Starting to plan--Northern Spain

Apr 4th, 2008, 08:55 AM
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johntd, when I click on the Flikr link you sent something called assista comes up, not your pix. I'd love to see them, though we've been to San Sebastian so my thought on this trip is to concentrate on areas to the west of Basque country per some of the good suggestions I've gotten on this site.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Apr 4th, 2008, 09:55 AM
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Hi all, my fellow Northern Spain lovers!

Didn't mean to disparage hard-working, friendly Aranda (a relative hails from there, the other cradle of great roast lamb!), but rather comment on the lack of really distinctive accommodations in town.

Glad to know about Casa Florencio, since we weren't impressed at all by the Mesón de la Villa. We did stop at El Lagar on Calle Islilla, just down the block from Casa Florencio, which struck is as a nice stop for wines by the glass and tapas, both for lunch and dinner.

You'll find the aforementioned spots on Calle Islilla 14 and 18, the pedestrian thoroughfare of Aranda.

I just returned from 7 straight days of feasting in the Rioja, dining on lamb in every possible guise. Our group gave prizes at the end of the week.

The honor of "best overall value, unpretentious, locals' family restaurant" goes to mikelg's favorite, José Mari, in Rivas de Treviso;

the best baby lamb chops grilled on vine shoots (chuletillas al sarmiento) goes to Remelluri winery;

the best and most gargantuan ox steak (chuletón) to family run Ariño in Labastida, where all the wine makers go (and chuletillas also superb);

the best creative desserts, to Héctor Oribe in Páganos;

best red beans (caparrones), at family dining room of Finca Valpiedra winery (worth the effort to email for a private tour here)

the best dining in the caves, to Los Calaos in Briones;

the best value wines by the glass, to Vinoteca La Ermita in Elciego;

best Michelin star is Echaurren in Ezcaray;

best "under the rader" gastronomic experience for you will be Venta de Moncalvillo in Daroca de Rioja.

(biggest disappointment: restaurant of Museo Dinastía Vivanco-now wiped off my list)

And julie, if you decide to include Galicia in your 2 week itinerary, please, please, please make that day trip from Pontevedra or Baiona to Viana do Castelo.

As bob well knows, it's an absolutely atmospheric, charming, pretty small city-the jewel of the Minho, I think.

I love it for the lovely, pure Manueline architecture, the animated central square, Praça da República, lively weekly market, handicraft (particularly lace) shopping, the delightful Pousada do Monte de Santa Luzia (we had a wonderful lunch there on our last trip), the views from the immaculately cared for Basilica Santa Luzia below, the pristine beaches, such as Afife, just north of town.

Here are some pics:

I'm so envious that you have Viano on your itinerary-I can hardly wait to go back.

Have lots of fun planning your next adventure!
Maribel is offline  
Apr 4th, 2008, 12:28 PM
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Each time I return to my computer I have new treats. This is wonderful. Thank you so much.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Apr 5th, 2008, 04:30 AM
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Maribel, you have disclosed one of my secret places, Jose Mari in Rivas de Tereso...a spot hard to find but great place to eat honest, simple food but of excellent quality. It´s better in spring and summer, when you can enjoy the outdoor terrace.

As per Ariño in Labastida, a very good place too for steaks.
mikelg is offline  
Apr 5th, 2008, 05:08 AM
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Stop, this isn't fair, now I want to go all those places too. Julie, didn't you just get home?
Nikki is online now  
Apr 5th, 2008, 04:39 PM
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Yup. Returned from Barcelona Feb. 29. Leave wed. April 9th for Paris. Then return to Paris and Loire May 5 to 12.

When we retired we said we were going to travel. That's our "job." It's all we do and we try to do it well. So far it's working out just fine.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Apr 7th, 2008, 07:36 AM
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Yes, I agree, Viano is my favorite destination in northern Portugal. Maribel, I have twice emailed the Casa do Castelo de Andrade with no reply. Do you assume they are not open yet?
bobthenavigator is offline  
Apr 7th, 2008, 06:42 PM
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I totally want to agree with the recommendation to go to San Sebastian--base there--tapas was invented there--unbelievable food city. Don't bother with Hondaribia--especially don't base there--maybe OK for a day trip, but not a lot to see and do.
travelri is offline  
Apr 7th, 2008, 08:47 PM
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Just in case you miss it, I'm sure Maribel has mention of El Bosque Pintado in her guides....truly a remarkably unique experience, quite close to Gernika. Try not to miss this experience.

Since you're coming down from Bordeaux, may I suggest an exceptionally lovely little hotel, on the beach at Bidart (5 kms. south of Biarritz)...Villa L'Arche...a commanding view of the Atlantic, miles of flat sandy beach.
We went on to visit San Sebastian, the painted forest, the Guggy and the beautiful beach towns on the Cantabrian coast...using both Bidart and Bilbao as bases.

