A Travellerspoint blog

Phase 4: (from Moraira) to Toledo

Another choice based on distance

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View Southern road trip on moustache17's travel map.

Making my way to the Northern Spanish coastline I needed another casual stop on the way.

Around 500Km, Toledo fits that requirement.
As with other cities on this trip, I have not visited them all in the past and frankly - I have little knowledge of them up front.
Always a quick look on Wikipedia.
As I know now, pictures and a short description do not cover the whole story.

Let me be short here.
Unless you have to or have your own pressing reasons, DO NOT STOP HERE.

After all the good experiences in the last 9 days, Toledo was a big disappointment for me.
I do not want to discourage you too much but
- the town is dirty
- cars are constantly driving in the small alleys and are rude to pedestrians
- therefor it smells of car fumes
- there is little to see

The only positive note was the road.
My GPS took me on motorways but half the road was more regional.
Hardly any cars but nice vistas.
Hardly any villages. Occasional Bodega or Finca.
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Vineyards on both sides for 200Km.
Mountain range to the left with the typical La Mancha windmills (yes, Don Quichote).
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I stayed in an Eurostars, 4 stars.
Average.
But the food was awful, impossible to image a "chef" can mess up pulpo and some ravioli!
And a kid keeping me awake, constantly crying. (I guess I should stop asking for a quiet room because the Spanish probably want you to experience the other side with drunk people and occasional baby).

So I stayed in most of the Saturday (today).
A chance to update this blog and get the rest of my trip sorted out.
With the experience of Toledo I did some internet digging and found a top 15 of Spanish cities - must see....
So, Salamanca/Picos de Europa/Bilbao/San Sebastian to go - and Bordeaux 4 days.
Maybe but probably not, Santiago de Compostella/Burgos/Logrono out - guess I have seen enough inner cities.

Most important - tomorrow settle into a good Salamance hotel and watch the cycle tour Paris/Roubaix.
After that, the trail can continue on Monday.

A la proxima!

Posted by moustache17 10:24 Archived in Spain Tagged toledo Comments (0)

Phase 3: (from Zaragoza) to Moraira

One of the main objectives of the trip - visit friends.

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View Southern road trip on moustache17's travel map.

Paul and Ingrid are good friends from Belgium.

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Paul and i used to work in the same shipping company back in the '70 - '90 ies and played basketball as well together.

We shared a number of really fun times together over all those years and stayed in touch.

Now back in Belgium - both "retired" - there are days we get together and talk old times over a beer.

During several of these meetings, Paul always talked happily about their place in Moraira. They spend there a couple of months during the year, family and friends visiting quite regularly. Children and grandchildren, isn't that fantastic.
So after many invitations to come and see them, this was the final push to combine this visit with my other idea to do the North coast of Spain.

They probably will be reading this blog but no need to brush things up.
Their place is really a nice holiday home, you cannot underestimate what sunshine does to you when you get out of winter.
It has that Spanish feel, cosy and comfortable.
Some odd jobs to do around the garden and house.
Jut enough to keep you busy for an hour or so.
But more important, Paul and Ingrid have embraced the Spanish way of life.
Enjoy - take it easy - no pressing obligations - eat and drink - short outings to a terrace/bar along the sea, everything a person needs to relax.

So this is what we did in one week.
I cannot remember what we did each hour of the day, or any day but I know we had lots of fun whilst "taking it easy".

One afternoon comes to mind though.
Moraira is not far from Benidorm.
With due respect, but this is generally know in Belgium (and Europe I guess) the place where all the REAL old people come.
Mostly hibernate over winter.
Sitting outside at a bar and watching the people go by, mostly motorised....

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Belgian TV made a humouristic series some years ago, Benidorm Bastards. These old people on their scooters, making fun of young people. Try to look it up on YouTube. Perhaps you have seen it somewhere else because it has in the meantime been adopted and released in USA.

Anyway, everyone has his own dreams.
I cannot imagine to end here in my latter days but it must fit some people fine; cheap and cheerful, friends etc .... and why not.

What I do see after this trip, is to look out next winter to stay 2-3 months in the area.
Not buying a second house as I am a nomad. I want to change and see new things and places all the time.
But yes, to rent a small villa and enjoy sunshine and share time with Paul and Ingrid.
Hopefully to invite other friends and my son/daughter over by that time.
This goes on the to-do list for 2018.

I had to ask Ingrid to send me some pictures. No need for me to carry a phone around and make my own.
So copyright to her.
Do not ask me all the various places and locations, I do not know. Just enjoy and get a feeling of this pleasant area at the Spanish coast!

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This short page does not do justice to the good times I had with Paul and Ingrid.
I thank them for their hospitality and good humour.
But as always, there is a time to go and not overstay that hospitality.
They have more vistors to look forward to, I had to meet more places on the road.

