Week 25: Spain and Rain (not only on the plain)

The rain in Spain on the Costa, not the plain

We set off from our overnight spot in Cáceres we headed south towards Seville and our overnight spot we’d picked in Hinojos. As we headed down we were greeted by more orange trees and the occasional lemon or lime tree. We asked Ditsy Daisy Sat Nav to find us a supermarket and she took us to an empty field! It might be about to be one of those days… We had passed an ALDI on the way so we popped in there instead. The weather was lovely and sunny when we left Cáceres, but as we stopped for lunch the weather decided against a nice sunny spot and we were pelted with wind and rain. On the drive south, the weather pretty much decided it was in charge and although we didn’t have snow, we possibly had everything else! When, the rain stopped it turned foggy!

We arrived at the campsite at Hinojos, to find there was no-one else there, even Reception was shut, but there was someone in the Bar who met us and told us where we could stop and gave us the instructions as to when there would be staff on site! We left, Hinojos, in the sunshine and headed back towards Seville, we’d opted to switch Ditsy Daisy off the Motorways (and Toll Roads) but after an hour navigating around the outskirts of Seville, we put her back on to the Motorway route and found ourselves back where we had started, and a route out which took a matter of minutes! We carried on through the roadworks on the bridge and down towards the coast, through what appeared to be desert, before arriving at El Puerto del Santa Maria, on the Costa de la Luz.

The campsite is opposite the beach and from our pitch about a five minute walk. The sea here is still the Atlantic, we haven’t got around the coastline enough to reach the Mediterranean again. We took a short stroll on the beach, and began to feel this could be our spot for Christmas, although its still a week away. We decided we’d see what we felt like the next day…

The next morning we awoke to sunshine, and decided we would stay here for the big HO HO HO! We’ve been on the road now for almost six months – it was our six month Vaniversary, in a couple of days and we decided we needed to stop for a little longer, plus the thought of having to try and find somewhere as nice, the closer we got to the Christmas break, could have been difficult. El Puerto del Santa Maria, appears to have everything we needed in one place.

We got the bikes out, gave them a quick overhaul and went out on a short (12 mile) cycle around town, not bad after a long break away from them, although it is very flat here, so that is a plus! We were helped out on our return to the campsite by a lovely local lad, who thought we looked a little lost and the route he took us back, headed right past an Indian Restaurant – guess what we had for dinner! And to top it off, it was on justeat.es – exactly the same as in the UK!

Our six month Vaniversary, was spent in the lovely Nortia, as the weather has turned wet and windy. Today, marks six months since we were given the keys to Nortia, in Darlington, England and the beginning of our adventure. So far, we have travelled 20,000 miles through 25 countries, some more than once, 30 of the 48 English Counties. We have been to the most northern point of mainland Europe, both centres of Europe (old and new), followed the Baltic Chain, been to the most southern point of Scotland, Lizard Point and Lands End, Snowdonia, the Peak District, the Lake District and the Pennines. We’ve been to the Arctic Circle and beyond, been to Santa’s village and met reindeer. We’ve spent the night at Auschwitz, before visiting. We’ve eaten fish and chips in Whitby and Hawes, Curries in York, Suffolk, Crawley, Tromso – Norway, Aalborg – Denmark, Riga – Latvia and here in Spain. We’ve had some interesting moment in Latvia, where we got stuck in the mud, were filmed for Etrusco, picked up a speeding fine and were stopped by Border Police! We were also stopped on the entry to France, from Italy! We’ve paid our respects at a number of memorials, in a number of countries. We’ve met new friends in lovely places, had new experiences, not all good! We’re now looking forward to our next six months and new adventures and experiences!

The rain continued on and off for the rest of the week, although not cold, we did seem to have a knack of getting wet every time we tried to go anywhere – the dog walk, the local shop etc. However, we have given Nortia a proper road test in trying weather and so far she has passed with flying colours!

There is now a weather warning for the whole of Spain and although our little part has disruption due to a coastal event – the sea is about to get a little rougher, and its not advisable to enter it! It’s still raining however, the Winter Solstice was marked with more rain – whoever said “the rain in Spain, stays mainly on the plains”, had definitely not been to the Costa de la Luz in December! Still the days should now start to get longer.

Sunday, the sun has come out to great us, finally – its only been three days but feels a lot longer. We were lucky to have arrived before the rain, the campsite had got a little soggy and the new arrivals had been holed up in the car park, unable to drive onto site, but today we got new neighbours! The sun also, encouraged the general chores to get started, there was a queue for the laundry, skylights and doors were flung open, carpets hoovered, and we even smelt a BBQ. We went back out on the bikes, just around town, but the town is decorated for Christmas. There are lights strung across the narrow roads and Christmas Trees as well as Orange trees and Poinsettias, growing in the town square. The weather looks promising for the next week, so fingers crossed.

