Barcelona & Beyond: Castle Road Trip of Spain 2016

Glen had a work conference in Barcelona, so I joined him after the conference for a road trip around Spain to see 26 castles in 10 days, staying overnight in 9 castles that the Spanish government has converted to luxury Parador hotels! Our ambitious itinerary left us exhausted but happy we saw so much in such a short time!

You can click into the Facebook posts to see more photos and their captions that were posted live each day, plus clicking the “more…” link at the end of each post will show the full photo gallery for that day without captions.

Barcelona and Beyond! Castle Road Trip of Spain

8 June 2016

Glen has a work conference in Barcelona, so I’m joining him after the conference for a road trip around Spain to see at least 15 castles in 10 days, staying overnight in 9 of them! Here’s our ambitious itinerary, with even a map you can click to enlarge, so follow along to see if we actually make it everywhere… 馃槈

Thursday June 9th
Britta lands 8pm, to hotel by 9pm?
late dinner at hotel to stay awake vs. jet lag
(Spanish dinnertime is 9-10pm anyway)
4-star modern conference hotel Barcelo Sants

Friday June 10th Day 1
tour Barcelona
4-star modern conference hotel Barcelo Sants

Saturday June 11th Day 2
Barcelona Sants train 3 hrs to Valencia Joaquin Sorolla
07:00 – 10:12am – eat breakfast on board
lunch with Manuel? personal driving tour of the city?
Valencia Joaquin Sorolla train to Madrid
3:10-5pm 15:10-17:00
5pm arrives Madrid-Puerta de Atocha
quick Madrid hop-on bus tour
pick up rental car at Madrid-Puerta de Atocha train station
Madrid train station 1.5 hrs drive to Parador de Sig眉enza
daily driving map

Sunday June 12th Day 3
2 hrs drive through outskirts of Madrid to Cerceda
tour Castle of the Mendoza near Segovia = Manzanares el Real
1pm lunch at Restaurante California? didn’t reply about reservation
1 hr drive Cerceda to Alc谩zar de Segovia 12th century “fairytale” castle
drive 3 hrs to Parador de Jarandilla de la Vera by dinner
daily driving map

Monday June 13th Day 4
drive 2.5 hrs to Badajoz to Parador de Zafra
see the Roman ruins at Merida – ruins are open but museum is closed on Mondays
some of the Route of Southern Castles – finish with Parador de Zafra
daily driving map, includes some of the Route of Southern Castles ending in Zafra

Tuesday June 14th Day 5
leave Zafra 1.5 hrs to Sevilla
Alcazar de Sevilla palace
Catedral de Sevilla
Seville 1hr to Parador de Carmona
daily driving map

Wednesday June 15th Day 6
2.5 hrs drive Carmona to Gibraltar
see Rock of Gibraltar – gondola to the top
walk down to see the apes :) hold onto your bags!
drive 3 hrs to Granada by dinner
8pm check in, dinner at Parador de Granada staying overnight INSIDE Alhambra Palace grounds!
daily driving map

Thursday June 16th Day 7
breakfast & see rest of Parador de Granada
see Alhambra Palace
Alhambra Palace morning tickets w Nasrid Palace time 1pm
leave by 2-3pm for 2.5 hrs drive to Almodovar Castle
Castillo Almod贸var del Rio 45 minutes west of city – could cut for time
45 minute drive into C贸rdoba
tour Mosque Cathedral of C贸rdoba – cannot miss!
2 hrs drive to Parador de Jaen
daily driving map

Friday June 17th Day 8
2.75 hrs drive from Parador de Jaen to Toledo
tour Toledo
1.75 hrs Toledo to Belmonte Castle where El Cid was filmed starring Charlton Heston
1 hr drive from Castillo de Belmonte to Parador de Alarcon
daily driving map

Saturday June 18th Day 9
4 hrs drive Alarcon to Alca帽iz
1 hr drive Alarcon to Cuenca
detour to see Casas Colgadas Hanging Houses? Also a castle there 1583 Inquisition & old walled town of Cuenca
4 hrs drive Cuenca to Parador de Alca帽iz
daily driving map

Sunday June 19th Day 10
3.25 hrs drive to Alca帽iz to Cardona
Montserrat Monastery?
arrive early enough in afternoon to enjoy Cardona in daylight since we leave before dawn!
room 712 supposedly haunted – heh!
Parador de Cardona
daily driving map

Monday June 20th Day 11
6am full hour drive Cardona to BCN airport
7am return rental car at BCN airport
10am fly home!

