It was a long journey from the Spanish Port of Ceuta in Morocco to the French Alps and our location for ‘A Season in the Snow’ at Alpe d’Huez. 1860km if we took the short route, but that would have meant we travelled back via places we’d already seen, so we took the long route and added another 450km onto the journey. We did however visit some pretty amazing places in between!
Seville is a must see on any trip to Spain and is by far our favorite Spanish City. We were lucky enough to find a really great spot to camp in a boat Marina called Puerto Gelves, which is around 5km from the CBD. When you look at a map, Seville is nowhere near the coast and at first didn’t really make sense how they could have a Marina so close to the city. The river Guadalquivir is a massive river system which comes from central Spain and finishes on the Atlantic coast near the Portugal boarder. I couldn’t believe how many sailing boats where there from around the globe. We met some really great people from Argentina, Boston USA, Netherlands, Barcelona, Norway, Italy, Canada, London and Sweden. Many had spent the past 10-15 years sailing the world.
I’ve since discovered that Marinas are great places to spend the night as often they have facilities like electricity, water, washing machine, WC, showers, WIFI, bars, shops etc. etc. to accommodate the ‘boat people’. So it’s perfect for motorhomes as you just have to rock up and plug in. We’ll be utilizing Marina’s a lot more in the future if we can.
Seville is ‘chock-a-block’ full of Tapas Bar’s and can just imagine many family members spending day’s or even weeks experiencing all the food and wine that Seville has to offer.
The Cathedral is spectacular, but we didn’t go inside as it’s 9euro per person. We refuse to pay to go in & see churches or cathedral’s so we only saw it from the outside. Real Alcazar, the Royal Palace, is pretty spectacular and walking around the winding streets in Jewish quarter was equally interesting, however the real highlight and treat (plus it was free) is Plaza de España.
I didn’t know anything about the Plaza and we decided last minute to see it on our way back to the motorhome. It’s a beautiful plaza that was built in 1929 for World Expo and during the Art Deco era. The Plaza de España complex is a huge half-circle with buildings running around the edge accessible over a moat with beautiful bridges. In the centre is a large fountain. By the walls of the Plaza are tiled alcoves, each representing a different province of Spain. Each province has their own mural and mosaic tile and is really pretty. We made sure to take a pic of every province we had visited.
Madrid, the capital of Spain felt like a mix of London and Paris. It was great to be in such a bustling big capital city again. We really love ‘BIG’ cities as there is always something going on, lots of noise & people everywhere. Plaza Mayor was so busy and filled with Christmas Markets that we didn’t get to see it like you see in all the pics. Palacio de Cibeles, Madrid’s City Hall, is really beautiful and opposite the US embassy which is equally as pretty. All the museums and art gallery’s where so busy as it was Christmas holidays and every man and his Spanish dog where out so we didn’t fancy waiting in line for 4 hours to see them but we really enjoy just walking the streets and admiring the buildings from the outside anyway.
When then headed for the French boarder and crossed over into France just in time to welcome in the New Year. It took 3 days to travel from Madrid to Nimes, where we spent New Year and not much to report from that part of that journey. It was pretty boring, apart from the bodega’s (winery’s) we visited that are ‘not so’ along route, crossing the Spanish/French boarder very late in the evening on 30DEC.
We eventually decided on Nimes for New Year as we wanted a big village fiesta feel to welcome in 2012. Well, Nimes couldn’t be more different and it was a welcomed surprise. I realize now after spending so much time and actually living in Europe, how much I don’t know about Europe! Nimes is a beautiful city which is part of the Provence region of France, and boasts its own Roman Amphitheatre where they have bull fighting!
We found the most awesome local Bar opposite la Maison Carré, a first century Roman Temple, to have dinner and drinks and see in the New Year. There was an ice skating rink outside the Temple which set the scene and made it look magical. By 11pm the Bar was full, we had met some new local friends and had a great time.
The journey from Nimes, through Provence to the Alps is indescribable! Sometimes we really ‘hate’ TOM TOM because he doesn’t take us on the most logical route and other times we ‘love’ him because he doesn’t take us on the most logical route. We drove through Uzez, Vivers, Grillon and Valreas in the Provence/Rhône-Alpes regions…so beautiful I cannot describe.
We are now in our winter wonderland Bourg d’Oisans at the base of Alpe d’Huez in the French Alps. It is so beautiful and we are addicted to the snow.
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