¡Iberian Espectacular! – Day 11

In Travel by AbhiLeave a Comment

June 12th, 2018 – Madrid, Spain to Zaragoza, Spain: ~200 miles
Vy and I explore an inhabited ghost town.

Did you miss Day 10? Vy and I do our best Quixote impressions.

It was slow going as we left Madrid thanks to traffic…and tourists in Seat 600s. Different people have different ways of coping with the traffic. Here, a scooter shoots through the gap.

On the other hand, this car driver didn’t seem to be in any rush.

I liked this attempt to preserve exterior style while construction was going on.

The first (and only) BMW C Evolution (electric scooter) I’ve ever seen out in the wild. I didn’t recognize it at first, due to the custom paint or wrap that makes it look like a Transformer. The C Evolution had a super short run in the US (2017-2019), but it’s still available in other markets where a scooter with 100 mile range makes more sense.

That’s more than enough range to get to our first destination for the day: 40 miles northeast of Madrid is Ciudad Valdeluz, a city that was only built because it could be on a high speed rail line so residents could pay suburb prices but still get to Madrid for work or fun in less than 20 minutes. I’ve mentioned the ghost towns of Spain that came from the 2008 economic crisis a few times on this trip, but this was one of the most interesting to me. Note how the giant sign welcoming you is missing the second “d” in Ciudad? That should give you an idea of what to expect.

From an infrastructure standpoint, this new city was designed in 2006 to handle about 30,000 people.

But after 2008 crashed the Spanish housing market, Valdeluz could lay claim to only 1,000 residents. Development stopped in 2008, leaving many portions of town as nothing more than unfinished roads dotted with light posts.

Without pavement, each manhole color was now a 5-inch high obstacle.

In this lonely part of town, we found a solitary home that had presumably been abandoned for a decade. Inside we found blueprints from 2004, back when there must have been plenty of optimism around this project.

The BMW has been a good steed, but it’s time to mix things up for the rest of the trip.

Nature has had some time to reclaim lawns in this area, which is how I got to see the biggest dandelion I’ve ever encountered in person. Vy’s gauntlet glove provides scale.

You may not be surprised to find out that our Lonely Planet book did not have much to say about highlights of this town. A few months after we visited, the New York Times had a story about Valdeluz, suggesting that it was now “coming alive.” I hope that’s the case!

We hit the road and continued northeast, with three hours to go until our stop for the night – Zaragoza. We stayed off the main highway to avoid tolls and enjoy a better view.

This gas station attendant had all kinds of questions about the BMW, which I’m sure I answered inadequately due to my lack of Spanish fluency. Still, he seemed to appreciate the big German sport-tourer.

The lovely scenery continued as we stayed on the back roads.

This might have been a bit too far off the main road…

We got into Zaragoza, dropped our stuff off at the amusingly-named Hotel Sauce, and then went for a walk. Baby Jack came, too.

This fountain caught my eye but I couldn’t figure it out. It’s called Fuente de la Hispanidad, and Vy noticed that the bottom portion looked like the top of South America.

I didn’t realize until I looked it up later, but the fountain is designed to be viewed much farther away from a specific angle – at which point you’ll see all of South America! Oops.

Meet the “Dink”, an oddly-named scooter from Kymco.

One of Zaragoza’s highlights is Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar, a Roman Catholic church that is claimed to be the first church dedicated to Mary. Many churches have been at this site – construction of the current one started in 1681. It’s a hell of a building.

I guess this means you can be on a bicycle, but you can’t go fast. Or maybe you can’t emit lightning bolts?

We got dinner at Méli Mélo, where the specialty is Basque-style tapas called pintxos.

We attempted to burn off some of the calories with a walk back to the hotel via a different route. This time we saw the basilica from across the river.

European countries do not have intimidating police cars. I did like the livery on this one, though.

Vy and I admired some street art on the way back to the hotel.

Then we took advantage of the small restaurant in our hotel for some dessert. While we binged on sugar, we made plans for tomorrow – that’s when we’d enter the last new country of the trip!

On to day 12!