Spain2016

Spain Day 1: getting there…

9 June 2016

Thursday June 9th: 10029 steps 4.03 miles

I think it’s been 20 years since I flew British Airways…but this time from San Jose, not San Francisco! Even though I checked in exactly 24 hours ahead as soon as I was allowed, only aisle seats were left (unless I paid $60 for early selection), and I can’t even fit my bag under my seat because of the metal box. At least the staff still wears cute hats…next stop Heathrow, then Barcelona!

This is my running through Heathrow face after we landed late at Terminal 5 too hot and uncomfortable to sleep, stairs down the plane to a bus, another bus to Terminal 3, security again…but I made it by the skin of my teeth onto the plane to Barcelona!

I got my first glimpse of the Mediterranean as we landed in Barcelona! For some reason this hotel has a vintage space theme from 2001 A Space Odyssey…haha! My travel buddy Glen still has work to do tonight but we will find some dinner before I crash…

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Spain Day 2: Barcelona

10 June 2016

Friday June 10th: 12951 steps 5.89 miles

Bus & walking tour of Barcelona today, including a “waterfall” selfie at Palau Nacional, using Google Translate for signs, some Gaudi buildings, and my first paella last night, black from squid ink…tasty!

Sagrada Familia Basilica by Gaudi is still under construction for over 100 years but definitely impressive already! We were a little early for our advance ticket time, so we enjoyed slushie sangrias in the park across the street. They are working on the altar so I couldn’t see the pipe organ, just the tops of the pipes. The stained glass colors fade along the windows, coloring the plaster and stone like giant prisms, the columns are like tree branches, and we are glad we paid extra for the tower, but even I got dizzy looking over the edge this time! 馃槈

We got back on the bus tour, but Park Guell by Gaudi was a hot hike uphill, then the main section was sold out with a 2-hr wait! We walked around the sides, then got back on the bus to La Rambla to walk to the old gothic quarter Barri Gotic by dinner…

We found our way from La Rambla across to the Gothic Cathderal built on the old Roman city wall and aqueduct, with an antiques market in the square, and street performers like a guitarist playing Malague帽a. We enjoyed strolling around the old quarter and found Glen’s co-worker Randy’s recommendation for dinner. The paella was good but the butifarra sausage with goat cheese and caramelized onion tapas were fantastic! The red wine was a blend of Tinto Fino with temperanillo and was quite tasty. Now we are trying to get to sleep early since our train to Valencia LEAVES at 7am!

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Spain Day 3: Valencia, Madrid & Sig眉enza

11 June 2016

Saturday June 11th: 12444 steps 5.98 miles

Bye bye Hotel Barcelona Sants! Thanks for all your fun space age decor, and thanks for doing Glen’s laundry, even pressing and separately wrapping his tshirts! 馃槈

We made it on our 7am train to Valencia and met Glen’s co-worker Manuel and his cousin Elena, professional tour guide extraordinaire, for a whirlwind walking tour of the old city Ciutat Vella, including the Basilica Virgen de los Desamparados, tried Valencian horchata with fartons at the largest indoor fresh market in Europe, then ended with an excellent authentic Valencian paella and sangria from a restaurant favored by locals! Now we are on the high speed train to Madrid…

Our high speed train was on time, but by the time we got our rental car and found the tour bus stop and got on, we didn’t leave Madrid until almost 9pm…The sun was blinding in my eyes and I was so sleepy that I’m not sure what all we saw, but I kept taking photos whenever I could. Now we are on our way to our first castle hotel over an hour drive away…

Leaving Madrid I was still so sleepy that I was very glad Glen could drive, but he did insist on finding Starbucks first. 馃槈 We made good time on the freeway, but we saw the Castle of Torija along the freeway, so we took a short detour to get out and see that little castle! Finally in the Parador de Sig眉enza castle hotel by 11:30pm in a suite since that’s the room they have left. Sure hope we have time in the morning to see more of this castle before we are on the road for 3 more castles tomorrow!

daily driving map:

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Spain Day 4: Driving to 5 Castles from Sig眉enza to Segovia to Jarandilla

12 June 2016

Sunday June 12th: 15589 steps 7.34 miles

We ate breakfast in the vaulted arch dining room as soon as they opened, then quickly toured Castillo Palacio de Los Obispos aka Parador de Sig眉enza, including the hidden chapel before we headed out on the open road!

