Basilica of Santa Maria 💒

We were wandering around the streets of the old town and came across this lovely church – so paid us €3 each to go in… The church itself was lovely but the added bonus was a little museum at the back of beautiful artworks, some dating back to as far as the 16th century…

I’m a sucker for a nice oil painting but was also particularly taken with the unusual depiction of Jesus’s Crucifixion…

We went upstairs where there was a lovely little exhibition and (yet another !!!) nativity – this time (if you look closely in Piccie 3 below) not only with shepherds going to visit the Baby Jesus – but some bagpipers too !!!

And there was a glass section in the floor – looking down onto a little chapel – it reminded me of going to Blackpool Tower with Dave & the kids in 2004 – and Dave wouldn’t stand on THAT glass floor either !!! 😂


Donostia San Sebastian Promenade ❤️ 🐚 😎 🏖️ ❤️

WOW – what an lovely unexpected surprise this place has turned out to be !!!

We have been steadily heading north for a week, have been inland and generally it’s been cooler (obvs) than in Nerja so I just wasn’t expecting today…

We got up, showered, had brekky & bibbed off on the bikes and after about 5 minutes we were at the beach – La Concha Beach !!! (which means “shell” after the shape of the beach)… As we’d gone straight to the aire yesterday, I’d completely forgotten that we were even ON the coast 🏖️ !!! And I just wasn’t expecting it to be SO warm 😎 and busy and touristy (but not awful – just right) and well just… brilliant !!! – and (shhh) it has (maybe) made me start to appreciate that I live on the coast and I can see the sea 🌊 every day too…

Anyway (and I have had a glass and a half of Penescal – FAB vino rosado “fruity & sparkling” wine – remember ? See a previous post !!!) enough of all that – let’s get on with it…

Piccies – first one is of Santa Clara Island – which is literally a stone’s throw (500 metres) away from the beach and between June & September there is a boat service taking you there & back to the beach bar and to sunbathe. Two bits of trivia – there is a lighthouse which dates back to 1864 (although not visible in my photie below 😐 ) plus the island became a place of quarantine for the sick when the plague devastated the Iberian Peninsula in the late 16th century…

Piccie No 2 (which looks very similar to Piccie No 1) is actually of Mount Urgull and is topped by The Sagrado Corazón (“Sacred Heart”) statue, measuring over 12 metres in height which has blessed the city since 1950 (and there is a closer shot of the statue in Piccie No 3)…

We continued along the beachside cycle path and came across 2 clock towers – the first one telling the time and the second a barometer – which is really a weather forecaster; if the needle is to the left, it means low pressure, suggesting “storm coming”, if the needle is to the right, it means “calm weather” – and as you can see – it’s DEFS pointing to the right !!!

A bit further along the front – drawn in the sand – was the most AMAZING drawing – check out the piccie below – I’ve never seen anything like it !!! And when we came past on the way back (some hours later) it had been washed away… Apparently the guy does a new drawing every day and peeps throw money down onto the beach for him…

THEN we came across a little puppet show – with a difference – it was The Beatles !!! Dave remembers the guy from when he was there before (and HE was still there – some hours later – on our return too…). So he has tunes by The Beatles playing and he makes John, Paul, George & Ringo dance to them !!! REALLY entertaining !!!

There was a MASSIVE bear (who you could have your photo taken with), an APE, a lady doing hair braids, a carousel… It was FAB and I really enjoyed just wandering through it all…

US ON LA CONCHA BEACH (“Beach of The Shell”)

A “Van” Day !!! ❤️ 🚐 1️⃣ 🎵 😋 ❤️

Dave has been saying how much I would enjoy San Sebastián the whole time that we have been away and we wanted 3 nights there so we decided to give daytime Burgos a miss as it seemed to be very similar to all of the other inland medieval 🏰 places that we have visited in the last week…

It wasn’t a long drive & we arrived at the “Area de Autocaravanas” mid-afternoon and (as has been our recent new habit) popped the kettle on, had tea & muffins & got out the Rummikub 1️⃣ (closely followed by copious amounts of Jerez & crisps !!!). Dave was on fire 🔥 and whooped me for a change !!!

