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Old 03-01-2015, 11:54 AM   #1
fjmitchell OP
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Madrid, San Sebastian and Pyrenees Help

Hey guys, wasn't sure if I should post here or in the General Trip section, but was looking for some help from some locals there. I'll be riding from Italy through France into Spain (San Sebastian) in June (details below). Riding a GS with the girlfriend for several weeks in Europe. Any helpfull feedback would be great!

San Sebastian - arrive on June 4th for a few days - Thoughts on where to stay, do, not to miss, eat, etc. Also I'll be taking the train into Madrid and leaving my bike there. Any thoughts on where to do so? It would be there for 4-5 days. Have heard amazing things. Will then return and stay a few more days there solo before leaving.

Madrid - I've been there before, really like the city. This would be during June 6th through the 9th. I've been looking at Airbnb, wanted to see if any locals have suggestions, on where to go, eat, stay, etc. I've already done the Prado, so more local things. Also, more importantly, where to watch Champions League!

French Pyrenees - This I haven't finalized anything with this yet, but does anyone have any strong feelings about cities or points they think are "not to miss" along the Pyrenees? either side (or tracks they've already created they can send). Plan on crossing there and heading into south France after coming back from Madrid and leaving from San Sebastian.

Thanks guys!
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Old 03-01-2015, 11:17 PM   #2
The Spanish Biker
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fjmitchell View Post
Hey guys, wasn't sure if I should post here or in the General Trip section, but was looking for some help from some locals there. I'll be riding from Italy through France into Spain (San Sebastian) in June (details below). Riding a GS with the girlfriend for several weeks in Europe. Any helpfull feedback would be great!

Quote:
Originally Posted by fjmitchell View Post
San Sebastian - arrive on June 4th for a few days - Thoughts on where to stay, do, not to miss, eat, etc. Also I'll be taking the train into Madrid and leaving my bike there. Any thoughts on where to do so? It would be there for 4-5 days. Have heard amazing things. Will then return and stay a few more days there solo before leaving.
I'd like to explore San Sebastian too but never seem to have found the time - and money! But you could ask ata - he's from Bibao so should know all about his neighbouring city :)

Quote:
Originally Posted by fjmitchell View Post
Madrid - I've been there before, really like the city. This would be during June 6th through the 9th. I've been looking at Airbnb, wanted to see if any locals have suggestions, on where to go, eat, stay, etc. I've already done the Prado, so more local things. Also, more importantly, where to watch Champions League!
The best place to watch the Champions League is here - well you didn't say the best place in Madrid to watch did you

French Pyrenees - This I haven't finalized anything with this yet, but does anyone have any strong feelings about cities or points they think are "not to miss" along the Pyrenees? either side (or tracks they've already created they can send). Plan on crossing there and heading into south France after coming back from Madrid and leaving from San Sebastian.
See my blog but in the meantime: don't miss Coll de Tourmalet (better running west-to-east though) or the Irati section of the Tour de France colls.

Best passes over the Pyrenees. Port de la Bonaïgua and the Port de La Pierre Saint-Martin.

Avoid St Jean Pied-dePort and the Roncesvalles pass until you like mowing down pilgrims on the Way of St James.

Don't go anywhere near Andorra . . .

Jaca is a nice place to stay in Spain, otherwise a not-to-miss would be the Ordesa national park, stay at Torla and get up early to catch the bus into the park:



@ €1 each way it's the real deal, but you need to get there before 09.00, the busses go every 15 minutes from 07.00. If you just want to look you can walk along the valley floor for a while and be back at your accommodation by midday-checkout. But if you're keen walkers you'll want to spend a whole day and need some good shoes/boots . . .



Enjoy

Simon
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Old 03-02-2015, 01:06 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by fjmitchell View Post
Madrid - I've been there before, really like the city. This would be during June 6th through the 9th. … Also, … , where to watch Champions League!
No Champions League in June, the final is in Berlin 27 May.
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Old 03-02-2015, 11:23 AM   #4
fjmitchell OP
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Simon,

Hey, thanks for all the great advice. Yes, Barca very well may make it to the final given their form (looked very good against Man City)! I'm using much of your advice to book where to cross and which routes I should take. Also reached out to Ata, thanks again. Is it easy to cross in and out of Spain to France?, sorry if that is a stupid question, I haven't driven across borders in Europe and wondering how it works. I don't want to assume it is seamless and easy if it may take additional time to what I am planning.

I think I'll stay in Albi in France and see the Toulouse Lautrec museum with the girl, then head down and take some of the passes you recommended, cut across again, spend a few days there. Stay in Jaca one night and then make my way to San Sebastian.

Thanks again for all your help! I'm getting very excited about some of that basque food and Tinto Fino watching the end of a good la liga season!
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Old 03-02-2015, 11:24 AM   #5
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Wildman,

Thanks for the update, where are you seeing the dates for Champions League? I checked EUFA and Google and I thought it was June 6th in Berlin?

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionslea...=2015/matches/
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Old 03-02-2015, 01:58 PM   #6
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Hi fjmitchell,

I'm from San Sebastian and I'd be pleased to help you in your planning.

