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Want help with Itinerary for Basque country + where else in Spain? 14-day

Want help with Itinerary for Basque country + where else in Spain? 14-day

Dec 2nd, 2019, 09:04 PM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 3,249
Originally Posted by Maribel View Post
Ditto to what kja has said regarding sticking to the north for simplicity's sake, cooler weather and for the sheer natural beauty (but you'll most likely encounter some rain in "Green Spain" from Santiago de Compostela to San Sebastián).

And like ekscrunchy, who also suggests sticking to the north, I've been enamored of Asturias for a long, long time. It has atmospheric, pretty coastal villages from west to east (Puerto de Vega, Luarca, Tazones, Lastres, Cudillero, Llanes, Ribadesella), Celtic culture and stunning mountain scenery in the Sierra del Sueve and the glorious Picos de Europa.
https://elviajero.elpais.com/elviaje...88_253934.html

Just some additional thoughts...
Hope there was a feature to give a thumbs up to this post! My sentiments exact!
cruiseluv is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2019, 09:06 PM
  #22  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 3,249
Originally Posted by misskdonkey View Post
I agree with all the above posters, and we will be in Cangas de Onis for NYE this year, so excited. We love the Picos mountains too.
How lucky!! Enjoy!!
cruiseluv is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2019, 10:30 AM
  #23  
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Join Date: May 2017
Posts: 21
Thank you all again for the helpful information.
We are now heavily leaning toward a "northern" itinerary which will be focused on Basque country the last week of may (~8-9days), and we will likely start out our trip in either Barcelona or Madrid (but probably not both). From Madrid we would day trip to Toledo, possibly Segovia. (I also want the family to see Picasso's Guernica at the Sofia museum.)
Thanks for the tip regarding Mikel and ToursbyBasques. Definitely what I want -- a local for some part of our time in the Basque country, the rest of the time we can explore on our own.
I appreciate the tips on parking. We may have a car part of the time, as we like the idea of exploring the smaller towns by car.
We would then rent directly in town. Is there a recommendation for where best to rent for a couple days, from San Sebastian? or Bayonne? assuming we maybe "home based" in one or both of those cities.
papier1 is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2019, 12:12 PM
  #24  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,715
papier1,
Over the years we've used the following reliable rental agencies for San Sebastián: *FeelFreeRentals, Rentals Collection and Always Easy.
All 3 have staffed offices where renters can pick up the keys to their apartments. *And their rental apartments have official license numbers (Administrative authorization: ESS...) so that you can make sure they're legit.
The city has been cracking down on illegal rentals, so the ESS number is very important.

In our experience, it's best to start checking in January for the best selection, as SS is an extremely popular destination, even in May, and apartments can book up quickly. *Some apartments have a/c, but many do not but supply fans. *Some have parking spaces available.

For Bayonne, I can't help, as we stay in hotels there, and the 3 agencies mentioned above don't have rentals on the French side.*
You can try VRBO or others.
Bayonne is a workaday city and doesn't have as many short term rentals as the resort towns of St-Jean-de-Luz or Biarritz, which have plenty.
Many local French rental agencies will require a Saturday-Saturday, 7 night minimum (that's why we don't rent in Bayonne).

It may be more difficult to find a suitable city apartment there that will sleep 6 adults and have at least 3 bedrooms and 3 baths, so you may want to look at a villa outside of the city, in Anglet or in the countryside in a village like Arcangues or Arbonne.
Maribel is online now  
Dec 3rd, 2019, 01:43 PM
  #25  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,715
A second thought about a short term SS rental:
I've also used Friendly Rentals to book larger apartments for friends, such as these 2, located in the Antiguo district, the upscale, former "embassy" quarter, near Ondarreta beach.
https://www.friendlyrentals.com/View...&OrderBy2=DESC

And for an extended family group, I've used Villa Ravel, facing La Concha beach with its own parking space for 2 vehicles, and 3 baths...maybe larger than you need, but a great location.
Villa Ravel
Maribel is online now  
Dec 3rd, 2019, 07:09 PM
  #26  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,126
Originally Posted by papier1 View Post
we will likely start out our trip in either Barcelona or Madrid (but probably not both). From Madrid we would day trip to Toledo, possibly Segovia.
For Toledo, consider at least one overnight, if not two, not only because of the treasure trove of amazing things to see in Toledo, but also because it is wonderfullly evocative at night, after day trippers have left.

Segovia is an easy day trip from Madrid, or a delightful place to spend a night -- though I suspect with a group your size, one-night stays are not a particularly appealing option.

I still don't see how you would fit in both Madrid/Toledo/+ AND Barcelona+. JMO.
kja is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2019, 09:05 PM
  #27  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 49
Maribel

I have traveled to San Sebastian four times and have used Maribel's Guide to plan my trips and for advice on almost anything you could want. I have especially taken her advice on restaurants and pinxtos bars, since food is a main attraction there, at least for me. Her advice is extremely helpful and, in my opinion, very accurate. I highly recommend that anyone traveling to Spain or Portugal (I think she has a Portugal Guide) get her books.
cef1 is offline  
Dec 4th, 2019, 05:45 AM
  #28  
 
Join Date: Dec 2019
Posts: 7
I would suggest Option 3. Andalusia should not be rushed through. Give it its own trip when you have more time.
zzlangerhans is offline  
Dec 5th, 2019, 11:55 PM
  #29  
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Join Date: May 2017
Posts: 21
Maribel, Thank you for the information on where to stay. Ideally we can find an apartment in the city center. What is the Guide that cef1 mentioned? A book you wrote?
kja and zzlangerhans, we are not planning BOTH Madrid and Barcelona. At this point we are leaning toward flying into and out of Madrid, making it a base for ~5 days, and then heading to the Basque Country.

