Mo & Ali Segovia
Ant & Sal in Segovia
Our first stop was Segovia, north of Madrid – a beautiful city with a stunning cathedral and Roman aquaduct.
The walled city is perched on a rock rising out of the surrounding Castillian plains, and is a maze of narrow streets dotted with Roman monuments and noble mansions.
Mo & Ant Segovia
We stayed one night in a converted monastery within walking distance of the old town.
Wow Beef Rib En Route
Then on to A Pobra de Trives, near Ourense in rural Galicia, after an interesting drive north west through spectacular scenery. No postcards here (well no shops, actually), so just a couple of snapshots of the hotel, which was a luxuriously converted old manor house on a farm, set in beautiful lush pastures, woodland and lakes.
Converted Old Manor
Very green with lots of livestock, the cows and goats with bells so the herdsman can find them to bring them home. So peaceful, and no English spoken – popular area for walking holidays, but few foreign tourists come here so we were something of a curiosity!
Our next stop was Vigo
A busy commercial port on the south coast of Galicia (not far from the border with Portugal).
The city itself was busy and a bit touristy as many cruise liners stop here. But our hotel was a delightful, peaceful haven overlooking the estuary, another lovely old building with gardens down to the beach and all mod cons – we got a free upgrade to a huge suite overlooking the estuary.
There are lots of traditional fishing villages in the many inlets, and summer resorts popular with Spanish holidaymakers. And fantastic seafood restaurants – every conceivable type of shellfish is caught or farmed off this coast.
From Vigo, we visited Santiago de Compostella.
The buildings, especially the cathedral, were spectacularly ornate though rather gloomy.
Not difficult to imagine the throngs of pilgrims there in the Middle Ages, and what an awesome sight it must have been for them. We didn´t get to pay our respects at St James´s reliquary as the queue was several hours long.
Then on to La Coruña for 2 nights – this is where the Armada set sail from and the site of many historic sea battles and sieges. Another busy port on a rocky islet linked to mainland by a narrow strip of sand. Two sleepless nights in a beachfront hotel in sweltering heat – the only bad hotel choice I had made when I booked them all on the internet. The “English weather” we had been promised did not materialise, it was sunny every day and only a few drops of rain during the whole trip. More spectacular coastline, maritime museum and aquarium. The Costa del Muerte (coast of death) is here, very rugged coastline where many ships foundered on the rocks, and Cape Finisterre (heard of in the shipping forecast, always wondered where it was!). Finis Terra in Spanish, means “the end of the world”, which of course it was until Christopher Columbus came back. We celerbrated Mo’s birthday in the famous El Coral seafood restaurant.
Mo’s Birthday Bash at El Coral
From La Coruña we drove into the Picos de Europa, a spectacular mountain range in the province of Asturias, only 18 miles from the sea. A wonderful drive through deep gorges cut by gushing mountain rivers. It was a Sunday, and the area was busy with Spanish holidaymakers and day-trippers, every little town had canoes, bikes or horses for hire and there were hundreds of families enjoying a day out on the river and picnicking under the trees. We stayed overnight in Covadonga, a small village in the mountains with another spectacular church, huge monastery and convent.
Church close up
Another pilgrimage site, to a shrine carved out in the rocks to the Virgin of the Battlefield.
Church in Covadonga
The legendary battle of Covadonga (not heard of it? Shame on you ….. neither had we!) took place here in 722, when Don Pelayo defeated the Moors and heralded the start of the Spanish Reconquest.
Mo & Ant Covadonga
Next stop was near to El Burgo in Castilla-Leon. Lots of old fortified towns and villages and lofty castles en-route, this being the oldest kingdom in Spain.
Rope Bridge En Route to Meseta
Then on through the “Meseta” – the vast central plains with acres and acres of arable farms, but strangely empty of people. We stayed in a delightful former convent in a quaint walled town where the locals looked at us as if we´d just landed from another planet!
On through more meseta to another walled town at Mora de Rubielos, near to Teruel. A beautiful small town with mediaeval origins, immaculately cared for. Exploring the maze of narrow streets revealed beautiful historic town houses with balconies hung with bright geraniums.
Sally and I walked the stations of the cross to the shrine at the top of the fortified hill with a lovely view of the town below.
Mora de Rubielos Shrine
One of the locals chatted animatedly with Maurice, in sign language, about how cold it is there in the winter, like England! They do get lots of snow in winter and there are ski resorts in the mountains nearby.
Mora de Rubielos
And then home to Moraira, after 10 days “on the road”, 7 different hotels, and having traveled about 3,000 km. Another huge area of Spain explored, and a breathtaking diversity of scenery, history and traditions experienced, but there is so much more to see ………..