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Flying into Barcelona and have 5 days to go where?

Flying into Barcelona and have 5 days to go where?

Old Apr 10th, 2014, 03:50 PM
  #21  
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danon..is it true you can only book just two months out? So for mid August I am definetly to early?
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Old Apr 10th, 2014, 09:30 PM
  #22  
 
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Definitely too early to book at Tickets for mid August. Not possible to book more than two months in advance. You must wait until mid June exactly on the day two months ahead of your planned visit and be online at midnight Barcelona time. All tables are literally gone in ten minutes. They do keep a few tables each night open for drop in guests, but they could also be extremely hard to get.
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Old Apr 10th, 2014, 11:24 PM
  #23  
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I figured that out by going on the website you provided. I am also thinking of this type of trip since there is so many wonderful restaurants that way. First Tickets...then Sant Pol de Mar at Carmens restaurant the next day and then the next day drive to Girona to Joan Roca's restauran El Cellar. I would have never figured any of this out if it wasnt for that list you provided. All fantastic chefs in such a close region. Then we can fly out of Girona to Palma a little early and get ready for our guests. If we had more time San Sebastian also has some killer chefs.We have eaten at all of the restaurants in New York . One in San Franciso. I will have to do some jogging in Palma to get back in Bikini shape for the boat trip!Thank you for the info. Now to research about the car transportation and all that.....
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Old Apr 11th, 2014, 05:05 AM
  #24  
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We will have enough time on that day to see the beautiful "La sagrada" and maybe the Guggenheim...even though we saw the Gaudi last year but then if I lived in Barcelona I would ride my bike by it every day
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Old Apr 11th, 2014, 05:47 AM
  #25  
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I guess the Guggenheim is not in Barcelona.
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Old Apr 11th, 2014, 07:15 AM
  #26  
 
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We were in Barcelona last October and took a quick 2 night trip to Bilbao, mostly to see the Guggenheim and to dine at a great restaurant, Azurmendi. We also dined well in Barcelona, with three Michelin meals, including Sant Pau.

We are returning this year in May and will spend as little time in Barcelona as possible, preferring Bilbao and SS Have to fly into either BCN or Madrid from the US.

Just some random thoughts that may be of interest ...

Vueling has several one hour flights from BCN to either Bilbao or San Sebastian. Sometimes these start as low as 30 euros, if you have just a small carry-on, but are usually higher, especially in August. This airline seemed more like SouthWest than the stereotypical deep-discount European airline you hear the horror stories about.

Barcelona was a fascinating city in many ways, but it was also very crowded and very hot, even in October. I'm guessing August will be brutal with the European vacationers and the heat.

Bilbao was about 10 degrees cooler and relatively uncrowded, even near the Guggy, where we stayed. Lots of broad walking paths near the river and a lot to do.

We also had two really good meals near Bilbao, at Etxanobe near the hotel, where the chef Fernando Canales (a well-known local TV personality) spent a lot of time talking to us and plying us with free wine (I think he mistook us for Michelin inspectors?). This is one of the four Michelin one star restaurants in Bilbao and we had a fine meal here.

Also, we had heard that Azurmendi, a restaurant outside of town, was one to watch, that it had rapidly risen to 3 Michelin stars but was relatively unknown. We had a great meal there and my wife and I would probably put it as our # 2 favorite restaurant worldwide. Recently Elite Traveler magazine published their "Top 100 Restaurants" worldwide and Azurmendi was ranked # 7, second in Spain behind Can Roca. We've dined at 8 or the top 11 and would actually place it higher than this, surely above the three NYC restaurants ahead of it.

So anyway, cheap airfare, cooler weather, Guggenheim, some excellent restaurants nearby ... we liked Bilbao!

You wrote "then the next day drive to Girona to Joan Roca's restauran El Cellar." Lots of luck actually getting in ... this was high on our list as well but they have an 11 month wait list and it's almost impossible to get a cancellation.

You also mentioned maybe dining at Sant Pau (Carme Ruscadella's restaurant about an hour north of Barcelona). This is a very pleasant place, with views of the garden and the sea. Go for lunch, where you can ride the Rodalies commuter train to Sant Pol de Mar, then return. It doesn't run late enough to have dinner at Sant Pau though.

We had a nice meal at Sant Pau but maybe a 2* instead of 3*. I thought the Basque cooking was a bit more aggressive with the flavors and tastes myself. In Barcelona we also dined at Lasarte (Michelin 2*) and Alkimia (Michelin 1* near the Sagrada Familia). Both were good but not outstanding, we thought.