Glen found a bonus castle on our way! Even though Castillo del Cid de Jadraque is closed for renovations, we walked all around it, amazed at the view for miles!

Back to our original castle stop of Castillo Manzanares el Real on a large lovely lake, now actually castle #3 for today! We made it by 12:30, enjoyed the decorated inside rooms and climbing the walls and towers, then got a quick snack at the local grocery store so we could get on the road for the “fairytale” castle Alcazar de Segovia!

Old Segovia center is a charming hillside town of narrow cobblestone streets, a Roman aqueduct, a tall cathedral, and a fantastic “fairytale” castle Alcazar de Segovia that is truly over the top! Thank goodness for the castle cafe for wifi and an ice cold beverage to keep us going. No map & no GPS but I managed to find my way around to the back side of the castle for an even more impressive view…plus so much tree pollen it looked like snow! On the road again with two more stops before our castle hotel…

Another bonus round achieved, so our total today is 5 castles and 2 monuments! We left Segovia around 8pm and made it to view the walled city of Avila glowing at sunset just before the light faded! Then Glen had found another bonus castle on the way, so after only our car snacks and a little jamon iberico for lunch, we also skipped dinner in favor of another castle! Are we on the Castle Diet? 馃槈 So I glad I packed some babybel cheese and beef jerky! We drove winding mountain roads through dramatic cliffs and found Castillo de Mombeltran closed of course since it was about 11pm already, but we got up to the gate through the park close enough to see it. Then it was another hour of mountain roads in the dark but we didn’t arrive at the Parador de Jarandilla de la Vera until after midnight, so we will count that in tomorrow’s castle count when we can see it properly! Some much needed rest now, then more Roman ruins and cool castles tomorrow!

daily driving map:

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Spain Day 5: Trujillo, Merida & Zafra

13 June 2016

Monday June 13th: 13498 steps 6.18 miles

We needed the rest and today should be a lighter driving day, so we had breakfast and checked out of this castle hotel at the very last minute! Castillo de los Marqueses de Jarandillo y Condes de Oropesa, aka Parador de Jarandilla de la Vera, has lovely round towers and cool shady gardens, and even a pool that we didn’t have time to enjoy. Now on the road again, very thankful for the AC in our car!

Driving went more quickly once we left the mountains and got on the Autovia freeways. We saw what looked like a possible castle at the top of the hill of Trujillo so we decided to stop. We saw bulls grazing and charging each other in the field by the Plaza del Toro. We enjoyed the shade with chilled white wine & a cheese plate Extremadura style on their Plaza Mayor, then we walked the old city to the top but never couldn’t find any signs for any castle…so maybe it is just a walled city? Still cute tiny cobblestone streets, and thankfully the wind offset the 90F weather a bit! Back on the road through the Badajoz region…

We made it to Merida to see the Augusta Emerita Roman ruins! We glimpsed the aqueduct by car as we drove around a bit first. We walked a bit of the Puente del Guiadiana Roman arched bridge that cars were still using until 1991! We saw the Alcazaba gatehouse turned into a Moorish fortress, walked up the street to the Temple of Diana silhouetted in the sunshine, saw the mostly restored Portico del Foro Roman square, then the big attraction, the Roman gardens, huge circus theater where Glen did his best gladiator pose, and the giant amphitheater with beautiful stage where I stood and sang a few notes to test acoustics…fabulous of course! Glen could even hear me talk from the stands and I could hear him! A lot of walking in the heat wiped us out, but we only have about 45 minutes to drive to our castle hotel in Zafra…maybe we will even sit down for dinner tonight?

