España

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Prior to traveling, I kinda knew Spain would be one of my favorite places prior to this trip and I haven’t been disappointed. The diverse geography, unique culture(s), great weather, and easy-going atmosphere have all lent to my appreciation for this country. I suppose some familiarity with the language also helped me feel like I was understanding more about Spain over many of the other countries we have visited. All in all, we spent about two weeks in Spain – travelling south through Barcelona to the southern coast, back North to Granada, then West to Portugal before returning through the middle of the country ending up in the Northern coastal city of San Sebastian.

The geography of Southeast Spain felt like the U.S. Southwest with incredible rock formations, the Southern coast resembled much of coastal Mexico, the middle of the country felt like central Canada with big sky views and the North looked like the lower Elevations of the Austrian Alps with chateaus nestled in lush green grass fields. I was able to get out on a great mountain bike ride and numerous runs ranging from mountain paths to endless hard-packed beaches.  It’s a big country (especially relative to other European countries) and is larger than California, but a bit smaller than Texas.  It felt like it too.  We put in a good 8-9 days of four to five hours-a-day driving to make it around only three-quarters of the country.

As if the country isn’t cool enough on its own, it also claims the Canary Islands!  There was a forecast of so-so weather for France and we began looking into alternative climates. We stumbled onto some inexpensive tickets to the Canary Islands and flew to the Island of Tenerife for four days. The Islands are pretty far South off of the coast of Africa and it was a solid four-hour flight from Paris. The cost for the round trip flight and stay at the three-bedroom bungalow was only $200 per person. We stayed in a town about 20 kilometers to the Northwest of the Airport called Adeje.

I had known very little about the Canary Islands, but quickly learned it’s a biking mecca (both road biking and mountain biking) with great weather year-round and some grueling elevations. Many pro bike teams train there prior to the big races that begin in the spring of each year and I totally understand why they do. The island of Tenerife is a volcanic island and the volcano there is the highest point in all of Spain. It was pretty cool to see bananas growing along the coast, succulents’ mid-island, pines further up, and moon/mars-scape as we got closer to the volcano given the rapid changes in climate with the change in elevations.  Weather at the ocean was sunny and 70 degrees while well below freezing at the top of the volcano.

As I write this, we are back in France with only 3 more nights in Europe remaining before heading off to SE Asia.  We’re going to spend one more day in Paris then make our way back to Dusseldorf to return the Camper Van. Paris has been a delight….one of the great cities we never had the chance to visit previously. In Paris, we spent four nights in an Airbnb in the city, and another three camping just outside of the downtown core.  It’s getting cold camping…and our heading to SE Asia is not a moment too soon as overnight temps are slightly below freezing.  I’m guessing I’ll missing the cooler evenings as we head into 90 degree and humidity in the upcoming week!

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