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3 Nights Each For Student In Barcelona, Madrid, Sevilla, along with day trips to Toledo and Cordoba...please help decide what are the essentials!

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pats38sox Feb 11, 2010 02:01 PM

Greetings Chowhounders,
I'm a student currently studying in Paris, originally from San Francisco, and I'll be going on a whirlwind visit to Spain in 2 weeks for my first visit to the country...trying to cram as much of the country in as I can during my 2 open weeks. I've read a lot about recent trips to these cities but I'm just looking at my list and realizing that this decision will be incredibly hard!!!
I'm looking for the essential restaurants and tapas bars of these cities that really symbolize them and if there are any that particularly excel at specific local delicacies like a paella in Barcelona (or is that more Valencia?). Price is a bit of a factor, so we're looking more for tapas bars and bistro types rather than Zalacain in Madrid, but I'm willing to spend a little more than the typical student budget on one meal in each city if it'd would give me the absolutely quintessential experience.
I'm thinking along the lines of Swan Oyster Depot and Tadich in SF, Phillippe and Yuca's in LA, Katz's and Di Fara in NY...places that are absolute must stops for chowhounds on a first visit. I know those examples are touristy but I've visited them all in the past 2 years and found them to live up to the hype.
I'm really looking forward to visiting this wonderful country for the first time, THANKS SO MUCH FOR THE HELP!!!