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Northeastern Spain

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Jan 18th, 2012, 09:27 AM
  #1
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Northeastern Spain

Well, we just decided that we're headed for Spain again in late May. I have spent a lot of time in Spain, mostly in Sevilla and greater Southern Spain. I have been to Northern Spain, but I covered almost a city a day working my way across the top of the country and now am thinking I'd like to plan more focused time in a smaller area. Our plan is to pick a couple smallish town to stay in for a week at a time, with a plan to make day trips to the bigger cities. We were targeting one week for Catalonia, and one town that seems appealing is Begur. We would like to be close to the ocean but don't have to be right on it. When I think of smallish towns, what I mean is that we want to be able to stay in an older section of town, maybe in an apartment, and have 3 or 4 bars and restaurants within reasonable walking distance of the hotel. We did not originally plan on having a car at all, but it seems like people on this board feel that you need to have a car in Catalonia if you plan on traveling to the small towns. So, how do people feel about Begur as a home base for the first week? Basque country is what we're targeting for the second week. Again, we'd like to consider a smallish town as a home base and travel out by bus and/or train to nearby small and large towns. Any ideas for Basque country? Thanks for your help, I've already been pouring over the other postings and have pages of notes and ideas.
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Jan 18th, 2012, 10:05 AM
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I agree that you definitely need a car. In october 2010, we spent 5 days in Barcelona, then went on a 3 night/4 day roadtrip along the Costa Brava. We overnighted in Cadaques, then spent 2 nights in Girona, then spent a day driving through the Pyrenees.

I know someone who stayed in Begur & loved it. We chose to stay in Cadaques, & loved it, too. You can click on my name to read my trip report. I give sightseeing, restaurant names, etc.

In a nutshell, we stopped in Tossa de Mar, S'Agaro & Calella Palafrugell along the way to Cadaques. In Cadaques, we visited Dali's home in Port Lligat & drove up to the Cap de Creus for beautiful views of the Mediterranean.

We loved Girona, then spent a day driving around & making stops in Besalu, Ripoll, Rupit & Vic. We loved every place we stopped. I am so envious of your trip
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Jan 18th, 2012, 10:11 AM
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Thanks Kwoo, I loved your trip report! All of the places you noted are on my list for possibilities, and we may just go with a rough list and decide on the fly. We aren't happy with a tight schedule, and you listed what looks like a lot of ground to cover in a pretty short time. Thanks again for weighing in.
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Jan 18th, 2012, 12:18 PM
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For the Basque portion, I don't know if you are also wanting to be by the sea. If you are, there are several small towns along the train/bus line between San Sebastian and (north of) Bilbao. You would not need a car. In addition, there are hiking trails--between Deba and Zumaia being especially scenic.
If you choose inland Basque country, then you would most likely want a car, but not 100%, for example if you pick a place with a train station. That said, San Sebastian really can't be beat--it felt like a small town to me.
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Jan 18th, 2012, 02:11 PM
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I think Begur is a good choice for a base in Catalunya. Also agree it would be best to rent a car to fully explore this area. I didn't have a car and it was limiting but I didn't plan on much other than a daytrip to Calella.

I'd base myself in San Sebastian for the Basque Country. I agree that it doesn't feel like a large town. You wouldn't necessarily need a car for this part of the trip. It's a trade off though - it's more convenient to have a car if you want to explore the interior cities or drive along the gorgeous coast. But parking in San Sebastian can be expensive. Perhaps renting for part of the time would work. That way you could focus the rental on trips that are not as easy using public transportation. If you decide to base yourself in one of the coastal towns (ie. Hondarribia, Getaria, Lekeitio) or interior then I would probably rent a car as the transportation connections wouldn't be as good.
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Jan 18th, 2012, 03:22 PM
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Last May, we traveled from B'lona, across the Pyrenees ( with an overnight at a Parador in Bielsa....beautiful). Our destination was San S, but we spent one night in St. Jean de Luz (on the coast, in France) before heading to our stay in San S.
We actually enjoyed out stay in St. Jean de Luz so much that we cut short our SS stay to return to St. Jean de Luz. We found it more relaxing. Clueless me, I was not aware that SS was as big a town as it was. Of course, the Fodor posting police have called me out for saying I wasn't crazy about SS, but we were just more in need of a smaller town for a few days.
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Jan 18th, 2012, 04:39 PM
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Interesting comment about the "Fodor posting police". The only thing I saw were posters commenting on the topic (link below). I believe most people do a little research on the destinations they choose before taking a vacation. If San Sebastian didn't meet the person's ideal of a small relaxing beach village a little reading prior to making the plans would have probably been helpful.


