really fantastic photos. I had never been in an Arab country before and the photos I was able to take of the Medina, the markets, the mixture of some people wearing traditional Moroccan attire (very beautiful) while others wore typical Western dress. It was interesting to hear the call to prayer ringing out over the entire city coming from 20 different directions simultaneously. Just watching people going about their daily lives -- such an amazing and different part of the world. Everyone treated us kindly, but I also felt much safer being with a large group and a guide who speaks the language.

    Loved every minute of our day in Morocco!!

    ---- Rene

    link to Rick Steves: "The New Tangier"
    Although I disagree with his ending to the piece. No one on our tour was clutching our bags or stressed out walking through the medina. It was all fine and our lunch was really delicious. No complaints, whatsoever.
    https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-listen/read/tms/the-new-tangier-is-no-tijuana
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2016
    marmite likes this.
  8. Pompey Family

    Pompey Family Guest

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    March/April is not a time for the beach, the sea is cold, a lot of amenities will be closed and the weather cannot be guaranteed. I've spent a week in the Coasta Del Sol in April and it rained 6 days out of 7.
     
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  9. taterhed

    taterhed TUG Member

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    Very nice review Rene. Thanks! We're headed to Marbella in early Oct and considering some excursions......your advice helped!
     
  10. spackler

    spackler TUG Member

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    I see some of the "Crown Resorts" near Malaga are available thru RCI as an Extra Vacation...any options on which ones to seek out or ones to avoid?
     
  11. tseebach

    tseebach Guest

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    I'm not much help on Crown and RCI, but we did three weeks on the Costa del Sol in June about 10 years ago with our son who was in early teens. He got tired of all the churches and was bored with it all by the time we got to the Alhambra.

    We spent a week near Costas Mijas, then one at Villacana and one at Nerja. We spent one night in Sevilla in the middle of our stay at Villicana. It helped cut down on some of the longer drives as Nerja to Granada is not that bad.

    I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Gilbratar as that is easily reached from the Costa del Sol and well worth a day. Watch out for the monkeys on top of the hill as they will take whatever they can. Other places worth visiting are Ronda, Antequerra and Jerez.

    We did a tour from Villicana to Tangiers and recommend going. It's so close and then you can add Africa to places you have been. We did have to run a gauntlet of vendors through the old town area to get back to our bus to the ferry, but it was all good.
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2016
  12. richontug

    richontug TUG Member

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    We stayed at McDonalds Dona Lola through RCI - it was great:)
     
  13. Laurie

    Laurie TUG Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    We rarely go on resort-sponsored tours, but also stayed at Villacana and went on their tour to Tangiers - and loved both: the resort and the day-trip.

    Villacana is in Estepona and we liked its location, a bit out of the hustle and bustle of the more built-up coast. One of our favorite day-trips as a drive up to Cadiz, one of Spain's, and maybe Europe's, oldest cities. On the way we stumbled upon a Roman ruins along the coast, overlooking the sea, and had the entire place to ourselves. Estepona is also within a half hour of the white town Casares, and again, we didn't see any other tourists there.
     
  14. bobpark56

    bobpark56 TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    Steep Hill?

    Is that because it's quite a steep walk from the parking area down into town center and back?

    My understanding is that tourist buses often stop in Casares. (Gaucin, now,is another story...just as enjoyable, but without the steep hill...unless you wander to the vey lowest apart of the village. But beware of the Easter bull run.)
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2016
  15. onenotesamba

    onenotesamba TUG Member

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    I had a work trip to Cadiz, several years ago, and it was lovely. Spent some time in Seville on the way back, and friends from Madrid met me there. We had a terrific time, and the food was crazy good.

    It's also the part of Spain where they make sherry. So, if you're fond of sherry, I'm sure you could find a good vineyard or winery tour.

    One thing to note: In Spain, people eat dinner really, really, really late. Don't be surprised if you go to a restaurant at 7 or 8 p.m., and it's empty. Most people don't even think about having dinner until 10 p.m. That, for me, is one of the more frustrating things about Spain.
     
  16. Passepartout

    Passepartout TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    Hence that wonderful Spanish custom..... the SIESTA! Don't plan on doing any business between about noon and 4 PM, but banks and businesses reopen until about 7.
     
  17. Jwerking

    Jwerking TUG Member

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    We visited the area about 5 yrs ago and just chilled on the beach at a timeshare resort. But we had visited Barcelona for the week prior and stopped in Granada enroute to visit the Alhambra.

    I would definitely suggest paying extra for an automatic car (which is a lot in Europe) if you do not regularly drive a manual transmission. It is very hilly in the area and we had a very hard time starting from a dead stop without killing the engine. To a point, where my hubby was hesitant to drive.

    While I too always visit areas with timeshares - we have opted to rent apt thru VRBO or AirBnB for many of our recent trips and do a roadtrip instead of daytripping - which can get old with 2.5 hr drives each way. Since it is low season, the rental apt cost will be much lower than prime season.

    Barcelona has been one of our favorite all time cities and don't miss the Alhambra - it was truly magnificient.
     
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  18. VegasBella

    VegasBella TUG Member

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    My husband is itching to go to Spain and my son is learning Spanish in school so I'm thinking about planning a trip. I have only been to Spain once and it was only for a day. I've never been to any timeshare in Europe. I browsed through RCI and noticed that some of the European timeshares have resort fees plus they charge for things like electricity. Can anyone give me an idea of what to expect the total costs for such a trip?
     
  19. Passepartout

    Passepartout TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    The resort fees and metered electricity are not a large expense A few Euros/day at most. Other things are cheap to make up for it. Wine is cheaper than water, for instance. Rental cars come with insurance, and are small so expensive gas goes a long way. Public transport is generally available and goes nearly everywhere.

    The most expensive part of such a trip is the airfare. For you, in Las Vegas, even that will be on the low side. You should be able to fly direct into Barcelona, or Malaga, or into one and out the other. Or Madrid, but that wouldn't be my choice.

    Bear in mind that most European timeshares are not in the cities where N.Americans want to visit, but usually are close enough to use as a base to day-trip around and explore an area.

    Planning a trip like this is the most fun.

    Jim
     
  20. blr666

    blr666 TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    Ferry Ride to Tangier

    How is the ferry ride to Tangiers in January? Is it choppy? We get seasick easily.:annoyed: Thanks
     
  21. Passepartout

    Passepartout TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    It's a narrow channel,(you can see Africa from Europe and vice versa) so month-to-month variations are probably not so great as daily variations based on weather/tide/wind, etc. Have some Dramamine for that trip, just in case.
     
  22. MyPlayaAndaluza

    MyPlayaAndaluza Guest

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    I own a week in Playa Andaluza Marriott, we went there for 7 years as there is so much to visit around the area, this year we have decided to look for other options as we explored everything, if you are travelling in May (we booked 27th May for one week) let me know as I am looking to exchange my week.
     
  23. Auger

    Auger TUG Member

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    Going to Playa in 4 weeks for the first time visit to Spain. Any suggestions are appreciated (wife and I, in our 50's and active)
     
  24. Passepartout

    Passepartout TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    To enlarge my Nov 2016 post on Tangier. Go if you must, but to expect a 'genuine' Morocco experience in Tangier is like expecting a Mexican 'cultural experience' in Tijuana.

    Jim
     
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  25. dsmrp

    dsmrp TUG Member

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    Wow great thread! thanks everyone.
    We're planning on going to Barcelona, Costa del Sol next year.
     

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