It’s the 15th. That means it’s been another full month of travelling for us. We’re leaving Paris today, which marks the end of our seventh month of consecutive travel. We packed in a ton in the past month. So, lets have an update, shall we?
Brief Recap of Month #7: Spain to France
We’ve spent this last month entirely in Spain and France. We began our seventh month in Madrid where we had a confluence of good fortune with the timing of our visit. One night during our stay was Spain’s World Cup match, which was a horrible upset for their team, but it was still fun to watch the game in a local bar with a bunch of rowdy Spaniards. Then one of our favorite bands happened to be playing, so we rocked out at a Bad Religion show.
Finally in Madrid, we attended the new King’s coronation, which was quite the event! We somehow managed to slip in right in front of the balcony where the newly crowned King greeted the roaring crowd below. I can still here the chants “Viva Felipe! Viva El Rey!”
From Madrid, we took an overnight train to Santiago de Compostella, where many people complete their pilgrimages walking the famed Camino. There would be no month long journey for us though. We simply spent a few days in the Galacian city taking in the sites, food, and atmosphere.
From Santiago we wanted to get a little more off the beaten path in Spain so we picked up a rental car to explore the country’s Cantabria and Asturias provinces along the northern coast. First we checked out the ancient Tower of Hercules lighthouse, initially erected by the Romans in 100 AD yet still in use today. Then we cruised along to what is said to be the tallest seaside cliffs in Southern Europe, which were very impressive.
We stayed in the small fishing village Cudillero simply because that’s where we ended up on the road around nightfall. Sometimes those random unplanned stops are the best. We really enjoyed our quick overnight stay in this most charming and picturesque seaside town.
Next it was time to hit the mountains so we started with a cycling trip up the Senda del Oso, which was a great ride through the Spanish wilderness up a former mining trail.
During our time in the area we drank lots of cider, which the region is known for and is always poured from a height in order to initiate carbonation. After ordering a few bottles with nearly ever meal we wanted to get a better understanding of the delicious liquid so we visited the Cider Museum in Nava to learn more.
Then it was on to spend a few days in the Picos de Europa. This stunning mountain range was certainly a highlight for us in Spain. We first hiked the Garganta del Cares, which was a spectacular trek, perhaps the best in all of Spain.
Another day took us to the scenic Lagos de Covadonga which revealed pretty mountain lakes among mountaintop valleys that livestock seemed quite fond of.
Our final day in the Picos took us to Fuente De, where we climbed up some very high summits that still contained plenty of snow.
Next we ventured to the caves of Altamira, where we went to see 14,500-year old cave art.
Things took a wild turn when we camped out in the wine producing town of Haro and participated in their the annual wine fight festival. This was two very long yet fun filled nights of non-stop revelry where we got completely soaked in wine.
Our final stop in Spain took us to San Sebastian. Unfortunately we got a lot of rain during our stay in this otherwise postcard-perfect beach town. But we didn’t mind because our primary reason for our visit here was the food and it did not disappoint.
We absolutely loved Spain. It is most definitely among our favorite countries we visited so far. I can’t wait to draft some posts to throw on this site to illustrate to you Spain’s complete awesomeness.
But it was time to move on to France and the city of Bordeaux was our first stop. We took a day trip to the medieval city of St. Emilion and later toured a number of the region’s esteemed wineries.
Next we moved North to the Loire Valley, known for its castles as much as its wineries. We had been searching for a good place in France to do a multi-day cycling trip and this area fit the bill perfectly. We rented some bikes and rode through the vineyards, past chateaus, along the riverside and across farmland. Our route took us from the city of Tours to the small French villages of Azay-Rid, Chinon, and ended in Samuar. This fantastic 3-day cycling trip was our absolute favorite thing we did during our nearly two weeks in the country.
From Samuar, we ventured out to Paris where we connected with some friends from the States who were on a weeklong trip here. We’ve been having a blast with them seeing the city’s famous sites, indulging in its tremendous cuisine and enjoying a few late wine-fueled nights, which even included a stop at an absinth den.
Our last day in Paris happened to fall on Bastille Day, which is a huge holiday here. The festive atmosphere has been great! We attended one of the traditions of partying at a Firehouse Ball and also saw the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower, which were absolutely incredible (or as they say in French “in-cray-eeb-lay!”) The City of Lights certainly lived up to its nickname!
Update About This Site
Where have all the blog posts gone? You may have noticed there hasn’t been any new blog posts lately. (Sorry!) Since our 6-month update, there’s only been one new post: Best of Central America. So what gives? It’s because we’re simply traveling too hard and too quickly and there’s been no time to write. We’re typically out and about all day (and daytime lasts until after 10 PM during the summer here). In Spain, dinner starts around 11:00. Next thing you know its 1:00 in the morning and time for bed to catch an early train and do it all over again the next day. If there is any free time left anywhere, we use that to frantically book accommodation, figure out how to get from point A to point B, C, & Z, and simply to research where the heck to go next.
There are so many great posts I pen in my head yet there’s never any time to put fingers to keyboard to draft them out. So here’s what we’re going to do to fix that:
First, we really need to slow the f*ck down. We usually stay somewhere for just a few days. There’s only been one occasion where we stayed in the same place longer than four days. When we get somewhere new (which happens almost every day) we feverishly see the sites, try all the food, seek out the drinks, and then pack up to move onto the next. We desperately need to allow more down time. So we’ve booked an entire week in one of our favorite cities in all of Europe – Ghent, Belgium – so that we can have some much-needed down time to get caught up on some posts and other tasks. Hopefully here we’ll find time to finally show you some awesome adventures around Morocco, Spain, and France.
Secondly, we kind of like doing these monthly updates and by clicks it seems that you all do too. So we’ll continue these posts to fill you in our most recent travels while the more full and informative posts are waiting to be written.
Where in the World Are We Going to Next?
We are super excited to go to Belgium to enjoy the country’s most delicious beers. Our first few days will be spent in the Western Flanders region roaming around the hop fields of Poperinge, which allows easy access to the small villages of Watou (St. Bernardus brewery) and Vleteren (!!!) among other world renowned breweries in the area. Then we’re off to a day in Bruges followed by that much needed week in Ghent I mentioned. It turns out there’s some crazy festival in town during the same week and also runs through Belgium’s Independence Day, so I’m not sure how much down time we’ll actually get. But, hey, I’m sure it’ll be a fun!
After Ghent, we’ll end our time in Belgium with a few days in its capital, Brussels. From there, we’ve yet to decide our fate. We were initially planning to go on to Germany and then on to the Czech Republic. However, under the Schengen agreement we’re only permitted to stay in most European countries for a total of 90 days. By this point we’ll have been here for 60 days and we need to reserve 15 days for a trip to Greece. That leaves only 15 days to see Germany, Czech, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary. That’s just not going to work so we are thinking about some way to revise our plans and may take a flight from Brussels to Croatia (not within the Schengen area) to figure out our next move.
So stay tuned and see whether we end up in Germany, Croatia or somewhere else entirely!
Until Next Time…
Thanks again for reading and following along our journey. We hope you all are enjoying your summer and perhaps are able to get out and travel to some place new and interesting. Happy travels!
-John & Heather