Feedback for Northern Spain itinerary

Old Dec 24th, 2019, 03:49 PM
  #21  
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Thanks a lot Isabel! As soon as this website allows me, I will print your thread. Right now even typing “thank you” is impossible…. I just hope that this really annoying issue will be fixed soon. It might impact only Mac users, I don’t know, since it appears that it “selective”… I hope that copy/paste takes before I am again thrown out.

kja, I started reading your old threads that I was able to print out this morning. I wanted to send you a private message but that capability is not enabled for you. So I will send you the “private” message as part of this thread. Just wanted to let you know that as I am reading your threads I am learning a LOT not only about your trip details, but also from your approach. I am amazed by your stamina, drive, tenacity, focus, diplomacy. There is always something new to learn.
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Old Dec 24th, 2019, 05:42 PM
  #22  
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Sounds like you are making progress with your frustrating computer problems!

Thank you for your kind words! I consider myself fortunate to have found a style of travel that works for me and that gives me many rewards. I think one of the challenges of travel is matching one's interests to one's preferences for pace and energy and focus (etc.), and I think all of those are very personal things. Too, they are things that might change over time or due to circumstance. If my words help you find a match that works for you, that would be wonderful!
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Old Dec 24th, 2019, 08:09 PM
  #23  
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I agree, kja. Isabel & kja, with a lot of patience I managed to print all your relevant links. Lucky you that you had so many days.

We will have our grandkids as of tomorrow until the 6th of Jan, so I will not have time to pursue. But after that I will read what I printed.

Happy New Year to all of you!
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Old Dec 24th, 2019, 08:28 PM
  #24  
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And to you!
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Old Jan 6th, 2020, 09:54 PM
  #25  
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Happy New Year! I will do a quick copy/paste, as the infection was still not removed from the Fodor’s server.

After taking a break from planning, I am trying to do suggested (painful) cuts from my overly ambitious initial plan. We will have (almost) 14 days. As a reminder, I am trying to avoid as much as possible one night sleeps, being on the road a large part of the day, difficult drives and backtracking. I could not decide which option listed for Day 11 would be better. As soon as I have the itinerary finalized, I will make reservations at the Parador in Fuente De. Your comments and suggestions for the revised itinerary would be much appreciated.

Day 1, Sept 14, Mon- late afternoon arrival in Bilbao;

Day 2, Sept 15, Tue- day trip to San Sebastian (before the film festival starts on the 18th);

Day 3, Sept 16, Wed - Bilbao;

Day 4, Sept 17, Thu- day trip to Hondarribia;

Day 5, Sept 18, Fri - Bilbao;

Day 6, Sept 19, Sat - to Santillana del Mar, with stops along the way;

Day 7, Sept 20, Sun - Santillana del Mar in the morning, Ribadisella in the afternoon;

Day 8, Sept 21, Mon - Santillana del Mar to Potes and then to Fuente De;

Day 9, Sept 22, Tue - Fuente De and surroundings;

Day 10, Sept 23, Wed - Fuente De and surroundings;

Day 11, Sept 24, Thu - Fuente De-Potes-Reinosa;

option a- Reinosa-Aquilar de Campo- Burgos;
option b- Reinosa-Orbaneja del Castillo- Burgos;

Day 12, Sept 25, Fri - Burgos- LaGuardia- Vitoria-Gasteiz;

Day 14, Sept 27, Sun drive from Vitoria to Bilbao; flight out of Bilbao at 12 noon.

The above would mean 5 nights in Bilbao, 2 in Santillana del Mar, 3 in Fuente De, 1 in Burgos and 1 in Vitoria.
I do not know if 3 nights in Fuente would be too much or not, taking into consideration the time of the year (weather?) and the fact that we are just easy walkers, not hikers.

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Old Jan 6th, 2020, 10:14 PM
  #26  
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Should be nice!

You might consider shifting a night from Fuente De to Burgos -- I'm not sure you need 3 nights in Fuente De (as you already suggested), and think you might want a bit more time in Burgos, particularly as you are going to try to visit LaGuardia after leaving it. As a bonus, that change would cut down on your one-night stays. But it really depends on what you want to do in these places.

I wasn't enamored of Hondarribia, although many Fodorites loved it; I'd be inclined to visit one or more of the other places along the coast -- but that's just me.
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Old Jan 6th, 2020, 10:22 PM
  #27  
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Thanks kja for your quick reply. I start to feel better about the itinerary.

I will spend a bit more time to “look around” Fuente De and probably take a night away from there.


If not Hondarribia (which I have to read some more about) what else would include in this itinerary?

