We had a fantastic time in San Sebastián – its pretty hard not to!
So now it was time to head to the country just like we do on our Italy tours. Of course most tours would charter a bus but I have found that my travelers love having their own cars and the freedom and privacy it affords them, especially in the country. So we did board several vans at the Hotel Londres for the San Sebastián airport and Europcar where we rented our sedans. Each couple has their own car and we get our convoy in order and head out for the Basque Wine country.
First, I cannot tell you how nice the roads and highways are in Spain! Impeccable! Wider than Italy, well marked, and not one pothole this entire trip. Yes there are tolls along the way, but I would say well worth the price.
The road trip from San Sebastián to the Basque Wine country starts with lush greenery brought to life from the sea. As you rise in elevation the trees transition to pines and if I just woke up from a nap you would swear you were on I-90 driving through western Montana. Absolutely beautiful.
Once you cross the divide the mountains act as a dam for the sea moisture just like the Sierra Nevada do in California and then the air dries and the greenery slowly diminishes to what then looks like the landscape around Cordes Junction which also has now a number of wineries. Rolling hills line with vineyards all embraced by lovely mountain ranges.
We drive up and down the hills and slowly make our way to our next venue, Laguardia. Laguardia is one of many little walled, medieval, hilltop villages that time has forgotten. Of course we were arriving on a Saturday and let’s just say the tourists as well as the locals have not forgotten this town – it was packed. No place to park so we just had to wait our turns for stalls to open in the parking lot at the bottom of the hill. With the cars parked we needed to schlep our bags up the hill, through the walled entrance, and through the narrow streets to our hotel, the Hospederia de Los Parajes.
What a lovely spot right in the middle of the village and a very cool mix of the old with the modern. We got settled in and then all made our way outside to explore the village, grab some lunch and then a nice siesta….yes we were all unknowingly embracing the life of a Spaniard!
Well, one true trait of Spanish culture is the fact that dinner does not start until 9 pm. Usually, Isabel and I are just wrapping up for the evening as we both like to get up at 4am. But not here in Spain. Our first dinner in the country was a welcome dinner hosted by Candelaria Design right here in the hotel and starting at 9pm and finishing sometime around midnight! Fabulous way to start our time in the country and the food was fantastic.
The evening finished with a walk around the village perimeter and then down the narrow streets with a nightcap and a cigar and stories shared by all of our journey to the Basque Wine Country.