We parked at the roadside in Leon for an hour waiting for a way into a parking space.  And then an evening checking out the cathedral and the nunnery and then back to the van for grub.

T has done without whisky for a couple of months now and felt he deserved one, so out came the 10 year old Laphroaig.

Next day we started we started off with a tour of the local museums. By about mid-day, there was a gap in the car park that meant that we could actually get out – kid you not, the camper stop is a shared car park and the cars are so close that you can’t get the camper out of a space if the space beside is occupied and if there is a car in front.  You have to wait for a maneuvering space to be able to leave!

Another first for us was the milk vending machine in the shopping centre over the road from the camping stop – fresh milk by the litre – just pop your bottle in the slot and put some euros in!

After lunch we set out towards Santiago with another stop planned on the way.

Santilla del Mar and Gijon

They say Santillana del Mar is the town of three lies: it’s not holy (Santi), it’s not flat (llana) or anywhere near the sea (del mar).  Strict planning rules date back to the 16th century and cars are banned. Or so we thought from our research! The village is wonderful and as we are way out of season it was not inundated with the many coachloads that it sees in the high season. But there were plenty of cars – it turns out that residents are allowed to drive the cobbled streets.  So the photos look amazing, but there are still cars bouncing around.

The town is almost completely taken over by tourism – there are many shops all selling local produce – but they are all selling the same local produce – citron tarts, almond biscuits and local cheese.  All products are great, but not sure that every shop needs to sell them!

We expected to spend half a day here and stop overnight – there is a free area put aside for campervans, but as we only spent a couple of hours wandering around we pushed on a little further and headed for Gijon.

The Gijon camperstop was picked at short notice by putting a pin on the map halfway between Santilla del Mar and Leon.  Sometimes there is not much planning involved – sorry!

Anyway the camperstop overlooked a formal park and was just emptying out when we arrived – it was full of TV and movie company vans – they had been filming something in the sandy surfing bay just along the coast.  We never did workout what! The park and coastal walk has a series of art installations, so the evening constitutional was a clifftop walk interspersed with pondering sea views and sculptures.

Next morning it was off reasonably early bound for Leon.


The municipal campervan site is at the top of a very steep hill with stunning views of Bilbao. We cycled down onto the city dreading what the ride back up would be like.

We spent the day cycling around the city but mainly visiting Bilbao Guggenheim, reminding ourselves of the question “Just what is art anyway?”

The ride back up the hill was fine in the end – a little punishing but we did it!  

We only stayed overnight in Bilbao – it would have been great to stay longer, but we need to be in a specific place on a particular date in November so we need to crack on.

The big cities have never really appealed as camper destinations anyway – it’s normally necessary to park way out of town and commute, which is not what this trip is about. We said that we would come back here by ferry one day and do it and the surrounding area properly!  

As it is, given the size of the town we did well to find a place within 3km of the city c


Bakio & Gaztelugatxe

Bakio has a free camperstop that includes water and W/C.  The camperstop is in a great location overlooking the town.  Pretty quiet except for some surfer dudes here to enjoy the good waves in the bay. But the reason for our trip here is to visit the isolated hilltop monastery at Gaztelugatxe.  

We started with a 2 km cycle ride to the car park and stayed off the main road – instead taking a tarmac road now closed to cars.  We now know why. The gradient passed 20% in some places and we arrived at the *starting* point for the adventure as sweating, gibbering wrecks.

The adventure comprised walking down a 15% slope for about 2 km, then across a stone walkway a few meters above the sea, and then climbing about 300 steps onto an isolated island where a very small monastery has been built.

Suffice to say that everyone slept soundly that night.  We got up so late the next day there was not even time to explore the town before setting off for Bilbao.  But we did note that the north coast of spain is wonderful – we have toyed a few times with the Bilbao ferry and never got around to it.

San Sebestian, Spain

T passed through here a few years ago, just a fleeting stop and it’s a must see destination on the North Coast of spain, and within spitting distance of France.  The camper stop was full up to the nines, so we did an emergency google for local campsites and found one only a couple of km away down a very narrow & windy rural lane.  We didn’t know what to expect although the photos on google looked good. It turned out that we aced it. It’s the end of season so the campsite was almost deserted. There were three other campervans and the rest of the campsite was pretty empty.  We got the swimming pool to ourselves too!

The 15€ discounted ACSI rate per night included a minibus into the town, so it worked out cheaper than many stopovers that we have done in the last month. Throw in the pool, sauna and it was a bargain.

We spent the next day exploring San Sebastian, going up the funicular to enjoy the view and promenading along the seafront with the locals. Lunch by the sea.

