by Karen Davies | Mar 3, 2018 | Interactive maps, Spain, Travel Blog
Travelling through Spain over the last two years has been an enlightening experience that has taught us plenty, surprised us consistently and captivated us completely. Ever since our first steps on these shores, when we set out on our nomadic adventure in March 2016, each of our three return trips to Spain have opened up our eyes to a rich culture, a diverse landscape and an enthralling history. Above all Spain has wriggled its way into our affections and allowed us to see beyond its ‘Costa’ reputation. A deep respect for this fascinating and bountiful country has grown within us and leaves us wanting more.
As we have completed this year’s exit from this delightful country, it feels appropriate to track back our Spanish travel trilogy – three visits in three separate years – in the vein hope to capture some of our adventures and highlights as we uncovered this much misunderstood southern European country. The Interactive Map below represents the Spanish adventure that we have embarked on and whilst it still remains an incomplete jigsaw, it has created enough intrigue for us to return each winter to put a few more pieces into our Spanish Masterpiece. Click on the map for an extensive compilation of Points of Interest, campsites, wild spots, co-ordinates, images and links to old blogs and videos that we have taken during our time in this land of fiesta and passion.
To accompany that we have offered a short write up on each of the seven regions we have allowed our wanderlust to play in the hope that it might inspire you to return to the map to pin point exactly where we’ve been and called home. Enjoy this Spanish Compilation and let it whet your adventurous spirit.
<iframe src="https://www.google.com/maps/d/embed?mid=1LFMVnfH3KLK1La7OCo0UoLX8IT5thwUx&hl=en" width="640" height="480"></iframe>
Aragon’s special three!
This landlocked region of north-eastern Spain cries out for attention as so many flock for the coastal fringes of Spain’s Costas. Although the sun seekers’ loss is a traveller’s gain as this northern territory offers history and scenery in poetic partnership. Aragon’s very first offering as you drive through the Somport Tunnel is the once grand, Canfranc Estacion, calling for you to rest your eyes upon its 365 windows and half a mile long platform. A ghost station that demands your respect even in its abandoned state.
The mountains beyond offer you monasteries and chiselled hamlets with religious acclaim, not to mention the panoramic vistas across to the Pyrenean foothills. And of course you can’t pass by en route south without calling in to see Albarracín with its medieval wall-city, Moorish fort ruins and its 16th Century Cathedral. Perhaps a night in Teruel, Spain’s highest town will tempt you to observe its Mudéjar architecture, a fusion of Gothic and Islamic styles that is unique to the area.
Andalucia – Home to Bullfighting, Flamenco and so much more…
This is Spain’s second largest region stretching from its south-western most borders with Portugal right across to the south-east fringes. It is one of the most diverse regions as it binds together mountains, coast, wetland and dunes, embraced by the most enthralling historical wrapping you can imagine. With Christians fighting against the Moors, who from their North African neighbour, set out to conquer the whole region within four years. The Moor’s dominance is clear to see throughout the region with Cadiz, Granada, Seville and Cordoba show-casing their Moorish dominance and architectural influence.
Although don’t be bewitched by their impressive buildings at the expense of Ronda, for its precarious habitation above the stunning El Tajo gorge is a sight to be seen. The iconic arches of the Puente Nuevo bridge built high above the valley floor, connects the old and new town and its atmospheric prowess certainly commands your attention.
Deep in the mountains north of Cadiz, you will find the Pueblo Blancos – villages of built entirely of white stone, most of which are nestled within the heartland of the Sierra de Grazalema National Park. Grazalema is our favourites with its steep, cobbled streets and authentic village ambiance, you feel humbled by its beauty. And just further east, past Granada the Sierra Nevadas provides humble abode to the isolated mountain retreats of Las Alpujarras – the most authentic place to experience Spanish artisans. The journey through the mountains is a delightful step back in time which will pique your cultural curiosity.
To the far west, mention must be made to the diverse landscape of Doñana National Park – an important wetland area for wildlife in particular the protected Iberian Lynx and Imperial Eagle. Twinned with the Camargue region of southern France, Doñana is of significant importance and has become a UNESCO World Heritage site and whilst no doubt impressive – it is the draw of the eclectic, Wild West-style town of El Rocio that captivates many explorers with its cult status pilgrimage in late May. El Rocio defies description and is just one of those places you have to visit and see with your own eyes, although be warned if you go in the festival season in May (or to be more precise 50 days after Easter Sunday), you will be sharing the experience with 1 million other people intent of participating in this unique gathering of brotherhood members.
