North of Spain travel. Part one.
When J suggested doing a road trip in north of Spain this year my initial reaction wasn’t particularly enthusiastic. What about Ibiza or Formentera? I had hoped to finally travel to these islands this year, and although I had heard of San Sebastian and Bilbao both being wonderful kid friendly places to visit they were not on top of my list. But then I decided to do a little research of northern Spanish cities and the more I researched the more drawn I became to the idea.
We had 10 days and we knew three things. We wanted to experience Bilbao for the Guggenheim museum , eat pinxtos in San Sebastian and visit J’s old friend in Santander. We usually plan trips around architecture, food and hotels and let me tell you we found some real gems on this trip!
So the plan came to life and we decided to fly to Bilbao, then make our way to San Sebastian, then for one day visit Biarritz in France ( I was not wild about this one either, but oh, how wrong was I! ). We then planned to go south to the Rioja region (for the wine, naturally) for a couple of nights, after that I came across a town of Gijón which looked very promising (with a short stop in Oviedo on the way) and finally Santander to stay with J’s old friend and his family.
Yes, lots of ground to cover, but as busy as the itinerary sounded all of these cities are not more than 2-3 hours drive from each other. So all I needed to do was to charge the Ipad for J junior and stock up on motion sickness tablets (yup, it’s terrible).
What we loved:
Our beautiful industrial hotel (Tayko) , with stunning rooms and awesome location right next to the Old Town (Casco Viejo) and famous food market (La Ribera), the Guggenheim Museum (just, WOW), the incredible playgrounds. We also had the best meal of the trip at a ENEKO restaurant 20 mins away from the city. It was spectacular.
What we loved:
I had so many expectations when it came to this city. Most of our friends who have been, talked about how charming and delicious it was. In all honesty my favourite thing about this town was our hotel, situated about 20 mins bus ride from the city centre. The hotel was called Arima, and it had a very unique architecture. It was eco friendly (low energy consumption, aluminum-clad exterior), the restaurant (delicious!) served only vegetarian and vegan dishes, oh, and the pool was nice. Also, right next to the hotel we found a real architectural gem- a stunning steel footbridge built over the Miramon Green Park. So architecturally I was already satisfied. Aparently San Sebastian has the most amount of Michelin starred restaurants out of all European cities. We didn’t dine at any of them and perhaps we should have as the pinxtos eaten at local bars didn’t blow me away (J on the other hand really enjoyed them- he loves Spanish food a lot more than I do). The town seemed super crowded and touristy, so we decided to spend two following days in nearby Biarritz instead. And it was SO amazing.
What we loved:
Everything. The crowd, the atmosphere, the beach, the food and the shopping. Clearly a much younger and hippier crowd than in San Sebastian. It is a surfing town, with a beautiful clean beach which completely disappears around 3/4pm because of the tide. Fully recommend. Only a 40 mins drive from San Sebastian.