We've been waiting for years for the opportunity to visit Spain, and in the summer of 2008 my wife Roseanna and I and our daughter Amelia finally made it, spending three weeks in northern Spain and southern France. We encountered very few other foreigners; most of the tourists were from southern Spain, coming to the mountains and the northern beaches to escape the heat in the south.
We saw beautiful scenery, met a lot of wonderful people, and rode in quite a few Jeeps. So there are plenty of photos I'd like to show, and I'll have to spread them out over several pages. -- Derek Redmond
The arrow on the map shows our approximate 3-week itinerary. We landed in the fascinating city of Bilbao (which we toured more extensively when we returned later) and quickly headed a short distance south to spend some time with Iñaki Bilbao at his summer home in the little village of Condado.
See also Part 2: The Pyrenees or Part 3: Camprodon or Part 4: Bilbao.
Iñaki's Jeep is an early-70's Spanish-built EBRO Bravo. Note the EBRO logo on the steering wheel (130K JPEG), and the air vent under the windshield. The diesel engine and four-speed transmission are reliable and easy on fuel.
Some of the roads are really burro paths (we met the burro, 180K JPEG), and even the two-lane highways are often winding and always narrow, so the 1.445m (57 inch) wide Jeep with its rear-mounted spare tire is perfect.
It was very appropriate that the river running past Condado was the Ebro, namesake of the company that built Jeeps in Spain. Iñaki gives Amelia a ride down to the swimming spot, with the front hubs locked out (110K JPEG) on the pavement.
Almudena and Iñaki serve us a fabulous meal under the awning behind their country home, a restored centuries-old stable. The food in Spain, particularly the seafood in Basque country, was wonderful. Oh yeah, and the wine too.
Our Citroen C4 rental had a huge windshield, almost as good as an open-top Jeep for enjoying the scenery. The clutchless manual transmission was nifty on the mountain roads, and the diesel loved cruising the four-lane highways at 130 kph.
Iñaki showed us some breathtaking spots, including the church of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe on a little island along the Basque coast, accessible only by a 10th century pedestrian causeway (see a panoramic photo, 160K JPEG, from Andy Roberts).
The beautifully preserved medieval hilltop city of Frias is near Condado, in Burgos province. It features a castle built right out of the rocky tip of the mountain, and a fortified bridge over the Ebro (120K JPEG), both from the 13th century.
In the village of Villasante we spotted this family with their Jeep from the late 70's, when the name Avia replaced EBRO, and for some reason the model got a new front grille with the headlights and parking lights set further apart. See also a rear view photo (160K JPEG).
Most of the EBRO Jeeps had the Perkins diesel, as indicated by the model name "PECJ3B" on the serial number plate (60K JPEG), seen here behind the double master cylinder on Iñaki's Jeep. Some had the gasoline engine and were labelled "HUCJ3B".
Thanks to Iñaki and Almudena for their hospitality, and Andy Roberts for his Creative Commons photo of the church of San Juan. -- Derek Redmond
Continue to Part 2: The Pyrenees or Part 3: Camprodon or Part 4: Bilbao.
See the history of Jeeps in Spain.
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