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Basque countries, Barcelona revised

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Hi Again,
Revised plans are to fly from Newark to Madrid and on to Bilbao Oct 11-12, spend 5 days or so there, on to Barcelona (perhaps arriving 10/18) for my wife to run a 10K on the 20th, leave for Madrid on or about the 23rd and fly home 10/27.
I am thinking of renting a car for excursions around Bilbao. I would like to visit my family's ancestral home of St Jean Pied de Port, but have no idea what driving in that area entails, nor how long to allow to get from point to point.
Also wondering what is the best way to get to Barcelona, rail, air or do I dare try to drive?
Driving as an option came up when looking at the map and finding a road from St Jean PdP to Pamplona. I wonder if an overnight stay in Zaragosa might fit if we were to drive to Barcelona or if it might be a bit ambitious.
Recommendations for the best ways to spend 5 days in Barcelona?
Thanks in advance for the advice
Ogard

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