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Help with itinerary and hotels for Barcelona and Basque Country

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My husband and I (in our mid and late 50s) will have 4 or 5 nights in Barcelona and 6 or 7 nights in Basque Country before heading to Paris for a week. We've been to Paris, but this will be our first trip to Barcelona and Basque Country. I'm hoping for some input with the itinerary and hotels. We like smaller boutique hotels and would like to stay within a budget of $300 per night, though it is flexible. We like to walk as much as possible, but will take public transportation or taxis too.

1. In Barcelona I'm considering the Eixample, Barri Gotic and El Born areas, but having trouble deciding among them. Which would you recommend for architecture, charm, restaurants and cafes? Are any of these less safe than the others at night? So far, I'm trying to decide among Hotel Jazz, Hotel Neri and K+K Picasso, but I'm open to suggestions.

2. How long does it take to get to the airport from the city center and how much time do we need to allow at the airport before a flight to San Sebastian or Bilbao? We're considering a 6pm flight on a Saturday or a 9:00am flight on Sunday.

3. We're planning to make our base in San Sebastian, with the idea that we'd rent a car to explore the Spanish and French Basque. I'm trying to decide between taking the TGV from Hendaye or Biarritz to Paris, or flying to Paris from Biarritz, which appears to be less expensive than flying from Bilbao or San Sebastian. Does the TGV follow a scenic route? Would you recommend staying in Hondarribia or Biarritz or ??? to make it easier to catch our train or plane? (I'm assuming it's easy and fast to get to Hendaye from Hondarribia.) Any hotel suggestions? The parador in Hondarribia looks interesting, but they don't appear to have any rooms with views available and I'm not sure it's worth the extra expense to stay there if we don't have a view.

Thank you!

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