Five star hideaway
No question, La Bobadilla is world class. Eveything's absolutely top drawer here, from the $80 per hour massage to the sprawling pool.
No question, La Bobadilla is world class. Eveything's absolutely top drawer here, from the $80 per hour massage to the sprawling pool.
Inside the Giralda, now the belltower to the cathedral but most of the exterior and practically all the interior retain their Moorish design.
When all the bells erupt into sound on a Sunday it is quite an event if near the cathedral.The ascent is at a very gentle gradient and I think there are seventeen ascents with no steps - as far as I remember.
I include the Generalife as part of the Alhambra when I say what I like and do not like in Granada.
is the official site for information about tickets and things.
A bit of detail
Granada provides ready bus access to the Alpujarras as well as to major cities. Whereas I have enjoyed walking in the Alpujarras I find the mountain scenry that I have seen in Andalucia to be best in the areas of Grazalema, Ronda or Cazorla.
Rail travel eastwards - often involving a change at Bobadilla - can be very scenic. The line right through Antequera and Ronda to Algeciras (for Gibraltar) provides some pretty exciting limestone scenery.
NEXT TRAVELOGUE CAZORLA
In the Alpujarras
Looking out from the Giralda. The cathedral itself is vast but it avoids seeming gross. Sevilla is a very grand city and it is easy to imagine the excitement as the ships came back laden with gold from the early explorations in South America.
Looking from the Alcázar gardens towards the cathedral.
The Alcázar is very well worth seeing but it has to take third place behind the Alhambra in Granada and the mosque in Cordoba.
Inside the Alcázar. I must say I should prefer to see the Moorish designs without the later upper part but at least the contrast is not shocking like the dreadful cathedral at Cordoba spoiling the wonderful Mesquita or the boring palace built right next to the beauties of the Alhambra.
The view from the bedroom window - which seems mainly to show TV aerials - provides an opportunity to discuss accommodation. The Barrio Santa Cruz, the picturesque old Jewish quarter, has umpteen places which once must have been residences of the mighty. They are cheap enough out of season but the contrast with the prices for high season - particularly La Semana Santa - is extreme. It is worth thinking of staying at Carmona, only a short bus ride away, and travelling in by bus.
NB the bus used to leave from a street a short distance away from the bus station.
Some people consider it very naff to like the Plaza de España - I am quite unashamed that it was a great place to sit and eat a picnic lunch - in December.
The sky actually was like this.
NEXT CHAPTER - CORDOBA
This is the only photo of Cordoba that I can find which saddens me as I had some of the Roman Bridge, the Alcázar of the Christian Kings and the Synagogue. The important thing is to see all of them if you go to Cordoba. Although it specialises in heavy rain and thunderstorms in december, it is one of my favourite Spanish cities.
The mosque itself is so vast that I have not seen a photo to do it justice and my own fell far short.
I have never been to Medina Azahara outside of Cordoba but everything I have read about it is good and some of my friends rave about it. It saddens me when bulletin boards often suggest cutting down a visit to one night or even a day trip. Cordoba is worth more than this.
I will start with an admission. As a place I do not like Granada at all. I never understand why people say they do and particularly why they reccomend staying there more than a night.
HOWEVER I have been threee times and would willingly go three hundred more for the sake of seeing the Alhambra. Again I do not understand people who say you can stay all day. What do they do? Do they have a regulation time to look at each bit of sculpture?
The point is not to stay there a ridiculously long time but to be able to take a good look at what must be one of Europe's most spectacular monuments and then to do so later - again and again and each time you will find something else to marvel at - - END OF RANT.
I have always been at very unseasonal times so I have no experience of booking tickets for the Alhambra but I am sure that it has to make sense. For those who, like me, never think of staying anywhere expensive there is fair budget accommodation on the road leading up from the Plaza Nueva to the Alhambra. It enables you to walk around the more interesting parts - and is near the cathedral if that should appeal to you.
Those who see fine accommodation as part of their holiday will want to be in the Parador or elsewhere in the Alhambra area.
A couple of years ago I was asked by ‘The Times’ to compile a ‘top ten’ listing of favourite railway journeys in Spain for the newspaper’s website travel pages. The task was, needless to say, well-nigh impossible, when almost each and every line – even the new high speed ones – has its own particular scenic delights.
So here is a more ample overview, without any particular ranking. First though, I had better list (without comment) the lines with passenger services on which I have not (yet) travelled. These, in no particular order, are:
Salamanca to Ciudad Rodrigo and Fuentes de Oñoro (Spanish/Portuguese border).
