The travel of two US presidents in Spain and France

Second US president John Adams and his 12 years old son John Quincy Adams (the former 6th US President) went along Spain and France over a month to reach Paris in 1779. The former has a mission: to negotiate peace and trade treaties with UK for the recently born Republic. The war frigate "La Sensible" went out from Boston on November, 13th 1779 directly to France.

But bad weather conditions on the Atlantic Ocean made them to get off in El Ferrol, Galicia, Spain on November, 8th. (Interesting the connection with several cruise travellers that go to this port before arriving to Bilbao for my tours. Click here for booking a private tour with me). Adams faced there the dilemma of wait for the frigate repair or continuing the way by land through Spain and France. 


This 1801 map by John Cary shows in blue solid the itinerary followed by Adams and in blue solid and dashed line the most popular Camino de Santiago (St James Way), also called Camino francés.
The Adams left El Ferrol on December 14th and remained in A Coruña until Christmas to deal with the paper work and passports. They used their time there to learn about those cities and start to understand the Spanish traditions and language. According to the Adams diary, they also visited towns like Betanzo, Castellano, Baamonde, Lugo y Gallegos. On December, 31st last day of 1779, they reached last town of Galicia, O Cebreiro. An important town in St James Way.

On the first day of 1780 they started their walk along Camino de Santiago from O Cebreiro to Burgos, along all Castille. On these 11 days of travel they passed along Villafranca del Bierzo, Camponaraya, Cacabelos, Ponferrada, Astorga, León, Mansilla, San Juan de Sahagún, Paredes de Navas and Sallada del Camino. Once in Burgos, they leave to the North passing by Briviesca and Pancorbo, entering then in the area where we are doing most of our tours, the Basque Country.

In the Spanish Basque Country, the Adams went to Espejo, Orduña, Luyando, Bilbao and other towns near Fuenterrabía. And in the French Basque Country they got impressed with St. Jean-de-Luz and Bayonne before continuing direction to Paris via Bordeaux. According to his diary, they enjoyed Basque traditions and Basque food during 8 days (a length recommended for the visit of guests also nowadays).

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