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Spain in May 2017 - sketching out rough itinerary

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Hi Everyone,

My wife graduates from university next Spring and we intend to celebrate with a trip. Neither of us has been to Spain (nor have most of our relatives), so we figured that would be a good destination. This way we don't have a big long list of things we have to see. On the other hand, we don't have a big long list of things we have to see :P

We enjoy history, art, and food. We prefer not to rent a car, but instead to have a few base locations and take day/bus trips or just wander around. This tactic worked well for us on our honeymoon in Scotland last year.

I am tasked with planning our itinerary, and have come up with a very rough outline:

May 14 - arrive in Madrid (from Toronto, most likely arriving around 9 in the morning)
4 nights (3 full days plus arrival day) in Madrid
May 18 - travel Madrid to the Basque region by train
5 nights (4 full days plus) in the Basque region
May 23 - travel to Barcelona by train
4 nights (3 full days plus arrival day) in Barcelona
May 27 - fly back to Toronto in the morning

Does the number of full days in each area seem appropriate? I know the travel between regions is fairly long on the train - but we are fine with that. We could fly around to save a bit of time but I tend to get sore ears during landings, and they can take over a day to recover. We (I) don't want to deal with that in the middle of the trip.

We'll be in Madrid on May 16th, and that will be our 2nd anniversary so we'd like to do something special. I'm thinking of booking a Flamenco evening. Has anyone used flamencotickets.com? Does anyone have a place they'd recommend?

For the Basque region, I was thinking of Bilbao and/or San Sebastion for our "home base." Is there any particular reason to chose one of them over the other? Should I try to split our time between them?

I'm not at the point of filling in what we'll do each day, but if anyone has some "must see" places in these cities, please let me know. :)

Thanks in advance!

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    Should be a great trip!

    Unfortunately, none of us can say whether your time allotments will work for you, and none of us can say what the "must sees" will be for YOU, as these things really depend on what, exactly, you want to do. I'll admit that I wanted more time in each of those areas than you are giving it, but suspect that many people have used allocations similar to what you are proposing. When planning, keep in mind that many things in Spain are closed on Monday, and often for all or part of Sundays, too; and many things in Spain will also be closed daily for a very long mid-day break.

    You might want to check my trip report on northern Spain and Catalunya -- it includes parts of the Basque region and Barcelona. Just click on my screen name to find it, and then scroll down to the section on trip reports. It's a long report, but it is searchable. (I visited Madrid on a separate trip years before, when I spent 4 days in Madrid and 4 days in and around Madrid, time that included visiting Toledo and Segovia).

    For flamenco in Madrid, search this board for entries by kimhe (If he doesn't reply in the next couple of days).

    Bilbao vs. San Sebastian is, IME, a bit of apples and oranges. I was glad I split my time between them, but then, I don't mind relocating with frequency; other people have different preferences. I think you would do well to read up on both and decide whether one appeals to you more than the other and what, exactly, you want to do in each.

    I strongly encourage you to consult a good guidebook or two. Of the half dozen or so I used in planning my time in these areas, the most useful to me were the Michelin Green Guide and the RoughGuide

    Hope that helps!

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    Bilbao has an international airport. It will be efficient to fly in there, then work your way through Madrid to Barcelona and back home, booked through a multi-city airline search. Flying east will require changing planes, probably in a European gateway, but Air Canada Rouge flies non-stop from Barcelona to Toronto. www.aircanada.com
    Or you could work the circuit in reverse order.
    I'd be happy to spend a few days anytime in Bilbao, with its two worthwhile art museums (a good beaux-arts gallery to go with the more famous Guggenheim.) The city has a long industrial history, good food and a spectacular location in the valley of an old river. Two buses a day to San Sebastian. Train or fly to Madrid.

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