Normally when walking alone I choose an albergue for my bed but when I walk with Gerry he prefers private rooms; and his rule is that if there’s a Parador in town then we must take advantage of it… and who am I to argue?! Because of this rule we became a Parador Amigo, which means we get advance notice of any special offers (and a free glass of wine whenever we stay). The card is free so you should sign up.
We had advance notice of a special offer for December 2021 with rooms from 67€ a night! We had already planned to head south to Estepona in Southern Spain for Christmas so the offer simply meant that we could make a road trip of the journey… and this of course meant that I could plan a journey that would weave us in and out of some of the lesser known camino routes.
Road Trip Day 1 : Tudela (Camino del Ebro)
Both France and Spain received an enormous amount of rain a few days ago and we weren’t sure what to expect on our first day of travelling but thankfully most of the flood water had subsided and we had perfect weather for our drive down through Navarra. Tudela sadly suffered bad flooding and parts of the town were still under water and the banks of the mighty Ebro were still very much breached.
The town is situated on the Camino de Ebro and was founded in 802 under Muslim rule. For four centuries Muslims, Jews, Christians and Mozarabs lived side by side forming a cultural mix which is still apparent in the city’s streets. It’s a glorious little city with narrow streets and majestic buildings and of course a buzzing Plaza Major.
Road Trip Day 2 : Teruel (Camino Castellón or Camino del Cid)
We drove out of Navarra and into the province of Teruel. The landscape was very reminiscent of the meseta and whilst it maybe December, gosh there was such a blue blue sky; I could have easily walked for miles today. Today’s destination lies on the Camino del Cid but our first stop was not on any route, but one of Spain’s Bonita Villages, the amazing hillside village of Albarracin; Wow what a glorious little place this is. We explored for hours. I thoroughly recommend a visit if you are driving down through Spain, it’s a stunning little place.
We spent so long in the hills that we only had a couple of hours left to explore Teruel. Our first stop was the cathedral and we managed to join a tour that explored the high gallery and get a closer look at the incredible painted ceiling (although I had to make a quick exit as it was just a tad too high for me).
Such a fabulous day!
Road Trip Day 3 : Cuenca (Camino de la Lana) and Albecete (Camino de Levante)
We left early and had a beautiful drive with frosty fields set against more blue sky. We arrived at Cuenca earlier than we planned and spent the day wandering the streets of the old town and climbed up to each of the miradors in the hills above the town (sorry Gerry ). We’d planned to stay the night here but so much of the old town was closed, and even in Plaza Major the bars were closing up for the day so we had a rethink. We decided to move onwards to Albecete. There are a number of little villages and castles to visit in this area and it meant that we’d have two nights in one location. The Parador were very obliging in changing our booking and we arrived to a very different building tonight, it felt much more Portuguese than Spanish. It was also less impossing and cheaper than its Cuenca cousin too!
We didn’t regret our decision, it was another glorious day, I can’t get over the blue blue cloudless sky in December and the hot Spanish sun even if the air is a little chilly. I couldn’t stop taking photos of the glorious ochre coloured houses… I just love how they gleam in the sunshine!
Road Trip Day 4 : Alcala del Jucar (Camino de la Lana) and Chinchilla (Camino de Levante)
Yesterday’s decision to move onwards was a great choice. We had a leisurely breakfast before heading off to another of Spain’s Bonito villages; Alcala del Jucar ( and the child in us had much amusement trying to say Jucar without sounding rude).
We drove for 30 minutes through the meseta like landscapes wondering where the village could possibly be? The landscape is flat… flat flat flat to the horizon! And yet we were just 2kms away from a typical Spanish village that in the photos, is tumbling down a hillside and topped with a castle. We were confused. However, suddenly all became clear. An enormous gorge opened up before us.. WOW just WOW! And that doesn’t do the landscape justice. The road zig-zaged its way down from one hair pin bend to the next; the only respite came when a little family of goats wanted to cross the road. Down and down we drove until we reached the river floor. Of course, all this downhill meant one thing, once we parked the car we had to go exploring, to the castle at the very top. Oh my… glorious glorious glorious… This is a fabulous place to visit, and we could have stayed for much longer.
After lunch in town we headed off to Chinchilla and it’s amazing castle. Sadly it was closed but the views from the top were worth the climb up. Walking back we spotted brightly coloured birds, like a cross between a parrot and a pigeon. We watched fascinated by this rare breed until we read that they were actually just plain old pigeons that the locals painted for homing pigeon contests.
Yet again an absolutely flippin glorious day and yep #stilllovingspain!