In May we are returning, with just an overnight in Barcelona, then flying to Bilbao and dining at Mina (another 1*), then Extanobe again, then Azurmendi again, then moving to SS with a lunch stop at Etxebarri (famous for grilling), which is in the mountains roughly half-way between the two towns. We will stay several days in SS, with meals at Mugaritz (Michelin 2* famous for molecular cuisine), then a highly-regarded small Spanish-only place where you eat the catch of the day, then Elkano, a well-known seafood place outside SS. Also tapas ...

Such is the richness of SS that we are actually missing out on three more Michelin 3* restaurants that we'll catch another visit.

Then flying back to BCN and leaving for home the next day.

Basically, if I had 5 days and was really interested in food I'd not stay in Barcelona but rather go to Bilbao for 2 nights, then to SS, then fly back.
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Old Apr 11th, 2014, 07:46 AM
  #27  
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Bill H you have given me much to think about and I will show my husband all that you have written. You must live in London to be able to just hop on a plane to go so many times to Spain you lucky dog. Its like what we will do in California.... go up to Napa or fly to New York to visit our son, and then of course we will take him to all of those wonderful restaurants.

I have not made any reservations anywhere, just researching now.
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Old Apr 11th, 2014, 07:58 AM
  #28  
 
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>> "You must live in London"

Ha! No, we are in the western USA and it's two long flights to get to Europe. Though funny you mention London since we are flying there next week to dine at Fat Duck and three other excellent restaurants.

>> "I have not made any reservations anywhere, just researching now."

For these swish restaurants I like to read Andy Hayler's opinions. He's the only person to have dined at every Michelin 3* world-wide ... maybe check his reviews against your opinions of some of the places in Napa or NYC where you've dined and see if you're looking for the same kinds of things as he is.

Here are a couple of his Spanish reviews, of Azurmendi (his only 20/20 in Spain) and Sant Pau (he rates it one of the top 3 in Spain).

http://www.andyhayler.com/restaurant/azurmendi
http://www.andyhayler.com/restaurant/sant-pau

Planning is a lot of fun too.
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Old Apr 11th, 2014, 08:01 AM
  #29  
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Im curious BIll H did you ever eat at Tickets or the famous El Bulli? We have a restaurant here in LA by Jose Andres friends of Ferra Adria called Bazaar in the SLS hotel in Beverly Hills famous for the radical gastronomy food. He studied with Ferran Adria. I do not think one restaurant in LA made it in the top 100 list..oh well we have to fly to NY which is not to bad,
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Old Apr 11th, 2014, 08:30 AM
  #30  
 
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>> "Im curious BIll H did you ever eat at Tickets or the famous El Bulli?"

Alas, no. El Bulli had closed by the time we morphed into serious foodies. Plus they had over a million requests for reservations each summer, so it was almost impossible for the average person to get in.

My wife is not big on tapas because she is allergic to gluten, so Tickets was not on our list in Barcelona. I think you can actually get in there if you book early (maybe the hour that openings are posted), and they also have 41 Degrees which I think is similar.

If you want a molecular place in Barcelona maybe read about ABaC, a Michelin 2* that gets good reviews by Hayler and others. If I could talk my wife into another long tasting menu on this trip then ABaC would be our choice in Barcelona.

>> "I do not think one restaurant in LA made it in the top 100 list"

I think Melisse and Nobu LA are in the 80's in the 2014 Elite Traveler list ... maybe Melisse made the better known Pellegrino list too, not sure.

We really liked Manresa in Los Gatos and Atelier Crenn in SF, plus the Napa places, so you do have some really nice restaurants in California too.
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Old Apr 11th, 2014, 09:38 AM
  #31  
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Manresa.. Forgot
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Old Apr 11th, 2014, 09:49 AM
  #32  
 
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>>> "Manresa.. Forgot"

The chef from Azurmendi (Bilbao) will actually be cooking at Manresa for two nights in May, sharing the stove with Chef Kinch.