Whilst many descend upon the Costa del Sol with Marbella, Torremolinos and Malaga at its heart – it is beyond the sprawling mass of high-rises, villas and Golf Courses where you will find the truest and finest mountain experience. 50km from Malaga and the Guadalhorce National Park – Spain’s Lake District entices you into to hike this mountainous region. With special mention of course to the infamous El Caminito del Rey, one of Europe’s most dangerous walks through the canyons of the Garganta del Chorro, which is something that simply must be done. The Land Beyond Malaga is something else and must surely be witnessed by us.
And last, and by no means least – if getting off the beaten track is an important part of your travel ethos, then the Sierra de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas is the cherry on the cake. In the centre of Olive Grove central just east of Jaén, this mountain region which represents the largest National Park in Spain, is one of those places that has cameras clicking and visitors muttering the immortal words of ‘Ooh’ ‘Ah’ and ‘Wow’ several times a minute. So much wild beauty that the sandy beaches of the Costa’s simply can’t compete with – whilst pretty in their own way if you can see beyond the concrete jungle. Andalucia – the most diverse and wondrous region of Spain.
Castilla y Leon – the big UNESCO three
Having high anticipation of our Spanish exploration when we arrived early March to snow, we were somewhat amused. Where was the iconic sunburst that we had planned on enjoying? Where was that illusive blue sky that Spain is so famous for? It certainly wasn’t in this northern region of Spain. Still, regardless of minus temperatures, we were determined to enjoy our virgin experience of this mighty country and especially as there are three major UNESCO sites in a golden triangle.
First of all you have Burgos, capital to this Castilla region and packing a mighty punch with its ‘still in tact’ medieval Cathedral. Still in tact is a gross exaggeration as this architectural feat defies the laws of erosion. This is a fine example of Gothic design and is most famous for its tomb of El Cid. Entry is only €7 and to walk around this stunning piece of art – whether you love churches or not, quite honestly is irrelevant. You cannot walk away from this experience without being humbled by its prominence.
2.5hrs down the road you will find your second UNESCO site and this was our favourite of the three. As from the moment you walk from the origins of the immaculate Roman aqueduct down the steps towards the old town, you realise that Segovia is full of historical splendour. Cobbled streets that wind their ways uphill give you a great vista across the Spanish landscape and within the city walls, every corner you turn is yet another throwback in time. You could almost imagine yourself in a Dickensian novel. And whilst the cathedral is undoubtedly a work of art, it is the Disney-style Alcazar that truly owns the town and our affections. Whilst it has been renovated and in fact is still work in progress, this is a wonderful sight that goes well beyond the crass Instagram pose. Segovia’s buildings and her resident storks that often do a flypast, are just mesmerising and a day is simply not enough – just a flavour. Spend more time here if you can as its history and architectural charm will render you speechless.
Just two more hours west towards the Portuguese border you will find the third UNESCO, which if you’re not already sensationalised-out, will leave you with warmth and charm. Salamanca different yet again to its siblings with the river and its bridges creating the first impression. With the somewhat sprawling new town on the other side of the river, you wonder whether the inner sanctum will stack up and that is a big resounding YES. Within the city walls you have a blend of cosmopolitan energy mixed with historical prowess that as you climb the steps towards the fortress gives you a bird’s eye view of the town below you. It is full of character and with its sandstone walls will entice you to stay awhile.
Receiving big media coverage in 2017/18, this north eastern region of Spain has been, and continues to battle for independence. Catalonian’s passion for their unique identity is evident around the region as their express their feelings with flags, posters and yellow ribbons. Irrespective of what the world may think about the politics, Catalonia is host to some seriously beautiful countryside, cities and culture. It packs a real punch when you look at Barcelona! What more could you ask for from a city? Art, class, history, architecture beauty, coast, texture. However you feel about cities, Barcelona will impress. And that’s before you look beyond Barcelona and see the richness of Monserrat and the limestone pinnacles that rise out of the earth, housing the most incredible Monastery. And what of the charming seaside town of Sitges? These are just some of Catalonia’s gems that need our time and admiration.
