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Starting to plan for 3.5 weeks in northern Spain, May 2015

Starting to plan for 3.5 weeks in northern Spain, May 2015

Dec 21st, 2014, 03:57 AM
  #101  
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 137
Yes, La Alberca is near the border to Extremadura. I have been there on a return trip to Madrid through Portugal after finishing Galicia. I have also tried Altamira, but gave up to visit it after glancing at a large number of big buses in a huge parking lot.
http://museodealtamira.mcu.es
How about Cueva de Santimamiñe (near Gernika), instead, though I have not seen inside. I arrived there after the opening hours and just enjoyed a hike in the woods to the cave...
http://www.xn--santimamie-19a.com/es/
http://www.gernika-lumo.net/es-ES/Tu...ntimamine.aspx
http://www.showcaves.com/english/es/...ntimamine.html
LuisJp is offline  
Dec 21st, 2014, 11:47 AM
  #102  
kja
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@ LuisJp -- wonderful! I'm definitely going to keep that cave on my radar -- and the Oma Forest, too! Thanks for sending me the links. Too bad that Altamira gets that crowded -- I appreciate the warning. Are there other caves with prehistoric paintings in this part of the world that you (or any one else who is reading along) particularly recommend?
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Dec 21st, 2014, 02:18 PM
  #103  
 
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In Cantabria, http://cuevas.culturadecantabria.com...sh/default.htm, plus the best ones on this region, El Soplao.

In the Basque Country, Pozalagua (voted best spot in Spain in 2013, http://www.guiarepsol.com/en/tourism...ozalagua-cave/, I live close and love it!), Santimamiñe, Arrikrutz, Ekain, Zugarramurdi, Sare, Altxerri...

Not all have paintings on them, but really worth a visit.
mikelg is offline  
Dec 21st, 2014, 02:46 PM
  #104  
kja
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@ mikelg -- thanks so much! I'll definitely look into these options.

Oh, how I love this board and its contributors!
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Dec 22nd, 2014, 06:05 AM
  #105  
 
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mikelg's post reminded me of my visit to a cave near Ribadesella, Astrias (but up to the entrance again, though) and I found it was selected as World Heritage (after my visit).
http://www.centrotitobustillo.com/es...o-mundial.html
According to the UNESCO site, Tito Bustillo (Ribadesella) is ranked as the 3rd, Santimamiñe (Gernika) as the 16th, and Altamira (Santillana) as the 1st (of course).
http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/310/mu...ue_number=1506
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Dec 22nd, 2014, 07:48 AM
  #106  
kja
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@ LuisJp -- Oh, that cave looks awesome! I didn't realize that the UNESCO list was ordered by ranking -- what a useful thing to know. Thanks again!
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Dec 22nd, 2014, 08:02 AM
  #107  
 
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Of course I´d forgotten Tito Bustillo, a classic in prehistoric caves!!!!! Sorry!!
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Dec 22nd, 2014, 02:09 PM
  #108  
 
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ribeirasacra, not sure what you mean by "Does not make any sense” referring to my note of rain and drizzle on the 3rd week of August.... As if I was trying to bash Northern Spain... It was this past August... The fact the whole area is rich with lush greenery just proves that rain is common, and it’s not hot, unlike Central and Southern Spain. Simple logic, and it does make lots of sense....
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Dec 22nd, 2014, 02:11 PM
  #109  
 
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Tito Bustillo, yes, very popular, but you'd better check when it's open. We were there, we wanted to visit but it was close that day (I THINK it was a Tuesday, not sure).
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Dec 22nd, 2014, 02:31 PM
  #110  
 
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I know you was not bashing Northern Spain but a simple Statement does not help anyone looking at some facts.
Seeing as you was here in August there was more rain in Galicia for that month since around 1991. So your summer experience one could say is almost a one off.
I think it was a poor summer over most of Spain this year.
Here is a blog stating that that August had lower temps than July 2014 and that the south of Spain hardly got to 40degs. The lowest it has been for around a century.
http://maldonado.eltiempo.es/tempera...de-julio-2014/
During the month of August there was not a single heat wave in Spain.
Whilst North Spain is relatively green to southern Spain we still have red wine areas which are known for there Mediterranean climates and we can still grow olive, oranges and lemons. So it cannot be that wet all over.
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Dec 22nd, 2014, 02:44 PM
  #111  
 
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well, they don't call the northern coast of Spain the "Costa verde" for nothing. but OTOH, you can't judge a climate and predict the weather just by what happened in one week in August.

so in an average year, you can expect the area to be hot in the summer, But you can also expect more rain than in the rest of Spain.

trouble is, who knows whether at the time you are visiting, it's going to be an average year to not?
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Dec 22nd, 2014, 04:58 PM
  #112  
kja
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I love checking in and seeing that I am still getting great advice -- thanks so much to all of you!
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Dec 22nd, 2014, 10:25 PM
  #113  
kja
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I’ve just spent a very pleasant few hours looking up caves. I have more research to do, but thought I’d check to make sure I understand my options correctly.

