Basque/Navarra/Rioja trip itinerary

Aug 16th, 2005, 01:45 PM
  #1  
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Basque/Navarra/Rioja trip itinerary

I'm leaving in a little over 4 weeks and am finally getting around to finalizing my trip itinerary. I'd love to get some advice from you as to how this sounds. It's been ages since I posted on this forum so I'm hoping those of you who remember me will forgive me!

A little about my traveling style: I travel to Spain twice each year usually solo. I am unfortunately limited to using public transportation. I generally like smaller cities/villages and enjoy flexibility in my schedule and the ability to just wander around and explore an area.

I spent 2 nights in Olite and 3 nights in San Sebastian in the fall of 2002. I loved Olite (it was during a local festival). I liked San Sebastian but was really endeared to Hondarribia, where I spent one afternoon. I also visited Bilbao on a daytrip and wasn't too excited about this city (but it could have just been a bad day for me!).

So, here goes:

Day 1 - leave for Spain (using a buddy pass so this could be an adventure)

2 nights - Olite
festival (same as in 2002)

3 nights - Laguardia
-visit Estella en route from Pamplona (daytripped Pamplona in 2002)
-daytrips to Haro, Logrono - wine harvest festival will be happening during this time
-possible daytrip to Santo Domingo de la Calzada

3 nights - Lekeito
-visit Vittoria enroute from Laguardia
-daytrips to Guernika, Elantxobe
-other possible daytrips to Elorrio, Onati, Ordizia, Bermeo, Mundaka

3 nights - San Sebastian or Hondarribia?
-daytrips to Getaria, Pasaia
-possible daytrips to Zumaia, Zarautz
Only negative about using Hondarribia as a base is that it will take longer to do the daytrips as I am further out

3 nights - St Jean de Luz or Bayonne?
-daytrip to St Jean Pied de Port
-daytrip to Pays Basque villages by bus (if possible?) - Sare, Ainhoa, La Rhune, etc...
I'm leaning towards basing myself in St Jean de Luz and visiting Bayonne on a daytrip.

The daytrips are all just possibilities and obviously I won't be able to do it all but would love feedback on these options as well.

I had hoped to be able to definately spend a day in Elorrio or Onati and would like feedback on these cities - is it worth cutting back a day somewhere and spending one night here? Are 3 nights in Lekeito too much anyways?

I have studied previous posts and one mentions the possibility of taxi between Laguardia and Logrono (it's only ten miles). Has anyone tried a taxi from Laguardia to Logrono (or Haro)? If so, was it easy and how much was the fare?

Well, I will stop with the questions and hopefully get some feedback. Thank you all in advance for your replies.

CathyM is offline  
Aug 17th, 2005, 12:27 PM
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It's an interesting itinerary, but I would cut back on Lekeitio by one night. Since you're not renting a car, I would stick with basing yourself in San Sebastian-Donostia vs Hondarribia, which you can visit anything while traveling back and forth to the Pays Basque. As far as staying in the Pays Basque, you should base yourself in Biarritz. It's easier using the public transportation system since everything flows through Biarritz.

You shouldn't have any problems with taking a taxi between Laguardia and Logroño. The cost should be around 10 euros each way.
Robert2533 is offline  
Aug 18th, 2005, 04:00 PM
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Thanks, Robert.

Biarritz it is then!

I'm having trouble finding bus schedules from Pamplona to Logrono. The bus company, Estellesa, website I found doesn't have the timetable posted.

Also having trouble finding information on bus service from Logrono to Vittoria. Several of my books say there is frequent service yet the only company mentioned is La Union. On La Union's website there is no route from Logrono to Vittoria (at last shown).

Does anyone have any experience using buses for these routes?

CathyM is offline  
Aug 18th, 2005, 05:46 PM
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Cathy,
You can always find the bus schedules in the local papers. According to www.diariolarioja.com, the Rioja newspaper, here's the info you need:

DE PAMPLONA A LOGROÑO:
Laborables (Mon-Sat): 7.30, 10.00, 13.30, 16.30, 19.00 horas.
Domingo (Sun): 10.00, 13.30, 16.30, 19.00 horas

LOGROÑO A VITORIA:
Laborables (Mon.-Fri): 07.00, 10.00, 14.00, 16.00, 18.30 y 20.00 horas.
Sábados (Sat): 10.00, 14.00, 16.00 y 20.00 horas.
Domingos (Sun) : 10.00, 14.00, 16.15, 20.00 y 21.30 horas.

