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Old 06-19-2006, 10:14 PM   #1
 
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I suppose this could go in the post your itinerary forum, but I’ve got some regional specific questions here….

The story is, when my co-op term ends this August, I will have fulfilled all my degree requirements. This makes a great opportunity to get the heck outta the country, before real life begins. The cool thing is I can probably come back to a permanent position with my current company. On to the exciting stuff, the plan is Spain, Portugal, Morocco, 6-7 weeks.

I’ll leave in early September to hopefully catch a cheaper flight, which will be the first topic of conversation. I saw some rave reviews for Zoom Air on the boards and found they have the cheapest flights I could find on the net, Calgary-London direct, 900 loonies. Does this sound reasonable to the seasoned vets out there? Naturally, I’ll check with travel agents and such, but one thing I’m unsure of is the time to buy. I’ve heard conflicting reports on when you’ll get the best deal, any words of advice on that?

I’ll spend a couple of days in London before a flight to Barcelona, returning from Marrakech. It looks as though those flights I can get for 60 bucks, so I’m not too worried about those. On to the itinerary:

Barcelona – 4 days
Valencia – Madrid – 3 days, 1 day in Toledo
Segovia - Salamanca – 1 day
Coimbra – Lisbon 3 days, 1 day in Sintra
Lagos – 2 days
Seville – 2 days
Cordoba-Granada – 2 days
Ronda - Gibraltar - 1 night
Tangier – Casablanca 2 days
Rabat - 2 days
Fes - 3 days
Midelt - 2 days on Jebel Ayachi-mountain to climb
Merzouga - 2 days in Erg Chebbi-camels in the sahara
Dades Gorge -2 days Rock the Kasbah, rock the Kasbah
Marrakech
Complete with beautiful artists rendering of the journey…




Just to explain the list there, when there are two cities with a dash on one line, that’s where I plan to get a morning train, daytrip in the first place, then train on to the next destination, so it only takes one railpass day. Is that a good idea? Also, it sounds like taking a train over midnight will end up being two days, is that correct? Allowing for one travel day for each destination, and adding up the days I’m staying, it’ll be about 50 days I think.

Oddly enough, the best railpass to do this seems to be the 3 country flexi-pass, choosing Spain, Portugal, and France, though I won’t be in France. The Spain-Portugal pass has no youth discount, so it’s quite a bit more. I’m thinking 8 or 10 day flexipass will do.
Some questions:

Lagos-Seville – sounds like the best option is the bus, anyone have experience with that?

Valencia, how much is there to see there? They’ve got some cool modern architecture there, which first got me interested, but is there more to it that would warrant more than a daytrip?

Any cool towns along this itinerary that I can’t miss? Is the itinerary itself reasonable? It may be fast paced I think, and maybe optimistic on travel times within Morocco I bet...

And to recap the earlier questions, 900 bucks Calgary-London in September, good price?
When is the best time to buy for a September flight, both international and the ryanair/easyjet ones?
Breaking up a rail day with a day trip in between, wise?

Thanks for any advice, and if you’ve got info on Morocco I’m putting some questions in there too. You Rock


…The Kasbah
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Old 06-20-2006, 12:00 AM   #2
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Tentatively I'll say that 3 days split between Valencia and Madrid will NOT be enough. It's easy to underestimate the sheer size of Spain... it's a HUGE country!! It's a 5-hour bus ride between Barcelona and Valencia alone. I spent three days in Valencia and enjoyed it immensely. I'm also guessing you'll want to spend more than one day in Segovia/Salamanca. Granada alone is probably worth three days because you'll probably want to dedicate one whole one to the Alhambra.

As far as Morocco goes, well, I haven't been there but every single person I've ever met or talked to said get the hell out of Tangier as soon as possible or don't even bother with it at all. It's (allegedly) worse than Tijuana. So you could shave some time off there and dedicate it more to Casablanca. Fes is, from what I hear, absolutely wonderful.
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Old 06-20-2006, 09:21 PM   #3
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Your itinerary looks pretty good. I have been to most of those places so feel free to ask me for more detail.

I have done the Lagos-Seville trip (2x, ha) and it's not bad. Takes about 3/3.5 hours.
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Old 06-21-2006, 09:06 PM   #4
 
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U2 - 3.5 hrs aint bad, thats on the bus I presume? I will definately have more questions for you, starting with...Lagos, what's the best/worst I should know about there, it's one place I don't have to much info on

SV - Yeah I'm definately thinking of adding time to Madrid, and with Valencia I'm basically thinking if my final itinerary affords an extra free day on the flexi pass I'll stick around there a bit. One reason I do want to be there at night is to see plaza de la virgin at night, after seeing that pic of yours, that is a really good picture, it's actually my desktop Tangier I'll just be finding the train and taking off, that much is clear from everyone who's been.
Are there any particular sights in Valencia or Granada you'd recommend? For me the highlight in Valencia is the centre of arts and science buildings cuz they look cool, and in Granada definately the Alhambra.



