26 December 2021 18:09
Spain has a myriad of different landscapes and sights on offer. As a result, it’s difficult to plan a route that makes sense if, like us, you unexpectedly arrive in Barcelona in your Axor. We decided to drive to the northern Basque Country, and from there along the rugged Atlantic coast to Galicia, right in the north-west.
What was already clear to us on the drive to the Basque Country was that the roads in Spain are fantastic. The roads are in top condition and also mostly a decent width for our truck. Of course, it always comes down to the final kilometres before reaching your destination. Especially near the coast, there were many villages where we had to find out in advance if we would “fit through” – and where you had to concentrate hard behind the wheel. But that’s what makes overlanding so exciting!
In the Basque Country, a mountain range separates the coast from the inland. The weather changes dramatically from dry and sunny to stormy and rainy. With temperatures around zero degrees Celsius, we headed for the Salto del Nervión, which, at over 220 metres, is one of the highest waterfalls in Europe. Nearby, we found a place to camp. That way, we could cycle or walk to the Salto again and again so we could catch a period when the thick clouds had cleared and there was a free view of the waterfall and across the valley.
The karst landscape here is impressively wild. By bike, we followed the cliff that formed the top of the waterfall. A great idea, we thought at first. The path got increasingly steep, muddy and scattered with stones and roots. We ended up having to push or even carry the bikes again and again. Shortly before nightfall and completely exhausted, we returned to our dog Aimée, who had been sleeping in the body of the Axor.
It was far more relaxed the next day, with a short ride in the Axor towards the coast. We had hardly made it over the mountains and the sun was shining again. Our aim was Bilbao. Situated in a valley on the Ría de Bilbao river, it has a city centre with several high-rise buildings. In big cities, we actually always go for not so adventurous but safe spots to park. This time, we were presented with a great view across the cityscape as a bonus.
And a it was a convenient spot because it took us less than an hour get to the futuristic-looking Guggenheim Museum on foot. We have experienced few cities with such a colourful mixture of building styles as Bilbao. On top of that, there are lots of parks and green spaces and the city generally has a very lively atmosphere.
We actually wanted to continue the tour the next day. But then Aimée wasn’t doing so well, the same as had been the case weeks before. As a result, we decided to have her checked out. Unfortunately, on this day – a Sunday – only two vets were open, both in the city centre. We didn’t want to risk that in the Axor and organised a taxi where dogs are allowed.
It’s at moments like this that you notice how practical it is to be able to speak the local language. That’s also why everything went so smoothly. A few hours later, we were at the truck with a handful of different medication that were supposed to get Aimée back on her feet again. We stayed in Bilbao for two more days to keep an eye on how our four-legged friend was doing.
The first mini leg after this stop was to Gaztelugatxe, a tiny island off a rocky coast that we had come across while doing research. What we had overlooked was that Gaztelugatxe was a filming location for the successful series Game of Thrones – and is now so popular that you have to book a time slot a long way in advance.
When we arrived, however, we were confronted with a different situation than expected: a few days earlier, a landslide had buried the road to the island and there was practically no one there at all. We weren’t able to set foot on Gaztelugatxe either. But some vantage points were still accessible, so we flew our drone over the island and took photos.
Going west along the coast, there are countless beaches and stretches of coastline that you could visit. We picked out a few and were particularly impressed by the Urros de Liencres, a series of rocks jutting out of the sea near the city of Torrelavega. Much further west, in the Asturias region near Gijón, we were fascinated by Playa de la Ñora, a beach surrounded by a dense eucalyptus forest.
From Gijón it’s not far to the border to Galicia, Spain's rainiest region. Here, we had to wait for breaks in the rain to be able to venture outside for trips. This is another reason why you meet few other travellers here, especially not at this time at the end of the year. Be that as it may, we will continue to follow the route. You know that we’re all about the rugged, untouched landscapes. There’s only have to be careful of one thing: finding a spot to park where the Axor doesn’t rock quite so severely in the wind.
An unparalleled journey.
Andrea and Mike Kammermann have been on tour in their Axor for three years. "4-Xtremes – The World Tour" is the motto of the journey that the two Swiss nationals embarked on in mid-2020 and which they share with the RoadStars community. Keep up to date and don't miss out on any of the stunning destinations visited by the adventurous pair.
You can find the current parts from the “4-Xtremes – The World Tour” series here.
You can find the route of the trip before the crossing to South America here.