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 GENERAL INFO (Jump to Diary)
The Kingdom of Spain have a Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy, and covers 506.000 square kilometres. It is inhabited by 46.500.000 citizen, of which 68% are Christians and 27% have no religion.
The currency is Euro, worth 7,46 Danish Krone. The GDP is US$1.252 trillion.

Here are three climates; Mediterranean is dominant in the peninsula, the semi-arid climate, is mainly predominant in the south-eastern quarter of the country, while the oceanic climate, is found in the northern quarter of the country.
The fauna presents a wide diversity that is due in large part to the geographical position of the Iberian peninsula between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean and between Africa and Eurasia, and the great diversity of habitats and biotopes, the result of a considerable variety of climates and well differentiated regions.
Among the bigger mammals are Wildcat (Felis silvestris), Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus), Common genet (Genetta genetta), Egyptian mongoose (Herpestes ichneumon), Red fox (Vulpes vulpe), African golden wolf (Canis anthus), Iberian wolf (Canis lupus signatus), Italian wolf (Canis lupus italicus), Brown bear (Ursus arctos), Eurasian badger (Meles meles), Boar (Sus scrofa), different deer, Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia, Majorcan feral goat (Capra aegagrus hircus), Spanish ibex (Capra pyrenaica), Mouflon (Ovis aries orientalis), Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica) and a lot of bats.
Among over 1400 vascular plant species known solely from Spain are a pink dianthus (Dianthus charidemi), the Dwarf Spanish Foxglove Borderea chouardii,
and Narcissus bugei.

I arrival from Andorra in the afternoon, enters Catalonia, and reach La Seu dÚrgell within long. It is significantly lower than Andorra, and if it wasn't for the drizzle, it would be a nice place. I have nothing particular to see here, but the huge old school is impressive, and so it the castle-like cathedral.

I walk towards the old centre, and here are some real nice, typical Spanish city houses. The marked is closed by now, and only the last leftovers are loaded on trucks. I find my way through some narrow and twisted alleys, and end up in an area with real old houses. It is a weird feeling going around all by my self in a town like this: I wonder where everybody is? Inside, hiding from the rain?

I recon I will se other old Spanish cities, and head back to the car. It is too late to drive to next site, but a bit early to go to the camp nearby. I make a loop in the surounding hills, but then figure I better have some time to process all the blurry photos of the day, and finish up France and Andorra. The rain continues, although light the entire evening.
La Seu dÚrgell

15/4. It is only 60 kilometres to Val dÁran - if I could fly like the bearded vulture; Gypaetus barbatus, which I might see from time to time - way up in the sky. By road, it is twice as much, and by a fabulous road it is. It is kind of "the long way" through the Pyrenees.

It start gaining height right away, and after passing two distinct layers of clouds, I reach the sunny mountains. And with sun, the number of motives explodes! I try to restrict my self, but here are white peaks, red bulls on the road, deep valleys, ancient stone huts, barren rocks, strange rock formations, ancient villages, waterfalls an much more. I ought to write way more, allowing me to stuff more pictures in.

I pass an area with naked pine trees, It seems like the Pine Tree Lappet; Dendrolimus pini is a bit successful around here. A bit higher up, the pine trees covers huge areas, all needles intact.
Just around a corner (there are nothing else but corners on this road), I meet a huge, red bull. It seems like it want to play, but I rather not.

The snow start with small dunes along the road, then it is larger areas. I pass the second layer of clouds, and meet a bright sunshine. A lookout post offers a great view over the sea of clouds, and a few runaway clouds drift into the pines.

The rocks change into what I know as red Ölandsbrud. It is mainly fine gravel, and deeply red. Along with the blue sky, the white snow and the green pines, it make a great mix. I reach the pass; El Cantó at 1721 metres height, and on the northern side, the mountain is almost entirely white.

Here are some scattered settlements, although I can't figure why, or how they make a living. Further on, some completely covered peaks are fund. One is kind of smooth, while another range is real serrated.
The road slowly descents, and more and more soil is visible.

In one valley, I find a group of horses, one with a real young foul, who barley can walk. I would have though it was too cold for it! Right after, the town of Sort is found along the road. It must be a skiing location, based on the big, modern houses. It seems like I'm arriving by the back road.

It is a lovely spring day here, but I head on. I pass some other smaller settlements, each formed around a little church. Then I reach a lake, completely mirror like, imaging the remote white peaks and the blue sky. That drags me out of the car once again.

I've been driving through Catalonia the entire time, and passes a lot of different yellow symbols. "Liberate" seems to the the message. However, I think I have reach the border of Catalonia by now.
The road assents again, and more snow remains along the road and on the steep mountain sides.

I reach Port de la Bonaigua; a 2072 meter high pass. The peaks next to it are dramatically, and here are signs of avalanches everywhere: Piles of hard snow, broken pines, muddy snow and general destruction. Some parts of the road is almost a tunnel in the snow.

The descent is one long line of hairpin bends and great views to the lowland and the peaks. Several skiing towns are located along this road, although they are a bit sleepy by now. The lower ones have a summer gig: Rafting. The ancient settlements look like an excuse for them self, although I surely prefer them.

Due to the winding road and not least; the amount of photos, it take me three hours to get to Val dÁran and the town of Viella. I stop to make a cup of tea, but the town it self is not that tempting. The next site is the tiny village of Ainsa, well over 100 kilometres away. I start driving through the lovely valley of Áran, but I am hard to impress by now.

I eventually reach a green valley, only to start up another mountain. This time, it is the 1407 meter Col de L'Espina and then 1470 meter Col de Fadas that make the top.  Again, the mountains are fantastic - and kind of familiar.
Then I reach a real narrow and deep gorge. Here is barely room for both road and river, and the sun is only a small crack, way up.

