Tag Archives: Basque

Portugal and Basque Country, Part 2

In the last blog post, I was roaming the beautiful cities and countryside of the Basque country of Spain. Now we continue with Portugal.

 

After having spent a few days enjoying the mountains of Northwest Spain, I had to race down to Lisbon in order to meet up with my UK friends, the Hash House Harriers. We spent 4 days in Lisbon with a little sightseeing and a whole lot of song and suds. Quite a good time while there. I had been in Lisbon before in 2004 so I didn’t really need to do the sightseeing however I still roamed around and rediscovered this nice city. 

Lisbon

A graffiti covered cable car in the hilly city of Lisbon.

I also took a quick detour over to the town of Sintra, located right next to Lisbon. This disneyland like place made for a great day trip and I highly recommend visiting the castle and gardens. 

Pena Palace

The Pena Palace, located in Sintra Portugal.

Gargoyle

This Gargoyle provides a questionable welcome to visitors.

Once again, I had enough city life and it was time to start hitting the coastal cities. I drove from Lisbon and basically hugged the Atlantic coast all the way down to the very tip, Cape St Vincent. There were a lot of beautiful rock and sea formations that I was particularly fond of.  In these photos, I mounted the camera on a tripod and did some long exposures of the surf. 

Atlantic

The rocky coastline of Portugal.

Atlantic

More of the rocky coastline of Portugal.

Not all the rock formations where made by Mother Nature. Here in Vila Nova de Milfones, I discovered a beach covered in stacked rock formations, aka Cairns. 

Cairns

A beach full of cairns, human stacked stones.

After having visited many beaches and cliffs, it was time again to start seeing some cities. On my return up through the center of Portugal, I visited the scenic town of Evora, a great quick stop to view Roman history. 

Portugal

The Roman temple of Evora.

 

After this, I visited Coimbra, a beautiful university town sitting on the Mondego river. Sometimes during my travels, I get a good vibe from a town and this was one of those towns, causing me to extend my stay. 

 

Portugal

A night shot of Coimbra and the Mondego river.

 

From there, I kept heading North with a stop in the famous town of Porto and the Duoro valley. It is hear that they make the world famous Port wine and that they have the vineyards just clinging on the side of the mountains. An astonishing site and well worth the visit. 

 

Portugal

The town of Porto, where the famous Port wine is made.

 

Portugal

The Douro valley with the vines clinging on the hillsides.

 

Having had my fill of Port and Petiscos (Tapas), it was time for redemption. And what better place than Santiago de Compostela back in Spain. I did a quick visit there, enjoying watching the Pilgrims arrive and then a quick tour of the Cathedral. 

Camino

A giant incense burner in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

 

Camino

A signpost for the Camino trail near Santiago de Compostela.

 

Being there only reinforced my desire to hike the Camino trail (780km!)  from France next Spring. Hopefully that will happen…

That wraps up this voyage. It was a great time and really met a lot of  people, many of whom are now new friends on Facebook. I do have to say the best parts of these trips are not the food, drink or sites visited, but the people that I have gotten to know along the way. I look forward to my next big trip which should be coming up this Fall. Destination….

 

Posted in Basque, Portugal Also tagged |

Portugal and the Basque Country – Part 1

Another great trip wrapped up, this time headed Southwest. This trip focused on a new area for me (Basque country) and a return to a country that I visited 13 years ago, Portugal. Both distinctly different countries but each having their own charm. Here is a map of the route that I took. It ended up being 4,334 km (2,693 miles), almost completely on backroads as the toll roads were very expensive and you just don’t get to see much when the world is going by at 120 km per hour. 

 

Basque

Here is the out and back route that I took for Basque country and Portugal.

 

I started off visiting the French part of Basque country (Pays Basque) but do to a lot of rain, I decided to move on and visit it another time. I then ventured on into northwest Spain with my first stop being San Sebastian. Having heard a lot of this town, I ended up staying two nights and it met all my expectations. A great city that I would like to return to. Tapas, seashore, mountains, and nice people. 

 

San Sebastian

A panorama of San Sebastian from Playa De La Concha

 

Following a couple of days there, I ventured further west stopping of at Bilbao. I was not expecting to like Bilboa much since I’m not a fan of going into big cities (especially with the VW camper), however this city had a charm and would warrant a return in the future. Top of the list for me to see was the amazing Gugenheim museum. It was fun just walking around the exterior and checking out all the angles. 

Guggenheim

The curves of the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao.

Another must see in Bilbao is the Puente Colgante (literally “hanging bridge”).  It was fun to just sit and watch is it made it’s way across the river  with only six cars at a time. 

 

Vizcaya Bridge

The Vizcaya Bridge, also known as the Puente Colgante (literally “hanging bridge”)

 

The last thing that I saw in Bilbao was a good surprise. I noticed that there were police everywhere, covering every intersection on a route through the city. When it was time to leave, to my surprise, I found out it was the King of Spain, King Felipe VI!

 

King Felipe VI

The King of Spain, King Felipe VI, making a visit to Bilbao.

 

Well, having had my fill of cities, it was time to head to the mountains and I wasn’t disappointed. The Picos de Europa mountains are beautiful, reminding me a bit of the Dolomites in Italy. I spent a couple of days hiking here with a vow to return again. This was actually my favorite part of the trip and was extremely beautiful. 

 

Basque

The Naranjo de Bulnes is probably the best known mountaineering peak in Spain.

 

Basque

The morning view from my camper door of the Picos De Europa mountains.

 

Basque

A snowy hike above the Fuente De Cable Car.

 

 

That wraps up Part 1 in the Basque Country of Northwest Spain. In Part 2, I’ll take you down to the beautiful country of Portugal. Cheers!

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