When we heard this we thought "Great, we'll definitely have to go!" But in a funny twist of fate Eneko will be in Los Gatos the same days we're in Bilbao, so we missed out. Friends tried to get a reservation but they sold out both nights in a couple of hours.

http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog...-of-azurmendi/ Anyway, if you liked Manresa you will probably like Azurmendi, which has a similar 'slow food' bent but with some molecular tricks up his sleeve.
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Old Apr 12th, 2014, 02:50 AM
  #33  
 
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If food is as important to you as it seems, I wouldn't hesitate a second: Go to San Sebastián, the culinary capital of Spain if not all of Europe. According to Ferran Adrià, San Sebastián is the best place to eat in the world "in terms of the average quality of the food, in terms of what you can get at any place you happen to walk into": http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandst...rink.shopping2

Hade the lunch of a lifetime in three Michelin star Akelarre in San Sebastián a few months ago. And the best views over the rugged and beautiful coastline: http://www.akelarre.net/public_home/ctrl_home.php
http://gastronomyblog.com/2010/06/04...san-sebastian/

Three star Arzak has consistently been ranked among top ten restaurants in the world for some 25 years. Elena Arzak vas voted the world's best female chef in 2012, daughter of Juan Mari Arzak who started the Basque food revolution back in the early 80's: http://pursuitist.com/elena-arzak-na...t-female-chef/
http://www.arzak.info/index.html

Elkano in Getaria is mentioned above, and there are several fabulous restaurants in the small harbour of this small fishing village just west of San Sebastián. Had perhaps the meal of my life here in 1996, something like this (they still do it this way): http://www.thepauperedchef.com/2007/...-in-getar.html

And Urola has been my favourite "normal" restaurant in San Sebastián for nearly some 30 years. New chef a couple of years ago, but they maintain the excellent standard: http://www.casaurolajatetxea.es/es/portada/
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restauran...e_Country.html

I also use to take first time visitors to the area to lunch in beautiful Donibane/Pasajes San Juan just east of San Sebastián (taxi in ten minutes, bus in 30 mins or walk here along the coast over Monte Ulia in a couple of hours). Several excellent waterfront seafood restaurants: http://www.euroresidentes.com/eurore...s/san-juan.htm

A couple of the restaurants in Donibane:
Txulotxo with great value three course lunch Menú del día with wine included for 20€: http://www.restaurantetxulotxo.com/
Casa Cámara from 1884: http://www.casacamara.com/
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Old Apr 12th, 2014, 05:02 AM
  #34  
 
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kimhe, thanks for your post! Although we usually gear our foodie trips around a couple of well-known Michelin places we always try to spend half to two-thirds of our meals at these out-of-the limelight restaurants too. Often the best dishes of the trip are from them and not the heavily starred places.

Thanks especially for the Pasajes San Juan mention, I had never heard of it but it sounds perfect for us. Also, glad to see you liked Elkano. And Urola almost made our list this upcoming trip due to a review from Andy Hayler, but not quite. Maybe we'll re-think it.

Are you familiar with Ibai in downtown SS? That's my language challenge this May, no English spoken and no written menus in any language. I'm going to reread the Elkano article you linked to describing how to eat a turbot before we venture in, I guess.

Anyway, thanks again for the most useful post.
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Old Apr 12th, 2014, 06:37 AM
  #35  
 
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Urola is a true San Sebastián classic, this is the first place many locals will take a visitor to experience what the traditional food culture in San Sebastián is all about. Same waitress last October as the first time I visited in 1987.

Casa Urola was recently voted best restaurant in San Sebastián in the category of vegetables: http://www.casaurolajatetxea.es/es/b...-de-mas_5.html

Pablo Loureiro in Urola is considered among the three best grill chefs in all of Euskadi/The Basque Country. http://www.lomejordelagastronomia.co...tes/casa-urola

And recently Urola was voted #3 restaurant in Spain in the category "BISTROS, CASAS DE COMIDAS y TABERNAS" after Tickets on #2. http://www.gastroactitud.com/modulo/...anola/292.html

Donibane/Pasajes San Juan is just brilliant, I know you will love it there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3RRmq4CVVI

Regarding the famous pintxos in San Sebastián, everyone has their favourite bars and pintxos, and here are some of mine:
The brocheta de gambas/shrimp skewer in Goiz Argi is still plain fantastic: http://www.yelp.com/biz/goiz-argi-do...-san-sebastian
Txepetxa is anchovies heaven and an institution in town: http://www.bartxepetxa.com/#
The mushrooms at Ganbara: http://www.ganbarajatetxea.com/presentation

And here's a couple of the most traditional pintxos bars/restaurants in San Sebastián, both are outside the most beaten track.
San Marcial/Alustiza: http://www.todopintxos.com/bares/bar..._bar&id_bar=99
Casa Vallés: http://www.barvalles.com/

All about going for pintxos in San Sebastián, with suggested routes etc. Note that many of the best and most local atmosphere places are in the Gros district across the city river Urumea: http://www.todopintxos.com/home/home.php?lang=en

Here, I have a soft spot for Garbola:
http://www.todopintxos.com/bares/bar...3&do=vista_bar

And thanks for mentioning Ibai! have never been there, and I will certainly put it on the list for my next visit.

