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Need help planning 3 month winter getaway in Spain & Portugal

Discussion in 'European Timesharing' started by dreamin, Aug 9, 2017.

  1. dreamin

    dreamin TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    For the last 3 years I've spent the winter months in Florida, Texas, Arizona, California & Hawaii. For 2018 I was looking for a more cultural experience and chose Southern Spain and Portugal as my destination. I know the weather won't be as nice as Florida but I'm okay with temperatures in the 60s to low 70s as I want to explore the region and not sit on a beach. Anything will be an improvement from a central Canada winter! So far I have my flights booked....landing in Barcelona at the end of December and returning from Amsterdam early April. I had Air Canada vouchers from overbooked flights and maintenance issues, so our flights were free!! I'm including Amsterdam as I've always wanted to visit the Tulip Festival and will likely fly there from Lisbon. I've been looking at a January cruise out of Barcelona to the Canary Islands but haven't committed to that yet as I need to do some research on that area to see if it would be of interest to us.

    Right now I'm thinking of touring Spain for the month of January, Portugal for the month of February, and Azores for the month of March. I don't have any accommodations booked but I'm hoping to use timeshares as a base and explore from there. This is off-season and there appears to be numerous options available. I also have an opportunity to rent a house in Terceira in the Azores through a friend contact.

    Lots of research and planning to do! Any suggestions on car rentals and transportation options, route planning, or anything I should know would be much appreciated. We are a healthy couple, mid-60s, who like to explore and live like the locals. We like a mix of day trips and relax time; enjoying local cuisine as well as shopping at the market to make our own meals. I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed as I tackle this trip planning but I always love a challenge!
     
  2. stmartinfan

    stmartinfan TUG Member

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    WHat a wonderful plan! Barcelona is worth several days at least to tour the
    Gaudi designs. And you could spend a week or two at one of the many timeshares in the Costa del Sol area and enjoy lots of day trips, like Gibraltar, Ronda, etc. I know others have drive from there to Granada for the Alhambra, but we opted to spend a night, so it wasn't quite as rushed. We also liked Sevilla. I'm assuming your stop in Amsterdam area will include Keukenhoff Gardens; not sure when the full tulip bloom is there, but when they are blooming the gardens are spectacular.
     
  3. Tamino

    Tamino Guest

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    Will Schengen restrictions limiting visitors to a maximum of 90 days out of any 180 day period interfere with your itinerary?
     
  4. dreamin

    dreamin TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    Tamino - thank you so much for pointing this out to me. I didn't realize Schengen included a restriction on Canadians travelling throughout Europe as I thought it only applied to residents of the countries included in Schengen. Lesson learned....do the research before booking flights!! I was able to change my return flight to the end of March to comply with the 90 day limit. Fortunately your advice came quickly so there was no flight change fee and I was able to get a new flight for the same fare.

    StMartinFan - thank you as well for your suggestions, which I will make sure to include in my plans. I scheduled our return from Amsterdam so that we could go to the Keukenhoff Gardens, one of my bucket list destinations. The Tulip Festival starts on March 22nd so we'll have at least one week to enjoy the gardens.
     
  5. Tamino

    Tamino Guest

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    In reference to train travel, I should consult these two sites before booking tickets anywhere else:

    Trainline
    Lo Co2

    For automobile rentals, I might start with Autoeurope for quotes. Picking up a rental in one country and leaving it in a second country can be very expensive.
     
  6. PrairieGirl

    PrairieGirl TUG Member

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  7. Laurie

    Laurie TUG Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    Loved loved Portugal last year, spent a month during spring: 2 timeshare weeks in the Algarve, then a week private rentals as we traveled to areas without timeshares, then last week in a timeshare near Lisbon.

    My advice is: definitely don't restrict yourself to areas with timeshares! Prices are low in Portugal for very nice accommodations thru airbnb, booking.com, etc - including apartments or houses with kitchens. Don't miss Evora, Porto and the Douro Valley! (I had also looked into the Pousadas, but they were relatively expensive for just hotel rooms and nixed the idea.) Rental car was pretty inexpensive in Portugal, and we rented a pocket wi-fi for under $100 for the month from the rental car co - needed it, for among other things, GPS.
     
  8. Passepartout

    Passepartout TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    You will be in some competition with the Brits for long term accommodations there. They spend winters along the Mediterranean coast to avoid the wet, foggy, drizzly, dreary weather of the UK in winter.

    Good Luck. I'm envious.

    Jim
     
  9. Glynda

    Glynda TUG Member

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    We've been looking at a two week Portugal and Canary Island Cruise in mid October. I understand that is the end of the cruise season there. Does anyone know what to expect visiting ports at that time of year?
     
