Did anyone feel rushed with a week in Spain?

Since people here said they did not like the new Spain/Portugal tour, I am looking at the one week in Spain tour that does not have Ronda, Jerez or Gibralter. I would add two days to Barcelona prior to the tour and two days in Madrid after the tour. However, did anyone feel rushed in Sevilla, Cordoba or Granada? Did anyone feel like they were unable to see highlights in those cities because the time spent was too short? Someone suggested Made for Spain but my mother's friends have enjoyed their Tauck tours (none were to Spain) so I am trying to find a Tauck tour as long as the Tauck tour does not result in us missing must see highlights. For example, at the Alahabra did people have enough time to see the complex? I don't need to see every millimeter of the property but also don't want to see some of the most well known aspects.

Comments

  • milmil
    edited December 2020

    spencerwhittier, normally Tauck doesn't rushed people around.. I have taken several tours and have no complains about missing something worth seeing because we need to get to the next, but everyone has it's own interest and their own pace... if you consider the time given was too short ask the TD to see how he can arrange a few more min. they always keep a window up to 1/2 hour per day they can play with. Also you could go back to the sight once the day tour is over... remember, the main idea of tours ( all tours) when created was basically to give the tourists a taste of every country , their culture and most relevant sights . If you want to personalize your trip to the sights of interest with xtra time you might want to look at "small group " where time is more flexible or personalize trips, where it's your group and a private guide. If you happen to go the Barcelona, I do recommend you buy the tickets and make reservation on their website for the Park Guell, Casa Batllo , they are asking for reservations also I would suggest The Palau de la Música Catalana, it is a concert hall , they do have tours, not to be missed- architecture is incredible.. not many people knows about it and it is Amazing! my favorite.
    Hope this helps.

  • Spencerwhittier here are a couple of pictures from the Palau de la Música Catalana website, so you have an idea what it looks like.

  • Hi Spencer,

    First of all, let me correct a misimpression I might have given you. The new version of Spain and Portugal would still be a great tour. Tauck is an awesome tour company and I have taken 16 tours with them as a result. None of the "must see" sights have been dropped from the tour. The biggest problem I have with the new tour is that it starts in Porto. Nothing against Porto, but it is arguably harder to get to than Lisbon. We also found that extra time in Lisbon was good, since much of the city is not accessible to tour busses (narrow hilly streets). The lesser sights that were on last year's tour (Jerez, Evora and Merida) were nice, but not must sees. There wasn't a horse show in Jerez, just the opportunity to watch them train. The positive aspect of the changes are that you get to see Porto and you avoid a two day bus ride from Lisbon to Seville (missing Evora and Merida as a result).

    The one knock I have on Tauck's tour is that it doesn't include Barcelona. If you go to Spain, you really should see Barcelona. The Spain and Portugal tour with an extra two nights in Barcelona on your would be ideal. We added Barcelona to our itinerary and were glad we did. If you have the time and budget, this would be a great choice. Another option would be to visit Barcelona another time. You could take the Northern Spain tour or visit it on one of the many cruises that visit Barcelona.

    As far as the one week tour option goes, I think that it hits the highlights, but misses much of the flavor of Spain and you miss Portugal entirely. I would add an extra night in Madrid and one or two in Barcelona. This is a reasonable trip, but I'd do the longer tour.

    The Spain tours have a pace of 3. Long days and lots to see, but you don't get rushed through any sight. What you see is shown in depth. The is also free time to explore on your own. Tauck does a very good job of scheduling your time and (unlike some cheaper tour companies) you never waste time so that the Tour Director and can get a kickback. The only exception to this is art museums. While Tauck will show you the highlights, if you want to see the entire collection (like at the Prado), you'll need to spend additional time on your own.

  • Spencerwhittier - We thoroughly enjoyed the 2014 Portugal/Spain tour (a different itinerary than now). We felt we saw lots of highlights and don't recall any sense of being rushed. That said, for me I tend to like to error on seeing more vs. spending days in one place to do a leisurely in-depth viewing. Our trip including Lisbon and surrounding areas (Sintra, Cascais), plus Evora in Portugal. In Spain we hit Merida, Jerez, Gibraltar (I know, not Spain, but in the middle of the Spain stops), Seville, Marabella, Granada, Ronda, Cordoba, Madrid, and Toledo. I think what we saw in each place was typical of Tauck tours. Were there places where we could have spent more time, sure, but overall it was a nice mix. The 'rest' day during the tour was in Marabella. Of the three, Seville, Granada, and Cordoba, I feel that Seville is the prettiest and Granada is the most unique. Granada is the city where people from all over Spain come to have their bachelor/backelorette parties. They dress up in amusing costumes as they roam the city and celebrate. I felt the time in each city was appropriate.

