Monday 20th November
Again no border checks between France and Spain – as a matter of fact there wasn’t even any signage – we didn’t know that we had crossed in to Spain.
Another magnificent day with blue skies and no wind, could not be happier than when the sun shines.
Not a long trip today but the area along the coastline is really busy with traffic and we have seen more motorhomes here than anywhere else for some time.
Our camp for tonight: AutoKarabanak Paseo de Berio, Donastia San Sebastián
A very large town which provides this camping ground exclusively for 30 or so motorhomes. When we arrived it was half full and close to capacity by next morning. Set behind the university and backing onto a hill, it was extremely quiet.
Had read about the fabulous Old Town here and were really keen to try the Pintxos or Tapas they refer to in our bible, so headed off with absolutely no idea which way to go. Had learned a few words of Spanish during our drive here so armed with our best Spanish, we approached three young girls siting on the steps of the University for directions. Just so refreshing, they got up and walked us to the bus stop. Another young man we approached here, told us to catch the No 5 bus and get off at the last stop – Boulevard. He waited with us until the bus arrived, hopped on and told the driver where we wanted to go and then the bus driver told us when to get off- a breath of fresh air.
Boulevard is in the heart of their Old Town with the Tourist Office right at the bus stop. Old Town is right on the tip of Kontkxa Bay so several parts of it offered a splendid view across the bay and the beautiful Kontkxa Beach. The marina there houses hundreds of small fishing boats, all packed in like sardines – very colourful.
Spent the whole afternoon going up and down the many fabulous cobblestone streets and of course stopping at one of the Tapas Bars which was absolutely packed. They certainly cater and welcome tourists here and the menus are in seven languages so made it easy to order. The tapas are a highlight here and are spread two tiers high across the bar area so you could just point to any of the delicacies you wished to eat. We sampled six treats and washed them down with a couple cervezas (beers) and then happily waddled towards the bus stop.
Had a great chat in the Tapas Bar with a man from Catalonia and he was explaining about why they are having elections in December – the Catalans don’t feel they are really Spanish and want independence – their President is in exile and 7 of their Government Ministers have been imprisoned – don’t want to nearby around election time – could be a lot of uprising.
Next challenge was finding our way home. We found the bus stop and hopped on the No 5 and asked to go to the University. We didn’t know the name of it, but thought we could recognise it. Wrong, the bus does not go back the same way as it came and the streets did not look familiar. The bus driver came to our rescue and stopped the bus, let us out and pointed the way to the University just around the corner. Now that is looking after tourists.
Should have stayed another day here as there was so much more to this great town and campsite and would highly recommend at least two days here.
Monday 21st November
Travelled away from the coast and headed south west towards the La Rioja Wine Region.
The countryside interestingly now has changed significantly and everything is drier. The green hills are gone and have been replaced with arid mountains similar to those we have seen in the black hills of Dakota USA. The landscape looks like something out of an old western movie where you see the tumbleweed scurry across the fields. No grass anymore just spindly bushes. The soil here is obviously very suited for wine growing and wherever we look the fields are full of vineyards (not green like on the Moselle) but brown and dry.
Our camp for tonight: Barrihuelo, Elciego
The town itself is very small and set on a hill overlooking the vineyard valleys. Everywhere in the town they have Bodegas which are wineries all keen for sales and open at different times.
There are so many bodegas here but two that are outstanding. The first is a short km walk from here so visited this one in the afternoon.
The Marques de Riscal Hotel is a Starwood Property set on 100,000 square kms dedicated to the production, storing and study of wine and is called The City Of Wine.
Designed by the Canadian Architect Frank O’Gehry, the building is a flamboyant wave of multicoloured titanium sheets – just stunning and so hard to describe but the picture will tell the story.
There are no free wine tastings here or in most of these bodegas so the only way to try the wines is to book a tour through the winery at a cost and you may get a couple tastings included in the price of the visit. We sat at the wine bar and paid for and sampled a couple of whites and reds before heading home through this quaint little hillside village with our purchases.
Only a few kms north of the town of Laguardia is the Bodega Ysios. Architecturally it is one of the most gob-smacking bodegas in Spain. It’s wavelike roof is made of aluminium and the exterior walls are made of cedar wood. Just stunning with the backdrop of the majestic mountains in the background.
Tuesday 22nd & Wednesday 23rd November
Again we travelled through countryside that was more than uninteresting.
Thought we were heading the wrong way as the only traffic on the road were trucks, trucks and more trucks – only the occasional car and definitely no motorhomes heading this way. Really hoped we wouldn’t break down as there were no villages for as far as you could see and beyond, mile after mile.
Our camp for two nights: Area de Burgos, Burgos
Amazingly beautiful large town. Spent two days here and still did not see everything.
The camping area is complimentary and has all services except electricity provided. Very few of the 35 spots were unoccupied during this time – very busy but very quiet and peaceful at night.
Walked the soles off our shoes over the two days and saw so much. This town is a Mecca for cathedrals, churches, museums and the tapas bars and restaurants were just excellent and so inexpensive. Bought two beers that cost under $2.00 each and the huge tapas were about the same price. We only managed to eat two each. The locals use these bars to meet and mingle and play cards – very interesting.
La Catedral de Burgos was truly amazing perched high on the hill above the Old Town, it is a declared UNESCO world heritage site. From there we climbed about 80 steps to the castle on the hill which we found had closed 10 minutes before we got there. Got some great panoramas of the town though before heading back down and then the 3 kms back to Ziggy.
So glad we found this town and is really worth the visit for a couple of days.
For fellow travellers: Head north past the Alcampo superstore along Avenida d’Castilla Leon which leads onto Avendia de la Paz and keep going until you hit Centrum – from there the spires of La Catedral de Burgos can be seen from most parts of Old Town. The traffic in here is chaotic with very narrow one way streets so walking is suggested. We drove on the first day and walked it on the second day and would not recommend driving in a motorhome.