  10. Here There

    Here There TUG Member

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    I'm fascinated by your post because I'm planning a similar adventure next March: to tour the South of France (Cote d'Azur & Provence) by taking advantage of an off-season II Getaway special and hope this trip will serve as a reconnaissance for longer future snowbird stays should similar specials materialize in future winters. I've already bought a 1 week Getaway to le Club Mougins and plan to move westward to Provence (Aix, Arles, Avignon) the 2nd week, vagabonding with no set itineraries, staying at airbnbs & BandBs.

    For car rentals, I'm finding that Costco's rates beat those at AutoEurope by a huge margin -- 40%. Also you might want to research average rainfall/precipitation by city by month because certain pockets might have more rain during a particular period, and it may be too depressing to experience both wet & cooler climates at the same time. Find out which months are rainiest in various cities, and you might get a better idea the order of the places you plan to visit as well as what to pack.
     
  11. myoakley

    myoakley TUG Member

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    Definitely include a visit to the Mezquita in Cordoba when in Andalucia. In my opinion, it is so much more impressive than the Alhambra in Granada (which I think is a bit over-hyped.) The first glimpse when I entered literally took my breath away!
     
  12. PrairieGirl

    PrairieGirl TUG Member

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    AGREE! While I loved the Alhambra as well, this place is fascinating and a totally different experience. Make sure to allow enough time, it is much larger with more to see than you can imagine. And I suggest getting the headsets that give you lots of info, we were sorry that we had not done that.

    Another GREAT place to visit is the Royal Palace in Madrid. Again, TONS of history (you can stand on the very spot where Christopher Columbus got his marching orders!).

    Spain is the most enchanting country I have ever visited - every corner of the country has both beauty and stories!
     
  13. bobpark56

    bobpark56 TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    Here's a posting I made on another thread awhile back. Perhaps there may be something here to entice you.

    Spain Restaurants

    Favorite Restaurants (here are some we continue to visit that give good value for what you spend): El Rincon del Cani in El Colmenar, Platero & Co. and El Atico in Gaucin, Restaurante El Ventorrillero in Jimena de la Frontera, La Estacion in San Pablo de Buceite (near Jimena de la Frontera), Hotel Restaurante Banu Rabbah (a.k.a.Kabilas) in Benarraba, Chiringuito el Capricho in Playa de Calahonda (Mijas Costa), Los Porches in La Cala de Mijas, La Bodega del Cantinero in San Pedro de Alcantara, De Locos Tapas in Ronda, La Luz de Candela, Restaurante Vino Mio, and El Meson de Cervantes in Málaga, Venta Garcia (on the road to Casares).
     
  14. dmurray007

    dmurray007 TUG Member

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    Dreamin, keep an eye on the political situation in Barcelona (Catalonia) separatist movement, sounds like it might get a little rough, Having said that am going to Malaga in mid-March.
     
  15. dreamin

    dreamin TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    Since my initial post my daughter got married; my daughter-in-law gave birth to my first grandchild; and my cousin died (I was his executor). So my trip planning got delayed for a few weeks! I've planned an itinerary for Spain that includes Barcelona, Madrid, Segovia, Toledo, Cordoba, Granada, Malaga, Ronda, Arcos de la Frontera and Seville in that order. We'll be staying 3-5 nights in each location and will be travelling by bus or train. dmurray007....I have been following the political turmoil in Spain quite closely and for that reason I have yet to book any accommodation or transportation (other than our flights to Barcelona). Another roadblock that I have been reading about is the government crackdown on Airbnb apartment rentals because of the acute shortage of housing for locals. On the TripAdvisor Spain forum many are recommending to stick with hotels. I'm going to make sure the reservations are cancellable in case the political situation worsens.

    I have reserved one timeshare in Portugal for the first week of March. It is the Monte Carvoeiro in the Algarve where I got a 2 bedroom unit through RCI Extra Vacations. There are a lot of timeshares available in both countries but many are in isolated locations and have poor ratings. I just bought Rick Steve's guides to Spain and Portugal which I think will be helpful. I've also made note of all your suggestions. Thank you!
     
  16. alanmj

    alanmj TUG Member

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    Re. Schengen visa, you could simply pop into a non-Schengen country for a day and then when you re-entered the Schengen zone it would re-start the 90-day clock. Obvious ones are UK and Ireland, less obvious are Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Cyprus.
     
  17. Laurie

    Laurie TUG Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    Good choice - we loved the place, and would absolutely go back!
     

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