We skipped attempting any of the Route of Southern Castles because it was already so late in the day, then finally we made it to Alcazar de Los Duques de Feria, aka Parador de Zafra before dark! Our junior suite is around a corner up a couple flights of stone stairs and covers the whole floor of the front side! No stone walls inside our room, but it is huge and wasn’t even expensive! We are very thankful we have time for dinner tonight! We enjoyed Extremaduran specialties from an English menu like migas, gazpacho, Tarte de nata “cream cake in the home” and De gusta fiome “sweets of workshop” with a bottle of chilled rose wine out in the courtyard by the fountain…what a lovely way end a long hot day!

daily driving map:

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Spain Day 6: Through Sevilla to Carmona

14 June 2016

Tuesday June 14th: 11482 steps 5.52 miles

Finally a full night of rest at our Zafra duke’s castle Alcazar de Los Duques de Feria, aka Parador de Zafra, open air breakfast by the courtyard fountain, and more castle photos of course! Inside is all plastered so not much to see, but I walked the full exterior and got as many angles as I could, even spotting the storage shed tucked between the tower and outer wall. 馃槈 Sure wish we had enough time to enjoy any of these castle swimming pools! Now we are on the road to Sevilla…

We made it to Sevilla by around 3pm, but navigating the tiny old city streets then finding parking took a while…just fitting this big luxury rental car into the tiny parking garage space took me 15 minutes! We toured the Alcazar de Sevilla palace for about an hour, highly impressed at all the intricate Moorish decoration. We only had time for a quick free peek inside the Catedral de Sevilla, but we walked around the whole building and it is gigantic! On our walk back to the car we passed a handpainted fan shop with a teal one in the window, so now I have a souvenir that can also keep me cool in style. Glen took my foldable frisbee as a “manly” fan. 馃槈 Sorry we couldn’t stay longer, Sevilla!

Missed it by THAT much! Seriously, 20 minutes late to the Castillo Almod贸var del Rio so we couldn’t see inside, and it was supposed to have a cool torture chamber. They were literally closing the gates in our faces. Waah!

Glen really wanted to see the Castillo Almod贸var del Rio, originally planned for Thursday afternoon, but we discovered today that’s the day it switches to their summer hours when they close at 1pm! So I flew low on back roads from Sevilla past Carmona, passing slow farm trucks in single lanes and waiting for herds of sheep to cross the road…then we parked at the castle and they were literally closing the gates in our faces! Nothing we said could convince them to let us in to see what we could for the last 30 minutes until official closing time. Waah! Glen was really disappointed but at least we saw the outside! It also meant we reached our next castle hotel Alcazar del Rey Don Pedro aka Parador de Carmona before dark at 9pm. Glen had his turn at the fun job of driving our big car through tiny old streets! We strolled for photos of this Moorish fortress, then enjoyed dinner after 10pm again, exhausted as usual, and tomorrow is another busy day to the Rock of Gibraltar!

daily driving map:

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Spain Day 7: The Rock of Gibraltar to Alhambra

15 June 2016

Wednesday June 15th: 3692 steps 1.64 miles

It was so warm with weak AC that we slept with the windows open so the roosters crowing woke me up bright and early! Some last lovely views of the gardens and castle hotel Alcazar del Rey Don Pedro aka Parador de Carmona as we eat breakfast in the car on our way to the Rock of Gibraltar!

It took almost an hour of stressful driving on too small one-way streets to get out of Carmona, then it was open roads to Gibraltar with even more fields of sunflowers than yesterday, passing the fancy Basilica de Los Carmelitas de la Santa Faz in El Palmar de Troya, a splinter sect with its own pope, a huge line of traffic for border control into Gibraltar, then the maze of unsigned one-way streets inside the town until we finally found the cable car station to the top of the rock! The Apes of Gibraltar are ready when each gondola arrives, grabbing bags and anything possibly food related from inside bags, but it is a huge fine to feed them. We saw other people get attacked, and I moved my bag to my other side to remove the temptation but a monkey grabbed anyway and hung on tight! Glad I zipped it closed in preparation! Gorgeous views from the top and we can see all the way to Africa! Posting this from the free wifi at the top of the Rock of Gibraltar! 馃榾

