Spit spot

After a night of heavy rain we woke to bright sunshine and a light but sharp breeze. I groaned inwardly at returning to the morning spit wash and sighed with relief to know that we were aiming at a shower this evening.
Gibraleón was quiet. We were soon on our way and zipping along the all but empty holiday roads.

Our destination was not far, this side of Seville. I had been promised an upmarket camp site in a forest and with an on-site restaurant. Sounded fab.
Light cloud, blue sky and sun made our drive very pleasant. The omni-present graffiti of Spain made things less so.

We crossed the Rio Tinto, though I saw no colour just the glare of the sun. On the drivers side it was noticeably red, apparently. My disappointment was made up for however when I spotted an ass and cart crossing the flyover ahead of us shortly thereafter.

The scenery was largely unexciting, though very much green. Some orange and olive groves, an enormous cactus patch, pine trees, graffiti…
I am definitely becoming blasé about orange trees. The streets in Gibraleón were lined with them but I didn’t try to pick any and wasn’t even moved to take a photo. I do keep thinking about how close I am to Seville, it being Seville orange season and me loving marmalade so much. It has been months since I tasted marmalade!

Joining the N road for Hinojos we passed brought the Dead centre of Almonte… Cemetery to the right of us, Crematorium to the left… Ho, ho, ho.
We were soon deep in the olive groves, with olives as far as the eye could see and interspersed with the odd palm tree.. then bang! straight into a pine forest and a sign that translated to “Slow, Bobcats crossing”. How exciting.

And then we were there.”There” being the Doñarrayan Park campsite in the Doñana National Park. A delightful spot. We have booked to stay for a month. The showers are fabulous… and there is a cycle path that begins outside the camp that will make Nell’s daily walk a doddle.

I got to thinking about the “bobcats” and checked y translation, Google still insisted that Linces = Bobcats. I think it really means Iberian Lynx. I do hope that we manage to bump into one.

Other good stuff: there is a Heritage Railway not far from here and it runs in the winter months. Also there is a couple here that we met back in Zarautz. Small traveller’s world, isn’t it?

Zamora Photo Gallery

We stayed on the motorhome aire by the park just outside the old town walls.  the park was extensive and wooded, providing Nell with some wonderful walking.

Zamora was a wonderful town in which to wander the narrow and characterful streets. Many eateries, several fine wine shops and delicatessens selling Jamon and other good stuff. 

A very Catholic and very religious town known especially for its Holy Week celebrations.

Notable for its 2 Cathedrals, 24 Romanesque churches,  the many storks nesting in the town and for public art… formal and informal. Sadly much willful desecration of beautiful old buildings with indiscriminate graffiti “tagging”.

Click the images for a larger view.

Well worth the visit.

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Further info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zamora,_Spain

Catching Up: Castets to Zamora

There is a reason why this post has not been posted previously and that is because the scale of the thing is really daunting. It has simply got out of hand. In a perfect world I would have knuckled down and done this before the year’s end. I think that you can tell that we have been trying. The spreadsheet is fully up to date and I now have my “from the road” reports up, even if misplaced in time. (I arrived at the conclusion that they are best left dated as posted not as witten, for the time being. That way those readers who are keeping up will spot them as they arrive. Later on I’ll edit the posting date so that later readers get things in a sensible sequence, even if this particular post is going to be all over the place.

Today is: 3rd January 2018

The last catch up post that I wrote was posted on the 27th November and covered Arcachon to Castets, the night before we moved into Spain. So this post has a great deal of literal ground to cover and may end up being split into more than one post in the end. I have my work cut out here but a being brave and diving in!

We left Castets on the 28th November, which appears to have had a grey start judging by the photos that I took of our first toll road motorway,  The trip and our arrival at Zauratz appear to have been documented. 

We had arrived with the intention of staying for three nights but the weather took a hand in that by throwing some snow down and so discretion took the better part and we ended up staying for a full week, at the end of which we grounded on the motorhome service point and tore our water pipe apart…

The stay at Zauratz was enjoyable and I particularly liked eating out at the restaurant on-site. The daily menu provided really good value for money so we made the most of the opportunity. I caught up on laundry and apparently on my blogging whilst we had good facilities.

When we left Zauratz we had a nightmare experience in the town when we attempted a supermarket run and then we failed to gain assistance at the so-called Motorhome repair specialist.  We took off for Bilbao and an independent commercial aire on the hill overlooking the city. The aire was nicely sited adjacent to a park and open country and with a beer hall/restaurant on hand. We made use of all facilities. We also attempted a repair on the water problem but it failed. We were at least able to gather our wits and realise that as Vincent has two water tanks with valves between them we could a t least operate on one tank, though the smaller of the two. It did mean that we could stop stressing and just wait until we happened across a solution rather than tearing around Spain looking for one.

Photos from Bilbao

A somewhat fraught excursion into Bilbao on the morning that we left did supply a new joint for the water pipe and also supplies from Carrefour. Some added interest was supplied by Mrs SatNav Lady before we fully escaped the city. She has an odd sense of humour, that one. 

We set off for the mountains and a campsite in the Picos de Europa. We had great hopes of our stay here and planned to stop for a while but once again the weather intervened, te mud deepened around us and we were soon off in search of the shelter afforded by the mountains’ rain shadow. Really there is little to say other than “pleasant campsite” “nice bar” “Tapas” and “too wet for photos”. No photos to record our passing through at all.

The drive to Zamora on the 9th December was a lengthy one but it was the drive off a lifetime. It was astounding and also very varied. It was during this drive that I taught myself the rudiments of blogging on the run – clearly something which I am in need of refining.