    We liked the tour enough that we are trying to find a time to schedule the northern Spain, that includes Barcelona.

    Here is a bachelorette in Granada, dressed as a banana for her bachelorette party.

  • Given the choice between the one week tour and the two week tour of Spain, I would choose the two week tour. Before I take a tour I look at the miles traveled each day to try to get an idea about the amount time spent on the road versus visiting sights. I also look at the number of nights at each stop. In my opinion the one week tour has too many one night stays. You really need two nights to give you a better understanding of a town. While the current tour is different from the one we took in 2012, it includes the major sights.

    Reading the trip write ups, it appears that neither goes into the Alhambra which is the highlight of Granada. You should confirm that with Tauck. On the longer tour you have a day with quite a bit of free time which would enable you to see the Alhambra. That's something not to be missed. I don't think you will be able to visit it on the one week tour.

    I as also very impressed with Lisbon. We have been there twice and have thoroughly enjoyed the city. Porto which had previously been on the Northern Spain and trip is a beautiful city. By visiting them you get to see some of the differences between Spain and Portugal.

    The one week trip permits you to concentrate on Madrid and Barcelona with a bit of dabbling in some other areas, If you are primarily interested in the two cities and want to dabble in other areas, it's a good choice. If you want to see more of the country and better understand the culture of those areas, I'd choose the two week tour.

    If you like this you can take the Northern Spain trip in the future which will give you time in Barcelona as well as some very enjoyable towns in the north. Consider preparing yourself to see all of Spain in two trips.

    PS I agree that the Palau de la Music is a beautiful place to visit in Barcelona. There is also a Picasso Museum that shows you a different side of Picasso. When he began painting his paintings were traditional. This museum covers his early years.

  • Ken from Vegas
    The one knock I have on Tauck's tour is that it doesn't include Barcelona. If you go to Spain, you really should see Barcelona

    I agree. I went to Spain with another company and Barcelona wasn't included, either. The high speed train from Madrid to Barcelona is easy and it's a very walkable city. It was well worth it. Barcelona was my favorite city in Spain. Maybe I'm jaded about Madrid because it rained while there and there was a garbage strike, too

  • Thanks everyone. I am so glad I posted here. I mistakenly thought Tauck went into the Alhambra until today. I definitely want to goto inside the Alhambra and Nasrid Palaces since every single travel website I have viewed about Spain lists the Alhambra as one of the main attractions and posts pretty pictures of Nasrid Palace. Since someone said there would probably not be time to go inside the Alhambra with the one week tour, I am now back to considering the two week tour. It is a toss up because with the one week tour I could independently see Pena Palace on my way from Miami to Spain but I think (and please correct me if I'm wrong) that seeing the inside of the Alhambra is more spectacular than the inside of Pena Palace. It is my understanding that Tauck doesn't go inside Pena Palace because the bus cannot travel up there. I wonder why the 2 week tour doesn't goto Barcelona. I thought that city was considered one of the most popular in Europe. If we go on the 2 week tour we will definitely have at least 2 full days there and many one for Girona and the Dali Museum. Dali is not one of my favorite artists but since so many day trips seem to go there I am assuming the museum is nice. if we don't goto Girona and the Dali museum we will just add another day to Barcelona. I will be sure to visit in that city the locations people here suggested.

  • edited December 2020

    Kathy said:

    Reading the trip write ups, it appears that neither goes into the Alhambra which is the highlight of Granada.

    The two week tour definitely includes a tour of the Alhambra. It's mentioned along with a picture in the highlights. I think the one week tour does, as well. They show a picture of the Alhambra on the tour page. Both tours stay at the Alhambra Palace Hotel. a short walk away. It would be ridiculous to go to Granada and not to go to the Alhambra. I don't know why they don't mention it specifically in the itinerary.

