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Initial itinerary – Northern Spain and Catalunya

Initial itinerary – Northern Spain and Catalunya

Old Jan 19th, 2015, 12:15 AM
  #61  
kja
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@ mikelg -- thanks so much! Yes, I am aware that the paintings at Santimamiñe are now off-limits -- you were kind enough to mention that to me in any earlier thread and the person at the caves who handled my reservation was also very clear about that. But I believe the archeological site is still open and the Forest of Oma seems worth visiting.

I think you mentioned Pozalagua before, but I just looked it up again and it certainly does look awesome! It should fit in my plans if I stop en route from Santillana del Mar to Bilbao, so I will definitely pursue it further. I really appreciate that you've brought it to my attention!

Perhaps you can clarify something else: I think I can see a bit of Zumaia's spectacular coast and the flysch formations from the Ermita de San Telmo -- is that correct? Is there a better place for me to take a brief stop to see them?

Thanks again!
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Old Jan 30th, 2015, 05:17 PM
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Wow, this is one impressive itinerary.. you're a woman on a mission!! I hope you do a trip report. Visiting Spain in April and though my itinerary is slightly different, I received so many great ideas from this thread so thank you.

I hope I didn't miss it above but wondering if you've decided on your Rioja wineries? We're going there too for a couple of days and could use some ideas.

I'll be following along!
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Old Jan 30th, 2015, 05:56 PM
  #63  
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@ tessietoes, -- I've learned a lot from your thread, too! We are incredibly fortunate to receive help from so many others as we make our plans.

The wineries I am currently focusing on are: Bodegas López de Heredia (a traditional winery that friends and Fodorites have recommended); Bodega El Fabulista (the cellars are in caves under Laguardia-Biasteri, where I plan to stay, and it's open later than many wineries in the area); Remelluri (family-owned and with an option to spend some time walking around the vineyards); Bodega Viña Real de CYNE (modern), and Bai Gorri (also modern, with a gravity-driven process). I'l probably make a brief stop at Bodega Marqués de Riscal just to see the building, but I don't currently plan to try to do a tour there. I'm also trying to find a way to visit Vivanco and its museum, perhaps after I reach Bilbao.

If you haven't already seen it, you might want to look at sssteve's La Rioja trip report -- I found a LOT of helpful information there.

And please let me know if you have any comments on my selection!
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Old Jan 30th, 2015, 06:32 PM
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kja, don't know if you're read Maribel's Guide to the Rioja, but it is a "must read" for visiting the Rioja. Bodegas López de Heredia is an excellent option, as is Roda and at times, Muga.

Vivanco and the museum are interesting, but if you can swing a visit to Bodegas Miguel Merino (www.miguelmerino.com), a very small, top end winery in Briones, you should enjoy it. We met Miguel for the first time several years ago when he first opened the winery. He speaks excellent English and was educated, as was his son, in South Carolina. HIs Unnum Rioja is excellent.

Remelluri has started taking visitors after a few years of staying away from tourism. Hopefully they will get back to doing their once great roast lamb chop lunch.

If you can arrange a visit to Bodegas Viñedos del Contino, part of the group that owns Viña Real de CVNE (CUNE not CYNE), you may get to meet the wine maker, Jesús de Madrazo Mateo. He gives a great tour.
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Old Jan 30th, 2015, 06:49 PM
  #65  
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@ Robert2533 -- I do have Maribel's guides, for Rioja and elsewhere -- irreplaceble! Thanks for making sure I have them.

Those sound like wonderful winery options -- much appreciated! Off to learn more....
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Old Feb 2nd, 2015, 06:37 PM
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kja, thank you for sharing your wineries and reading material for our two night stay at la Rioja! They all sound wonderful ..and each with a unique experience. Will check them out and also let you know which ones we come up with... thanks again!
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Old Feb 4th, 2015, 08:04 AM
  #67  
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@ tessietoes -- glad you found it useful. We are going to have some AWESOME experiences!


I'm currently trying to decide what route I should take from San Sebastian to the Vall de Boi. I think the shortest way -- at about 4.5 hours -- is through Tarbes in France. Kimhe's description of a route through Torla sounded wonderful, but adds about 2 hours. Any thoughts are welcome!
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Old Feb 4th, 2015, 09:34 AM
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The drive through Tarbes is quicker, but boring. Nothing to see but highway until you turn south. I'd add a night along the road and take the route through Pamplona to Torla (Aragon). The Aragon Pyrenees are the highest snow capped peaks of the entire range and are beautifully rugged.

We've posted a few images of a recent visit to La Vall de Boi while staying at the Hotel Mauberme in Salardú, Val d'Aran - http://www.pinterest.com/sanfermines...ll-de-bo%C3%AD

The only problem in following this route, which we've done several times over the years, is that there is so much to see. So you have to stop somewhere along the way to spend at least one night.

The Castle de Loarre (www.castillodeloarre.es) is a must stop on the way to Torla (closed today because of the snow).

