Our first week in Spain
After our brief time spent in Andorran luxury we made our way to Barcelona for our first taste of Spain. Before I get into too much detail I'll start by saying that I absolutely loved Barcelona. Not only is there so many incredible buildings and things to see, but the whole city has a really fun and alive atmosphere. Even with just a quick afternoon stroll down La Rambla on our first day there was enough to show that the city has so much life to it.
After a settled night in our free car park we headed into the city to do what we do best; a free walking tour. Again we found ourselves immersed in the history of the city as well as becoming familiar with what life is like there now. The biggest thing that struck me about Barcelona was how much hosting the Olympic games in 1992 sky-rocketted the city from an unknown old harbour town to the 4th most visited city in Europe. Once you're there however, it's not hard to see why so many people flock there because the city is just amazing. After our walking tour we had a bit more of a stroll over to see La Sagrada Familia. Now this was the one slightly disappointing thing we saw in Barcelona. Yes the building was very large and imposing and impressive. But I honestly found the style a bit weird for my liking and on top of that, it's still not finished. The cranes and construction site really do detract from the whole experience. Despite this I'd still recommend any going to Barcelona definitely go and check it out and decide for yourself.
The next exciting part of our time in Barcelona was a tapas tour. Naturally, being somewhat interested in all things food, we couldn't wait to get our hands on some real Spanish tapas. The tour took us to 3 Tapas bars with some tapas included and the option to get additional if you so desired. Not only was the food fantastic but we also got to learn a little bit about the origin and tradition of tapas itself. We spent most of the evening chatting to and eating with 3 Aussie teenagers on their gap year around Europe and a Pommy man who had just been on a cruise with friends. Now our Pommy friend provided the most entertainment for the night when, at the end of the tour, we were required to attempt to drink out of a traditional Catalunyan drinking flask. It sounds easy enough but I assure you it was not, as a friend proved by pouring half a jug of red wine on his shirt during his first attempt of the night. By the end I think most of us pretty much had the hang of it, but I think I'll be sticking to regular cups in future.
Our last day in Barcelona we spent as relaxed as possible. We headed into the beach in the morning, lying on the sand and swimming in the cool waters for a couple of hours. Once we'd soaked up enough sun we caught ourselves a gondola ride up the mountain for an amazing view over the city and the beaches. We walked passed the Olympic stadium on the way back down to our train, and all too soon it was time for us to being leaving Barcelona to go North.
Our next stop was a little town that we had never heard of before called Estella. Now as far as we knew there was anything particularly exciting to see there but, Maddie's good friend Libby was in week 1 of a 40 day hike so we thought we'd stop off and give her some support. We had a great night chatting and catching up and examining Libby's blisters; so great that we forgot to get Libby back to her pilgrim house before lockout. In the end we had to boost her over a 2.5mt wall so she could sneak in the back door of the hostel. But as they say, all's well that ends well.
While Libby continued her Pilgrimage we aimed ourselves for the coastal city of San Sebastian. We'd been given this recommendation by our friend Hayley who we caught up with in Santorini, and we're glad we listened to her advice. We did have one minor worry when we first arrived though. We had a very cheap motorhome park picked out to stay at, however, when we arrived it was completely full with around 50 campers. So we drove on a little and found some street parking on a main road where there were another 20 or so motorhomes parked. We decided we didn't really want to stay on the main road as it would probably be a bit noisy so we went for a wander to find a nice back street. Well 15minutes of walking told us that every back street within a kilometer was packed with campers too. After watching at least 10 other campers circling the car parks at 8pm we were just happy to have a spot at all. The city of San Sebastian itself was amazing. Nestled in a calm bay with a huge sandy beach, beautiful buildings, and a castle on a hill, there's not much you could dislike about it. We were a little unfortunate however in that it was overcast for the 2 days we were there, which is apparently fairly normal for that area, but meant we weren't able to make full use of the amazing beaches.
Oh next stop took us back the way we had come to a town called Logrono. Our knowledge of Logrono was in a similar category to the previously mentioned Estella, but again we were there to see our little pilgrim friend. This time me made sure that we were prepared to get her back to her accommodation before lockout time, which we did successfully. Before we were able to send her on her way though we had to give her a big feed of protein to keep her going on her journey so we enjoyed a huge BBQ sharing plate of sausages, steaks, ribs, peppers, and fries.
With that short stint in Spain done we were already moving into a new country. The next stop on our journey was to be Portugal, which Maddie was very openly extremely excited for. And with Portugal being soon added to the list, we would also be adding country number 20 for our trip so far. Crazy how it's flown!