Altsasu to Pamplona and Castejón de Ebro.
Madrid to Palazuelo (near Plasencia).
Manzanares to Mérida.
Cáceres to Valéncia de Alcántara (Spanish/Portuguese border).
Alcázar de San Juan to Albadete and La Encina.
Chinchilla to Alcantarilla (near Murcia).
I am also a little ashamed to say that the only part of the high speed network I have traversed so far is the Madrid to Sevilla line, in October 1992!
By way of compensation, I have travelled over a couple of lines (such as Soria to Castejón de Ebro and Segovia to Medina del Campo) which have since disappeared from the map, and over a number of freight-only lines, some of which are also now, alas, memories, or living second lives as ‘Vías Verdes´. . .
Most of the main 1,668 mm gauge arteries have something to recommend them from the scenery point of view. The ‘old’ main line from Madrid to Irún and Hendaye, via Ávila, Medina del Campo, Valladolid, Burgos, Miranda de Ebro, Gasteiz and Donostia is a magnificent example of mid-nineteenth century civil engineering, and it was completed in just eight years, notwithstanding the fact that it crosses two major mountain ranges and two lesser ones, and is well over 600 km in length. What is just as remarkable is that the original route has not been significantly realigned or straightened since inauguration in 1864, at least not until the end of 2008, when the highly controversial Burgos by-pass was opened and the stretch of line through the city centre (the station a mere stone’s throw from the cathedral and old quarter) abandoned (the excuse being that it was an ‘architectural barrier’).
Another superbly engineered route, of similar length and built at roughly the same time (rather more rapidly than the high speed line nearly 150 years later), is that from Madrid via Zaragoza to Barcelona. The only major modification to the original route is the summit tunnel at Torralba, under the Henares/Jalón watershed, bored in the 1950s. East of Lleida trains continued to Barcelona via Cervera and Manresa, although nowadays the central part of this stretch of line is decidedly secondary in character, with a very sparse service (two or three trains a day each way). It is a pretty run, with some views of Montserrat from an unusual angle. Apart from the short gorge between Montblanc and Picamoixons, the direct Lleida to Reus line, which soon supplanted that via Manresa as the main route to Barcelona, has little to recommend it. However, the third of the main lines used in the past by Madrid to Barcelona expresses – that from Zaragoza via Caspe to Reus – is a must. It crosses the heart of the Aragón semi-desert, follows the Ebro through a remote and deep valley, then crosses a wild and wooded mountain range to reach the Mediterranean. Today it is a secondary route, with infrequent RENFE Media Distancia trains.
Continuing clockwise from Madrid, contemplate the ‘via Cuenca’ alternative if you are planning to travel to València. How this secondary route will fare once the high speed line is finished at the end of 2010 is anybody’s guess, and I refuse to guess. It was one of many projects realised (some never completed) under the Plan Guadalhorce or Plan Preferente de Urgente Construcción of 1926 (a Public Works ploy to disguise unemployment), and was completed in the mid-1940s. East of Cuenca it traverses the remote and lonely Serranía de Cuenca at high altitude, through pinewoods, over viaducts, and in tunnel. Services are infrequent, the track is a bit rough in places. But it is a super run. Infinitely more fun than the obvious option with its fast, frequent expresses, via Albacete and the arable lands of Castilla-La Mancha.
From the scenery point of view, the 1992 high speed line from Madrid to Sevilla via Ciudad Real and Puertollano is rather superior to the mid-nineteenth century one via Linares and the short ‘gateway’ gorge to Andalucía at Despeñaperros. It traverses the subdued and lonely uplands of the Montes de Toledo (using the trackbed of an old 1,668 mm gauge line, that which ran from Madrid via Puertollano to Mérida and Badajoz). It then strikes out southwest through the remote Sierra Morena, often far from roads or signs of habitation, as it descends, quite steeply in places, towards Córdoba.
One day I really must try to ‘do’ the Puertollano to Mérida and Madrid to Cáceres lines. Suffice to say here that the stretch between Plasencia, at the foot of the Sierra de Gredos, and Cáceres is full of interest, first traversing the uplands between the Tajo and Alagón valleys, then following the east shore of the vast Alcántara reservoir. On a clear day the journey eastwards from Plasencia to Talavera de la Reina must be quite scenic, the line running within sight of the south-facing escarpment of the Sierra de Gredos, rising in places to over 2,000 metres above the Tiétar valley. But what a pity that the line from Plasencia to Salamanca, through the mountains, was closed in the mid-1980s!
