SPAIN...The Less Discovered Places (??)

Sep 7th, 2018, 06:22 AM
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SPAIN...The Less Discovered Places (??)

I'm breaking off from the "overtouristed" Barcelona thread to begin a new one here.

Small background: My first trip to Europe was to Spain--summer semester in Valencia. Since then I've had the great fortune to be able to make many, many visits to this enchanting country, some of which are documented inn trip reports on this forum. Most recently I spent about 3 weeks in Ribera del Duero and Basque regions and then, a year ago, 2 weeks in Asturias with a foray to Astorga (small city which should be better known to foreign tourists, especially lovers of the work of A. Gaudi. This was the homeland of the Maragatos, a people who were unknown to me before that trip...).

I've been to many of the better known destinations; this winter I will take a solo trip to Seville and Cadiz, spending about a week in each place.

Food is of primary importance--discovering local/regional dishes. I am happy to eat at a smoky bar, or an upscale restaurant, as long as food is good and I will discover something new, or revisit much-loved dishes from past visits.

WHEW! Ok...which brings me to the point of this thread:

In the opinion of those who know the country very well, which areas merit a visit? Areas that might not be known to the first, or even fourth-time tourist? For example, my elderly neighbors, well into their 80s, returned two years ago from a December visit to Cabo de Gata, an area which I had not heard about before and which they loved. And on the other thread which I mentioned, above, two well traveled posters here have recommended the southern Catalan area of Terres de'l'Ebre, and also the city of Zaragoza, which I've never visited.

And one of my doctors returned from a summer visit (after a meal at the steak house near Astorga that brought us to that undiscovered city) to the UNESCo site of Las Medulas, which I'd likewise not heard much to learn!!!

And if you are interested in the restaurant that brought us both (my physician and myself) to that area, it's this one, but the dish there that will be forever embedded in my sensory memory is the cecina, not the steak...

And without the tips from dear Maribel, I would never have visited the lechazo (roast suckling lamb) meccas of Sepulveda and Pedraza. thank you, Maribel!

Getting back to the original topic, which areas/cities would you recommend for someone looking to veer well off the beaten path in Spain? I have a feeling that the Canary Islands would make a great destination (??) But looking here for areas on the mainland......

As my Mom would say, "I'm all ears!!" And thank you!
ekscrunchy is online now  
Sep 7th, 2018, 07:11 AM
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Zaragoza is definitely worth a visit, imo
danon is online now  
Sep 7th, 2018, 07:14 AM
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What about the Balearics or the Canary Islands. More than just holiday resorts.
hetismij2 is offline  
Sep 7th, 2018, 08:46 AM
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I would definitely recommend that everyone stick to the tried and true; Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Granada.

Last edited by cdnyul; Sep 7th, 2018 at 08:49 AM.
cdnyul is offline  
Sep 7th, 2018, 08:56 AM
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The Less Discovered Places

The Balearic Islands are worth a visit, but only off season. It's been a few years, but we spent two weeks exploring Extremadura. And of course, for the top restaurant, try Restaurante Atrio in Cáceres. There are a few others, but not that many.

The inland area of Cantabria is worth some time.

The El Bierzo is also worth a few days. Good food and a terrific landscape. Too bad the Parador in León willl be closed for another year or so.

And if you haven't been up along the northern coast of Galicia, then plan a few days. Beautiful!

There are more, but this is a good place to start planning.
Robert2016 is offline  
Sep 7th, 2018, 09:07 AM
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I assume that you have visited Segovia and Avila, but what about Leon and Salamanca, especially the latter? You make no mention of the Extramadura (Caceres, Merida).
Michael is offline  
Sep 7th, 2018, 12:14 PM
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You went to Asturias but missed out on the wild beaches?
Parque Natural de Somiedo/ Riolago de Babia?
Parque Natural Arribes del Duero ?
Comillas for more Gaudi?
to name abut a few
ribeirasacra is offline  
Sep 7th, 2018, 12:37 PM
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Lots of other great places to stay in Leon besides the Parador.

Barderas Reales Desert
Olite, Ujue, Monastery Leyre

When you were in Astorga did you also visit Ponferrada? Also Lugo
isabel is offline  
Sep 7th, 2018, 06:04 PM
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CACERES, Trujillo and Extremedura.

Just visited them this spring and I am hooked.
Aramis is offline  
Sep 7th, 2018, 07:34 PM
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I'm sure you know this already, but FWIW, the guidebooks that are most likely to cover "less discovered" places are, IME, the Michelin Green Guide, Rough Guide, Lonely Planet, and National Geographic Traveller. And, of course, Mirabel's guides.

Good luck!
kja is offline  
Sep 7th, 2018, 11:44 PM
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Yes, Loved out two short visits to Extemadura and would love to go back. Actually had a booking at Atrio (thanks to Maribel) but canceled due to being to tired) Jarandilla and the Jerte Valley also merit a return. Wrote a trip report about our visit there..

