To Lumbier via Tarazona
Sep 27, 2015
The morning found us heading sort of north on the A 23, a 4 lane road. The first hour or so we climbed a rather large hill and found ourselves on a forested high plateau that opened up onto fields of harvested crops, and ever changing rock colours and shapes. There was even a sign pointing to a ski hill but the weather didn’t indicate that snow would arrive anytime soon but as we know it can arrive in a hurry in the mountains.
Dotted along the highway Spain had erected some interesting metal figures that we found interesting. Sometimes it took us miles down the road to decide what it was.
Many of the fields were growing oranges, and other vegetables I didn’t recognize.
Before reaching Zaragoza we took a road less travelled in the direction of the quite medieval town of Tarazona. We passed through and by many little towns along the way. Again the surrounding landscape was a patchwork of colours; fields, rocks, coloured soil and forests. If you have driven through Northern Arizona, the Sedona area or parts of Utah you have seen what this part of Spain looks like.
The sleepy little walled down of Magallon standing on top of a hill with its towering steeple passed us to the north. There are just too many things to see.
The walled city of Zaragoza was fast approaching on the horizon and also the dreaded worry of will there be somewhere to park. Bill just followed the signs to the centre of town and lo and behold there was a huge parking lot, free even beside the canal. It being Sunday morning it was very quiet with few people about.
We tied up our walking shoes and headed to the Cathedral, which was closed to the public but its exterior was a sight to behold. It seemed that every building style was involved in its construction; Romanesque, Gothic, Mudejar and Renaissance. I think the buildings covered several city blocks.
In order to reach the “old town” we had to cross a delightful canal with ducks (big ones) swimming along.
There was a signed posted walking tour that we didn’t discover until we saw #’s 9 & 10. We weren’t about to retrace our steps so we carried on. The main focal point of the “high part” of town is getting there. We navigated twisting cobblestone (I have to say that I doubt there were any size 10’s wandering these streets in the good old days, cobblestone’s are made for ankle twisting and hard on the feet) narrow streets, climbed a multitude of stairways, retraced our steps, up more stairs until we arrived at a huge plaza in front of a church where everyone in town, it seemed was eating a potluck meal of some sort. It was quite a gathering with tables everywhere, many conversations taking place, and children crying or running helter-skelter.
On our wanderings we passed the extravagant façade of the Ayuntamiento (city hall) on a not too imposing main square in fact there wasn’t much of a square at all, the Mudejar Tower of the Iglesia de Santa Maria Magdalena, and the Jewish quarter which had throughout high balconied projections of the “hanging houses” which were certainly a sight to see and exceptionally well preserved.
We enjoyed wandering the streets of this well preserved town but I have to say, going downhill was a lot more fun than going uphill.
After a quick tapas meal we walked along the canal, enjoying the atmosphere and found our vehicle right where we had left it, all by itself.
As we headed out again on the road less travelled we couldn’t help but think that all the land we have crossed has so much to tell. I mean generations of people have walked and rode (horse back) on it long before us. Such stories they could tell.
The countryside continued to change as we drove onward toward Sos del Rey Catolica. We passed some unusual rock formations and many wheat fields. Finally through the trees we could see Sos del Rey Catolica standing on top of a very large hill. Other than its glorious maze of twisting cobbled lanes (sound familiar) its main claim to fame was born here in 1452, Fernando II, husband to Isabel I of Castilla, combined were The Catholic Monarchs.
Alas, the town was not as friendly as the last one we couldn’t even find our way into it let alone park. We toured around the hill looking for an entrance and found ourselves in the city dump. Bill decided it might be a place to dump our grey water and he did. As we proceeded down the hill I couldn’t help but think, they had a great view of the valley.
As dusk was closing in we decided not to push any farther and found a campground in Lumbier; Camping Iturbero.
We were surprised and delighted to find this tree and hedged lined park. A bonus, it was almost empty.
A few things I have forgotten to mention: unfortunately most of Europe hasn’t locked up there spray cans, graffiti can be found everywhere: Look for the “DOC Rioja” wine label and you will have a fine wine:
Olive oil is the foundation of so much Spanish cooking, no surprise but did you know that Spain is the world’s largest olive-oil producer. There are more that 100 million olive trees in Andalucía; a remarkable 20% of the world’s olive oil originates in Jaen Province, which produces more olive oil then Greece and Jaen’s more than 4500 square km of olive oil trees constitutes the world’s largest man-made forest!!
Also Spain’s internationally acclaimed (European’s don’t include North America when they make this statement (International) I found this out at the Post Office) wine industry boasts the largest area (1.2 million hectares) of wine cultivation in the world, and accounts for more than 30 % of land under vine in the EU; France and Italy can only muster around 25% each. Who knew!!