Listen: Madrid, Spain, Barcelona discussed on Travel with Rick Steves
"Seven seven three three three. Seven four to five is our phone number and you can email us anytime talk. Radio Rick Steves DOT COM next up we check in with you. Our listeners about your latest travel plans. Thanks for coming along its travel with Rick Steves every once in a while. We like to check in with you are traveling listeners here on travel with Rick Steves. Tell us where you're looking to go next and if you need a little help figuring out what to plan for he's calling from Prescott Arizona Hi Casey Hi Rick. I'm planning what I'm hopefully is going to be an epic trip to fame. I wanted to know what like small villages or towns should I make sure I see and then if I had to choose between Madrid Barcelona which one should I spend martime man okay well. Spain's a huge country and there's thousands of villages that I'm sure ordered delightful. I I gotta be honest. I don't know a lot of the villages in Spain but I'll say you want to kind of think. Of What region are you interested in. I mean the parents mountains are just fascinating. If you want that sort of Alpine Spain I mean there's a lot of traditional no culture hiding out up there. There's different regions Spain. If you go to subway sandwich shop in Madrid you might find menu with four different languages and they're all Spanish languages ages. He'd have Catalan for the people in in the northeast around Barcelona. You'd have a bask- for people in the Basque region and you'd have gallician for the Celtic people in the North West and when you travel in the northwest there are beautiful little hideaway medieval towns that are part of the Santiago de Compostela and they are the villages that people will walk to or bicycle to these days when they're doing that trek medieval pilgrimage trail the most famous villages is there the most classic and rewarding villages are these whitewashed villages in the hills down in the south and end Lucia to a lot of Americans their image of Spain really and Lucia. That's the quintessential Spanish sort of Flamingo world. The famous region in Lucia is the root of the Pueblo spunk host host the root of the Whitewashed Hill towns and you're jumping off point is the biggest of those towns that would be Rhonda. It's no secret a lot of tourists go to run but it is just just an amazing town on a gorge with dramatic bridge connecting the two sides of the gorge with the modern town on one side and an older town the other side and from there you can drive have into the hills and find these just gorgeous dramatic. Whitewashed Hill towns that were put on the top of these hills for defensive purposes so personally I would go to the root of the publicity bunkers. I've always loved that near Sa- via near Rhonda near Arcos while you're done Arcos is famous for the Spanish riding school school and also for Sherry. No you're talking about Madrid and what were you thinking Madrid and Barcelona. I couldn't decide which one I should spend more time in or maybe just forget one and spend all my time in the other. Barcelona is suffering lately because it's just too popular the mayor's actually thinking about how can we keep. I from flooding into our city. The local people are actually getting a little bit ornery about tourists changing the character of all of their their neighborhoods Barcelona's a place where AIRBNB has come in and driven up the the rents. I mean Airbnb doesn't drive it just gives landlords and opportunity to make a lot more money renting out to travelers instead of renting out to the local pensioners and so on so that drives away the local people into the suburbs and the characteristic neighborhoods are suddenly without the the local population that makes it really characteristic and instead of real produce in the markets you've got slushy isn fruit on skewers and that kind of thing for the tourists so you know you go to. Barcelona anything about about the Romblon and you think about the book career market and all that and it's still there but if you were there twenty years ago it's it's not the same thing because now it's just overrun by tourists having having said that. I love Barcelona but he really got anticipate. It's going to the streets are just going to be mobbed with with tourists whereas Madrid feels just more like a a workaday capital. Madrid good to me is you feel the pulse of Spain in Madrid beautifully. I love the architecture of the skyscrapers on the grand via and you can just trace the evolution of Skyscraper Architecture through the Twentieth Century one decade at a time as you walk down the grand via in Madrid. You've got the greatest collection of paintings anywhere in Europe at the product and and you've got a palace that used to house the most powerful king in in all of Europe into Palestinian rivals Versailles in Paris in Sean Brennan in Vienna Anna and that's the Royal Palace in Madrid you've got plenty of opportunities to enjoy the nightlife and the TAPAS and Flamenco the best Flamenco in Spain bane is famously offered in Madrid and you've got a chance. If you want to go out and see the bullfight. That's the the most visible arena in all of Spain and you've I've got tight trips from Madrid that I think are more interesting than the side trips from Barcelona within an hour. You can go to Toledo you can go to Salamanca you can go to the Valley of the fallen in El escorial the big palace of the Inquisition Palace the stern serious nonsense palace outside of Madrid. There's just I love to see in Madrid so I think I'd say if you're choosing between Barcelona Madrid. I think I'd go to Madrid well. I have to say I'm sold definitely be spending spending my time in Madrid. It's going to be my first time and all my friends have gone and told me how amazing it just wanted a little more detail. Remember in Spain. you've gotTA gotta go with the local tempo of life. Okay it's hot in the middle of the day the elite WanNa be indoors or take a nap or Siesta and then be out in the evening things are it just really hopping in the evening and there's something just wonderful about having the whole community out for the CEO in the evening when I'm doing my research for my guidebook if I'm trying to look at restaurants at noon and at six they're just empty. I mean if anything the staff will be eating