Sorry Ribeira Sacra but we did visit some beaches in Asturias, which were glorious even in November last year...sunny and glorious weather we had. Where did I say that I did not go to the coast??

I was thinking of off season in the islands, too.

Isabel: Yes, really enjoyed four days in Burgos two years ago and have always wanted to visit Bardenas Reales and Tudela. Learned about that region from the photographer Burtynsky. And learned more from your comments here..your reports are always so informative, and the photos....(!!)

BARDENAS REALES, Unesco site and national park in Navarra

Yikes, so many places to to decide? Life is short! Look at how many ideas are on this thread!! Thanks so much for taking the time to respond here..let's carry on....

This winter will be Seville and Cadiz--simple since I am going solo and am too leery of driving alone.
Cadiz will be a new place and hope to get to Barbate; Robert you will know that town because of El Campero.

We are very fortunate to have Robert 2016 posting here and so free with good advice...

Last edited by ekscrunchy; Sep 7th, 2018 at 11:49 PM.
ekscrunchy is online now  
Sep 7th, 2018, 11:59 PM
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You don’t provide a full accounting of all the places you have visited in Spain, and then chide someone for not knowing where you have been? Wow.

Well, I certainly have no idea where you have been and I'm not about to try to find that out, but I can say that Las Alpujarras is not mentioned often on this board. But then, so far as I know, it isn't known for its culinary excellence, and so I wouldn't necessarily recommend the area for your consideration.

Last edited by kja; Sep 8th, 2018 at 12:33 AM.
kja is offline  
Sep 8th, 2018, 12:39 AM
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When you lived in Valencia, did you make it out into the Valencian Community? I have only been to Morella, really liked it, and have wanted to explore more but have not got around to it yet. It could be combined with a visit to the Ebro Delta area.

North of the delta, in a little town called Sant Carles de la Rapita, I had the best paella I have ever had. In a hotel restaurant on the sea, called Miami.

I’ll go to Cantabria someday just to eat the best anchovies in the world at the source. Have you already been to the Picos de Europa?

so much Spain, so little time.
rialtogrl is offline  
Sep 8th, 2018, 01:00 AM
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For the information of this forum:
Robert 2016 is Maribel's partner/husband!
As I said in the other thread resurrect you old posts. Then we can see where you have been I am not into second guessing or wasting time on persons who wishes reproach me.
ribeirasacra is offline  
Sep 8th, 2018, 02:57 AM
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Something about inland Andalusia: Ubeda, Baeza, Cazorla... and large tapas for free!!

Romanesque art in Palencia (not Valencia)
Romanesque Art in Palencia: cultural routes at Spain is culture.

For a foodie, the best tapas street in Spain: Calle Laurel in Logroño
Bars | Calle Laurel

Probably one of the least known areas of Spain, even by Spanish tourists
Revulgo is online now  
Sep 8th, 2018, 05:03 AM
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Barbate has some rustic restaurants which serve incredible seafood. The tuna boats come into shore and we have had fish that was cooked within hours of being caught.

The next village along is Zahara de los Atunes which we fell upon on our honeymoon 24 years ago. It was very sleepy, incredibly atmospheric - they trained the bulls to fight on the beach.

We were a little shocked when we returned two years ago to find a large amount a apartment development on the beach but this has encouraged a high end food scene. The restaurants are expensive but have an inventive play on seafood. It’s quite busy in summer with wealthy Spanish visitors but hardly any Northern European. I’m not sure if the restaurants remain open out of season. it’s well worth a visit.

We really enjoy the Pedro Domecq tour in Jerez but may be bias as Carlos 1 Imperial is my favourite brandy.
BritishCaicos is online now  
Sep 8th, 2018, 05:27 AM
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"Wow" yourself, KJA! Take a look at the trip reports I have written here...there are several on Spain. You want a "full accounting on where I have been in Spain??" Who the heck can remember all that over almost 50 years of travel to that country...and why do I need to do that?

KJA: This began as a lighthearted attempt to get an idea of some posters' favorite places off the usual tourist trail. Why are you bringing nastyness into this? Don't want to participate, then just stay away....want to share, I welcome your comments as I know you have also traveled widely in Spain.

Why would someone (Ian/Irene) assume that I had not been to coastal Asturias after I wrote that I had spent about two weeks in the region last year? We stayed 4 nights in Cofino and two nights near Luarca. He (Ribeira Sacra/Ian) stated that I had been to Asturias but missed out on the beaches. Why would one say that without knowing where I had visited?

How should I "resurrect my old posts??" What does that mean? It is easy enough to find my trip reports. I would guess there must be at least 6 here about Spain although I've had many more trips that I am too lazy to write reports on. BTW: I have been to Comillas, long ago on a trip that included Santillana del Mar and Santander. Does not mean that I would not consider a revisit......I LOVE SPAIN..shout it loud and clear. But most of my writings are about food, so perhaps not of interest to many readers here..

I know who Maribel and Robert are and they have been most helpful to me over the past 12 or so years that I have contributed here. . She/he NEVER puts people down or makes some kind of silly fuss about personal stuff.

