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    • Day 17

      Suso and Yuso

      June 13, 2023 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 59 °F

      I took a detour, strolled 20km through tremendously beautiful terrain, and found myself booking a room in a 4-star hotel that is located within the walls of a 14th Century Monastery. ....and costs less than a motel 6 in SF. This is a UNESCO world heritage site, and I can see why!

      There is another, 11th Century, ruin here (Suso) that is considered the birthplace of the Castillian (Spanish) language. It is where the oldest written Spanish text has been discovered. The cave/temple/church/mosque/tomb (hey... 1,500 years is a long time) is where the hermit-saint San Millán lived. It also may well be the 1st monastery in Spain.

      Pretty cool... and very eclectic for all the remodeling that has happened to it. I was particulaly interested in the 14th century mosaic floors made by Muslim occupiers.

      Inside the larger Monastery (Yuso), there's an impressive pipe organ and they have original, well preserved, 140lb hymnals that are written on calf skin and date back to the 17th/18th century. Neat stuff.

      The walk up was fantastic. Fields of fragrant flowers, wheat, vineyards, tree plantations, a sonorous river, birds, a little rain, and picturesque vistas kept me company. I did not see a single person on the trail all day, which is odd but was nice for the opportunity to be present and introspective.
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    • Day 18

      Suso en Yuso

      May 19, 2022 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

      Na een pittige wandeling naar boven zijn we bij Suso, het hoger gelegen oude klooster half ingehouwen in de rotspartij van de berg. Het blijkt dat we beneden een kaartje hadden moeten kopen voor Yuso (het nieuwe gedeelte) gecombineerd met een busrit naar boven en dan konden we Suso bezoeken. Er was net een buslading binnen. De dame die ons die vertelde had een beetje met ons te doen en zei: 'Kom meer mee, er is net een ploeg binnen, dan kunnen jullie ook even naar binnen'. Zo lief. Het is er indrukwekkend rustig. De eenvoud gecombineerd met hoogte en prachtige vormen. We zijn er stil van, een kippenvel moment.Read more

    • Day 18

      Op z'n Jo's

      May 19, 2022 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

      Na Yuso en Suso halen we wat lekkers in het dorp. Ik laat nog een stel schapen schrikken wanneer ik in een donkere ruimte kijk. Helaas niet goed in beeld te brengen. Ze vinden me heel eng. 's Middag relaxed op de camping geluierd en een en ander uit lopen zoeken wat alternatieven betreft. Iets ten noorden loopt de rivier de Nela waar diverse campings langs liggen. Vinden we een mooi alternatief om richting de kust te gaan. We komen dan als het goed is bij Laredo uit in drie tot vier dagen. Dan even goed de weersverwachting langs kust bekijken om richting Biarritz te fietsen. De eerste stop wordt Camping Puerta de los Montes Obareres. Al gebeld, ze zijn open en Ricardo heet ons hartelijk welkom. Toch weer extra fijn om te horen. Korte routebeschrijving gemaakt, zoveel mogelijk nu opruimen, tent nat inpakken morgenochtend en dan weer op pad.Read more

    • Day 17

      Blik op (stads)camping Logroño

      May 18, 2022 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 27 °C

      Voor de wekker wakker, in tegenstelling tot wat deze stoffige camping doet vermoeden is alles toch nog aardig klam. We hebben gepland zo'n 50 km te rijden tot Berceo waar we twee dagen willen blijven om morgen een klooster te bekijken. We willen op openingstijd aankomen bij de supermarkt (9.00 uur). Dat lukt prima, zelfs na nog wat foto's te maken van de (misplaatste) chique sanitair (mét rotte kozijnen). En ons Ieniemienie plekje waar de tent nèt kon staan. Bij de supermarkt water en lekkers gehaald.Read more

    • Day 17


      May 18, 2022 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 27 °C

      Laatste 20 km zijn weer pittig, drukkere weg en behoorlijke wind tegen. Een minuut voor twee bereiken we de camping en we hopen nog in te mogen checken. Warm onthaal, heel vriendelijk, we mogen zelf een plekje uitzoeken. Tent opgezet. Lekker douchen en dan is het tijd voor een wijntje. De pelgrims uit Almelo (Huib en Marga?) zijn er ook. Camping in Nájera blijkt niet meer te bestaan. Na twee wijntjes lekker rustig bij de tent uitrusten.Read more

    • Day 32

      Day 32 - Private Dining at the Monastery

      July 12, 2023 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 18 °C

      The alarm went off at the ungodly hour of 6am. We showered, had a coffee and was actually on the road by 6.45am. It was strange to see heading out of Odeceixe that there were dozens of young Indian men stood at the roadside. It was obvious that these were migrants waiting to be picked up for cheap labour, almost certainly on the local farms. We had noticed that there were a lot of Indian lads in the costal resorts south of Lisbon, BUT, and we looked, a distinct lack of Indian restaurants.