That night and following day we had proper rain for almost the first time since we left home and howling wind, so it a was a maintenance day – probably well needed!

Pamplona, Spain

A couple of nights almost in the centre of Pamplona at the foothills of the western Pyrenees. 10€ per night for all facilities in a dedicated Campervan park opposite the Mayor’s home and next to the fire station.  Mayor’s palace would be a better description.

We did the standard tourist things and had a great time: Pamplona has an awesome five sided citadel and we learned of the chequered history of the fortifications in a long visit to one of the forts still standing. A great sculpture park and great views out from the top of the hill that the old city sits on.

We visited the bull ring and regardless of what our views were, it was really interesting – it’s a big part of the local culture.  Although the bull always loses, there are often human casualties, so we guess that evens things up a bit.

The bikes didn’t really work out – Pamplona is very hilly and it is tricky to navigate. There are a couple of cycle tracks marked, but neither goes into the old town so we were foot powered for the couple of days.

Tudela, Spain

One night in the town of Tudela. We spent a fine afternoon exploring the cobbled alleys and climbing the hill to look at the large statue of Jesus (Corazon de Jesus). We didn’t get to see the cathedral as the only way in was to pay 4€ for the museum!

The overnight stop was free and in the corner of a car park and included sewage disposal. FYI, In a motorhome there is not such thing as TMI, sorry!


Las Bardenas Reales National Park

After leaving Tudela the main thing to sight-see on the road to Pamplona is the Las Bardenas Reales National Park.

For us it was a 35 km gravel track adventure – proving that you can go offroad even in a 5 ton motor-home. Hiking routes and cycling routes are also available.

It was fine, the gravel tracks were well graded and we managed a constant 12kmh. Plenty of places to park. The Park was wonderful – it’s a very unusual sedimentary formation with more robust rock over the top. It makes for some fantastic scenery.

T had an idea for an awesome drone shot chasing mothership across the semi-desert, but the park has a military base and bombing range in the middle and it’s a no fly zone for drones.

We stopped for lunch and right over the top of us came a pair of jets and they proceeded to carry out practice bombing runs. It was bloody loud! Good job for the safe flying app really – the jets were only at about 400 feet over the top of us. 

Zaragoza, Spain

We had a wonderful four days in Zaragoza. We stayed on a proper campsite (Ooo!) but for 30€ per night, we are not sure if it was worth it – close to end of season, so the pool was empty etc! The site was 6km out of town, so we have thoroughly got the hang of the intricacies of Spanish cycle paths. Bloody confusing would be a good description – they tend to meander from one side of the road to the other, so often you are cycling towards oncoming traffic. It’s also hairy when the cycle path is between to tram lines, but on the whole cycling was a great experience. Over the four days we cycled over a hundred km visiting the various sights!

During our stay there was a food festival and it started off very similar to a typical food fair in the UK with lots of free samples, but it rapidly got excellent when they started handing out paella in festival sized portions!

A large part of the town was rejuvenated in 2008 for an expo and this year for the tenth anniversary of the expo they were all spruced up again so there were some tip-top buildings to look at.

In the town there are many churches and fine architectural sights, a great park and also an aquarium. Home made Pizza in the van and some more R&R. A few times we had military jets overhead – we later discovered that they were doing exercises over a nearby National park that we visit in a few days time.

There are a few photos here – we didn’t get to photo the inside of the fantastic Basilica as the church was in full swing on the Saturday when we visited with a wedding, many blessings and even confessions taking place all out in the open.

Huesca, Spain

A brief stop-off near Barbastro to the Sommos vineyard – well basically to take a picture of the amazing HQ building, and then onto Huesca via a restaurant that has recently installed greywater & blackwater dropoff – The restaurant was closed so we couldn’t pay them back by having a meal!

Then 50km to Huesca and another free stopover – this time in the middle of town and a lovely spot with space for about twenty ‘vans and with waste facilities.

We’ve not got the hang of Spanish water yet – the water says ‘untreated’ and yet seems to be what everyone is filling their tanks with. More research needed but in the meantime we have a full tank and will stop filling our drinking bottles and start boiling until we work out whether it’s potable!

We spent day two in R&R mode cleaning the inside of the mothership which has got pretty mucky over the last month plus researching the next two or three stopovers now that we have data again!

LPG in Spain is not common and by pure chance only half a kilometer from the stopover, the local Repsol has a new LPG pump! We’ve not yet used half a tank in the month we’ve been travelling but T is keen to make sure the tank adaptors work! Less than 10 Euros to run the fridge and cooking for a month is not bad!