Monday 24th October 2016
Well here we go for another week. This morning in Olite there was a spectacular electric storm but thankfully it soon cleared up and we were delighted to have some better weather following it.
Last week was a massive Blog and it took most of the day to write and develop it. First of all, all of our photos from both of our phones are saved to separate folders, Dorothy's phone and then Allan's. Then all of one week's photos are copied into one folder for the week. We both go through the photos and as they are only copies we try to discard the blurred ones, the double shots and the totally unsuitable photos. Then Allan has the job of re-sizing and adjusting the colour and contrast saving the photos to files that are suitable for the internet. The photos on the blog page are a fraction of their original size or they would take too long to arrive on your computer or phone.
Throughout the week Allan makes notes of things that we did and writes his own thoughts down. Dorothy then has the big job of putting the photos to the correct day and making Allan's words intelligible and not too provocative, whilst adding her own thoughts from the week and making it into the blog page. Sometimes after all of this Allan thinks that it can be improved upon and then Dorothy will have another read through, sometimes even on another day and she will work magic until it is the best that we can do.
Dorothy usually cuts down the number of photos used on the blog but as Allan has spent a lot of time re-sizing and working on them he will be loathe not to use them and so will leave them at the bottom of the blog, or even it there are too many he will make another page for them.
Next comes the spell checking and getting the letters all the same size, this is done by the computer with a little help from Allan. Then Allan has the job of sending it all to www.jacm.co.uk/blog/20161030 so that you can all read it. The next job is making sure that all the links work and adding a few details to the index page. Finally Dorothy has the job of ensuring that it works on her phone, before sometimes, if we are really pleased with it, she will put it on facebook that another Blog has been done for the week.
So that is what we did on Monday - all of Monday!
Today we left Olite and drove about
15 miles to a little mountain top village called Ujué.
On the way we drove through a little village called San Martin de Unx
then back out on the mountain road, where we stopped to take some photos
and shortly afterwards we got our first glimpse of Ujué in the distance.
According to legend, the town was founded when a shepherd saw a dove entering a hole in the rocks. Peering inside he found an image of the Virgin Mary. It makes you wonder what Mary was doing up here. This place is miles from anywhere and 815 metres up above sea level, to compare this, Beachy Head in East Sussex is a mere 162 metres.
We managed to find a spot on the
edge of the village to park our motorhome and set out to see what we could find.
Although this was a mountain top village, the streets were still very steep and rather narrow.
We passed under part of a building which crossed the narrow street and then looked up!!
This led us into a small square which housed the Post Box and the Marie.
From here we found ourselves in what was the the main square. We guess that the area may be called a square but it was very small and triangular shaped.
The street surfaces around this area were being re-laid with new cobblestones over new waterpipes and drainage.
187 people live in this village and it seems that most of them work in the bars and restaurants and the others are olive and wine producers.
Climbing even higher, looking out
over the village and the vast countryside, and the car park which looked rather
we found ourselves at the Church.
Allan couldn't resist finding the Geocache near to the Church (well, Dorothy did!) before going inside.
And the Church itself was quite worthy of a visit perched on the highest position of this mountain top.
Most of the outside of the Church was actually "inside", being protected by a huge structure against the weather erosion.
When we were properly inside we were astounded at what we saw. So ornate for such a small and remote place.
Unfortunately the light was not good enough to take many photos.
Back outside we took a last look
over the walls
and then made our way back down through the village.
We had a superb afternoon walking around this lovely village.
On the way back down the mountain we stopped in a viewpoint lay-by for a bite to eat.
Dorothy had a look at our barometer and it was showing an extraordinary reading so she took a photo of it.
This area is so high that the air pressure is low.
In the lower part of the valley we did some shopping, purchased some diesel and Allan bought a new pair of shoes. We didn't say that we were going to do exciting things all of the time. Unless you call buying a bottle of Gordon's for €8.40 and a pair of leather shoes for €35 exciting.
Then we headed 31 miles south to Arguedas where we intend to spend the night in the aire before going to the Bardenas Reales desert tomorrow.
Well, what can we say? Is this an
incredible place to stay or what! It was dusk when we arrived and a short time
later this is what we saw!
The morning was misty and the distant
mountains were difficult to see so we decided to leave the desert tour until
tomorrow when there is better weather forecast. During the day the temperature
did rise to 19 degrees but there was still some cloud in the sky.
The aire in daylight!
Behind us there are caves where people lived and it is hard to believe that they were still inhabited until the people were rehoused locally in the 1960's.
These houses dug into the soft stone under an overbearing stronger rock are in some cases crumbling but others still have smoothed and painted walls and places for the kitchen sink and other furniture. How wonderful if you need another room you just have to dig one. Cool in summer and warm in winter.
Colourful tiles in this kitchen
and "mod cons" in this kitchen!
and what's left of "shabby chic"
We left the aire and strolled towards
the town but were distracted by a pathway leading up the mountain.
By this time we decided that we would head back into town and spend a little time in a pavement cafe to sample some of the local produce!
We stopped by the Church which, from
the outside left a lot to be desired! Crumbling walls and cracks you would not
However, once inside it told a different story.
Whilst we were there, two young Nuns came into the Church. One of them began to play on an electronic organ and they both started to sing. It was a beautiful sound and brought such atmosphere into the Church. We just had to sit down and listen to them.
After a while we left them and made our way to the town centre. As in most of Spain the shops didn't open after the siesta until late afternoon but we waited and found a tourist shop where we were given maps and instructions of how to get the best from our visit tomorrow. The tourist guide shop keeper was very informative, all in Spanish but understandable with actions, gestures and photos. He was most helpful.
