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Help with Northern Spain/France Basque Country or Roses/Barcelona to Basque Country/Rioja Valley

Help with Northern Spain/France Basque Country or Roses/Barcelona to Basque Country/Rioja Valley

Old Jan 16th, 2009, 07:04 PM
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Yep, john, you ventured to chocolate heaven!

Here's an interesting article from the Chocolate & Zucchini blog about Bayonne's tradition of chocolate making
http://tinyurl.com/9t9vvr.
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Old Jan 17th, 2009, 10:44 AM
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I stayed at the Bayonne Best Western Le Grand. I thought it was a nice, old fashioned hotel in an excellent location. I will bring up my report in case it has any relevant information..
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Old Jan 17th, 2009, 10:57 AM
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Hi cherrybomb and eks,
I was really hesitant even to mention Bayonne's Best Western Le Grande, because I remembered that eks and I had gone back and forth in her trip planning thread about whether it would be "pleasant-old fashioned" or just "drab and dreary". Back then, the Trip Advisor reviews had been none too complimentary!

But eks, I just got a chance to re-read your wonderful trip report and see that the Le Grande worked out well for you. Can't beat the extremely central location. I think the key there is to choose a mid-to-high range room rather than the cheapest. Yes, it's old fashioned just like Bayonne itself.
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Old Jan 20th, 2009, 07:58 AM
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I will take a look at the trip reports and website for the hotel. I've been knee deep in paint all weekend and had to put things on hold.

Thanks!
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Old Feb 16th, 2009, 09:54 AM
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I finally got the tickets and am glad I waited, I was able to get in at 50K ff miles/ticket rather than the 75K that they had been tracking at and am now overwhelmed. My arm was twisted into adding an extra day.

Can you comment on this rough plan:

we arrive May 19 in Bilbao and leave from Madrid on May 31.
May 19-21: Bilbao
May 21-23: Elciego/surroundings (I wanted to do this on the back end, but cannot get a room in the Riscal hotel except for these dates, I also can get the premium room at a very discounted rate.
May 23-25/26: Hondarribia, with day trips including Bayonne, ?
May 25(26?)-May 29(28?): San Sebastian, we will rent an apt here, no day trips
May 29-31: Madrid (this is an ok short change as we are just flying out, so a day in Madrid is fine)

I am willing to switch around the other dates/places other than the Riscal. I can also add in a stop, or just do the 4 hour drive to Madrid. Is this too much? Am I short changing on this itinerary/missing something? Also, we plan to dump the car in San Sebastian and re-rent upon leaving, the reason being that we will switch to an automatic from manual as only I know how to drive a manual and we want to be able to switch off on the driving duties. In this case would it make more sense to do the San Sebastian leg prior to Hondarribia as we will have the manual car first?
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Old Feb 16th, 2009, 09:59 AM
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Also for Hondarribia, I am looking a a place outside of the walls to stay, is it best to be situated inside? The benefit to being outside is that we will be driving off to some other towns, but then again we don't want to be out in nowhere come nighttime/nightlife. This is the hotel I am looking at: http://www.hotelriobidasoa.com/en/index.php
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Old Feb 16th, 2009, 10:14 AM
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Hi cherrybomb,
No the four hour drive to Madrid isn't too much. We just avoid it on our arrival date after our transatlantic flight, but we regularly do it back to Madrid after a swing through the north.

We had talked about the Río Bidasoa before and their new restaurant, which we shall certainly try when we arrive in July. This hotel is located down near the park and an easy walk from the fishermen's quarter, La Marina, where all the shops, cafes, bars (Gran Sol!!!) and restaurants are, so everything is handy. We haven't put clients there but will consider it now that it has the additional star. Looks like it's been renovated. We've had clients at the modern Jaizibel (which is a longer walk to La Marina) and both the Parador and Hotel Obispo, within the medieval quarter. The distance between the walled medieval quarter and "downtown" is really quite short, just a quick walk. Hondarribia is quite compact, so I wouldn't worry about location.
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Old Feb 16th, 2009, 10:32 AM
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cherrybomb,
The only thing I would change about your itinerary would be to put Riscal at the end, but I realize that you may not be able to do that to take advantage of the great rate. But if it turns out to be possible...that would be an easier drive back to Madrid.
It will take at least 4 1/2 hrs. from San Sebastián to the Madrid airport, if you plan to drop off your rental car there. And the morning Alvia train from S.S. to Madrid takes more than 5 hours.
So driving from Elciego would be closer, but again, I know you don't want to give up that great deal there (although I might email them and inquire if they'd honor it for the later dates).
We regularly drive from Pamplona back to Madrid-about 4 hours.
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Old Feb 16th, 2009, 10:56 AM
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The problem with Riscal is that they are fully booked the other dates, that is why we have it at the beginning, I had wanted it at the end. We will contact them direct to see if there is availability on the end though and change up if we can. We have not booked yet, I was just putting in dates online.

I think we will go with the Río Bidasoa then, I was just worried about proximity. We definitely will drive back to Madrid and make stops if we feel the need, or want to see something. The 4 hour drive is no big deal on our end.

Am I jamming too much into this? I.e. are we moving around too much or not spending enough time in places?

