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MADRID-ARANDA DEL DUERO-BURGOS- (??)

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I am musing about a visit to Spain later this year (thinking October, although I have had back luck in recent years with weather in that month..)

Looking at various options, beginning with idea of flying into MAD, spending perhaps two nights there, and then heading north with first stop in the lechazo (baby roast lamb) mecca of Aranda del Duero. If anyone is familiar with this city, please let me know:

Is the city pleasant for walking around? Sights? Lechazo? Favorite upscale hotels?

I then thought I would head to Burgos, a city I have not visited. How many nights there, and which hotel?

Would like to dine at Extebarri, in Axpe. So perhaps spend one night there, after long lunch? How far in advance must I book, assuming date will be October?

Then, Bilbao for a couple of nights. (I've been there only on a day trip, on a Sunday when city was shut tight). Drop car off there, if it's been rented in Madrid. (I know I need car to get to Axpe)

Question: Might it be best to go by public transport (train or bus..which is better?) from Madrid to Aranda, and then to Burgos and Bilbao, and then rent a car in Bilbao for the next part of the trip, driving from Bilbao to Axpe? Alternative would be to do the whole trip by rental car, beginning in Madrid and driving north to Aranda (1.5 hours).

After Bilbao or Axpe, would like to meander east with San Sebastian likely last destination. Probably spend 3-4 nights there. (I have been several times but travel partner has never visited) Would concentrate on pinxtos but would like to also include 1-2 of the legendary restaurants, perhaps Mugaritz and/or Akelarre? Please comment on these if you have been.



What a I leaving out here? Have not included wine areas, as I have been to so many over the years (travel partner was in wine business), and am more interested in food than in wine. Needless to say, food is major interest and determining factor in most of this itinerary. Any small towns with great restaurants I should include? Great food markets in those towns? Great rural hotels with nearby great food in Basque region?

Would like to spend up to 2 weeks but am flexible.

Any and all comments and answers are very welcome! Thanks!!

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