The Costa Brava region is delightful – a craggy coast with hidden bays, peninsulars and a classier waterfront than its southern cousins. Secret villages that provide a creative retreat like the charm of Salvador Dali’s home Cadaques and L’Escala, just around the bay is another delightful place. If you are looking for more of a city vibe then Girona might fit the bill, with its young community, music and flower festivals, we’re sure that its chic streets might lure you.
If it’s off the beaten track you long for, then the likes of hiking in the Monserrat mountains or even an exploration of the small yet beautifully formed Peralada and Besalu could well appeal and it is tucked away in these countryside hamlets that you will find hidden history of warriors defending their land and diverse locals looking to live in harmony together. Not much has changed over the centuries. No tourists, just the ghosts of a time past and a few locals on a day out from the city.
Catalonia is rich in landscape and history – both ancient and modern and all we can do is to watch their evolution and enjoy their offerings.
Extremadura – land of the Raptors
The highlight for us of this land-locked region has to be Spain’s largest and newest National Park – Monfragüe (pronounced Monfrauway). Tucked just east off of the highway, this vast Park is home to the most incredible wildlife; most significantly its raptors and other birdlife. Monfrague with its reservoirs and rolling hills and mountains play host to 9th century castles with history seeping from every stone of its remnants to cave dwellings showing us a life way back when. And if that isn’t enough, the park is home to many protected breeds of birds such as the majestic Black Stork, Egyptian Vultures, Imperial Eagles and White-bellied Swifts. You can take a bird-watching tour and be guided around the birds’ safe havens, although taking your own tour will give you amble opportunity to see clouds of raptors take to the sky and nest up in the craggy rock faces.
Whilst these region has undoubted other highlights, for us this was the stand-out and is a very special place to watch wildlife thrive in an unthreatened environment. It’s a timeless landscape that will have you enthralled.
Murica – Jewels amongst the Greenhouse Mecca
Murcia at first glance feels like it is one of the least explored regions we have visited. And yet as I pin-pointed our highlights I was surprised by how many amazing little gems we found. Beyond the sea of Greenhouses, which is central to Murcia’s economy, your wanderlust will be seriously exercised. For example how about the delights of the craggy Cabo de Gata coastline where the rocks look like they have been hand-chiselled? Or the architecture from the Romans through to modern day designs in the vibrant city of Cartagena? Or the mesmerising display of Aguilas during its February carnival period that will have you feeling like you’re in Rio de Janeiro or somewhere in a Mardi Gras?
Perhaps something more tranquil and authentic would better suit your needs, if so then look no further than the Ricote Valley, just an hour away from the region’s capital Murcia. This quiet, off the beaten track valley is donned with citrus orchards that omit their mesmerising aromas and blossoms in early spring. Authentic Spanish villages where no English will be spoken, allow you to be transported into a period where life has been untouched by modern technology. Bodegas, with their home-made liquor and markets full of local produce will make you feel like you are in the heart of traditional, old Spain, leaving behind the images of the greenhouses and hotel strewn coastlines. Murcia is a little bundle of delights and not just a region to be passed through to get to the resorts east and west. Charm, history and genuine Spanish life will magnetise here and ask you to stay awhile.
by Karen Davies | Apr 25, 2016 | Travel Blog
As we sit just across the French/Spain border, it seems appropriate to reflect on our Spanish odyssey over the last seven weeks and compile our favourite Top 10 Spanish Delights. It has been a real immersion into the soul of another country and we have come out the other side with a greater understanding and love for this Iberian land and its hidden treasure. Whilst there is so much more to explore, these were our highlights.
Stunning Segovia – Castilla y León
We were often overwhelmed by Spain’s irrefutable religious devotion, evidenced by the passion that went into the construction of their religious monuments. The most memorable collection for us is Segovia accompanied by its charming old town, which requires a whole new vocabulary of colourful adjectives. From the Roman aqueduct which powerfully imprints its historical legacy, to the market of the Plaza Mayór overseen by the shadow of its magnificent Cathedral and of course the Castle, which looks like it’s jumped straight out of a Disney film. Perched high, Segovia commands your admiration as you wonder through its characterful alleyways, its network of cobbled streets and plethora of religious masterpieces that caste a magical spell over you forever.
