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Travel advice for two weeks in Northern Spain

Travel advice for two weeks in Northern Spain

Old May 24th, 2009, 08:19 AM
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Travel advice for two weeks in Northern Spain

My husband and I will be traveling to Spain in September with two other couples. It will be our 5th trip to Spain, but our first with these friends. We will be traveling in Northern Spain to Asturias, Galicia, and La Rioja. Our only plan is to rent a house in Cantabria to allow us time to explore Asturias. We arrive in Madrid and were thinking of flying directly to Santiago then renting a car for a drive along the coast to Cantabria. We were thinking we could stop in La Rioja for a few days before we return to Madrid for our flight home. We want our friends to experience La Rioja as we did in 2004 using Maribel's suggestions. Any Spanish experts have suggestions for our itinerary? Any suggestions for cooking schools or other foodie experiences in these regions?
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Old May 24th, 2009, 12:05 PM
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I don't know how much touring you are planning on doing in Galicia, Asturias and Cantabria, but two weeks really doesn't allow you all that much time to relax and enjoy the region. Galicia alone is worth a week, and it would difficult to cover much ground in Asturias and Cantabria and still leave two days in the Rioja before returning to Madrid for your flight home.

Covering the coast of Galicia, Asturias and Cantabria could reasonably be combined in a two-week period. If you wanted to explore inland, say to Fuente Dé and Potes in the Picos, then you should plan on spending the night.

If you want to include the Rioja for a couple of nights, then you will need to allow one extra night on the road back to Madrid. The Rioja is too long of a drive to the airport in Madrid unless you plan on leaving before the sun rises. Pedraza makes a good stop if driving south on the A-1. The Parador Sigüenza works if you are following the A-2/E-90.

If you don’t include the Rioja on this trip, then you can fly back from Oviedo, Santander or Bilbao.
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Old May 24th, 2009, 11:18 PM
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Living and working in Galicia I think you will find that with two weeks you should really consider one of the areas you have listed and stay there.
The reason? For example Galicia is 29,574 km² (that is 11 418.585 237 m²). You cannot even scratch the surface in two weeks.
If you can let us know more about what time of year what you like and the amount of time you have in Spain rather than the whole vacation then we can post some better ideas of what you ought to see.
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Old May 25th, 2009, 01:49 AM
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I checked, if there are cooking classes held in Potes, but there are none on a regular basis. I am afraid, you can find them only in the big cities like Santander.
I agree with ribeirasacra. I believe you will enjoy your trip more, if you are not trying to cover all those above mentioned areas. I would spend two weeks on the coast, in Santander (Cantabria) of Llanes (Asturias) for example, and perhaps another week in the National park of Picos de Europa (Potes, Cantabria).
There is a lot of driving involved if you are trying to cover both Galicia and La Rioja.
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Old May 25th, 2009, 10:44 AM
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I was vague with dates because we are having dinner with our friends this evening to finalize some of our dates and plans. I agree we are trying to do too much in one trip, but there is so much we wanted to experience with our friends. I have read many of the past suggestions for travel to Northern Spain posted here in the last year and realized yesterday we were probably attempting too much in two short weeks. Glad to know you agree with me. I will return tomorrow with more exact dates and travel plans. Thanks for your suggestions.
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Old May 25th, 2009, 01:25 PM
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A few days ago, I posted some questions about a trip to Santander and I got excellent response from Cova, Maribel and other experts with wonderful recommendations for daytrips:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ander-somo.cfm

BTW, we abstained from our original idea to visit La Rioja and, after careful research, decided to focus on Santander with daytrips from there, including a daytrip to Bilbao.

I must say, I found the above mentioned thread really mouth-watering and can't wait for our trip.
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Old May 25th, 2009, 02:38 PM
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Hi njjc,
Just like to say that I agree with all the folks above about your limiting your two weeks to just one of the regions mentioned above.

My husband and I try to practice the art of "slow travel" in beautiful Northern Spain simply because there is so very much of great beauty to see and do. We've learned through our business and pleasure trips not to try to cover all of Green Spain in one fell swoop, but instead to slow down and savor a particular region and get to know it well.

In Nov. we're headed to ribeirasacra's lovely corner of the world, and we've dedicated 17 days to Galicia alone, hoping finally to explore in greater depth the areas we've missed in the eastern section.

For our 2 week trips through Asturias we've made 3 bases-

in Picos de Europa (Cangas de Onís),
the eastern coast between Llanes-Ribadesella
the western coast between Luarca-Cudillero
We could even make a 3rd base in stunning Los Oscos but can day trip there from Luarca.

