San Jose then Valencia

Geo: 39.472906,-000.371813
San Jose then Valencia

We arrived in Valencia last night after a mammoth 8.5 hour bus ride through every no-horse town between Almeria and the Costa Blanca. Certainly a long trip, but we're glad to be here.

We spent five days in San Jose which is in the Cabo de Gata National Park and has a lovely strip of sandy beach. Not much in the way of waves, in fact on the first day it was calmer than a tea cup. The second day brought heavy winds and the third a huge storm. We seem to be attracting violent weather here in Spain...

Due to the storm, we spent our last night in San Jose staying at a cheap hotel. Nice to have clean sheets and big, scratchy towels (as compared to our tiny camp towels).

It was nice to unwind a little after all the hectic sightseeing around the rest of Spain. We've certainly seen a lot of stuff in our short time here!

Next week we're off to Italy with a flight from Barcelona to Milan, though we'll be staying in much cheaper Como and ducking into (by most accounts pretty soulless) Milan to check out the major sights. We're spending a mammoth six nights in Rome, and even then reading the Lonely Planet I wonder if we'll do more than scratch the surface. Quite looking forward to the change of pace, though not the queues we can expect...

This photo isn't mine, as we can't connect our digital camera to these computers. I nabbed it off Google Images. It's of San Jose beach.


Geo: 37.176901,-003.588436

The Alhambra in Granada. You've played the game, now see the real thing!

We had to get up at 0630 this morning to get tickets, but it's well worth it.

Seville, Cordoba, Granada

I'm in the process of uploading some more photos from Seville and Cordoba. See here.

Seville was a nice place, though the camping ground was right next to airport and freeway and it rained rained rained! We were wandering from the April Fair (madness, louder fairground rides than I've ever heard before!) and in the middle of the big park, the rain got much much heavier and turned to hail, thunder lightning. By the time we found some shelter (with a North African homeless person) we were soaked through.

This was a storm of Glastonbury proportions, swirling around the city several times and going on for hours. Incredibly, our tent got through it relatively unscathed. A bit of mud splashed up on our packs and a tiny puddle up one end. Fortunately nothing was sitting in the wet patch, so we mopped it up and had a dry night's sleep. It rained a bit more during our stay in Sevile too.

Next up was Cordoba, with its beautiful Mezquita, an Islamic mosque that was turned into a cathedral after the Reconquista. Here we experienced our first really hot weather, heading up to the thirty mark. Lovely and that makes us keen to get to the coast!

We're now in Granada and have to get up at sparrow fart in the morning to get in the queue to see the Alhambra. We do seem to be ticking off the World Heritage sites at quite a clip!

We're in Spain for a couple more weeks, flying to Milan from Barcelona on 10th May. After a couple more nights here in Granada, we're getting some serious beach time on the Andalucian coast. With the heat we're now getting, and the onset of a bit of site-seeing fatigue, I'm really looking forward to some beach action. Snorkling, cycling, swimming (but no surf), reading some of the extortionately priced English language books we just bought. Can't wait!

Camping in Seville

Geo: 37.417063,-005.917796
Camping in Seville

Here we are in Seville. If you look at the map you'll see the camping ground is handy for the freeway and airport. We could count the rivets on the planes.

This will be our first use of our shiny new Thermarests. Thanks to everyone who gave them to us!

Internet cafe crapware

We're in the midst of travelling around Spain and I'm amazed how crappy the computers in Internet cafes are. They're infested with all kinds of crapware, popup ads all over the place, Internet explorer's search pane opening every five minutes. Incredible! I certainly wouldn't trust them for doing banking...

Bilbao and Tex Perkins

Arived in Bilbao on Sunday night pouring with rain. Discovered our hostel was well on the outskirts of town and so had our first night in.

Easter Monday in Bilbao was a ghost town. Hardly anyone about and most of the bars and places to eat were closed. Bit of a dissapointment after the edible delights of Sans Sebastian. Shitty hostel beds gave Simon a really bad back which meant I spent most of the day trying to drag him around town, not there was much to see anyway. Decided to head back to the hostel and have another evening of rest. Dragged the mattress of the bed onto the floor so Simon could get a better rest.

Tuesday morning Simon's back somewhat better so we tackle our main reason for coming here - The Guggenheim. A fabulous building of curved titanium tiles sitting next to the river. Inside went to their long gallery on the ground floor, apparenty longer than a football pitch. The room was filled with gigantic steel sculptures formed into metal mazes with the perspective changing curving towards or away from you as you walk into it, messing with your perception of space, light and sound. Simon couldn't resist an Aussie "Coo-Eee".

We were a bit dissapointed that the permanent Guggenheim exhibition was quite small with most of the gallery space given away to a Russian Exhibition. However this was bloody fantastic too with lots of Soviet era paintings, Kanidinsky and then some weird modernist stuff amongst others. One of our favourites was a video of Lenin turning in his grave.

It was in the weird modernist section that I clocked the face (and body) of someone familiar. Tex Perkins. Australina Rock Legend Sex God!!! I took a sharp intake of breath and hurried of to find Simon who verrified it was actually him. We had read that Beasts of Bourbon are playing around Spain this month. Shaking too much to be brave enough to approach him myself I got Simon to do my dirty work. He approached introduced himself which allowed me to nervously smile and shake his hand too. I'm not washing for a week! Looked at some other stuff after that but can cause I was too excited about Tex. So a dissapointing start to Bilbao but a bloody fantastic end!

Donostia or San Sebastian

We had a fantastic time in Donostia, a lovely town on the Basque coast. Arriving on a train in the early morning drizzle wasn't ideal, but things quickly got better. After a short rest, we headed into the old town and stuffed ourselves on amazing Pintxos (tapas), hopping from bar to bar. Donostia is great for this as each bar has different specialties, and it's accepted that you hop from bar to bar. Cidra (cider) is served in a uniquely Basque way, poured as far from the glass so as to aerate the drink as much as possible, and no more than about two centimetres poured per serve to keep it fresh.

The sun came out in the afternoon so we found some beers and crisps and headed to the beach. To our surprise, Tor and Hannah who we'd met at one of writer Peter Moore's events, were there on the beach! We ended up spending the evening hanging out with them, doing the bar hop and Pintxos thing.

After Tor and Hannah had left, Holly and I wandered around town and were on our last beer when we heard a Basque choir singing and went to watch. Holly asked someone to explain the songs to her, and we landed in with a group including a couple consisting of a Basque woman who speaks English in a cross of Edinburgh and Belfast accents and a Basque speaking guy from Belfast. We chatted away and they dragged us off to a few more bars, including one frequented by Basque seperatists, complete with pictures of political prisoners. Great fun.

The following day, still nursing a hangover, we met up with our new friends to go out to one of the amazing cider barns they have in the Basque country. Here you get a stack of brilliant food and all the sidra you can drink, pouring and drinking in the typical Basque way to ensure maximum aeration.

So Donostia, great place. I highly recommend it! Thanks to Mark and Maite, thanks for showing us around.