  • I just relooked at the website details of the tour for 2021-2022. On the full day in Granada on day 10, it speaks about a guided tour of the streets with the rest of the day at leisure. I was surprised which is why I suggested Spencer ask Tauck to clarify. The 2020 printed book explicitly states the there is a guided tour that takes you inside the Alhambra on day 10.

  • As I said, I don't know why they didn't mention it in the itinerary. If you go to the Spain and Portugal tour page and scroll down below the map, there are several pictures, including one of the Alhambra. Hover over the picture with your mouse and it shows text telling about the tour of the Alhambra.

  • Spencer,
    By the way, did you see my trip review from last year? You might have missed it because of the way the forums are organized. You can find it here:

    https://forums.tauck.com/discussion/13834/spain-and-portugal-review-and-tips#latest

  • Thank you Ken for the link. I agree that it would be nicer if the tour started in Lisbon since it has more to see than Porto. Flights arrive in Portugal from Miami early in the morning so I will have a full day prior to any tour and I would like to spend it sightseeing. I noticed you did not mention the palace in Madrid. Did Tauck's tour go in it?

  • Kathy thanks for saying the physical book lists a guided tour. The 2021 North America & Europe ebook does not list one. I think it also likely has a typo because the ebook says people go in the "candy colored" National Palace of Sintra but there is a picture of Pena Palace. I will clarify with Tauck which one people go in. Based on comments in the forum, I thought it was the National Palace but maybe something changed.

  • Yep. We saw the palace in Madrid.

  • We did the trip you originally asked about in late October of 2019. We added an extra day in Barcelona, and also an extra day in Madrid. We thought it was a great trip. You cover a lot of ground, but also have ample free time to explore (and dine) as you wish.

    To us, doing advance homework and being ready to effectively use the free time is key. As example, other than a drive-by, the Palace in Madrid was not included on the tour, however we wanted to go inside it, so we did that on our free time. We thought it was terrific--as was the tasty calamari sandwich we had from a place nearby that locals recommended.

    At least in the fall of 2019, we got a very in-depth tour of the Alhambra on this trip. The tour goes through the gardens, all through the house, the whole bit... Excellent guides, and you are broken into small groups. Our guide also afforded some extra time for people to explore on their own (which is typical when Tauck takes people to such sites).

    FYI, after our Tauck tour in Spain ended (and after that extra day in Madrid), we went on to Berlin for 4 more days in Europe before heading home. Spectacular city, and rich in history.

  • Wow. When I asked Ken if the Tauck tour he was on went i the palace in Madrid he responded affirmatory so Tauck went in it for his tour. But MGCGKC wrote that when she did the trip in October of 2019 Tauck did not go in it. I wonder why Tauck went in it with Ken's tour but removed the inside tour. I will need to contact Tauck and ask for every single item that is listed on the itinerary whether people see it from the inside or only the outside. Finding this out now has been very informative.

  • edited December 2020

    Spencer,
    I am surprised that MGCGKC did not go to the Royal Palace in Madrid. It was on the itinerary last year (my itinerary says, "..enjoy a guided visit at the Royal Palace" and that's just what we did (end of September 2019). It was very crowded. Sometimes issues beyond Tauck's control cause them to have to skip some advertised sights. I'm guessing that's what happened. Since it is a working Royal Palace it may be closed to visitors from time to time. That's happened to me twice with Hollyrood House in Edinburg.

    Whatever the cause, I see that it is now off the itinerary. It appears to have been replaced by the walking tour of Plaza Mayor and the Mercado San Miguel. So if you want to see the Royal Palace, you will need to plan to see it on your own.

  • The small ship Treasures of Spain and Portugal definitely includes Alhambra.

  • The easy way to arrive in downtown Malaga.

  • Ken I am shocked that the largest palace in Europe was replaced by a walking tour of a square that has a few shops and places to eat. Do you think the palace in Madrid is something a person can do without a guide or do you suggest hiring one? If you suggest hiring one is there a company you suggest?