Seductive Seville – Andalucía
Seville was an attack on our senses, and powerless to her charm, we surrendered with every fibre of our body. Aside of the tourist haunts that seem an inevitable drawn, Seville has so much more that the hop-on, hop-off buses and over-priced horse-drawn carriages. When you look deep into Seville’s soul, it tells a story that engages you with each turning page. It’s a real sensory explosion that left me feeling touched by something far more than bricks and mortar. The Orange Blossom trees that line the avenues, the magnetising allure of Alcazar’s Palace, the doves that don the silver birch trees in Plaza España, the ornate historical and modern buildings and the elegant feel of each city corner that held its own secret. Seville is a stunning place to let yourself go and experience something so much more than a touristic excursion.
Delightful Doñana and El Rocío – Andalucía
After the buzz of Seville what better place to soothe our racing heart than Mother Nature’s rhythm. Doñana National Park is one of Europe’s most important and diverse parks, offering three unique ecosystems; forest, wetlands and sand dunes. This wild south-western corner of Spain is, we suspect, much missed out by many visitors, unless you are going in or out of Portugal. If bird-life is your thing, then Doñana is a must on your Spanish odyssey. Add to this, the intriguing El Rocío that with its eclectic, non-conformist community, leaves you treading through its sandy, unsealed roads, feeling like its been a Holywood movie set. El Rocío is just one of those places that has to be seen to be appreciated. Words and pictures just don’t do it justice.
Gorgeous Grazalema – Andalucía
The mountains in Spain hold so many treasures that when you can tear yourself away from the motorway south or the beach lounger along the Costas, they will simply make your heart skip a beat. We loved the mountains and we danced amongst them as often as we could, as this is where we felt most at home. Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, east of Jerez is just a joy. After the buzz of towns like Cadiz and Seville, this haven of majestic giants is like the soothing feel of a velvet blanket around your shoulders on a cold night. This region is home to the famous ring of Pueblo Blancos – White towns, which as the name suggests are full of white-washed houses that each have their own character and history. As you climb the mountains exhausted by the hair-pin bends, you gently sink into Grazalema’s welcome. This spectacular village clings purposefully to the side of the mountain claiming its right to perch there for all eternity. I was moved to tears when driving into this village, as around every bend more of its beauty is revealed and you get drawn into its cobbled streets, España Plaza and its dazzling whiteness. I defy you not to fall in love with this hidden treasure chest of loveliness.
Magnificent Monfragüe – Extremadura
Purely by chance, we were looking for a change from the religious cultural explosion that we had experienced in Burgos, Segovia and Salamanca – and Monfragüe popped up offering us sanctuary. With Red Kites, Storks and Vultures flying overhead, we soon began to appreciate the preciousness of this natural park. It is home to a number of rare breeds, namely the Black Vulture and Black Stork, which are, worldwide, endangered species. Amongst it voluptuous mountains and deep river valleys, you are entertained by clouds of these amazing raptors, as they sedately catch a thermal or two. The walks through the area are just stunning and you can easily while away a week here, if you’re a nature lover. Peace, tranquility and raw nature welcome you in this Spanish heart-land.
Resplendent Ronda – Andalucía
Ronda’s iconic bridge over the plunging gorge features heavily in Spanish holiday marketing – and it is not be to be missed. Its stunning city walls, old town offerings and of course the gorge, will treat you to a veritable feast of photo opportunities, walking or simply coffee drinking and people watching to the echoes of the church bells. We watched a Flamenco dance here too, which was mesmerising and so emotional that you will leave feeling blessed to have witnessed something so heart-driven and passionate.
Glorious Güejar Sierra – Andalucía
Deep in the Sierra Nevada mountains, north of Malaga and away from the Costa crowds you stumble upon Granada. Now whilst this is indeed a beautiful place to visit and the Alhambra Palace the major draw for most people, what was more memorable for us was the spot about 8km outside of the city, up in the mountains. Güejar Sierra is a small and charming village that has adjusted to mountain life admirably and with a bus that takes the Snakes and Ladders route to the city twice an hour, civilisation really isn’t far. There are plentiful walks, and the ice-blue Embalse de Canales to feast your eyes on too. If you are lucky as we were, to have a spring storm, then you will be rewarded with snow-capped mountain peaks making for a picture-postcard album of photographs. The peace we found here was soul-soothing and yet another one of those places that you just could have stayed at forever.