We considered going into town but it seemed like too much of an effort so we put on 🎵 “da tunes” 🎵 and I chucked these GORGEOUS pinky-coloured sausages into the oven (I’m actually NOT a sausage person but I just LUV those ones that we pick up in the hypermarkets in Europe !!!) and did a lovely rich pasta sauce to accompany them plus some bread & butter.  Dave said it was better than any meal out – awww 🥰 (the way to a man’s heart IS through his stomach 😂)…

Then we snuggled up in bed with a cup of tea, some Milka and Gerard Butler & Morgan Freeman AGAIN – WOT A TREAT !!! (This time “London Has Fallen”) – what’s not to love ??? !!!

So – an absolutely FAB day but not much in the way of info or culture re San Sebastián – but no matter – there’s always tomorrow !!!

What a load of Old Bull on the way to Burgos !!!

When it’s a “Driving Day”, Dave is always keen to get packed up and be gone early so we bid farewell to Camping Caseres and initially popped Salamanca into the SatNav.

On the way (as usual) I Googled “Top 10 Things…” for Salamanca & Burgos – but after having O’D’d on museums, medieval towns, historic landmarks, Roman bridges, cathedrals, etc. especially in the last week or so (climaxing the day before in Caseres) – there didn’t seem to be anything wildly different in Salamanca. Dave was enjoying driving in the sunshine 😎; there was some cracking bits of scenery (check out 2nd piccie of the mountains & lake which reminded me of Switzerland 🇨🇭) so we decided to press on to Burgos (where our sister-in-law (the other Helen Miller !!!) had highly recommended the tapas…

We had noticed from time to time – as we were driving along – these huge black bull silhouettes looming over the motorways so I asked my bessie (Mr Google) what they were and they are known as the Osborne Bulls after the drinks company founded by a British family in 1772. They were first used to advertise brandy but today are a symbol of Spain known as the “Guardian of the Spanish Roads” as they sit on hilltops and roadsides watching over the passing traffic… (awww I luv a tradition, me 🥰 !!!)

After the piccie of the Osborne Bull, you’ll see one of a traffic cone (I can’t believe there’s no emoji !!!) and the reason for this is that the bleedin’ Spanish workmen had blocked off the right hand lane (fair enough) but had put the traffic cones on this side of the white lines and The Van is pretty wide anyway so it was a challenge to drive without running them over (actually I think Dave was just doing it for a laugh to wind me up… 😳)

We reached an aire in Burgos about 4:30pm (I think) and initially got the kettle & had a small snack of bread, ham & cheese as we wanted to save ourselves for the tapas later. I’d Googled a place but it didn’t open until 7pm so we got out the Rummikub – and the sherry !!!

A few hours later, we wrapped up well and trundled off on the bikes for the 11 minute (or so) ride into the centre. As ever, there were excellent cycle paths and it was an easy ride. The centre was fairly lively, lit up, shops open, etc. and we locked up the bikes in this massive square called “La Plaza Mayor” and made our way to Mesón Burgos. Dave had stipulated that he wanted somewhere “authentic” and this was a traditional small place with a long bar with bar stools & only a handful of tall tables and stools behind us but was very popular with the locals – who mainly just seemed to order the supposed speciality of the house – Patatas Bravas and a beer !!!

They “no hablas Ingles” so thank goodness for the Google Translate APP (!!!) on Dave’s phone so we had an inkling of what we were ordering which initially was:-

Patatas Bravas, Morcilla (Spanish Black pudding – see photo below), Chorizo, Stuffed Mushroom (delicious) and a really cute (again delicious) mini-hamburger – washed down with a Vino Tinto and a Vino Blanco.