We drove another 3 hours from Gibraltar to Granada along the Costa del Sol, seeing all the resort towns along the beaches only by car and paying new tolls every few miles. We made it to Alhambra around 9pm but it took us three tries to find our hotel! We finally figured out we had to be buzzed in through a gate since we are inside the Alhambra Palace where all the other visitors pay for parking! This hotel is not a castle, but the old Convento de San Francisco, modern inside the rooms but gorgeous panoramic views of Alhambra Palace around us from the bedroom! The Parador de Granda is on several lists of the top luxury hotels in Europe so we decided to splurge, and Glen said it was the smoothest and best luxury hotel checkin experience he ever had! We quickly changed clothes for dinner on the terrace and look at our view! Dinner was absolutely delicious with the best olives glen has ever eaten and even finally some chilly weather! Sadly we were both too tired from another long day and not finishing dinner until almost midnight to open the surprise complimentary champagne in our room! Tomorrow is touring Alhambra Palace, the most visited tourist attraction in Spain!

daily driving map:

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Spain Day 8: Alhambra through C贸rdoba to Ja茅n

16 June 2016

Thursday June 16th: 20483 steps 9.55 miles

Since I was ready before Glen, I strolled around the hotel grounds of the Convento de San Francisco Parador de Granada learning about the monastery that used to be here, how Queen Isabella specifically requested to be buried here, and how badly it was destroyed by Napoleon, then enjoyed some breakfast out on the terrace again, mobbed by tiny birds! 馃槈 Alhambra is a whole compound of gardens and buildings including the Nasrid Palace, and now we get to leave our car and luggage at the hotel while we tour the rest with the tickets we barely got online several weeks ago. This place sells out fast and only 6600 visitors allowed per day. Then around 2pm we should be on the road again to C贸rdoba!

Alhambra was as stunning as expected and well worth the visit! We picked up our prepaid tickets and got inside the gardens by 11am, toured the Generalife and gardens, which we now know as our dinner view, walked the Alcazares fortress including up the big tower, and got into the amazing Nasrid Palace at our 1pm ticket time. We still cannot believe the intricate carvings, plaster work, and tile mosaics everywhere, plus I absolutely love all the garden design. After a couple souvenir purchases each, we finally got on the road around 3pm, thankfully a fairly easy route out of town this time and all freeways to C贸rdoba!

We arrived in C贸rdoba, found parking (not easy in all these historic city centers!), and found our way to the Mosque-Cathedral of C贸rdoba about 5:30 when they closed at 7pm…whew! As soon as I walked inside, I knew M. C. Escher had been here since recognized his sketch! This site had a very early Visigoth Christian church in the 500s, remnants seen through the new floor, then a mosque in the 700s that was remodeled into giant proportions in the 1100s, then when the Christians conquered the Moors, they decided to build a cathedral INSIDE the mosque, even swallowing up some of the cool striped arches…how bizarre! The cathedral is impressive even with dueling pipe organs! There are also mini chapels all around the inside walls with paintings and sculptures…but Glen said they needed to “plus it” by adding some animatronics to the sculptures…haha!

We only had car snacks for lunch and we happened on a restaurant free flamenco show with dinner, so we enjoyed some tapas tipicas de C贸rdoba with a fantastic up-close performance! Since we didn’t leave C贸rdoba until midnight, we were finally in our room at the Parador de Ja茅n at Castillo de Santa Catalina by 2am…our longest day yet but so much fun!

daily driving map:

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Spain Day 9: Vintage Windmills & 3 Castles to Alarcon

17 June 2016

Friday June 17th: 10813 steps 5.04 miles

We both really needed the rest, so we woke up after 9am to find we had our own balcony with a gorgeous view of the mountains! We were even the last ones before breakfast closed! Strolling around the Parador de Ja茅n we discovered the hotel was built on ruins of the two older castles and the “new” castle from 1300s is the Castillo de Santa Catalina, and they have quite a nice little tour and three towers to climb for only 3.50 euros…so that’s our first bonus castle for today! We have a long haul to Alarcon by dinner, but hopefully we can find one or two bonus castles along the way…

Internet peeps, check it out…they are renting antenna platform space on top of the 14th century Castillo de Santa Catalina! Hahaha!

One hour outside of Ja茅n we found a bonus castle in the tiny old town of Ba帽os de la Encina! We saw three different names on different signs, Castillo de Ba帽os de la Encina aka Castillo Bury El-Hamma aka Castillo y Ruinas de Santa Maria, but it is only open until 1pm weekdays so we only saw the outside along with cactus and horses on the hillside. Glen couldn’t believe we didn’t see any people but it was 3pm, smack in the middle of siesta time? When we got back to the freeway we stopped for car snacks for a light lunch, and Glen found more super tasty olives!

