Spain - Cuenca to the Pyranees

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May 12th 2014
Published: May 13th 2014
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Saturday 10thMay 2014

We didn’t really know anything about Cuenca so as we drove the 8 miles into the town, we spotted a Tourist Information and a very helpful girl explained that all the sights were in the old city and the parking was at the end.

What she omitted to say (or maybe I didn’t understand that bit!!) was that the road went up.....and up....round a couple of hairpin bends, then up through the narrow streets of the old City to the archway leading into Plaza Mayor, then up again to the castle archway and finally up to the free car park!

Wow! Spectacular views of Cuenca with all its old churches and of a statue on the far side of the gorge, the monastery (that is now a Parador) and of course, the stunning hanging houses that Cuenca is famous for! Couldn’t wait to explore and followed the pathway down to the old 13thC castle where we could climb to the top of the walls that were covered in tiny plants and wild snapdragons all in flower.

Next we walked down to Iglesia de San Pedro, which was originally built in 1177 by Alfonso VIII after the city was captured from the Moors!In the 16th C a mudejar coffered ceiling was added to the Chapel of St Marcos and the Tower was rebuilt. T The whole Church was completely renovated in the 18th C. Anyway, a friendly Spaniard encouraged us to climb the spiral stairway of the Tower to the bells and more views! We also walked past the old College of San Jose (now a Posada) that was built in 1668 – another very impressive building, down to Plaza Mayor with its huge Cathedral, where we had a nice “Menu del Dia” at a restaurant catering for the Spanish rather than tourists.

Carried on walking down (we had already decided at this point we were definitely getting the bus back up to the car park, as it was far too hot to walk!) and went through an old coaching type arch, and down again to the iron footbridge that spans the gorge! There were masses of tree seeds/fluff in the air and it looked like it was snowing! Walked across and then had a peer in at the Monastery before walking back and to the Tower of Manganga. This was still in the process of being renovated so we carried on downwards, past several more churches until we reached the stream at the bottom.

Wandered along, past the yellow wild iris and numerous ducks until the stream joined the turquoise blue river that was covered in tree fluff!!

Waited for the bus and decided we take it to El Mirador, only the bus driver advised us not to, but to just go back up to the Castle and the Car Park! It transpired later that the Mirador was a shopping centre and not a look out point as we thought!!

Anyway, back to the Campsite after shopping at the Mirador, for a relaxing evening! (Camping Caravanning Cuenca)

Sunday 11th May 2014

Turned left out of the campsite and went into Cuenca on the back road which went through the gorge and past the playa (beach) that we had a quick look at. There was a whole load of Spanish Campervans free camping there, but not sure if it was an unofficial aire or not.

Anyway, quite a long way to travel today so took the N420 towards Teruel. Saw a Romeria at Carboneras de Guadazaon and the scenery was quite pretty with rivers, deciduous trees, high plains and rocky gorges. The rocks have formed some very strange formations, (Grand Canyon in the making!!) and must be littered with minerals as the colours range from red to orange, with purples and yellows! There were also quite a few ‘Puerto’s’ but as we were quite high anyway, a Pass of 1408 metres (4,500’) didn’t seem much higher!

The only place where we stopped for a walk was La Mata de los Olmos where there seemed to be a lot of vultures (over 100) hovering and landing! At the end of the village is a small road on the right that leads up to a farm and at the top is a ‘vulture feeding station’ where there was a dead pig that the vultures were happily squabbling and feeding on! As soon as we arrived all the vultures flew off, one by one, but they are absolutely enormous (10’ wing span) ! Drove the campervan back up to have another look and about another ten vultures had landed but again, as soon as they saw us, they took off again! Quite a wonderful sight just to see them though!

Drove past Alcaniz (looks quite an interesting place with a huge church and something on the hill) and on past Caspe to the campsite where we had a lovely Menu del Dia for 11 euros each that included a bottle of wine and a beer as well as an excellent three course meal! Walked down to the lake and finished the wine whilst watching the sunset over the lake! romantic!! Back to the Campervan, where Chris then fell asleep!!! (ACSI Camping Lake Caspe)

Monday 12th May 2014

Up early (the dawn chorus had me awake at 5.30am!!) and on the road by 09.00am! It was a drive we had done in June 2012 so no surprises and after continuing on the N211 past the lakes, and the A2 ring road around Lleida, we headed towards Andorra on the C13 (somehow we got on the C13 short motorway that came to an abrupt end but it was easy enough to get back on the old road!!) Lovely scenery as the mountains loomed nearer, following the El Segre river up to La Seu D’Urgell. As it was only about 14.00hrs we decided to go to E’Leclerc in Andorra to do some shopping (whoo hoo!!) and get some diesel. Got back to the campsite about 17.00hrs and sat in the sun and relaxed! Cooked supper later and was visited by the huge campsite cat!! ( We called him Tiger but I think his name was Binky!!) ( ACSI Camping Gran Sol, Montferrer)

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