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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A friend of mine likes to drive. When we both lived in Belgium, we would often go for Saturday or Sunday drives on Belgian provincial roads, sometimes ending up in France or Luxembourg - both of which are quite far considering I lived in Liège and he first lived near Antwerp and then in Brussels.

On New Year's day 2016 we went on what we thought was a long drive, again mostly using small roads: from Amsterdam (well he picked me up in Zeist) at 4 in the morning, passed Brussels, Ghent, the Belgian coast, Calais and Normandy, to Paris, where we arrived at 2 in the morning. But my friend didn´t feel like stopping when we got back to Belgium the next day, and had long had a plan...

So almost a year later, on the 23d of December 2017, the two of us and another friend embarked on a trip to a point 3,723 kilometres and several climatic zones away (and back). Though sitting in a car (my sister calls it driking - a combination of driving and hiking which usually end up being mostly driving) for fifteen days straight is not necessarily my thing, this trip was probably the most exotic and surrealistic thing I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
You´ll probably guess where we´re going by the third post, but I´d prefer to keep it as a surprise in case you don´t.

23-12-2016, km 0 - Liège, Belgium

1. To get us into the mood of the season we're traveling in, I'll start with this Christmas squirrel on top of the Total station at the end of my (former) street, where my friends (who had come from Amsterdam and Brussels) picked me up.
01 P2070100 by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
23-12-2016, km 464 - Beaune, France

A drive through some slight snow in the Ardennes and relatively mild winter weather in France, brought us to our first brief stop: the town of Beaune, in Burgundy. We stopped there on impulse when I saw a sign for it because a good friend of mine is originally from there. It turned out to be quite picturesque.

1. There are colourful projections on various historic buildings in Beaune
11 P2070102 by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

2.
12 P2070109b by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

3.
13 P2070113b by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
24-12-2016, km 618 - Lyon, France

Thanks Yansa, and also thanks for the likes everyone else:) Believe me, what I'm going to show you later on is not what I usually would:)

We had more exotic places in mind, and didn't stay long in Lyon, where we spent the first night of our journey. But France's third largest city, a place I had long been curious about, wasn't a dissappointment.

Lyon lies at the confluence two rivers, the most important being the Rhône, which we'll cross here on the Passerelle du Collège:

4.
21 P2070140b by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

5.
22 P2070184c by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

6.
23 P2070272b by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

A short walk through what must be the city center ...

7.
24 P2070223 by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

8.
25 P2070354b by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

9.
26 P2070388b by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

10.
27 P2070366b by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

... brings us to the banks of the smaller of the two rivers, the Saône:

11.
28 P2070463b by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr


12.
29 P2070501b by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

13. (My camera's battery was flat here, but luckily my friend was friendly enough to lend me his camera, which my lens fits on to)
30 PC240175b by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

An interesting area of alleys and stairways, in some ways similar to Liège's Pierreuse neighbourhood, lies on the hill on the other (eastern) bank of the Saône.

14.
31 PC240280b by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

15.
32 PC240291b by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
24-12-2016, km 746 - Le Puy-en-Velay, France

Thanks Yansa:)

Our sights still set a lot further, but with a bit of time to spare before our next stop, we left Lyon on provincial roads, and couldn't resist a short stop in the spectacular Le Puy-en-Velay.

14. The whole area is filled with pointy hills with churches and castles on top
44 PC240480b by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

15.
41 PC240410c by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

16. The particular hill we stopped at had a very big statue of some person on top of it. There were also a number of these (you understand, I'm trying to be as informative as possible :D)
42 PC240415b by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

17.
43 PC240428b by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

Across the Massif Central, and a across the impressive Milau viaduct (the tallest bridge in the world), the winter getting ever less wintery as we drove on into the December dark, the sounds of the night sounded more southern from on top of the castle hill in Narbonne, where we made our last short stop. But wey might have well have still been at home compared to where we were going. Stay tuned to find out where that is...
 

