New routes and new themes, the road trip is reinventing itself under the impetus of new players and thanks to new and increasingly efficient vehicles. Architecture, art of living, well-being, sport, everything is a pretext to travel, claiming a new libertarian and autonomous breath.
This month, I am taking you on an Audi from Marseille to Arriondas and from Baleal to Lisbon. This two week long loop brings together two neighboring lands. Behind the Pyrenees, at the heart of Iberian culture and traditions, each has its own personality. Both countries tell stories to all generations. In my hands, I have the 187 series out of 1000. Indeed, for the 20 years of the TT, Audi has released a special edition of great beauty: a unique silhouette and curves, a unique all-aluminum construction… 20 years old, already three generations and a very limited series which revives the origins of this coupe raised to the rank of icon.
Do not imagine that I will beat a speed record with the car. On the contrary, the idea is rather to take your time, so for those who think they are with Luis Amiltãos, this story is not for you.
Now we know the route and the vehicle, it is time to start our journey.
16 Days / 15 Nights
Nearly. 3728 Miles
DAY 1stay in marseille
The starting point of the trip begins in Marseille – we go there for pure pleasure, to greet old acquaintances, to make sure nothing changes. Much more than a starting point, it is an appointment.
In Marseille, everyone has their own habits – certainly me too, like the Mama Shelter that I recommend. It is the favorite place for long-distance travelers. Each Mama tells a story and the one in Marseille symbolizes this contemporary Mediterranean style. Everything is done to offer a relaxing, warm and comforting break including its brunch.
Things To Do Marseille
DAY 2NEAR. 314 MILES – NEAR. 4H54
MARSEILLE – BILBAO
The Mediterranean sky is always more beautiful in the morning. I approach a little more than the departure time, everything is ritual, because even if this Latin tandem seems fluid and the favorable weather conditions for a month of November (59°F / 71,6°F ), a road trip cannot be improvised. The pledge seems to prove me right. Arrived in Bilbao, the Guggenheim Museum and its futuristic curves attract me, it is too late for a night visit – by conviction, I settle for 2 nights in an address posed in front of the museum – out of curiosity, I discover the work by Antonio Miro, Barcelona designer, who designed this hotel as a contemporary address, revealing clean lines, neutral shades and minimalist furniture. A wellness area that offers both sports equipment and massage parlor.
DAYS 3 & 4stay in bilbao
At dawn, I walk around the building covered in titanium, to appreciate the Basque city as a whole: the watchtower of Artxanda, the cathedral, the Castanos district. At the entrance of the Museum, Jeff Koons replies to Louise Bourgeois – the permanent collection and the temporary exhibitions see the 20th century and the 21st meet. The museum’s collection is one of the great institutions of contemporary art – enough to arouse everyone’s curiosity. Bilbao is a complete city: the population is welcoming, art is at the heart of the city, the gastronomy is surprising. This city has a maritime history with an industrial past which in a few years has become the apogee of modernity. Here, the best thing to do is to leave your program, walk around according to the local calendar and improvise according to everyone’s tastes.
DAY 5NEAR. 139 MILES – NEAR. 2H23
PASSAGE BY ARRIONDAS
The idea of a green Spain surprises, and yet, with the window down, my gaze meets over the course of the journey a swatch of colors and reliefs, from mountains to valleys, old stones and wild coastline. The road continues in Asturias, I arrive in Arriondas, tiny village located in Asturias on the northern coast, bounded on the western border by Galicia, in the east by Cantabria, in the south by Castile and León and to the north by the Cantabrian Sea. I settle for 2 nights in an old presbytery, now a small mountain hotel. The family business occupies a real green setting, where the flowers bring touches of bright colors, and faces the Picos de Europa, the most important massif of the Cantabrian Cordillera. The site also houses an ecological farm, vegetable gardens and orchards.
DAY 6NEAR. 114 MILES – NEAR. 2H10
THEM BY BOAL
Soon after 3 p.m. and after 2 hours on the road, I am in the Navia valley, in a sublime noble residence from the XVI century, meticulously restored. Modern life has not yet entered the place, but comfort, yes. We alternate between the library, the lounges and the French pool table room. There is no shortage of activities, you can go canoeing on the Navia river – climb to the San Esteban de los Buitres viewpoint – contemplate the archaeological remains of Boal – walk the paths that cross the Sierra de la Bobia…
DAYS 7 & 8NEAR. 189 MILES – NEAR. 4H35
PORTUGAL A FEW MILES
As we approach the border, it is dark. The road is icy and deserted, I feel like anything can happen – but also – that everything is decided like the speed limit at 74 mph. Regardless, the most delicious thing is to have the choice as to accelerate or not as upon your will. At this stage of the journey, I have playful automatisms.
The meeting with Portugal takes place in the Peneda-Geres national park where the landscape is colored with medieval ruins and authentic villages and where the animals live in freedom. Here, the countryside permeates the place, inside and out.
Especially since, after returning from walks, it is pleasant to sit around a generous table. The only national park in Portugal is discovered through its villages. The oldest are concentrated in the Serra da Peneda: Lindoso with its castle built in 1250 – Soajo and its steep alleys – Brufe, Albufeira and Vilarinho da Furna populated by “garranos” horses – the spa town of Gerês and the belvedere of Pedra Bela . An agricultural population with traditions that are still well established here lives in harmony with the environment. To experience!
