Where next in Spain?
Confusion reigns as we cross into Spain. Our plans are in disarray due to the storms coming in off the Bay of Biscay and we will not be exploring the North-west coast of Spain now, although we’re still not sure where we will go… For now, all we have decided is that we will visit Pamplona and figure out the next bit from there…
The drive through the Basque Country is beautiful, even in the rain. The hills look splendid in autumn colours and the river is flowing fast. We find a nice picnic area next to the river to stop for some coffee and a little explore. The tree canopy is acting like a large umbrella so it’s nice to be outside for a little while and Luna certainly appreciates the walk.
Travelling onwards, we come upon 2 long tunnels in quick succession. First the Almanoz tunnel at 1.2 miles long, followed swiftly by the Belate tunnel which is nearly 3 miles long. As we get to the other side of the Belate tunnel it’s a little bit like we’ve magically travelled to a different land altogether, as on this side of the mountains we find ourselves no longer in rain-soaked autumnal hills, but rather in a fairy-tale winter-wonderland! Everywhere is coated in a layer of white and it is still snowing! Luckily the roads are clear and we see quite a few snow-ploughs on our way. The temperature has also dropped about 9℃ and is now around freezing.
We decide to drive straight to the city Aire in Pamplona; a paid aire (€10 incl EHU) a short walk from the city centre. The next morning there is a brief dry spell so we set out early to catch the town before it closes again for the long Spanish lunches.
Pamplona was once a fortress city and you can still see large parts of the Citadel and its gates along the edge of the old town. The old town itself is a maze of narrow, dark lanes lined by high buildings which keep the sun out. In these lanes the (in)famous bull-running festival, Los Sanfermines, takes place.
The city on the other side of Plaza del Castillo is in sharp contrast to the dark, narrow lanes of the old town. The Av. de Carlos III is a wide, bright shopping street. The bull ring is off this main street, marked also by a statue depicting the bull-run. We enjoyed wandering the streets. Pamplona is a lively city with buzzing Pintxos bars seemingly everywhere. As the rain returns, we decide to find a warm cafe with a strong internet connection to do a little bit of work online.
The next day we move on again. We have decided that for now, we will head in the direction of Madrid and from there decide what route we will take. We start heading south and after a while it becomes clear we’re off the main motorhome drag for this time of year. It was fairly busy with quite a few British vanners, but as we pass the Zaragoza turning we stop seeing any other motorhomes at all.
The route south from Pamplona passed a few lovely places. We have a nice stop in Olite, a medieval village with a castle in its middle and lots of little lanes where nice restaurants are hidden in quiet corners. We drive on to Arguedas, a more modern town in many way, but with some very old cave houses, or troglodytes. The aire is right under these and there are some nice walks in the area. Unbelievably, it also seems to be mostly dry… Maybe we’ve finally outrun the rain…
We drive on via Cascante and Tarazona, which both also look like very interesting towns to spend a day or so, to our next stop in Soria. By now the sun is out and it is a lovely day so we get to explore the parks on the riverbank and see the town centre in its best light. We join the Spanish during their lunch break by enjoying a nice glass of wine outside one of the many bars, in the sun. It’s a nice area to stop on the way to Madrid.
Most of all, it’s nice to finally be out and about in the sun!
Next stop; Madrid!