Subject: Picos de Europa, Bilbao, Pyrenees, Barcelona
Hola Graciela. I am glad you found place at the Hotel El Oso. I ate there a couple of years ago, and it is a very nice place. They usually have a lot of game. Friends from Santander were around last weekend, and they had recommended Posada de Santa Juliana in Santillana del Mar, and Hotel de San Roman de Escalante. I have read good things about this one lately.

And now a bit of sightseeing in the Valley of Liebana, the place where the Hotel El oso is located. Nearby you can find Santo Toribio de Liebana, a romanic monastery where you will find the Beato de Liebana, a wonderful book about the Apocalipsis. They have jubilee years, like Santiago de Compostela and Rome. I think that last year was one of them.

At the very end of the Liebana valley you will find Fuente De, from there you can go up to the Picos de Europa National Park in a cable car. Check with the hotel, because they maught be able to organize excursions from Espinama (another village in the valley) up to Aliva. There is an old hunting lodge from Alfonso XIII up there.

Potes is the capital town of the Liebana. It has some nice buildings (casonas) and there are a few good restaurants. I have eaten in a couple of them under the archs, but I donīt have the name with me.

The main dish is the cocido lebaniego (made with chickpeas and pork meat) and a good liqueur to finish the meal would be the Orujo de Potes (strong, but good for your stomach after the hearty meal). And of course, the cheese. Although the famous one is Cabrales, in Liebana you can find the quesucos (small ones made with goat milk) and the Picón de Tresviso, blue and strong.

Donīt forget to visit Lebeņa and its visigothic church on your way out of Liebana.

Now# I remember that you wanted to eat some good fish in Bilbao. A good place is Asador Guetaria, in Colon de Larreategui. Iīll look for the phone number. If you can, try the rape (I think itīs swordfish), and drink some albariņo from 2000 with it. I donīt recommend the Martin Codax, the best one for me is Santiago Ruiz, but itīs difficult to find, maybe a Terras Gaudas is easier.

On your way to Barcelona. I am not very good about the part of your journey between Jaca and Barcelona. Sos del Rey Católico is a beautiful village, and the parador has a nice veranda to sit down. Relax, and have a drink. If you go to Jaca, you can visit the romanic cathedral and the citadel. There are too many patisseries, I am afraid. A nice restaurant is the Meson Serrablo, near the cathedral. The owner gets fresh fish from Pasajes near San Sebastian every day, and also the meat is quiet good. Afterwards, there are a few places near the cathedral and on the main road where you can sit down and enjoy looking at the people passing by. I like Ulzama and the café Pilgrim. There are people of all ages. Last year I recommended to John to stay at the Hotel Conde Aznar. Itīs a family run hotel, and usually it is nice.

Far away, you can visit places such as Ordesa (but it would take you a whole day walking to see the waterfalls) or the small town of Ainsa.

For your last days in Barcelona, I am afraid I am not very good. Iīd try to look for a hotel in the Eixample or the Passeig de Gracia, rather than near the Ramblas. But thatīs just my opinion. I have only been to Barcelona on business trips lately, so I guess the Melia Barcelona is not really a budget and charm option (but the breakfast buffet is so good, everything, from ham, tortilla de patatas to Sacher cake#)

Saludos, and donīt hesitate in writing to me.

Covadonga in Bilbao (Spain)