We were really looking forward to our trip to Spain, and it did not let us down. Normally we favor small towns and natural beauty, but the cities in Spain drew us to them. We enjoyed the easy walkability of Spanish cities, and the food was fantastic. We also enjoyed the rugged terrain in Rioja and Aragon. We are looking to go back in the future.
The road system in Spain was a pleasant surprise. The freeway system was very good and while it is a mix of Tolled roads and free, in the areas we covered it was mostly free, and when not the parallel free road was good. The secondary roads were more of a mixed bag, and we did encounter a few sections of pretty beat up roads, but those were an exception to generally good roads. The lanes on the roads in Spain were generally about a foot wider than in France which was nice. Camping was very easy. Particularly in the South there were an abundance of campgrounds that cater to snowbirds so they are quite large. There are some aires in Spain but not nearly as extensive as Germany or France. Free camping is possible, though we did very little on our trip. Links to highlights are in Blue below.
Ron-Seville. Some cities just feel like a place you would like to call home. For me one of those cities is Seville. It is hard to justify why, it is the sum of its’ parts. The parking right on the river downtown, the great weather, the street scene with cafes that rival any city in the world, and they also have a Costco. World class sites like the Alcazar and the Cathedral kept us busy and we could have/should have spent more time there. So far Seville is my favorite city in Europe.
Ton-Alhambra. The Alhambra was beautiful and a fantastic place to spend the day. It exceeded my expectations and was worth changing our plans to see. I also love Seville for all of the reasons Ron listed and the horse drawn carriages like my hometown in Thailand.
Ron-Pamplona. Just like I cannot explain my affection for Seville, I have a hard time explaining my disappointment with Pamplona. I was looking forward to it from the beginning of the trip. There was nothing wrong with anything in the city. Everything was just ok and I had much higher expectations.
Ton- US Navy Base in Rota. I did not feel very welcome at the US Base in Rota. We drove out of our way to get there. Normally we can use military facilities as retirees but here our access was severely restricted. The only good thing was the laundromat.
Ron-Roses. Our first meal in Spain was the most memorable for me. It was our first full day in Spain and consisted of a set course meal in a seafront cafe. For €12 each we received 3 courses, an aperitif, a glass of wine and an espresso. The service was friendly, the views were good, and the people watching was superb. What an introduction to Spanish food.
Ton-Pinxtos in San Sebastian. Pinxtos are Basque Tapas but I loved the way they just lay them out on the bar and you get to go and pick what you want. The place in San Sebastian had an incredible variety of seafood and non-seafood options. We tried them again in a couple of other places in Spain, but none matched our first experience in San Sebastian.
Ron-Antigua Casa de Guardia in Malaga. We were walking down the street in the rain in Malaga looking for the Food Market when we saw an interesting door and peaked inside. We ended up spending the next couple of hours inside sipping vermouth in one of the most interesting bars I have been in. Antigua Casa de Guardia is a fascinating place that dispenses local sweet wines from large casks. It is not posh but atmospheric, we stood at the bar and conversed with our neighbor who happened to be British and he taught us the system in the place. They have the most unique way of keeping the tab which in itself is worth the visit.
Ton-Codorniu Cava. We visit a lot of wineries in our travels, but this one was really cool. The winery has a long interesting history, and the most amazing underground storage. I loved the train ride thru the caves under the winery.