Travel help requested for Northern Spain

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Jun 11th, 2003, 08:47 PM
  #1
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Travel help requested for Northern Spain

My husband and I are planning our itinerary for our 8 day trip to northern Spain at the end of August. We would like to spend the majority of our time relaxing in San Sebastian and Biarritz and enjoying the beach and food; also, would like to see Frank Gehry's museum in Bilboa. Currently, we have tickets reserved to fly into Barcelona where we plan to spend one night. We are thinking about driving unless taking the train is much easier. Would love to get some ideas on interesting/scenic driving routes to San Sebastian/Biarritz and then back to Barcelona. Any additional recommendations/thoughts on our itinerary and "must sees" would be greatly appreciated. Lastly, please let me know if we are being overly ambitious with what we would like to do since we only have 8 days. Thank you!
nikkil is offline  
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Jun 12th, 2003, 05:05 AM
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Northern Spain includes the Autonomous Communities of Galicia and Cantabria as well as the Principality of Asturias (also an Autonomous Community). If you are interested in Beaches and great sea food you might want to consider Santander (playa del Sardinero) and its Barrio Pesquero. I personally like Santander as a 'base' for visiting Santillana del mar, Comillas, and Potes, Capital of Liebana nestled in the Picos de Europa.

The Basque cuisine in Bilbao (not Bilboa!) is also quite excellent.
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Jul 31st, 2003, 03:16 PM
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The museum in Bilbao is so gorgeous-just unbelievable - you will never forget the experience. I took the bus from San Sebastian which I can recommend. Try to stay and see the light changes on the museum through out the day.

Don't know how to get you from Barcelona to San Sebastian - though I love the Pyrenees so it would probably be a wonderful drive hugging that route.

Enjoy!
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Jul 31st, 2003, 06:37 PM
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This doesn't really answer your inquiries, but my wife and I are planning a similar 8-day trip the second week of Sept. We're spending the 1st 4 nights in BCN, then flying to Bilbao. We'll then spend the next 3 nights in either San Seb. or Hondarribia [or some combi. of the 2], and a final night in Bilbao near the airport because we fly out of Bilbao early the next day and transit in BCN to return home. I'll be posting some hotel questions soon because we have multiple reservations at present in each locale. But, just wanted to let you know that the domestic round trip flight between BCN and Bilbao, which I booked separately from my international ticket in and out of BCN, was very cheap, about 4 times cheaper than a round trip between BCN and San Seb. We're renting a car when we get to Bilbao so that we can day trip to St.Jean de Luz [is that it?] and to the Guggenheim and anywhere else we might want to go if we're not on the beach. Look forward to your report -- maybe you'll post one before we leave. I'll be happy to discuss our hotel plans.
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Jul 31st, 2003, 06:38 PM
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Take the route thru the foothills of the Pyrennes from Pamplona to St. jean Pied du Port and St. Jean du Luz and then to Biarritz. The best of the Basque country--very scenic.
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Aug 1st, 2003, 04:58 AM
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Bobthenavigator is right on re the drive east out of Pamplona. It is terrific. Roncesvallee is beautiful. A very entertaining and enlightening book about the entire area you will be visiting is "World History of the Basques". It is not long, an easy read, [don't be put off the word "history"]and really give you a backdrop to appreciate what you will be seeing.
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Aug 1st, 2003, 02:49 PM
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nikkil and wayno-
just returned from Basque country two days ago. First recommendation, pull up all of Maribel's posts and follow her advice. We did as to many aspects of our trip and were amazed at how accurate and insightful her information/advice is. We had 9 days and flew out of Bilbao so we did not cover Barcelona. Here is our itinerary:
4 nights at the Parador in Honderrabia - this parador was stunning and the staff was excellent. We explored San Sebastian, Hond, ate at some great restaurants, swam at the beaches etc.
3 nights at the Parador in Cangas de Onis. We drove along the coast to get there. IMHO Santillana is a tourist trap and not worth the stop. Parador in Cangas was nice, but not in town. I would suggest either Covadanga or the parador in Guente De so you have access to the cable car.
2 nights in Laguardia in the Rioja. We toured some vineyards, ate more great food.
last day and night in Bilbao. Must stay ay the Grand Hotel Domine, directly accross from the Gugg -- 155e but the most stunning modern hotel I have ever been in (including the W chain and Ian Schrager hotels in NY). Hotel has underground parking and is 15 minutes to the airport. We had a 7:05 am flight and had no problems at all (and we were dropping off a rental car and checked our luggage through to the states). Worth it for the rooms, the view from the private rooftop terrace of the Gugg and it is one turn (and a 90 cent toll) to the airport.
Hope this helps
AmyH is offline  
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Aug 1st, 2003, 07:04 PM
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AmyH,
Thanks for that very helpful input. I was very interested in your comments about the Bilbao hotel. I'm a regular at both Ws and Schragers, so sounds like I'd like the one you described. We currently have a res. at Tryp Sondika outside Bilbao, for our last night in Spain, because I understand it is right by the airport and we have a 6:45 a.m. departure. My plan has been to drop our rental car off the night before the departure and then cab to hotel and back to airport to save time. I'll now look into your hotel suggestion. Thanks again. Please keep an eye for my upcoming post asking for advice about where to stay in San Seb. and Hond. [as well as BCN].
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Aug 4th, 2003, 08:01 AM
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wayno
You will love the Gran Hotel Domine. I was not sure if we would have enough time to "enjoy" the hotel as we drove up from Laguardia and arrived at about noon. No fear, we relaxed, went to the Gugg, came back for a drink on the terrace and then walked the city (it is not that large). As to dropping the car the night before, we thought about that but then we test drove the route to the airport from the hotel and found it to be so easy. Either way will work.
As to Hond and SS, we very much enjoyed the parador and the town of Honderrabia. The parador was stunning, we had a view of the ocean, breakfast was fabulous each morning and the staff was excellent (as were the rooms).SS is 10 minutes away and even in the middle of July, there was ample underground parking. We stopped by the Maria Christina -- IMHO A Westin is a Westin is a Westin, and while it is a minute from the beach, it is not "on the beach" We did not look at the Hotel Londres, which is directly across the street from La Concha.
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Aug 5th, 2003, 12:51 AM
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Hi Wayno,
the Tryp Sondika is not so near the airport. It was located just 5 minutes away from the old terminal, but since the opening of the Calatrava terminal and the opening of the new Archanda tunnel ... it really doesn't matter if you are staying the last night in Bilbao. Although friends who come to visit us regularly like to stay there because of the staff friendliness (there are always pluses ).

Another hotel in Bilbao you might like to look into is the Hotel Miro, also opposite the Guggenheim (but it doesn't have the Domine's great terrace ...)
http://www.jpmoser.com/mirohotelbilbao.html

Rgds, Cova

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Aug 5th, 2003, 07:53 AM
  #11
 
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Does anyone recommend the train on this northern Spain route via the Pyrennes to Bilbao or does it take too much time? Thanks for the great postings.
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