As always, thank you for reading and hopefully you’ve enjoyed our little adventure this week….

Week 24: Spain (and a brief trip to Portugal)

Sunset in Spain

Another week has passed by and we’re now in Spain, heading towards the Picos de Europa. We drove up to Santander, where we discovered that today is another National Holiday! Shame we’d made the journey to stock up at the Supermarket! From Santander we followed the Camino de Santiago through Pots and Pans (really, Potes and Pannes) and on to Poo – really! Before we arrived at the Camping Picos de Europa, in the mountains, at Onis. The Picos are actually part of the Cordillera Cantabrican range of mountains, which runs from the Pyrenees to the Gallician Massiff. We had no idea Spain was so mountainous. We had a little stroll around and the campsite is really quite large. We’d chosen a pitch quite near the centre on dryish ground.

The next morning, I heard howling from the mountains! Albi was still in his bed asleep, so not him, but it was time to take him out. We stayed as close to the other campers as possible and definitely not in the woods! I’m glad we did, as a little research informed me that there are wolves in this part of Spain! We carried along the Camino de Santiago, there are quite a few routes so we just picked our route and happened along it in parts, to Tapia de Cassariego and Camping Vegamar. The campsite was all closed up, but the Owner allowed us to park in the car park, with full facilities and hook up. There has been so much rain here, the grass pitches are water-logged.

After a pleasant night, we headed to Viveiro, where we’d been told about a dentist. Ric had toothache and needed to have it looked at. We’d found an Stellplatz nearby and had made an appointment for the following day, we’d thought we’d see where we would spend the night. We had lunch there, overlooking the quay, before heading off to Santiago de Campostela. The plan was to return along the coast at a leisurely pace before going to the dentist.

The journey to Santiago was very scenic, however the weather decided that would change! We started off in lovely sunshine, which turned to rain and high winds, and more sunny intervals. The campsite in Santiago, overlooks the city with (in sunshine) fantastic views, which we’d managed to sneak a peak at on arrival, but the drizzle set in and it was surrounded by cloud.

Here, Ric had a reaction to the painkillers he’d been taking for his toothache and we needed to see a Doctor urgently. The campsite Receptionist, was superb. He ordered a taxi, explained to the driver where we needed to go and kept me calm, as I found all the necessary paperwork, for a visit to the Hospital – Passports and EHIC cards. I had the Insurance details on the phone. On arrival at the Hospital, after a bit of to and fro-ing, we we booked in, the EHIC card scanned and through triage to a bay and consultation. After a few hours, pain relief and fluids given, blood and X-Rays taken, he was given the all clear and discharged. Such a relief. The system had worked so smoothly.

We stayed another night at the campsite in Santiago de Campostela, just to get over the stressful night and to hope the weather would allow us to see the city, but unfortunately not. We have vowed to return, when the weather might be a little better and we can see the city.

The weather has again affected our travel plans, there is a severe weather warning in place for the Portuguese coast, we’ve had a look at the map and decided to head towards Madrid. The route took us through Portugal to Chaves, where we stayed in a little stopover in the front garden plot of a Guest House. It was lovely. A small campsite, with electricity and hot showers and toilets. It’s close to the town and a supermarket.

We headed on again to Salamanaca, and a campsite in the grounds of a Hotel – The Hotel Regio. In high season there are a lot of amenities here, swimming pool, cafe etc but in low, low season, not a lot, but you can have a meal in the Hotel. It was lovely and the hotel, had the design I remembered, from those Spanish hotels, when I was a child! On our way here, we travelled through the town of Zamora (and the obligatory singing of…. “If you sit in Row Z and the ball hits your head, that’s Zamora” – football chant from back in the day!).

We’ve changed our plans again! We’ve realised how close Christmas is and, in addition, we need to head to the sun, so we’re heading south. We’re in the town of Cáceres, en route to the Costa de la Luz. The campsite is nice, and each pitch has it’s own shower an toilet!

Spain, so far, has been excellent and the views varied and amazing. We just need the weather to play ball and we’ll have it all! We’ve seen mountains and hill towns, dams and rivers, empty reservoirs, cows, sheep and pigs, statues on roundabouts and hillsides. We’re looking forward to the next part.

As always, thank you for reading. We’ll be back with our next part of the trip, in time for Christmas! Hopefully, this week will be a little less dramatic….

Week 23: Sussex to Spain

Having had a lovely two weeks at and around our home and families, we decided to head for Spain and the warmer and hopefully a sunnier climate. We said our goodbyes and set off to the tunnel, stopping for the night at the Caravan and Motorhome Club Site – Black Horse Farm at Densole, Kent. We knew there was a pub over the road, and it would save us having to cook and wash up (more importantly) as we were setting out early (for us)! But in true, Three go Travelling fashion, they were cash only and we didn’t have cash. If the truth be told, we should have been aware of this possibility as, the last time we stayed there, their WiFi was dodgy and the card readers intermittent!

