A dash through Spain

After our Portuguese love affair and with time starting to run out on this trip, we decided that we would like to spend a bit more time in France on our way back. There are vast areas of Spain we’ve yet to see and explore, so we planned a route through the Extremadura and Northern Spain and we start on our journey.

First up is historic Cáceres. The plan is to stay one night, see the sights and move on… As with all our ‘plans’ it falls at the first hurdle as we hear that our friends from Only the Bare Necessities are arriving the next day. So we stay a day longer, see the sights and spend time catching up with friends!

Next on the plan was supposed to be Madrid, but we struggled to find a good location to park Rex (we like secure aires in big cities) mostly because we travel with a dog so public transport is often not an option. So instead of Madrid, we travelled north to the Jerte Valley on recommendation by Sarah and Andy. Here we find a beautiful national park, great for hikes and seeing natural rock erosions in rock pools. We walk to Hell’s Gorge or Garganta de los Infiernos to see the Rock Pools. Beautiful sights! There are many more national parks, walks and waterfalls in this area so we will be back!

The next day we move on through the valley and over a windy mountain road, leading us across the Tornavacas Pass at nearly 1300 meters high, where it was still very very cold! We move on with a vague notion of going to Salamanca, but when we get there we decide we want to make some more progress so we drive on and find a park up for the night at Puente de Simancas. We’re parked up on the bank of the river Ebro by an ancient stone bridge leading into he hilltop village of Simancas. It’s a quiet spot with a lovely view.

By now our original travel plan is well and truly out of the window and we have another day of travelling with a lunch stop in Burgos where we go for a walk around, but rain hampers play and Luna definitely doesn’t want to walk so we end up carrying her back to Rex for a swift departure. What we did see of Burgos was very nice. The rain isn’t budging so we find an aire in Nanclares de la Oca where we get ourselves cosied up with the blinds up to keep the sight of the rain out. We’re really hoping the weather stays good after how lucky we’ve been most of the winter. We’re not ready to look at grey skies…

We’re moving into the Basque Country and what a surprise this turns out to be! We knew it would be different, as the Basque people are proud of their distinct culture, but we hadn’t expected it to be so visible in so many ways, from the way the buildings looked to their own distinct font on signs in a language we can’t even begin to decipher. The landscape is mountainous and stunning and the route winding with beautiful views.

We spend a day/night in Oñati where we explore the village but most of all we enjoy the views from our little spot on the local aire across to the mountains. What a wonderful place to be! And the sun is out again as well!

It seems in the Basque Country, that the motorhome aires are very well developed, with many free aires including services. We’ll definitely be back to see more of this beautiful area!

Although we wanted to spend another night in this beautiful part of the world, as we started travelling we stopped at some aires near San Sebastian, we weren’t really feeling it, and we decided to move on. As we tend to avoid toll roads, we ended up on a lovely route through some more mountains and Basque villages. It was a real pleasure to see the landscapes rolling by. Before we knew it, we had crossed the border and we found ourselves in France!

There is so much more to explore in Spain! There are so many national parks to see, so many more places in the Extremadura we want to visit, then there is central Spain and Madrid, as well as much more of the Basque Country and Northern Spain. Even in the parts of Spain where we travelled slowly, there are still many places still to visit. We’ve kept a list of places that we feel we might’ve missed so we have a starter for 10 for the next time we’re in Spain.

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