RV Roadtrip Across Central Spain
After our adventure in Andorra it was pedal to the metal across Spain. Ok, not quite pedal to the metal, we try and limit our driving to about 300 kilometers a day in the camping car. We do occasionally push further than that depending on what campgrounds are open but honestly that can be a bit exhausting.
At this point we knew that if we pushed across Spain quickly we could make our goal of Portugal. Unfortunately we would only get a few days in Portugal before we needed to head back up the coast and eventually into Croatia.
Day one after Andorra had us looking at Zaragoza as our stop. The municipal camping site is just outside of the town and was a really convenient stopping point. As we noted leaving Andorra, the roads were quite busy and traffic was backing up quite a bit but only in the opposite direction which caused just a bit of worry. The Catalan government had recently announced their desire to split from Spain. Did all the cars mean anything negative? We had no idea.
We made really good time getting to Zaragoza and arrived in the early afternoon. The campground was a bit busy and after check in we were directed to a pitch by one of the staff. Usually they either provide a number or we get to pick, park and then confirm with reception. This was the first time we followed staff to a spot. As it turns out, this method put us in a different pitch than our assigned number. No problem we thought, this is Spain after all. Maybe things are done differently down here.
While we were parked and Shani was checking us in a curious vehicle arrived and parked behind us. It was a 4X4 VW Westfalia van with a snorkel exhaust! It even had jerry cans, sand tracks and shovels, the whole bit. Sadly we didn’t snap a photo of that rig. As it turned out, the VW belonged to fellow Californians from San Francisco. They were on a 2 month shakedown trip before eventually shipping the van to South America for a long road trip north. We didn’t ever get the full story but it seemed like maybe they were early retirees who had recently married and he was trying to figure out if his travel hobby was going to work with his new life (wife) arrangement. Hard to figure out in just a few conversations, good luck to them at least!
Not long after we were settled in our pitch along came another camping car that parked in the middle of the road right in front of us. A Spanish guy hopped out and started quizzing me in Spanish but my brain broke and I started trying to talk to him in French which got us both no where. He kept asking in Spanish and I kept saying I don’t really speak French (which people assume since out license plates are French). The other Americans came over to offer some help, and Shani piped in (her language skills are better than mine) and finally we all figured out that we were in the pitch they had reserved. The same guy that directed us into the pitch showed up a bit later and put them in another spot, no harm but a little chaos for the end of our day.
As it turns out, all of the traffic from earlier was due to a Spanish holiday. We also had the fortune of staying with quite a few tent and cabin campers who were in town to cheer on their football (soccer) team. To say it was a loud night would be quite the understatement. In fact they were up partying until dawn! Welcome to Spain!
Tired, our next destination was just south of Madrid. While most of the drive was pretty straight forward, somehow our f-ing GPS sent us through a part of Madrid that easily could have been avoided by using a ring road. So now I found myself in a massive roundabout where the mini cars of Spain had no regard for the length and girth of the Hymer camping car. These little bastards kept zipping in and out, cutting me off and came perilously close to loosing their life. Our 3.5 tons would have made short shrift of the little tin cans. A little bit of skill and a little bit of luck and we made it through. I have more grey hair now.
Once safely ensconced in our camping pitch, we did some walking around and headed into town. Sadly the large park adjacent to the camping was off limits for dogs. As it was a holiday weekend there had been some festivities as we were very near the Royal Place.
As we rounded the corner we were met with myriad hot air balloons floating upwards and we had just missed the launching. We wandered the palace grounds and read some of the history snippets posted around. This is a relatively modern palace, though originally conceived quite a while ago. It is also quite enormous, originally intended to be one of the largest in Europe.
All of the learning made us thirsty, and looking to whet our whistle we started looking at cafes. This always takes us about 12 times longer that anyone else and finally, exasperated, we settled on an outside bar called Cheers! (Like the T.V. show) It seemed popular with the locals, didn’t serve any food (we wanted some fries) but did have some potato chips that we snacked on while drinking the local house wine. Our bill – 3 Euros! Quite a bargain, that one! No wonder the waiter was exasperated with our request for the credit card machine!
After Madrid we were headed to Cordoba for the night and we would then be a day or two from Portugal. Our destination was Camping Albolafia, just outside Cordoba, described as the quintessential Spanish town.
Still a little tired from our sleepless night in Zaragoza and running around looking for Woody at Cheers, we just parked and took it easy at Albolafia. There is a bus stop right near the campground that will take you right into Cordoba. Unfortunately, adventure dog was not allowed on the bus and we weren’t comfortable with leaving him on his own. Plus it was a bit too hot to leave him in the camping car. So is Cordoba is as amazing as it is described? Well, next time we visit Cordoba we’ll find out!
Stay tuned as we finish our race across Spain, finally hit Portugal and turn around and head back up the coast.