Tuesday morning we set off to the tunnel and were waved through, there were no dramas this time and we treated ourselves to a LEON Breakfast Box – yummy! Once through the tunnel, we headed south west and on towards Rouen and on then on to Marcilly-sur-Eure, where we were going to stop for the night. We arrived in France the sun was shinning and as we headed south west the fog rolled in and stayed, getting quite thick in places.

The campsite at Marcilly-sur-Eure, was surrounded by woods and in the fog looked very fairy-tale like. Each area was arranged in a circle with a shower/toilet block in the centre. From here, we set off towards Poitiers and our next stop for the night. The fog did eventually lift as we headed further south but again in places it was very thick. The campsite we chose to stay at was in Saint-Georges-Lés-Baillargeaux overlooking the Futuroscope site. There had been so much rain in this part of France, that we were asked to park on the roadway between the pitches rather than on the pitches – its not just the UK which is wet!

The next morning we headed off to Oradour-sur-Glane. A place we’d wanted to visit for a few years, the last time we were close by, the weather was too hot (and our camper too small) to leave Albi, but this time the weather (and the MoHo) were perfect – its like leaving him at home, he has so much space to roam and all his comforts.

Oradur-sur-Glane was totally destroyed on 10th June 1944, in response to the D-Day Landings, by the Nazis. The inhabitants were rounded up and the men, women and children, were shot and set on fire along with the village. There were six people who survived. President de Gaulle, ordered that the village was to remain as a memorial to those who died. https://www.oradour.info/

We found it a poignant and fitting memorial and although ageing, it is worth a visit. The cars and metal furniture along with the street names and the buildings are identified by profession and owner. It is free to enter, and despite arriving on a National Strike Day, still open.

From here, we found a remarkable little campsite in Exideuil-sur-Vienne Camping de La Rivière http://www.campingdelariviere.com/en/welcome/ . It’s an ideal spot if travelling to or from Spain. Right next to a river and with a restaurant in the summer.

Heading on towards Spain, and with the National Strike on a second day and the Lorry Drivers threatening to blockade the roads on Saturday, we made a dash for the border, heading on the Autoroute – we fully intend to travel the west coast when the weather is warmer and sites are open! We were stuck in traffic at Bordeaux on the Ring Road, but Ditsy Daisy Sat Nav, did us proud (for once) and found us an alternative and quicker route. As we approached Bayonne, the weather got better and better, the sun was shining and the dash thermometer was reading 15°C – positively scorchio!

The stop for the night was at Camping Larrouleta, in Urrugne, France. It is a large site with a lake and great facilities, including an open, indoor swimming pool. We felt so good, being able to open the windows and doors and feel the warmth of the sun, giving the lovely Nortia a great airing, too. Being in the foothills of the Pyrenees, however, when the sun disappeared behind the mountain it did get cooler, but still not as low as we had the previous week at the Gatwick Club Site, where it had been -2°C! There were a few Spanish people here for a long weekend. We later found out Friday was Constitution Day in Spain, marking it’s Referendum to becoming a Constitutional Monarchy and Democracy and Monday being the Immaculate Conception Day Holiday. Spain has a lot of Public Holidays – national and/or Regional! Another Note to self moment!

We went over the Spanish Border (only realised by the change in Police Name and uniform) in the middle of the river according to Ditsy Daisy Sat Nav, and headed to Pamplona, over the mountains and into the historic town. We were still enjoying the sun, so headed back to the coast and Zarauz, and Gran Camping Zarautz, with spectacular view of the Atlantic and the longest beach in Spanish Basque Country. As the sun set the lights came on in the village below, and the boats in the bay and beyond in the Bay of Biscay, along with the three visible lighthouses from our camping pitch, were lovely.

Heading off on Sunday, we picked up the Camina de Santiago route (a popular Pilgrimage Trail, from Donostia-San Sebastiàn to Santiago de Campostela). It started to rain as we set off, a bit of a shock, after the sun, but we’re on the north coast, along the Bay of Biscay! We travelled along through Bilbao and Loredo, along the Costa Verde. Despite the rain, the sea was full of surfers, the wind and the waves looked spectacular (and cold). We stopped for the night at a campsite, but were thankful for our on-board facilities as those on offer, weren’t up to much! That night, the wind picked up off the sea and pummelled us all night, I might have slept more if I hadn’t convinced myself we were going to blow over. (Luckily, I didn’t see a picture posted online about some Motorhomes in Croatia, which had done just that)!

We’re heading off again in the morning, just not quite decided whereto! As always thank you for reading our post. We’re going to try to be more on time on this part of our trip, so fingers crossed you get to read a regular post! We’ll be back next week with an update….