Spain part 1 VW T25 1981 Campervan

We are entering Espanyol territory and boy the heat is intense, what would of been a small sweat patch on your back becomes a stream of sweat non stop soaking your top. We stay in a small local town called Navata under a canopy of pine trees just aswell because while everyone else is having a siesta we are swimming at the local swimming pool! We stay the night all refuelled, rehydrated, and set off to Barcelona.

I was fortunate to have visited Barcelona with a friend who I flatted with who is born and bred Catalonian, memories of what he showed me here and did will help me in great stead to show Karen what we had done. Arriving at our campsite we aim to look at Barcelona over a few days from late afternoon into the evening.

Bus into the city centre and we hop off outside the Plaça Espanya with its impressive fountain the focal point, here we walk up towards Font Màgica de Montjuīc which sits proudly and every now and then will produce a light show and music at 9 pm, which you will see later on. Behind this fountain sits the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya which has a stairway leading all the way up to it with waterfalls cascading down, the whole street is impressive for the fountains and veiwing it for the second time is still very cool. behind the Museum to the right is the old Olympic park that was the host for the Olympics in 1992.

From here we wander through the old Catalonian town with its streets veering off in all sort of directions, you feel the culture and even the older generation are out and about getting amongst it. After having a good look around we walk down the Pg Ĺluis Companys which is like a rectangular boulevard, you walk down towards the other side and the Arc de Triomf stands unaposed. Next to this back down is the Parc de la Ciutadella which is the city centres garden, this area is busy with locals relaxed amongst friends and family and runners frequently bypassing. At the top end of the park is the Cascada Fountain which is a pretty neat sculpture with plants incorporated, this was the spot we sat and ate our pre-packed dinner. We call it a day and head back to the campsite. So just to mention the campsite is right on the beach, and a morning/early afternoon proved basking in the sunshine and swimming in this ridiculously warm waters before setting off again into the city.

Off the bus and we walk the main street of where one of many works of Guadi who’s unique architecture is on show, first one being the Cas Batllo and the second called La Pedrera – Mila house. Really worth the visit for this world renowned architect, you start to sense he has taste for natural forms and loves his mosiacs, blues and greens being prominent. From here we move towards Sagrada Familia, this amazing cathedral never gets boring to see! Construction started in 1882 and it is still under construction, this is another of Guadí’s fascinating works, on the inside expect to sit there stumped for what has been thought of in someones head. Inside resembles trees as the pillars with the tops resembling canopies with the stained glass streaming multi-coloured lights throughout the church. This in my opinion is one of the best, hands down. I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

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Finally we make our way towards the the Font Màgica de Monttjuīc and veiw the light show and music with the hords of people surrounding it all the way up the steps to the museum. I have seen it lit up in the night time and it is impressive unfortunately this time it’s middle of summer so the evenimg sun is still quite bright, but here you can see what we witnessed and it was still pretty cool. That calls an end to the day and decide we should have a night time swim in the dark! You need to it’s too hot!

The following morning we check out Park Güell this is where Gaudí took on landscaping, this was intended to be a miniature city for the wealthy which turned out to be a flop and was turned into a public park. We wander around and again you see his usual style and use of mosiacs, the central area is now pay to enter, this was not the case 3 or so years ago and is a shame as you freely wandered at your own pace, for what we could see we turned down the offer to pay for what is clearly a way to get more money out of tourist. That would see the end of us looking around Barcelona and I can tell you right now you need more days to do it, there is alot we didn’t do and is one city I would go back to because it has everything from great culture, old history, fascinating architecture and a real mix of things to see.

Driving inland we would head towards Madrid with stopovers on the way in Lleida and Calatayud, it proved a long and taxing drive in searing heat that at times would reach to late 30’s, you begin to understand why siestas are had. Such vast landscape you felt like you were in a wild wild west scene with those common looking table mountains.

We arrive in Madrid and camp just outside in a campsite that used to be part of a reserve with protected trees, base ourselves here for 2 nights for what we want to achieve in these days. Camper set up I head off on the metro into Madrid to see one of the most famous football stadiums of world football, this is the home of Real Madrid.

Stadium pass obtained and go to the highest point allowed to view the impressive stadium, this stadium holds 80,000 people and is one of the top football clubs in the world. Taking a walk through all the trophies they won it seems they are running out of cabinet space! Seeing the Champions leaugue cups was quite cool and then to walk onto the football pitch, walk down the other end and sit in the Real Madrid bench to then finally walk through the changing rooms where they get berrated for being so crap against Manchester United!