Dazzling Denia – Valencian Community
East from Granada on the coast you have another Costa that lures in the English tourist. Yet beyond the traditional Costa Blanca holiday destination is the more tranquil host of towns that includes Jávea, Denia and Olva. We didn’t quite make it to Javea as the pine-clad campsite of Los Pinos in Denia seduced us into enjoy its delights; its elegant promenade, cliff and mountain walking, its classy marina all entice you to simply hang out. We loved our goat impersonations as we hiked along precarious cliff edges and our training for the Tour De France took shape, as we cycled along the towns many dedicated cycle routes, often distracted by the stunning scenery passing by our eyes. Whilst not the nightlife you might expect from further down the coast, this was a super place to park up for three or four days and just be.
Visionary Valencia – Valencian Community
One thing you can’t do in Valencia is be. Valencia invites to you walk amongst its city streets and marvel at its understated pleasures. After the historical dunking from our previous cities, Valencia offered us
a refreshing modern twist on architecture. The parks running around the outside of the city are a haven for fitness enthusiasts and the Catalonian culture speaks volumes here, as ladies in their La Falla customs glide through the streets after church and the local flag proudly flutters from windows stating their allegiance. Valencia needs to be savoured and our one day trip was simply not enough. It needs – no, it deserves more time to wander.
Colourful Costa Brava coast – Catalonia
Our final highlight is the Costa Brava. Its fusion of rugged coastline with bays, coves, mountains, peninsulars and beautiful beaches show little evidence of flocking Costa tourists. This is the quiet, more elegant Costa, just east of Girona and only a handful of kilometres from the French border and the Pyrenees. We called home, a place just east of L’Escala on the Montgó peninsular with a sandy beach one side and a craggy cove the other. Its mountain backdrop frames the bay and its coves beautifully, as they try to shelter from the tempestuous Tramontane wind.
The highlight of this part of our trip was heading over the mountain to Salvador Dali’s territory, Cadaqués, which had a very special, creative energy about it. Built into the rocks, this town sparkles with artistic talent from its painted electricity cupboards to its artisan shops selling their wares and the iconic bay upon which the town gazes for its inspiration.
With a very contented sigh, I reflect back upon the journey we’ve taken, that not only was virginal for us in Spain, it was also our first experience of living in a motorhome full time, with no house to speak of and no jobs. Just us, the road, our chariot and the Spanish countryside waiting to inspire and teach us and what a classroom it’s been. With gratitude we appreciate all that we’ve experienced and look ahead to our French adventure with eager anticipation. It calls us to return and savour its delights some more. And in the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, ‘We’ll be back!’
by Myles Davies | Apr 20, 2016 | Spain
It’s is now March 2016 and having spent a month here and 6 weeks there, mostly on two wheels, the motoroamers are now full time in ‘Scooby’, their newly purchased Motorhome and this is the first gallery from the first time to Spain ( I’m sure there’ll be many more ). Hope you enjoy……
Grazalema – Pueblo Blanco, Spain
by Myles Davies | Apr 2, 2016 | Travel Blog
So, after what seemed like an age of organising, logisticising and planning ( in fact it was only 3 months) we set off on our year long (or maybe two) motorhome trip around Europe. It was March 4th 2016. ‘Scoobie’ our Pilote 740c motorhome had arrived, had been kitted out and was ready to go. The rental house was handed back to the landlord, our furniture was squashed into a ‘big yellow’ unit and off to Padstein we went, just for a few days before we headed off.
The weather was inclement when we arrived in Cornwall as it had been for ten whole weeks leading up to our trip but that was OK because our first port of call was Spain and it was March so it will be warming up nicely we thought. When I say inclement what I mean is lashing down with sleet, thunder and lightening. It didn’t seem to matter even though it had rained solidly since christmas because all our hard preparation had to come an end and now was the time to get a little excited. After all, it’s not every day you sell up and head off to who knows where for who knows how long in a 7.5 meter tin can on wheels. Some 24 hours later and 800 miles further south we landed in Santander on Spain’s northern coast, to find well, err, the same weather as we had left in Padstow… ‘Not a great start, I mused, but it’ll warm up in a day or two, surely.