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Old 06-22-2006, 12:22 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by O-Face@Jun 22 2006, 03:06 AM
One reason I do want to be there at night is to see plaza de la virgin at night, after seeing that pic of yours, that is a really good picture, it's actually my desktop*
[snapback]127550[/snapback]
Awww!!! *blush* That is so sweet!

Honestly most of my Valencia wanderings were just that-- wanderings. We didn't really visit ay specific sites, we just walked around and looked at everything. I could have easily spent more time there. The central "old" part of the city is very pretty with lots of beautiful architecture. It also has a great low-key vibe [read: very few tourists, mostly just locals hanging out] which I appreciated after the touristy hustle & bustle of Barcelona (even though I love Barcelona dearly. )
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Old 06-22-2006, 03:22 AM   #6
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My friend has a house in Tangier and I've seen copious pics.

I don't suggest staying there very long, as a result. :D

Get to Casablanca as soon as you can - I think they have a train you can catch there, although I have a feeling a Moroccan train ride will be akin to the one I took in Egypt.

Not highly recommended, but an adventure nevertheless
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Old 06-22-2006, 04:31 AM   #7
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Lagos, as others on this board will attest to, is quite, um touristy.

Simultaneously best and worst-tons of drunk Brits, ok people in general. One big party.

Best-beach/scenery/grottos
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Old 06-22-2006, 05:02 AM   #8
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The only problems I had traveling around the south of Spain/Portugal was that the two transport systems didn't conect up to well. The portugese system isn't nearly as good as the Spainish from what I saw, when I got to the portugese border and tryed to get a conection onto sevile, I just couldn't I didn't realise you had to get a ferry over to spain then find the bus station to go on.

The southern coast of Portugal is very touristy All the pubs and clubs I saw had names like temple bar and the man of aran.
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Old 06-22-2006, 11:30 AM   #9
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I personally feel that Barcelona was overrated - but, I also like places off the beaten path (last night on our bus ride between downtown and the strip [Las Vegas] we popped off the bus to stop at some hole in the wall bar where we got the biggest beers I've ever seen for $3! I'm suffering because of that but still...). Anyhow, one recommendation - don't eat outside (they charge you more). Some palces also charge you for eating in. They'll get you wherever possible.

Morrocco - there was a post on Morrocco... I just responded to it... Anyhow, they highlighted that peole harass you like crrrrrazy in Fes (pot, taxis, tours, etc) so be firm, keep walking. Also, that it's super cheap.

Quote:
And to recap the earlier questions, 900 bucks Calgary-London in September, good price?
Ummmm... The ticket price you find seems a little steep, but I'm used to flying out of the US where we can get flights for $400 RT off season (when you're going). Keep that as an option, but I'd look a little more. Try sites like Mobissimo, Travelzoo, STAtravel and sidestep. Between those, you should be able to find your lowest.
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Have some general questions such as whether or not to get a rail pass or how much money you'll need? Visit here!

First time travelers/travelers with a lot of questions - this forum is for you![b]
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Old 06-23-2006, 10:35 PM   #10
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I did a really similar itinerary in 2004 and this has brought back fond memories!

I'm not sure that a rail pass is going to be beneficial. From my memory the cost of travel isn't too expensive and it's only going to be economical to use on the longer legs such as Barcelona - Valencia, Valencia to Madrid, Coimbra to Lisbon and Lisbon nearly the whole way to Lagos (connecting bus required). In the South of Spain such as Seville, Granada and Cordoba the cities are close enough that buying point to point tickets will probably work out cheaper (I'd recommend you investigate further to be sure, however).

As u2fan said, don't expect to see the 'real portugal' in Lagos. It's really a place where backpackers run riot by drinking throughout the night and nursing hangovers on the beaches (which are beautiful) the next day. It was fun for a couple of days but then I felt jaded and left.

I didn't think much of Cassablanca, it seemed just a big polluted city. I'd recommend you see the Hassan II Mosque and leave.

I think you are pushing it with regards to travel times in Morocco. The trains aren't too bad for comfort but the buses can be really dodgy! Travel time can be slow.

ev
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Old 06-24-2006, 09:43 AM   #11
 
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Hmmm, so I'm getting the impression Lagos may be something I can cut time on, or is there another place in the Algarve I should check out? Not that I dont like drinking and beaches, but Mexico isn't that far away...That part of the itinerary may be changing a bit cuz my sister may be living in Faro, for free, through her husbands work, soooo jealous.

Anyhow, yeah Casablanca will be basically be just a look around the Hassan II mosque, I saw some video from there on a Pilot Guides (Globe Trekkers) and I gots to go. I may also cut the Jebel Ayachi climb to save time.

