Our initial plan to spend three weeks in Spain, somehow extended to four! Our first port of call was to the spa region of Ourense in Galicia, where in addition to getting wet we perhaps got a little too comfortable with a chess board in an out of season, empty manor house.
After learning why the architecture in this area appeared French (influenced by Bordeaux’s wine production), sampling some of the Galician wine and visiting a few forgotten medieval towns, we made our way to the large port town of Vigo and onto the most beautiful Island, the Illas Cíes with our tent. With golden sands and blue sea, if one replaced the pine tress with palm you just might think you were in the Pacific. Back on the mainland we took the route of the pilgrims (well not quite, we were in the car), to Santiago de Compostela, before skirting the coast to Oviedo, the capital of the apple cider region of Spain, only here it is served like Moroccan tea, you don’t get a pint, only a shot. Once the rain had passed it was then on further into the stunning region of Asturias, for two of the most spectacular days hiking through the Pico’s de Europe. Then the moment I had been waiting for, a three day thirst quenching exploration through Rioja, like kids in a candy store visiting our favourite vineyards. After all this we had built up quite an appetite so it seemed appropriate to stop by San Sebastian for some Michelin star dining, lodging out of town in a rather unique artists studio. Wanting to see the Pyrenees, we spent the night in Jaca whilst the news feared the country with Ebola scares, but the poor weather quickly moved us on our way to Catalonia. Just outside Barcelona in a funky town called La Floresta we had 5 days to get rid of all the items we had stupidly taken with us in the car, buy backpacks that would see us through our world trip, return the hire car, oh and plan the world trip. Olof’s cousin from Brazil just so happened to be in Barcelona , we hadn’t seen him for 4 years so it was great to catch up and before we knew it 5 days had turned into 12….. the best part… apart from having planned a route through France and Germany we got to spend 2 days with our great friends Jennifer and Martin from Gibraltar who treated us to perhaps one of the best dining experiences we have ever had.
Click the interactive map to see the places we visited during our 29 days in Spain.
- Indulging in the deep reds wines of Rioja, whilst munching on delightful pinchos and tapas.
- Wandering across the breath taking passes of Picos de Europa.
- Meeting Jennifer and Martin and Olofs cousin Gustavo from Brazil, in Barcelona.
- Strolling on the white sands of Isla de Cies and sleeping in the great out doors.
- Listening to endless Permaculture Podcasts from Permies.com and Permaculture Voices whilst taking the back rounds across the country.
- True blood relapse, we spent a few nights watching episodes back to back.
- Gluttony. Food got the better of us again and most likely we subconsciously tried to get as much tapas in us as possible before we left Spain.
- Ebola scare on TV. Paranoia set in as we hear the announcement of the nurse in Spain contracting the decease.
- Anna losing two days in Barcelona, the fear from Ebola got Anna to contract the common cold and she spent two days in bed!
“first quote that we can add here”
Anna- The Ecoquest
“Second quote that we can add here”
Olof - The Ecoquest
Ecoquest Learnings and Overview
If truth be told travelling the north of Spain taught us pretty much how not to do an Ecoquest. Ever since we can remember we have always worked and worked pretty hard, so the past 29 days in Spain were the payoff, total relaxation, a fair bit of indulgence and a genuine interest to see what the north of one of our favourite countries had to offer. Despite the surprising cold and rainy spell that caught us unaware our journey through Galicia, Asturias, La Rioja, the autonomous Basque and Catalonia regions, were one of the most enjoyable travel experiences we’ve had together. Ok, whilst we may not have ticked anything off of our bucket list and whilst we seriously overspent on our budget, we did have a bloody good time.
We now know a lot more about the wine we love, we found some beautiful and potential spots to call our home in the future and we actually learnt a lot about the history of Spain. We found out that Spanish history is really not too dissimilar to the United Kingdom. The provinces are based on former kingdoms with their own dialects/languages, seeing the subtle differences in culture was very interesting, We found this gif that shows you how the territories changed over time and how the Castilian kingdom conquered and united the other kingdoms. Looking at the Spanish coat of arms you can clearly see at least 5 recognisable symbols a castle for Castilla, a lion for Leon, chains for Navarre, stripes for Aragon ( that look the same as the Catalonian flag) and a pomegranate for Granada and Andalusia, our favourite! What I never knew was the two pillars on either side of the shield are the pillars of hercules Ceuta and Gibraltar. There is more details on wikipedia
Whilst on the road we even managed to listen to a bunch of Permaculture podcasts from Permies.com and Permaculture voices. On the down sound we had to loosen the buckle on our belts as a result of too much Jamon and cheese and we wasted a fair bit of time watching crap on TV.
Managing the Budget
Bottom line, poorly managed. Spending on average £150 a day we went way over budget, the overspend of £40 a day equates to us losing 10 days of travel. But this was a one off and we’ll just have to make up for it further down the line. This time our biggest expense was accommodation, which was elevated by a two week stay in Barcelona where accommodation is pricey, rather than staying in hostels we opted for Airbnb apartments where we could plan our onward trip in a more productive environment. Also we enjoyed some luxury hotels in La Rioja and San Sebastian which were also expensive. Food was a major part of our expenditure, experiencing the Michelin star restaurants of San Sebastian, enjoying the “foodie scene” in Barcelona, visiting numerous vineyards and opting for Organic when we were self catering resulted in a fairly substantial price tag.
In relation to travel we kept our costs down by staying off the toll roads and walking when inside the cities. Furthermore we had very little entertainment costs, when we weren’t eating we spent our time in nature enjoying the free things in life.
Click the interactive map to see a detailed cost breakdown for our road travel.
NB when detailing the budget, this is the cost for two people.
Spain was a bit of an Eco fail, other than eating Organic where possible our Eco Barometer is low on all other fronts, we travelled by car, we used hotels and we overspent.
Could Spain be for us?
Absolutely. Even though we didn’t tap into it there is a Permaculture movement in Spain and the country folk live the exact kind of life we are looking for. If you remove Barcelona from the equation, Spain doesn’t really seem to have the “consumerism” model that you see in many other parts of Western Europe and people appear to live much more within their means. The love of food and wine is also a big hit as is the diversity of the country. With some stunning and unspoilt coastline, little known mountainscapes, natural hot springs, decent all year round weather, there is a lot to like about Spain, I’d go as far as to say we love it.
Top Tips for Spain
Coming soon top tips and advice for travelling around Spain the Eco way!