Day 1: Fly to Barcelona.
Day 2: Arrive in Barcelona in early morning. Barcelona sightseeing.
Day 3: Barcelona sightseeing.
Day 4: Barcelona sightseeing, then take a night train to Granada.
Day 5: Arrive in Granada in early morning. Granada sightseeing.
Day 6: Travel to Seville by train. Seville sightseeing.
Day 7: Seville sightseeing.
Day 8: Day trip to Ronda.
Day 9: Travel to Cordova by train. Cordova sightseeing, then travel to Madrid by train.
Day 10: Madrid sightseeing.
Day 11: Madrid sightseeing.
Day 12: Day trip to Toledo.
Day 13: Day trip to Segovia.
Day 14: Fly home from Madrid.
Since it was not peak season, I only booked the hotels (Barcelona, Granada, Seville and Madrid), the night train tickets from Barcelona to Granada, and Alhambra tickets ahead of time. Everything else was purchased on the spot. Only one time there was a problem. When we were done sightseeing in Cordova, we went to the train station at 4:15 pm. We wanted to purchase the next available train tickets to Madrid. The guy told us the next available 2nd class tickets would be for the 7:30 pm train. If we wanted to take the next available train which was 5:00 pm, we had to buy 1st class tickets (105 euros/person vs. 70 euros/person). We didn’t want to sit around the train station for 3 hours, so we bought the 1st class tickets.
Booking the night train tickets from Barcelona to Granada was the hardest booking I have done so far. There are step-by-step procedure on both Tripadvisor and Seat61 websites to teach you how to book the tickets online. This is a brief summary:
- Use a PC.
- Use Windows IE.
- Create an account with renfe even if you just want to use it once.
- Use the Spanish language version, not the English version, because it didn’t work all the way. (Thank goodness there is Google Translate.)
- To buy 2 night train tickets for a male and a female, you have to buy 1st class (sleeps 2 per compartment) tickets. Because 2nd class sleeps 4 per compartment, and it didn’t allow gender mixing unless you buy all 4 tickets.
- Use a credit card that has joined either Verified by Visa or MasterCard SecureCode program.
- If you still fail at booking, try a different credit card, try a different time, try a different PC …
A few notes about traveling in Spain:
- Most Spaniards don't speak English at all, even in big cities like Barcelona and Madrid, so it will be a lot easier if you can read/speak a little Spanish.
- To use U.S. credit cards in automatic ticket machines, you need a PIN number.
- Many places ask to see your ID (passport) if you want to use credit card.
Spain is an incredibly beautiful country, so make sure you go there sometime.
(To be continued)