What a great pleasure to be back in Spain, Madrid to start another tour along the St. James pilgrimage path. With Alcala de Henares near Madrid being our start and finish of the tour, we will travel the northern part of Spain all the way from the Pyrenees in the east to Santiago de Compostela in the west. Today, we will go from Alcala via the remote and lonesome Sierra de Robledal with its ancient and simple slate stone houses to Soria.
The second riding day took us from Soria in the autonomous region of Castilia-León via the famous wine region of La Rioja to Pamplona in the autonomous region of Navarre. Not only is Pamplona located at the foothills of the Pyrenees, but it is also famous for its San Fermin festival and the bull runs. Depending on your point of view we were either lucky or not for the festival to take place at a different time
In Pamplona we will spend two nights. Any experienced Edelweiss rider will know what this means A rest day usually is a riding day, too. Yeah !! We are going to visit the city of San Sebastian at the Atlantic ocean. And by doing so we are adding another Spanish region to the list - the basque country. San Sebastian is famous for its half-moon shaped beach and the small entry it provides from the Atlantic. It is also said to be the city with the highes density of 5-star Michelin restaurants in the world. We at least got to taste the big variety of Pintxos (the basque country's word for tapas)
From today on the chances are good that we might come across some of the pilgrims. From Pamplona the spiritual hikers follow their paths to Santo Domingo de la Calzada, one of the many important pilgrimage places. As their paths usually won't include so many curves, we riders are trying to integrate roads that are more attractive to our taste. The destination, though, stays the same.
The weather forcast kept showing us that we should be prepared for some rainy spots all day but, as a matter of fact, we enjoyed dry conditions almost throughout our entire riding day.
Out of the garage of our beautiful Parador hotel in Cervera de Pisuerga we started out right into the mountain range of the Picos de Europa. Even though these mountains are not so well-known among international riders, they are not at all inferior to the Alps. We had beautiful roads in the majestic mountains as well as along meandering rivers, and all this in remote and lonesome areas
Looking out the window this morning the skies didn't look very promissing at first. It was all cloudy and rainy in the distance. We decided to stay a bit longer in the mountains in the vicinity and wait for the clouds to move away. This plan worked out perfectly so that we were back on track after our morning coffee break.
Another rest day on our two week's tour. So what to do on this rest day? Ahhh... you are riding... Hmmm... okay, I'll come along
What a strange thing to do as a pilgrim - you would think that after their long, long journey they should be relieved to stop their walking. But quite on the contrary. Most of them continue their hike out to the Cabo Finisterre, the "end of the world". With its sheer cliffs and the seemingly endless Atlantic ocean, pilgrims in the very early days must have had this impression. Today, however, it represents sort of the "true finish" of the St. James Pilgrimage.
For us it was another truly fantastic riding day with a lunch spot that none of us really wanted to leave
We are leaving Santiago de Compostela again today to pay a short visit to Portugal along our route. Before the end of the day, however, we will return back into Spain.
To our surprise, Portugal has great rides and capturing landscapes to offer. And even though Spain and Portugal are neighbouring counries, their culture and ways of lives are yet so different.
Another mind-blowing Parador hotel we spent last night. We totally felt like the residents of a castle. Giving you the impression of a difficult to take fortress from the distance, it surprises you all the more with its unbeliveable mix of the past and the present. On top of that, it is such a small Parador that we seemed to have been the only guests.
Unfortunately, today will be our last riding day of this tour. But we still have great places for you to visit before our return back to Alcalá de Henares.
Leaving the beautiful city of Salamanca, we are headed toward the medival city of Avila first thing in the morning.