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Bilbao & Basque region for Christmas 2005?

Bilbao & Basque region for Christmas 2005?

Nov 9th, 2005, 10:59 AM
  #1  
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Bilbao & Basque region for Christmas 2005?

Hello. We are making very last minute plans and I need help! My husband and I are considering making a trip to Spain during the week in between Christmas and New year's, arriving on the 25th or 26th and leaving around the 30th or 31st. A few years ago, we really enjoyed a 2-week trip covering Madrid, Barcelona, and Andalusia. I am thinking about flying in to Madrid for this trip and taking a train to Bilbao, where we would stay 2 days-- then I am considering renting a car, where would you suggest going after Bilbao? Or is there another area (besides going south to Andalusia) that anyone might highly recommend at this time of year? Thanks!!
pennylane is offline  
Nov 9th, 2005, 11:49 AM
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I don't recommend taking the train from Madrid to Bilbao. The flight is reasonably priced and takes only an hour. Be prepared for the cool and wet weather when you arrive. A raincoat will probably come in handy over the holidays. Since you are going to be in the north country, you should spend some time in San Sebastian-Donostia and possibly a day in Biarritz.

It's not the best time of the year for a day at the beach, but the cuisine in the Basque Country can not be beat and there are traditional celebrations going on in San Sebastian and Bayonne during the holidays. Here are a few links you may find useful.

http://www.bilbao.net/
http://www.sansebastianturismo.com/
http://www.tourisme.fr/biarritz/
http://maribelsguides.com
Robert2533 is offline  
Nov 9th, 2005, 12:11 PM
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Thanks Robert. I should have clarified, we live in Miami Beach so we are kind of looking for a NON-beachy European vacation. Of course, cold rain does not sound too great, I am beginning to think we should head south again and save Basque for another trip.
pennylane is offline  
Nov 9th, 2005, 05:37 PM
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The weather in the Basque Country is a lot like the Seattle/Vancouver area of the Northwest. The people, culture and food make up for any rainy days. It's always worth a trip any time of the year, but summers are outstanding with the ocean, blue skies and mountains as a backdrop. From what I remember, there are no mountains in Miami, just high-rises.
Robert2533 is offline  
Nov 9th, 2005, 05:55 PM
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ha! good one! Do you have a favorite town or experience in the area that we should not miss? Our itinerary is wide open at the moment.
pennylane is offline  
Nov 9th, 2005, 08:08 PM
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Actually, we like Bilbao. Its dynamics are changing rapidly and it's quickly becoming a destination for more than business. There are at least 15 museums and a growing number of excellent outstanding restaurants. San Sebastian-Donostia is always a favorite because our friend, a Basque chef from Seattle, has been able introduced us to the best chef's in San Sebastian. We also have a few friends in the area, including in Hondarribia, Gernika and Santander (Cantabria) which makes visiting the area that much better. You should consider taking a guided pintxos (tapas) tour of the old city as an introduction to the local cuisine.
Robert2533 is offline  
Nov 10th, 2005, 01:51 AM
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Hi Penny,

no train at all

If flight prices are very expensive, opt for the bus. Right now you can a rtn flight (leaving on the 25th, returning on the 1st) for 120 Euros, more or less. Coming back on the 31st can be 100 euros (rtn). I checked in www.iberia.com . Contrary to what most people thinks, I have consistently found much better prices in Iberia that in Spanair (and if you end up a victim of the Barajas delays, Iberia people are incredibly much more polite than the Spanair crew ... at least for internal flights ... I think I could write a book about it).

By bus, you could get seats in the VIP bus ( 17:30 from Madrid, 09:00 from Bilbao ) and it would be 60 Euros rtn.

Weather in Christmas in the Basque Country can be really impredictable. In the center of Spain is usually cold, but up at home can be anything from wet and windy to 25 degrees and sunny. Snow arrives later, in January and February. You will miss the two big St Nicholas markets in Bilbao and San Sebastian, held on the 21st of December, but there are plenty of things to do (concerts, museums, restaurants ...).

The Artium in Vitoria opens today an exhibition about the new Marques del Riscal building by Gehry.
http://www.marquesderiscal.com/
That would be a good excuse to visit La Rioja ...

You could check in one of the big hotels in Bilbao and San Sebastian ( Gran Domine, Carlton, Ercilla, Sheraton, Maria Cristina) what they have planned for New Yearīs Eve, and book a night there. There is usually an special dinner, a ball, an early morning chocolate breakfast ...

Rgds, Cova
cova is offline  
Nov 20th, 2005, 06:31 AM
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Hi,
I am curently living in Germany and I am thinking (last minute as always!) to head to Bilbao for Thanksgiving (11/24 to 11/27). What got my thoughts headed in this direction is an e-mail I received announcing that Cirque du Soleil is performing there at that time and I love to see them. Three years ago we went to Madrid for Thanksgiving and saw one of their performances.
At the moment I am trying to get a cheap fare from Frankfurt and have looked at hotels in Bilbao thru HRS. A the moment there is a special for the Barcelo Nervion @ about 60 euros/night which sounds good to me. Also, I wonder if I would need to rent a car or is there good enough public transportation to the surrounding towns.
Thanks for any help!

Anne
Anne27 is offline  
Nov 21st, 2005, 12:56 AM
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Hi Anne,

first of all, if you have already the flights, get your tickets for Cirque du Soleil at http://tinyurl.com/8843e ( El Corte Ingles website, you will have to go to their dept store to pick them up, but they sell quickly and it is better to have them beforehand).

I doubt that you will be able to snatch a cheap fare from Frankfurt at such a short time. Maybe hlx.com from Köln, or Ryanair from Frankfurt/Hahn (but this one flies into Santander), but Lufthansa is so popular with business travellers ...

The price for the Nervion sounds about right, and I wouldnīt rent a car. You donīt have a lot of time, and there is plenty to do in Bilbao and surroundings, even fitting a daytrip by bus to San Sebastian.

Rgds,
Cova
cova is offline  
Nov 21st, 2005, 10:01 AM
  #10  
 
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I am going to Bilbao on the first, with my family, and was wondering some of the same information as pennylane. My family was able to get round trip tickets from Germany to Bilbao for $50 usd on Ryan air. Are the day bus trips pretty convenient? We don't want to rent a car if we don't have to. Also, any advice on good accomadations, that are fairly inexpensive? I will be with my husband, our two year old and a six month old. The six month old can sleep in bed with us, and we have a portable crib that is very convenient and we can bring with us. We really don't know much about hotel set up in Bilbao.
fiesty1 is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2005, 03:29 AM
  #11  
 
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Hi fiesty,

with the kids (specially being so young), I would try to rent a car, even if you donīt want to.

Trains would be the best option, but the service is scarce in the north, so you would be stuck with the bus and it is not so easy to travel with very young kids.

Ryanair operates a bus from the Santander airport to the Bilbao bus station, a bit more than an hour trip.

Maybe you would want to stay in Santander instead of Bilbao ...

Rgds, Cova
cova is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2005, 09:09 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
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That might work, I'll compare the differnt places and see what I come up with..thanks. Oh-are car seats required in Europe? And what ages are they required for, if they are?
fiesty1 is offline  

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