Long Way to Just go Shopping
My day began today with a “road trip” to Vitoria-Gasteiz. I had to go there with a colleague to buy something for the office.
We departed from Madrid at about 09:30, heading north on the A-1 Autovia (highway). Starting at about kilometer marker 55, the road is very scenic. It is at that point that one begins to climb the pass through the Sierra de Guadarrama. Approaching that point, the profile of the mountains looks very much like the teeth of a saw. The granite formations are quite formidable and beautiful.
At kilometer marker 74, one encounters the town of Buitrago de Lozoya. We did not have time to stop, but from the highway, one can easily see the walls of the old city. I will try to come back to explore this town when we have some time. By this point in our journey, the sky had become very overcast.
The next mountain pass, at about kilometer marker 91, is Somosierra. At this point, the tops of the mountains were lost in the cloud cover. Looking up the sides of the mountain from the highway, it was easy to notice the snow-line. I am guessing it was another 1,000 or 1,500 feet above the highway. It was a beautiful sight since the pine trees were thick at that portion of the road.
Near the town of Burgos, we switched to the AP-1 Autopista (toll road). That took us to the northeast, toward Vitoria-Gasteiz. At about the kilometer 40 marker on the AP-1, it began to rain. It was a gentle rain, almost more of a drizzle. We encountered our first tunnel on the AP-1. It was at kilometer marker 59. It was at this point that I noticed that each tunnel actually has a name. That first tunnel was called San Nicolas (St. Nickolas). The second tunnel was named Barrio (Neighborhood), and the third tunnel was named Hontoria (a place name). The last tunnel we went through was named Pena Maria (Sorrowful Maria).
We paid a toll of 10.10 Euros at the end of the toll road. That was still some 20 or 30 kilometers from Vitoria-Gasteiz. We finally arrived at our destination at about 12:30. We made our purchase and found ourselves on the road toward Madrid at about 13:00. We stopped for lunch at an Autogrill. These are throughout Spain. It is a combination gas station, 7-11 store, and diner. I had a London Club sandwich, chips and a Coca-Cola Light. The tab came to 9.80 Euros. That also included a bottle of water for the road.
On this return trip, when we hit the mountain pass at kilometer marker 55, I was shocked to see the level of pollution. It was absolutely thick. The farther we drove into it the more we could smell the smoke and other pollutants. It was disgusting.