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"Old fashioned" northern Spain

(29 Posts)
AuntOlive Thu 04-Jun-15 12:24:40

I would love to visit the less developed parts of Spain. The parts where old people still dress in Sunday best / it's like going back to the 50s... (apparently).

Does anyone know which parts are like that and how to travel there?

I would be travelling by train (probably via Paris) as I don't like flying.

I would need to be based somewhere where you can 'walk' around (longish walking distance ok) as I can't cope with hiring a car abroad (whenever I've tried in the past I always end up driving on the left and I'd rather not kill DC) blush

nottheOP Thu 04-Jun-15 12:35:22

Girona? Get the train to FIGUERES VILAFANT - its a long journey though!

Misty9 Fri 05-Jun-15 06:34:28

Not sure it's northern enough for you, but my mum lives in teruel and it's lovely there with good walks around the place and lots of history too. Definitely not northern but we loved Valencia

HoneywithLemon Fri 05-Jun-15 14:24:29

I think you mean Cantabria, Asturias, Galicia regions. We had a lovely holiday near Comillas (Santillana del Mar, actually). Flew into Santander. Not sure how accessible it would be by train.

SwedishEdith Fri 05-Jun-15 14:26:07

You could get a ferry to Santander (assuming you're UK based?)

Bonsoir Fri 05-Jun-15 14:29:55

We spent some time in national parks in Cantabria last summer and it was extremely rural and very pretty. Good for enjoying nature and wildlife.

drspouse Fri 05-Jun-15 14:32:28

Bilbao is good for getting buses/metro around, and walking up and down avenues with well dressed people, though they are mainly wearing Zara.

AuntOlive Fri 05-Jun-15 14:59:07

Thanks all, yes I am UK based. What is train travel like in that part of Spain. I've travelled around Europe extensively but never been to Spain ever! i.e. are the trains as extensive as France/ Germany?

Bonsoir and Honey - the places you describe sound lovely. I was told that Northern Spain is really quite quaint and that people still dress like it's the 1950s - the men in suits and trilby hats and the ladies in dresses with pinafores/ aprons (maybe from Zara ;-) .... It sounded quite different and charming.

Drspouse - is it possible to get out into more rural areas from Bilbao via train?

Bonsoir Fri 05-Jun-15 16:13:34

We stayed at Casona de Quintana (google it). Not sure how you would get there without a car, however.

Bonsoir Fri 05-Jun-15 16:14:33

Portugal is great for rural and old-fashioned charm.

AuntOlive Fri 05-Jun-15 16:25:33

Bonsoir that hotel looks absolutely beautiful - and bargainous too (unless 'rates from £61.13' is a mis-print?!

DragonRojo Fri 05-Jun-15 23:54:20

Aunt, I don't know who told you that story about men dressing in suits and ladies in pinafores, but I think you are going to be disappointed

AuntOlive Sat 06-Jun-15 09:31:36

Dragon, I imagine not everyone dressed that way! just perhaps the odd older person..?

DragonRojo Sat 06-Jun-15 15:15:58

ok. I was just trying to warn you so that you have a realistic expectation. Maybe if you drive quite into the mountain villages near Leon or Burgos you will find the odd very old person dressed like that. My mum is 75 and lives in a Spanish village in the East coast. You would not find anyone dressed like that there

BeaufortBelle Sat 06-Jun-15 15:22:20

I have been to Gerona and that part of Spain regularly and all along that coastline. I've also been to Santiago de Compostela, Pontevedra, Bayona and other places in that part of Northern Spain and also Northern Portugal. I never saw anybody dressed as you describe - I'm not sure you will nowadays and can go back about twenty years.

It is very very beautiful and charming but it isn't like turning back the clock.

Railways are pretty good I recall although we always drove/drive.

MuseumOfHam Sat 06-Jun-15 15:33:28

Zamora is good for the kind of time travel I think you're seeking!

BrowersBlues Sat 06-Jun-15 15:38:53

Would you consider walking part of the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain?

trollkonor Sun 07-Jun-15 10:22:23

We have been to the Atlantic side of Spain many times and not come across that. It's still an interesting place to visit with great beaches and scenery. We have been through remote and traditional vilages in the middle of nowhere but you would realy need a car. Then theres not much to do once there, think church and a couple of houses.

You could have a great break if you went as a foot passenger to Bilbao or Santander, you could go on one route and back by the other. Both are lovely cities and worth visiting, personally I prefer Bilbao. Then research places that you would like to visitin the area, there did seem to be good bus routes around the place.

I do remember Rick Stein doing a series on the Atlantic coast and he did find a small traditional place in the Picos, baking something in the old way. He had a team of researchers and invites into homes ;) The picos are beautiful though.

DrankSangriaInThePark Sun 07-Jun-15 10:31:21

You can still (I believe, though it's years since I did it) the train from Paris straight through to Lisbon which stops off at some lovely places, San Sebastian etc before dropping down to Salamanca and heading into Portugal.

I lived and worked in Asturias in the 80s and there were some "traditional" little villages but I can't say I saw anyone dressed like a costume doll with Rick Stein type sleb chef doing things to local produce in the background. wink

DrankSangriaInThePark Sun 07-Jun-15 10:33:03

PS It's terribly untrendy of me to say so, but I fecking hated Asturias. The most boring place on the planet (and I say that as someone who has also lived in Brussels)

Into Castilla-Leon and down to Salamanca and the small towns around there are much more interesting. Asturias reminded me of Britain tbh. Including the weather. And the cabbage and potatoes.

DragonRojo Mon 08-Jun-15 19:19:24

I have been thinking that maybe the person who told you was in Madrid during the San Isidro festival and saw the "chulapas" all dressed up

http://www.spain.info/en_GB/reportajes/fiestas_de_san_isidro_en_madrid.html

HoneywithLemon Sun 14-Jun-15 09:58:46

I remember that the children and babies looked old fashioned. Very matchy- matchy, boys in shorts and knee socks a la Prince George if you know what I mean.

HelloClouds Sun 14-Jun-15 16:18:57

When we first went to live in Spain I saw lots of shops selling beautiful children's clothes and assumed these were for special occasions only. Not so - in our local town of Antequera in Andalucia the children were all dressed up to the nines every Sunday, and for summer evenings walking around the town streets, not just at fiesta time!
I also spent a few days in Seville where I felt distinctly under-dressed - the Spanish (particularly older ladies!) do take a lot of trouble with their appearance!

Chewbecca Mon 15-Jun-15 08:56:58

Another heathen here, we didn't like the north of Spain very much. It was cold and very misty/cloudy in the mountains (August). I know the cities and coast are supposed to have amazing food but in the mountains we found it was very basic, and not in a romantically rustic kind of way, mostly pork steaks with chips (nice chips mind!).
Wouldn't return.

abear Mon 15-Jun-15 09:05:43

I would second San Sebastián. I think you can still get the train destined for Lisbon as mentioned above. You can also then get local trains and buses to other nearby towns and Bilbao where the Guggenheim is worth a visit.

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