We now feel that we are very much on our way home. It’s quite strange doing a ’round trip’, so to speak, because as soon as we left the East coast of Spain we felt as if we’ve been heading home. Another reason is that the weather has turned and the rain is back, and there’s nothing like the rain to remind you of Blighty. Our main day in Zaragoza was a Sunday and we have learnt from this trip that this day really is reserved for families and religion, so most shops and some museums, cafes and bars are closed. There is a quietness on a Sunday which reminds us of ‘back in the day’ when the UK shut down for a day of rest…it’s actually quite nice but a bit odd.
So the obvious thing to do then…go to a church…but not any old church, this is the Basilica (more important than a cathedral, we were told!)
We had a fabulous lunch – we’ve had so many on this trip, that we are both dreading trying to get back in to the work clothes next week. We also managed to get quite a lot of work done for our book, so although we didn’t have a particularly touristy time in our short stay in Zaragoza, we enjoyed it all the same, and would certainly drop in again.
Our final stop before heading back to the UK is in a city called Logrono. It’s still raining and it means that the rusty red colour of the paving and the houses really comes out in the wet. As well as the rain keeping the people off the streets, it’s also siesta time, so after lunch we wander around barely meeting another soul. We’ve tried to capture some of that in these images of the old town.
Logrono is also a significant stop on the “Way of St. James”, one of the routes on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Characteristic signposts point pilgrims in the right direction, and special pilgrims’ hostels line the route throughout the town.
This wall mural symbolises a pilgrim with the stamps collected from each place he has been along the route.
We followed the pilgrimage for all of about three hundred yards but that’s about as far as our commitment has gone this time around. To tell the truth, we found a nice bar and thought it was more relaxing to watch other people tramping by with their knapsacks and their sticks.
Because the other thing that Logrono is renowned for is that it is the capital of Rioja!
Definitely not Karen’s favourite, but Dominic wasn’t afraid to try a bottle or two (the white as well as red is delicious). Shame we’re flying back: we were going to try to fit this Melchior (18 litres) into our hand luggage, but we wouldn’t get that through security.
(observe: Dominic also doesn’t mind the beer).
Our last day before we head home and the sun has kindly come out to remind us of what we will miss.
(There’s a huge bird’s nest perched on top of one of the towers – you can see in the landscape image above)
The streets are also busier and today we see quite a few backpackers with hiking sticks (you know the look…) and assumed that they were taking the pilgrimage a bit more seriously than us.
And that concludes our Spanish road trip – well, except for the drive back to Bilbao in the morning. It’s been a lovely trip but we can’t wait to get back to the family and give them all a big squeeze.
In brief, staying in AirBnB accommodation for our entire trip (bar one B&B in Girona) has been interesting. Some of the places have been great, comfortable, homely and shown us a more interesting way to spend a night than in a hotel. However, it can also be a challenge, it’s certainly more stressful trying to find the homes and then somewhere to park, and it doesn’t always work out as a cheaper alternative. It’s worked best for the budget when we’ve been able to use a kitchen and laundry, and that’s made it possible to go away for three weeks. Our advice would be to make sure you research your accommodation (as much as is possible) and to consider things like parking, air-con or heating (depending on time of year) and then be prepared that it might not be exactly what you expected. It’s also worth thinking about what you need/want at different points in your journey and then making sure the accommodation can provide that. Also don’t underestimate the mosquitos: we had a couple of days feeling quite miserable because of the amount of bites we received. Finally, unless you familiarise yourself with the language – Catalan in our case – then be prepared to take pot luck from the menus. We had some lovely and some interesting surprises. Very few people spoke English (or prefer not to) in this part of Spain, and some don’t speak Spanish either so we had great fun trying to communicate.
We think that the variety of places that we have stayed in has given us a really textured experience and we’ve stayed in cities and villages that we might not have done otherwise. We’ve seen parts of Spain with very few tourists as well as enjoyed the cultural metropolis of places like Barcelona. We feel very spoilt and lucky to have had this trip and we look forward to planning our next one. Thanks for following us and reading our blog – we hope you enjoyed it.