Planning for northern Spain

My husband, daughter and I traveled to northern Spain for 16 days, April 23-May 9, 2007. We’d all been to Spain and Portugal quite a few times and always stayed in paradores or pousadas. I’ve always found, after the fact, that I hadn’t taken advantage of the “deals” offered to seniors or for extended stays, so this time I contacted Gary at Adios Travel (3743 NE Third St., Ocala, FL 34470-1353; 800/313-7030,

We were three adults staying in two rooms for 12 days. All visits were for at least three nights, with one exception of two nights. Our total cost for lodging was $4,180 plus tax. This came to $116 per person per day, which I consider extremely reasonable for Spain.

The paradores we chose all were either castles or monasteries, and most included large buffet breakfasts. Gary was delightful to work with, and I recommend anyone interested in going to Spain to contact him.

We took the advice of an ITN subscriber (Oct. ’06, pg. 32) and flew to England on MAXjet (888/435-9629, This is an all-business-class airline and we loved it so much, we’re going back to England and Spain on MAXjet in October. The flights cost $700 one way for each of us (add taxes).

In order to get from Stansted, England, to Santander, Spain, we flew on Ryanair; it was okay — nothing special, but the price was right. Including the taxes and fees, the fares for three adults totaled £94.56 (near $188). The only hitch — flying back to England on Ryanair, my daughter and I had bought so many shoes (11 pairs) that we had to pay over $100 for extra weight in our luggage.

By the way, the return flight on Ryanair cost us €112.47 (near $151), taking the exchange rate into consideration, so the return was actually cheaper in dollars. While the flights usually are more expensive on the weekend, both of ours were mid-week; we just got lucky.

At the end of our stay we flew to Menorca, Balearic Islands, for two nights. I wouldn’t recommend going there unless you want to just relax, go to the beach and shop for shoes. We went for the archaeological sites and stayed at the charming Biniarroca Country House Hotel (Cami Vell 57, Sant Lluis, Menorca 07710, Spain; phone +34 971 150059, fax 151250 or visit www.

I’d love to have a reason to go back there, but we feel that in two days on the island we saw everything there is to see that we’re interested in. Maybe Mallorca next time.

Northern Spain is delightful. It’s very different from the south in its food and countryside, and we loved the Pyrenees and the Basque culture.

While it rained a bit each day, the weather in April/May was in the low 70s — great for driving, visiting archaeological sites and walking.

I bought three travel books to plan the trip, but the “Eyewitness Travel: Spain” was the only one I took with me as it had everything I needed.

The only complaint we had was we didn’t leave enough time to really see Barcelona, so we’re going back for a week in October and will just stay in the city.


Big Flats, NY