The city is very beautiful, but specially all the old town, city centre and the Concha (shell) Bay. I suggest you to ride alongside the coast, visiting basque towns such as: Hondarribia, Donibane-Lohizune (San Juan de luz), Biarritz and Baiona up to french side. And Orio, Zarautz, Getaria, Ondarroa, Lekeitio, Gernika, Bermeo, San Juan de Gaztelugatxe (compulsory) and Bakio up to Bilbo. Other towns to visit are Sare, Ainhoa, Azpeitia (Loyola), Oñati (Arantzazu), San Miguel de Aralar,...

On the gastronomic area, you won't have any problem. This area is famous for our gastronomy. For a better recommendation, I'd like to know which kind of restaurant you prefer (normal restaurant or "design" restaurant).

For a place to leave the bike, I've got my closed garage full. If you don't find any place, you can use my community garage (we installed security cameras 2 years ago and we haven't had problems ever since).

Up to Pyrenees, for sleeping I suggest you the Spanish side. It's better equipped and cheaper. There is no problem crossing the border because actually, customs don't exist inside EU, so many times you don't tell where the border is. There are very good cornering routes there. As The Spanish biker has told you, Jaca is a great place as headquarter. This may, 2, I'm going to take part on Penitentes, a no competitive bike rally of 800 km that takes place on the Pyrenees, starting and finishing on Sabiñanigo, at 10 km of Jaca. Once I finish the rally, I can send you the route. I can give you some good routes of the Basque Country and Basque Pyrenees as well.

I hope you will find useful this information, don't hesitate asking for more information and sorry for my English.

See you,
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Old 03-02-2015, 03:02 PM   #7
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Juantxo,

Thanks for the help, your english is great, I apologize I don't speak spanish. I can speak some portuguese (brazilian), but I can't write much, and I don't think anyone would understand it haha!

For food, we love all basque food, obviously tapas / pintxos, it doesn't have to be fancy, would just like to find the places that the locals like the most! If you or anyone has a recommendation at Jaca, that would be great. If I get more questions will definitely ask (and maybe help with my bike), and please share your route or any places you really liked along the ride through the Pyrenees. I will only have a few days when I cross into San Sebastian, then a few days when I leave San Sebastian and head up through France, but really looking forward to it.

Thanks again!
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Old 03-03-2015, 12:50 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by fjmitchell View Post
Wildman,

Thanks for the update, where are you seeing the dates for Champions League? I checked EUFA and Google and I thought it was June 6th in Berlin?

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionslea...=2015/matches/
You're right. Sorry for any confusion.
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Old 03-04-2015, 10:38 PM   #9
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Excellent stuff Juantxo - now I know I've got to put a holiday in the Basque Country at the top of my list, especially as I only live a few hours drive away!

Back to Aragón. If you base yourself at Jaca (pronounced haka) there are a few 'must do' from there: Castillo de Loarre* via the Mallos de Riglos, cross the Bardena Blanca desert, best access through the 'back door' via Sos de los Reyes Catolicos, which is a good place for lunch.

You can make a great long round trip over into France over the Candanchu pass, not forgetting to stop for breakfast at Canfranc Station - be careful not to miss the turn and end up stuck in the tunnel! That was you can do Tourmalet from the west and come back via Bielsa.

You can then save the Irati for your voyage to San Sebastian. Once you are there don't fail to look for 'Kokotxas a la Donostiarra', which is one of the best fish dishes in the universe - except for 'Rap amb All Cremat', which is a Catalan dish - and as I live here I would say that wouldn't I

Back on neutral territory - the 'must eat' dish in Aragón is Chilindrón, which can either be lamb (cordero) or chicken (pollo) but the key to the dish is big, fat, sweet red peppers. In general lamb in Aragón is amazing whilst the big meat eat in The Basque Country is 'Txuletón' - which I suppose you'd call a T-bone steak - but when you go back home to the ranch that good ol' boy grill just won't taste the same again :)

There are plenty of Madrileños around here who are better to advise you as, like most major cities, the 'movida' is constantly changing, and seeing that I live near Barcelona I don't want to start a war

Moving once again to safer ground: Jaca is a nice, quiet town - it's a city only as it has a (tiny and very lovely) cathedral, but for its size it has a lot, partly because of the large military academy there but also it has always been very popular with the French. There are lots of hotels there but a good friend of mine always stays at the La Boira hotel and I've met him there for coffee. It's quiet, clean and offer free parking for bikes in the garage next door. It's in a residential part of the town but only a five minute walk to the centre.

@ Juantxo - dammit, I've forgotten about the Peninetentes again! And now I'm committed to an off road rally in the Pre.Pyrenees - 350 kms in one day, pray for me!

Maybe next year . . .

Regs

Simon
* even if you're not particularly into history it's worth doing the Loarre Castle 'tour', complete with commentary on the headset.
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Old 03-15-2015, 03:56 AM   #10
MikeTheMechanic
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Take a look here : https://translate.google.com/transla...-text=&act=url

Its originally written in Greek but you will find a way with google translator. I had made this trip that's reported there.

Spent most of your days in Pyrenees, try to visit most of the Cols. Camping in San Sebastian is great, a little expensive. If you have a specific question and I can help, please.
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