Tag Archives: Spain

Tordesillas and Fromista

From Zamora we headed east towards Valladolid, but as our route took us through Tordesillas we decided to check the place out.  During one of our earlier stops we’d got into conversation with a guy who explained why Tordesillas, which virtually nobody has ever heard of, played a vital part in the history of the modern world.It seems that back in the fifteenth century, whilst explorers from a number of European nations were setting out to find, invade and plunder any lands that they came across, Spain and Portugal pulled a sneaky one and met at Tordesillas to carve up the New World between them – getting one over on France, England etc.  The Treaty of Tordesillas, signed in 1494, effectively gave the land that is now Brazil to Portugal and allowed Spain to lay claim to the rest of South America.  Of course the other nations took exception to the treaty and totally ignored it – but if you’ve ever wondered why Brazil, alone among all the South American nations, speaks Portuguese- it’s all down to The Treaty of Tordesillas.Heading north again we took a back road through some wonderful countryside and past the village of Tamara de Campos, which is another of those communities that boast a church that’s totally out of proportion to its size.

The Iglesia de San Hipólito at Tamara de Campos
The impressive Iglesia de San Hipólito at Tamara de Campos.

We stopped overnight at Fromista, which is on one of the acknowledged routes of the Camino de Santiago, and enjoyed a drink at a small bar populated by a number of footsore pilgrims.  Enjoyed, that is, until we were charged nine euros for two small beers!  It seems that The Church isn’t the only institution that’s happy to take advantage of the devout!

I couldn’t bring myself to include a picture of overpriced beers – so here’s one of a nearby irrigation canal instead ….

Seville – February 2023

For various reasons the week we’d been invited to spend with our friends Jamie and Vivien in Portugal last September didn’t happen, so we were especially keen to get a little winter sunshine this February.  We explored various options, including cruising and/or heading to somewhere warm outside Europe, but eventually settled on a week in what is said to be the hottest city in Europe – Seville.  In point of fact we’ve already booked to take the van to Spain for the month of May, but reasoned that we’re unlikely to get as far south as Andalucia on that trip, so fitting in a few days in Seville now would enable us see a bit of Spain that we wouldn’t otherwise get to visit whilst soaking up some much needed sunshine and allowing Denise to practise her Spanish.

We booked a week in the Hotel Zaida (she was a Moorish Princess) which sits in the heart of the old part of the city and is within easy walking distance of just about everything that we wanted to see.  Not the most luxurious or well-appointed accommodation in Seville, but clean, quiet, convenient and inexpensive. 
Having a full seven days to explore a place that a few years ago might have taken us three or four meant that we could take our time and get to see the city without getting completely knackered.  With more than a thousand years of Christian and Moorish history behind it Seville has plenty to offer by way of interesting architecture, plus  it’s fairly pedestrian friendly – provided you keep an eye out for the cars, scooters, buses and vans that thunder through the narrow streets!  We decided that we’d definitely done the right thing by visiting in February when the temperatures are pleasant and the number of visitors is relatively low – certainly we wouldn’t want to be there during the hot, crowded (and presumaly smelly) summer months.   
Worthwhile visits around the city included the Cathedral (the world’s largest gothic cathedral) and Alcazar (at over a thousand years old the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe) but in fact there are plenty of other highlights, and just wandering though the orange tree-lined streets in the spring sunshine was a treat in itself.  We especially enjoyed the beautiful Maria Louisa Park with its unique buildings built for the 1929 Ibero-American Exhibition which was hosted by Seville.

A day trip to Cadiz, which is about a 90 minute train journey away on Spain’s southern tip, was a pleasant excursion.  The city juts out into the Atlantic and was a little cooler than Seville, though still warm for the time of year, and the clear blue skies and ‘starched’ white buildings gave the place a special charm.

All in all our brief trip in search of some winter sun was a success.  We enjoyed the warmth, we liked the place – and Denise even got to use some of her Spanish. Muy bien!



It’s art Jim, but not as we know it….

This year we decided that our ‘long’ trip in the ‘van would be to Spain and Portugal; starting off in Bilbao and then wending (one of the good things about having a van is that you can wend) our way over the course of about a month down towards the Duoro valley towards Porto, and then gradually making our way north around Spain’s northern coastline back to Santander for the ferry back to Portsmouth.  We last visited northern Spain about 15 years ago and were pleasantly surprised by the countryside, the roads, the architecture and the fact that everything seemed to be reasonably priced.  Hopefully we won’t be disappointed this time, though no doubt that the weakness of the pound against the euro (don’t mention the ‘B’ word) will have an impact upon how far our pocket money stretches.
The GuggenheimMuseumStarting in Bilbao it would have been downright rude not to have visited the Guggenheim Museum which, aside from being a wonderful piece of architecture, is home to some of the world’s best regarded modern art.  Now, I’m not renowned for my love of modern art (I tend to work on the premise that if I think I could have created it, it can’t be art) but I was prepared to be shown the error of my ways.  Suffice to say that with few exceptions the prejudices and narrow-minded opinions that I’ve built up and cultivated over many decades remain largely unchallenged.  The one exhibit that I did appreciate was Richard Serra’s ‘Matter of Time’ works which are astounding and well worth the visit.

The centre of Bilbao is a nice mix of largely early twentieth and early twenty first century architectures.  We were fortunate with the weather and enjoyed our walk along the Ria de Bilbao in the ealy summer sunshine.
Ria de BilbaoOur campsite is a fantastic location high on a hillside overlooking the centre of the city  – views to kill for, clean toilets and a regular bus service.  What more could anyone want?