but you come back at two o'clock for lunch and they start to serve and for dinner. You can have nine o'clock or ten o'clock. You'll have the dinner one thing to remember. If you go early it'll be terrific in the restaurants which is not bad. It's it's easier. It's a a little more relaxed and then if you go later it won't be touristy at all. It'll be filled with local. The same restaurant can have two different personalities and for a lot of trustee. You have to be pretty pretty aggressive. If you're trying to get served at ten o'clock all the local people are in there and and they get favored by the wait staff because they can speak directly and they know they're. They're just good solid customers. Customers whereas tourists are going to be kind of maintenance and everything so not to say you shouldn't go there but if you go in the evening you're going to have to know a few Spanish words and you're GonNa have to Beller it up to that bar and demand end some service. If you're going to get any respect I like the challenge I think all the Oh that route go for it. That's so good. Also there's a lot of sort of entrepreneurs now that are into different kinds of travel experiences. I think wherever you're going in Spain if you go to tripadvisor type under the city and then go to things to do I do not take very much serious consideration of eating and sleeping places in trip adviser but I really like the things to do section because then you can see. There's a cooking school cool. Are there's a a walking tour or oh. There's a some sort of a special experience with this or that slice of the culture anybody WHO's trying to make money in tourism. We'll have their little business listed in trip advisor things to do and you can browse through that and then you can go over to that website and take advantage of that and and that's how I find doubt about a lot of great activities while I'm in these towns year after year. I love that idea I like being more engrossed in the culture and celebrating the smaller all our businesses as opposed to the large. Oh yeah everywhere that is so important because you know the large companies they have the connections with the hotels and the gut their advertising all over the place and they're in with the booking agencies and so on but the smaller feisty little mom and pop businesses I find they are just really creative. They love their work and the we're done with that. You feel like you've got a friend in that town got to celebrate that tenacity as a small business good for you have a great time. Thank you bye yeah. We're checking in with our listeners to hear where you're thinking of travelling next where at eight seven seven three three three seven four to five and by e mail you can reach us at radio at Rick Steves. Dot Com in Dorothy is calling in from Ottawa in Ontario. Hi Dorothy thank you for taking my call. I just going because I like to know what my sisters and I should be doing. When they visit Amsterdam for a few days well Amsterdam you could spend a lot of time in Amsterdam and you could could spend just as much time outside of Amsterdam remember. The Netherlands is really small and very well accessible by public transportation so Amsterdam could be your hub and you could side trip out to any number of places depending on your interest. Okay I'd be interested in seeing dykes and how that works. There's a company that I I love in Amsterdam which is called a wetland safari and wetland safari is a chance to go on a canoe ride in the polder land with a local guide who will explain to you how the detrick claimed the land and and what the little communities were like and are like today in the you know the rural countryside. It's called polder land that is what was reclaimed from the sea and the company is called Wetland Safaris. It's run by a woman named Miguel A. J. E. L. I believe but you go canoeing from village to village and you realize what these charming little towns or hamlets are like and you approach them by. Water also when you're out wonderful in when you're out on that you you realize that it's sort of a bog land and there's a we've of organic material that makes kind of a big Saad Topsoil and and under that is water and you get out of the canoe and Mai L. takes you to a little point where you can jump up and down on the side and you the whole place is like a trampoline because because you're literally on a mattress over the water and I love that and she's just a petite canoe and she takes a long pole and she pushes. Che's it through the sod and then she shoves it down ten or twelve feet because it gets through the layer of sod and it just hits water and it demonstrates this the Dutch terrain that a lot of us are oblivious to so that's a fun way to get out of the city and connect with the countryside far from Amsterdam again actually leaves from Amsterdam. You meet her behind the train station and she takes you on a public bus out her little depot where she has her canoes and and then you get on the news and you go paddling around and you get out and demonstrate this here and you get out and check out a windmill there and you get out and have a picnic lunch here and then you get out and pedal through all the ducks and then you're Beckett your spot and she takes you back dempster down. It's a lot of fun. It sounds great but that's just one of many kinds of alternatives are excursions. You can have from Amsterdam you can also go directly out to the ocean front and they're you've got beach resorts and some of them are sand dunes national parks and desolate kind of hikes on on the wide open beach and others are really really crowded and popular and multigenerational festivals on the Sand Scheveningen is a suburb of of Rotterdam and everything within an hour of Amsterdam. It seems like on on one of the trains and the fun thing about Dutch Public Transit. Is You hardly need the train sketch Africa's four times an hour trains go everywhere and everything's within thirty or forty minutes away. Everything's flat and you're out in the in the countryside and in no time and then pretty soon. You're at another another town nearby. Harlem is a great town disagreed town. Rotterdam was a big city that was bombed flat in World War. Two has been rebuilt sent in a modern way in fact. It's Nice Ace to compare Amsterdam and Rotterdam."