Northern Spain Questions

Jun 4th, 2011, 05:09 AM
Original Poster
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Northern Spain Questions

Hi - planning a trip for next May. Flying into Barcelona and staying a few days, driving to La Rioja region and staying at Marques de Riscal for a few days, then have a few more days unplanned - thinking about going to San Sebastain and flying home out of Bilbao, but I am open to other suggestions on where to go for this last leg of the trip. Any thoughts on how to spend this end of the trip? If I should go to San Sebastain, where to stay? It seems Maria Christina is closed for renovations next year so that is not an option, but do want to stay somewhere very nice and potentially walk-able to restaurants. Thanks in advance!
larad is offline  
Jun 4th, 2011, 06:11 AM
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Belle Epoque San Sebastián would be an excellent option, one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, the food capital of Spain if not all of the continent, and a local culture that people take great pride in.

You could stay at old world Hotel Londres or close by Niza, right on the La Concha beach promenade. Just in the city center and five minutes walking to the Parte Vieja/Old town with the greatest concentration of the famous pintxos bars in food-crazy San Sebastián.

A great value alternative would be Pension Alemana, just behind Londres and Niza and 50 meters from the beach. Basic hotel standard and fabulous location:

Villa Soro would be a luxcury option a little out of the city center (15 mins walking, San Sebastián is small and very walkable). Nevertheless, close to the more local feel Gros district where you find many of the best pintxos bars. Also close to Arzak, rated among the ten best restaurants in the world for some twenty years (Arzak would nevertheless have to compete with three other restaurants to be the best in and around San Sebastián).
Villa Soro:

55 hotels in San Sebastián with guest reviews:

Lots of nice small villages along the scenic coastline towards Bilbao. Had the meal of my life in one of the restaurants in the harbour of close by Getaria in 1996. Something like this:

All about going for pintxos in San Sebastián, can easily be an affordable gourmet tour. Remember to ask for the warm house specialities who are made on order and prepared on the spot (some 2-3€ pr. pintxo). Have the dry and slightly sparkling local txakolí wine with the pintxos, and be sure to round off every? meal with the local and equally popular Pacharán liquor:

May is an excellent time of year to go. Spring will be there in full, and the hordes of the predominantly Spanish and French tourists are a couple of months away.

About San Sebastián in New York Times:
kimhe is offline  
Jun 4th, 2011, 07:49 AM
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I agree with kimhe that San Sebastian-Donostia would be an excellent place to spend your last few days before heading home, but don't forget Bilbao, since you will probably be flying out of the Bilbao airport instead of out of the airport in Hondarribia.

You might also be interested in reading Maribel's Guides to the Rioja and País Vasco.
Robert2533 is offline  
Jun 4th, 2011, 10:57 AM
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What is pintxo?
stevelyon is offline  
Jun 4th, 2011, 11:16 AM
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A pintxo is the Basque word for tapas, and most are considered haute cuisine.
Robert2533 is offline  
Jun 5th, 2011, 06:54 AM
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Just came back from a similar trip, but flew into and then out of Barcelona. 2 nights B'lona, picked up car, drove off to see Montserrat, then drove to spend one night in Parador Bielsa.
We actually had one unplanned night after Bielsa before our 4 nights in San Sebastian.

Decided to cross over the mtns into France, and ended up staying in St. Jean de Luz for a night at a delightful small hotel. Then, proceeded to SS.

In my own error, I completely misjudged SS. I envisioned a small coastal town with great pinxto-hopping places and great food.....which is true except that SS is a much larger city than we envisioned. We spent two nights in the "old town" section.....but all four of us decided we enjoyed the size and pace of St. Jean de we returned to spend two nights there prior to driving back to B'lona for our flight.
Not enough time to explore the coast to the west of SS, nor Bilbao.
We did stop for lunch and to walk the streets of Pamplona on our way to the airport, and found that to be a nice place.
Let me know if you need any more info. We REALLY enjoyed the Parador Bielsa...but not much to do there except walk/hike...but the scenery is beautiful.

We had a great trip. Would love to hear what you think when you return
ekellyga is offline  
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