We noticed the (Spanish obvs !!!) couple behind us were drinking something out of a martini glass and it was a Vermouth concoction so we ordered a couple of these to accompany round 2 of a battered bit of cod and a tasty pork skewer…

So for 2 wines, 5 vermouths and 7 tapas, the bill came to €27 – boom 💥

We then made our (chilly 🥶) way back to The Van, tucked up with a cup of tea, some Milka and watched “Olympus Has Fallen” (can’t beat a bit of Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman !!!)

STILL in Caseres and Time for Us Tea 🍔

So after the (not brilliant) museum & gallery, the WRONG cathedral followed by the RIGHT cathedral, getting told to get lost by the staff at the Golfines Palaces and then the MAMMOTH trip around the Contemporary Art Museum, we abandoned my list as we were both officially “cultured-out” !!!  And starving !!! 

Got to be honest – Caseres didn’t have much of a vibe going on early evening (not your usual set of little streets with bars doing tapas, etc) and Dave had spotted a gourmet burger place earlier (which I had dismissed) but we ended up there…  I had nachos with all the trimmings (including COLD 🥶 chilli-con-carne but LOADS of sour cream, guacamole & American pouring cheese) and they tasted really good (but I WAS hungry) and Dave’s burger LOOKED lovely (AND they asked you how you wanted it cooked – rare, medium, etc) but he said the fries were soggy and the burger wasn’t all that 😐 (some peeps are NEVER satisfied 😂) 

But the music was good, it was warm (well not my chilli 😂), the waiter was nice (if not the quickest), I couple of nice glasses of Vino Blanco (on an empty tummy which ALWAYS helps 😂) and most importantly – I was with My Dave ❤️ 

And (amazingly) we managed to find the return bus stop home and (more importantly) after ANOTHER laughable interchange with a different bus driver – managed to disembark the bus at the correct stop and get home to The Van OK… 😴 

Caseres ✔️ 

Would I bother again in the winter ❎ 

Museum of Contemporary Art, My @rse !!!

So (particularly as website had shown the massive, fabulous lighty-up red thing below in the first piccie, I was intrigued and hoped that there would be MORE lighty-up things) we made our way to the next POI on the list – The Museum of Contemporary Art – which was also free 👍

There was an exhibition by Angel Duarte (?) upstairs but the 4 floors in the basement were the main event… 

It was all very reminiscent of the Guggenheim Museum which we visited in Bilbao back in 2011 when we were on a cheap Med cruise… But THERE we spent a fortune for 9 of us to get in and the highlight was a mannequin with a broom up it’s backside surrounded by loads of tins of spilt paint – and they call that ART 😂 (I know – I’m just a philistine from Scunthorpe who loves religious oil paintings !!!)

Anyway make your OWN mind up (examples below).  I DID like the “Roman Statue On A Blood Drip” and was EXPECTING (and almost but didn’t quite appreciate) the “Balloons”, the “Squares”, the “Shapes” and the “1960’s Black & White” effort, but I have to say that although I am no creative, I reckon I could do better the “Doodle” pencil drawing…

Plus the room dedicated to the axes and TV’s was just something else… (and very reminiscent of the Guggenheim spilt paint, broom up backside piece from 2011 – I’ve even Googled it to try & find a photo but for once – sadly – Mr Google has let me down 😔)…

It took AGES to go around everything and as we walked up the multiple flights of stairs to get back to ground level, Dave stopped to take a photo and said, “It’s come to something when I see a white IKEA bench and I’m not sure whether to admire it or sit on it !!!” 😂

And that just about sums up contemporary art – for both of US anyway !!!

When we finally arrived at “Ground Zero”, the staff (who were very helpful, lovely young Spanish girls) smiled at us and pointed to the lift !!! 😅

The REAL Cathedral De Santa Maria 💒 (Still in Caceres…)

As we came out of the “Nativities Around The World” place, Dave spotted (just around the corner) the REAL Cathedral De Santa Maria (so we had just been round some random church 💒 😂 but I’m SO pleased we did 😊 – and maybe (shhhh) I might have even enjoyed it more than the Cathedral…)

So we THEN paid us €5 (including an excellent audio guide 🎧) & explored the REAL Cathedral De Santa Maria which is actually known as the Co-Cathedral Church of Santa Maria.

