Burgos Spain To SW France, & Reflections
Four weeks gone and bam….we’re in the midst of winter in France.
It’s been a chilly January with a mix of foggy days so thick we could barely see the end of the terrace to brilliant sunshine so crisp you could smell the sharpness in the air. The landscape has been stunning. Mornings with ice and blankets of frost, followed by glowing sunsets over the Pyrénées, the ultimate winter wonderland. Of course there was also a week of interminable rain that seriously tested our sanity, but that’s just Natures way of keeping it real.
All of life is a balance…
Our winter trip to Spain seems a long time ago already, but it’s only a month in real time and I haven’t quite finished the story. So in today’s blog post I take you through the rest of that, from Granada to home, stopping at a place we’ve visited together before, and wrapped up with some reflections which naturally (for me anyway) end up going way deeper than I originally expected.
Such is the life of travelers, and what comes after.
The Route Home Was A Long One
Our trip back home from Granada was another ~1,200 km drive with all four of us (Paul, Polly, dad and I) squeezed into the car.
For our slo-mo style that’s a long way to go and we needed to split it up, so we we hummed and ha’d about where to stop along the route. The obvious choice was Madrid, but we were all weary from our two weeks in Granada and felt the hassle of getting in/out & parking in a big city (for just a single night) wasn’t really worth it. Plus ya know COVID was going crazy (and still is) so something less populated really made more sense.
Then I spotted Burgos, a spot we’ve all been to before (and loved) right smack on the road home. Even better we found the cutest little Airbnb in the perfect spot to visit and stay the night. We were sold!
It Really WAS The Perfect Location
The drive from Granada north was a pleasant route along the E5 motorway.
It started in the arid south, passing through endless plains of olive trees interspersed with red and white cliffs and desert plains. A beautiful, but rather stark landscape. Then of course there was the big loop around Spain’s capital city, Madrid. Not much to offer here apart from lots of traffic. Finally, we entered the northern Iberian Peninsular where the greenery started to pop again, like a drink to sate the thirsty soul. By the time we got to Burgos we were already in a completely different landscape and in love again.
We’ve all been here before of course.
Paul literally walked this route with his dad when he did the Camino de Santiago. And I drove LMB here with my dad after we came back from meeting Paul just over half-way along. We all LOVED Burgos and seeing it again this time around was no less enthralling. Burgos Cathedral is of the course the star of town, an outrageously elaborate Gothic-Germanic-Plateresques-Renaissance masterpiece that took 346 years to complete. And our Airbnb apartment was literally right next to it!
We had to get special permission to enter this usually-barricaded part of town, all arranged by our gracious and absolutely lovely host Inma who stole our hearts when she sent us her apartment video…of all the pets she’s hosted! Her apartment (HERE) is small, but impeccably decorated, very cute and with drop-dead goregous views of the Cathedral. If you ever need an Airbnb in Burgos, I can highly recommend this one.
Of Course We Had To See The Cathedral Again
As soon as we’d checked in dad and I went over to see Burgos Cathedral again.
This UNESCO site, the only Cathedral in Spain to gain World Heritage in its own right covers 1.03 hectares and has 19 side chapels, and you really can get lost in the splendor of each one of them. Our second visit of this place only deepened our appreciation for how incredible it is, allowing us to see details we missed the last time around.
That night we ate a simple dinner of bread, chorizo, manchego and Spanish wine while we watched the Cathedral light up in an array of colors (orange, purple, green etc.) that changed every 10 seconds or so. It reminded me of the night shoot I did at Niagara Falls back in 2018, a mesmerizing show of color and light. I think I shot 70 pictures in Burgos that evening, simply because each hue evoked the same “wow”. I had to capture them all.
Then Finally, Home
The next day we finished our drive home through the (beautiful) rolling hills of Northern Spain and down the other side of the Pyrénées in France.
It was an easy drive, and we stopped at a lovely picnic spot along the way, but we were all very tired muffins by the time we got home.
I have to say that car driving combined with Airbnb’s is an easy and fast way to get around, but it’s definitely less comfortable than going in the motorhome. It’s fine for longer stays and made absolute sense for our 2 weeks in Granada (so handy to have a car while we were there), but hauling Polly, all three of us and all our luggage into an Airbnb apartment (and back out), plus post-cleaning was exhausting for the short 1-2 night stays we did on our way there and back.
Also Polly wasn’t that comfortable in the car.
Our old girl is more used to her space in the motorhome, and frankly so are we. I’d take the car again if we were going somewhere fixed for a longer stay (say, a few months in a house in Italy for example), but for more general travel and seeing several different places in one trip, it’s just so much nicer to have your whole “home” with you.
Post-Trip Is Always A Transition
It took a week or so to shake off our trip and settle back into our SW France routine.
The transition from travel to non-travel is always rather jarring, at least for me. It’s a bit like being on a boat for hours and then suddenly stepping onto dry land. Your mind knows you’ve stopped sailing, but you still feel like you’re rocking around on the sea, so you can’t quite get your legs under you. A long trip with lots of road travel is particularly like this.
And then of course there’s the experience of travel itself.
It’s a strange and interesting thing for those who love it, yet there are many people who never crave it. I know it’s a deep part of my own soul. I love the experience of travel and soak it up like a sponge when I do it. Every place I go a part of me takes root too, much like an aspen grove* that spreads along a mountain range, growing new trees along the way. When I breathe the entirety of those experiences pulse with me. Like love, I feel there’s no limit to how much that breath can hold.
When a big trip is over, there’s always an abrupt halt to that rush, and even though I may be happy to be back home (with comfort and all the things I know), it takes time to adapt to that. At least that’s how I feel.
*Interesting Fact: Aspen groves are the largest living organisms on earth. They form an interconnected root network that can create thousands of genetically identical stems. The absolute biggest of these is the 108-acre Pando clone in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah, USA with over 40,000 stems. I totally feel that grove….
It’s Frosty Again Today
January has been a chilly month here in SW France.
This morning there was a thick fog outside and a chill so stiff the trees looked like floating winter icicles. We went walking with the dog along the village road, our shoes crunching in the frost, the humid cold seeping into our bones. I quite like days like this, in between the sun. They remind me of foggy mornings along the West US coast (many moon ago) and make me rather introspective. Sounds are muffled all around, yet those of your shoes or breath are amplified, so you can’t help but focus inward. And you can’t see anything in front of you, so your mind is free to wander anywhere. It’s quite magical really, and profoundly meditative.
And of course we’re solidly in 2022 now so we’re planning for the year ahead.
COVID is still raging everywhere (infection levels have gone waaay beyond anything I could have imagined, honestly), but variants seem to be becoming less deadly and hospitals (at least here) are still coping, so our hope is that travel won’t be as heavily impacted as previous years. We have a few ideas that we’re knocking around, and of course we still have van build plans. So basically lots of stuff in the pot, but we don’t yet know what the final recipe will be.
For now we’re just here walking through the fog, our shoes rhythmically hitting the asphalt, and our minds pulsing with the memories of all the incredible places we’ve been before. Perhaps not so far away from now, we’ll be back out there again.
So my friends, tell me about your travel feels. Do you get the post-travel blues? Or are you the type that just loves to come home? Perhaps the transition is seamless for you? DO share and comment below!