In Cantabria we've chosen 4 different bases for our 4 recent one week trips-

near Potes for exploration of the Cantabrian Picos
Trasmiera, just east of Santander
the Comillas-San Vicente de la Barquera area, just west of Santillana

If you choose a base in western Cantabria, near San Vicente de la Barquera, you could explore some of Asturias, but not all. The Asturias region is just too large to see from one single spot.

If you're in search of a Cantabrian rental for two couples for a week or more, you might be interested in these apartments, recently made from a Cantabrian manor home. They come nicely equipped, even with internet (much nicer than your average beach rental in Trasmiera). The manor home consists of eight one and two bedroom apts. They also come well recommended by a friend who knows them well, since they're in his "back yard".
They're not yet listed on www.toprural.com, which is another fine source for rentals.

For Asturian rentals, I also check www.bluegreenspain.com

For the Rioja D.O.C. on your way back to Madrid, I'd dedicate 3 days to re-explore, show to your friends and visit some of the new, exciting wineries opened recently. And if you visit during the harvest, some of the smaller wineries may have truncated hours. Most will be open but visiting may be more limited.

I wish I knew of a source for recreational cooking classes in Cantabria (I have sources in many other regions, but not there).
There's a prominent cooking school in Santander but for professionals.
The difficulty with finding day long cooking courses given in English in this area is the lack of demand-plus the fact that many chefs don't speak English.
I've sent out a couple of emails, so I'll let you know.

If one of you does speak Spanish, I do have a friend, a professional chef, who has given cooking lessons upon request at her inn in the Rioja. She doesn't speak English.
But foodie experiences abound in the Rioja with the plethora of find dining (some new spots I'll add soon to my Rioja guide, such as Amelibia in Laguardia).

In all of Northern Spain you can certainly have some fantastic foodie experiences. There are fine restaurants that I referenced for traveller1959, members of the Club de Calidad Cantabria Infinita. Great restaurants now in and around Santander.

And there's the exciting Casa Marical, in tiny La Salgar, Asturias, just south of the coast.
www.casamarcial.com

But again, I'd decide among just one of your 3 regions for your time.
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Old May 25th, 2009, 02:50 PM
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Sorry, here's the link to the Casona apartments:

http://www.lacasonadelcarmen.com/presentacion.htm
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Old Jul 1st, 2009, 07:52 AM
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I've been busy with work and haven't had time to post with the final plans for our trip and seek your suggestions. We arrive in Spain Sept. 19 and take a flight to Santiago where we will spend two nights at the San Francisco Hotel Monumento. We will rent a car drive and to Leon on September 21. We will stay in the Parador, Hostal San Marcos for one night before leaving for La Rioja. We leave September 22 and 23 in La Rioja. My husband and I stayed at the Hotel Villa de Laguardia during our last trip to La Rioja. Is that still a good choice? Any other recommendations? We have rented a home in Cantabria for a week. (Any suggestions for what to do in Cantabria and the surrounding area are welcome.) Our last stop will be to San Se for two nights. I have checked many of the hotels Maribel suggests for San Se, but most are booked. There will be six of us so we will need three rooms. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance for your help in planning our trip.
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Old Jul 1st, 2009, 03:22 PM
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There are six of you in one car? Even if you have hired a seven seater then you may find you have little extra room for luggage.
Only staying one night in Leon after SdC means you will miss out on some gorgeous places in Galicia and Castile y Leon.
Where in Cantabria are you staying?
Once in La Rioja in September you should be aware that some bodegas (wineries) maybe closed to the public for the vendimia (harvest).
Sorry for so many questions but these points need to be cleared up so that you can receive some good information.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2009, 09:25 AM
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We will be renting one van and one car for our driving, we realized six people in one van would be too much! My husband and I toured Galicia with my cousins in 2000 including attending a mussel festival. Our friends are interested in experiencing as many cities as possible while we're in Spain so that's why we have chosen this schedule. We have rented a home in Cantabria which will be our home base for a week. I have read many posting on this site, especially from Maribel who suggests calling ahead to reserve a tour of wineries so we'll be certain to have that planned well in advance...
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Old Jul 2nd, 2009, 10:48 AM
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"Our friends are interested in experiencing as many cities as possible while we're in Spain so that's why we have chosen this schedule" ------only one day to drive between SdC and Leon you will miss some more cities, both in Galicia and in Castilla y Leon. Have a good trip, you sound as if you have it all planed out.
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Old Jul 7th, 2009, 11:13 AM
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We have made all our lodging reservations for our trip except for our last two nights in San Sebastian. Does anyone have suggestions for hotel/lodging in San Se for two nights for six people?
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Old Jul 7th, 2009, 01:58 PM
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If you're going to be in La Rioja during San Mateo (starts on Sept 21 and lasts a week) I'd personally stay in Logrono. I'd usually recommend staying outside of Logrono but during San Mateo there I'd stay in Logrono. You won't want to miss the activity in the city center.
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