Does anyone have a suggestion for best way to get to/from Madrid/Bilbao. The air fare is much less expensive flying round-trip to/from Madrid from the US, than flying in to Madrid and out of Bilbao (or Biarritz). But if we spend a whole day getting from Bilbao to Madrid to catch a fight home then we will have wasted valuable time to save on airfare.
papier1 is offline  
Dec 6th, 2019, 12:56 AM
  #30  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,126
Originally Posted by papier1 View Post
kja and zzlangerhans, we are not planning BOTH Madrid and Barcelona. At this point we are leaning toward flying into and out of Madrid, making it a base for ~5 days, and then heading to the Basque Country.
Good!

Originally Posted by papier1 View Post
Does anyone have a suggestion for best way to get to/from Madrid/Bilbao. .
Check rome2rio.com and be sure to click through to the underlying links, as the main web page is not sensitive to seasonal variation in schedules.
kja is offline  
Dec 6th, 2019, 01:43 AM
  #31  
 
Join Date: Jun 2019
Posts: 676
"Does anyone have a suggestion for best way to get to/from Madrid/Bilbao. The air fare is much less expensive flying round-trip to/from Madrid from the US, than flying in to Madrid and out of Bilbao (or Biarritz). But if we spend a whole day getting from Bilbao to Madrid to catch a fight home then we will have wasted valuable time to save on airfare."

I'd travel by train. It takes about 5 hours between Madrid and Bilbao, but you should not think of that as time wasted. A flight would be pretty much time wasted, especially the time wasted with all the airport hassle, but if you travel by train, the journey becomes part of the travel experience. You got to see the landscapes of Spain(bleak in Castilia, but very nice as you approach Bilbao) from ground level, it's a relaxing and civilized way to travel, not to mention that it helps to reduce the carbon footprint of your trip.

https://www.seat61.com/Spain-trains.htm
BDKR is offline  
Dec 6th, 2019, 08:28 AM
  #32  
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Join Date: May 2017
Posts: 21
Thank you kja and BDKJ, train sounds good. Just need to figure out if we will train both ways, and also whether we will fly out of Bilbao to home or train back to Madrid and overnight there before return flight.
papier1 is offline  
Dec 6th, 2019, 12:13 PM
  #33  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,715
papier1,
The guides that cef1 mentioned (and thanks very much for the kind words) are downloadable online guides in my screen name.

Like kja, I'm also glad that you've limited yourselves to Madrid and the Basque Country rather than try to fit in Barcelona as well.

As far as getting to Bilbao from Madrid, we've taken the Alvia train from Madrid's Chamartín rail station (in the northern section of the city), but it does take 5 hours, 4 minutes, and there aren't that many daily direct trains (some require a train change).*
There's a direct Alvia at 8 am, arriving in Bilbao at 1:04 pm.
The scenery is quite pleasant when going through the mountains in Asturias.
We purchase a Preferente (business class) ticket for more leg room (2 + 1 seat configuration), a bit more room for our luggage and a quieter ride. No meal served at one's seat on the Alvias but they do have a bar/cafeteria car.
And I purchase these tickets in advance (sometimes two months in advance if the fares have been loaded) and snag a very favorable Preferente Promo fare, often costing just a few euros more than tourist class.
If you have trouble paying with your US based credit card, you can use Pay Pal on Renfe. *Or you can pay a slight surcharge to use loco2.com, now a part of Rail Europe, or www.petrabax.com
Renfe

And sometimes we do fly to Bilbao on the Iberia flight departing at 11:15 am. It takes an hour, 5 min.
There's an earlier Iberia flight to Bilbao that departs at 7:40 am, arriving at 8:40 am but it doesn't run daily.
You can check your MAD-BIO flight options on https://matrix.itasoftware.com

When returning to the US (west coast) from the Basque Country, we *have on occasion flown out of Bilbao, but it requires a very early morning departure for us (again, back to the west coast).

Since I don't know your home airport in the US, I can't suggest the best flight connection for you, with the shortest travel time, but you can let https://matrix.itasoftware.com be your friend. I use it daily.
It will give you the best and shortest connection times via all possible itineraries on all airlines (save some budget ones), the airfare, and you can select the number of stops you're willing to tolerate. But you then need to book directly with your chosen airline.
Maribel is online now  
Dec 6th, 2019, 02:11 PM
  #34  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,715
Another option for Madrid to Bilbao travel would be the non-stop Premium service by Alsa bus lines. There's a 9 am departure that arrives Bilbao at 1:10 pm, a shorter bus ride than train ride. The Alsa Premium service includes Wi-Fi, a/c, toilets, touch screen entertainment with ear buds (like on an airplane), electric outlets and USB charging plugs at seats, leather seats in a 2 + 1 configuration, and an attendant who serves food/drink (coffee and soft drinks are complimentary) and a VIP lounge at the Madrid Puerta de América bus station.
The current fare is 62.50/p or if purchased online two months in advance, 55.05/p.
Not all buses are Premium buses, so look for the Premium designation rather than Normal on the Alsa web page.
I haven't used the Alsa Premium service yet, but you can read about it here:
https://www.alsa.com/en/web/bus/alsa-experience/plan-your-journey/our-fleet/alsa-premi

And a video here:
Maribel is online now  
Dec 7th, 2019, 11:05 AM
  #35  
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 66
I was going to recommend Sevilla, too. It's really beautiful with a very different history from northern Spain. I know of a university class that's taking place in San Sebastien in May- they're doing cooking classes for a Chemistry of Cooking class. Watch for a bunch of US college kids!
ethrush is offline  
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