Avila – Spain & Portugal Tour 2009

Leaving the ferry around 0830, Bilbao’s rush hour traffic made itself known but caused no great problems – navigation out of the port (situated just north of Bilbao at Santurtzi) and down to the motorway was pretty straightforward.

Fields full of solar panels were a frequent sight in Spain
Fields full of solar panels were a frequent sight in Spain

Our first day’s route took us past Burgos and Valladolid down to a motorhome-friendly car park at Avila (courtesy of campingcompass.com). This proved to be exactly as promised and was entirely adequate, since we still had a full water tank and empty toilet and waste water tanks and so were completely self-sufficient. The car park is directly behind the police station so should be fairly crime free, although it can get busy at night (we were there on a Friday night). Click here to see the location in Google Maps.

Approaching Avila - an attractive walled town
Approaching Avila - an attractive walled town

Avila itself was an attractive and pleasant medieval walled town that obviously receives considerable volumes of tourist visitors, including the obligatory coachloads of Americans and Japanese. Despite this, it was pleasant to walk around and the old town itself was only ten minutes walk from our car park, which was also the coach park.

Avila's walls - the parking is just off the town's ring road, to the left of this picture
Avila's walls - the parking is just off the town's ring road, to the left of this picture

We also took a short drive out of the old town into the ‘Centro Commercial’ to visit a large retail site that includes both McDonald’s and Carrefour. We aren’t fans of McDonald’s but it does, throughout the UK and France, offer free, unlimited wireless internet access to its customers.

In Spain, it turned out to be slightly different – in return for spending over €2, we got a voucher with a PIN code for half an hour’s internet access for one computer. Pretty good, all the same – compared to the cost of an internet cafe.

We then stocked up on supplies at Carrefour (a large supermarket chain). Find of the day was undoubtedly strawberries, on offer at €1.02 for 500g – fresh from southern Spain and wonderfully ripe and sweet compared to the anaemic, crunchy and flavourless items on sale in the UK at this time of year.

If you do plan to visit and wish to use this car park, follow signs for Parking Turismo and Parking Autobus – on the opposite side of the ring road to the old walls. As it is only a car park, remember to keep everything inside your vehicle (no deck chairs, etc) and do not leave any trace of your presence when you leave – tolerance of motorhome parking rapidly disappears when people abuse it.

Distance driven (Bilbao to Avila): 278 miles

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