If you need more bus schedules from Pamplon to other towns, check
www.diariodenavarra.com, then at top, click on servicios then transportes, and you'll see the bus schedules.
Robert2533 is offline  
Aug 18th, 2005, 10:05 PM
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Hi Cath,
We visited San Sebastian and the French Pays Basque in June. I will chime in with my limited information regarding St Jean de Luz. It was one of my favourite places, as like you, we prefer smaller towns. It has a lovely old section, a pretty crescent shaped beach and an interesting fishing port. Sans Sebastian was far too big for our liking. It is very easy to travel by train between places like Hondarrabia, St Jean de Luz and Biarritz/Bayonne. However, we also visited towns like St Jean Pied de Port, Ainhoa, Bidarry, Sare etc by car. These places are going to be pretty difficult to visit by public transport, you might look into the option of doing some sort of day tour out of St Jean de Luz. It is a beautiful part of France, full of surprises. Enjoy!
toni is offline  
Aug 19th, 2005, 11:54 AM
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Robert-
Thanks a million for the information on the buses. I would have never thought to look at the newspaper. I'll double check when I arrive but this puts my mind at ease.

Toni-
I can get a train to St Jean Pied de port and it is supposed to be a beautiful ride. The Pays Basque villages like Sare, La Rhune, Ainhoa will be my challenge with public transport. I know there are infrequent buses from St Jean de Luz and I'll check on these as soon as I arrive. Worst case I'll use a local guide for a 1/2 or full day. A taxi ride may not cost that much either. I definately don't want to miss out on these little villages.

Thanks again!
CathyM is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2005, 02:57 AM
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Cathy,
I am not a big fan of Lekeitio as a base, specially given that you are planning to do a couple of day trips. For that, I think that Gernika or even Bermeo would be better, between the buses and the trains.

http://www.euskotren.es/
http://www.bizkaia.net/herri_lanak/b...s/ca_index.asp
( buses timetable within Vizcaya )

You were lucky that Robert found the timetables for La Union in the newspaper (many newspapers sites in Spain show also bus timetables), because La Union is notorious for its inexistence in the WWW (and it sometimes drives me mad when they change suddenly the schedule between Bilbao and Pamplona ...).

I was thinking that you could combine Durango and Elorrio for an inland day trip.
http://www.durangaldea.com/paginas_c...no/portada.htm
The Urkiola Natural Park has some nice hiking walks, but I donīt think that you can reach it via public bus (I havenīt found anything, but the people at the Durango tourist office should be able to help you).
Elorrio has an interesting church, beautiful stone houses and one of my favourite places, the Argiñeta necropolis.
http://www.elorrio.net/html/home/default.asp

Kind regards, Cova
cova is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2005, 03:22 AM
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CathyM, this is such a wonderful area that you cannot go wrong!!! Make sure you print out from www.maribelsguide.com the file for the Basque Country, it was very helpful for us.

A good alternative would be to arrange for a one-day private guide with car to drive you along the coast since many of the nicer spots cannot be reached by bus.

I loved Mundaka and Bermeo!!! There are beautiful lighthouses along the coast. We loved the lonely church of San Gazta...-Cova, pls help with this one!!! I never get the basque name right San Juan Degollado in Spanish. You can stop in restaurant Eneperi for outstanding views and food.
marigross is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2005, 05:59 AM
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Hi Mari,

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe (I donīt think San Juan Degollado is the proper translation, because gaztelu means castle and right now I am in the middle of an awful blank regarding the proper etimology of -gatxe ... It would make sense regarding the form of the rock where it is located).

Cathy, some nice pictures of the place :
http://foro.meteored.com/index.php/topic,27753.0.html

Again, the same problem. I think there is a bus that goes along the coast from Bermeo to Bakio, but I am not very sure. You could walk from Bakio to San Juan, mind you. There is also a tiny medieval church nearby called San Pelayo, very popular for weddings

Rgds, Cova

Mari, are your parents still coming to Madrid in early September? Weather is nicer now, not so hot, and there might be some zarzuelas on in a couple of theatres. Must check ...
cova is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2005, 03:57 PM
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Cova, Cruiseluv's parents are the ones going to Spain in Speptemeber (mine would love to and so would I!!!). The church on San Gaztelugatxe is dedicated to the head of John the baptist so I incorrectly assumed that was the translation. I just love Euskadi

The heat in July during my last business trip to Madrid was unbearable!!! Even during the night it would not cool down - and that coming from a tropical girl

CathyM you are most likely going to have real nice weather I did not fall in love with Bilbao either, and skipped town a little earlier than originally planned (I have already apologized to Cova for not adoring her city). This turned out for the better since it led me to the most wonderful meal in the Castro Urdiales port.
marigross is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2005, 04:13 PM
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Hi CathyM, I just saw your post. I have not been to Spain but wanted to mention to you that you might enjoy reading the long and detailed article in Sunday's San Francisco Chronical. Go to www.sfgate.com Click on Travel. The very first article will no doubt be of interest to you. Have a wonderful trip.
LoveItaly is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2005, 07:11 PM
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I didn't check the board for a day and was so pleasantly surprised before I headed out from work tonight. Thank you all for your responses.