A favourite route of mine is that from A Coruña to Medina del Campo (and on via Ávila to Madrid) via the ‘directo’ – another Plan Guadalhorce masterpiece. Nowadays the daily Talgo service takes to the high speed line at Medina for the run via Segovia to and from Madrid, and apparently this latter route offers good views of the Sierra de Guadarrama north of the 28 km Guadarrama tunnel, and in the brief gap, on viaducts, between the latter bore and the 9 km one under the Sierra de San Pedro. In Galicia the section of line between A Coruña and Santiago is being rebuilt and realigned (a rather messy process) for high speed operation (the original alignment was only completed in the 1940s). In a few years’ time the section from Santiago to Ourense will lose its express trains, with the opening of the 350 km/h high speed line. And then the rest will probably become all but superfluous, since the high speed line from Ourense to Zamora and Medina will run this way, paralleling the railway completed in the mid-1950s. What will happen then is a big unknown. So enjoy it while you can.
Suffice to say here that the run from A Coruña to Madrid traverses at least seven fairly distinct local climate/landscape zones. Between A Coruña and Zamora there are close on 200 tunnels, many of them bored by Republican prisoners during the 1940s, working under inhuman conditions, and several impressive viaducts, a couple of them around 80 metres in height. Between Ourense and A Gudiña the line takes to the mountains, following a lonely and difficult route. Tunnel succeeds tunnel with barely a glimpse of daylight in between. There is one point where the line leaves one tunnel, offering an unforgettable fleeting view of a village street (and some of the villages hereabouts are really very isolated indeed), then enters another long bore. The motorway to Galicia is a hideous blot on the landscape between A Gudiña and Puebla de Sanabria, but then the line strikes out on its own again into the remote fastness of the Sierra de la Culebra, close to the Portuguese border.
The original route from Madrid to Galicia, up the Hendaye main line as far as Venta de Baños, then northwest through Palencia, León and Ponferrada to Monforte de Lemos and beyond (branches to Vigo via Ourense and A Coruña via Lugo) is equally memorable. This line, though, has a quite different character to that via Zamora, which clings to the high ground. It seeks the river valleys, with stiff climbs to the intervening watersheds, at Brañuelas west of Astorga, and on either side of Monforte de Lemos. The descent from Brañuelas to the anthracite mining valley of the Tremor, and on to Ponferrada, is breathtaking – a miniature version of that from Busdongo over Pajares to Pola de Lena on the line to Gijón, with a great (almost) open-air spiral thrown in for good measure. Beyond Ponferrada the line follows the Sil valley for mile after mile (look out for the natural tunnel used by the river at Montefurado), and then there is the secret Galician ‘bocage’ landscape and the high moorlands to savour during the run via Lugo to the coast. Just as fascinating is the journey from Monforte via Ourense to Vigo, threading the Sil gorges and then following the right bank of the deep, fast-flowing Miño.
A sad railway is the ‘directo’ from Madrid via the grand Somosierra pass and Aranda de Duero to Burgos. Inaugurated in 1968 after more than four decades of on/off construction, its heyday was a brief one (there was more traffic potential via Ávila and Valladolid), and everyone expected the inauguration of the Madrid to Valladolid high speed line at the end of 2007 to be the final nail in its coffin. Services have been suspended on occasions in recent years on account of the theft of copper wire used for signalling. At present there is one train a day each way – a Madrid to Burgos Talgo, which is used by a mere handful of passengers. It continues to run because of pressure from the industrial town of Aranda de Duero (population about 35,000) for retention of a train service. All other intermediate stations north of Colmenar Viejo (where electric suburban services from Madrid terminate) have been closed for at least a decade, and most of them are in ruins. In fact they started to decay soon after the line was inaugurated. On a clear day the long (close on 100 km) climb out of Madrid to Somosierra, with views across the vastness of the Henares valley and its tributaries, and towards the granite outcrops of Guadarrama, is superb. As is the short section high above the gorges of the Riaza, just south of Aranda – but if you blink you risk missing this little delicacy!
