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November 2019 to February 2020. Italy, Sicily and Sardinia.

7. Spain. Travelling from Barcelona to Bilbao.


We didn't arrive in Barcelona until 11pm on Saturday evening as the ferry was late leaving Sardinia.

The campsite we'd hoped to stay at closed at 10pm so we drove to a car park to the south of the city - it's not generally recommended to stay in the city which is notorious for van break-ins. The car park was very quiet and had plenty of room so we decided that it was safe to stay.

The following morning we were woken at 8am by the noise of car doors slamming and looking out of the window I saw a few cars with people taking bikes off.   15 minutes later the huge car park was nearly full so, as we were taking up 3 parking bays decided to move on.  As we left we could see marquees erected nearby so it looked at if there was a bike competition taking place. 

Our ferry from Bilbao back to Portsmouth was booked for the following Thursday so we had 5 days to get there. Apart from the last day we avoided the auto-routes.

 


LLeida

From Barcelona we drove inland for an hour or so and parked up at an aire where we had breakfast and a rest before continuing on to LLeida which is a city with a hilltop fortress in the centre of the town. As we were driving we could see it from some way away.

We stopped at a car park in Lleida and after some lunch walked up to the old town (with a bit of help from a free elevator).  We had a walk around the church and castle but didn't go inside.  Great views and a lovely warm day with no wind.


Gimenells

From Lleida we went to an aire in Gimenells as it was free and included electric!  A nice sunny afternoon with no wind so we were able to sit outside.

The main street and church -

 


The following day we walked into the village to do a bit of shopping and have a look around. In the centre was this old tractor.

- a pair of storks nesting on top of the church tower.


We then went for a bike ride - probably about 2 1/2 hours through an agricultural landscape - mainly orchards and arable fields, nearly all with irrigation.  We followed a small 'canal' for some time and then went downhill and under a railway bridge before joining another track.  Going back there was one quite long hill but we managed it OK.  A lovely ride.


Back at the van Kevin mentioned that he'd seen something about a castle in Gimenells so I looked it up.  It was about 3 km away so we decided to go and have a look on the bikes - more hills!!  Not much left of the castle remains which were on a hill with good views over the surrounding countryside.


The old castle remains.


Lovely to be able to have a braai in the afternoon.


From Gimenells we took 3 days to drive to Bilbao, avoiding auto-routes on the first two days, stopping overnight at free aires at Huesca and Vitoria-Gasteiz. We took our time and enjoyed the journey and the scenery, often with the snow topped mountains in the distance, passing interesting looking villages and going through a long gorge.



 

1. Central Italy A. Pisa, Lucca, Florence and Sienna.

2. Central Italy B. Lake Trasimino, Numana, Rome.

3. Central Italy C. West Coast, Vesuvius, Herculanium and Pompeii.

4. Southern Italy. Matera, SE Coast, Gallipoli, South Coast.

5. Sicily. Sant' Alessio, Naxos, Mount Etna, Taormina, Siracusa, Ortigia and Piana Calzata.

6. Sardinia. Cagliari, SW region, Gira Plateau, Santu Antine and Alghero.

7. Spain. Travelling from Barcelona to Bilbao.

 

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Leaving Bilbao.