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San Sebastian

Old Nov 13th, 2010, 03:12 PM
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San Sebastian

We will be traveling to San Sebastian next May and wondering if anyone, who has been there recently, has some feedback for lodging, food and sights. We will definitely be going to Bilbao for the day to see Gehry designed Guggenheim. I have a list of eating spots started, but if anyone has something to add I would love to hear it. We will be taking train from France.
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Old Nov 13th, 2010, 08:05 PM
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We stayed at Parador Hondarribia, East of San Sebastian. Loved it. We rented a car in Bilboa and drove the area. If you want to stay in a castle...this is the kind of thing to look for.

http://www.paradores-spain.com/spain/phondarribia.html
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Old Nov 13th, 2010, 08:25 PM
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Stroll the old town. Stop and taste in the tapas bars.
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Old Nov 14th, 2010, 08:36 PM
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Thanks, we do want to stay in or near old town. Parador sounds wonderful, but we will not have a car so will be sticking close to town.
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Old Nov 14th, 2010, 11:45 PM
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San Sebastian for food, but I think that Bilbao, in spite of its reputation as an ugly industrial town, is more interesting than San Sebastian when it comes to sights.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...7623190654780/
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Old Nov 15th, 2010, 09:17 AM
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What is your budget for lodging?
If you haven't seen Maribel's guides they are excellent for this area.
maribelsguides.com
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Old Nov 15th, 2010, 09:52 AM
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I would stay in San Sebastian and stay as close to the old part of the city as I could. I think SS is all about food and no where do you have greater variety than in the Parte Viejo. Not sure of your budget but there is everything from hostels to 4 star in the area. Some time ago a poster mentioned Hotel Parma [I think] which appears to be a moderately priced hotel near the river and at the eastern end of Parte Viejo. I think it must be between Boulevard and the sea and across Boulevard from the Maria Cristina. That would be a very good location. SS has great local bus service as well as great intercity busses. An hour to both Bilbao and Pamplona.

I agree with Micheal: Bilbao is not the 'industrial" city we hear about but very interesting, good food, nice downtown area. Much more than the Guggenheim. The walk along the river is super.
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Old Nov 15th, 2010, 11:24 AM
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We staying at Vila Soro in San Sebastian - lovely comfortable place with free secure parking within easy walking of all the places you want to see (easy walking to me means in comfortable shoes not in a hurry). I got a great deal on LastMinuteHotelDeals to stay there - it's pretty pricey unless you secure a good internet rate.

Bilbao should not be attempted with a vehicle. It's crazy difficult to get around and unnecessary as their public transport is wonderful.
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Old Nov 15th, 2010, 11:42 AM
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Staying in the Parte vieja/Old town can be quite noisy. Villa Soro would be something quite special, so would Maria Cristina. Also check out Londres or Niza five mins away along the La Concha beach. Hostal Alemana, 50 metres from the beach and just behind both Londres and Niza is great value: http://www.hostalalemana.com/ingles/

For excellent food experiences, get ready for pintxos in San Sebastián: http://www.todopintxos.com/home/home.php?lang=en

Fabulous city!
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Old Nov 15th, 2010, 12:13 PM
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just for useful info, you may want to take a look at my blog as a local Basque, www.blogseitb.us/basquetourism...
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Old Nov 15th, 2010, 12:21 PM
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spcfa

You say that Bilbao should not be attempted with a car. We are driving there from San Sebastian in the morning to spend the day there before we fly at 5 pm to Madrid from the Bilbao Airport. Should we drop the car at the airport in the morning before we go in to see the city and take public transportation? I just assumed we would use the car in Bilbao and then just drop it at the airport in time for our 5 pm flight.
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Old Nov 15th, 2010, 12:25 PM
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Drop the car - you will be glad you did. We had excellent directions AND a GPS but spent a ridiculous amount of very stressful time merely getting to our hotel in Bilbao. It's old and streets are very narrow and all one way and so much is under construction that the GPS will send you on a variety of wild goose chases. I don't know what the transport is from the airport into town, but it has to be easier to negotiate than Bilbao in a car.
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Old Nov 15th, 2010, 01:03 PM
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OK then. Thanks for the great advice. I never would have thought to drop the car early. We can always take a taxi or bus from the airport to get to the areas we want to see in Bilbao. Do you know how far the airport is from the Guggenheim?
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Old Nov 15th, 2010, 01:17 PM
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Bilbao airport is some 10 km out of the city center where you'll find the Guggenheim, the Casco viejo/old town and everything. Bus is some 1-1,5€ and leave every 30 mins, taxi would be some 20-25€.
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Old Nov 15th, 2010, 01:52 PM
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Thanks everyone for great information. I have read Maribel on the boards, but link to her website is really helpful. Info is going on my Iphone. Mikelg, I will sit down and read through your blog. Looks great. Kimhe thanks for link and hotel info. Right now leaning towards Niza. Good location with some character and we will be taking bus to Bilbao for the day.

Need to figure out if we are going to fly into Paris and take train down or look for flights into Madrid. Sounds like train trip is about 5 hours from Madrid. We are ending up in Paris for work related conference, so might be good to do Madrid, San Sebastian and then head north to Paris with possible stop along the way.
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Old Nov 15th, 2010, 02:05 PM
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So Kimhe,
Do you agree that we should drop the car off early and not drive our rental car into Bilbao center city.

Thanks.
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Old Nov 15th, 2010, 02:12 PM
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Another option may be to fly into Bilbao then take the airport bus from Bilbao directly into San Sebastian (1 hour with frequent departures). In September I flew from Los Angeles to Paris, then had a short transfer and was in Bilbao 1.5 hours later. I booked the additional flight on the same ticket and the cost wasn't much more than flying just to Paris.
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Old Nov 15th, 2010, 02:26 PM
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Interesting, what airline did you use for lax-cdg-Bilbao flight?
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Old Nov 15th, 2010, 02:34 PM
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Air France - it's a codeshare with Delta. I love this flight because I can leave LAX mid-afternoon, then have almost a 10 hour flight (versus stopping in the Eastern US) and sleep, arriving in CDG by noon. I was in Bilbao at 2:40pm the next day so it was almost 24 hours (including a 9 hour time change). This was my 3rd year in a row visiting the Basque country but it didn't dawn on me to fly into Bilbao until this year. (I had been flying from Paris to Madrid).

This may not work for you but I thought I'd bring it up in case - and it may help others.
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Old Nov 16th, 2010, 05:07 AM
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glsebs,

A car in Bilbao shouldn't be that much of a problem. I usually do without a car in Spain and rely on the excellent public transportation. But driving and parking in Bilbao isn't worse than any other big city, even though the underground parkings can be a bit expensive.

It sounds much more of a hassle to first leave the car at the airport and then go into Bilbao before you go back to the airport, than to just park the car in Bilbao and then go to the airport. Wouldn't cross my mind unless you are going to finish your days in the Basque country with a great lunch with a bottle of wine and a heartwarming Patxarán to round it off...
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