We had found that the Castillo de Belmonte was one of the castles where they filmed El Cid starring Charlton Heston, and it was only an hour away from our castle hotel so would be a good stop after so much driving. We didn’t know if they even had tours, so the bonus was that this time we got inside! We arrived at 7:15, spent too much time on the audio tour of the inside rooms before climbing the ramparts, so we ended up kicked out after official closing about 8:45pm! We drove a street over for a better sunshine view of the castle and ended up seeing vintage windmills from the street “Ruta de Don Quijote” haha!

Our first view of Alarcon was stunning at sunset so we had to stop for a photo before we even arrived! The old town is on a natural peninsula of cliffs surrounded by the River Jucar, with a narrow winding road as the only way in. The entry into town by the fortress was so dramatic Glen put on some epic movie music…haha! We had to drive around the town before we could see the fortress again, and that was a touch less dramatic since we entered in the parking lot full of modern cars. 馃槈 Our reservation included dinner and breakfast so we tried the local “tarsting” menu and enjoyed it without being too stuffed, but we were last to leave dinner yet again. Our room is one of only six in the tower with a little balcony overlooking the central courtyard, and there are only 14 rooms in this hotel! They even left a little scroll of information, thankfully both in English and Spanish, including that as hotel guests we can ask for the key to climb the ramparts! We will definitely explore more of Castillo Marques de Villena aka Parador de Alarcon in the morning!

daily driving map:

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Spain Day 10: Coastal Route with 5 Castles to Alca帽iz

18 June 2016

Saturday June 18th: 9287 steps 4.17 miles

Since we haven’t found any bonus castles on today’s route to Alca帽iz, we had a leisurely morning enjoying breakfast with regional scrambled eggs with ham, we are back in the migas fried bread crumbs region again, and they finally had real Spanish sipping chocolate…so thick and delicious! We checked out then got the key for “acceso exclusivo” to the ramparts of Castillo Marques de Villena aka Parador de Alarcon! After we had enough of the walls, we retuned the key & got in the car, but we found a dirt road that ended under the castle at a walking bridge across the gorgeously teal River Jucar for more fantastic views. I matched the teal river and Glen matched the castle walls…haha! As we drove out of town the same way we drive in, we still hadn’t yet had our fill of castle views, so we parked and walked around the outer gate tower too! We highly recommend spending more time here if you ever get the chance, but for now we say farewell to Alarcon!

We left Alarcon around 3pm and changed from our original inland route to a coastal route in hopes of a seaside snack and maybe a bonus castle. After I took over driving, Glen spotted three more castles from the road and took photos for me! From we could tell by our offline maps, they were something near Castellon de la Plana, Oropesa Castle overlooking Oropesa del Mar, and Xivert Castle in Alcala de Xivert, but it was already taking too long for our revised plan so we didn’t have time to stop and made it to Pe帽iscola around 6pm. Glen found us an awesome bonus castle…Castillo de Papa Luna in Pe帽iscola right on the gorgeous teal Mediterranean Sea! From the big sign it looks like they’ve filmed some Game of Thrones there too? We paid our admission and explored the big gray castle thoroughly, had a quick ice cream on our walk back down the hill, then we dipped our toes in the Mediterranean Sea…another bucket list item for this trip! Hooray!

Back on the road again we went inland again headed for Alca帽iz. As the sun was setting we saw some structure in silhouette, then when we drove through Morella, the castle at the top was straight up above the city! Impressive but we were already going to be very late for dinner so we only paused for photos. We made it through lots of curvy mountain roads with wild Iberian ibex goats to Alca帽iz into the Parador La Concordia by 10:45, barely making it to dinner before they closed, but we finally we were not the last ones to leave! 馃槈 Our room is on the corner with a view of the cathedral nicely lit at night, but we could hear the wind howling all night…it’s chilly up in the mountains! Tomorrow is our last day in Spain so we will make the most of it!

daily driving map:

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Spain Day 11: Last 3 Castles!

