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Published: September 5th 2013
Cesare Borgias tomb
We set the alarm off for 7.00 giving us time to have a quick breakfast, clear away and be on the road for Spain for 8.00.
The border came quickly and surprisingly. There was no EU blue sign stating we were entering Spain just a toll station which we recognised as not being French. I wonder if in this part of France they dont quite know what they feel and in the Basque country they don’t want to recognise their Spanishness and prefer to ignore it and be just Basques. I can understand that coming from one of the smallest nations in the world. Being Welsh you understand the need to maintain your own customs, your own language and your own identity. Seeing the road signs in two languages reinforced the difference between this part of Spain and the rest of the country.
I handed over our toll fee of 2 euros and 12 cents a rather odd amount and we headed off into Spain. Before long Snooper decided to throw what can only be called a wobbler refusing to recognise what appeared to be a new road and told us we were in the middle of
The gateway to the town
a field. In the end we had to ignore her and head off into the unknown hoping that either she would catch us up or she would finally get ahead of us and tell us where we were. More by good luck than good judgement we took a right over the river and I went into the back of Suzy whilst we were driving and found Sally the Sat Nav and programmed her to find Viana the town we wanted to be in. It seemed that we had guessed right and she soon picked us up and set us on our way.
The scenery initially changed from what was essentially "Mediterranean like" to northern European again before changing again to the stuff of spaghetti westerns. Everywhere yellow soil, arid and similar to Tuscany but scruffier. I saw my first black bull on the horizon. The roads were empty and in the distance the odd town or village. The older parts dominated by the church but the periphery nothing more than modern housing and industrial units. Along the roadside the only change of colour the yellow of huge Angelica plants the blue of the chicory. We filled up in the middle
of nowhere Diesel 1.41.1cents a litre. The aires or parking places were few and far between and not sheltered so we sweltered as we ate our dinner.
Our first stop of the day was Viana where Cesare Borgia was buried. His father was the Pope Alexander VI who took a wife and a lover and was also father to Lucrezia Borgia. Cesare was inspiration for Machiavelli’s Prince and he was the notorious commander of the Papal forces. He died in battle fighting for his brother in law the King of Navarre and was buried in Viana. We wanted to go to see his grave in the church in Viana.
We parked Suzy up on a side street and walked up in to the town. The church was Gothic in design but not the style of Gothic we know in the north of Europe. This was a more stocky and ornate building with none of the lace stonework or the pretty flying buttresses. A heavy building set in a plain square. Inside the church was full of small chapel with retables in each. Each one gilded and with confessional boxes. A huge altar filled one wall. The
tomb of Cesare was outside the door. A simple stone set in the floor.
After we had come out of the church we walked across the street to buy baguettes and try to find a shop that sold groceries. Instead we found a café and sat down as the temperature was up to over 30 degrees. Inside the café the sign stated – to be paid – to be served which sounded quite quaint. We sat outside drinking cappuccinos from glasses, a layer of coffee on top of which was a layer of frothy milk. To top it off a layer of cream and a sprinkling of chocolate. My drink an espresso. To complete the break a piece of something that looked like an apple cake but turned out to be sliced potato. And very tasty it was too.
Our next stop would be Haro the centre of the Rioja wine region.
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