Also an odd question, how cobblestoned are the streets in San Sebastian/Hondarribia? Portugal-esque with hills or just standard Europe (if one can say standard Europe. lol)
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Old Feb 16th, 2009, 10:57 AM
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Also would you put the San Sebastian before or after Hondarribia?
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Old Feb 16th, 2009, 11:21 AM
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In San Sebastián the streets are "normal"; ditto to Hondarribia down in the Marina quarter. Streets in the Old Quarter are cobblestone and there are hills, since it's the fortress part of town. The distance from the square in front of the Parador in the Old Quarter down to the gourmet deli, Solbes, and the tourist office in "downtown" Hondarribia is really nothing. The walk from the Río Bidasoa to "downtown" is normal sidewalks. If you were to stay at the Jaizibel you'd have a uphill climb going back to the hotel.

I would put Hondarribia before San Sebastián. You'll then be saving the very, very best until the last.


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Old Feb 16th, 2009, 11:35 AM
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Perfect--thanks!
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Old Feb 16th, 2009, 12:02 PM
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Anyone know the difference between the Grand Deluxe and the Premium Deluxe rooms at the hotel Marqués de Riscal. They don't list room categories on the website, the differenc in price is 40 euro. the more expensive premium has "spectacular view" v. "bay window that opens" is all I can tell. (yes I am aware this is an extraneous, if not dumb question)
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Old Feb 16th, 2009, 12:20 PM
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cherrybomb,
We've put clients in the Grand Deluxe rooms that have been fine. The views from all the rooms are nice-some have views of the medieval village, others of the countryside and vineyards. Not much difference in terms of spectacular-ness, at least for me.

I see that they've lowered the rate of the Gehry suite-it used to be 1,400! (Gehry, by the way, prefers to stay in the spa annex).
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Old Feb 16th, 2009, 12:39 PM
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I saw a rate of $688 on the suite, but I'm not that flush with cash! I'll go with the grand with bay window that opens then and save the 40 euro/night. They have a 20% off promo for booking 60 days in advance, that's why the rates are down. I still wish I could get in on the end though, rather than at the beginning of the trip.
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Old Feb 18th, 2009, 10:11 AM
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I think I have narrowed down some places to stay, feed back appreciated.

May 19-21: Bilbao, http://www.hesperia.com/hotels/Hesperia-Bilbao/# or http://www.hoteles-silken.com/gran-hotel-domine-bilbao/ -- thoughts appreciated here please...

May 21-23: Elciego, http://www.starwoodhotels.com/luxury..._1539_overview (no need to really discuss)

May 23-25: Hondarribia, http://www.hotelriobidasoa.com/en/index.php (already talked this to death, no need to again!)

May 25-29: San Sebastian, see below for apt links

May 29-31: Madrid, http://www.hoteldelasletras.com/movies/inicio.htm

these are the apts, am looking for good location near bars, etc., a terrace would be ideal, can live without for location, we DO NOT mind being in a "noisy" area or facing the street--silence drives me nuts and I like to see what is going on outside:

http://www.friendlyrentals.com/en/ap...ment-526-5.htm

http://www.friendlyrentals.com/en/ap...ment-546-5.htm

http://www.friendlyrentals.com/en/ap...ent-2354-5.htm

http://www.friendlyrentals.com/en/ap...ment-169-5.htm

http://www.friendlyrentals.com/en/ap...ent-1917-5.htm

http://www.friendlyrentals.com/en/ap...ent-1881-5.htm

http://www.friendlyrentals.com/en/ap...ent-2795-5.htm

(ok the last one was a joke, but doesn't it look amazing to spend a week relaxing in?)

Thanks for help in advance...
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Old Feb 18th, 2009, 01:27 PM
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oh wait, I was looking at my links, I would consider the last one (I thought I had thrown in some 4 bedroom all glass design villa with 4 bedrooms, a jacuzzi and a pool in there)

Anyhoo, thanks for any help...
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Old Feb 18th, 2009, 01:29 PM
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cherrybomb,
The Silken Gran Domine is my FAVORITE hip hotel in Spain (haven't done an overnight at Riscal). Please don't miss this one. I guarantee you'll love it and location much better than the Hesperia! The executive rooms looking out at the Guggenheim are wonderful at the Gran Domine.

In Madrid, the de las Letras is a nifty hotel but not in a nifty location. Check the Reina Victoric ME by Melía as an alternative-it's definitely your style and location is much nicer than the de las Letras.

I'll be back with rental in S.S. Have to look through them more carefully.
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Old Feb 18th, 2009, 01:36 PM
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cherrybomb,
A definite "no" to the Boulevar apt. in the Old Quarter next to San Telmo museum. The museum is in the throws of a major reconstruction, and that street of the Old Quarter is just really noisy at night. Your best location for San Sebastián is in the modern quarter, near the Avda. de la Libertad and San Martín, and short walk to La Concha beach, so the first two apartments, the Balenciaga and the Getaria fit nicely. The new indoor market of San Martín, its lively terrace bar, the FNAC and great pintxos bars around would be great for you.

I'll be back with an opinion on the rest.
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Old Feb 18th, 2009, 01:45 PM
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Ok, finished¡

The Elkano has a great location in the shopping district like the Getaria and Balenciaga.
Definitely a contender.

The French House is the one we want to rent with our friends, and the Wi Fi is always a deal maker for us.

The Gernika? Do you need that much space?

The Moneo-great! and a great location on the other side of the river, looking out at the Kursaal center. Easy walk to the shopping district, to the Old Quarter, to the new wave pintxos bars of the less congested Gros quarter, still not far from La Concha beach.

My bottom two-the one next to San Telmo museum (no!) and the Gernika.

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