Gijón, Santander and Bilbao are all served by ‘branches’ – from León, Palencia and Miranda de Ebro, respectively. Main line branches, nevertheless. All three have to cross the Cordillera Cantábrica – and descend to sea level on the abrupt northern side. All three are civil engineering masterpieces. And all three attack the challenge of that formidable north-facing escarpment in quite different ways. In fine, clear weather (winter can often be best in this respect) the scenery is magnificent, frustrated on Pajares by the succession of tunnels (around 50% of the 50 km ascent is underground, and 50% on curves). In my novel ‘A Mine Called Wagner, A Maid Called Minerva’, you can enjoy a train journey over both Pajares and Brañuelas in 1917 – in the company of the delectable young Minerva. A better travelling companion than Minerva (from Gramedo in the Aller valley in Asturias, check out my Gramedo page) you could not possibly wish to find.
So much for the RENFE main line network. Before we look at the other operators, what else can be enjoyed on the 1,668 mm gauge?
Down to Andalucía first of all. Travel between Almería, Moreda and Linares-Baeza in the spring, and on the first part of the run you can be gazing up at the snows of the Sierra Nevada (living up to its name, in other words), gazing down upon orange groves, and travelling through Europe’s only climatic and vegetation hot desert. There are in Europe other deserts, as far as vegetation content is concerned, but this is the only true hot and arid variety. So much so that in the past ‘Westerns’ were often filmed here, since it was cheaper than in the US of A, and there is even a ‘Mini-Hollywood’ just north of Almería. For much of the way the line keeps to an altitude of over 1,000 metres, having climbed steeply from sea level. It then plunges into the Guadalquivir valley before reaching the old Madrid to Sevilla main line at Linares-Baeza.
Almería to Moreda, Granada, Antequera and Sevilla, two decades ago, was a crumbling secondary route. The central bit, from Granada to Antequera, was for a while under threat of closure. Today it is a fast, modern artery, well patronised, and parts of it are even being rebuilt and realigned to form a high speed line across southeast Andalucía. Granada to Antequera is pretty rather than spectacular, west of there rather flat and unimpressive unless arable farmland is your particular delight.
The branch from Bobadilla to Algeciras is another matter altogether, though. Uplands as far as Ronda (the station is a good walk – but a fairly level one – from the historic old quarter), then a grand ‘S’-shaped plunge into the valley of the Guadiaro. The line then follows the latter (roadless in places, and sprinkled liberally with gorges) as far as the coast at San Roque.
The ‘old’ main line from Bobadilla to Málaga has one scenic highlight, and it is another of those that you could miss if you blink. After the long tunnels bordering the Guadalhorce reservoir (named after the river, not after the Conde de Guadalhorce, who in the early 1940s was the first Presidente of RENFE) comes the Garganta del Chorro, a spectacular defile. The parallel high speed line from Córdoba and Antequera-Santa Ana to Málaga runs at a higher level further to the east, with a succession of lengthy tunnels and lofty viaducts. A civil engineering masterpiece of modern times, and one to savour at a very reasonable price if you use Avant, rather than AVE services.
Research thoroughly where to change trains in the Bobadilla/Antequera/Antequera-Santa Ana triangle. Before the high speed line was completed everything stopped at the five-way junction of Bobadilla, and reversed there if necessary. Bobadilla was one of the few places in Spain where train services were actually scheduled to connect with one another, Swiss style, and various times during the day. Now, things are very messy indeed. Bobadilla is about 2 km from Antequera-Santa Ana (in the hamlet of Colonia Santa Ana) and 15 km from Antequera. A glance at the equally messy RENFE timetables for this area suggests that for some journeys, such as Málaga to Granada, you may even need to take a taxi between one station and another!
Zafra to Huelva is an intriguing run, but one which is impossible to do end-to-end in daylight unless one charters a train (like we did in March 2001) or unless RENFE, having upgraded the track at the northern end of the line, one day introduces a more frequent train service between Fregenal de la Sierra and Zafra. Currently the one through service each way, daily, runs very early in the morning and late in the evening. Fregenal to Huelva enjoys a more frequent service. Fregenal, by the way, at the western end of the Sierra Morena, and deep in the heart of cork oak and cured ham (‘pata negra’) country (the ‘capital’ for the cured ham is Jabugo, 40 km further south), is not a bad base for exploring the district by car. The two-star hotel in the town centre is very good value for money (at least it was when we spent a night there early in 2002). Talking of cured ham, on our March 2001 charter we surprised a family of little black porkers deep in the countryside south of Zafra and knocked a couple off. Ours was the first train over the line for a couple of weeks because of landslip damage, and the local wildlife took advantage of the absence of traffic (mainly freights). I was rather surprised that the train crew did not stop immediately, to collect the victims, for the pot. Perhaps they thought that their foreign (mainly British) passengers would not have approved. I am sure many would, especially if we had been able to share the spoil, once cooked!