Thank you to everyone here who has given me great advice. And for those who chip in only to make nasty comments, I sincerely wish you well.

British Caicos: I hope I can explore that stretch of coast even if it will be winter. My sister seems to be leaning toward a few weeks in Vejer, conincidentally. The odd thing about El Campero is that it looks to be booked out months ahead. Once I nail down my dates for the Cadiz parador I will call or write them to try to get a booking at the tapas bar, for the tuna...head,, brains, neck, spine...all on the menu!!! And I thought I was adventurous when I grilled a long piece of belly this week on my Weber grill!!

RialtoGirl, yes we went to Picos last year, and once before. We are not hikers but did take a great small walk uphill near Cofiño---I can give details if you like...I just cannot say enough about how great we found that area of the country. And the people!!!! For those of you bound for that area, make note of the lunch place Molin de Mingo...a keeper! I do not think they have a website and notohing much online in English. Go by the road from Arriondas or risk getting hopelessly lost!! But go!! There are lots of blogs for those who read Spanish, which give some good ideas about the area... And for people who look for Repsol Suns or Michelin stars, the region is brightly lit! We usually prefer less "fancy" eating places but did enjoy very much Casa Gerardo in Prendes and Casa Marcial outside Confiño. Casa Fermín in Oviedo..yes, yes, and yes......

To answer your questionRialto Girl: I ventured only into the Valencian hinterlands about 4 years ago when I had the good fortune to hook up with a poster here who lives in Valencia. Let me see if I can link that report. The soccorat managed to elude us but we had a fantabulous day thanks to Linda, our regular reporter here who lives in THERE is an underrated and somewhat undiscovered city!

¡QUE VIVA VALENCIA! Wandering and Eating amidst the Orange Blossoms

Revulgo I have never been to that part of Andalucia and I think there is much of that region that I've not explored. When I go alone I am hampered by my fear of driving solo. Thank you so much for your input here, and for many years in the past.

Here is my shamefully incomplete report on last year's visit to Asturias, which we loved! For those with no interest in food, I would recommend skipping this and, as I mentioned, ti is sadly incomplete..the next restaurant was Casa Gerardo of which we thought very highly.

CACHOPO, CABRALES & CARBAYONES Asturias..and "The Best Steak in The World"

Last edited by ekscrunchy; Sep 8th, 2018 at 06:19 AM.
ekscrunchy is online now  
Sep 8th, 2018, 06:32 AM
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In all of my reading of trip reports and asking questions here on Fodor’s, among the most helpful ones have been those written by ekscrunchy. We share a love of food and finding the most authentic places to eat and dine when we travel. And I will add Maribel for Spain. Our trip in the Basque regions of Spain and France were greatly helped by her answers to our questions and her printable online guides.
ekscrunchy, Profumo di Vino in Treiso still looms large in our memories of the Piemonte. Thanks for recommending it! HT
HappyTrvlr is online now  
Sep 8th, 2018, 09:02 AM
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if you are in Andalucia for some time, it is a relatively short ferry trip over to Tangiers.

I know everyone is at a different stage of their life cycle but I’ve found this area to be very similar to driving in the US. Urban areas such as Jerez and Seville are a little busy but even in August we have found nothing close to the anarchy of the motorways in the UK.

The rural roads are very well signposted, the towns are old market towns with agricultural land between and so navigation is pretty straight forward.

I’d really consider car hire.

Yes, I’m aware of the reputation of El Campero. It should be my favourite restaurant in the world but I haven’t eaten there! We have had either problems booking, August was impossible or having available reservations but being accompanied by our Italian friends who don’t like fish.

I love to hear about it if you get a table but don’t worry the area is swamped with small good restaurants.

Have you booked accommodation?

We we have stayed 20 miles inland from Barbate. It’s a Cortillo owned by the Gonzales Byass wine family and is a film set with its own church. It’s is very reasonable out of season, very much like a French Chateaux.

very well located for Seville, Jerez, Argos, Vejer and the coast.

Last edited by BritishCaicos; Sep 8th, 2018 at 09:09 AM. Reason: Correct
BritishCaicos is online now  
Sep 8th, 2018, 10:16 AM
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When I first travelled to Northern Spain about 12/13 years ago, the places I visited were off the tourist track for most non-Spaniards. I travelled through Asturias, Cantabria and Galicia, driving into the interiors. Stayed at places like Santilla del Mar, Orense, Vigo, Pontevedro, A Coruna, up in the Picos del Europa. I had a wonderful time getting lost in Galicia in places not even mentioned on my map. I'd had to look up my notes, but I was in some very far flung places.

I also spend a week driving trough Extramadura. Spent time in Ubeda, Baeza, and revisited in Spring this year.

Actually, I now try to avoid the 'usual' in every country, an enjoy the relatively, and increasingly hard to find, places that are not on the 'must see' map. Like I think I will never visit the Amalfi Coast.
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