Barcelona & Bilbao

Jan 9th, 2004, 05:57 AM
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Barcelona & Bilbao

This summer (July) I am intending to combine the two cities in a nine night break: five nights in Barcelona and the final four in Bilbao.

As with Athens (see previous postings for details), the hotel location is of utmost importance to me. The property must have a swimming pool at the very least to offer escape from the heat of the day. I've booked the Claris for Barcelona, however, would welcome other suggestions for a well located hotel with leisure facilities. The Ritz would've been my first choice, but for the fact it has virtually no sports/leisure options. Hotel Arts seems perfect bar the fact it's a 20 minute walk at the least from the centre, or so i've been told. Bearing this in mind (and my budget of around 200-300 EUR per night excl breakfast) perhaps the Claris is the right choice?

Bilbao I'm much less sure of, again there seems to be the swimming pool problem. Please could someone share their thoughts on Hotel Miró, Gran Hotel Domine, and the Carlton? Currently the Sheraton are holding a reservation for me, once again I believe this to be a well located property with suitable facilities and offering a good degree of comfort. My budget for bilbao is around 150 EUR per night excl. meals

Looking forward to receiving your views, comments and opinions,

Many thanks!
m_kingdom is offline  
Jan 9th, 2004, 07:15 AM
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Other than the Guggenheim, how are you planning to spend your time filling four complete days in Bilbao?
Jan 9th, 2004, 08:23 AM
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I agree with JonJon, other than the Guggenheim, I don't see much else use in staying in Bilboa, and that tour can easilky be done in one day. A much better location to stay nearby would be San Sebastien, just a bit up the coast on the border with France. Alot more to do their, you are on beach there, and have all the Basque country to explore. I was very dissapointed with Bilboa, and 4 days would be a streccccchhhhhh there. You'll love San Sebastian and the Basque coast
Intex is offline  
Jan 9th, 2004, 01:12 PM
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Due to flight timings I'll only have three full days in Bilbao, I believe there to be lots of boutiques there. Also I was intending to get a driver to take me around the local countryside.

However, I am unsure of my hotel choices, please could someone advise me. Thanks once again!
m_kingdom is offline  
Jan 9th, 2004, 05:15 PM
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Regardless of what some people think of the limits of Bilbao, it is quickly developing into one of the more interesting and often exciting cities in the Basque country and is on the verge of being one of the perimeter cities in Spain. Bilbao, the major river port city in the north, gives you access to a number of areas on the local railways, the BBK (Bilbao Bizkaia Kutxa). You can take the FEVE to Santander or Balmaseda, the RENFE to Portugalete, Lezama, Muskiz, or Burgos and all of cities in between. You can also take the Euskotren all the way out to the coast and the fishing village of Bermeo for a late lunch. The Euskotren can also take you into San Sebastian-Donostia for the day, but it is a long trip. The bus is a better option.

The Grand Domine may be beyond your budget, but the Miro should be within your budget and is an excellent modern hi-tech hotel located just down the street from the Grand Domine. The Carlton is also an excellent choice and should be in your budget range.

The following description was adapted from Basque Country Tours -

Bilbao is wonderfully compact city, perfect for a walking tour. After a tour of the Guggenheim in the morning, you can stroll down Alameda Mazarredo to the Doña Casilda de Iturriazar Park and the Museo de Bellas Artes (museum of fine arts); an unsung gem with a wonderful collection of Renaissance and Baroque art. Leaving the Bellas Artes, you head down Máximo Aguirre to the flower-filled Plaza Moyúa rotunda, then left down the beautiful, semi-pedestrian, Gran Vía López de Haro, for a shopping expedition before lunch. After lunch you can cross the Nervión River on the Arenal bridge past the fin de siecle Arriaga Theater and into the Old Quarter (Casco Viejo) with its warren of lively Bohemian streets south of the cathedral, the "7 calles", and end your walk at the Plaza Nueva.

Make sure you visit the Mercado de la Ribera at the very end of the Old Quarter next to the river. It's a 3-story feast for the senses. Downstairs you'll find the fishmongers, on the 1st floor are meats and cheeses, and while upstairs are the fruits and veggies. You can return to the Ensanche (new quarter) either via the subway, whose stations were designed by Sir Norman Foster, or the brand new Euskotran tram, which will take you directly back to the Guggenheim and your hotel.

I would suggest contacting Basque Country Tours or Totally Spain regarding a car and driver to tour the countryside.
Robert2533 is offline  
Jan 10th, 2004, 01:00 AM
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I would be prepared to pay the extra for Gran Hotel Domine or Miro, but could someone advise whether these properties have swimming pools.

The Sheraton seems well located, with the facilities required. I'd imagine it is too new for someone to have experience with this property?

Looking forward to more responses!

P.S. Many thanks for the great idea in the surrounding Basque countryside.
m_kingdom is offline  
Jan 10th, 2004, 09:07 AM
Join Date: May 2003
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Last March, I drove from Barcelona to San Sebastian and Bilbao. And it was a fantastic drive.

I can't help you out with the hotels, I stayed at the Parador in Hondarribia (10 miles east of San Sebastian). But I think 4 days in Bilbao is quite a bit. If you want to make it your "home base" I would recommend driving to San Sebastian for a day and also driving North towards the sea and stopping in all the seaside villages.

Have a great trip!
shahnm77 is offline  
Jan 10th, 2004, 12:53 PM
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That sounds like a great suggestion, something I will definately be taking onboard.

I'm hoping that someone soon will have some experience of the hotels I currently have reservations with - in the meantime thank you for the continued ideas!
m_kingdom is offline  
Jan 10th, 2004, 05:15 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Since you have time before your trip, pick up a copy of "The Basque History of the World." by Mark Kurlansky. "...The Basque History of the World blends human stories and economic, political, literary, and culinary history into a rich and heroic tale."
Their language is called Euskera and is not related to any other language in the world.
I hope to make a trip there in the next couple of years or when the US dollar is stronger than the Euro. Whichever comes first.
sixthlap is offline  
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