Cova-I wondered if you were still on the board. I remembered you were from Bilbao and very knowledgeable about the area. I wasn't sure if you were still on the board as I've not been very active for a while (too much work, not enough play). I kind of have my heart set on Lekeieto and the Hotel Zubieta. I know it won't be as easy with transport but I think I will be OK. I found 2 bus lines that go to Gernika and Bilbao, the A3523 and the A3513. One leaves every other hour and the other 4 times/day (different hours). Is it also a thought to take a taxi from Lekeito to Gernika? I read that it is 9km but it could be as the crow flies versus the real road time. Would this option be prohibitably expensive? I figure that even if I have to go into Bilbao and back to get somewhere it will also give me the opportunity to spend time in Bilbao and give the city another shot! I always give a place more than once chance - you never know how your mood or the weather that day affects your initial impression.

I'll definately visit Elorrio as I want to see an inland village. I remember the bus ride from SS to Bilbao in 2002 and it was beautiful. Thanks for the web sites too. Now, I only wish I could quit work for a month and have time to savor the planning.

marigross-
I used Maribel's guides as a base for planning my itinerary. She's always right on with her advice and much more up to date than any guidebook. I know we all miss her on the forum.

I definately plan to visit San Juan de Gaztelugatxe and found bus schedules to Bakio from Bilbao in addition to a bus line that runs from Bakio to Bermeo every hour. One of my guidebooks mentions that the bus driver will drop you off near the restaurant Eneperi if you request it. Even if this doesn't work I think I could get a taxi from Bakio or Bermeo to the restaurant. From the restaurant is it possible to walk to the church?

I'll take your advise and investigate hiring a private guide (or small group) for a day. I was so late in pulling this together my first priority was itinerary and hotels. I'm just waiting for my confirmation for 2 nights at the Castillo el Collado in Laguardia and the hotel arrangements are complete. Then I can start the really fun planning!

I am so excited about returning to this part of Spain. Running through for 3 days a couple of years ago didn't do it justice. I've ordered the recommended book, "the Basque History of the World" and can't wait to begin reading before the trip.

LoveItaly-the articles look great. I've printed them out and they'll be my fun reading for the evening.

25 days and counting....CathyM

CathyM is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2005, 07:23 PM
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Hi CathyM, I sure hope the Chronical articles add to the enjoyment of your trip.

And know you do not have time now but after you return home and get settled in you might like to see if you can get the book "In A Hundred Graves" I can't remember the name of the author but it is a very interesting book regarding Basque history. A year ago it was possible to buy it on Amazon.

My wishes to you for a beautiful trip. I will look forward to your trip report. Take good care.
LoveItaly is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2005, 05:53 AM
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Hi Cathy,
I moved to Madrid back in February, and things have been a bit on the hectic side regarding work and a new city. But I keep coming and going

Itīs around 25 kms, more or less, between Gernika and Lekeitio of a very windy road. I suspected that you were interested on one of the places in Lekeitio ...

About Bilbao, donīt worry. I know itīs a question of taste, and sometimes it helps to have someone with you explaining things ... I know, it happens to me a lot of times with Madrid. The jury is still out on it ...

I think that you speak spanish. If so, give it a look at the Bizkaibus website to check the connections and the availability of buses.

If the bus between Bermeo and Bakio stops at Eneperi, it can also stop at the parking place for San Juan. I think that it can be a bit complicated to do it on public transport. The road to get to the small church is better from the parking place than from Eneperi. First you have to walk down a lot, and from Eneperi it would be a bit difficult. I think that it would be better to go first to the church, then walk to the restaurant (it is also a nice bar) and from there call a taxi.

Mari, sorry, I was missing the two of you. Madrid has even been hotter after your stay, awful But right now weather is a bit milder and we can move around ...

I read the article in the SF Chronicle ... interesting, although I would prefere not to get stuck inside some political exchanges that came to my mind the first time I read it ... Everything is way too complicated ...