So Friday morning, back on the road.

Posted by moustache17 09:39 Archived in Spain Tagged moraira Comments (0)

Phase 2: (from Cognac-f) to Zaragoza

Distance and a quick city visit

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Sitting down for planning and asking around amongst friends - I needed to pick either Pamplona or Zaragoza as the next logical step on the way South.

As you can expect, some prefer the one over the other. And sure each one has to offer many sights, so a choice was not easy.

It finally became Zaragoza. Just a bit further on the road and frankly - I do not like anything around bullfighting. Call them crazy or stupid but I do not see the fun of running ahead of some bulls in the streets of town and getting your ass punctured.
Bullfighting in general. Whether the bull gets the sword or the toreador gets a horn through his eye socket.

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The trip itself was again easy.
Cruising all the way. Enjoying the changing scenery.

So, Zaragoza.
Really happy with the choice.
Arrived Friday afternoon and stayed all Saturday.

Walking and viewing the city. They have great architectural buildings and pleasant squares/walking areas.
Liked the very visual roman heritage. The city walls, an amphitheatre in middle of town.

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Also the main square are - basilica and other great buildings.

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Just wandering around.
I have less desire these days to go into the cold guts of a building. Staying outside in the warm spring sun and just admiring the outside.

Zaragoza has also hundreds of tapa bars and cervezarias. Several in each street.
It is great to walk in and sit at the bar.
Order drinks and pick tapas which are behind the display counter.
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No need for a sit down dinner.

Just for reference.
Stayed in the Hotel Palafox.
Hotels are cheap this time of year so picked a 5 star for that reason.
It was ok but not a waw factor.
One thing that counts is the secure parking so that was a good plus.
The one really minus was the couple next door who decided to have a (drunken?) fight at 02.30H after they left the wedding party downstairs.
Hope it was not the marrying couple themselves because otherwise they have jumped into married bliss right away.
Guess they made up because at 07.30 there was a different noice so decided to get up and hit the road.....

Posted by moustache17 09:02 Archived in Spain Tagged zaragoza Comments (0)

Phase 1: (from Belgium to) Cognac (F)

Driving mostly.

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View Southern road trip on moustache17's travel map.

Thursday 30th March.
Saddled my german horse and put its nose south.

The first section of my trip.
Main target was simply to make distance.

In fact very casual and easy 800Km or so.
Paris is always a bit of challenge.
Too many cars and a driving style which is a chaotic, especially the many motorbikes and scooter which zoom in and out the lanes.
But made it without any damage.
Just had to add another 45 minutes of slowing traffic whilst everyone was fighting for each half a meter of tarmac.

Progress was otherwise swift at the motorways, the Paris-Bordeaux section is underutilised most of the time.

The last 50Km or so, off the motorway and into the French countryside were a first joy.
Small villages, wineries everywhere.

I picked my first stop at Cognac, mainly because it was around the 800Km mark.
Unfortunately did not have much time to explore, but it has its own charm.
No need to say if you like Cognac and wine, this are is a must for a vacation on its own.

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Had a great meal in the old town.
If anything will kill me during this trip, it is the food.
A very nice Lotte (Monkfish - or Baudroie (f)).
Great local wine.
And of course, a special cognac. The list of cognac was 3 pages, more than the food menu.
Had to restrain myself as more kilometers to go next day.

Another great experience was the lodging.
I rarely choose a B&B as I like my privacy. Starting a conversation early morning with a breakfast table full of strange people is not my cup of tea.
But "Jardins en ville" was everything a good resting place should be.
Great hosts, wonderful garden setting.
A room in a separate garden building.
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It was just great.
(and the breakfast table was also ok with two nice elderly English travelers)
Might well return here one day...

Rest of the day are some ZZZZZZZZZZZZ.... and ready for next driving stage.

Posted by moustache17 08:45 Archived in France Tagged cognac Comments (0)

Already way into my trip

Manana, manana

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This is what Spain does to you.
Time and places are to be enjoyed.
Writing a blog is not a daily obligation as it was practiced during my Northern trip.

It is today Saturday 8th April and I left 30th March from my home.
Some 2200Km on the road and several stops under my belt.

So I will backtrack now and try to establish some sense of progress from that day I left.

Cannot promise that from tomorrow all will be tip top on schedule but I promise I will try from here.

Equally hope that my memory will help me to remember some stuff.
At my age and retirement status this is not always flawless.
Of course, Spanish wine and drinks washed also some hours away.

Anyway. So next (page); Phase 1: Cognac

Posted by moustache17 08:06 Archived in Spain Tagged toledo Comments (0)

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