Spain
Aragon

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84 travelers at this place:

  • Day583

    El Segre reserve, Mequinenza, Aragón

    January 30, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 3 °C

    We woke to thick fog, despite a forecast of full sun. Once driving, we rose out of the river valley and as we crested the hill, the fog quickly dissipated. Continuing on, we dipped in and out of flat bottomed valleys and their bowls of fog. Despite having seen several wide stretches of river, the land around us was still parched. Crops susceptible to drought obviously weren't suited to this area, but instead we passed miles upon miles of intensively planted orchards. The trees were lined up in rows and pruned so they grew in almost identical forms, the land beneath them bare and dusty.

    Nearing our planned stopover, we left behind the yellow ribbons and independence banners of Catalonia and entered the region of Aragòn, the first place in Spain where locals would speak the Spanish language Will had been learning!

    The photos on the Park4Night app and in our Aire books are useful but we never quite know what to expect of a stopover. Will often enters two or more into the sat nav in case the first one doesn't work out. Well, there was certainly no need to go to Plan B today! The area of hard ground on the flood plain was planted with trees and overlooked the El Segre river (not that we could see much of it due to thick fog). What we did see were dozens of Cormorants and Little Egrets close to our shore. Looking closer we saw Pied Wagtails and Warblers in the reeds, as well as a few Great White Egrets. Hardly anyone came by and we spent the afternoon birdwatching from the van. The highlight was when a Kingfisher perched on a reed stem less than 15m from our window! It didn't stay for long but it was amazing to be able to see it close up and still!

    As the afternoon progressed, the fog slowly lifted, revealing the hills rising from the opposite bank. The sun broke through around 4pm, so we took the canoe for its first outing in 2018. Funnily enough, its first outing of 2017 had also been on 30th January, only we were in Italy at the time.

    We paddled to the bridge in Mequinenza, about a mile and a half upriver. The sun was low and silvery as it sillouetted a hilltop castle ahead of us. Setting over the crest, its rays cast shadows in the thin fog that still hung in the air.

    The downstream leg of the journey was chilly. The sun had set and we were paddling into wind and waves, but were rewarded on the approach to the van, by the sight of a huge, almost full supermoon rising over the hills.

    By this time we had decided to stay two nights. The second day was even foggier than the first. The sun didn't manage to break through, meaning the temperature only ranged from a cold 1°C to 6°C. Wrapping up, we cycled the short distance to Mequinenza intending to pick up lunch at a café, or bread if we couldn't find anywhere. Even with a small clothes market off the mainstreet, the town was quiet. There were several bars open, but we didn't feel drawn to any of them, so picked up some things from the small supermarket and cycled back for our meal. On the way we spotted a large bird of prey that dwarfed a Kestral flying nearby. We weren't sure what it was at the time, but saw it and another again while sitting in the van so were able to identify it as a Marsh Harrier. Will was even lucky enough to see it dive into the water and catch a fish! This place really was great for birdwatching!
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  • Day585

    Albalate del Arzobispo

    February 1, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 7 °C

    On today's drive, it continued to strike us just how dry the land is in this part of Spain. Rocky outcrops of orange sandstone stood bare on the uneven terrain. Natural vegetation cover was patchy and low at best. It occured to us that the landscape was a skeletal one; in the majority of places we are familiar with, soil would have been able to accumulate, covering the bare bones and eventually supporting a plant layer.

    Efforts had been made tame this wilderness. Farmers seemed to have buldozed through the rises and used the substrate to backfill the dips, creating flat fields, like extended terraces. All had irrigation systems, the trees being watered via long pipes with outlets at their roots, the sprouting seeds being kept from drying out by sprinkler systems, operating through grids of vertical metal rods. Several orchards of mature trees had what we think were sugar rags and bags tied to their branches to atttact and feed the bees, in advance of pollination time. Between the fields there were no real hedges or fences, wide open spaces were divided by rises in the land or low lying scrub.

