Our Basque country fall 2019 trip

Old Feb 25th, 2022, 02:21 PM
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Our Basque country fall 2019 trip

Better late than never I guess, here is my trip report form a 2019 trip to beautiful Basque country.

Day 1 - We arrived in Bilbao in the morning. Rented a car and headed for Abalos. We didn't want to do too much driving on arrival, but thought we could manage this. It's no more than a 1.5 hour trip, pretty straight forward. Abalos is a small town in La Rioja, surrounded by vineyards. We stayed in Villa de Abalos, a charming hotel right in the town. Parking available at the hotel. Since we got there early, our room wasn't ready. We ordered some tapas for lunch while waiting, and walked around the town. We arrived on a Friday. Friday night they have a special, 3 glasses of wine for 2 + charcuterie plate for 12E. After settling in we went to their bar area for the Friday night special. We ordered the special, and a couple of Pintxos and that was dinner. The hotel also has a nice restaurant, but the bar food was enough. We chatted with some of the locals, and some other tourists. It was a fun night in an adorable town.



Villa De Abalos

Vineyards

Friday night bar special

Room window

Last edited by MFNYC; Feb 25th, 2022 at 02:26 PM.
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Old Feb 25th, 2022, 02:25 PM
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Yeah, the Basque Trip Report has commenced!
Glad you enjoyed your stay in teeny, tiny Abalos, our home away from home in La Rioja. José Luis and Merche are our dear friends.
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Old Feb 25th, 2022, 02:39 PM
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As teeny tiny as it is, we still had trouble finding the hotel! And with the stick shift, my husband had trouble getting up the little hill to the hotel. A lady living on the corner there had assisted with pointing us in the right direction. Unfortunately Jose could not give us tour of their winery, but we did find an alternative (coming in day 2).
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Old Feb 25th, 2022, 02:50 PM
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So pleased to see this after my trip to the Basque country in June 2020 had to be postponed for obvious reasons.

I am determined to get there one day soon so welcome all your descriptions of your experiences and your lovely photos.
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Old Feb 25th, 2022, 04:00 PM
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Day 2 - Before leaving Abalos, we decided to check out a winery. We were directed to Bodega Solana de Ramirez Ruiz, which is a few blocks from the hotel. When we arrived, it did not appear open. We buzzed the buzzer. Someone came over to us, and said someone will be with us in a minute. A young woman showed and offered a tour. This winery has been in her family for generations. She took us around, then we stopped in the tasting room. It was a little early for wine tasting, but I wasn't driving, so thought I'd have a taste. We ended up buying a couple of bottle, then headed back to the hotel to move on.




We headed to LaGuardia with a photo op stop at Balcon del la Rioja.



LaGuardia is a hill top town. There are parking lots along the perimeter. We found a spot, and headed to our hotel, Hospederia De Los Parajes, Another lovely hotel.


We had plans to meet up with friends in LaGuardia, but had some time so we walked around the perimeter, where there are lovely views.




We had planned for a Bodega tour before dinner. We went to Bodega Carlos San Pedro Perez, a couple of blocks from the hotel. It was a fun tour. There were some very interesting people in the group, so we lingered a bit chatting with some of them.

We met our friends back at the hotel, and had a very nice dinner there.

Last edited by MFNYC; Feb 25th, 2022 at 04:02 PM.
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Old Feb 25th, 2022, 10:50 PM
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Lovely pictures, thanks for sharing! Not many people know that Rioja wine region should not be mistaken with La Rioja, one of the 17 political regions Spain is divided into. There are three Rioja wine region in the D.O. C. (Denominación de Origen Calificada): Rioja Alta, mainly around Haro; Rioja Alavesa, in Laguardia and Labastida, Elciego...which is the Basque Rioja; and Rioja Oriental, formerly Rioja Baja, the eastern part of Rioja DOC that also includes a tiny part of Navarre. Keep going!
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Old Feb 27th, 2022, 08:23 AM
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Day 3 – One last walk around LaGuardia then hit the road






1st stop was to check out Gehry’s creation, Hotel Marqués de Riscal. We were not interested in a winery tour, and since we weren’t staying in the hotel, we were not permitted to drive up to it, or even enter the lobby. There’s parking near a gift shop. We went into the gift shop and one of the clerks, told us we can up there if we go to the café, he just had to make a call saying we’re on our way.. We already had breakfast and our morning coffee, but were curious we decided to go for another. The café was empty. It was late morning so I guess the breakfast crowd was gone, and it was too early for the lunch crowd. We sat outdoors, on their patio with a view, and ordered coffee. The wait staff was very friendly, we chatted with them about the building and winery. We then were able to walk around the building, in the lobby, and even the vineyards a bit.