The Zafra to Sevilla line, which has a rather more frequent through service, is pretty in places rather than spectacular.
Does anybody have experience of trains from Madrid to Antequera (Bobadilla).
I'm travelling from London via Paris.
Should I buy return tickets in London, or locally?
Where can I find timetables for August 09
The fast track running from Cordoba to Malaga was opened over one year ago and provides a good fast ride from Madrid down to Antequera Santa Ana using the AVE (Alta Velocidad Espana) - I saw a You Tube video of this Malaga run and you may like to see it ? RENFE - the Spanish railways system seem to like these promos and there are others.
Apparently Spain will become very well equipped in a few years with new fast railway routes. They are even planning a new fast AVE from Madrid to Lisbon.
I would mention that sometimes you can book online for RENFE tickets up to 62 days in advance of travel and get a large discount however you need to have some knowledge of Spanish to benefit from the online process. If you decide to try this then there are guidance notes in English online. (but not provided by RENFE)
The journey from Paris to Madrid is normally done on the overnight Elipsos trainhotel 'Francisco de Goya' leaving Paris Gare d'Austerlitz daily at 19:45 and arriving next morning in Burgos at 05:20, Valladolid at 06:22 and Madrid (Chamartin station) at 09:13.
if you haven't done so, have a look at this informative website.
Also check the web page of the RENFE agent in UK : http://www.spanish-rail.co.uk
I noticed that you put Antequera (Bobadilla) as your destination. Bobadilla is the original main junction station for the slow track that links Antequera and Seville etc. It is where you can change trains for places like Ronda etc.
I am assuming that you are aiming to reach Antequera and mention that the fast AVE service only stops at Antequera Santa Ana station which is a dedicated station for the new fast track line running from Cordoba to Malaga.
Here is another video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QC4YBHoaWfY
Come back if you are actually needing Bobadilla station or another one?
Thanks very much, that should help
I will be traveling alone to Seville, Granada, Ronda, and Cordoba in late Dec. and early Jan. Is the train system between these cities easy to navigate? I don't really want to rent a car but if that would be the best way...
You can fairly easiiy get to all of these fabulous cities via the very good train system in Andalucia. Check out www.renfe.es for timetables and routes. Ronda is the only one that you might have to make a transfer for to get to from Sevilla. Granada and Cordoba are both directly accessible from Sevilla.
Train and/or bus are fine in Andalucia. For a map of the train ystem in Andalucia look at; http://www.renfe.es/regionales/mapa_andalucia.html
You can get from Seville to Cordoba in under an hour by train. Then you could take a bus from Cordoba to Granada? Then a train from Granada to Ronda. ( Look at the timetable between Granada and Algeciras ) From Ronda you could consider going to Malaga if you have a suitable onward transport? But that would be by bus. Or get a bus to Seville or retrace yur route on train and change at Bobadilla.
My wife & I are going to Torremolinos (Costa del Sol ) from Jan 10 till Feb 8 .
We have been in this area two years ago fo 3 weeks .
We have found the transportation by train or bus very good reliable and also the cost is very reasonable.
We also plan visit Cordoba Sevilla and other Cities .
You have already been given the proper links to the train & bus .
Andalucia.com is a very good site to find all you need .
I say forget the car rental and go for Bus Train ,anyways that is what we plan to do .
Enjoy your trip Donna
We rented a car to get around Andalucia about 5 years ago. While I have no experience with using buses and trains (and it appears that it is highly recommended between the cities), we found having a car quite liberating in that we could just take off whenever we wanted and were not restricted by train/bus schedules. Also it definitely was a chance to visit the lesser known pueblos blancos, driving around the rugged terrain, etc.
I am considering travelling by TRENHOTEL from Barcelona to Bobadilla and back.
I will have an Interrailticket, so I would only have to buy the supplement for the berth. Can anybody tell me how much I should expect to pay for a place in a 4-berth compartment in this train ?
Thanks a lot,
Go to www.renfe.es. Figure the price of a regular ticket. Then look up the price of the sleeping option you want. Subtract. This should be approximately what your supplement will be.
Finca La Bobadilla, Apdo 144 E, Loja
Crta A-328 Km 23.5, Loja
Avda Andalucia s/n (Desvio Autovia A-92), Loja
Avenida Andalucia, S/N, Loja
We've found that other people looking for this hotel also know it by these names:
Address: Finca La Bobadilla, Apdo 144 E, Loja, Andalusia, 18300, Spain