Spain

our second month in review

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It is just over 2 months since we flew out of Sydney for Europe. It only felt like a few days ago that we wrote our first month in review but here we are sharing our second month already. We are over halfway into this trip now and will be home before we know it.

After our last month’s post, we moved onto Carcassonne and Lyon before saying good-bye to France and hello to Switzerland.

Carcassonne has to be added as another one of our memorable experiences in France. Maybe it was climbing the 242 steps for a rooftop view of the citadel on an extremely warm day that made it memorable. Lyon was a little bit of a surprise package in itself with plenty to keep us busy (more posts to come about that).

IMG_3026We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Switzerland and were very thrilled to be able to visit most of their UNESCO Heritage Sites. The scenery is just breathtaking and every day we seemed to be blown away by something different. There were many highlights in Switzerland (posts still to come) but the one that jumps straight to mind is the Bernina Express from St Moritz to Tirano. We had amazing weather so were graced with the most gorgeous views!

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And on the flip side, our biggest disappointment was without a doubt, another unsuccessful trip to Jungfraujoch – at least we got onto the train this time 🙂

Then it was a quick stop into Luxembourg which is very quaint country. We didn’t see much except the old town but it looks like there are plenty of interesting hikes and things to explore outside the city.

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From there it was back to France for a bit of Paris again, where we got to visit the Louvre and Notre-Dame this time. Back in 2006, we didn’t visit either. Despite the queues, we enjoyed wondering through the Louvre and getting lost – that place is a maze!

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After the very brief stop in Paris, we went south to Bayonne before winding up in St Jean Pied de Port. There we started our epic 800 km walk of the Camino.

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Day 1 – 3 was so unbelievably exhausting. That first day, climbing for almost 27 km to 1400+ metres asl over the Pyrenees into Spain, our bodies had never hurt in that way before! At dinner, we couldn’t even move our arms to feed ourselves. That was an adventure in itself! Our bodies felt so battered and bruised but we soldiered on.

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We had a break day in Pamplona and although we didn’t get to run with any bulls, we did get to experience another fiesta (The Privilege of the Union) they had.

IMG_4969The atmosphere of rural Spain is contagious. We love how there are siestas in the afternoon and then the evenings is in a league of their own! The streets are deserted during the day and as soon as 6pm hits, hundreds of people pour onto the street. Where have they been hiding all day?

We are finally getting into the swing and rhythm of walking everyday. We have walked about 160 km so far and we have enjoyed every minute. Despite the aches and pains and searing heat, it has been rewarding and uplifting to meet other pilgrims. The feeling of seeing our “rest” town in the distance at the end of every day is like seeing a source of water in the dessert! So near, yet so far! So excited, yet such a tease! Imagine walking up a hill, mountain, slope, incline only to peak over the crest to see the town… HOORAY! Except, you still need to walk there. How many times have we wished for a zip-line at that point?

Oh but the satisfaction of accomplishing outweighs the day’s walk 1000 times over. The scenery and sunrise helps as well! Remember, if you want to read our Camino day by day reflections, just duck on over to our Camino Diaries or onto our Facebook page.

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Have a great week ahead, folks!

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gracias españa

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We leave Spain with a little sour taste in our mouths but still happy to have visited.

First stop was Barcelona, and we enjoyed wandering the streets as we usually do. Watching all the street performers on La Rambla, visiting the Sagrada Familia and strolling the markets. What we didn’t enjoy was being robbed from our hotel room. The morning started off a little suspicious with a man knocking on the room door requesting access to our windows as he was a window cleaner. Random or what?! When we went out for the day and came back, our suitcases had been tampered with and our souvenirs had been stolen. Admittedly, it wasn’t anything expensive or irreplaceable and weren’t our passports or cameras. But still, there were lots of little bits and bobs that we had picked up for ourselves as well as gifts for people. And they all were taken. What annoyed us even more was that the hotel didn’t take us seriously. Oh well…..

Street performers
Street performers

Onto Ibiza, where it was down time for us. The mad party island had calmed down for the season so we were simply able to chill. Except one day, on the way back to the hotel, we had a beggar, with frizzy hair and a union jack shirt on, approach us with his hand out. We didn’t make eye contact and kept walking. Next thing we know he is chasing us down the road and through a mini supermarket. Geez, strike 2 for Spain. Luckily was the final strike!

Madrid and Toledo were a breath of fresh air for us. Toledo in particular was simply divine and we loved it there. We saw this amazing work by El Greco in Santo Tome and apparently, this piece of art has never had to have its colour retouched.

We’re willing to give Spain another chance despite the hiccups. Maybe we will give the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage a go one day….

Toledo
Toledo