      Our journey took us back up the Atlantic coast on the route we had previously travelled down. We stopped at a petrol station outside of Vila Nova de Milfontes, where we filled up & gave Pearl a much needed wash. We continued north past the hideous looking port town of Sines, before heading east just before getting to Lisbon. We then passed Evora, apparently, and then drove along the beautiful winding well kept roads of the Alentejo wine region with it’s vineyards & numerous precariously balanced stork nests.

      We skirted around the attractive looking fort town of Elvas, then crossed into Spain at the scruffy border town of Badajoz. For the next 200 odd miles we raced along a dual carriageway through the prairie like Sierra de San Pedro, passing the towns of Salamanca, Valladolid & Burgos. It was then here we turned off into the La Rioja region, that was a vista of rolling fields of mown wheat gold, sunflower yellow, vine green and dotted with attractive little terracotta coloured villages.

      Eventually at 6.30pm, after 577 miles and 10 hours 18 minutes of driving, we arrived at Hosteria del Monasterio de San Millán, an enormous imposing monastery in the village of San Millán. This was our accommodation for the night. We checked in and went up to our room 201, which definitely had the wow factor, particularly the 2 large arched wooden doors that opened to reveal a balcony looking down into the courtyard.

      We had reserved a table for dinner at the monastery & went down in the best clothes we had available at 8.30pm. We were initially shocked to discover that we were the only diners for the evening, so it turned out we had a waiter and a cook for our exclusive use with opera playing in the background.

      The menu wasn’t cheap, but we had decided we could afford to splash out as we were ‘slumming’ it by camping for the next 5 nights. Naturally, we chose the dearest starter (to share), then we both ordered the dearest main course, with a bottle of the monastery’s own reserve red wine.

      Our starter was described as COW CARPACCIO, FOIE AND MATURE CHEESE and our main as BEEF SIRLOIN WITH MUSHROOMS AND FOIE, which we ordered as medium rare. Effectively we ordered pretty much just raw beef and foie gras for both starters and mains. It was however as expected very lovely, although Jackie revealed she couldn’t understand all the fuss over foie gras, it was just “tasteless pate”.

      As soon as dinner was done, we retired to bed absolutely shattered.

      Song of the Day : Get Me to a Monastery by The Divine Comedy.
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    • Day 9

      San Millan de la Cogolla

      July 12, 2023 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

      We were starving by the time we came down from Suso and found a little tavern in town, very close to Yuso. We had lunch within its beautiful garden and got a bit of a second wind. The monastery was unfortunately closed at the time we were leaving, and we could only take pictures from the facade. What is interesting of this monastery is that it held the earliest manuscript in primitive Castilian, making this area the place where modern Spanish was born as a language.

      We decided to not wait until the monastery was open in the afternoon and headed right into our next destination as we were hoping to have Oliver and Nadia interact with farm animals in the rural house we were staying in next.
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    • Day 18

      Adios Yuso y Suso

      June 14, 2023 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 55 °F

      I really enjoyed this detour and will be seeking others.

      The Valley is magnificent.

      Sleeping well makes everything easier, even without coffee this morning I feel invigorated and strong.

      So far it seems that the trail is well marked and not-too-muddy.

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    • Day 9

      Suso Monastery

      July 12, 2023 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

      We had overall an easy 8th day in Spain and yet one that was memorable. Our only target in terms of sightseeing was visiting San Millan de la Colguera, one of the most ancient sites in all of Spain. San Millan is associated with two monasteries called Yuso and Suso, which comes from the Latin words for "low" and "high," respectively.

      Our GPS set the route to visit Suso first, and we ended up going up a very narrow road up a mountain. We ended up in a clearing within a forest and decided to continue afoot and avoid damage to the car.

      This hike ended up being one of the most memorable parts of our trip. We loved being able to spend time as a family!
      We were mostly alone up the hill and got in beautiful views of the countryside. We rushed a bit coming up because the GPS said we had 40 minutes before the monastery was closed. Once we got there we realized that we should have visited Yuso first and gotten into a bus to come up the trail. We found a tour guide just outside the monastery ruins, and she graciously agreed to let us join her last group, although we were supposed to get a ticket in the lower monastery.

      What followed was a fascinating explanation about the history of the monastery. It was built very early on, and it started with a hermit who was known for his ability to heal people, taking over a cave on the hill as living quarters. The monastery was built around the cave and exhibited different styles of architecture as the building expanded and was occupied by different groups. We saw a set of 6 arches that showed the change from romanic to moorish inspired motifs on the same structure. It is impressive to think of people traveling through this land long before the invention of modern technology and occupying these spaces. In a rather comical note, the building also has bricks full of dogs' pawprints, which were the result of people preparing the building materials on site with dogs running around.

      After the visit, we headed back to our car, this time more leisurely. However, Oliver was walking close to a fence when he accidentally fell down a small creek. He didn't hurt himself but got really scared, and we carried him halfway before he said he wanted to be brave and strong and keep walking by himself. Once we got to the car, we headed down the hill into San Millan.
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