Arriving in Spain
Our arrival in Spain was over the Pyrenees from France in mid-March. We then spent the next two weeks travelling down the Eastern Spanish coast, stopping in sites near cities, on beach fronts and in the woodland of National Parks. We were immediately immersed in Spanish culture and history and highlights included visiting the many tourist sights of Barcelona, including Barca’s football grounds and Gaudi’s buildings, walking along sandy beaches beside the clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea and enjoying a Catalan BBQ, tapas, Spanish beer and Sangria. We enjoyed getting a flavour of what Spanish culture is like by visiting local markets and attending Las Fallas, one of Spain’s many flamboyant festivals.
After spending the first couple of weeks inching our way down the Spanish east coast, appreciating warmer and warmer weather, we then started to turn inland and up towards the capital. The beaches and turquoise water that we were becoming accustomed to were soon replaced by stunning mountain ranges and rivers.
Leaving the region of Valencia, we headed back onto the toll roads and north of Madrid to a site in the Guadarrama mountain range. We pitched up with a view over the Lozoya valley beneath framed by mountains. We were itching to get into the countryside and spent a couple of days walking and cycling in the area. It was also Semana Santa (Easter week) so the site was buzzing with other families enjoying time off. The girls quickly made friends with some other children nearby.
Amy: The kids that we met were Spanish. They came over and introduced themselves to us in English. We had a go at practising some of our Spanish but most of the time we were busy playing games.
An Easter visitor
Ella: The Easter bunny came to Spain! When I woke up in the morning I noticed a couple of chocolate eggs sitting on the bike rack, outside. Amy and I quickly put on our shoes and explored. We found lots of chocolate eggs and chicks hidden around the motorhome and in the bushes.
Visiting the capital
We then travelled west of Madrid, skirting the capital on the way. We couldn’t miss an opportunity to see Madrid and managed to get a bus from our next site into the city, where we walked around the historic buildings and through the large Regio park. The girls enjoyed splashing out on some mementoes with their spending money: Amy buying a tee-shirt with Madrid written on it and Ella buying a Barcelona tee-shirt since she now an avid fan (not swayed by visiting Madrid!).
Our route then took us further north, staying at sites near Salamanca and Vallodolid. Leaving the bikes behind, we ventured into the historic towns and cities to soak up some Spanish history. Salamanca is the third oldest university in Europe and it is said that they speak the purest Spanish there. Whilst visiting Salamanca, we took this as an opportunity to put our Spanish into practice. As we’d travelling through Spain the girls had been learning useful Spanish phrases that they put into practice in different contexts but whilst visiting Salamanca they produced a short video with some tips for learning the language.
As we neared Bilbao for the ferry home, we had two short stop-overs. One in the Cabuerniga valley in a beautiful site by a river, surrounded by mountains. There were farm animals everywhere and the girls took a liking to the two resident donkeys.
Our last stop over was at the coast (Northern this time) at a site that was a short walk from the Oyambre beach. In the distance we could see the Picos de Europa and the Cantabrian mountain range and the surrounding countryside was green. But it was green for a reason; this particular part of Spain gets lots of rain. For us, however, our last full day in Spain was spent in glorious sunshine.
And so marked the end of our Spanish trip abroad. In just under a month we stayed at eleven different Caravan Club sites, explored by foot, bike, bus and metro and seen beaches, markets, mountains and festivals. We loved our time in Spain and, whilst we weren’t able to spend longer there and explore further south, we felt we got a good flavour of what it had to offer. Hasta luego Espana – we look forward to returning.