Cafe patio view

Our destination of the day was St Jean de Luz. We made a stop in Pamploma for a light lunch and a look. Pamploma is a very cute and colorful town. We usde a public garage to park. Street parking seemed pretty impossible. It appeared to be siesta time when we arrived, so the streets were very quiet, at first, but boy did that change! The next thing you know the streets were packed. This could easily be an overnight stop if time allowed.


Pamploma


Packed Pamploma streets

In St Jean De Luz we stayed at Hotel La Marisa, a small local hotel a block from the beach. St Jean is small, so easy enough to explore on foot. The hotel had a garage where we arranged for a spot in advance. It was a tight spot to say the least, but we managed to get in and out without a scratch. The smaller the car the better in this area!





Beach in St Jean de Luz

View from Hotel window

We took a late afternoon break at Le Pub du Corsaire, and shared a delicious melted camembert with pesto. We had a dinner reservation, again with our friends (who followed us to St. Jean) at Le Brouillarta which now sadly appears to be permanently closed. The food was very well executed and inventive.


Dessert at Le Brouillarta

Last edited by MFNYC; Feb 27th, 2022 at 08:33 AM.
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Old Feb 27th, 2022, 09:11 AM
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I see that people are wearing fiesta handkerchiefs in Pamplona and I see them dancing, so depending on the day of the year there was probably some kind of festivals going on. In most of Spain there´s not much street activity from 3pm to 6pm, approximately. It´s when we are back from lunch and back to work, but then the streets get packed again around 7pm until more or less 10pm (weekdays), for our daily round of wines while socializing with family and friends. "Siesta" (nap) is more of a myth than a real thing for most people, except perhaps on weekends. Beautiful pics, thanks!
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Old Feb 27th, 2022, 09:29 AM
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The date in Pamplona was 9/29/2019. The dancing appeared to be in front of, what I think was, a church.

*Please excuse my misspelling of Pamplona in my earlier post.

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Old Feb 27th, 2022, 11:34 AM
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MFNYC,
Really enjoying your photos of my favorite Basque towns!

My late husband and I stayed in Lagurdia for many years during its Fiestas de San Felices, June 24-29, between the Fiesta de San Juan and Fiesta de San Pedro, when the villagers watch, or some "daring" ones run with the vaquillas (young calves, heifers), up and down Calle Mayor, back and forth, twice a day, kind of a mini Fiesta de San Fermín but with the vaquillas horns covered (a provincial regulation). We went out to the bull raising ranch in Los Molinos (no longer in existence) so that he could "help" in covering their horns, an interesting process!, followed by a big mid-day feast with the family. He loved Laguardia and those crazy fiestas.

It's nice that you did stop in Pamplona for a tour of the Old Quarter, as Pamplona is often bypassed outside of the Sanfermines. The Old Quarter is really pretty, very colorful, as can been seen in your great photos. And around 7:30 the pamploneses pack those lively bars and spill out into the streets, especially on "the street of the thousand bars", San Nicolás and around the Plaza Mayor.
It looks like the people might be dancing a jota, a typical regional dance of Navarra and Aragón.

Keep those photos coming!
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Old Feb 27th, 2022, 12:10 PM
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Sept 29 is San Saturnino, the patron saint of Iruña-Pamplona and co-saint of Navarre together with San Francisco Javier (Saint Francis Xavier), so yes, it was a day off and a day for celebrations (although we are not very religious any more, we love to celebrate our traditions!!).
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Old Feb 27th, 2022, 12:39 PM
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The Gehry hotel looked amazing. Super photos....like those in the Andalusia TR.

Last edited by TDudette; Feb 27th, 2022 at 12:44 PM.
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Old Feb 27th, 2022, 02:10 PM
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Day 4 – We had breakfast at the hotel (not included with room). It was OK, but nothing special. though their outdoor patio space was very pleasant.

We then headed by car to Train de la Rhune, and took the train up to the top of the mountain. We walked around to see all the views, and the horses. We had lunch at the café then took the train back down.