Next day we set off into Madrid central called Puerta del Sol which is said the buildings that surrounded the square resembles the sun as each building catches the sun light, we decided to do a free tour for the first time with introductions of ourselves and just general chit chat but really was lacking the get go and see stuff, to much talk amd lagging made us decide to look around ourselves at the pace we know we are comfortable. We check out the Opera House and then onto Casa de la Villa, with finally moving onto the palace called Palacio Real and opposite that is the Catedral de la Almudena, we pay to walk to the top with the panoramic views of the city. This Cathedral is not that old with construction started in 19th century, but an image was found by King Alfonso VI in 1085 of the Virgin Mary inside the Madrid walls, this was hidden in 712 before the Arabic invasion which is in this cathedral today.

We walk around the smaller areas of Madrid to capture the more local setting than of the touristy spots, we then move onto Parc de el Retiro this is Madrids biggest park. One of the nicest parks in a city I have seen with an abundance of fountains and ponds homing plenty full of fish and teripins, yip terapins heaps of them! That caught us off guard. So that for us was Madrid and was an interesting stop to see this city, as your aware we aren’t that big on cities but a day out proved enough for us to explore it, we get ready to head south.

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Toledo is a small hill top town an hour south of Madrid, this is surounded by fortified walls with the much talked about Toledo Cathedral. Walking up the steep cobbled streets we start to approach the top of the town, bustling with tourist surprisingly so with the heat sweltering. We take a look inside the Cathedral and here it goes, alot of churches are pretty similar and some just get really samey but you have to keep going, because every once in a while you come across something that is of architectural brilliance. This one to note is because of its carvings, such intricate carving in wood, stone and other material. One of the areas that took my eye was the choir room with the upright part of the seat carved individually telling the story of what happened to the city back in the day, each one telling a different story. This church dates back to 1227 it has a load of artwork on show that is quite descriptive in its story telling. After this we walked around the town but becoming quite unbearable with the the heat we need to make head way south.

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We are heading to Cordoba which has a rich history from the Visigoths to a period of Islamic where the San Vicente Basilica was destroyed to make way for a mosque, this is what you see to this day and it was in 1236 they changed the mosque to a cathedral. This is one of the top 5 churches I have seen, one is its massive space you can easily get lost in, the countless pillers arching from one another with the recognizable red and white stripes. This is very cool and worth the visit, photo’s don’t do it justice! We walk around the forecort outside this cathedral where orange trees are grown with little channels of water leading to each tree, this small town is surrounded by the old walls with narrow streets and typical white houses with window shutters all shut for their siesta. After exploring the city we move south and park up for the night in the middle of the countryside in a small town. Then we head down to Ronda.

Upon driving we took alot of pictures en-route through countryside Spain this is the product of what we saw.

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Ronda was a risk worth taking as we had no idea the terrain and if the Green Machine was capable in this extreme heat. Well getting there was all hunky dory and managed to park in the town itself. Ronda is one of the most ancient cities in Spain, known with different names Ronda was the Celtic Arunda, Roman Acinipo and the Moorish Izn-Rand Onda. The river Guadalevín which splits the town in two and time has cut this gorge 120 metres deep. The current bridge was built between 1751 and 1793, this was the draw in seeing this town the bridge is really impressive and just seems something out of a movie. Old buildings and gardens decorate this old town it is located in the most north east of the province Málaga. Stunning views all round this rocky out crop. After having a good look around we head towards Seville.

Seville will be our last Spanish town before heading into Portugal and we explore this city once again in early 40 degrees. We for the first time stay the night in a carpark that is a shed! Supposedly being in the shade will be the best idea… except no breeze and stagnant heat just makes it all the more hotter! We bus into Seville and what you find is most of the centre is all pedestrainised, we walk to check out the Seville Cathedral and again like Toledo had amazing carving sculptures. This spot was home of the main Mosque in 1181-1198 in 1218 the Mosque was consecrated as a Cathedral. Again stunning sculptures and has the old orange tree courtyard that was allowed to stay from the time it was the Mosque. This is also has the tomb for Christopher Columbus the famous Spanish explorer.

We wander around the town noticing that it feels quite quiet with few tourist around, the town itself is very crafty and artistic looking and has a character about itself. We walk towards the city park where there is a building with a fountain surrounded by ponds, quite a sight and the park itself was really nice. We stop at a bar in the park and get ourselves a traditional spanish drink that is red wine and soda with ice, have it nice and cold and it is the perfect cocktail for the extreme temperatures we have witnessed.

So that’s it for Spain for now as we drive on through to Portugal, on the other side of Portugal we will scale the top of Spain into France. Spain has been such a different feel to what we have to that point experienced, to the very individualist of Barcelona with its artsy feel and party vibe to the bustling city life of Madrid to the south of Spain offering some really serenic scenery and old architecture, especially some of the Cathedrals. It was noticed not alot of tourist at this time of year, but then we also avoided the really touristy spots as July and August are peak season. Till next time Adiós

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