A Pronto getaway in spain
by Ravi Batheja
Periodically you plan an amazing trip somewhere, where afterwards you have to ask yourself…..did that really happen…..and how did it go so flawlessly……
I recently went on a trip to Spain, where my goal was to be in Ibiza, Spain on my birthday. It was a bucket list type trip. Since I was going to Ibiza, I also wanted to see Madrid and see Barcelona again…..I had been in Barcelona roughly 20 years ago….
So I planned a trip that took me from the US to Madrid for a few days….take a high speed train from Madrid to Barcelona and then be in Ibiza for my birthday. 😆
I reached Madrid the morning of 9/1, it was a seven hour time difference (ahead) of CST in the US. I was picked up by an Aerocity at the airport and was taken to my hotel, Mercure Madrid Plaza de Espana. The location of the hotel was not bad, as several restaurants existed around the hotel and a metro station was right around the corner a few blocks away. The hotel was nice and quiet and offered a nice breakfast each morning before I headed out, so that was nice. Since I arrived early and get a room right away, I was able to take a little rest to help with jet lag.
My first activity I planned, was a Madrid Tapas and Wine-Tasting Tour. I was able to take to closest Metro to the Playa de Sol station and walk to Santa Ana Square where the where my tour met. The tour was very personable and I was able to enjoy tapas and wine and four restaurants in Madrid, which I probably would not have known about, if I didn’t take the tour. The tour grouphad people from the U.S., Australia, Ireland and the Netherlands. The group was fun and all the spots we went to were great to sample different tapas and wine from each.
The following day, I had a 15 – 20 minute walk from my hotel, to Julia Travel Agency, where I picked up a tour which was a Madrid Sightseeing and Skip the Line Prado Museum tour. The tour of Madrid was nice, but basically in a bus, with a few stops, which allowed us to get out and take photos…..once finished…..had a new tour guide take us to the Prado, where we received a private guided tour, before I was able to see the rest of the museum myself. Once the Prado tour was finished, I decided to do the hop on, hop off double decker bus tour. Since I had enough time, I was able to do both tour routes and take photos from the top of the bus of some things which I didn’t get to in my earlier tour. It was also a bonus, that I figured out that I could stay on the hop on, hop off bus and get off at a stop near my hotel.
The following day, I caught another tour, from a agency which was only a ten minute walk from my hotel. The tour took me to El Escorial and the Valley of the Fallen in the morning and then after a nice paella lunch I went to Toledo, Spain to see the medieval city. Although it made for a long day, this full day tour allowed me to see a lot of Spain’s history in one day. El Escorial was really impressive and very cool and the Valley of the Fallen is quite an amazing site to see in person……..the views are also awesome from here. Toledo is just one of those cool old amazing cities to see…it does involve a lot of walking within the city, so be prepared, if you go.
The next morning, I took the high speed train from Madrid P.A. to Barcelona Sants. I opted to upgrade to first class to get the experience. Note that if you are first class and early to the train station, that a first class club exists and you can hang out in a private area (beverages, food and private bathrooms in the club). The Renfe train was very nice and first class made it better…..hot towels, breakfast, nice leather chairs which reclined….made it a very nice, smooth ride to Barcelona.
Once I arrived at the Barcelona Sants station, I was able to walk out a couple hundred feet and chick in to my hotel, The Gran Hotel Torre Catalunya. A great spot to stay next to the train / metro station. Since I knew I was not going to spend much time in the hotel, except to sleep, I didn’t care about where my hotel room was located. However, the hotel has amazing views of Barcelona, the higher floor you stay in the hotel. The hotel has a panoramic restaurant on the 23rd floor with really amazing views…….you must have a meal here, if it is not included in your hotel stay.
As soon as I arrived in Barcelona, I had planned an action packed couple of days. After I check into my hotel, I soon there after went back to Barcelona Sants and took the train to Playa de Catalunya and walked to Julia Travel Agency where I caught a tour to the Montserrat Monastery which included a Cog-Wheel train ride. Montserrat is amazing, with amazing views. People travel from all over the world to see the Black Madonna. I decided to see the Black Madonna first, before the lines got too long. The whole area is a sight to see….
Once I got back to my hotel, I took a quick shower and then went back to Barcelona Sants and caught the Metro to the Diagonal stop to experience Gaudi’s La Pedrera at Night: A Behind – Closed – Doors Tour in Barcelona. This was a cool way to see Gaudi’s house and get to the rooftop…..another cool thing to experience in Barcelona.
The following day, I caught the train from Barcelona Sants again to Playa de Catalunya to catch a full day tour of Barcelona from Julia Travels. The tour was split in two, with a tour of Barcelona followed by Gaudi’s Barcelona….so got to see several of Gaudi’s sculptures in Barcelona.
The following day, I caught a tour which took me to Baga, Spain, Mont-Louis, France and to the country of Andorra. Pretty cool to be in three countries in one day.
The following day, I was picked up early in the morning and taken to Barcelona’s airport to catch my flight to Ibiza. In Ibiza I stayed at Hotel Pacha, which was a good location close to the Ibiza Marina and a 15 minute walk to Talamanca beach. Staying at Pacha, also gave me guest list club access to Club Pacha. It’s a bonus to stay at a hotel with Club Guest List access, so you don’t have to pay the fees to enter the club. The Marina had several good restaurants to eat at, so I had lunch at the marina walked to the beach, had dinner at the marina and then went to Club Pacha that night.
The following day, my birthday, I decided to take a boat to Formentera and see some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. Based on time, I was only able to see one beach, Playa Illetes, but it was considered the best one to see and be at during my time in Formenterea. It was lovely, but a bit crowded on the day that I was there…..but it was worth seeing.
I caught a ferry back to Ibiza, where I caught a cab to go to the West side of Ibiza, in San Antonio Bay. In San Antonio Bay, I went to see the Ibiza sunset via highspeed boat. It was a highlight to catch the Ibiza sunset on my birthday….the ride on the high speed boat was fun as we toured to coastline and stopped at a beach where I could jump in the Mediterranean Sea….we got back to the hotel and then I went to Club Pacha to end my birthday.
The following day, I caught a flight back to Barcelona and stayed at Hotel California which was a block from La Rambla, the location was fantastic and the hotel was fine for my last night in Barcelona. I had a craving for Indian food and was told that Bollywood Restaurant was a good spot for Indian food. I highly recommend the Butter Chicken and Lamb with Naan here…..good stuff……….and a great way to end my vacation in Spain….
Read on to know which are the 3 top best luxury beach resorts around the world.
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