Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Whilst we're nearby

We hadn't been to La Rioja, a small wine producing region in the North of Spain, for a while so we decided to put that right. We stayed in a Parador, visited the capital Logroño and toured an upmarket bodega. And, as we were nearby we extended the trip to Bilbao and finally to Canfranc.

I'd mentioned a place in Bilbao that I had read was worth seeing. Maggie looked on the map and thought as we were in La Rioja why not wander over the border into Euskadi (nobody seems to call it the Basque Country anymore) and have a look? The place I'd read about is called the Alhóndiga and it turned out to be a sort of arts, culture and fitness centre rolled into one. It took us a couple of hours to drive to Bilbao from Logroño.

I also noticed that a sensible route home passed through the Huesca province of Aragon. This time I'd heard a programme on the radio about the Canfranc International Railway Station. The place was built as part of a railway project to unite France and Spain via an 8km tunnel dug through the Pyrenees. The station was opened in 1928, worked well for a while but the line went into decline after the 1940s. The railway was finally closed in 1970 when a bridge on the French side became unusable and repairing it just didn't make economic sense. By all reports, in its heyday, the station was like a mini embassy in that part of the station was considered to be French territory on Spanish soil.

So our route was set and hotels booked accordingly. It was only when we typed the destinations into the TomTom that the horrible truth hit us. From Bilbao to Canfranc for instance is just short of 300kms and three and a half hours of driving. Spain is a big country but the mean map makers fit it onto the same sized bit of paper as we use for the England and Wales side of the map of the UK. It catches us out every time.

The round trip was 1993 kilometres.

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