From what I can tell, the caves with prehistoric art (numbered per the UNESCO list) that would likely be open when I am there are are:

1. Altamira, except that what is open is a museum with a reproduction. Is the reproduction done well? Better / worse than the one at Lascaux? (BTW, I’m not listing any of the other open reproductions – I’m making an exception for Altamira.)

3. Tito Bustillo (with superimposed paintings covering millenia – sounds awesome!)

6. El Pindal (some unusual representations; “stunning” location)

8. Hornos de la Peña (mostly engravings, rather than paintings, and so a nice way to add to the diversity of my experiences)

9 & 10. El Castillo and Las Monedas of Monte Castillo (El Castillo has handprints dated from 40,000 years ago? WOW! That may seal the deal on this cave system!)

13. El Pendo (in addition to cave art, artifacts from a settlement)

15. Covalanas (unusual stippling of outlines, near Cueva Cullalvera, which sounds like it may also be worth visiting)

16. Santimamiñe (art in a geologically interesting cave, situatied in a biosphere reserve, near an archelogical settlement – lots to recommend it!)

Am I correct in understanding that Sare (aka Lezea) has signs of habitation, but not art, and is just across the border in France?

Although they don’t have prehistoric art, Arrikrutz, Pozalagua, and El Soplao have unusual rock formations that I would enjoy seeing – thanks for bringing them to my attention! I’ll probably plan on visiting at least one or two of these, depending on what works with my final itinerary.

My impression is that Zugarramurdi is more about the history of witchcraft than either art or geology. Is that correct?

Also – it seems that I could visit many of these caves from places that are already on, or likely to be on, my itinerary (e.g., Bilbao, Potes, Oviedo, perhaps Gijón). If I want to visit several of these caves, should I consider a stop in / near Santander to be closer to some of these sites, and if so, what places to you recommend?

Thanks again!
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Dec 23rd, 2014, 01:04 AM
  #114  
 
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1- Altamira, the reproduction is awesome, but try to get tickets in advance

2- The location of Santimamiñe is stunning, but the cave is not visited in full and the painting cannot be seen now. I´ve seen them many times years ago, but today they´re closed to the public. Worth the scenery, though. Very close by, the Oma Painted Forest, a real must during your visit, if the cave does not suit your likes.

3- Sare / Lezea (Basque), no paintings but a nice presentation of the cave.

4- Zugarramurdi is more about witchcraft, but equally impressive to see. Beautiful surroundings.

5- Gijón, Oviedo, Bilbao, Santander and San Sebastián, as major cities, would be good options. If you want a more rural and cozy lodging, try www.nekatur.net, for great farm accommodation in the Basque Country, and www.logishotels.com in France.
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Dec 23rd, 2014, 02:02 AM
  #115  
 
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I also recommend a visit to Zugarramurdi and the witches
http://www.guiarepsol.com/en/tourism.../zugarramurdi/
http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/cave-of-zugarramurdi

Here the witches in the 2013 horror-comedy Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi/The Witches at Zugarramurdi have an excellent Sabbat (Akelarre in Basque, re the three star restaurant) to the song and tones of the deeply beloved Basque singer-songwriter Mikel Laboa (1934-2008) and the brilliant San Sebastian city choir Orfeón Donostiarra. Doesn't get much more Basque than this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05THbZV7K58
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Dec 23rd, 2014, 03:22 AM
  #116  
 
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... and here's the link, not as good as the old one, but it gives you an idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxVFemjuJjM
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Dec 23rd, 2014, 04:59 PM
  #117  
kja
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@ mikelg -- thanks once again, for the info and the links! And for clarifying the situation at Santimamine -- some of the sources I consulted suggested it was open, others that the painting is no longer accessible. Too bad, but I can't argue with restricting access to preserve the artwork. It does sound like there is much to enjoy at Santimamine (including the Oma Forest), even if the paintings can't be seen.

@ kimhe - thanks for the links! Awesome scene, and OMG, I can see why Laboa was much loved.
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Jan 3rd, 2015, 12:33 AM
  #118  
kja
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I have posted an initial and very rough itinerary on this new thread: please use it for any further comments. Thanks!
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-catalunya.cfm
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Feb 11th, 2015, 12:20 PM
  #119  
 
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Bookmarking
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Jun 10th, 2015, 09:49 PM
  #120  
kja
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I am back from a wonderful and memorable trip-of-a-lifetime to this awesome part of Spain! For more info, see:
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...m#last-comment
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