{It is the most important church in the city as it was granted the category of Co-cathedral in 1957, sharing episcopal headquarters with the Cathedral of Coria, some 67km north of Caceres.}.  

As ever – see piccies below of the phenomenal mahogany altar backdrop (which I’ve just found out is called a reredos) and which took 4 years to carve – in the 16th century – and which is dedicated to The Assumption of the Virgin Mary depicting scenes from her life…

I also particularly liked the painting of the Virgin showing compassion to the souls in Purgatory… (as I know I’ll be there for a long time one day…)

We then wandered into the Palacio de los Golfines de Abajo.  When we asked if we could buy tickets (as this WASN’T free) an attractive looking Spanish couple announced that we’d missed the last tour, it was ages until the next tour and it was only in Spanish 🇪🇸 so we left…

Mixing With The Public 🚎, An Un-Enthralling Museum & A Fabulous WRONG Church/Cathedral !!! 💒

ANYWAY there was apparently a bus (and the reason that I’ve entitled this post “Mixing With The Public” is that my sister once worked with a girl (Amanda) who was married to a really rich, posh chap who would never go on a bus or EVEN go to the cinema because he would have to “mix with the public” 😂 so whenever Dave & I go on a bus, we call it “mixing with the public” !!!

This bus (the No 5) went into town and for €1.10 each we did the 6 / 7Km journey & after a laughable interchange with the bus driver over where to get off (as nobody “hablas inglés” and my Spanish/French was clearly not good enough 😂) we arrived in the centre of Caseres…

It was 4pm and (because there wasn’t a LOT to do & because it opened at 4pm) first stop was Caseres Museum (not our usual port of call) but which was free & presided over by a very bored looking woman.  However, it was very dark as they wanted to preserve their 1st-4th Century BC offerings of rocks, pottery & jewellery…

Also there was no English translation on the explanatory boards (which you could barely see anyway as it was so bleedin’ dark 😂) so we’re not much the wiser (and not sure any Spanish peeps would be either…)

There was also an art gallery – this time presided over by a very bored looking man – with a few pieces done by Picasso (no famous ones that I’D ever seen before 😂) and more pieces by other random artists – but sadly again – nothing to write home (or on this blog !!!) about.  Other than to mention that the central heating was on SKY high & it was roasting 🥵 in both the museum AND the gallery.  As it’s free entry & they have staff, goodness knows who’s paying the bills 😂

Stop No 2 was Cathedral De Santa Maria (or so I thought – well I’m out of data on my phone so Dave was in charge of Google Maps…)

We paid €1.50 each (instead of €5 which I’d read online) and went in…

… and it was completely dedicated to displays of Nativities From Around The World 🌎 (see LOTS of photies below – one of my favourites is the Indian one where Mary is in a sari, she, Joseph & Jesus are all wearing turbans 👳‍♂️and the ox & the donkey are replaced with an elephant 🐘 & a tiger 🐅!!!)

And there was even one made of Lego !!!

US on the bus !!!
Dave says maybe Madagascar (or some hot country far away…)
Just a CUTE One !!!
And one made of Weebles !!! (Wobble But They Don’t Fall Down !!!)
Me in front of the WRONG Church !!!

Destination Caseres Plus Rummikub !!!

As predicted, Tuesday dawned miserably – cloudy, rainy & cold…

Driving out of town past all the sights we’d done on the sightseeing buses in the previous days looked SO different when NOT bathed in sunshine… 😎

We popped Cáceres into the SatNav and – after “wild camping” outside Córdoba Zoo for a couple of nights, Dave had earmarked a “proper” campsite ⛺️ rather than an aire – Camping Cáceres.

We’d polished off the rest of the (excellent) Spanish omelette that I’d made the previous night – en-route – so needed to bib into a massive Carrefour hypermarket to pick up supplies…

The campsite was great – another ACSI “special” – it should have been €50 for 2 nights but with our ACSI card, it reduced to €38 including all services.  There was a little restaurant-bar on site, a small supermarket & a couple of pools (which I’m sure are fab in the summer but not now 🥶).

