Northern Spain first time

Old Jan 23rd, 2005, 12:49 PM
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Northern Spain first time

I'm new to this whole process, so your tolerance and help is appreciated. We will be travelling to Spain in March to meet up with our 21 year old daughter who is studying in Granada and has break at that time. She wants to meet in Barcelona and then travel to Bilbao over the course of 9 days. Cities hoping to pass through would be Vitoria-Gasteiz(we are wine lovers) and San Sebastian. Please offer advice on possible itinerary and best way to travel, train vs car in different areas. I don't know how well 4 adults will fit in a car and given the amount of country to cover I thought train might be good for first leg between Barcelona and wine country. I realize this is alot of country to cover, but she and my husband really want to start in Barcelona.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2005, 01:15 PM
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There is no direct train service between Barcelona and the "wine country", as you put it, of La Rioja Alta and Alavesa (the Basque Country), or between there and Bilbao. You would be best off flying into Bilbao from Barcelona, where you can meet you daughter and pick up a rental car large enough for all four of you and what luggage you're carrying.

If you want to drive from Barcelona to La Rioja Alavesa, it will be a long day. I suggest you either stop in Pamplona for the night (about 5 hours drive from Barcelona) or check out the Parador Sos del Rey Católico, which is about an hour east of Pamplona.

From Pamplona it is only around 1-1/2 hours drive to Laguardia in the Rioja Alavesa.

Bilbao is about a three hour drive north from Laguardia, depending on the route you take.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2005, 05:05 PM
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Make sure not to miss San Sebastian. The food is incredible! There's a very convenient bus between Bilbao and San Sebastian, no stops, less than two hours. Check out www.maribelsguides.com.
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Old Jan 31st, 2005, 11:31 AM
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Driving in spain can be very scary. The cars they rent are small and the rate of speed used is fast. The Basque country is beautiful, do not miss San Sebastian. Ther are a lot of nice hostals in San Seb. If you can afford a 4 star do not miss the Maira Christina hotel in San Seb it is wounderful.
The bus between San Seb is the best way to travel as the train takes a very long time and stops at every stop. 2 hrs versus 5hours. Bilbao is expensive as far as hotels goes.
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Old Jan 31st, 2005, 02:16 PM
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do not be afraid to drive in spain. you go your own speed and stay to the right.. no problem.

it will facilitate visiting all the charming villages you will find between point a-b on ANY route..

there are so many lovely small places to stay/visit between barcelona dn bilbao.. however, if the weather gets snowy i would change your route. we have had extreme snow storms twice this year, one still hanging on in northern spain.

since easter is so early this year, would be good to determine your lodging the entire week of easter as everyone who CAN, goes away at some point.

there are "casas rurales" country b+b, at www.toprural.com,
then if you google "rutas de vino" you should come up with a lot of sites.

sounds like a funtrip.

p.s. really downsize luggage. no cars here have a very big trunk. soft sided large sports bags can be squeezed in better than hard-sided suitcases.
also, if you absolutely CANNOT get all the luggage in car, you can send ahead a case or two BY BUS to bilbao from barcelona.

you may want to look at the paradors, also for historic ldging occasionally in castles.. www.paradores.es

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Old Feb 1st, 2005, 02:17 AM
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You will almost surely run into some snow squalls in the mountains in mid-to-late March. Be prepared for that.

If it were me, I think I would bus or train Barcelona-Zaragoza and maybe pick up a rental car there. You could visit the Cathedral of la Virgen del Pilar and maybe even Fuendetodos, the birthplace of Francisco de Goya. You would be in Aragon, bordering la Rioja
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