After two days of torrential rain, thunder and lightening we decided to say goodbye to the elephant park, our first stop after disembarkation and headed south to find sunnier climes. Most of the other Motorhomes that joined us that first night, we presume, had jumped on the motorway and blasted south to Marbella or somewhere like that but we wanted to explore the northern part of Spain as it looked fabulous on the maps. Surely Burgos, two hours drive away, would be warmer. We took our time and meandered along the ‘A’ roads up and over the hills, climbing up one hairpin after another. Over the hills, over the ‘SNOW’ covered hills we crawled, winding our way down the other side. SNOW, FLIPPIN SNOW!!! This wasn’t part of the plan. Maybe those other Motorhomes knew something we didn’t.
It was snowing when we got to Burgos, a light dusting was forming over the camp ground as we manoevered Scoobie into place. We really didn’t do much as it was so cold you could freeze prawns on the cooker but we managed a bike ride into town avoiding the snow showers as we went. We had received the heads up about a building worth oggling over so we thought we’d take a look and err, well, yeah actually, it was worth the frost bitten fingers and stinging earache. Wow, it was impressive. A big church! No, a really big church. We took the tour just to warm up and allegedly history would have you believe that around 1250AD some unsavoury types with bad attitudes came up from the south to pillage, rape and claim land as their own and the christians who had settled there had to put some manners on them. Handbags were thrown and a christian victory ensued and they built this cathedral as commemoration of their glory. Some wine was drunk, a few boars slaughtered, a few more christians entered the world nine months later ( presumably) and everyone lived happily ever after.
Personally, I have no idea what these unsavoury types were thinking. I would have stayed south in the warm which is precisely what we had come to Spain to look for… warmth. Not wanting to prolong our arctic discomfort any longer we packed up and took the high road south to Segovia just north of Madrid. Surely it would be warmer there, it’s just north of Madrid. It was flippin colder, a perishing ‘0’ degrees. That’s ZERO. Too cold to snow! As I walked around this ‘not to be missed’ beautiful Roman town complete with aqueduct, cathedral and palace, I felt my ‘stiff upper lip’ quiver as I tried to revive my frost bitten fingers once again. The thin film of light grey cirrus cloud prevented the sun from heating the ground, the icy wind piercing through 4 layers of clothing at the turn of every corner of this beautiful place. I couldn’t help thinking ‘What the hell were the Romans doing building a town here’.
In very basic Spanish I asked a local if this was normal weather. He said.. ‘yada yada yada’. I said ‘wha?’ He said ‘yada yada yada’. I said ‘wha?’ He said ‘yada yada yada’. Not a clue if it was normal weather or not but whether it was or wasn’t it was effin freezing. Does’t really matter because the upshot of the lowdown is that Segovia should deffo be on the todo list, just leave it till May and stay in the freebie site in the carpark by the Bullring. It was clean, tidy and graffiti free. No electric but a dump and water. Perfick.
As we headed off to our next stop, Salamanca, I was full of hope. With the aid of a google search I had fathomed that Segovia sits a whopping 3000 plus feet above sea level, no wonder it was brassic. The further west we went and the lower we descended, the more the clouds broke up and the more the outside temperature gauge on the dash went up and up. 2, 4, 7… 9… Hey up I thought, I’m on to a winner here… It seemed to stay on 9 for an age but then just outside Salamanca a miracle happened… BOOM…10, TEN DEGREES then 11 then 12… ‘Give someone a lollypop… DOUBLE FIGURES!!! You beauty. And there it was, in all it’s glory….. the Sun.
The quest for the big yellow ball in the sky was over. Poking out from behind a little fluffy cumulo cloud in the big blue sky it was a joy to behold… After a brief trip to the hozzie to recover from mild hyperthermia, we unhitched the bikes and headed off into town for a mooch with a whopping 14 degrees outside temperature. Happy Days!
Salamanca, now there’s a place but thats for the next post. TTFN
by Karen Davies | Mar 12, 2016 | Spain, Travel Blog
Star date 12 March 2016
Where has the last week gone? Who stole it? We don’t want it back, as there’s great fun to be had ahead, although just like to know who’s nabbed it. It’s just flown by. Who would have thought that in one week we would have locked up our furniture, said goodbye to our temporary home, said ‘au revoir’ to our friends, been to Cornwall for a meal at Rick’s place and sailed over to Spain. We’re now sitting about half way down the country, in Monfrague National Park, Entremadura Region.
