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Initial itinerary – Northern Spain and Catalunya

Initial itinerary – Northern Spain and Catalunya

Jan 3rd, 2015, 12:32 AM
  #1  
kja
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Join Date: Dec 2006
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Initial itinerary – Northern Spain and Catalunya

With the benefit of some additional (but still incomplete) research and the excellent advice I have already received (and with MANY thanks to all who contributed to my initial planning thread @:
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...n-may-2015.cfm),
I now have a very tentative initial itinerary for my May 2015 trip to northern Spain and Catalunya.

We all knew that I would have to limit my aspirations, so the very unfortunate news is that I believe I will have to skip Galicia. My current hope to include Galicia in a future trip that will also include Portugal. If you think I can / should find a way to fit it into my current plan, please feel free to suggest how to do so!

Unfortunately, even with that painful cut and even if I am able to extend my trip to a month, my aspirations still seem too ambitious. I would appreciate your advice about what else I can or should consider cutting (and why). Of course, I also welcome any other comments, suggestions, or recommendations you care to offer. BTW, I really do NOT mind one-night stays, as long as they keep me moving forward, and I don't eat lunch, so find that a great time to travel. For more information about my interests and travel style, see the initial planning thread, linked above.

With that, here’s my very rough, overly ambitious “plan”:

• Fly into Madrid (which I have visited before) and take a train to Burgos ASAP. Spend about 2 nights in Burgos
• Train to Leon, 1 night
• Train to Pontferrado, pick up a rental car; spend 2 or 3 nights in this area (I think this may be the segment it makes most sense for me to cut – what say you?)
• Overnight in Gijon
• At least 2 nights for Oviedo
• Probably 3 nights for Potes and the Picos de Europa
• About 2 nights for Santillano del Mar or Santander, to include Altamiro, Zumaia, etc.
• Probably 4 nights in Bilbao for it’s magnificent sites, as well as La Rioja, Santimamine, and the monasteries of San Millan
• At least 2 nights in San Sebastian
• At least 1 night in the Pyrenees (overnight in Taüll?), with stops at San Juan de la Pena and some of the Romanesque churches of the Vall de Boi
• Perhaps 3 nights in parts of Catalunya north of Barcelona – Cadeques, Figueres, Girona, the Costa Brava – return the car as soon as it makes sense to do so
• Perhaps 2 nights in parts of Catalunya west or south of Barcelona – Tarragona, Poblet, a cava winery or two, Montserrat
• And at least 4 nights in Barcelona, from which I will fly back to the U.S.

Thanks in advance!
kja is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2015, 01:16 AM
  #2  
 
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Please check the spelling of some locations.
I have said all I need to about one nights, but if you have to do them then choose one night in Burgos and 2 in León.
have you not thought about staying in the La Rioja region instead of travelling from Bilbao. You have several things on your list that is better accessible form the wine region.
In your planning have you allowed for the odd times things can be open/closed in Spain?
ribeirasacra is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2015, 01:43 AM
  #3  
kja
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@ ribeirasacra --

Thanks for your comments! I apologize for my misspellings; I will try to be more careful and to better avoid autocorrections in the future, but I will probably continue to skip most accent marks and to use only English characters, since those are the ones to which I have ready access. I appreciate your forbearance.

Since I don't expect to arrive in Burgos until mid-day or later, and since I expect to have to cope with jet lag, I think I will need 2 nights there. Thanks for letting me know that I may need more time in Leon than this plan would allow.

I like the idea of staying in La Rioja -- perhaps Haro? Or perhaps you recommend another location?

I know that I need to consult opening and closing hours before I finalize my plan, and I know to pay particular attention to Mondays and siestas. Before I finalize a plan, I will sit down and block everything out on a calendar (as I consistently urge others to do ;-) ). For now, I don't think my plan is sufficiently well-formed to focus on those details -- after all, I'm still looking to cut a few days....

Thanks again for offering your expert advice!
kja is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2015, 08:40 AM
  #4  
 
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Look into La Guardia.. nice village highly recommended here.
lincasanova is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2015, 09:08 AM
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Santillana del Mar is very small. We visited from Santander
(which we liked).
There is a Museum of Torture in SdM that is horrific but memorable.
danon is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2015, 09:12 AM
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La Guardia? Shouldn't that be Laguardia-Biasteri (Álava) and not the airport in New York? It must be that autocorrect at work once again...
Robert2533 is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2015, 11:00 AM
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It is not the ñ or the ó you are missing it is understandable you may not have them to hand on your keyboard. No doubt some one will tell you about the alt plus keys.
Back on track.
León as a much richer old area than Burgos. I like Burgos for it's laid back atmosphere. But León has far more of interest. It is just a short hop away between the2 so maybe just over come some jet lag to get to León.
Main website: http://www.leon.es
Visit the Barrio Húmido for the night life. http://www.barriohumedoleon.es/
ribeirasacra is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2015, 11:01 AM
  #8  
kja
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@ lincasanova & Robert -- I see a Laguardia-Biasteri in La Rioja and, if that's the place you mean, I'll definitely look into it. Thanks!

@ danon -- Thanks for the suggestions! I saw an exhibit of torture devices in Campeche some years ago; your description -- "horrific but memorable" -- is apt.
kja is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2015, 11:34 AM
  #9  
 
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Instead of going into Madrid to take the train to Burgos, you can take the Alsa bus from T4 at the airport to Burgos. There are a number of buses each morning (also afternoon but you can catch one of the morning buses). Www.alsa.es

I think 2 nights in Burgos is good, same as I did. But, if you can also add a night to Leon that would be better than the one night... quite a bit to see there! Maybe steal a night from Bilboa or Potes?

