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Thanks, Maribel, for the Northern Spain tips

Thanks, Maribel, for the Northern Spain tips

Oct 25th, 2000, 06:20 AM
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Thanks, Maribel, for the Northern Spain tips

Have been home three weeks and finally getting back to Maribel to thank her for the advice on northern Spain and our drive trip. Maribel, all your times and routes were right on the mark. We loved Bilbao, despite our arrival at the train station in the middle of the biggest ETA protest march I've ever seen. We found a taxi stuck in the march of several hundred thousand people and waited with him for nearly an hour until we could get to our hotel, the wonderful Lopez de Haro. The Guggenheim was exciting, mainly for its architecture. Two of the main exhibit halls were closed between exhibitions. We got our rental car and drove to Burgos, but just as we got there the beautiful Spanish sky opened up and we were in the middle of one of the most torrential rainstorms I've ever seen --thought we were back in Florida during Andrew! We sat in the car for awhile and decided it wasn't going to happen --we couldn't possibly walk anywhere and our umbrellas would have been blown away with us attached, Mary Poppins style. So we need to go back there for all your recommendations. Our favorite parador was the beautiful one in Leon, a magnificent room and spectacular dinner. We did as you said and visited the Royal Pantheon, but they only let you go with the a tour group which is only in Spanish. Here and there I got a word or two, and enjoyed the tour, but the tour guide was very long winded and the tour took nearly an hour and a half -- a number of people ducked out, but we stuck through to the end.
We arrived in Astorga quite early in the morning. It was a market day and the bakeries weren't yet open -- looking for your mantecada. We stopped in a little bar and had wonderful coffees and they brought a little plate with some doughnut sort of things that were wonderful. "Mantecadas?" I asked to the waitress who looked at me like I just landed from Mars. "NO!" she emphatically stated. After touring the market the bakeries were open so stopped and got the famous mantecadas. We bought six, ate four and threw the other two away -- needless to say they were not our favorite thing in Spain -- but I'd kill for some more of those doughnut things. Unfortunately there was some big special art event going on in both the cathedral and the Gaudi Palacio Episcopal. There were lines a mile long and they hadn't opened yet. We admired them from outside and decided to move along to get to Santiago. Brief stop in Villafranca and as you said a peek into the Iglesia de Santiago. We were a little disappointed with the parador at Santiago. It would have been wonderful, except it just didn't compare with the spectacular one in Leon. Our room was in need of repair --holes in the bedspread for example, and our meal (the regional tasting menu) was bland and boring. The service was terrible. We even had to get up and go get our wine off a nearby service table, because no one would refill our glasses. We spent two nights there and had a wonderful loop drive west and south to the coast with a great lunch in Muros.
What a beautiful area, and you've really got me intriqued about the Castillo de Collado in Laguardia. Would love to spend a little more time in the rioja area -- we surely drank our share of great riojas all over Spain during our three weeks there. After Portugal, we headed back into southern Spain for stays in Cadiz, Seville, Ronda, Madrid, Segovia, Toledo, and Cordoba -- but that's another whole story.
Thanks again for your expert advice. It seems like we missed out on a lot of what you suggested, but we loved it anyway.
Oct 25th, 2000, 06:31 AM
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Hey Patrick! I'm very intrigued by all your stories. I'm sure somewhere you've posted your whole itinerary but would you mind giving a brief overview of everywhere you went? Have you already written about southern Spain? I'm going in a few days and would love to read about your experiences there. Also, I'm really curious about what you do for a living or how you managed a 5 month trip. If you think that's too personal, never mind.
Oct 25th, 2000, 08:34 AM
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I am a semi-retired interior designer in Florida --still freelancing during the "snowbird" season, but taking off from the hot and humid Florida summers from the first of May to the first of October. While a lot of my friends have summer places in North Carolina or Michigan, we prefer to travel all summer. As to my reports, there were early ones from London, Greece and Turkey, and bits and pieces along the way, but I'm afraid I really haven't organized all my thoughts. My original post with itinerary was "Yes, it is a long trip and no, I'm not lying." You should still be able to bring that up on a search. Since I have been posting so many little comments in other posts along the way, now I feel that everything is a repeat. Next summer will be in the states, across Canada and Alaska, then California for a month and a half before back to Florida, so I may not be posting here as often as before, but I am addicted to checking out the European site. Not sure how I will manage not visiting Europe at all next year. Incidentally, this summer we met Fodorites Tara from Chicago at the Esbellie Evi in Capodoccia, Turkey, and Tim from Hartford in Athens, Greece. We talked about our travels and both responded with something like, "Oh, you're THAT Patrick." It's amazing how many fodorites one runs into all over the world.
Oct 25th, 2000, 08:36 AM
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Your trip sounds great. I made a similar trip in April (to Bilbao, Burgos, and San Sebastian) and used the advice provided by Maribel extensively. Her hotel and restaurant recommendations were right on the mark. Unfortunatley I have not seen her posting anymore. I hope the more ridiculous posters didnt scare her off, since she was a valuable resource!
Oct 25th, 2000, 02:27 PM
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Have you heard from Maribel, Patrick? I haven't heard from her since June. I've seen maybe a couple of posts in September but then she vanished once again. I also wanted to thank her. She was right on the money on everything concerning bus transportation from Madrid (Toledo, Salamanca) and I discovered to be her twin soul regarding dining out ... I just loved ALL the restaurants she recommended in Madrid we've been to.

Feb 3rd, 2001, 09:34 AM
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Bringing this to the top for Guggenheim question.
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