Monday, 27 June 2016

The Stunning Mountains of Pais Vasco - Basque Country

Basque Country.

Our recent journey to Portugal took us through France - thankfully after the fuel strikes - to the Pyrenees where we crossed the border into Spain along with the heavy traffic. The weather was atrocious but had improved once got past Limoges about half-way down.

As the outline of the Pyrenees came into view, they gradually loomed nearer, taller, more majestic.
"Oh, look at those peaks." I reprised my comment on first seeing grey, snow-covered mountains as we made our way south from Foix to Andorra all those years ago. "Aren't they pretty?" I had commented then from my perch on the back of our Gold Wing motorbike.
"Yes," my husband laughed in agreement at the memory. "Until you get closer and they start closing in." (1)
Now, I sat and admired these verdant slopes. At this end - the west - they are somewhat gentler Driving at steady speed past Bayonne, we crossed the border into Spain.

What majesty awaited us.

We had planned a journey across Northern Spain on the motorbike some years ago but it did not materialise. Driving to Central Portugal on our 'family mission' was a great opportunity to capture some of what we had missed. Crossing the border into Pais Vasco or Basque Country heading towards Burgos in Castilla Leon.
The mountains are astounding. Great high needles of granite rose high into the sky. The  
motorway network is a feat of engineering as we rode high above deep valleys and ravines below, wound our way through gorges and swept effortlessly round bends in a never-ending succession of mile after mile of extremely good roads.

As we climbed higher into the mountains - don't forget that the centre of Spain is on a high plateau which fools you into thinking that you are on lower, flatter ground - the weather developed into what can only be described as atrocious and not the sort that you want to be out in when driving through mountains with a sheer drop on one side. At times we could hardly see, even with the wipers working furiously to clear the rain and the spray being thrown up from the massive wheels of lorries as we passed. From time to time the rain eased but the clouds hung low. We were thankful of the excellent service stations in this area and their excellent choice of hot meals or simply a snack.

Nearing Burgos, I just knew that we would have another mystery tour. And so it proved. OH said that he had input the hotel details correctly but even so, we ended up in the centre of the city - not Rubena on the outskirts and just off the motorway.

Our return journey through this area was in gorgeous weather. The sunshine provided us with good photo opportunities as I snapped away through the - by now dirty windscreen - at the jagged peaks of the mountains. The signposts were also in Basque language as well as Spanish. Quite an education.

Next - our journey south through Valladolid, Salamanca, and  Plasencia as we came off the plateau and headed into Portugal.

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