Our trip to Spain started out rather star-crossed with a series of small but irritating airline issues:
- We found some well-priced tickets to southern Spain through http://www.cheapoair.com/ and purchased them about 9 months in advance.
- Several changes to the schedule occurred over time that would have had us arrive at one airport about 20 minutes after our next flight took off!
- Our flight numbers were screwed up for months, even after a half dozen calls to AA to fix them. At several points we had three separate reservations for the same flight. I don’t think this was all due to the website we bought from, but that didn’t help either…
- When we finally got to the airport takeoff for JFK was delayed due to an emergency landing on the RDU runway (that was a first for us).
- The approach to JFK was bumpy and Leandra experienced her first go around (and my second of 2014). Eventually we got on the ground and had to wait a while for our gate-check bags…. finally got out to the terminal for a short break in lounge. Wine please!
- On the plane for a 7pm departure out of JFK, when the captain announces a mechanical of 1.5 hours. Blerg.
- Arrive late in Madrid’s unnecessarily large airport with LOTS of walking (20+ minutes to transfer, through security again).
- Make it to our Iberia connection but take a double look at the seats. Wow, tight – probably the tightest seats we’ve ever experienced anywhere. Thankfully a quick flight.
- Did I mention that both of us had a sore throat?
In the end AA and Iberia managed to get us to Spain without stranding us or our luggage, and once we were there we had a great time in country.
Malaga was the final airplane stop for us, and from the airport we took a bus to the central bus station for a second, longer bus ride to Granada. After three planes and three buses it was nice to be in the fresh air of Granada for several consecutive days. Due to the aforementioned ticket issues, we returned to Malaga for Saturday evening, then flew to Madrid on Sunday before going home through JFK on Monday. We persevered through the obstacles and had a great time in Spain, as usual (Barcelona 2008 & 2012, Madrid 2011), and can’t wait to return in the future.
Hotel Párraga Siete, Granada
Párraga Siete is just off the main street (Calle Reyes Caolicos) in the middle of the downtown shopping district. Our room faced a narrow side street with double-paned windows – when opened they allowed a nice breeze, as well as some motor cycle noise. Thankfully it was generally quiet.
Overall the room was small and basic with a good size bed taking up most of the room plus a small desk and closet area. The bathroom is not separated from the room and was a feature we did not like much — your main view from bed is the sink, and the frosted glass door for the toilet didn’t close all the way. Also, for some reason the door to every room in the hotel seemed to be sticking, as we saw most other guests struggling to get in and out of rooms.
On the second floor the hotel had a small atrium/sitting area that was quiet, and the first floor was a combination of the reception and restaurant. We had breakfast there each morning and found it quite odd that they were out of Nutella, and several other items like ham, each morning. On the plus side, it was inexpensive, the orange juice was fresh squeezed and fantastic, and the made-to-order coffee was also great.
Location was pretty good, though we would prefer to be a little closer to El Albayzin hill as we found ourselves drawn to that area. While it was a good deal at 200 euros for three nights, given the bathroom layout I think we would skip this place on our next trip.
Located on the edge of old town near the river, the Vincci charmed us from the start with a beautiful modern lobby and friendly reception. The room was very large with a comfortable bed providing us our best night of sleep on the trip. Our room also featured a good size desk area, large closet, couch, and bathroom with rain shower and tub. Wifi reception in our end-of-the-hallway room was weak, much better in the hallway and lobby.
In the morning we only had 15 minutes for the buffet breakfast, and we definitely wish we had more time as the choices were great. The jamon was excellent, the fruit was fresh and flavorful, and the chocolate pastry was tasty too. Nescafe coffee was solid with hot milk on request.
Overall the location was good for us: within a few blocks to the center, a few more to the cathedral and other areas. I might look a little further east in the future, but we really enjoyed our stay and would certainly consider returning to this hotel in the future.
RoomMate Alicia, Madrid
We choose the Alicia since it was a three blocks from the metro and only a few blocks to the museum area of Madrid – basically walking distance of most of central Madrid. The lobby was small but has some memorably cool artwork.
We arrived near noon on Sunday so our room wasn’t ready, but they quickly stored our luggage so we could enjoy the day. Around 3pm we returned and were assigned 205, a corner room with large windows looking over the street; unfortunately, we couldn’t open the large windows in this room. Also, the room had an elongated J-shaped layout, so there was good space with a table on one side and the closet on the other, but a choke-point around the bed.
The bathroom here was partially open. At least the toilet had a proper door, but the all-glass shower was awkward right next to the bed. Wifi speed was good in the room.
Additionally, this hotel offers a ‘mifi’ device that allows you to receive wifi signal throughout Madrid. A great idea in theory, but unfortunately for us the device was not properly charged and died after a few minutes of use.
As we were getting ready for bed we had an issue with the automatic blinds. The night manager came up to try and fix them but couldn’t — thankfully the room next door (207) was available so he gave us a key to that as well. This turned out to be a better room for us, quieter and darker. Of course, the next morning the key to our original room (where all of Leandra’s clothes were) didn’t work so I had to run down to reception and get that remedied. Throughout these difficulties, the staff was always friendly and helpful and we enjoyed experiencing a different part of Madrid than we did the last time.