DAY 9NEAR. 60 MILES – NEAR. 1H30
ON THE ROAD TO PORTO
By avoiding the Autoestrada Famalião- Guimarães in the direction of Porto, you will come across a surprising road, green countryside and landscapes transforming the journey into a visit in its own right. Countless houses and local businesses are built at the approach of this axis. This long voice is the lung of this northern region and if, along the way, an unforeseen desire or a slight setback occurs, you will easily find a Pastelaria or Estações de serviço on your way.
The road guides me without great difficulty towards Porto. I park the TT on a parking lot – at this point I think the car belongs to me – discovering before me a beautiful house harmoniously complemented by a modern building, this establishment offers an original formula of room-studio.
Its central location is another advantage of this house: a stone’s throw from the azulejo panels of the Sao Bento station and the main heritage sites; I also see the Torre dos Clérigos and the Sé do Porto from the hotel. For 2 days, the car will not move.
DAYS 10 & 11stay in porto
This city of history as much as of the future is the second city of Portugal. Having grown up in Porto, the city has no secrets for me. Impossible to orient yourself in a few lines, but rather to awaken in you a popular and contemporary impulse. Porto improvises, meets, strolls. The best way to experience the port city is to imagine that you are going to visit a big family. From the 12th century cathedral-fortress in the historic heart to the Serralves Foundation museum of contemporary art, a stroll through Porto is an introduction to architecture. The charm of a stay in Porto also lies in the long walks along the Douro and in the picturesque streets of old Porto.
Finally, the lively evenings are an opportunity to taste the famous Port wine. A trip to Porto takes you to discover an urban heritage and the heart of a dynamic and joyful city. Porto holds the promise of a confidential, more urban and human-sized Portugal. She is both proud of her past and looking forward to the future.
Things To Do Porto
DAYS 12 & 14NEAR. 164 MILES – NEAR. 2H29
SURFING IN NOVEMBER
Even being a native of the northern region, I am like everyone else, I seek the sun and not the heavy rain. In addition, my addiction to driving returns to the gallop, it is time to hit the road towards Cape Carvoeiro.
Ideal to discover out of season, this region – very popular in summer – offers many opportunities for cultural, sports and taste discoveries during this period. Let’s start with a visit to Fort Peniche, a former prison that was the scene of an incredible escape, or a few hours of surfing in Baleal, considered as one of the best spots in Portugal to do so. It is also very interesting to take an excursion to the Berlengas archipelago, a wild nature reserve. On these islands which serve as a refuge for migratory birds or endangered species, such as the guillemot, you will find great tranquility. It also shelters an important marine fauna in its reserve of 985 hectares. An essential step that will satisfy young and old. For accommodation, just to stay in the mood, opt for a surfer’s house between Baleal and Peniche, very easy to find on Airbnb.
DAYS 14 & 16NEAR. 46 MILES – NEAR. 01H20
LISBON THE SUPERB
Like waves, time is an element impossible to measure. 48 hours is obviously not enough to discover the heart of a region – every time – this promise to come back and stay longer. The sun falls on Peniche, the speakers spit out the sound of Ben Böhmer to perfection. I miss nothing, this present moment is divine. Lisbon is not far away.
In this city made up, like Rome, of seven hills, the vehicle – in this season – is a very good means of getting around and the traffic is fluid.
WHERE TO PARK IN LISBON?
Parking has been regulated for a long time, more often to prohibit or restrict its use on public roads than to organize it… Continue reading
A few rules must still be observed, but overall, the journey can turn into a luxury urban tour. In Lisbon, you stroll through the lively alleys without tiring of photographing the tall houses with their bases covered with azulejos, you go from trendy galleries to designer boutiques in Bairro Alto, you watch the river from the shaded squares and you tend to listen to the fado escaping from the windows, we get lost in the delicious and less frequented Bairro dos Actores, we descend to Belém to breathe better on the quays all the maritime adventure of Portugal, we take a leap in time in the Alcantara district with its red brick factories transformed into a high-tech complex…
We meet for a Lunch at Comaba. We gladly dine at El Clandestino, we stop at Time Out. The sweetness of its art of living, its arty nonchalance, its hopping old trams give the Portuguese capital this charm so special that you will not find anywhere else… you are not human, if you resist to the charm of this city!
Things To Do Lisbon
Once again, I imprint my traveling memory
Beyond my passion for the automobile and despite all the talk about limiting the carbon footprint and rampant claustrophobia around the car, my love remains faithful to road travel … the reasons not to take the plane are multiple and legitimate, but they do not prevent travel! From home… to the destination, a whole story is to be created and the emotions with it. Mythical roads cover the most beautiful regions of the globe, whose landscapes are often monuments in their own right. And then, burger on the highway or champagne in a 5_Star there is a whole art of living linked to earthly travel, a freedom that we always rediscover greatly. And even if some media do not classify this type of trip among the trends of the year 2020, but prefer to speak of the new space Eldorado, so much the better. On these, hit the road forever…