I was exploring local tourist spots in the Spanish Basque Country, and I was quite happy to do so. In fact, I think backpacking should be about exploring the local tourist sites! The usual tourist spots (Madrid, Barcelona, Seville etc) in Spain receive a lot of attention; what about the local tourist spots?
Le Boyfriend definitely brought me to the local tourist spots: many signs are written only in Spanish. No English signs! Sadly, soy no comprendo y hablo espanol! He had to translate. Oh well, he gets to practice his English. I suppose that’s why he’s dating me. 😛
We (or rather, he. I don’t drive) drove to Olite after getting off the train at Pamplona/Iruna. Olite was the old seat of Navarre royalty during the Middle Ages.
The entrance to the castle. Part of this castle had been converted into a parador, a place for travelers to stay in. It’s a piece of history but be prepared to pay up to €200 per night for a twin sharing room.
This can tell the story of this castle better than I can.
I definitely need to wear that costume if I return.
The interior of the castle is cold, and this observation was not made because I am used to tropical temperatures; Le Boyfriend said the same thing. I thought he would brush the temperature off as ‘refreshing’ (stoic Basque man!!). I suppose this was due to the castle being made of stone, and we were in an area of Navarre with mountains. I.E: lower temperatures.
We passed the first floor, which was mainly made up of support beams.
There was nothing much to see here, so we went up the spiral staircase. It was very narrow, and very steep. I suppose people back in the Middle Ages were of a smaller build. I’ve noticed similar narrow staircases in the ancient temples in Indonesia.
The fireplace in that place was huge! I wonder how long the queen froze if the fire went out. Another beautiful spot in this area was the Queen’s garden.
This beautiful garden was where the Queen spent her free time. Apparently, she’s kept here to guard her chastity so her surroundings are kept as comfortable as possible. The existence of vines on the wall hint at visits from secret lovers in the night…
We climbed up to the ramparts and was rewarded with a splendid view of Olite, and caught a couple of nesting birds in action on the chimney.
Olite the town/village was quiet; it was Monday when we visited it, and he says it’s common for suburb places to be empty while everyone else moves towards the city for work.
I visited the church briefly. As I said in my previous post, the Basques used to take Catholicism seriously. Europe had all the beautiful gothic style churches, while Asia and Latin America had all the Catholics.
I spent a few minutes admiring the cravings on this beauty of a church building.
The entrance fee into the castle is €3,50 – not too bad for a few hours of exploring castle nooks and crannies. However, getting to Olite can be troublesome without a map and a car. I saw no public transport into this place. I guess the Spanish Basque Country has to improve its public transport system before any international tourists would consider coming deep into this region. I see this as a ‘chicken-or-egg’ situation.
Edit: I managed to find the pamphlet for the Royal Palace of Olite in my
mess room. It’s here for your reading pleasure. Obviously, they did a better job at describing the place. (Picture below opens into a more readable format.)