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    by mkataoka Fodor's Editor | Posted on Nov 28, 16 at 01:31 PM
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NORTHERN SPAIN TRIP: HELP REQUESTED TO FINALIZE ITINERARY

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My wife and I are finalizing our plan for a 24 day trip to Northern Spain & have a few open questions we could use some input on. We have been to Spain on a previous trip seeing Madrid area, Andalucía and Barcelona area. In planning this trip we have spent a great deal of time reviewing Maribel’s guides, Trip Advisor, Karen Brown’s guide/site, other web info & this forum. We have considered various itineraries, areas to visit and the number of bases. While our original idea was to include Galicia and Portugal we decided on a slower, more relaxed trip covering a smaller area and to cover each area from a small number of bases.
Current Plan:
Day1-2: Fly to Madrid, Pickup Rental Car & drive to La Rioja, (Lerma for lunch).
Day2-5: La Rioja: Marques de Riscal, Elciego (2Nights) & Castillo el Collado, Laguardia (2Nights). Staying in 2 hotels in area because we wanted to experience the Marques & then liked the central location of Laguardia & the sound of the Castillo.
Day6-11: San Sabastian: Maria Christina. Base for day trips east to French Basque, south to Basque countryside & coastal cities nearby, plus enjoy San Sabastian.
Day12: Bilbao: Silken Gran Hotel Domine, Mostly for the Guggenheim but will also sample city and its restaurants for one day/night. Staying overnight so as not to be too rushed by trying to cover it in a day trip.
Day13-16: Santander: Hotel Bahia. Base for exploring coast nearby & enjoy Santander.
Day17-20 Ribadesella: Villa Rosaro, Explore, Picos de Europa & coastal towns nearby.
Day21 Open. Thinking of stopping in Leon to break up trip to Madrid.
Day22-23: Madrid, ME Madrid Reina Victoria, Drop of car on the way in Madrid. Spend time with cousin living there & enjoy Old Madrid scene & restaurants.
Day24 Return home.
Questions:
Any info or suggestions that might help us address the following would be appreciated.
Should we modify our Days 17-21 to stay 2 nights in Picos & then 3 nights west of Gijon and then drive directly to Madrid Day 21 (perhaps stopping for lunch in Leon).? We picked Ribadesella to be able to explore both the mountains and coast in that area from one base. We have read good things about the coast west of Gijon but feel we won’t be able to see much of it in a day trip from Ribadesella. This enables us to see more of the western coast but requires and extra hotel change and probably less exploration of the coast around Ribadesella.
Should we not stay in Bilbao overnight and just spend the day there between San Sabastian & Santander, opening another night for more exploration to the west?
Any recent experiences with Villa Rosaro? We like to stay in great hotels with good reviews. Most of the hotels in that area that seem to be in a good location, have few Trip Advisor reviews and they seem to be quite mixed. Villa Rosaro was spoken of very positively by a couple of reviewers on this forum but they were several years old & trip advisor reviews are mixed.

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