    Stopping at a supermarket we eyed up the tempting looking legs of ham and the fresh fish counter. Spain's culinary preferences are meat focussed and we've often found our enthusiasm to try regional dishes, at odds with our desire to eat only a small amount of meat, with a focus on that which is as 'ethical' as possible, in terms of sustainability and welfare. There are several vegetarian dishes we've enjoyed, such as Tortilla de Patata (Spanish potato omlette), Pimientos de Padrón (fried Padron peppers) and Calçots (a type of Spiring Onion griddled or barbequed). Today we picked up some mussels for Will to make a paella and spent some time reading up, trying to get a grip on which fish and seafood was the most sustainable - its not an easy task!

    Albalate del Arzobispo provided a large autocaravanas area on hard standing with free services and a border of scrubland. Whilst it was on the flat, the adjacent town was one of the steepest we've encountered. For most of it there were no pavements and we stepped into doorways to avoid the odd car that crept towards us. These cars would often reach a dead end and have to reverse, such was the angle of the slope. We hardly saw a soul and loved exploring the tight alleyways that revealed what was around the bend only at the last moment. The castle and bull ring at the top of the hill was under renovation and therefore not open to the public. There was an intersting looking church bordering the small main square. Its steeple was tiled in a striking blue and had a Stork's nest balancing in an unwieldy way on top.

    Most shops were shut but we wanted to spend a little money, so we searched for a place to have a drink. We were put off our initial choice of a café, as we walked towards it and saw someone step out to stub their cigarette in the ashtray. By contrast Bar La Taberna was being meticulously cleaned as we entered and throughout the time we were there despite it being spotless already. The Damm brewery of Barcelona produces Estrella (the local favourite) and Free (an alcohol-free beer). Both were on tap here so we had one of each then two Frees. Both were served with a handful of complementary crisps and came to less than €5 in total; we felt a little guilty at not spending more, considering we were staying for free! We were accepted with friendly 'hola's, albeit with a few curious sideways looks. It was a nice bar with a homely and cared for feel to it, but it had a number of small images of bulls and fighters on things such as calendars. We are completely against this activity that is considered sport, but guess it is as deeply entrenched in Spanish culture as 'sports' such as horse racing is in ours.

    After a peaceful night we took a little time to clean the water tank filter; a relatively easy 6 monthly job that would hopefully help prevent malfunction and the need to replace it, like we had to in Italy this time last year. We hadn't seen anywhere to get bread in Albalate yesterday but we took a hopeful walk in. Soon there were people carrying shopping bags and we folllwed one particularly determined looking woman with a large, empty, woven basket. She led us to a bakery, inconspicuous save for the flow of people going in and out. We got a baguette and two pies from their window display, one savoury and one apple. On the way out we made use of a van washing facility at their local garage. It felt good to pay a little more back to the town.
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  • Day587

    Calatayud

    February 3, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Driving out of Zaragoza the road systems were pretty complicated. We needed LPG but the station was off a tricky roundabout. Vicky exited in the right hand lane before finding she needed to cross 2 lanes and enter the forecourt a mere 20m later. Missing the turning we looped round some one way streets that confused us so much that she entered the roundabout intending to turn directly left. This may be ok in the UK, but it sure as anything isn't ok in Spain! No damage was done and we managed to get LPG, but the nearby stopover we'd hoped to stay at turned out to be in the car park of a large shopping centre with no special provision for vans. Feeling low, Will found an aire 70km away and drove us through the desert-like hills to get there. We rose up to 750m above sea level and it was a surreal sight to see the peaks that stood above us powdered with snow and pines!

    Calatayud provided a free space for vans in a large car park, by a small children's play area and a wall of high rise flats. It was quiet enough once the local marching band had stopped practicing their drum routine. Will joined the general populous for an evening supermarket shop and we settled down with a late snack for tea and bed.
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  • Day588

    Embalse de la Tranquera, Nuévalos

    February 4, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 3 °C

    After filling and emtying at the aire services we set off realtively early. There was a spot in what we inaccurately called 'The Desert' that someone on Park4Night had recommended in the middle of nowhere and sounded like good place to camp. It wasn't too far to get to the turnoff but unfortunately, being in 'the middle of nowhere' meant it had no proper road and we didn't fancy pitting our 3.5 tonne van against the kilometre or so of gravel track after the rain we'd had, so we went to Plan B and set our course towards the Tranquera reservoir.

