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where to stay in the basque region?

Old Aug 6th, 2007, 07:22 PM
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where to stay in the basque region?

I'm planning to take the train from barcelona. Should i stay in san sebastian or bilbao, or is it better to do each city separately?

afterwards i'm planning to head down to madrid, and then off to valencia and back to barcelona before i head home to chicago.

any help would be greatly appreciated.
I was referred to this site for trains within spain.
http://horarios.renfe.es/hir/ingles.html
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Old Aug 6th, 2007, 11:55 PM
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There is nothing to really to see or do in Bilbao besides see the skin of the Guggenheim.

San Sebastian on the other hand is a beautiful town and a wonderful place to eat.
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Old Aug 7th, 2007, 12:57 AM
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In San Sebastian you'll find the most sophisticated tapas in Spain.
www.todopintxos.com
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Old Aug 7th, 2007, 01:35 AM
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Aduchamp1 writes: "There is nothing to really to see or do in Bilbao besides see the skin of the Guggenheim."

I beg to disagree! Bilbao's Casco Viejo (called that because it's shaped like a helmet by the course of the rio Nervion) is definitely worth a visit. The 3-story Mercado on the river and across from the Casco Viejo, La Begonia Church (every Basque's 'home Parish'). The Plaza Nueva is inside the Casco Viejo.

I think Bilbao epitomizes the Basque culture more than San Sebastian. During the Franco years, San Sebastian served as Spain's 'Summer Capital,' giving it a strong Castilian 'flavor.' And there are great restaurants in Bilbao, also.

Problem: If you decide on Bilbao, it would be better communicated by Bus or by flying from Barcelona.

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Old Aug 7th, 2007, 06:02 AM
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Aduchamp1 writes: "There is nothing to really to see or do in Bilbao besides see the skin of the Guggenheim."

I beg to disagree! Bilbao's Casco Viejo (called that because it's shaped like a helmet by the course of the rio Nervion) is definitely worth a visit. The 3-story Mercado on the river and across from the Casco Viejo, La Begonia Church (every Basque's 'home Parish'). The Plaza Nueva is inside the Casco Viejo.

I think Bilbao epitomizes the Basque culture more than San Sebastian. During the Franco years, San Sebastian served as Spain's 'Summer Capital,' giving it a strong Castilian 'flavor.' And there are great restaurants in Bilbao, also.

Problem: If you decide on Bilbao, it would be better communicated by Bus or by flying from Barcelona.

You make a compeling case for visiting Bilbao. Thank you for provomg my point. It is funny becasue I remember rude jokes about Bilbao during the Franco regime that were anything but flattering which I will print here so as not to inflame the matter.

The point remains, a tourist has limited time to visit. I know that the Basques value their history and culture as evidenced by a book like Mark Kurlansky's Busque History of the World. Thus I think it is unfair to a tourist to visit the Casco Viejo when there is so much to see elsewhere.
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Old Aug 7th, 2007, 06:15 AM
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"During the Franco years, San Sebastian served as Spain's 'Summer Capital,' giving it a strong Castilian 'flavor"

That's not true. San Sebastian was a "Summer Capital" long before Franco. Kings of Spain had a palace there as well as in Santander. Franco would have dead on the spot before going there. San Sebastian was as "forbidden territory" during Franco years as any other place in Basque Country.
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Old Aug 7th, 2007, 06:34 AM
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is it close enough to do a day trip to bilbao from san sebastian?
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Old Aug 7th, 2007, 09:15 AM
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kenderina writes(refuting my assertion that San Sebastian was Spain's 'Dummer Capital' during the Franco years: "That's not true. San Sebastian was a "Summer Capital" long before Franco. Kings of Spain had a palace there as well as in Santander." Those two statements are not mutually exclusive. The Government Bureaucracy and the Nobility relocated from Madrid to Guipuzcoa in August. The Horse Meet (i.e., Horse Racing) followed the Money. That was the case in 1960-61 when I lived in Madrid.
BTW
Where is the Royal Palace in Santander? Comillas?? People in Sardinero dress in 'Period' clothing to celebrate a Royal visit there in the 1890's but, although I have spent a lot of time in Santander, I don't know of any Royal Palace there.

andyrew asks: "is it close enough to do a day trip to bilbao from san sebastian?"
Definitely! It's about 100km. You can catch an early bus (ALSA) and it should take just over an hour. Then you can take the Bus Vision tour.




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Old Aug 8th, 2007, 08:02 AM
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A quick search on the net will come up with the Royal Palace of Santander. It is now a 3-star hotel in the ABBA group. And it's quite nice.

http://www.abbasantanderhotel.com/i-santander.htm

"This Royal Palace, opened in 1912, displays eclectic style and English influence. It was a present from the people of Santander to their monarchs, where they spent the summer from 1913 to 1930. As it was restored a few years ago, it has recovered its magnificence and is now the site where the summer courses of the Menéndez Pelayo International University take place."
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