The gorge opens up, and a narrow valley leads into yet some other mountains. I stop to botanise and have a look at the light turquoise river. I find what I want to be a Edelweiss; Leontopodium alpinum, but it is early in the season, and I have my doubts. I am way more certain on the huge, yellow field with dandelions.

Ainsa is a real popular place a sunny Sunday! An ancient fortress and a little, mountaintop village is now endless restaurants. I had hoped for something less "discovered", but I do a loop anyway. The houses are nice, the weather perfect, but here are not enough to keep me.

I head on westward, and drive through lower mountains. Some are flipped on the side, and strange formations occurs. A narrow valley have a big turquoise river, and the mountainsides are covered in boxwood. Some places, they are entirely red.

I have to stop at an old bridge, crossing the river, and finally, I'm in the old town of Echo. It is completely build in the local stones, and the roofs are made of red natural tiles. Where Ainsa was crowded, this village is empty. I only see one local - although he is suspicious Indian-like, and turns out to be the bartender at the pub. I do some loops around town, but the sun is finally disappearing, and I start missing a jacket.

It is not that late, but I have over 450 photos to proceed, and the next site is on the way to a mountain road I rather do tomorrow. Instead, I chose the local campsite, which is nice and warm, here in the low valley. At eight, it starts to drizzle, and the temperature drops. I feel like I spend the evening deleting good pictures (probably not enough).
 Pyrenees, Val dÁran, Ainsa  and Echo

16/4. I'm up early, but have to wait for the gate to be opened. Then I head into the Echo valley, which is part of Parque Nasional Valles Occidentales. It is still raining, and it is a darkish day. The nature is absolutely astonishing, but I fail to make any good photos, due to the weather.

The road lead into the real narrow gorge, waterfalls are emerging everywhere, boulders are covered in almost fluorescent mosses and crocked old trees leans over the road. A grass filled meadow is turn up by boars, and I spot a single, black squirrel.

The badly maintained road ends, and I return. On the way back, I have to drive around some boulders, laying on the road. They were not there 15  minutes ago! I stop several times, desperately trying to get photos of the fantastic scenery, despite the rain.

I pass the camp, and start the 250 kilometres towards next sight on D1602. It lead into a valley, which narrows considerably in, and her are not room for both river and road! The road is on a bridge over the river. I stop several times to have a closer look at the interesting plants. 

 As it opens up, it leads through soft but huge hills, covered in boxwood. Then I reach a more drastic stretch, where vertical walls of limestone stretches high up in the air. The road goes right through them several times. A large river mark the button of the valley, and the sides are covered in bushes, still mainly boxwood. I turn into D1601, but not much changes.

It have been an neglected road, but now I see a huge bridge. Strangely enough, it is not attached in the ends, although it seems to be more than ten years old. The old road leads below, and up on the other side of the huge valley.

On the other side of the next hill, a large lake is found. On the cliffs above it, a larger ghost town is found. I do a bit of botanising again, as here are quite some succulents. Several times during the day, I see the huge bearded vulture; Gypaetus barbatus circling above me (wingspan up to 280 cm). Some of the rivers are thick with sediment. Some red, some yellow. The landscape gradually flattens out, and larger and larger wheat fields are lush and green by now.

I reach Sos del Rey Católico, which should be a beautiful village. Well, it might be on a sunny day, but it is no. I don't see more than one local, while I do a tour around the entire hilltop town. Then I head back to the warmth of my car.

It is 250 kilometres to the next sight, and the area is not really interesting. Well, some chose to walk here, as part of the road leads along the Camino del Santiago. The wheat fields are slowly changing into vine fields, and a few olive tree plantations. Here are still at few rocked hills, but most are farmland.

I finally see the huge, black silhouette of the famous bull: I had expected quite a lot of them. Then I spot a white stork, high up in its nest on a lonely chimney. The Camino is crossing the road several times, and I'm really amassed about how many people who limps along it. None smile, most look suffering.

The churches in this area have a wall instead of a tower. The bells sit within the wall. One church is made within a cave, and in a sunny day, I might have had a closer look.
I pass a 1150 meter pass, and get a great, although misty view over the lowlands.

Then I reach the little cosy village of Atapuerca, which should have an archaeological museum about a 1,2 million old European man. I find the large and modern museum, but it seems like it is quite some time ago, it have been open. I have a camp lined up around the corner, but it is only three, and I head on.

It is 299 kilometres to the next camp, and the area is still not really interesting. I take the large road, and pass some huge wheat fields, a few vine fields an some funny round pine trees. Her are a few rape fields, lighting up the area. The sun start to break through, and it feel so nice.

On a few fields, huge herds of sheep are herded around. The sides of the road are covered in some purple flowers along with the yellow flowering broom. The highway is almost vacant, and I just lean back and enjoy the ride.
Around 30 kilometres from the Portuguese border, the landscape changes drastically. It is now huge round boulders of granite.

The tiny fields are lined with walls, some have grass, others have vine plants. I have to stop at one walled field, and besides from the walls, I find a few interesting plants. The next little village have cows within its border. It is now a minor road I'm on, and I start to have my doubts about a border crossing.

Then I reach the Spain-Portugal border from 1297 along the Minho river. Here are a dam, and a narrow bridge crosses the river and I end up in what look like an abandon factory: Welcome to Portugal.

This was the first half of my Spanish adventure. Driver 1040 kilometres, taken 1355 photos and spend only €91.

Photos   Map & Plan   Diary 1  2