19 June 2016

Sunday June 19th: 7342 steps 3.3 miles

We enjoyed our last leisurely hotel breakfast with even thicker sipping chocolate, took some photos of the Parador La Concordia at Alca帽iz, the least castley castle hotel of our trip, understandable since it started as a monastery, then drove away headed for the coast again. Tonight will be our last castle hotel at Cardona, and maybe we can swing by one more castle on the drive today… :)

Two more bonus castles achieved! We found the small Castell de Castellet but it only offers prearranged guided tours so we walked around the outside and the view of lake. Then thanks to a quick stop with free wifi at a freeway McDs, Glen the Castle Whisperer found a bonus castle *winery* on our way just south of Manresa near the strikingly jagged Montserrat mountains! We didn’t know Oller del Mas was only for prearranged tours, but since we arrived just after a bus tour had finished their tasting and we were pleading even just to buy a bottle to the winery guy cleaning up, fumbling around with Google Translate, he took pity on us and let us taste three reds from the leftover bottles…he said with a shrug they were already abierto! 馃槈 We tried to tip him but he refused, so muchas muchas gracias from us! Both Glen and I preferred the cheaper Syrah blend, so I bought a bottle as a souvenir!

We arrived at our final castle hotel, the Castell de Cardona, about 7pm and got the big rental car stuck trying to turn around since the tiny hotel parking lot was full, but five nice local guys shouting in Spanish finally got Glen out with no scrapes! They congratulated us and themselves for “internacional” cooperation, and later they waved at us from the top tower after we parked in the larger lot at the bottom of the hill. 馃槈 We saw other cars getting themselves trapped in the same tiny lot later so Glen has his turn laughing at them. As soon as we unloaded our luggage, we strolled around most of the castle since this was our only daylight chance, but there are ticketed entry parts inside some towers that had already closed for the day. By then dinner had opened and we enjoyed our earliest but second-tastiest dinner of the trip!

We missed sunset due to dinner but we took advantage of the full moon and drove and walked around Castell de Cardona for more photos, accompanied by Halloween music. Room 712 of the Parador de Cardona is supposedly haunted but the interior hallways are even less spooky than college dorm rooms, so instead we made our own spooky scenes in the full moonlight…heh! #nofilters

daily driving map:

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Spain Day 12: The End

20 June 2016

Monday June 20th: more sitting than walking!

We have come to the end of Barcelona and Beyond: Castle Road Trip of Spain, at a pace which Glen has named Power Tour Ramming Speed! In our 11 days together in Spain we drove 2226 miles / 3562 km in 66.5 hours and walked 127,610 steps / 58.64 miles / 93.82 km seeing 26 castles total and staying overnight in 9 of them! Glen is leaving Spain a souvenir, since his shoes are shot! We left our last castle hotel at 6am, a rude jolt back to the mundane after a fabulously fun Spanish siesta from reality! At least we saw the moon setting over Cardona at dawn and the rising sun on the serrated peaks of Montserrat on our early drive to the Barcelona airport. Our gates were across the airport from each other, so we already said hasta la vista. Thank you Glen for a fabulous trip with a great travel companion, and see you back in California!

Last driving in Spain!

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Thankfully even with several buses and trains to get between terminals and security again, I still had 2 hours to kill at Heathrow, so I found a cloudy hard cider that isn’t Addlestones but pretty tasty!

Home to cool down a hot house! I guess we need a new scratching tree…sheesh! No sign of Ebony yet but both boys are glad I’m home.

 

Parting Words from Glen:

Thanks for joining me on a spectacular Spanish adventure Britta Peterson! Thanks especially for documenting it in such detail on your page so all I had to do was enjoy the adventure and pose for an occasional selfie.

As many photos as we took, there were three moments I wish we had been able to capture but missed:

1) Our five Spanish friends who helped us maneuver a giant car out of a space designed for horses, with energetic cries of “poco poco!” and other words that sounded like complete gibberish to me.

2) That Gibraltar monkey who held on to your purse for dear life.

3) Your never-ending battles with medieval hotel door locks that never seemed to respond to your key turns, and never ceased to amuse me.

Come to think of it, I did capture a video of #3 but had to delete it after considering your threats of retaliation if I shared it with anybody.

Spain is a beautiful country and well worth more than the 10 short days we spent seeing it. 隆Hasta la pr贸xima!

For the record, here is the final map of everywhere we actually went!

Spain 2016 Final Tour Map

Spain 2016 Final Tour Map

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