And we’ve never seen this setup before but EACH pitch had it’s OWN bathroom with shower & toilet !!!  And it’s own little table & chairs…

This very friendly French couple were behind us but Dave ended up chatting to Alan & Jean from Lancashire 🙄 whilst he was plugging in the leccy, etc.  And we were surrounded by British, Irish & Scottish peeps & vans….

I’d googled my usual “Top 10 Things…” and made the executive decision that – as it was still pretty grotty weather & Spain is always “Cerrada” (closed) in the afternoon that we we start our late afternoon of culture later on…

So – we got the kettle on, tucked into these MASSIVE muffins we’d just picked up at Carrefour & retrieved (for the first time since receiving our gift back in May from our good friends Mark & Julie) RUMMIKUB !!! (Or “Tile Rummy” as it’s also known)

It’s SO addictive (and I kept whooping Dave 🏆- it’s nice to be good at something for a change !!!). See photie of one of my winning boards !!!

More Sightseeing and a WOW Trip To The Mezquita ⛪️

Monday dawned beautifully sunny again (& Dave said we were in for some rain ☔️ on the Tuesday) and our 24 hour “Hop On / Hop Off” bus ticket was still valid and we’d only done the mini-bus smaller loop tour the day before. So we cycled to town, locked up the bikes and caught the BIG double-decker which does a larger loop tour covering some of the newer parts of Cordoba (but which scarily 😳 still squeezes itself down the narrow streets of the old town narrowly missing taking the heads of the pedestrians walking by on the paths either side – with it’s wing mirrors…)

I’m not generally a fan of cities – I prefer smaller places – but overall re architecture, etc. – I think Seville gets my vote… Although Cordoba certainly wins from a historical basis with it’s Roman Temple, Roman Bridge, etc. and the jewel in it’s crown – The Mezquita De Cordoba – the Cathedral-Mosque of Cordoba.

After the bus trip, we sat in one of the many eateries – in the sunshine 😎 again – and Dave tried a lovely spinach & cheese pastry and we had a couple of toasted sandwiches washed down with tea & coffee then set off for the cathedral…

The main tickets were €13 each (and we skipped the queue & purchased them from the self-serve vending machine) and we also paid  €4 each for the audio guide – which was excellent and which you absolutely needed…

The mosque began it’s life in the mid 6th century and was added to & expanded for a millennium up to the 16th century…

It was conquered by King Ferdinand III in 1236 which is when it was converted to a Catholic Cathedral…

The size of the place is VAST and the audio guide walked you around pointing out – among a great deal of other things – the red striped “double arches”, the different types of marble columns, the different types of ceiling, different flooring types, when the little chapels around the outside were built, etc. and it was just AWESOME !!!

The tour ended up in the “Courtyard of Orange Trees” with it’s beautiful fountains and where it was WARM in the sunshine again – as I couldn’t feel my extremities with it being pretty chilly inside 🥶

We then had a wander around town and Dave bought (yet another) t-shirt (!!!) and we finally decided to go into one of the (seemingly) thousands of “Ale-Hop” shops that we’ve seen whilst in Spain – and I’m hooked !!! I thought it was just over-priced socks & scarves but they have SO much more and I ended up with a lighty-up-10x-magnifying mirror !!!

I also hadn’t tried “churros” since we’d been here – and we didn’t want to spoil “us tea” (as I was making Spanish Omelette) so we bought some and brought them back. Traditionally they are sold with a cup of thick hot chocolate to dunk them in (they’re like a skinny plain donut consistency) but we improvised and had them with Nutella – and they were… OK 😐

We listened to 🎵 “da tunes” 🎵 whilst I made tea & drank my new fave wine this trip (Vino Rosado Penescal) then caught up on a week’s worth of blog entries – and I am now officially up to date 👍