http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...bastian-is.cfm
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Jan 19th, 2012, 04:16 AM
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Uh-oh, the posting police are baacckk!
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Jan 19th, 2012, 04:33 AM
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i think begur would be great, although staying in cadaques would also be nice (but it may be a bit of a trek to explore the surrounding areas!) you def want a car, there are amazing scenic drives and secluded spots that are really only accesable with your own transport. It also means that you are not reliant on bus schedules etc.

another interesting option would be to see if you could rent a self catering house in the surrounds. There are plenty of beautiful "Masias" available on Escapadas Rurales .com and may offer a different and unique aspect to your stay. Often the houses are historic and set in amazing surroundings, with options to hike, bike, etc ( http://www.escapadarural.com/ )many also have pools, and other facilities.

if you have a car you can always drive into the local village / town to go to restaurants or pick up produce at the market and cook or barbecue in your own spanish home
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Jan 19th, 2012, 04:41 AM
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You shouldn't miss out on San Sebastián (pop 185 000), but you might also consider small Lekeitio (pop 7000) on the beautiful coastline between San Sebastián and Bilbao. Mikel lives in close by and vibrant big city Bilbao (pop 350 000):
http://mugalari.wordpress.com/2009/11/23/lekeitio/

The article "A different kind of Spain" should give you a good idea of fabulous San Sebastián, my favourite city on the planet: http://marshlands.blogstream.com/
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Jan 19th, 2012, 07:11 AM
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Thanks to everyone for the great advice and links. I loved San Sebastian, and sort of understand to concept of a big/small city. Sevilla is like that, I spent most of my time in a totally walkable area. I'll probably be back with more questions and of course a trip report when it's over.
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Jan 19th, 2012, 11:11 AM
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Begur and San Sebastian sound great to me. I can't imagine not staying in San Sebastian but if I had to choose somewhere else it would be Getaria or Lekeitio.
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Jan 19th, 2012, 12:01 PM
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If you have already been to SS, then perhaps you are seeking something different, and I look forward to your trip report! Perhaps somewhere inland in the vicinity of Vitoria if you will have a car, giving you easy access to wine areas and the coast.
Some of the small coast towns felt so small in that they lacked as many good food choices, but were quite stunning. I say narrow down the day trips you certainly want to pursue, then pinpoint the perfect town. Enjoy!
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Jan 19th, 2012, 12:31 PM
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I think yorkshire has given some great advice about choosing the daytrips and then figure out the best base from there. It's so true about the smaller towns. I remember staying the night in Onati (a beautiful interior town) once and the food options in the evening were quite lacking (during the week especially). We walked around for an hour and ended up just having a nice plate of jamon with some bread at a small bar.
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Jan 20th, 2012, 02:12 AM
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Fabulous and expensive seafood restaurants in tiny Getaria, just west of San Sebastián.

Elkano and Kaia Kaipe are the most famous, but there are more down in the small harbour.

Elkano: http://www.restauranteelkano.com/en_restaurante.htm
Kaia kaipe: http://www.kaia-kaipe.com/

If you stay the night, Hotel Saiaz might be an option. http://www.booking.com/hotel/es/saia...21592;idjaz=15
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Jan 22nd, 2012, 07:48 AM
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Thanks, everyone, for the great advice. I found a blog from somebody on this board that us focused on Pais Vasco. Sorry, working from my phone right now do will have to give the appropriate thanks to the person by name later. The article on the must-see places was perfect and I think we'll just consider that our general sn for that part of our trip. I still need to work through the car vs public transportation question, sounds like a car for at least part of Catalunya, hoping we don't need one for the entire trip. I'll be back!
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