The next stage of our journey would take us into Spain via St Jean de Luz and Biarritz and the Basque country which straddles both France and Spain.
We were up and off by 9.30 am after a filling buffet breakfast and we soon found ourselves on empty roads with grey skies but a prospect of them clearing ahead.
We crossed the French/Spanish border at Irun, and all the road signs were in Spanish and Basque but lots of hills and trees which made for cheerful scenery with glimpses of the sea from time to time. As we pulled away from the coast, the skies cleared and that was the last we saw of the rain.
Our route then took us in the direction of Burgos where we planned to spend the night but not in the town itself. This was to be as surprise stop over for everyone as I had booked in at the Hospederia Convento San Francisco at Santo Domingo de Silos. None of us had stopped in a convent before. This was very much off the beaten track and we took longer than planned to arrive but we enjoyed the hilly scenery and watched the eagles circling over the higher peaks. When the convent came into view we were amazed by the building and couldn’t believe that we would be stopping the night in such a beautiful place. Its mellow stone walls were catching the last rays of the setting sun which gave it a warm welcoming look.
The Convent of San Francisco was founded in 1301 but fell into disrepair. Fortunately, it was rescued and restored in 1990 using local stone and an old plan of the convent. The restoration took until 2006 to complete. It is in part a hotel but conserves its religious links as people go there to meditate or to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life.
It was interesting to note that guests are requested to move and speak quietly around the hotel, have the mobile on silent or vibrate and no smoking in the hotel or in the grounds and no children under 14!
The village of Los Silos is within easy walking distance of the Convento where there is a small selection of restaurants to choose from. We went in the first one as you enter the village on the left( sorry the name escapes me!) which served local dishes which were good value. We especially enjoyed the bean stew and the fish dish. The chef very kindly bought forward dinner time as we were finding the 9 pm starting time too late so he managed to swing into action for 7.30pm.
The bill was added up at lightening speed on the paper table cloth which none of us could keep up with but it turned out to be a reasonable price for what we ordered. €8.95 each we had three bean stews, macaroni with tomatoes, ‘cordero’ lamb stew, ‘bacalao’ cod, ice cream/flan very tasty
Free parking at the side of the hotel where there is plenty of space.
The village of Los Silos also has a Monastery where you can attend the vesper service and listen to the Gregorian chant. A beautiful village to explore with narrow streets and interesting buildings in mellow stone of different hues.
If you are a light sleeper beware of stopping at one of the hotels in the village as the Monastery clock chimes every quarter.
We wandered back to our Convento under the light of a full moon and twinkling stars with various night birds making their presence known. A pleasant evening and so to bed.
Comfortable beds and good sized bathrooms.Very quiet.
The total bill here was €161 making €40 person which included breakfast.
The next morning we were up early and sorry to leave such a beautiful setting. Our first priority was to fill up with fuel as we had arrived in Los Silos a bit close to the empty mark. With advice from the hotel receptionist, we managed to track down the nearest petrol station but even that was 20 miles away so we arrived with a wing and a prayer at a small village called Calruega where we gratefully filled up.