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Spain 2007

a travel blog by DRKester

Meet up with Jason and Helen in Spain, and do a little touring.
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We're on our way

Bilbao, Spain

We're heading out today on our way to Spain via London. Should be fun.

permalink written by  DRKester on September 16, 2007 from Bilbao, Spain
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Made it to Pamplona

Pamplona, Spain

We made it with minor delays along the way. We were sitting in the departure area for MaxJet, when my name was called. When I went up to the desk, I found out that my assigned seat had a footrest that didn't work, and they needed to reseat us. First they offered 2 seats together in the middle (with 2,2,2 seating that's 2 aisles), but they kept looking for a way to give us a window. They came back with row 8, seats J and K. Great. Well maybe not. When we got on, there was only one seat on the side with the bathrooms in the middle. So we gave them back our ticket stubs to handle, and reseated ourselves in the 2 seats they originally offered us. After a late takeoff, the rest of the flight was as we expected, with comfy seats and good food.

Our late arrival meant that we missed our scheduled bus from Stansted to Heathrow airport. So we paid 3 pounds to get a guaranteed ride on the next bus. Glad we did, because the folks that stood there standby didn't get on. At Heathrow, we didn't have time or energy to get a meal. Of course, after we got to our gate, we were told there was a delay. On board was awful. More delay and no AC. The seats might fit a 5' person, but even they would be cramped if the guy if front leaned back.

The arrival in Bilbao went well, and Jason and Helen picked us up for the drive back to their apartment in Pamplona. They brought sandwich fixings and other goodies for the ride. They park their car about a 10 minute walk from their apartment, so we dropped Helen off with our bags, and continued on to park the car. It was nice to walk after so much time in airplane, bus and car seats.

Our builder would love the quirky construction around here. This is the main hall in Jason's apartment, which curves for no particular reason.

The best part of his apartment is the view to the Plaza del Castillo. Today, we walked around the Citidel and stopped at one of their favorite restaurants for the fixed price meal. It threatened to rain, but the sun won out. Beautiful town. I can see why they decided to stay here.

permalink written by  DRKester on September 18, 2007 from Pamplona, Spain
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Enjoying Pamplona

Pamplona, Spain

We started our day by visiting the local bakery for some breakfast goodies.

After breakfast, Rick and I wandered the town. Note the exposed wiring on the side of the building just above the ground floor.

We walked around the bullring.

After more walking, we came to the Royal Palace, where they had this incredible model of the old part of Pamplona. Jason's apartment is on the big open square in the middle of the model.

We worked our way back to Town Hall. We got there around 1:30, and it was full of people. After a short rest on a bench, all the locals had gone home for their mid-day meal with their families.

We continued our walk to the Plaza San Francisco, then back to Jason's apartment for some lunch.

permalink written by  DRKester on September 19, 2007 from Pamplona, Spain
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A drive in the country

Ujue, Spain

We started our day with a walk to a store to buy a travel guide. Along the way we passed the post office with its unique postage slots.

Jason and Helen drove us out of town to Hoz de Lumbier, a really cool canyon with a trail along an abandoned rail line.

We stopped by the river to skip stones

At the end of the second railroad tunnel, was a remaining support for the trestle.

Below us were some Roman ruins and this abandoned house.

Another view of this incredible canyon.

After our hike, we went into the town center, then on to Sanguesa where we went into a beautiful church by the river.

We walked around the town and found these gargoyles holding human heads over a church entrance.

We drove on to Ujue, and incredible small town on top of a hill. Beautiful scenery and wonderful view of the countryside. Unfortunately, our camera battery died in Ujue.

We drove back to Pamplona, and Rick tried to revive/recharge the camera battery. No luck. We may have to borrow Helen's camera, since this is only the first week of our trip.

A band is playing outside in the square, and a group of people are dancing. Evidently these are folk songs with a dance to go with them that the locals know. Anyway lots of fun. Sort of like line dancing with history.

permalink written by  DRKester on September 20, 2007 from Ujue, Spain
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Rest day

Pamplona, Spain

We decided to have an easy day, just relaxing and figuring out our next few days. Last night we went out for an amazing meal at a nearby restaurant. We had the fixed price menu of the day, which has a choice of first course of salad, pasta, soup, beans, etc., and then a second meat or fish course, and dessert. We also had some local wine. Really great!

This morning we went out to see if we could get a replacement battery for our camera, but unfortunately we couldn't. So we'll borrow Helen's camera for the rest of the trip.

We also went to the local supermercado to get a couple of items. Interesting experience. Each day they have one choice of the fresh milk of the day in either a litre carton or plastic bag. We needed peppers, but had to have the vegetable person weigh, bag and price our selections.

