2016, 4th European Tour, Europe 2016, Spain, Van Travels

2 SPAIN – Cross-country

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Our intended route takes us across Spain, from the French border near Biarritz, via Madrid to Granada, through Navarra and La Rioja, the eastern part of Castilla Y Leon, Castilla-La Mancha, and finally Andalusia.

THUR 7 APRIL 2016

After crossing the border, we headed South for Pamplona on the N121A through dramatic mountain scenery, although poor weather meant no photographs. Arrived around 5:00 pm and stayed at Aire Berriozar on the North edge of the city, we abandoned our intention to go for a walk to look around due to rain. Bacon & chorizo risotto cooked and eaten inside.

FRI 8 APRIL 20016

After a peaceful nights sleep we woke to more rain, so no photos of our overnight stop, however, this is an Aire we would be happy to use again in the future. After breakfast we drove round the ring road to the West of the city to the N121 South of Pamplona, we passed Olite, which looks like it would be worth a look round when we travel this way in the future. Lots of wind turbines on the ridges and high ground, then through the wine-growing region of Rioja, no fresh growth visible on the vines yet, then on to Soria. The historic centre was not visible from the ring road, being surrounded by ugly commercial and industrial development, we were not tempted to visit.

After joining the A2, we pulled off for a picnic lunch stop and our third tank of fuel since leaving home. We took one of the outer Madrid ring roads heading for Aranjuez, through heavy traffic, but with only one section of standing traffic. We stayed at Camping International Aranjuez (ACSI), and had a couple of beers on the terrace of the restaurant next to the river, where we met Margaret and David from St Bees on their second year motorhoming in their new Cathargo motorhome. Carbonerra with packet sauce (not very good).

For future reference: Visit Madrid by train from Aranjuez.

SAT 9 APRIL 2016

After breakfast we walked into the old section of Aranjuez through the ‘Prince’s Garden’, and had a look the old section of town, IMG_2465webIMG_2478web and the Royal Palace from the outside. IMG_2475webIMG_2481web before returning to the van through the Prince’s Garden. IMG_2484webIMG_2486webIMG_2487webIMG_2491web We then left for Toledo, where we stayed at Camping El Greco, and had lunch outside in the sunshine (16 deg). In the afternoon we took the bus into the historic centre of Toledo and had a look round. IMG_2499webIMG_2503webIMG_2518web We had a look inside the cathedral, one of the largest in Europe, within the limited free-access area,

'Transparente' Baroque alterpiece illuminated by a skylight

‘Transparente’ Baroque alterpiece illuminated by a skylight

and wandered round the narrow streets, IMG_2500webIMG_2505webending up in the Plaza de Zocodover, for a cafe con leche and Tarta de Marzapan, very nice! But at €17, hardly a bargain.

Tarta de Marzapan

Tarta de Marzapan

After returning by bus we had a couple of drinks outside the campsite bar/restaurant IMG_2525weboverlooking the old walled city in the warm sunshine. IMG_2524web

Evening meal: ‘Chuleta Al Ajillo’ with fried veg and diced potatoes on the electric griddle, cooked outside, but eaten inside the van with the door open, as the sun had dropped below the trees. Managed without the heating on in the evening for the first time, listening to M80Radio.

We would return to this campsite.

For future reference: The Senda Ecologica, an ‘ecology walk’ along the river below the city walls between two of the bridges, and also the option of taking a train to visit Madrid for the day. We hardly scratched the surface in terms of what to see or do in Toledo, another place to return to.

SUN 10 APRIL 2016

In the morning, rain, dark clouds and poor visibility, caused us to abandon plans for taking photographs of the river below the city walls above, from one of the bridges, and driving up to the Parador for views over the city, two more ideas for future reference.

After leaving Toledo on our way to Granada, we drove South on the CM-42 through the plains of La Mancha, past Consuegra with it’s restored castle and 11 windmills on a ridge overlooking the plains. In better weather, we would have detoured to have a closer look, next time maybe? After joining the A4 we drove past hundreds of acres of melon fields in between vines and arid scrub land, eventually reaching Jaen, and another missed opportunity, a viewpoint high above the town, would have provided superb views in clear weather. Melons gave way to olive groves as we drove through the mountains, as the scenery became gradually more dramatic, until the first sight of the snow-covered Sierra Nevada provided the final highlight.

We stayed at Camping Reina Isabel, south of Granada, which has a bus service to the city every 15 minutes, stopping in front of the campsite. After a drink outside the campsite bar (with our jackets on), we cooked the rest of the ‘Chuleta Al Ajillo’, chopped up with onions, mushrooms and ‘spiralized’ courgettes in the electric pizza pan with rice, very tasty. Heating back on, as we took advantage of the good campsite WiFi signal, through our Motohome WiFi booster and router, creating our own private network.