    It had been close to freezing for a while and on the way there it began to snow! We'd kept our eyes on the weather forecast but the white stuff wasn't due for a couple of days yet. We were grateful that it melted off the roads and we had no problems. The route leading to the isolated patch of hard ground on the east shore of the reservoir was rickety and cracked, but at least it was tarmac. On the app there had been photos of sunsets over a calm expanse of water, but these had been taken 3 years ago and all that remained was a marshy, flat bed which supported a healthy growth of reeds and small trees. It is worrying how sustained Spain's drought has become.

    Pulling into the car park we passed two small vans and were eyed suspiciously by their occupants. They stayed for a little while before one drove off and the other began driving in circles beeping their horn and waving at us. We waved back, reckoning they'd been smoking something more than tobacco in their cigarettes! Once they went, we were alone and that's the way it stayed for 2 days, save for a police car who came and turned round on the second day, giving us a nod as they did so. The police seem to like to drive around and keep an eye on things in this region. They don't mind us parking but like to keep aware of what's going on.

    That evening we feasted on Calçots; large Spring Onions and a seasonal favourite in Spain. They are usually done on the BBQ but we didn't fancy the freezing temperatures, so Will griddled them. He'd spent all day making a Spanish Romesco sauce with almonds, hazelnuts, peppers and tomatoes, olive oil, chillis and roasted garlic - yum!

    It snowed on and off during our stay and on the first morning we woke to a white winter scene. It was beautiful; the snow highlighting the strata on the series of hills on the opposite shore. At the head of the reservoir was the village of Nuévalos. We wrapped up and walked about a mile until we reached the outskirts. On the way Will noticed a large bird gliding overhead. It was difficult to identify but zooming in with the camera lens we eventually realised it was a vulture! More followed it on its path towards a rugged cliff, where we counted a dozen circling on the thermals, occasionally perching on a vantage point to survey the land below.

    Coming down from the excitement of watching what we later found to be Griffin Vultures, we explored the lower town, buying a few apples at the little grocery store. Making our way up the steep hill, we peered over railings at the side of a church built on the edge of a sheer drop into a valley. As we were staying 2 nights we decided to have lunch in Nuévalos. The first bar advertised Spanish tortillas but when we went in it smelled of damp cigarettes. We were quite relieved when they told us the kitchen was closed!

    Thankfully El Cazador was clean and smell free. It did an options menu for €12 including bread and a drink, so we settled ourselves in to the empty bar. Vicky ordered mixed vegetables for starters and was a little surprised when they came with chopped bacon! Will had a traditional white bean stew and was a little surprised it came with chopped pig's ear! The food wasn't top quality but it was warm and tasty. We really enjoyed being in the little bar, petting the 9 year old white and tan mongrel and greeting the occasional local who wandered in for a warm drink or takeaway sarnie. The licensee was friendly and patient with our limited language skills. Will really enjoyed having a conversation with her and answering her simple questions about our Poppy.

    Back at the van we got the kettle on for a nice warm cuppa after our cold walk. The usually blue flame burned orange, possibly due to the cold temperatures and the mix of propane / butane we'd last topped up with. Different places provide different mixtures, with countries such as Austria, who are used to low temperatures, providing a greater percentage of propane, which doesn't freeze. Perhaps we bad a higher percentage of butane?

    The snow that was forecast didn't materialise but in the morning Vicky took a short hike up the hill behind the van. Looking down she saw that the next valley was thickly coated in snow, so perhaps our little spot had been protected.
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  • Day586

    Zaragoza

    February 2, 2018 in Spain ⋅ 🌙 5 °C

    Zaragosza, the regional capital of Aragón, is Spain's fifth largest city and one the Lonley Planet recommended visiting. We drove the short distance and parked up on a rough ground car park under one of the many bridges crossing the Río Ebro. There was an amazing two-way cycle track with low friction surface leading along the river to the very heart of the city 2km away.

