Saturday 21st January
We left El Puerto de Santa Maria at 11 am and made our way north. The weather was sunny but quite cold. We stopped for a break at a service station at 12:30, then continued on our way. We stopped again for a snack lunch near Mérida before continuing on to Caceras where I had noticed that the road passed very close to a large reservoir, the Embalse de Alcantara. We found a pleasant spot to stop for the night off the road near the reservoir. It is huge, formed by damming the River Tojo, though the water level was quite low. We had our evening meal and I tried taking some photos of the night sky as it was very clear with no light pollution.
|Morag at the Embalse de Alcantara|
|Sunset over the reservoir|
|Starry sky, the constellation of Orion|
Sunday 22nd January
No One Expects the Spanish Inquisition!
|Morning mist over the reservoir|
We woke with frost on the ground and a mist over the reservoir but the day cleared to bright sunshine again. Our journey continued along the Autovia de la Plata until we stopped for a break at a signposted picnic area near Banos de Montemajor. The "picnic area" had no tables, no grass, no bins nor any other facilities. It was nothing more than a large tarmacked car parking area.
We continued past Salamanca and had a lunch break at a service station. Onward past Valladolid and Palencia before looking for somewhere to spend the night. After leaving the motorway we eventually found an aire de camping for motor homes at Torquemada, the birthplace of Tomas de Torquemada, the main inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition. We took Button for a walk in the cold sunshine and had our evening meal. No-one asked us any questions!
|Morag (leftmost) atTorquemada|
Monday 23rd January
The final stretch of the crossing of Spain to Bilbao was pretty uneventful passing through Burgos and Miranda de Ebro. The later part of the journey passed through some very nice scenery including a passage through the Sierra de Cantabria via tunnels and deep gorges.
Bilbao was very busy with traffic but our Sat Nav guided us to the camp site I had identified for our stay here. Unfortunately the camp site at Gorliz we found to be closed until the 1st March. I used the internet to find an alternative.
We drove to Sopelana and found the camp site. Although open it was quite rudimentary. We were only able to park on the access roads as most of the grass pitches had been reseeded and were taped off. The facilities were rather poor. The wash block had no heating or external doors so was very cold and none of the wash basins had hot water. There was hot water for showers but these, like everything else on site had seen better days. We thought the charge of €20 per night was excessive but we had found no alternative.
The good thing about the site was its proximity to the beach just a short walk down a steep road (and a steep climb back up to the site!) We took Button down for a run and a dig and for us to try and find somewhere for our evening meal. None of the restaurants and hotels were serving meals before 9 pm. Normal for the Spanish but far too late for us so we returned and ate our evening meal in Morag.
|Atxabiribil beach, Sopelana|
|Climbing back up the hill|
Tuesday 24th January
We had arranged for Button to visit a vet in Sopelana for her pre-travel worm treatment as required under the UK PETS scheme. The vet clinic was near a nice park so we took Button for a walk there before her treatment. The vet was very pleasant and Button swallowed her two worming tablets, helped down by a generous wad of luncheon meat! The bill was only €12, easily the least we have ever paid for pre-travel treatment.
We drove on to Plenzia, an attractive coastal town on a river estuary. We strolled along the riverside walk and later went for lunch in a café/bar. After lunch, Button got her playtime on the beach before we drove back to the camp site.
|Elegant footbridge at Plenzia|
|The riverside walk|
|Sunset at Atxabiribil beach|
Wednesday 25th January
Guggenheim Art Museum
We took the metro from Sopelana to Bilbao to visit the Guggenheim Art Museum. The museum was as impressive as I had hoped with its titanium and limestone clad building with sweeping curves all around. We walked past Jeff Koons "Puppy", a giant floral sculpture near the entrance to the museum. Inside, we were impressed with the vast open spaces, particularly in the atrium. The individual galleries were also large and never crowded with too many separate works so it was possible to really look properly without feeling overwhelmed.
|Anish Kapoor, Tall Tree and the Eye|
|Jeff Koons, Puppy|
|Jeff Koons, Tulips (Myself and Lyn reflected)|
|Curves and Glass|
Lyn left at about 4 pm so that she could return to Button who had been left in Morag in Sopelana. I stayed on until nightfall so that I could get some photos of the museum building and its environs at night. I took dozens of photos during my wanderings, many of Louise Bourgeois "Maman", a giant, 9 metre high sculpture of a spider. I returned to the metro and to Sopelana at around 7:30.
|Guggenheim and me (I hate selfies!)|
|Guggenheim generated mist|
|Yves Klein, Fire Fountain|
|Louise Bourgeois, Maman (and approaching meal?)|
When we got back to the camp site we found that our pitch had been usurped by a German motorhome! Nothing we could do but park up nearby and make do.
Thursday 26th January
The Voyage Home
We packed up Morag ready for our return voyage to England this afternoon. We drove to the port and had a snack in the café while waiting to drive on board. We were loaded onto the ferry ready for our 3:30 departure and settled into our dog-friendly cabin. We would not have been happy with Button staying in kennels during the voyage. We ate our evening meal from the snack bar and settled down for the night.
|Button settled in our cabin|
Friday 27th January
Back in England
The passage was quite smooth and we woke early to go for breakfast in the restaurant. We arrived in Portsmouth on time but due to a problem with one of the loading ramps we had a long wait before being unloaded. Once off the ferry and through the pet screening routine, we drove via the M27, M3 and A34 to Kings Sutton to stay the night with Bob, Lucy and family.
|Arriving in Portsmouth|
Saturday 28th January
Home at Last
We left after breakfast and drove to Kenilworth to visit Lyn's sister Gillian. After a very nice lunch we continued on our journey home in grey, drizzly weather, arriving back at 4:30 pm. We were certainly back in England! Morag had behaved very well during the 2,900 miles of our trip.