Our North Spain Mini-Trip: Route, Costs & More
The Northern Spain route that dad I took in May was the perfect little 2-week getaway.
I call it our Spain pilgrimage because what we essentially did was trace the Camino De Santiago in both directions, first along the Coastal trail (Camino Del Norte/Camino Primitovo) and then back along the popular French Way (Camino Frances) to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France.
We didn’t make it the whole way to the end-point of Santiago De Compostella (that’ll be for another time), but we made it a good part of the way and we did it in the supreme comfort of LMB, which is admittedly much easier and faster than by foot.
Plus we did meet lots of actual pilgrims along the way. Of course we saw many hundreds on the trail, but closer to our hearts were Paul and his dad who had started walking the trail from France in mid-April (I’ll write a blog about their experience soon) and who we met three-quarters of the way through in Hospital De Orbigo, the mid-point of our own trip West. It ended up being a short meet-up (the poor boys were really ill) but it was nonetheless a cool way to bring everything together.
Plus we saw some amazing stuff, from basque towns in France, to stunning coastal beauty in Spain, spectacular churches, wonderfully small villages and some of the prettiest mountain driving we’ve done in Europe. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.
So what were the details of stats & costs? The nitty gritty? Well this isn’t a complete breakdown, but here’s where most of our Euros went to rest.
Km Traveled: ~1,630 (~1,013 miles)
Days Traveled: 9
|Category||Total Costs||Av. Costs Per Day|
|Camping||€160||€20 (8 stays)|
We Traveled Fast (Compared To Our Usual Pace)
All in all we covered ~1,630 km (1,013 m) in a mere 9 days, waaay faster than our usual slo-mo style. I found it exhausting to drive everyday, but we managed to keep it to a reasonable ~2-3 hours per day, so it was do-able despite it all. Plus we did vary it up a bit. Our longest drive was 296 km (~184 m) from Santillana Del Mar to Hospital De Orbigo (from coast to inland, basically), whereas our shortest was 75.2 km (~47 m) on the last full day, coming down the steep, curvy French side of the Pyrenees.
Our Average Fuel Price Was EUR 1.30 Per Liter
One of the nice things about traveling in Spain is that fuel prices are lower than many other European countries.
All in all we filled up ~171 liters of diesel at a cost of ~EUR 223 (~$250) which breaks down to around EUR 1.30 per liter. This is a smidgen more expensive than what we paid during our last trip in March, but IMO still not bad at all.
And we finally figured out our fuel usage! When we crunched the numbers after our trip (including what we had in the tanks at the start and finish) we figure that LMB managed just under 9 km per liter (= ~21 mpg for my American readers). This included quite a bit of mountain driving, so I expect that will number improve as our engine breaks in and we do more flat-ground miles.
We Paid EUR 20/Night For Camping
Because I was traveling with dad, we decided to stay at full-service campgrounds the whole way and didn’t really think too much about costs*.
Despite this it all ended up being quite reasonable. May is still low-season and many of our campgrounds were ASCI, so we managed to get decent discounts almost everywhere we stayed. We camped in 8 total spots and spent a total of ~EUR 160 (~$178) on camping costs, which works out to exactly EUR 20/night (~$22/night). As usual we used the Park4Night app as our go-to camping/parking locator to find spots the whole way.
*Cutting Costs: If we had chosen to stay at Motorhome Aires (Areas De Autocaravanas) instead of campgrounds, these costs would easily have been half. Plus when we were traveling the inland route back home there were tons of free parking areas where we could have overnighted as well. It would be super easy to cut costs here.
We Paid ~EUR 94 in Road Tolls
All in all we ended up paying ~EUR 94 in tolls this trip. We didn’t really make much effort to avoid them, taking pay roads when they were offered and using back roads the rest of the time.
Most of our tolls were incurred in France on highway A64 (getting to/from Spain), with the rest in Spain on coastal highway A8 (which is a pay road from the French border to Bilbao) and AP66 (which is a pay road south from Campomanes). The entire route back home going East through inland Spain was on smaller N-type back roads and cost nothing at all.
France Tolls: EUR 59.65 (all on A64, Class 2)*
Spain Tolls: EUR 34.82 (on A-8 & AP66)
*Class 2 Rates: Our motorhome is rated as “Class 2” in France (vehicle below 3.5 tonnes and 3m in height), which means we pay around 50% more in tolls than Class 1 (regular car). In Spain there is no rating difference. Motorhomes pay the same price as regular cars.
Eating & Drinking Was Cheap
We only ate out a few times this this trip primarily for lunch, simply because Spanish dinner times are really late and waaaay past our bedtime. So most of the time we just stuck to simple meals in the motorhome, with plenty of brilliantly inexpensive Spanish wine and gin to supplement. In the end we spent a total of EUR 115 ($128) on groceries for the whole trip, which averaged out to ~EUR 13 per day, and that wasn’t holding back one single bit. Spanish groceries are a bargain!
Polly Went Everywhere With Us
There are things that cost money and things that are priceless and since we are a paw-obsessed family (as you well know), one of the latter is the ability to bring our pets with us everywhere we go.
And in that respect, Spain (and France) rock!!
All 12 paws came with us on this trip, as they always do. The cats got their usual walks (everyday at camp) and apart from one night where they both decided to test my mental limits, they were pretty relaxed throughout. They managed to find their “spots” and figure out a routine, which is something I’m really happy about. Plus they’re older now, so they really do prefer to just hang in bed and sleep most of the day.
Polly was a trooper and came into town on every single one of our sightseeing trips. We all walked 5-6 miles a day which was A LOT for our little crew, but both dad and Polly rallied to the task. All the towns we went into accepted dogs, and every restaurant did too. The only place Polly didn’t go was inside the churches themselves, so dad and I just took turns sitting with her outside while the other went to visit. It worked out perfectly, and Polly never had to stay in the motorhome alone once.
We Loved The Lot, But The Inland Route Was Especially Fun
I have to say this trip opened our eyes to inland Spain.
Prior to this we’ve only driven the coastline, and most motorhome folk that come to Spain do the same. There’s no doubt the coast is gorgeous, and we’ll certainly be back there again (the ocean always calls to us), but some of the BEST experiences we had this trip were on the inland N-type byways.
Driving on smaller, less-trafficked roads was just such a pleasure. It was SO quiet (we saw SO few cars) and the roads were in great condition with wonderful views. Plus we just had a blast stopping off whenever we felt like it in the smaller villages and towns. I think we’ll be seeking out many more N-type roads in the future.
I’ve Got Interactive Maps & Blogs Posts To Cover It All
That really covers the lot!
I’ve spent some more time on mapping (yeah!) and now have both our 2019 mini-trips (the one we did in March and this one that we finished in May) on a single interactive map complete with routes traveled, places camped and sightseeing stops as well as links back to the blog posts that I’ve written about each spot. I’ll be updating this particular map after we finish every trip and will keep a copy of it permanently on our side-bar.
So for those of you who are map geeks (like me), click on through and enjoy!
Lastly, for those who prefer to see ALL posts in one place, here are the blogs I wrote about this particular mini-trip:
That’s it for this trip my friends! The next one is (hopefully) just around the corner and this time, it won’t be in Spain.
Coming up next: Y’all asked for it, so here it comes…a summary of Paul and his dads experience walking the Camino de Santiago. Stay tuned..