We drove south from Bilbao to explore the Basque Country. We do know that some people avoid this area but the troubles are over and ETA gained lots of concessions and new rights from the Spanish Government. Unlike the dry, parched countryside of the south of Spain everywhere is green and lush and as we drove down we passed lots of large houses which resembled typical Swiss dwellings and the farms that we drove by looked rich and well cared for. After we had gone by a huge lake we started to climb towards Vitoria Gasteiz and the scenery changed to large pine forests and at around 600 metres above sea level we came across the city, the seat of the Basque Government.
The outskirts of this large city are very modern and everywhere looked clean and well cared for and we pulled into a free camper-stop with all the facilities we require. A little later we cycled a couple of kilometers to get some supplies and later on we walked back to have a look around and to sample the hospitality of a small bar we had spotted earlier.
Although we could have taken the tram or a bus we walked the 3 kilometers to get to the centre. Having followed the tram line we first came across the first of the two Cathedrals, the other older one we came across later which is being restored. Here, just across a park we saw the Basque Parliament building. The modern city that surrounds this historic area gave way to beautiful squares, narrow streets and, on the main, perfectly preserved ancient buildings. Elaine kept saying how well everybody dressed and we would have got a lot further a lot quicker if she hadn’t kept looking in the windows of the many chic ladies clothes shops that we passed. The atmosphere was wonderful.
The Plaza de Espana is in the centre of Vitoria and the huge square is dominated by the Town Hall. A couple that had just got married inside came out just as we arrived and we were able to witness a lovely ceremony where a girl dressed in local costume danced in front of the bride and groom to the music supplied by someone using a tin whistle whilst another played a drum. Meanwhile guests stood in a line either side holding prettily decorated half hoops and then the couple were showered with confetti and rose petals to the cheers of all around. Another bride and groom were waiting in the square waiting their turn and around the streets we saw other girls practicing their dance before greeting their brides and grooms.
We continued our tour following the map that Elaine had got from the Tourist Bureau and she again, became my personal tour guide as she passed on all the Information about each historic building we saw. We had a late, pintoxs lunch in a bar which had all different foodstuffs, each on its own thin slice of bread. Much like tapas but much larger and our host warmed them in a microwave before handing them over. The bill is calculated by counting the sticks that are stuck into each individual offering. We ate well and the 9.70 euro bill included the bottled beer we both had with it.
Last night was quite noisy as all the surrounding Spanish motorhomers enjoyed their Halloween celebrations.
1st of November
Just a walk today along by the side of the river and then a relaxing day enjoying the warmth of the sunshine while I catch up with Blog and Elaine gets all her paperwork up to date before moving on in the morning to Burgos.
Whilst we were getting our last minute preparations done whilst we were still in England we stopped a night on a small campsite. It has been a long time since I have seen so many ladybirds flying around as we saw there and every time we opened the door then in they came. Because they were ladybirds we would gently put them back outside. I think they must have cottoned on that we were imminently off to the warmth of Spain. Since we first parked at Bilbao we have found ladybirds inside our motorhome and we have been putting them outside. When I took the bike covers off there were more of the little stowaways sheltering there. Perhaps they got the idea from the Syrian refugees. I never saw a single ladybird during our last time in Spain so if news comes in later years that Spain is inundated with our spotted red friends then maybe Elaine will have some responsibility.