  • I went to Madrid a few years ago independently. I got tickets on line before I went. You don’t need a guide, I don’t remember specifics but I think there was a guided part and maybe some parts on your own. Think maybe you pick an English speaking tour. If Madrid is at the beginning or the end of the tour, this is when Tauck makes assumptions that you will arrive at least a day early, possibly with the gift of time or stay later and see the palace yourself. That’s what we tend to do.
    Also, the Prado took many hours to do at what I think would be a medium pace. The fun things there is the Mona Lisa, painted by it is thought one of Leonardo’s students, you can go straight up to it and no lines.

  • Agree, no guide needed for the tour of the Palace--it is self-guided by design, and reading material, recordings, etc. are readily available for any who desire them. If you don't buy tickets in advance (we did not), the queue at least is entertaining with some excellent classical musician buskers. Our queue time (in the morning, in the fall) was about 10 minutes. I'm sure the wait to buy a walk-up ticket is much longer in (non-pandemic) high season.

    Tauck took our group on a morning tour of the Prado, and since your ticket provides all-day access, you can go back later to view items of interest that the guide doesn't have time to show. At least on our trip, the hotel was a short walk from the Prado.

    Madrid is a great city, and as with all places, there are many, many wonderful sites and things to do. Just one example of something we did during our walk back towards the hotel from the Palace was trying to find the "secret" cookies made and sold by the cloistered nuns of Monasterio del Corpus Christi. We succeeded, but it was fairly tricky--part scavenger hunt, and sort of like something out of a cold-war espionage novel. It was much fun! No guided tour can show clients everything. In our experience, Tauck highlights the big-hitters that they think most want to see, and then those who wish can maximize their free time to see more.

  • A little more about the Royal Palace in Madrid. It is a reasonable walk from the hotel (just over a mile) and less than half a mile from the Plaza Mayor. You could also take a cab.

    The website for the Palace has an guide app that you can install on your Android or Apple device. Go to the page for tickets and scroll down to see the link (or look in your app store). They also have audio guides on site and do offer guided tours, as available.

    Here's the website:

    https://patrimonionacional.es/en/visita/royal-palace-madrid

  • Not sure what the itinerary will cover, but other attractions beyond the palace that we found worthwhile were: Retiro Park, Prado, Plaza de Espana, Plaza de Mayor, Madrid Market, and Madrid Cathedral. In addition, just walking around and enjoying the buildings, parks, and sidewalk cafes was enjoyable.

    When we were there (2014), it was just after the previous King abdicated and so we got to witness a protest of several thousand anti-monarchists for no extra charge.

  • I called Tauck and here is what they said: people on the week in Spain DO NOT go in the Alhambra, the Alcazar or Madrid's Royal Palace. There is however time in Madrid to independently go in the palace in that city. She said Tauck wanted to keep the Alhambra as part of the tour but there was a problem in 2019 getting tickets so she thinks the Alhambra made the decision this year to not give tickets to Tauck.

  • spencerwhittier - that would be a deal killer for me. That's like seeing the Prado from the outside only.

  • BKMD, the woman I spoke with said that because the hotel in Granada is so close to the Alhambra people will see it from the outside but I cannot imagine because that close to something and not going it. It would be like staying next to the Louvre and not going in or staying next to Buckingham Palace or staying next to the Eiffel Tower and not going up. I thought the entire reason to goto Granada was to see the Alhambra. I thought it was one of the top castles in all of Europe. She again said that other portions of the trip were fun and even though she enjoyed the 3 hours spent at the Alhambra when she took the trip, she also enjoyed the other parts of the trip so she thinks people will still enjoy the week in Spain. I've decided to not go on it. I'm not flying from Miami and not seeing a main highlight of the country even though I am in the city where it is located.

  • Thank you Spencerwhittier. I just took the Week in Spain off my bucketlist! The Alhambra is the highlight of Granada. I was there several years ago and was looking forward to returning. The Alcazar was closed when I was in Sevilla so I did not get to see it. Just looking at the outside is like the poor Viking riverboat tour we went on with outside "postcard" views, no inside tour and no time to explore on our own. I will never travel with them again. I was spoiled with Tauck and its mostly decent guides and access to important places. That is why I travel with it.

  • A castle is the same as a fortress

    Form the dictionary

    UK /ˈkɑː.səl/ US /ˈkæs.əl/

    A2
    a large strong building, built in the past by a ruler or important person to protect the people inside from attack

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