Sometimes, when you have no idea where to go next, the ACSI book supplies a corker!
When unsure where exactly to head we decide on a general direction and roughly how far we want to travel – then we simply get the ACSI book out and see what’s available! (This doesn’t always work of course. At which point we get out the ‘Motorhome Stopover’ book and/or defer to the internet).
On this occasion though we knew that we were heading for the Somport Tunnel as our way out of Spain (as we were towing the little car we were avoiding Northern Spain), so we were to head in the direction of Zaragoza – further away from Valencia than you would think!
We were originally considering the town of Teruel but on checking the ACSI map saw a site a little further on at a place called Albaraccin. A quick check online confirmed that this could be a nice place so the satnav was set accordingly. The A23 (non-toll) took us most of the way before we headed off onto the 234 just after Teruel, and finally onto the road running into Albaraccin. This is where we really started to get a feel for where we were heading as the scenery was stunning as we headed through gorges and past ruins high up on the hills.
(This YouTube video from ‘Spain Speaks‘ gives a fair idea of what we experienced – but remember we are sat up higher in the motorhome. https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=MtIlBbAtbD0 )
Camping Ciudad de Albaraccin is located on the outskirts in the ‘new’ part of town. By going this way you also understand that there is more to this region than just the beautiful old town (cave paintings/bouldering/walking/dinosaurs…)
Once parked up (with amazing views of the old fortification walls forming a spine on the mountain) we set off to explore immediately (we were only staying overnight).
The old town beckoned. With little time we took the little car and headed back out to park in the big car park we’d seen as we took our first left towards the campsite. Even this was pretty with a little stream running alongside.
Wandering through the lower part of town we found a couple more carparks (possible for motorhomes perhaps to park – not sure about overnighting though) before starting on the long climb up to the main old town. One thing we didn’t manage to find though, on a warm Tuesday afternoon near the beginning of March, was a cafe!
No matter, what we did find more than made up for the lack of a beverage 🙂
After finding the Torre Blanca (sadly closed for visits) and the stunning scenery surrounding it we made our way towards the castle, the el Salvador cathedral and, eventually after a wander around the narrow, steep, winding cobbled streets – at times together, at times separated by my desire to explore a little set of steps or a covered alley, we found the Plaza Mayor (from where the main picture was taken). On my circuitous route to this spot I also found the base of the wall snaking it’s way up the mountain. Although there were 3 lads clambering up towards the wall itself it was definitely way beyond my capabilities!
Entering the Plaza Mayor is shown in the following video which will, hopefully, also give you an idea of what to expect from Albaraccin.
I think the best way to describe this is by way of photos – so please enjoy those below 🙂 I apologise if I’ve gone a little overboard on these….
After a couple of hours we made our way back down to the car with the intention of heading back to the van. We didn’t quite make it because as we approached the campsite we saw signs for the painted caves, so we decided to explore.
We took the road through the mountains off of which there were several parking places from where you could hike to the caves where the ancient paintings are located. The whole area is known as the Albaraccin Cultural Parc and you can read all about it here. It was very busy with hikers, cyclists and climbers. We drove all the way through taking in some stunning scenery as we went (and quite possibly disturbing a couple ‘up to no good’ in a slightly more remote area of the road!) Pictures (not of the couple!!) below 🙂
Even now Albaraccin hadn’t finished with us. On the road just before the campsite there was an intriguing sign which appeared to relate to dinosaurs – it turned out to be Dinopolis Theme Park (but was closed).
Here’s a photo of the sunset we enjoyed that night 🙂
We woke the following day to sub-zero temperatures which persuaded us to move on as planned (we were definitely tempted to stay for another day). On the way back to the A23 we stopped to investigate a ruin high up from the side of the road.
Now from the photos you really can’t appreciate how steep and tricky this climb was. I don’t mind steep but I have a problem with tiny footholds etc. (I worry about falling backwards – it’s not so bad going up, it’s the coming back down I struggle with..) Anyway by the time I’d negotiated the worst part of the climb (to cries of ‘it gets better as you get higher’ – it didn’t), I was receiving the news that there wasn’t actually much to see – what was visible from the road was pretty much it! Anyhow – always good to explore 🙂
There were also signs for an Acueducto Romano which we didn’t manage to get to.
All in all I would be VERY surprised if we didn’t take the time to re-visit Albaraccin in the future 🙂 Highly recommended!
We stayed: Camping Ciudad de Albarracin
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