Now, for those of you who are familiar with my blogs from our NZ Road-Trip, you will know how much I love my superlatives. For those of you new to my colourful and poetic travel summaries, let’s see if I can inspire, inform and entertain – just a little.
As I reflect on what we’ve achieved in the last six months, let alone the last week, I am amazed and proud of all that we have navigated. We’ve said good bye to the Matrix and set off on an adventure which we hope will be not so much life-changing, as life-enhancing.
So let’s begin….
The week, as I reflect back has been a cultural invasion for us country folk. Although we must admit to being just a little bit surprised by the weather. Now I know that the weather is unpredictable at the best of times in UK, although we had this preconceived idea that Spain would be sunny. Well what a baptism of fire that has been. Thunder storms, gale-force winds, hail, snow and piercingly cold temperatures have all been in the mix and apparently that’s normal for this part of the country. We made a conscious decision not to chase the sun as the weather is not a major driver for our experiences – although Myles does love the heat. Yet the idea of by-passing some of Spain’s most incredible cities was just too preposterous to imagine. So wrapped in our traditional English finery; thick coats, hats and gloves, we ventured towards the culture that we knew would expand our minds if not tan our bodies.
Research showed me, that Castile y Leon offered a huge amount of history and architecture, and yet one thing we learnt in NZ was that you can’t see everything, even with the freedom that we’re blessed with on this trip. So we selected a route – please enter; Burgos, Segovia and Salamanca. We so want to leave more than tyre tracks and leave behind just a little bit of our hearts in the places we visit, although perhaps that will be a little easier to do when it’s warmer, as sitting in one of the many Plaza’s with a beer, people-watching is great when you have 18 degrees of sunshine.
All three cities we’ve been privileged to explore, have blown our minds and it’s really difficult to set them apart, so I’m not even going to try, as to compare would be disrespectful. Each one is a UNESCO site and unique in its style, vibe and layout. Burgos was our first visit and wow, even as non-Church goers, that Cathedral was something else. And the river cycle ride was quite gorgeous on their purpose-built bicycle tracks – even if a tad chilly. Now Segovia, was in another class altogether. Romanesque aqueducts, Princess castles straight out of a Disney film and a Cathedral with a network of crooked Spanish streets offering the visitor delights of everyday Spanish living. We felt incredibly humbled to be part of this city and could have spent so much more time winding around its imposing city walls. And then came Salamanca; we worried that we’d be a bit overdone with churches and imposing religious artefacts. Although how could you not be impressed by the towering giants of intricate edifices, gargoyles and padres. Salamanca blew our minds as in one square mile, there were more churches, cathedrals and religious structures than the previous two cities we’d visited. We kept walking around in complete awe and we don’t do cities.
In amongst all of our exploring, we have also had to balance our work. It’s been tricky because the travelling and magnetic draw to see these incredible sights has, quite honestly, distracted us. With beautiful, road-less-travelled routes offering so much secret beauty with richly coloured houses of gold, greens and aubergines, snow capped mountains, Black Vultures, Storks nesting on electricity pylons, red Squirrels and Red Kites, who could blame us for not engaging with our work. What lovely distractions they are too. Although engage we must. So we’ve settled into a routine that allows us to travel, work, rest and explore, although having a couple of days to park up and just be, feels like the right thing to do as we enter the next Spanish region, Entremadura. Now out in the countryside, amidst the mountains, swallows, oh and a little bit of ‘need to put our shorts on’ weather, will provide an ample base for a bit of catch up.
We’ve adjusted to our new way of life, quite nicely, although it has to be said, yesterday’s domestic duties did not inspire me. I had to give myself a reality check though, as of course, this is life and chores need doing whether in four walls or in a motorhome. So I soon got over myself. We do, if I’m honest, still feel like we’re on holiday and I had a poignant moment this morning when asked, ‘where do you come from?’ I didn’t quite know how to answer this very simple of questions. I came to the conclusion, after spluttering out a half-baked response, that my home is where I plant my feet and where Scoobie parks up his tyres. How blessed are we to be living this reality.
So until next week – adios!
Archos Santa Maria – Burgos
Segovia’s Disney Castle
Salamanca’s many beauties
Segovia’s hidden street gems
Our over nighter at Segovia’s Bullring!