Advice re Basque region visit

Nov 12th, 2010, 07:50 PM
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Advice re Basque region visit

Next Sept we are planning a trip of almost three weeks flying into Bilbao and out of Barcelona We are planning on about 8 days in the Basque country and have plans to stay in a Casa rurale outside Bermeo for 5 of these days and then in San Sebastian or Getaria for three nights. We will have a car. We wish to visit Bayonne and some of the small French Basque towns, such as Esplette and Ainhoa and are trying to decide whether to do so as day trip(s) or to stay there a night or two in order to explore more fully. Any thoughts about one plan or another? Afterwards we will head to Costa Brava ( staying near Begur) for a few days and then finally to Barcelona for 4 nights, and we have not yet decided whether to drive through Spain or France.
Thanks for your help.
jubilada is online now  
Nov 12th, 2010, 08:22 PM
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I would relax and stay in San Sebastian for a week. I would be bored in a casa rurale outside of Bermeo for 5 nights when you are so close to one of the world's best cities. I think the Basque country is beautiful and unique and I think a couple few nights outside town is a great idea but San Sebastian is special, nothing else compares to it except maybe Paris, but that's not on the ocean and the fod is better in SS. Barcelona is okay, haven't been to Costa Brava but want to go to Begur and Cadaques.
Egbert is offline  
Nov 12th, 2010, 08:28 PM
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Everyone's trip is personal and maybe not for you.
My late husband and I stayed in Ainhoa and loved our hotel and the food. We were on our way to Bilbao to see the new museum. Wish I could be of more help but now that you will love the French basque where you will see more flowers.
cigalechanta is offline  
Nov 13th, 2010, 02:22 AM
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Stay at least a night in the Pays Basque. We stayed at St. Jean de Pied de Port, but there are other options, as you know. That area is so beautiful...

If you are a cook, Espelette pepper, Piment d'Espelette, is much less pricey there than in the US. Buy the puree as well as the ground pepper.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Nov 13th, 2010, 04:59 AM
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Egbert: we will not be bored, we will be intensively exploring the region and love countryside much more than cities. We have many days of exploring planned and have engaged Mikel to show us hidden treasures for a day. We will do San Sebastian justice too, we hope!

cigalechanta: Where did you stay in Ainhoa? Did you see the Basque museum in Bayonne?

eks: we hope we will be late enough to see the peppers hanging in Esplette; it was those peppers that iniitially generated the whole idea of the trip to the Basque country!where did you stay in St jean de Pied de Port?
jubilada is online now  
Nov 13th, 2010, 07:12 AM
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This looks like a very good plan to me. We did not stay overnight in the Pays Basque villages but would on our next trip there.
By staying in a cas rural it will be easier for you to explore the region by car than if you stayed in San Sebastian. I'm guessing that you have already used Maribel's Guides. Her guides are especially helpful in the Pais Vasco and Pays Basque. I recommend that you read "A Basque History of the World" by Mark Kurlansky before you leave home.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Nov 13th, 2010, 07:13 AM
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I can recommend to stay in Isaba or Torla in the western/central part of the Pyrenees. Drive through St Jean Pied de Port, Arrete la Pierre St Martin, and descent down to tranquil Isaba in the bootom of the valley. Nighttime in Isaba is as being in the midst of a theatrical scenery. Torla is breathtaking.

This video eventually becomes quite cool, pure Isaba:


Six pardores in the central/eastern part of the Pyrenees. Take a look at this one in Cardona:

When in San Sebatián, consider walking over the hill along the coastline a couple of hours to have lunch in pictoresque litte Pasajes San Juan/Donibane. You'll have to take a 40 metres boatride from San Pedro across to San Juan/Donibane. The small ferry leaves all the time. The bus will take you back to beautiful Plaza de Guipúzcoa in Central San Sebastián in 30 mins. Donibane has got several excellent waterfront restaurants, some of them with great value lunch menus.

Some photos:
kimhe is offline  
Nov 13th, 2010, 07:24 AM
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jubilada, I stayed at the wonderful Ithurria in the picturesqe
Ainhoa. The local quisine and wines were very good.
cigalechanta is offline  
Nov 13th, 2010, 07:42 AM
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...and, if you look for the best grilled meat in the world, go to Casa Julian in Tolosa, some 10 km inland from San Sebastián. They are extremely serious about meat in this city, and there are more excellent restaurants.
kimhe is offline  
Nov 13th, 2010, 08:40 AM
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Jubilada: I/we stayed at Les Pyrenees, on an invitation.

The hotel, and the restaurant, are superb, but one certainly does not have to go to that price bracket for good lodging and eating in that area.

We only had the one night in St. Jean Pied de Port (we had had one night in St. Jean de Luz before that, at this hotel, which faces the sea and is just fine)

I wish that we had had more than just the two nights in that area, as I liked it very much. I did return to Bayonne after that (another trip) for two nights, on a trip that included San Sebastian. Bayonne too, is lovely.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Nov 13th, 2010, 10:14 AM
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Thank you all. It looks like we should perhaps stay in pays basque for two or three nights.
I have read the Kurlansky and really loved it. we had planned this trip for this past Sept but had to cancel and so now have the opportunity to plan again!
jubilada is online now  
Nov 13th, 2010, 10:33 AM
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I would definately stay in San Sebastian vs Getaria especially after you have 5 nights outside of Bermeo in a remote location. You should see the pepper in Espellette - I was there towards the end of September in 2007 and they were beautiful. I second the recommendation of Bayonne.
CathyM is offline  

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