I may end up not cutting anything, I may just add some time to the trip, as my tax refund just came in the other day, very handsome indeed

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Old 06-24-2006, 11:40 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by goyincognito@Jun 22 2006, 03:22 AM


Get to Casablanca as soon as you can - I think they have a train you can catch there, although I have a feeling a Moroccan train ride will be akin to the one I took in Egypt.

Not highly recommended, but an adventure nevertheless
[snapback]127578[/snapback]

Having just got back from here, we traveled the country only by train (the bus system is supposed to be crap). The trains actually weren´t that bad and if you can get a cabin you get a/c. we mostly took night trains though so they weren´t that crowded. The one day train we took was packed (tangier to fes) and we had to stand in the hall for a few hours before some seats opened up.

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Old 06-25-2006, 02:54 PM   #13
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Yeah, I meant to say something about that earlier, too. We took the overnight train from Tangier to Casa (many a year ago) and it was quite fine. We booked a sleeping compartment - I've no idea how much it cost, but it couldn't have been much because I didn't have much money - and after vowing to take turns on watch, convinced that we'd be drugged and robbed or something dreadful, we both fell fast asleep around midnight and awoke totally refreshed about 7:30 next morning. Didn't get drugged, robbed or anything dreadful, either. There's something impossibly adventurous about seeing camels walking across the desert, silhouetted against a nearly full moon. Morocco's magic.

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Old 06-25-2006, 05:34 PM   #14
 
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Yeah I'm definately planning on using trains for transit between Casa, Rabat, Fes etc, but I think through the Atlas and out to the Sahara I'll have to bus. Actually here's a question, if I see Casa and Fes, would Rabat, or even Meknes offer anything I wouldn't already see in the first two?
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Old 06-26-2006, 06:22 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by O-Face@Jun 25 2006, 05:34 PM
Yeah I'm definately planning on using trains for transit between Casa, Rabat, Fes etc, but I think through the Atlas and out to the Sahara I'll have to bus. Actually here's a question, if I see Casa and Fes, would Rabat, or even Meknes offer anything I wouldn't already see in the first two?
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I didn´t get to stay in Rabat or Meknes, but from what I´ve heard Meknes is similar to Fes just not as good. However, it obviously has some different mosques and other structures than Fes. That´s the reason we didn´t go there. As for Rabat, all I know is that it is very large (has like 4 train stops) and from the train looked to be much more like a modern city.
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Old 07-16-2006, 09:26 PM   #16
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by urOZm8@Jun 23 2006, 09:35 PM
I did a really similar itinerary in 2004 and this has brought back fond memories!

I'm not sure that a rail pass is going to be beneficial.* From my memory the cost of travel isn't too expensive and it's only going to be economical to use on the longer legs such as Barcelona - Valencia, Valencia to Madrid, Coimbra to Lisbon and Lisbon nearly the whole way to Lagos (connecting bus required).* In the South of Spain such as Seville, Granada and Cordoba the cities are close enough that buying point to point tickets will probably work out cheaper (I'd recommend you investigate further to be sure, however).

ev
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I've been trying to add up ticket prices to compare point to point vs railpass options and I'm using the renfe website. It seems to not list a lot of routes, especially around smaller places, is there a better reference somewhere?

General update - I bought my flights london-barcelona and marrakesh-london (0.99 pound for the first one, damn that's cool!) Still gotta get the international flight and it's looking like 950 bucks from air transat, oh yeah and I still have to actually talk to the boss...
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Old 07-16-2006, 10:17 PM   #17
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Thomas Cook publish great rail schedules which include all the tiny little lines, ferries and some bus routes. The European Schedule has ferry info to Morocco, but for trains, I guess you need the Overseas one. Google "Thomas Cook rail schedule" to find out how to get one.

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Old 07-19-2006, 09:51 PM   #18
 
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WAAAAAHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!

Just bought the ticket to London, getting a lot more real now. Still have to talk to the boss, but now that I've got the ticket, I figure I'll be a little more persistent with getting my way

Still did wuss out and get the 40 buck cancellation insurance, for a little peace of mind.

Anyhow, upon further inspection, rail prices in portugal seem dirt cheap, enough that I'm gonna go without the railpass. And upon even further inspection, these are loafers.

Thanks for all the help, more questions to come...
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Old 07-19-2006, 09:56 PM   #19
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Congrats on the major step!

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Old 07-22-2006, 08:11 AM   #20
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i think its hard to give advice on places to visit because peoples opinions are just that...Opinions

each person has a different experience in each place. I have absolutely loved Spain and Portugal though and as touristy as Lagos is, it was my absolute favorite place on this trip.

Congrats on the ticket and stay excited its so worth it!
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