|Subject: Re: Madrid and Andalusia|
I've been to Andalucia in April 2002 for 1 month and in Madrid area in April 2004 for another 10 days. Both places are great!
Staying in Madrid you should to have at least a jump to El Escorial. If you go to El Escorial at Sunday, then you can catch from there the bus to Valle de los Caidos- Franco's enormous Basilica cut into a rock with a huge cross atop. The bus leaves at about 15:00 - just ask at the bus station. It returns about 17:00 - so you have enough of time to explore.
In addition to all famous museums of Madrid, I'd recommend you to visit the small Sorolla museum with great impressionist-style paintings of this Valenciano. His women portraits are so airy!
Visit also Museo de Cerralbo - an imposant palace-like house.
Two interesting convents are worth a visit as well - de las Descalzas Reales and de la Encarnacion, though the first one is much more interesting.
Also, don't miss the Royal Palace. The gardens around the palace as well as the Park del Buen Retiro are exceptional.
In the evening you can visit some of the best musicals like "Cabaret", "Cats", "Phanthom of the Opera", to listen the Opera in Teatro Real or to visit flamenco session in Corral de la Moreria (they have internet site) - reservations are recommended.
On your way from Madrid to Andalucia I'd recommend you to have a stop in Toledo! One day is enough there, though I'd recommend you to stop there for a night to have this town for yourself in the evening hours.
Andalucia is a rich area - so much to see. Here are just a few places:
Sevilla (about two days is hardly enough) - visit flamenco in Los Gallos
Granada - about two days+
Malaga - 1 day
Cordoba+Madinat A-Zahara - 1 day
Gibraltar - 1 day + a visit of an African part of Spain - Ceuta - just cross the Gibraltar straights
Cadiz - 1 day + coastal towns walk
Jerez de la Frontera+Arcos de la Frontera (don't miss the horse show in Jerez at Thursdays! about midday - reservation recommended)
Ronda - 1 day
A stroll along Costa del Sol towns
Alpujarras NP - Sierra Nevada - plenty of walks (sleep in the highest village of Pampaneira)
Sierra de Grazalema near Cadiz
Jaen+Ubeda+Baeza - 1 day - UNESCO towns (2 latters)
If you have any specific questions I'll be glad to help you.
Sincerely, Alex Jerusalem Israel