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Victor's and Barbara's Travel Diaries

Our tour of Spain in 1999

Barbara drove 'Cleo' through snow and blizzards across the Pyrénées in Andorra, then we reached Spain and stayed at Lerida, in a fairly modern  Blizzard crossing the Pyrenees in AndorraTransit hotel by the main railway station. On Sunday 18th April we walked around a pretty old walled medieval town 'Montblanc', then drove to Tarragon, birthplace of Pontius Pilate. Here we saw the Med sparkling in the sun with a magnificent ancient Roman amphitheatre in the foreground. We were interested in the local language, Catalan, a sort of cross between Spanish and French. We then drove west along theRoman Amphitheatre, Taragon, Catalonia, Spain. Pontius Pilate's Birthplace. coast and stayed at 'Katalonia Inn', a German-managed luxury villa at Hospitalitet de L'Enfant. Then we drove past Valencia through miles of orange groves, to Raquena, an old walled city with lovely Gothic 13th - 15th century churches. We stayed in town centre at Hotel Avenida, but found the town's streets and restaurants rather too smoky. The next morning we were glad to get up into the clean air of the hills and olive groves, and made our way to Ubeda, where we saw medieval palaces, and a cathedral built on top of a mosque captured in 1234 from the Moslems. We stayed at a motel on the toll-way near Granada, and the following day went to the Alhambra, to marvel at the fountains, patios, gardens, and elaborate Moorish decorations on the palaces. Alhambra at GranadaThat evening we drove to the Costa del Sol and stayed at Almuñecar right on the sea front, with our balcony overlooking the pebbly beach. The next day we continued along the coast to Sottogrande, near Estepona, and we settled into the hotel 'Patricia', with it's view over the rock of Gibraltar, for 3 or 4 nights, a welcome stay after constant one-nighters.

 The following day we visited Gibraltar to see the Governor's house, King's Chapel, the fortifications at the summit of the rock, the incredible caves with the huge auditorium cave, and the Barbary Apes. We were dismayed by our 45-minute queue trying to cross back into Spain, but were told we were lucky as the wait can often be two hours, caused by a deliberate 'go-slow' by Spanish Authorities at the border.GibraltarWe relaxed around Sottogrande, with its attractive modern yachtie port, tidy and spacious housing zone, and then moved on to Cordoba, where we saw the magnificent Mesquita ( half mosque, half cathedral) and the Alcazar. In the afternoon we drove North across dry and dusty plains to Campo Criptano, where we visited Don Quixote's windmills. The weather changed on us here, it started to pour with rain, and we had great difficulty finding a hotel. Our eventual stay at Meson Don Quixote was not the best, no hot water, terribly smoky, and a bit expensive! The next day the rain was incessant, so we travelled as fast as we could, by-passing Madrid, through Pamplona, to the French border at Urugne, near St.Jean de Luz.