The cold wind had made its way back to the coast, a sweet reminder for us that we were heading for less temperate days and colder nights, as we headed up north towards our first pitstop.
Even in winter mode, nothing says “holiday” more than a car, a suitcase, sunglasses, or perhaps in our case, prescription glasses, and the open road.
Spain has a wonderful road infrastructure including three-lane highways which we avoided, I would suggest you do too unless you enjoy paying additional money to the Spanish roading system. We preferred to leave the coast and head on to those more scenic romantic rural roads that snake around the mountain ridges that brought us to our first inland town.
With a few photos alongside random thoughts that were written as we travelled:
Day 1: Marbella to Baeza
- The first leg was only supposed to be a 2-hour drive. Well, that’s what we calculated it to be until the weather decided to turn rather nasty as in showers and snowflakes, which meant the road conditions required us to drive with more caution.
- The Three Kings had arrived in the town of Baeza and so had we!.
- What a spectacular sight as we drove around the narrow streets to our hotel.
- It wasn’t until the next day when the light of day showed off why Baeza is indeed a place to visit.
- Thousands of olive trees, the most we had sighted in one area since arriving in Spain. They looked from afar like newly laid carpet. Symmetrically correct.
- With a quick stroll around to see Plaza del Pópulo.
- Renaissance style is quite unique in Spain, which makes this town truly special and one of the reasons it is a UNESCO site.
- Then it was time for us to leave.
Day 2: Baeza to Guadalajara
- Grassy fields and humongous bulls
- At one stage of the drive, we can only see clouds up ahead. We are forced to a crawl when I drive into the mist and visibility drops alarmingly. Suddenly we feel rather small and vulnerable with no visibility forward. The big question was how far was that car in front of us? Within minutes the clouds begin to lift, and the mist starts to dance through the light.
- A spur of the moment had the Squire turning into the town of Alcatraz.
- Which turned out to be the best decision we had made that day. Extraordinary square and architecture that took our breath away, or was that the cold wind that swept around our ears. Either way, both made us feel alive and energised.
- Random conversations with locals, we have got used to these and the placing of our “Si”, in the discussion as they seemed pleased with our dialogue as they continued down the cobbled stone street. It certainly left us feeling rather chuffed with ourselves for holding a conversation that we barely knew what was being said by this delightful local woman.
Day 3: Guadalajara to Vitoria
- Unfortunately, we did not have time to give to explore Guadalajara, by all accounts it could be one to return to another day. To be honest, the open spaces beckoned us more than shop-lined streets.
- One of the main highlights was sighting approximately 20 plus Iberian Imperial Eagles, gliding on the thermal up-draft from the cliffs below. If all goes well, these magnificent birds can live up to 40 years.
- Jagged mountains.
- Travelled from the olive trees to the vineyards – from Guadalajara to Vitoria
- What a contrast in temperature and terrain! MAGIC! Guadalajara, Soria, Lumbreras to Vitoria. From careful strolls to snowball fights.
Day 4: Vitoria to San Sebastion
- With another short drive between overnight stops gave us time to explore Vitoria. We enjoyed this small city. Its grand name lives up to the reality of what this city has to offer visitors.
- Vitoria is not a well-known place though it is worth the time to visit this compact Basque city.
- One stop we would’ve enjoyed a fine day was Vitoria.
- To the right of the below photograph was an escalator for those who find the steps impossible to do. Wonderful idea!
- Arty, history with a modern twist.
- Quirky cafes. Bohemian people packed the cafes. The coffee was great as was the tapas which lined the serving bar. Though sometimes the food doesn’t always look so inviting when someone has just had a sneezing attack over said food. Oh well, we really didn’t “need”, that extra food with our coffee!
- The city scene was then replaced with quaint, rustic villages that appear like square lego blocks perched between the rocky hill crevices.
Day 5: San Sebastion
- The Bay of Biscay is renowned for its tantrums. Luckily for us, she was in a good frame of mind the day we visited!
- So much on offer to satisfy most people’s taste in art, culture to sports. Or for those who just merely love to wander and admire the diversity of architecture.
- The beaches a delightful distraction.
Day 6: San Sebastion to Agen, France
- Woke up in Spain with breakfast eagerly devoured in France.
- “Usines de Fromage”, instead of “Prensa de Aceite de Oliva”
- More green hills and the appearance of water in the form of rivers and streams.
- We followed the foothills of the Pyrenees for approximately 200kms
- Alpine villages dotted the landscape.
- The walled towns were still prevalent as in Spain when we drove deeper into the French countryside. Saint-Jean-Pied-De-Port is now quaint and unassuming and worth a revisit on a sunny day.
- “Rain dodgers” was the hat we were wearing that day.
- The crisp frozen air was replaced with drizzle and dampness.
- Pâtisseries replaced tapas. Though good coffee could be found in both.
We had arrived and about to start our fourth housesit in France. It is surrounded by a river which sort of makes it an island, in the Midi-Pyrenees.