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northern or southern Spain in mid January?

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My husband and I are booked for 4 days in Madrid in 2 weeks. We are trying to decide whether to head north from there, to Bilboa, and the San Sebastion area for a few days, or south to Granda, Seville and Cordova. Since it is winter time, will all of the restaurants be open in the northern area? It seems that it is a very "beachy" area, so wondering about that, also although I speak some Spanish, if the Basque language spoken will be a potential problem. Also, If we do decide to go north is it recommende to drive, or take a train to Bilboa and then pick up a car there. Thanks!

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