Zamora was good – very photogenic and full of history. The way that the new architecture has been married with the old is very clever. There were plenty of places to eat, though being a holiday many were closed. The amount of graffiti was shocking. As in other parts of Spain that we have passed through, every conceivable surface has been tagged. Zamora at least has some quite attractive murals in addition tot he scrawl. It was sad to see historic properties being treated thus.

The single most striking thing in Zamora was the huge number of Storks overhead. There seemed to be a nest on every church tower and the town has two cathedrals and 24 Romanesque churches alone…

Double decker stork nests in Zamora

I have many photos fro this part of the trip and think a separate posting of a Zamora Gallery would be the best way to show these.

To be continued.

Any port in a storm

Although Zamora had not endeared herself on our arrival, we were sorry in several ways to be leaving today and hope to return sometime.

Storm Anna, when she arrived, was sharp and shrewish but quickly gone. She was a reminder of home for a while as we were buffeted about but when I woke at 01:30 the wind had passed. Anna brought with her lashings of rain however and we found in the morning that the dry bed in the park was now a turbulent stream.

The weather, though much improved, remained dull and damp but was good enough for us to stroll out for lunch in the town.

The restaurant that we had carefully selected was closed so we set about finding another. Zamora offers many choices but none seemed to be speaking to us. We plumped for an upmarket establishment, listed at no 2 on TripAdvisor. It was just 2pm but they turned us away “service completed”. What? In Spain?

We ended up in a wee bar that served from 13:00 to 16:00 and had a rather good lunch for €12 each, though I was somewhat fazed by the whole bottle of wine to myself included in the price. A very nice organic Toro it was too.
Last night the temperature dropped below freezing, seeing the internal temperature in the van down to 5°C by morning. Jack Frost had visited and decorated the skylights with icy feathers but the sun was shining under a cloudless sky.

I had entirely forgotten that we were still at 700 metres but it certainly shows in the quality of the light as we are on our way to Bragança. Quite astounding. Also astounding is the scenery and I am amazed by how much grows up here. Tundra, it is not.

We reached Portugal at midday, local time and are now back on GMT. We are also back almost at 700 metres, though it feels higher here. We can see snow-capped mountains and there is a real chill in the air despite bright sunshine.
The Aire is quite nice and is sited above the town, just below a castle. There are water and waste facilities here so I can have more than a cat lick in the morning. No electricity though.

Repair attempts on the water system continue… and so far it appears to be holding.

A short stroll into town this afternoon yielded a Portuguese SIM card and a nice bottle of Tawny.

We are settling in.

What do you mean, SNOW?

I can confirm that the Cava was indeed good, which is more than may be said about the weather. The rain it did rain, and oh, how it rained, all night, and the wind it did actually blow a little… Wild enough to keep us awake for hours. 

Mr L and Nell went out at 08:00 and then came back to bed to warm up. When we woke up again later, I remarked on the snow – which I could see piled up on the skylights.  The response I had was not the one that I had expected: “what do you mean, snow?” Yes, the accumulation had occurred in the time that we had been snoozing warming up. There had been no snow earlier in the day,

Anyway, we had slept through what must have been a really heavy snowstorm as there were inches of the stuff lying on the ground despite its being so wet. 

I gather that snow is not a common occurrence in these parts:

 

No photos of the snowy landscape from me I am afraid but there is this

and see  here and here. Why they are the same image, I don’t know as I took two and thought I’d shared one to one place and the other elsewhere. Clearly not functioning well today.

We were due to leave Zauratz today but decided that it was best and safest to just hang out here until the weather improves. It’s not much of a hardship… although I have now rotated through all four desserts offered on the daily menus and will need to start again.

The plan now is to wait for the weather and then to move on further than we would have done today and in fact to make  a long trip to another campsite rather than find an Aire. Let us hope that the coming showers are as good as the ones here… and I don’t mean the snowy ones.

Hola, estamos en España!

After twelve weeks in France, and with just about 2,950 miles on the clock, we crossed the border into Spain this morning. The mileage thing is a bit iffy as I was so busy trying to spot the border sign that I missed checking the mileage until we had gone a few clicks further down the road.

Our first toll road went quite smoothly and we coped with the booths on both sides of the border. There were some obvious differences once we arrived in Spain.

On the French Motorway

In Spain

So many signs, so incomprehensible! So many tunnels. The scenery however was stunning and so were the enormous birds flying overhead. Some kind of Kite, I believe.

We arrived at our destination bang on midday but of course there was somebody in Reception. In France we would have to hang around until after lunch before seeing anybody.

We settled onto a nicely even pitch looking out to sea. The sea is however a long way down.

Our view

We checked out the facilities. Gosh, such luxury after the French campsites; Toilet seats! Paper! Handbasins! SOAP!!!!! Shower cubicles with room to turn around in. Best of all, everything is clean. *sigh* All of the facilities are open too, and that includes the bar and the shop. All of this convenience is going to take some getting used to!

We lunched at the bar on site – there is another bar adjacent to the site, so we have a choice. The daily set menu costs 11 Euros for three courses with bread and a drink – we had a bottle of Spanish cider (extremely different from its Norman and Breton cousins.)

Crumbs!

After lunch we tackled the walk to the beach… all 450 steps. Then we failed to find the shops, had a beer and were entertained by the local bird population, which I fed with dog treats, then walked back to the steps and climbed all 450 of them again.

The steps to the town

We can do it all again tomorrow, only this time with shops, I hope.

On the prom in Zarautz

We met this wee chap on our way back up the cliff

While we are in Spain our French SIM card allows us very little in the way of roaming data. Updates may be sparse and intermittent. For now the campsite here offers free wifi but later, who knows. I am working on ways to update using less bandwidth but for now expect fewer images and less burbling.

We are here for three nights at least. No idea whatsoever what will come next!