On our drive back to St Jean we first stopped in the charming little town of Ainhoa, then made a stop in Bayonne. Bayonne is another location that could easily be an overnight or home base for day trips.

Ainhoa

Ainhoa

Bayonne cathedral

Bayonne

Bayonne


Back in St Jean, we caught a beach sunset, than strolled around, a little but away from the main touristy area, to look for a dinner spot. We ended up at a very tasty pizza restaurant.


St Jean De Luz sunset

Day 5 – Had breakfast at a local café, Akeita Coffee, which was very good (better than hotel). After breakfast we packed up to move on. Our next destination was San Sebastian. We first made a photo op stop at Corniche Basque d'Urrugne. Then quick stop in town of Hendaye, and a lunch stop in the very cute town, Hondarribia. Lunch had a morrocan flair and was very good.


Corniche de Urragne

Corniche de Urragne

Corniche de Urragne

Hondarribia

Hondarribia

Hondarribia

Hondarribia

Hondarribia (I always take laundry photos, one of my favorite photo subjects)

As in most of the larger cities, we arrived in San Sebastian, and had a bit of trouble finding our way to our Pension, Peñaflorida. We had arranged parking through the Pension at a local public garage. The Pension was in an excellent location, right off Alderdi Eder parkea and within a couple of blocks to the old town. This guest house was perfectly fine, very reasonable, nothing fancy, just a floor in an apartment building. My only complaint was the young woman at the front desk. Not exactly friendly, in fact a bit surly, especially if she’s on a cigarette break and you have a question.


View from our room at Pension Penaflorida

Alderdi Eder parkea

After settling in, we walked around the beach horseshoe and took the funicular to the summit of Monte Igueldo. More great views! We were pretty pooped after that, took a city bus back into town, although we got on a bus going in the wrong direction, so had a bit of a bus tour of the outer reaches of San Sebastian. We were tired, so didn’t mind the ride and eventually got to where we wanted to be. That night we had a nice tapas dinner with our friends at a casual gastropub, Xiri Donosti.


San Sebastian beach

Walking along the beach

View from Monte Igueldo

View from Monte Igueldo




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Old Feb 27th, 2022, 07:01 PM
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Continuing to enjoy your photos!
It looks like you had a beautiful day for the train ride to La Rhune. Those horses that you saw on ride are the shy and sweet Pottokas, an ancient, semi-feral breed.
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Old Feb 27th, 2022, 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by TDudette
The Gehry hotel looked amazing. Super photos....like those in the Andalusia TR.
That hotel is a Marriott property. I didn’t stay there but did walk around the grounds and take some photos.

Loving your TR! Thanks!

Last edited by joannyc; Feb 27th, 2022 at 07:15 PM.
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Old Feb 27th, 2022, 08:47 PM
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Love your photos and information. Is Bayonne in France? Basque country looks so very different from Andalucia! What was your itinerary? How many nights in each place? So it looks like you have visited many different regions of Spain. Any favorites?
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Old Feb 27th, 2022, 11:47 PM
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Bayonne, or Baiona in Basque, is the most interesting town in the French Basque Country, frequently overshadowed by the (undeserved, I think) fame of Biarritz. Spain is a very heterogeneous and different country from east to west, north to south, in terms of architecture, languages, traditions, food, landscapes...and so, the Basque Country has little in common with Andalusia.
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Old Feb 28th, 2022, 02:30 AM
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This is wonderful! We also had a trip planned in Spring 2020 which we had to cancel. And this is reminding me that we would love to get to this region someday soon!
Thanks for taking the time to do this.
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Old Feb 28th, 2022, 05:43 AM
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Still enjoying your continuing trip and photos very much, MFNYC. And loving your itinerary too. lots of food for thought.
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Old Feb 28th, 2022, 06:11 AM
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When I was looking at possible places to stay in French basque, I considered st Jean de luz, Biarritz and Bayonne. I knew I could onLy stay in 1 and maybe visit another for quick look. Biarritz sounded a bit too flashy for my tastes as far as a place to stay. St Jean is also a beach town, and I liked that idea just for the beach scenery. I chose Bayonne to visit because it has different character than st Jean, historical and not beach town.

Some people prefer flashy which is fine. I tend to gravitate towards old town charm. It’s a win-win either way.
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