The weather gods favored us during an October trip to Spain's Costa Verde. We explored the coastal zones of Cantabria and the Basque Country.
We couldn't decide whether we wanted to stay closer to Bilbao or farther west near Santander, so we split the difference and stayed a a couple nights in Santoña, where our apartment looked out on Playa de Berria, and a couple more days in Somo across the bay from Santander. Our apartment there was just a block or so away from Playa de Somo.
Jamie's sisters were visiting and thought they might never get back to the north coast of Spain, so we made several day trips by car to Bilbao, San Sebastián, Castro Urdiales, Zarautz, Getaria, Liendo, and Laredo. Plus we took a short ferry ride from our beach in Somo to visit Santander for the day. We didn't really dig into anything deeply, but were happy to stroll along the beach, sip wine, and catch up.
We tried to schedule a tour through Bilbao Greeters, a non-profit group of volunteers who offer free one-on-one tours in your language. Unfortunately, they couldn't find an English-speaking volunteer on the holiday weekend we were in town and we ended up trusting to serendipity and explored the city center and old town on our own.
Even though we didn't get the history and background that a good tour guide can provide, we really liked what we saw of Bilbao. We're eager to make a return trip next Spring.
Oh, another tour option that we didn't discover until after our visit, is Free Tours Bilbao. They offer set scheduled tours of both the modern city and the old city.
Like we said, this was mostly a stroll and sip, chat and drive sort of family get together. Our highlights from this trip are best expressed in these photos...
The 13th century Church of Santa María de la Asunción with its flying buttresses and pinnacles dominates the harbor of Castro Urdiales.
You'll find the famous bronze sculptures of the "raqueros" boys along the harbor of Santander. There are four boys in all - sitting, standing, and diving into the bay.
LEFT: "Red Arch" along riverside art walk in Bilbao.
Sunrise on Playa de Berria. We were lucky to have five solid days of warm sunny weather in the middle of October.
Getting there and getting around
We had a direct flight on Iberia from Valencia to Bilbao. We also rented a car for getting around since there were four of us and at least two of them could legally drive in Spain since they aren’t residents.
Before we met up with Jamie’s sisters we used the airport bus to the Bilbao city center (3€ with a stop at the Guggenheim museum), and the city tram (1,60€) just because public transportation is the way we normally roll.
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Susan Carey retired in 2017 after a long business career most recently in animal welfare leadership. She writes about her experiences as a recent retiree living in Spain. Susan lives in Valencia, Spain with her husband, Jamie, and the senior pets they brought with them from the United States.
Jamie Wyant is a retired American living in Spain. After a multifaceted career ranging from ecosystem science to digital marketing, he moved to Valencia in 2017 with his wife, Susan, and their senior pets. He writes about the joys and tribulations of living overseas. Jamie also manages the technical aspects of GentleCycle.net