Kind regards to everybody,
Cova
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Aug 25th, 2005, 05:53 PM
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Thanks again.

Cova-
I didn't know you had moved to Madrid. You must miss your hometown. I've been pretty off the board the last few months but hopefully work will slow down. I correspond with Olga occasionally and met her again when I was in Sevilla for Semana Santa. She received a promotion at work and is now managing a hotel in Jerez. I don't think she's been on the board much lately either.

I don't speak spanish very well but I try my best. I found the Biskaibus website and was able to follow the instructions so I have the bus schedules all printed out and ready to go with me.

I'm just a little unclear about the way to access the sanctuary of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. One of my guidebooks mentions it's on an islet separated by a bridge. Where is this in relation to the restaurant? If I have the bus drop me off at the parking lot for the sanctuary how long is the walk to visit the sanctuary and then how do I get (and how long is it) to Eneperi? If I could walk to Enerperi after visiting the sanctuary it would probably work having the restaurant calling me a cab to go back to Bakio or Bermeo.

I received confirmation from the last hotel today. I was able to get rooms at my first choices except for Laguardia. The Castillo el Collado only had 2 nights available and I originally wanted 3 nights. But it may actually work out better. I'm going to spend my final night in Logrono where the festival of San Mateo will be in full swing!

Thanks again to all of you.
CathyM is offline  
Aug 28th, 2005, 10:56 PM
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Hi Cathy,

I am on my way to Rome in a couple of hours ( holidays at last !!! ), so if you donīt mind, Iīll write to you once Iīm back at the end of next week.

I think that I have a map of the area somewhere, so I will be able to explain better how to walk between Gaztelugatxe and Eneperi (there is a path that goes up the cliff, but I am not sure if it will be clean to walk it ...)

Kind regards,
Cova
cova is offline  
Aug 29th, 2005, 07:34 AM
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CathyM,
You can take a look at the pictures of the sanctuary on the following web page:
http://www.pbase.com/cyracuse/san_ju...aztelugatxeko_

The sanctuary of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe sits below the restaurante Eneperi, which overlooks the sanctuary and shares the upper parking lot. It's a long walk down to the island, so be prepared.

You can make your reservations for lunch at Eneperi (http://www.euskalnet.net/eneperi/) via email. Their website also has several images of the island.

If you can stop off in Bakio, then have lunch at Joshe Mari (http://www.bakio.com/2002/clientes/j.../joshemari.htm). It's a favorite stop for a close friend.
Robert2533 is offline  
Sep 6th, 2005, 11:24 AM
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Thanks again. I was traveling for the last week and didn't even have a chance to check the board. I'm definately going to try to walk to the steps down to the sanctuary - will wear good walking shoes and prepare myself for the exercise.
CathyM is offline  
Sep 12th, 2005, 04:51 AM
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Hi Cathy,

I am back from Italy (I am already missing it).

A few things for your trip :

I passed along San Juan last Saturday (just driving), and I have spoken with an old friend who lives nearby and is a great walker, and this is what he told me. He hasnīt walked lately the path going from Eneperi to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, so he cannot tell me if it is cleaned and safe enough to walk it.

His rec, if you feel up to it and the weather is fine, is to ask the bus driver to stop you at the parking lot on the main road (it is not the Eneperi parking lot, itīs just 5 minutes before) and then walk down a well pavimented road, climb the stairs, and take the same route to get back to the main road. Once there, turn to your right and begin walking. There will be first a small restaurant as you walk, on the right, and shortly afterwards a small road to the right that goes into the Eneperi place. You wonīt miss it.

As you are going to stay in Lekeitio, you might be interested in knowing that the Hotel Emperatriz Zita has a thalassotherapy centre and a thermal sea water pool

If you plan to use the public buses, get yourself a Creditrans. They come in 5, 10 or 15 Euro value, and you can use them in buses and the metro (It doesnīt work yet for the train). In the bus you must select a code depending on where you are going, simply ask the driver (we do it every time, not a problem at all). It does save you money. If you are using the metro, and it doesnīt let you go through because you donīt have enough money, you can recharge it at the machines. At the buses, you can pay to the driver the pending amount in cash.

Regards,
Cova
cova is offline  
Sep 13th, 2005, 07:33 AM
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cova-
Thank you so very much for the details. Now, I have a much clearer picture in my mind of how to get to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. Also, thanks for the bus tip as I'll definately be using this as my primary mode of transportation.

Now I'm all set to go....just have to wait 3 more days!
CathyM is offline  

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