Well, I’m going to Spain in July. Yet to book my ticket, but expecting to do that probably today or tomorrow. I’ll be taking an advanced Spanish course in Valladolid from the 7th to the 27th, but before and after, I’ll have some time. I intend to arrive in Madrid and leave from Barcelona, if possible. Again if possible, over the weekends I’d like to see Segovia, Bilbao, and maybe El Escorial. (Dunno if I’ll have the weekends free yet.)
Segovia is a must; it’s an absolutely gorgeous old-style city that demands you visit the castle. I highly recommend Toledo, too…bring your walking shoes, because that town’s built on a mountain.
Spend at least 3 days in Madrid. Get a good map, mark your hotel on it, pick a direction, and start exploring.
I spent most of my time in Spain in Cadiz, in the southeast. Beautiful costal town, great place to party until dawn. It’s also very accessible to Gibraltar and even Morocco if you feel like taking the ferry to Africa.
I especially liked Sevilla and Córdoba. But I think it will be very hot in southern Spain in July.
Hace mucho calor in el sud de Espana en julio.
Get used to eating dinner VERY late.
Ooh, can I stow away in your luggage? Please?
It sounds like you’ve already got plenty of travel ideas, but if I can add one more, try to make it to San Sebastian as well as Bilbao. (And yes, going north is definitely a good idea in July. Galicia is gorgeous as well, and Santiago is a gem. Okay, make that two more.)
One of the nice things about Spain is the abundance of little old ladies running pensions in their apartments. Try to stay at these places whenever possible, as it’s a great way to practice the language if they let you get a word in edgewise and they usually have all sorts of helpful suggestions about what to see and do.
Oh yeah, and the Dali museum in Figueras is a great day-trip from Barcelona.
I agree with all of the above. Also, get used to the idea that Spaniards are vampires; if you go out at night and arrive at your destination before midnight, it will probably be pretty empty. A truly Spanish night out ends with churros y chocolate at sunrise.
I’ve never been there but I kinda like the music
May I suggest some travel boards where you could find tons of useful advices :
-The Rec.travel.europe board on the usenet
-The Europe message board on www.fodors.com
-The message board on www.eurotrip.com if you’re amongst the younger crowd (which tend to have other priorities, like being less interested in a comfortable hotel, but more in a vibrant nightlife). There’s less traffic on this site, though…
-Possibly the europe board on www.lonelyplanet.com, though this site is much better for more uncommon places for which there are few ressources on the net (there’s a lot of bashing and other forms of abuse on this board, mixed with helpful advices from well-travelled people or locals, that’s why I don’t recommand it that much)
Also, Spain is much bigger than you would think. A train ride from Madrid to Barcelona takes a long time. There is a high speed line between Sevilla and Madrid however.
The type of Spanish spoken in Valladolid will sound funny if you are used to “American” Spanish or, in my case, Southern California Spanglish.
The rain in it stays mainly in the plains.
And (as an aside) in Hartford, Herriford(?) and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly happen.