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Classic Saab 900 - Miscellaneous

'Viva Espana'

Article written by Simon Turner - circa 1999

We set sail from Portsmouth at 8 pm. on Saturday 10th June bound for Bilbao in Northern Spain. Arrival was scheduled for  6 am. Monday 12th. The crossing went well, the weather was fair. Lorena felt a bit queasy at times but filled herself full of seasickness tablets and survived the trip!

We arrived dead on time and were in the car and off the ship within 15 minutes of arrival. 14 degrees… hmmmmm not great but it was 6:15 in the morning.

Lorena and MyselfWe had already decided to head for a small town called Llanes that we felt made a good base for visiting the Picos De Europa mountain range. Two hours later we were in Llanes and at one of  the towns two campsites unpacking the car and setting up the tent. The sun had been threatening to come out ever since we got off the ship and was now really starting to shine through. The roof on the car came down and spent most of the next two and a half weeks in that very same position. Sun fantastic! (That statement may seem a little strange  to some people who don’t live in the UK but it is true what they say about the British weather, I think this summer so far has gone towards strengthening that view even more!) Anyway we headed into town (with the roof down) grabbed some lunch and spent the rest of the day on the local beach.

Day two and the sun was out again. We headed off into the Picos De Europa (with the roof down!) and spent the day driving up and down small twisty mountain roads admiring the spectacular scenery.Took a cable car up to the high peaks at Fuente De. The views were amazing. A thoroughly enjoyable day.

The 900 convertible in Spain!The next day we decided to move on further up the coast and had planned to stop for a couple of days at a town called Luarca . We arrived mid morning and decided we didn’t really like the look of the place. The roads and scenery along the way had been fantastic so we carried on to Viveiro approximately 150 kms further west along the coast. I’d never really had the chance to take the 900 on good twisty roads before and was pleasantly surprised even with it fully laden as to how well it handled through the fast bends. I could even afford to put my foot down with petrol prices being significantly cheaper than the UK (Unleaded was 0.54p a litre!)

We arrived at Viveiro early evening after getting a little bit lost and going 20 kms in the wrong direction, booked into the only! Hotel for the night, which was very nice and cost a measly £18.00!

Next day the sun was out again and we headed further around the coast to Muros. Lorena was determined to get a suntan and we spent the next two days sitting on the beach in Muros which was right in front of the campsite taking in some sun. It was getting very hot up into the 40’s.

Next port of call was Santiago De Compostela. Today was also the first day we had had the roof up since the beginning of the holiday but purely because it was too hot! We were getting cooked alive despite covering ourselves from head to toe in suntan lotion.

It wasn’t practical to stay at a campsite in Santiago so we booked into a small hotel which was located in the old part of the city just off the main square in front of the Cathedral. The Medieval central  part of Santiago De Compostela is an absolutely beautiful place which has been declared an UNESCO World Heritage site. We spent a very enjoyable first weekend away in Santiago, visiting some of the magnificent restaurants and enjoying some of the live entertainment which was taking place in several of the squares during the evening. (I also have to admit to visiting an Internet Café to check my e-mail's!) Santiago would have to be high on my list of recommended cities to visit if you get the chance.

Monday morning and we were off again, further inland to another city along the ‘Pilgrimage’ route – Leon. Again we had planned to spend two nights in Leon but on arrival found it not to be particularly pleasant, so we had a wonder round during the afternoon stayed the night and headed off the next day. (Also it must have the worst one way road system in the world, it took absolutely ages to find the hotel we were looking for, or is that something to do with the fairer sexes not being able to read maps properly! See the getting lost on the way to Viveiro above. It must have just been a coincidence!)

Left Leon early morning and headed on to Burgos about 2 hours drive away. Found the excellent campsite just outside Burgos and set up the tent again. Spent the rest of the day wondering around Burgos which is quite a pretty city.

We planned to spend the next two days exploring the large National Parks just South of Burgos, starting with the Gorges of Yecla where we spotted Eagles in double figures, a magnificent sight. 

On to Santo Domingo de Silos to visit the Monastery where the famous monks reside. In 1994 they sold over six million copies of there album ‘Gregorian chants’. We were lucky enough to attend a mass and witness the monks singing first hand.

The next day we headed for Rio Lobos Canyon, Sierra de Urbion and the beautiful Laguna Negra a lagoon set in an amphitheatre of mountains just North of Vinuesa. We spent a few hours here exploring the lagoon and walking up to the waterfall which was cascading down the side of the mountain into the lake. Amazing place, really reminded me of New Zealand.

On the way back to Burgos we decided to take the back roads through the mountains very beautiful but very slow. Again we spotted huge amounts of Eagles. At one point at the top of a mountain we counted nineteen Eagles circling just above us only about 50 meters away. I think they were sizing us up for dinner! Yet another amazing site.

LekeitioLorena wanted to spend the last couple of days on a beach so we headed back up to the coast spent two days in the pretty village of Lekeitio, where the campsite is situated about 1km up on a hill overlooking the village and the bay. It ended up that the weather wasn’t great the last couple of days it even rained for the first time one morning, but Lorena did manage to squeeze one more morning in on the beach before we headed back to Bilbao for the last night and back home.

We covered almost 2,000 miles in total. The car went fine, with no sign of any problems. I only saw three other Classic 900’s the whole time we were in Spain, they are obviously not as popular in Spain as they are in other parts of the world.

I think a lot of the time Spain conjures up the wrong impression in peoples minds, but stay away from the Costa’s etc., and it really is a beautiful country which is very cheap and has some of the best seafood and wine in the world. What more could you ask for? Try it………

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