3 day trips from Bilbao – part II.

Rioja

Hello there! So here comes my last post from Spanish series! In the first article (here), I described our days full of pintxos in Bilbao and discovering the city and in the second one (click here) I covered our first day going around with rental car. Today I will guide you through the west coast and inland.

The second day we started in Santander (about an hour and ten minutes by car from Bilbao). It is a tourist, port city. It had a nice atmosphere, but the promenade by the sea was not as magical as in San Sebastian on the first day. Surrounding the promenade felt very industrially.

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But I really liked the peninsula of La Magdalena, which is located outside the center of the historic town. The peninsula consists of a magnificent park, which is dominated by the royal palace.

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In a market (pictured above) we bought goodies like cheese, olives and fruit, we took a big towel instead of a blanket and enjoyed a small picnic with this magnificent view:

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The weather that day was really bad, so we skipped some places on the coast (mainly beaches), which I had saved on my to see list and we drive slowly back to Bilbao. This time we chose the inland road and at least we saw how looks countryside of northern Spain 🙂

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The last stop on the second day was the smaller town of Castro Urdiales, where you can find this beautiful medieval church Santa María de la Asunción.

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Our last day with the car we were exploring the Rioja wine region, that was really something for me! I felt bit sorry for my boyfriend who was driving, but I enjoyed the wine enough for him 🙂 We started in the capital of this region – Logroño, whose historic streets are full of bars with a great selection of local wines and of course tasty food, pintxos everywhere!

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I was very impressed by exceptional Hotel Marques de Riscal in Elciego. This hotel was designed by architect Frank Gehry, who designed among other buildings also Guggenheim Museum and participated in our Prague’s  Dancing House. There are vineyards, wine cellars and wine shop in hotel grounds . Even if you are not hotel guests (like us, unfortunately 🙂 ) do not miss a glass of wine on the terrace with the view of the vineyards, Elciego town and mountains in the background.

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The town of Elciego itself is worth a visit. At the time of our trip there was probably some kind of an art festival. During our walk we have seen countless painters who were capturing the beauty of this picturesque town on the canvas.

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Next stop on the way back to Bilbao was a small village Briñas that is attractive mostly by beautiful view of the church, river and mountains.

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The last place on our list was the city of Haro. Although the capital of the Rioja region is Logroño, Haro is called the heart of this region and it is home to the most famous wines that come from Rioja. This city was full of life and on the main square was held a concert. Our journey through the Rioja region we finished surprisingly not with wine but with excellent churros from a booth on the square 🙂

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On the way back to Bilbao, we enjoyed a bit of drama, we wanted to return the car to the rental office with a full tank to avoid the extra charge. Anyhow – to find a gas station open on Saturday after 22:00 in Bilbao was quite a challenge. However, after a few (very) desperate attempts we finally succeeded and we returned the car on time. If you interested in some practical information on car rental in Spain, feel free to write me 🙂

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