    The first sight that really made an impact was the waterside Basìlica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar, a huge church with domes, spires and 4 towers, one at each corner. At 130m x 67m it was a large building and its white, yellow and blue patterned domes made a striking impression. Securing the tandem in a bike rack off the large main square, we entered the Catholic basilica. In contrast to Barcelona's light, airy and colourful church, this had rather an oppressive feel, despite the light stone pillars lining the aisles. Photography wasn't permitted but we'll describe it the best we can. Chapels branched off the aisles and mass was taking place in a central chapel at the south end of the nave. People gathered to echo prayers projected via speakers and we passed someone kneeling at a confessional, pouring her heart out to a richly robed man seated in the small, ornately carved wooden box. Domed ceilings contained frescos by Francisco Goya and there were a lot of carved stone statues on the walls. Much of it was darkened with age and the smoke of incense from silver censers suspended high up.

    We made our way to the north tower where we secured a ride in the glass elevator with a surly assistant. It shot up and we stepped out to an open air and windy section of the tower, with views over the basilica roof, river and city to the hills beyond. From here we climbed ever narrowing stairways and eventually emerged from a tight spiral of metal, wood and glass, to a panoramic view through windows. The space was cramped but there were only a couple of others with us at any one point and we were able to spend time taking in Zaragoza's sand coloured buildings stretched out below.

    From the vantage point we spotted a small market in the square below and made a beeline for it after the basilica. This stalls specialised in organic produce, so we got some local eggs, a small box of saffron and some goats cheese flavoured with this spice, which we thought might be interesting to try.

    Time was getting on and we had looked up a vegan restaurant for lunch. The city had quite a few vegan or vegetarian eateries, as well as organic and healthfood stores. We are still trying to adjust to Spain's opening hours and as El Plato Reberde didn't open until 1pm we whiled a little time by walking the surrounding neighbourhood and being buzzed into a hippy shop by yet another surly looking assistant. It was difficult to put a finger on it, but we weren't getting a good vibe from the city. People seemed self absorbed and Vicky had been bumped into more than once. Despite having checked the restaurant's opening hours and Facebook page, 1pm came and went, but its doors remained closed. We were less than impressed but headed towards another nearby that had been recommended by users on the Happy Cow app. La Retama was a veggie restaurant the 1st floor that seated around 20. We were the first to arrive and the dining room was cold but the staff friendly. We ordered the 3 course options menu but didn't receive any bread as promised. Will is still building confidence in his Spanish so we didn't point it out. The food was well presented but bland and we left disappointed.

    The final attraction we wanted to visit were four underground museums showcasing parts of a Roman city. Arriving at the first, the remains of public baths, we found it to be closed. The opening hours were 10am - 2pm and 5pm - 9pm. We decided we didn't have the energy to return in several hours time and made our way back to the van. We could have stayed where we were but despite the highlight of the trip up the tower, we hadn't had a particularly positive experience in Zaragoza and wanted to move on.
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  • Day586

    River Ebro near Cartuja Baja

    February 2, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 6 °C

    It was a cold day again and the wind was really picking up, but at least the sky was clearing and the sun beginning to show itself. We know we've been going on about how dry the land is here, but we kept having to pinch ourselves on today's journey, as we drove through an almost desert like landscape. There was even tumblweed blowing accross the road and accumulating in ditches! With so little vegetation there was nothing to really slow the wind and it was difficult to keep the van steady against the gusts at times.

    Returning once again to an urban landscape we saw lots of Storks, some in pairs in fields and others roosting on their large nests on top of pylons. We drove several hundred metres down a gravel track and ended up between a field and the fast flowing River Ebro. In the field were over 100 Storks and when we walked accross the bridge we saw even more huddled on the riverside! The wind was still blasting at 22mph making it feel bitter, despite the sun. We met a friendly local who chatted for a while, happy for the chance to practice his English. Later on we took a riverside walk and watched as a Red Kite scared a group of Storks, prompting them to take off and scatter into smaller groups. They did well to control their flight considering the wind and their size.