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I would be a good friend of yours :) I used to do the same, driving with no particular destination and to a minor extent I still do (family and work make it less frequent); really like the thread because is not only pics, but an story to follow, and I know the places you visited. I have a guess from the places to come...
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Intermezzo 1 - km 1,266 - Girona, Spain, 2013-08-20

Many thanks for the comments Why-why, Sylvia, Benonie, Filandon & Niemand:)

@Yansa: yes, Le Puy-en-Velay is not very far, probably about a 100 kilometres, from Puy de Dôme

@ Filandon: yes, I also enjoy making and reading posts that are somehow a story. please let me know if your quess was right at the end of this thread:)

_________________________________________

From Narbonne we drove on to Barcelona (km 1,276), where we spent the night in the apartment of another friend, who then joined us for the rest of our journey. As I don't have any pictures of this part of our Journey, I'll supplement it with a some pictures of two Spanish cities which we passed on the motorway, but which I visited in August 2013. This intermezzo is a break in the winter atmosphere of this thread, but on the other hand will make it last longer before you guess where we're actually going. So now Girona, a Catalan town of about a hundred thousand just south of the Pyrenees that is most famous for being the location of one of Barcelona's airports.

The river Onyar:
18.
P1390450b by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

19.
P1390459b by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

20.
P1390510b by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr
 

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Nice thread. Shot #11 is especially outstanding. I drove from Nice to Lyon once in the spring time and found it to be one of the most beautiful pieces of land on this earth - maybe not spectacular like the Alps or the Rocky Mountains, more like a dreamland garden.

Someday you should drive across the US or Canada.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Intermezzo 2 - km 1,594 - Valencia, Spain, 2013-08-18/19 (1)

And now the second summer intermezzo, Valencia, Spain's third largest city, which we rushed past on the motorway in December 2016, but which I also visited in August 2013, when it was too hot to do anything during most of the day.

21. My favorite building in Valencia is probably the north station
01 ES Valencia-Estacio del Nord 2013-08-19 (2) by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

22. Lettering on the neigbouring freight station
04 ES Valencia-Estacio del Nord 2013-08-20 (3) by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

Walking into the center by way of the highly decorated Plaça de l'Ajuntament:

23.
06 ES Valencia-Plaça de l'Ajuntament 2013-08-19 (2) by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

24.
07 ES Valencia-Plaça de l'Ajuntament 2013-08-19 (4) by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

25.
08 ES Valencia-Plaça de l'Ajuntament 2013-08-19 (5) by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

Though quite a big city, the center of Valencia is small and picturesque:

26. The central market (mercat central)
10 ES Valencia-Mercat Central 2013-08-18 (1) by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

27. The main entrance of the central market
11 ES Valencia-Mercat Central 2013-08-18 (2) by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

28. And the dome of the central market
12 ES Valencia-Mercat Central 2013-08-18 (4) by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

29.
13 ES Valencia-Mercat Central 2013-08-19 by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Intermezzo 2 - km 1,594 - Valencia, Spain, 2013-08-18/19 (2)

30.
14 ES Valencia-Carrer de Guillem de Castro 2013-08-18 (2) by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

31. A piece of the history of Eindhoven in Valencia
15 ES Valencia-Carrer de la Blanquerias 2013-08-18 (1) by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

We are now walking the route to the beach (which I don't have any pictures of)

32.
16 ES Valencia-Carrer del General Tovar-Carrer del Mar 2013-08-18 by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

33. Porta de Serrans
17 ES Valencia-Porta de Serrans 2013-08-18 by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

34. The bridge to Porta de Serrans
18 ES Valencia-Pont dels Serrans 2013-08-18 (1) by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

35. Of all countries, I always think Spanish urban planning is most similar to Belgian urban planning, which means a mix of modern appartment buildings and elegant town houses (you could also say that there is no urban planning anymore:D)
19 ES Valencia-Plaça d'America 2013-08-18 (1) by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

36. One of Valencia's most famous sons is Santiago Calatrava, who bankrupted his home town building the City of Art and Science (Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències)
20 ES Valencia-Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències 2013-08-18 (1) by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

37.
21 ES Valencia-Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències 2013-08-18 (4) by Ruben Alexander, on Flickr

Next time, we will continue on our December 2016 trip. So stick around for more!
 
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