In general:
- I every now and then dream of the Sopa de Pescado a la Donostiarra (Donostia is the Basque name for San Sebastián). The city's signature fish soup is to die for in most restaurants around, and of course it was sublime in Akelarre. Here's Martín Berasategui's recipe (owner of the three Michelin star restaurant of the same name just outside town): http://www.privilegiosclubseis.es/sopa-de-pescado.html

- And a meal in San Sebastián is never complete without the blackthorn liqueur Pacharán/Patxaran from Navarra: http://www.spanish-wines.org/spanish...-pacharan.html

- And of course the crisp dry, slightly sparkling Txakolí wine: http://www.saveur.com/article/Wine-a...s-Coolest-Wine
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Old Apr 12th, 2014, 08:08 AM
  #36  
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My husband has left all the planning to me.He is working all the time!!!After reading kimhe and Bill h it makes me determined to make it happen in S.S You guys haven't even touched upon the wines in the region and that is another aspect we are excited about. My husband loves the tempranillo's and I love the Rioja's. Actually Wine Spectator has a Rioja as number 1 for last year. Can't wait for that!

Our second half of the trip is to be yachting and swimming around the Balearic Islands and I don't even know what islands we are going to. We are boat people and do alot of "yachting" in the Bahamas from Harbour Island "Eleuthera" down to Exumas all of the time. Our guests"reciprocate" every year take us to a new location. Last year was Amalfi coast, which I had never seen and experienced. The food was fabulous!

So I hope we can go to SS. Its the travel part that has me worried, is it hard to get to S.S with little time?

We would arrive in the afternoon on a Monday afternoon. We could stay or leave Barcelona the next day but from what I hear there are no direct flights to S.S?
We have to be back in Palma by Sunday morning and have to get back a day early. Probably best to spend the night in Palma.So I'm back to square one, Thank god my husband is on a business trip and my daughter is studying so I can sit at the computer with no life researching all day!!!
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Old Apr 12th, 2014, 08:28 AM
  #37  
 
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>> "is it hard to get to S.S with little time? from what I hear there are no direct flights to S.S?"

Check the Vueling site at http://www.vueling.com/en ... for Monday August 11th (I just picked one) they have a flight from BCN to SS leaving at 6:50 and arriving at 8 AM. Return flight on Friday leaving 19:45, arriving 20:45 (8:45 PM). Or an earlier flight Saturday. Or other options, especially if you fly into Bilbao and maybe spend a day at the Guggenheim and then Azurmendi before going to SS.

The hassle with Vueling is if you try to bring more luggage than you sign up for, but if you travel light (maybe leave a suitcase in Barcelona) it works well.
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Old Apr 12th, 2014, 08:48 AM
  #38  
 
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Vueling has got five daily direct flights from Barcelona to Bilbao close to San Sebastián for some 40-50€. The flight is 70 mins. The first leaves Barcelona at 7.10am and the last at 8.35pm. http://www.vueling.com/en

Frequent direct buses from Bilbao airport to San Sebastián in 1h 20 mins (Pesa bus company, 15€). Taxi in some 50-60 minutes and some 150€.

Perhaps the best will be to take the 9.55 flight from Barcelona, then you can be in San Sebastián about noon/check-in at the hotel.

Some hotel recommendations:
María Cristina: http://www.booking.com/hotel/es/mari...inawestin.html
Hotel Londres: http://www.hlondres.com/en
The new attic rooms at Hotel Londres: http://www.hlondres.com/en/accommodation/attic
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Old Apr 12th, 2014, 09:13 AM
  #39  
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Thanks guys, Im on Vueling looking at it now. And yes its August 11th, and leaving Palma on the 17th. Thank you for the Hotel recommendations
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Old Apr 12th, 2014, 11:50 AM
  #40  
 
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San Sebastián celebrates Aste Nagusia/Semana Grande/Big week August 9-16 2014. The city will be full of concerts and all kinds of local sports and cultural events. One of the more spectacular events will be the 20 miles swimming race along the rough coast from Getaria a little west to San Sebastián http://tourism.euskadi.net/en/agenda.../x65-12375/en/
http://www.hlondres.com/en/concierge...-san-sebastian
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