    We spent the rest of the day catching up with family and friends. It was a lovely quiet spot with nature all around. Just the sort of place we enjoy!
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  • Mar26

    Biken in der Zona Zero

    March 26 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    Heute haben wir eine wunderschöne, jedoch anspruchsvolle Biketour in Aínsa gemacht. Es hat super Spass gemacht und das Panorama war traumhaft. Trotz müden Beinen gehts deshalb morgen gleich auf die nächste Tour.

  • Mar24

    In der Stadt Zaragoza

    March 24 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Nach Valencia haben wir uns entschieden ins Landesinnere von Spanien zu fahren, um dann irgendwann in die Pyrenäen zu gelangen. So sind wir in die wunderschöne Stadt Zaragoza gekommen und haben hier zwei Nächte auf einem kostenlosen Stellplatz verbracht. Meistens sind diese Plätze neben einem Fussballplatz, so auch hier. :-)Read more

  • Day60

    Jour 21.1 De Formigales à Alfarràs

    July 18, 2016 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    Le matin dans la montagne était tellement agréable!
    Même si les montées sont parfois difficiles c'est bien mieux que les kilomètres de Nationale accablante...

    Petite présentation de la région que nous avons traversée: LA RÉGION DE SOBRARBE

    Sobrarbe est une région aragonaise située dans le centre du versant sud des Pyrénées. Il s'agit, donc, d'un territoire montageux qui possède des altitudes élevées, de forts dénivelés et une topographie accidentée où les plaines sont très peu fréquentes. Son relief se distingue par des sommets plus de trois mille mètres (Lardana ou Posefé, La Munia, Vignemale, Mont Perdu...), ainsi que par des chaînes secondaires de montagnes intérieures et extérieures d'une grande beauté.

    Les trois principales vallées fluviales sont celles des rivières Cinca, Ara et Vero. Les deux premières naissent au nord où d'importants restes de glaciers et de nombreux lacs de montagne ou ibons se sont conservés.

    Sobrarbe est un vaste territoire historique, peu peuplé, qui s'organise naturellement autour de ses rives, ses vallées et ses fuebas (petites dépressions)
    .
    Son climat et son relief donnent lieu a une énorme variété de végétation qui va des hauts pâturages de l'étage alpin aux rouvraies, en passant d'importantes étendu boisées de pin noir et rouge, des sapinières et des hêtraies. Cette variété d'écosystème implique une flore et une faune sauvages très intéressantes. C'est une riche diversité d'espèces qui habitent les hautes cimes, les ibons, les pâturages de montagne, les rives, les défilés rocheux et les forêts.
    C'est pourquoi dans le Sobrarbe il y a 3 espaces protégés : le parc national d'Ordesa et du Mont Perdu, le parc naturel Poset-Maladetta et le parc naturel de la Sierra et des canyons de Guara.

    Et au bout de la chaîne... L'être humain, les habitants de Sobrarbe, les individus et les communautés qui ont adapté leurs modes de vies à l'environnement. Artisans du paysage, soutien de l'écosystème.
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  • Day60

    Jour 21.2 Fini les Nationales!!!!

    July 18, 2016 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    Les Nationales ont le don de mettre Géraldine sur les nerfs! Pauvre Xavier!!!
    Surtout qu'on se retrouve souvent dessus l'après midi sous 30 degrés lorsqu'à l'horizon la route paraît interminable!!!
    Les villes se font de plus en plus rares et les routes de plus en plus longues et monotones...
    Ca fait 2 jours que l'on essaie de les éviter mais les 2 prochains jours, nous n'aurons pas le choix... On va manger de la Nationale! 😥
    Le voyage devient bien moins amusant mais nous avons un ferry à prendre à Barcelone le vendredi alors pas trop le temps de faire des détours pour prendre les routes de campagnes!
    On décide de prendre le train à Lleida le lendemain pour nous économiser 150 km soit 2 jours à vélo! 😅👯
    FINI LES NATIONALES! Youhou!!!
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Aragon, Aragonien, Aragón, Aragó, Aragona, アラゴン, 아라곤 지방, Арагон

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