Any comments re. option a vs. option b for Day 11?
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Old Jan 6th, 2020, 10:30 PM
  #28  
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OOPS! I just noticed a copy/paste error (from an unfinished version). I left out Day 13.

So Day 12 is Burgos, Day 13 is Burgos-Laguardia-Vitoria, this meaning 2 nights in Burgos (even before making the change for Fuente De. Is Burgos or Vitoria “worth” one more night, or any other place where we would be sleeping already?
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Old Jan 6th, 2020, 10:59 PM
  #29  
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As alternatives to Hondarribia, I enjoyed Lekeitio and Castro Urdailes (on different sides of Bilbao), but you have a wealth of options.

I can't help with your options for day 11 (or is that actually day 12? I'm confused!) -- I haven't been to those locations.

If you are going to stop in Burgos, I would think you would want to make sure you have at least part of a day, if not a full day, to see it's sites. Same with Vitoria. From the plan you laid out, it looks like you get to these locations in time for dinner, only to leave just after breakfast -- which makes me think I'm probably misreading your itinerary. I can't tell you which ones are the ones where YOU will want to have more time -- that depends on what you want to see and experience while visiting each of these places.
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Old Jan 6th, 2020, 11:23 PM
  #30  
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Thanks kja. Here is the cleaner, modified version. It's getting there.

Day 1, Sept 14, Mon- late afternoon arrival in Bilbao;

Day 2, Sept 15, Tue- day trip to San Sebastian (before the film festival starts on the 18th);

Day 3, Sept 16, Wed - Bilbao;

Day 4, Sept 17, Thu- day trip to Hondarribia OR Lekeitio OR Castro Urdailes OR other

Day 5, Sept 18, Fri - Bilbao;

Day 6, Sept 19, Sat - to Santillana del Mar, with stops along the way;

Day 7, Sept 20, Sun - Santillana del Mar in the morning, Ribadisella in the afternoon;

Day 8, Sept 21, Mon - Santillana del Mar to Potes and then to Fuente De;

Day 9, Sept 22, Tue - Fuente De and surroundings;

Day 10, Sept 23, Wed - Fuente De-Potes-Reinosa;
option a- Reinosa-Aquilar de Campo- Burgos;
option b- Reinosa-Orbaneja del Castillo- Burgos

Day 11, Sept 24, Thu - Burgos-

Day 12, Sept 25, Fri - Burgos- LaGuardia- Vitoria-Gasteiz

Day 13, Sept 26, Sat - Vitoria

Day 14, Sept 27, Sun drive from Vitoria to Bilbao; flight out of Bilbao at 12 noon.

The above would mean 5 nights in Bilbao, 2 in Santillana del Mar, 2 in Fuente De, 2 in Burgos and 2 in Vitoria.
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Old Jan 7th, 2020, 01:33 AM
  #31  
 
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I´ll be commenting on what I know best, Basque Country and Cantabria:

Day 4, Sept 17, Forget Castro Urdiales, not worth it. Get on the coastal road to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, Bermeo, Mundaka, Gernika (see the Casa de Juntas and the Tree of Gernika, so sacred to us Basques) Ea, Elantxobe, Lekeitio and back to Bilbao. On the way to San Juan, stop at the castle of Butrón, really worth it.

Day 5, Sept 18, Fri - Bilbao; Take the metro to Getxo and the old fishing port, the hanging bridge or Puente Bizkaia, and then on to Plentzia.

Day 6, Sept 19, Sat - to Santillana del Mar, with stops along the way; not much to see on the way there, maybe Santander. Comillas and the Gaudi Capricho is a must.

Day 12, Sept 25, Fri - Burgos- Laguardia- Vitoria-Gasteiz In Laguardia (not LaGuardia) try to visit some wine cellars, from 15th century and still producing wine, or the many wineries in the Rioja Alavesa area. In Vitoria-Gasteiz, the capital of the BAsque Country, don´t miss the visit to the espectacular reconstruction of a 12th century cathedral, https://www.catedralvitoria.eus/en/home/, really worth it, and the many palaces in the central almond.

Day 13, Sept 26, Sat - Vitoria Maybe too much two days there, but if possible, don´t miss a visit to the Salt Valley, fantastic place where they´ve been producing salt for 6000 years. Need to book a visit in English, https://www.vallesalado.com/SALT-VALLEY-HOME. If not, the towns on the Gorbeia natural park are worth a visit.