SdM is small but I spent a couple of nights there and enjoyed it after the day trippers left. I went to the Altamira cave and Comillas as day trips from there. Great convent cookies there, too! Loved, loved , loved my hotel there!
joannyc is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2015, 12:10 PM
  #10  
kja
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@ joannyc -- Thanks for the bus info and the suggestions for tweaking my plan. Perhaps you are willing to share the name of your hotel in Santillano del Mar?
kja is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2015, 12:36 PM
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Of course, here you go:

http://www.hotelcasadelmarques.com/en/

My room had a balcony overlooking the garden (which I had requested during booking).

There are some pics of it and my room in my photo TR I linked to in your previous thread.

They have a parking lot at the back of the property.
joannyc is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2015, 12:46 PM
  #12  
kja
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@ joannyc -- thanks so much! I had seen those pictures (and just reviewed them again), and agree that it is a stunning place. That might be the deciding factor in whether I stay in Santillana del Mar or Santander. ;-)
kja is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2015, 01:38 PM
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No autocorrect.. I messed up.. sorry. I forgot it was one word. I haven't been there yet but have insisted guests go there when in that area and they really have enjoyed it. I got the rec from Robert2533, I am sure or Maribel's guides.It sounds like a great trip.
lincasanova is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2015, 02:15 PM
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Between SdM and Santander, I would choose SdM. You have a number of cities in your itinerary and Gijon, San Sebastián and Barcelona have beaches.

SdM is crowded with tourists during the day but is very charming at night and in late afternoon.
joannyc is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2015, 02:17 PM
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****I went to the Altamira cave***
I think that is meant to be I went to the Altamira copy ;-)
ribeirasacra is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2015, 02:57 PM
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The real cave is open, but access is restricted to a lottery system. Good luck with that!
Robert2533 is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2015, 03:06 PM
  #17  
kja
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@ lincasanova -- Don't you love that we can always count on Fodorites to make sure we have information that is as accurate as possible? Again, I appreciate the suggestion!

@ joannyc -- I do like to include a mix of cities and much smaller places in my itineraries. And while I'm not looking for beach time, I can imagine enjoying a walk of an hour or so along along a beautiful one. Actually, part of what made me give Gijon another look was your photos. Your description of Santillana del Mar (and your pictures) make me think of places like Capri or Taormina or even Dubrovnik -- SO much nicer after day trippers leave.

@ ribeirasacra &
@ Robert -- As I mentioned in my first thread, I'm looking forward to seeing the cave art of Altamira (yes, ending in an A, not an O - oops!), whether a copy or not. I'll apply for the lottery if I can; I certainly won't count on it! Having been assured that the copy is well done, I'm OK with that. And I still hope / plan to visit some of the other caves with prehistoric art while I'm in the area.
kja is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2015, 05:24 PM
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I agree with your instincts to cut Ponferrada - there is much to do there, and it is a beautiful area but if you think you will get back to Galicia you could visit that area at that time. I would try to tweak things so you have more time in the other areas.

Have you considered flying into Oviedo? If you fly Iberia/AA it is doable and that would be a very good town to decompress and start your journey in. There is a handy airport bus into town. I think there are also buses from there to Gijon.

If you plan to visit Tarragona and a cava house, you should keep the car until then... you could drop the car at Barcelona airport at the end of your trip.

Laguardia is wonderful - it was my favorite town in the Rioja and I wish we had stayed there.

I hope you can get your month - you need it with all this moving around.
rialtogrl is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2015, 05:26 PM
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-I think there are also buses from there to Gijon.-

"There" is the Oviedo airport.
rialtogrl is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2015, 06:01 PM
  #20  
kja
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@ rialtogrl -- Thanks so much!

I'm still clinging to the possibility of a short visit to Ponferrado (even if it has no "T" in it -- ;-) ), because I think I would enjoy seeing Las Medulas and O Cebreiro, but it just may not be possible for this trip. I love planning my trips, but this is the part I hate -- the cutting. Ouch!!! I keep reminding myself, mantra-like, of how lucky I am to see ANY of these places!

Did you mean to fly into Oviedo from the US? I'm not sure I understand the logic, although I'm sure there is one! Wouldn't that just mean a lot otherwise unnecessary travel to the north and south to see Leon and Burgos? Please explain....

I had been under the impression that I could visit Tarragona and a cava house by public transportation (not necessarily on the same day), but if not, then I may look into options to visit them BEFORE more northern parts of Catalunya -- I'd like to surrender the car as early as possible, in part because I prefer to keep my carbon footprint as small as possible. (And yes, I do realize that my footprint is not going to be all that small under any scenario, since I plan to use a car for at least a large chunk of the trip.)

I think where I end up staying in La Rioja -- Laguardia-Biasteri or Haro or elsewhere -- may depend on the wineries I decide to visit, as I do not plan to drive after consuming alcohol. I had originally thought about taking a bus to/from Bilbao, but since I AM willing to do one-night stays, the idea of staying locally makes a LOT of sense to me. And if I do that, then you and lincasanova make a compelling case that I should visit Laguardia-Biasteri, even if I don't stay there...

SO many decisions! But you knew that, and I so appreciate that you and so many others are helping me find the particular combination of places and experiences that will best meet my interests. Thanks so much!
kja is offline  

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