There is also an interesting castle in the medieval village of Alquézar, which you could see after on the way from Torla to La Vall de Boi. The 11th century castle sits on the original site of the fortress commissioned by Jalaf ibn Rasid ibn Asad in the 9th century, during the Muslim civil war in Aragon, in the upper region of al-Andalus.

This is also the area where Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, the famous "El Cid", fought for the Muslim rulers of Zaragoza against the Mulsim rulers of Lérida after loosing favor with Alfonzo, the brother of King Sancho of Castille, following Sancho's death.
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Old Feb 4th, 2015, 04:06 PM
  #69  
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@ Robert2533 -- That is EXACTLY the kind of information I hoped to learn - thank you so much! Slower and more scenic definitely trumps faster, but boring.

Your photos are stunning -- thanks for sharing!

The only problem you describe seems inevitable -- I'll be traveling in Spain, after all, so there is WAY too much to see EVERYwhere! Both castles look intriguing, and it sounds like there are other places of interest in Alquézar.

Oh dear, MORE choices. (Everyone should have such troubles!)
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Old Feb 5th, 2015, 12:18 AM
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***Slower and more scenic definitely trumps faster, but boring.***

Eh???? there was you saying you felt one night stands are ok. One nighters are fast and boring. Allowing time at each destination is certainly slower. This trip of yours is on the later side of things.
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Old Feb 5th, 2015, 03:08 AM
  #71  
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@ ribeirasacra – I’m glad that you are still monitoring this thread - thanks!

My primary goals are to see art, architecture, and scenery. I am trying to find a plan that maximizes my options to see what I want to see and experience within my time frame.

My current (not writ in stone) plans for 1-night stays are for Burgos, Cadaqués, and Montserrat.

I have not found one-nighters to be boring -- quite in contrast, I have treasured one-night stays in any number of places!

Before concluding that we have come to an irrevocable impasse on the pace of my proposed travel, I ask for your help: Given that I have a limited amount of time to see the MANY things that warrant attention in the regions I hope to visit, what changes to my itinerary do you recommend? And why? Your suggestions are welcome!
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Old Feb 5th, 2015, 03:37 AM
  #72  
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Silly me -- of course you need to see my latest plan to comment! And I missed a planned single night stay in the Vall do Bois -- all still subject to revision.

Burgos -1 night
Laguardia / 2 nights
Leon – 2 nights
Oviedo – 2 nights
Potes – 2 nights
Santander – 3 nights
Bilbao – 2 nights
San Sebastian – 3 nights
Vall de Boi – 1 night
Cadaquez – 1 night
Girone – 2 nights
Monserrat – 1 night
Barcelona – 6 nights
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Old Feb 5th, 2015, 09:26 AM
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I hope we can meet up in Barcelona!

Make your Montserrat reservation sooner rather than later... I tried to book for a date in late May and the hotel up there was fully booked....

I hope you will go to Dali's house when you are in Cadaques.
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Old Feb 5th, 2015, 04:30 PM
  #74  
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@ rialtogrl -- I booked a room in Montserrat last month -- and I'm REALLY looking forward to it -- including the chance to hear both the Gregorian chants and the boys' choir.

Interesting that you mention Dali's house in Cadaqués -- since I'll be seeing the Dali museum in Figueres, I was thinking of skipping the house....

I'll be in touch about connecting while in Barcelona!
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Old Feb 5th, 2015, 04:56 PM
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Make sure to get up and see the sunrise at Montserrat.. I know I have harped on you about this before

Dali's house is very cool, its not so much about his art as his unique personality (he had a pet cricket in a gilded cage...)
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Old Feb 5th, 2015, 05:11 PM
  #76  
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@ rialtogrl -- better to mention it several times than not all all! Is there a particular spot you recommend for sunrise-watching?
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Old Feb 5th, 2015, 05:20 PM
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Go out of the hotel (stopping in the well lit room where they have vending machines and buy yourself a hot 1 euro cup of coffee from a machine, delish!) and then go toward the bus lot. Pass the giant cafeteria building and continue to the sort of gazebo looking thing close to the bus lot. That's a good spot. Then go in to the monastery and you'll be able to go up and see the black Madonna with no one around... instead of a gazillion people around. Connect with her. She is remarkable. And look around her little shrine, there are all kinds of details that are difficult to see when people are waiting behind you.

I think I also told you the food isn't so great up there, but you can bring a picnic or just suck it up and eat something just OK in the restaurant. The breakfast is pretty decent.
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Old Feb 5th, 2015, 05:27 PM
  #78  
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@ rialtogrl -- thank you so much! It's hard for me to believe that the food ANYWHERE in Spain could be just OK (or that coffee from a machine can be worth savoring), but I'll trust you. And I will raise that cup of coffee to you as I watch the sun rise from the gazebo.
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Old Feb 5th, 2015, 05:35 PM
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Trust me. That coffee tastes awesome when its dark and you are walking around a lonesome mountaintop. Good times.
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Old Feb 5th, 2015, 05:53 PM
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@ rialtogrl -- you make a good point!
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