We came here with a suggestion that it was a 31 km circular route around the Bardenas Reales desert. Now with this new information we find we have 65 km to drive and several walks! We are told we should allow 3 1/2 to 5 hours. Not forgetting we are planning to do the two geocaches, one of which is an Earth Cache, quite special in geocaching terms. So tomorrow will, if the weather holds be quite a special day.
A relaxing evening and an early night set us up for our busy day tomorrow.
Today is the day for visiting the Bardenas Reales and what a perfect day it is. Blue sky from wall to wall, or side to side as you might say. The first part of the journey was through some poor agricultural land with a few fields of grapes and olives and then the scenery changed gradually to a barren wasteland. After reaching the military area where Allan got told off by a sentry for stopping to take photographs, the road changed to a bumpy stone track and the scenery changed to water eroded scrublands. The journey progressed through even more dramatic semi-desert landscapes until we came to a parking place where we were supposed to go for a walk. We walked and walked but there was no way we were going to be able to walk the full route so went back to the motorhome for lunch. Do I keep talking about lunch. Perhaps this is why Allan's waistline is going the wrong way again. Oh well.
The journey through the wasteland was incredibly different to anything that we have ever experienced before. When we eventually arrived at the Cabezo de Castildetierra, one of the main attractions of the desert, it was a very impressive tall stack under a protective stronger rock.
On the last stretch of the road on the way back we stopped at a huge hill where many films have been made including in 1999 the James Bond film "The World Is Not Enough". Allan took a walk up 240 steps to the very top. Unfortunately by this time his phone batteries were exhausted and so there is no photo from the summit.
This was an exceptional day and our photos cannot in any way do it justice. However, we have tried our best and really do suggest that you visit our special page by Clicking Here to go to BARDENAS REALES of NAVARRE
If you ever get the chance to visit
the Bardenas Reales then do not pass it by. It really is an amazing place. (Oh,
and Allan did get the geocaches!)
We had taken the short route of 31km missing out the long trip to a statue and back, and had four little excursions on foot. It took us six and a half hours. If we had taken the Tourist Shops advice from yesterday we think that we would still be in there. We now have 421 photos of rocks and mountains to chose from for our blog!!
On the way back home Dorothy turned to Allan and said that she is having such a great time, is it Tuesday or Wednesday today? Silly woman, it's Thursday. Allan is happy that Dorothy is getting well into the swing of retirement. No schedules, no plans, no time deadlines. Its such a contentment.
Still buzzing from our day yesterday, it was onward to Tudela today.
On the way we stopped at as supermarket
to do some shopping. Allan was most amused to see this very generous offer.
3 for the price of 2. What happens for the 4th wheel???
When we arrived at Tudela we found
the first parking place shown on the map we had been given previously was steeply
sloped. We then went to other parking places shown on the map. These we also
found unsuitable. We returned to the first place and went to the Tourist Information
Office to see it there was an alternative. We found that the TI had moved some
distance away to one of the plazas and eventually found it.
However, we found the rest of the town was not somewhere that we wanted to be with lots of scruffy streets, too many closed shops, youths drinking from bottles on the street corners and a feeling of total decrepit apathy.
Allan did see a picca picca and just had to take a photo! Slot machines for food and drink etc.
Nothing for it but we returned to the motorhome and left Tudela for the Aire at Cascante, which was only about 6 miles further on.
We have to say that this is the only time in our visit to Spain that we have felt in any way uncomfortable. The people have been most welcoming and helpful. The only downside to our visit has been the huge amount of graffiti that you see almost everywhere but in time you learn to look beyond it and see what is beautiful here in this part of Spain.
The aire at Cascante was in a car
park next to a Thermal Spa pool. We had a morning walk around Cascante but the
town was very small.
Although nice, we didn't find anything to keep us here either so later in the day we decided to move on yet again, this time to Tarazona. (Tara thon a)
We found a good parking spot very
close to the centre of the town.
We easily found the Tourist Office where the helpful lady gave us all manner of advice on where to go and what to see.
We returned to the Tourist Office to ask what the huge collection of sticks and straw on top of the tall church was all about and she explained about the Storks and how they build their nests around here. Allan told her that in England the Storks bring babies but she wasn't impressed. She probably thought that there was another way for babies.
We later found out that stork nests
are a huge problem here in Spain and in Portugal. They are beginning to construct
wooden posts or towers to encourage the storks to nest on them rather than on
the buildings where they create a lot of damage. The ones we found in the centre
of Tarazona are quite "up market" !!
Allan is dwarfed by them!
The town is in full swing for their big celebration of a long weekend celebrating All Saints Day (1st November). The long weekend seemed to be a mixture of Halloween, visit the graves of your relatives and a motorbike rally. Not too sure where the motorbike rally fitted in with All Saints day.
We returned to the motorhome through
the old Bull Ring.
We spent the day today Geocaching around the town and we found all the ones that we were looking for except the one by the old railway station. It did have a very high mark for its difficulty so we are not too disappointed that we didn't find it.
Some of our sights around the town
After stopping at a pavement cafe for wine and tapas we set off up into the old part of the town.
After our day around the city we returned to the motorhome very tired, but happy.
We just have to end with this photo
taken, would you believe, in the old mountain top village of Ujué.
Perched dramatically on the edge of the mountain, a football goal, climbing apparatus and slide etc. Quite the highest playground we have ever seen. We dread to think who chases after the footballs that are kicked over the edge!!!!
The end of an extraordinary week here in Spain. We wouldn't have missed any of it for the world!