This afternoon, they set up some portable tables and chairs in the center of the plaza, and now a group are playing some sort of game. At about 8:30 a group from a Karate school, all dressed in white set up in the square and put on demo fights in a circle accompanied by drums. We watched for a while, then went and had wine in a bar next to a bronze statue of Hemingway.

Tomorrow we are renting a car and setting out towards Bilbao, San Sebastian, and possibly into France. Likely won't be on the Internet until we get back to Jason and Helen's apartment.

permalink written by  DRKester on September 21, 2007 from Pamplona, Spain
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Driving out of town

Onate, Spain

When we got up this morning, there were hundreds of people with bicycles in the square. Around 9:00, they all took off. Later we rented a car and drove to Onati, a small town north of Vitoria. We walked around the town and had lunch with Jason and Helen. There also was some sort of bicycle ride or race, with cops directing traffic and lots of serious looking bikers. We continued up the hill to Arantzazu. It has the coolest church, with a fa├žade made of stone that looked like the bottom of egg cartons. We stayed at the hotel up the hill from the church. Next morning the parking lot and along the road was filled with cars. It was foggy, so we couldn't get good pictures.

We drove on to Bilbao, and Jason and Helen headed back to their apartment. We went to the Guggenheim museum, which architecturally was very impressive.

Inside however, was really disappointing. The whole 2nd floor was closed, and the "art" in the rest was underwhelming. One room was devoted to a grouping of picture frame parts, scattered about the floor as if left by children.

We walked into town and had Tapas at a local bar.

After lunch, we drove along the coast to Laredo. We checked into a hotel, and then walked the beach to the old town.

They were having a medieval festival, and had lots of food and arts vendors.

Later, we walked back into town for dinner, and were treated to hundreds of people dressed up in medieval costumes, parading through the street. Around 10, they set off fireworks in the street. Lots of fun.

permalink written by  DRKester on September 23, 2007 from Onate, Spain
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Picos de Europa

Cangas de Onis, Spain

We drove through Santander and up the coast towards the Picos de Europa. First stop was an outlook high on a hill overlooking both the ocean and the Picos de Europa.

Then we drove on south into the Picos. One of the small towns on the way, Cano, was having a Festival that blocked the only road through town. Traffic cops were directing cars and buses through one way at a time. The drive into the canyon was amazing.

Somewhat like Zion canyon, only your drive 100 feet above the water, with the sides of the canyon less than 20' apart at points.

On top is a small town Oseja de Sajambre.

On the way back drove through Congas de Onis, where they have an old "hump back" Roman bridge. Then we had lunch in Arriondas - 3 sandwiches and 2 glasses for 4.5 Euro total.

permalink written by  DRKester on September 24, 2007 from Cangas de Onis, Spain
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Atlantic coast

Mundaka, Spain

We drove to Bilbao, and then went out along the Atlantic coast through many fishing villages and surf towns. We had lunch in Bakio along the water. We stayed in a beautiful hotel on top of the hill overlooking the inlet between Mundaka and Laido beach. This is a great surfing area, although it was a bit cold.

permalink written by  DRKester on September 25, 2007 from Mundaka, Spain
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San Juan de Gaztelugho

Faro de Machichaco, Spain

We drove to San Juan de Gaztelugach and to the Faro de Machichaco. This is a church built on a rock island offshore, with a stone walkway across the water.

We found a huge parking area and walked down, only to discover that there was a road all the way down. So, we asked a local for a ride up the hill to our car. We drove back down, and then hiked across the wall and up the stairs to the church. The courtyard had a basic toilet, that just was a tube to outside the wall.

We continued driving along the coast, until the road went inland. Then we took the freeway to San Sebastian. We drove around a bit trying to find the coastal road, and places mentioned in our Michelin guide. We never found the road, so just got back on the bigger road to Hondarribia. From there we easily found the small road up the hill call the Jaizkibel Road, with an overlook back to town and across the river to France.

We found a nice hotel in Hondarribia, checked in, then walked into the walled old city. Inside the walled area is a huge castle turned into the Parador Hotel. We walked in and took a picture.

permalink written by  DRKester on September 26, 2007 from Faro de Machichaco, Spain
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Drive back to Pamplona

Berrobi, Spain

We bought pastries and coffee from a small bakery, and took them back to our hotel room to have a smoke-free meal.

We drove to Irun, and up a road along the river. At one point we drove into France, just to do it, and because our car rental place said we couldn't.

The drive up the valley was beautiful. At one point we took a small winding road through small towns, ending at Berrobi.

A sign showed a rock formation up a small rural road called Elorregi. We decided to try to find it.

Well, the road started out rocks, then became two-rut rocks, then started getting muddy as we went up the hill. We finally decided to turn back, before we got stuck. The only other vehicle was a tractor at the bottom of the hill just out of town.

We continued on the road to Pamplona, and Jason's apartment.

permalink written by  DRKester on September 27, 2007 from Berrobi, Spain
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