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Old Jan 7th, 2020, 08:27 AM
  #32  
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Thanks, mikelg. I will investigate each of your suggestions.
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Old Jan 7th, 2020, 04:25 PM
  #33  
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I don't normally disagree with mikelg, who is an expert on the area, but I must admit that I don't see how you could meaningfully fit all these places into the plan you have, and FWIW:

Originally Posted by mikelg View Post
Forget Castro Urdiales, not worth it.
Interesting comment, mikelg, since you once told me Castro Urdiales was a "must"-- not to mention that I enjoyed it.
See post # 15.
San Sebastian / Donostia
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Old Jan 7th, 2020, 06:27 PM
  #34  
 
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Ditto to what mikelg, a local, has told you about a day trip near Bilbao on day 4. His loop, of all your options, I think, will be the most enriching/interesting (we've taken it, thanks to him). Ditto to day 5, to see the Hanging Bridge.

Your itinerary as kja notes seems still, to me, quite ambitious with lots of driving.

On day 6, a detour to Santander will be. very time consuming, as the traffic getting into the city, past the industrial suburbs, can be heavy and confusing. Because of the Great Fire of 1941 fire, downtown Santander lost much of its historic district The most beautiful section of the city actually comes at the very end, at the Belle Epoque El Sardinero neighborhood with its expansive beaches and Magdalena Palace, but it will be very similar to the look of San Sebastián, kind of a repeat. I like Santander very much, but when I have an overnight or two to explore it fully.
From Santillana I would do as mikelg suggests, and continue on the Comillas or hit it the next day. The drive there via the CA 131 is quite scenic, and in Comillas you have Gaudí's El Capricho and other flamboyant Moderniste architecture.

Day 7-Santillana Del Mar in morning (neo caves) to Ribadesella in the afternoon--very ambitious
There are so many great stops along the way off the fast A-8, so to see many of them makes for a very, very full day:
The highlights of the excursion;
San Vicente de la Barquera, the very interesting Indiano Museum in Colombres that traces the history of Cantabrian "Indiano" immigration to the Americas, Puertas de Vidiago for its bufones (the seawater geysers), cute Andrín with its very colorful houses ("prettiest village in Asturias"), Llanes and its Ibarrola-designed Cubos de la Memoria at the pier, the amazing Palaeolithic caves & World Heritage Site of Tito Bustillo outside of Ribadesella, which can be visited until Nov 1 via prior reservation... for me, visiting the actual Tito Bustillo caves were a far, far more memorable & special experience than the visit to Santillana's replica caves.
COMPRA ENTRADAS | Centro de Arte Rupestre Tito Bustillo
Another Palaeolithic cave on that route: Cueva del Pindal that can be visited Wed-Sun only and only in groups of 20, 6 visits a day, so it's quite tricky to fit it into a long Santillana-Ribadesella excursion.

Day 8 -on your way from Santillana Del Mar, after driving through the very narrow & twisting Desfiladero de la Hermida, before Potes, you can stop at the Mozarabic church of Santa María de Lebeña.

The Fuente Dé Parador is a handy place to stay as it's right next to the funicular, so folks can get an early start right after breakfast to avoid the long lines to catch the trip up to the summit, and lines can be extremely long. The charming Mesón del Oso is a delightful place to have the valley's signature and hearty dish, cocido lebaniego (with adorable St Bernards to welcome the guests as an added attraction). We've stayed at both. And the stone mountain town of Potes is very attractive. Market day there is Monday. Be sure to sample the local cheeses, the quesucos.

Day 10-the drive from end-of-the-road Fuente Dé to Potes to Reinosa to Aguilar de Campoo to Burgos with a few stops, can easily take up to 4 hours. The best, as in easiest, route would actually be to go back north to the A-8 at Torrelavega then down the national highway 611 to Reinosa-Aguilar de Campoo then down the 627 to Burgos. But again, a longish drive.

Day 12-We spend lots of time in the Rioja Alavesa, and if you're interested in soaking up the spectacular September vineyard scenery, you might want to consider as your 2-night base the medieval walled Bastide village of Laguardia rather than in Vitoria, especially if you want to do any wine touring or visit the excellent Museo Dinastía Vivanco in the pretty stone village of Briones. But you do have a lovely and relaxing Parador de Argomaniz just outside of Vitoria, housed in a beautiful mansion, if you'd like another Parador stay. In Vitoria we've stayed at the NH Canciller Ayala right at pretty Florida park.

Just some additional thoughts...
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Old Jan 7th, 2020, 07:01 PM
  #35  
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Thanks, Maribel for taking the time to provide feedback regarding my revised itinerary. Based on additional reading and your comments, Santander is left out. I didn’t know about Gaudi’s El Capricho (didn’t yet have time to get into all the details), but this definitely sounds very appealing.

I am not a “cave person”, I have trouble in places which are not paved (foot problems)… I don’t know yet anything about any of the interesting sounding caves. Are there any on the way that have paved “trails” inside and are well lit? Any with lots of stalactites and stalagmites in addition to the Palaeolithic ones?