We have our pousadas all booked for Portugal in May..BOBTHE NAVIGATOR...sorry we'll miss you, but we'll be driving in the south and middle, visiting Lisbon, Arrailos, Evora, Marvao, Belmonte, Nazare, Obidos, and Sintra vicinity...then off to the UK for London and The Cotswolds where we visited many times in the past. First visit to Portugal, my last remaining European country to be seen; have done 'em all in the last four decades (including all of the tiny ones).

I was told great things about Viano do Castelo, but we won't have the time.

Happy Travels, Julie...and Bob.
Remember my motto..."travel 'til you unravel"
Stu T.
tower is offline  
Apr 8th, 2008, 07:30 AM
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Have fun Stu---sorry to miss you.
You will love Marvao--we have been there twice.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Apr 8th, 2008, 07:41 AM
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San Sebastian is amazing and has the most incredible tapas ever seen.
Hondarribia and the Basque seaside are worth too.
Revulgo is offline  
Apr 8th, 2008, 08:07 AM
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Hi tower,
Your motto is my motto!

I can't imagine why Casa do Castelo de Andrade hasn't answered your two emails. They were very prompt with a Nov. reservation for me (but did require an advance deposit with c.c.). Have you tried calling them at 981 43 383?

I had the same trouble with another B&B in the area, Casa Fontao, who never bothered to answer my emails.

Our friends at Totally Spain represent the Casa do Castelo de Andrade, so I know they're still in business.

Totally Spain also represents the nearby Rectoral de Ines

and the more expensive (117€ double) Hotel Fraga do Eume, a Relais de Silence property.

And in the same area there's the Casa Outeiro

Maribel is offline  
Apr 9th, 2008, 08:45 AM
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Gracias Maribel, That one looks very nice--may try it or I may just add a 3rd nite in Santiago. We start in Ribadeo that day and I do hate one niters.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Apr 9th, 2008, 10:57 AM
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I'm not sure I understand "starting at Ribadeo that day".

Did you plan the overnight in the El Ferrol-Pontedeume area between Santiago and a night at the Parador at Ribadeo?

If so, you don't really *need* the overnight there, as the drive northwest from Santiago de Compostela to Ribadeo through Vilalba will take under 2 1/2 hrs.

However... by taking this fast route you'll miss the interesting scenery up in the coastal area between Origueira and Viveiro. I think that area is well worth seeing, but maybe not if you just have one day to dedicate to it. We allowed 2 nights to explore the area, but we didn't have any time constraints and were only doing Galicia.

If you like your hotel choice in Santiago and it's a good deal, you might just want to add another night there and spend one day of that exploring the rías, making a loop-Noja to Muros then up to Fisterra, even up to Muxía and Camariñas and back.

Just a thought...
Maribel is offline  
Apr 9th, 2008, 11:09 AM
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Comprende !
Yes, we are taking that coastal route and plan to meander. However, I may just go on to Santiago and avoid a hotel change.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Apr 9th, 2008, 11:17 AM
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hi bob,
Just out of curiosity, are you doing your trip starting in Portugal or ending there? Santiago before Viano do Castelo or vice versa?
Maribel is offline  
Apr 9th, 2008, 11:24 AM
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Starting In Segovia---ending in Salamanca--with Viano after Santiago. I do plan to stop in Baiona for lunch. Just a big square NW from Madrid.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Apr 9th, 2008, 11:46 AM
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Ah, bob, as you know, my three (out of 4) favorite S cities! Nice itinerary.

For your next trip, San Sebastián and La RiojaĦ
Maribel is offline  
Apr 13th, 2008, 12:26 AM
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Very concerned that San Sebastian is not getting the acclaim it deserves!! My choice in all of Europe. Clean, properous, friendly, walkable, and more Michelin stars per capita than anywhere on earth. Interesting and artistic food and you can go as light or as deep into your wallet as you like. A great base for Hondarribias [I agree, not a big deal], Bilbao [better than its rep], Pamplona, etc.

Agree on Santillana but there is a great local place on the right as you leave the parador heading into the village. Dirty windows, etc. However they have a superb "BBQ grill" [I'm from the US] in which the fire is above the cooking surface and the coals fall down to form the cooking area. Terrific pork with a condiment that will wilt your whatever. I was there on a Friday and Saturday night, sat at the bar, and it was families, loud, and fun. If smoke is a problem - don't go. If getting away from the other tourists is the objective, go.

I am a big fan of the small coastal towns. Llanes, Luarco, etc. Terrific food and not crowded [except for Spaniards]. Also, when poking around the Picos and you see a side road with a town name on it, take it! Every little town has a cafe and when you you walk in they will immediately wonder why you are there. You will have friends instantly.

Santiago: truly magical. Find someway to see the botafumiera. Together with the pilgrims, it is a moving experience. However, when you see what they have done and the devotion they have, you may be a bit humbled. Love the Tunas! Again, get out onto the rias and visit the smaller places. They are a people to admire.

weber6560 is offline  
Apr 13th, 2008, 04:08 AM
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Julie,try this;

I'm new to this! I'm feeling like an Old person! No ten year old's around to help.
johnthedorf is offline  

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