I am inclined to re-think Ribadesella but I have to investigate some more.

About how many km is the very narrow & twisting Desfiladero de la Hermida stretch, before Potes?

Are the lines for the funicular long even during the second half of September?

Point well taken re. better way to get to Reinosa and Burgos. This might be the longest drive for a day regardless based on what you mentioned.

The only frustrating issue is that there are too many good and enticing options, too much to see…. Something still has to give.

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Old Jan 7th, 2020, 07:19 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by Suzanna View Post
(didn’t yet have time to get into all the details) ...
The only frustrating issue is that there are too many good and enticing options, too much to see…. Something still has to give.
With all due respect, Suzanna, I think it's becoming quite clear that you haven't gotten into the details, and ultimately, that's the only way I know to make decisions about that frustrating choices of what to include and what to skip.

I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time no matter what you choose. Good luck!
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Old Jan 7th, 2020, 07:39 PM
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Suzanna,
The easy cave visit will be to the Altamira cave replica, which is tailor made for tourists. I was extremely lucky to visit the original caves with my art history professor the very year they were closed to visits, so my opinion of the replica is tainted, but most folks who haven't had the fortune to have seen the original caves will be pleased (but they're not as impressive, imo, as Lascaux II).

The very narrow and twisting pass, the Desfiladero de la Hermida, is 21 kilometers long, very slow going with no passing lanes.

I've been up to the summit of Fuente Dé in early November, and yes, the lines can be long. We managed just fine by staying at the Parador next door and were the first in line because we knew to do that, having stayed at the Parador on 3 separate vacations.

Yes, you're very right----something still has to give, unfortunately. Just more thoughts...
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Old Jan 7th, 2020, 08:02 PM
  #38  
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kja, you are absolutely right. But my approach is to have first a high level itinerary and then get into all the details that will allow me to make decisions about where to stop, what exactly to visit in each place, etc. If I don't do that, I feel that I am drowning in details that in the beginning might not be useful but can be stifling. If I have a set itinerary based on enough information, I can reserve accommodations and then take care of the rest. We all have our ways of dealing with the unknown: top down, bottom up gathering and digesting the information, etc. You have no way of knowing that, but I am a very detail oriented person. For my 1 month trip to Japan a 120 page document (together with a spreadsheet) provided all the needed details for each day and we had an incredible time there. Everything worked “by the book”. I am confident that with the help I got until now on this Forum, by reading trip reports and some of the guide books, I am making the right decisions. Regardless how much one knows, it is still frustrating to have to drop options that might be of interest, but just don’t “fit”…. So thanks for the help to-date.


Maribel, I appreciate the clarifications and additional info.
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Old Jan 7th, 2020, 08:34 PM
  #39  
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IME, starting with a "high level" itinerary can work well when planning a trip to places that involve long-ish stays, like Kyoto and Tokyo in Japan. A high level approach has never worked well for me when planning a trip in an area that involves a lot of places where one will likely want to spend 2 or 3 days (or less) per location, nor have I seen it work well for similar short-stay places in the 13+ years during which I have been following this forum. That said, we all plan differently and with different goals, and I'm sure I don't know what planning strategies have worked well for most of the people who go to this part of Spain, or anywhere else, for that matter.

Again, IME, reserving lodgings can give a sense of freedom if I want at least a backup for my plans, but only if those reservations can be cancelled, free of charge, until after I have filled in the details of my plan. I would never PLAN a trip around such advance reservations. It saddens me to repeatedly find people asking for help with their itineraries that are "fixed" by non-cancellable lodging reservations that they are unwilling to view as sunk costs. JMO.

And I do understand that the details can be difficult to manage. I just think you need to get into them for this particular trip sooner rather than later. Too, I think you would get better, more informative, and more helpful input if you would be clear about what research you have and have not done when you call upon us to provide input. I could be wrong.

Again, I'm sure you'll have a great trip.

Last edited by kja; Jan 7th, 2020 at 08:56 PM.
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Old Jan 7th, 2020, 11:53 PM
  #40  
 
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Kja, you´re right...Castro Urdiales was, on that itinerary, a place for a stop. But (and I go there often to visit my best friend who lives there) it has recently become impossible for parking (moreover in spring and summer), now that they have regulated parking all over town and at all times, there´s summer residences all over the place and I have to admit that the town has lost all interest to me. From a cozy fishing town, it has turned in a few years into an apartment kingdom. I admit that the old alleys and the bars there still offer a great atmosphere, but parking is so complicated in the center that it´s a nightmare now.

For this itinerary, so full, I think it can be ignored. Wow at your memory about my recommendations!!!
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