Sunday, 1 September 2013

Day 24 - On our way home.

Half an hour from home and we found the traffic.
We managed to get the 7:15am ferry. After pulling up last night at a very flustered French lady's ferry gate, we were told the next ferry was at 7:15 and we would have to stay the night at the ferry port. Not the first time we have had to do this, about this time last year was the same story. She looked relieved when we weren't bothered and kept thanking us for not being annoyed. Poor woman. She said the hold up was the police being strict at passport control, pretty odd as we saw nothing...they managed to cause a 2 hour plus delay for most people. I would hate to have done her job last night...every English person I heard getting told they had to get the morning ferry swore at her. I even heard one lady moan this morning that they just left her in her car all night, think she must have wanted tucking in or something. That said, I can remain smug while we bed down in a cosy bed eh ;)
We got off the ferry and headed over to Aylesham to collect a Golf cylinder head that Djespie aka Dave had been looking after for us since we left. Thanks for the brew Dave.
After, christian did the boring driving while I bored him with what we needed to get done when we get home.
All in all, a fab holiday, the closer we get to home, the more the blues are setting in.
The end ;)

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Day 23 - Loire Valley to Calais...boooo!

Currently driving up towards Le Mans. On a back road. Just been taken down a one is way street the wrong way...much to the French people's disgust. While they shook their heads, arms etc I gave them a massive smile and Christian pointed at the sat nav...think it pissed them off even more. Ah well, if this was Spain they would have just got out of your way. Cultural differences.
We have a good few hours drive ahead and have decided to take the tolls part way to cut a couple of hours off. The ferry is at 9:30pm so we should make it. 
Spoke too soon on the make it bit. All set to get to the port for 20:40. After a quick supermarket stop for the usual beer and wine stock and a dirty maccys for dinner...bleurgh. Anyways, on we go, through the to Calais and boom 4km from the port is a mammoth traffic jam. We have been in it for over an hour now. There's been numerous refugees walk past us while in the jam...they just seem to not bother about them around here. Also seen a few breakdowns and unhappy faces, luckily not us, we seem to be a bit unfazed after our last few weeks. We are just about to try and blag our way on another ferry seen as we have missed our original one.

Day 22 - Biarritz to Tours area

Woke up, had a bit of breakfast and planned the days route. We knew we had quite a chunk to cover as we were 14hours from we picked a destination Aire near Tours, several hours away.
Unfortunately, this involved negotiating Bordeaux again, which was no less painful this time round.
We also some how ended up on a toll road. sat nav sheila being a bitch again. Luckily, it only cost us 3.90 euros.
Basically, we put the music on and drove. Several hours later and quite a lot of traffic jams we arrived at the "programmed" destination. Only, we weren't where we were supposed to be, out by 21km...Aire book coordinates incorrect. So, rather than set off on a wild goose chase, we saw a sign for a campsite and pulled in.
At the cost of 9.50euros, we got full campsite facilities, on the River Loire, in the Loire Valley. The campsite is called Camping Municipal De Chouze-sur-loire. A beautiful setting with loads of wild life and barely anyone on the site.
The price proved well worth it after the hot shower we had. Whilst the hoselock shower cuts it in most instances, nothing beats a hot shower when its getting a little colder at night.
After some tagliatelle and a bit of wine we snuggled in to watch breaking bad and prepare for our last day of travelling in France.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Day 21 - San Sebastian to Biarritz

Just having a squiff through San Sebastian for lunch then off Biarittz later.
We decided to move from the Aires last night in favour of the local photography/print shop around the corner at the had hi speed free we got Breaking Bad tv series and updated the blog! 
We woke up to a parking ticket though! 
Another one that wont get paid (Oktoberfest last year I got another!

And, so, we had a good wonder round San Sebastian. its a really beautiful place. Set in a bay, with and island and castle in the middle, it kind of has an English / French feel, but with a relaxed Spanish way of life.

I found a restaurant on trip adviser the night before so we headed for there.

I cant remember its name so will have to add at a later date, but it is number 7 of 299 on trip adviser. When we arrived it wasnt much more than a bar full of shouting people. Trying to work out how to order food was difficult. I went to try and find a table outside while Christian tried to figure it out. After 10 mins, a lot of shouting and a silly American girl passing out, he called me back in. You have to eat at the bar if you order at the bar. 

After five minutes we had our first dish of suckling pig. Yum! Second was the scallop. Yum! And third, the sirloin - a bit fatty, but all the same very good. Washed down with a beer...and it all came to 16.20euros!!! If you are ever in san sebastian, you have to go here.

We had a good walk to get rid of lunch. Theres a big castle on the hill, which gives awesome views of the city and out to the sea. We also landed upon the beginning of some kind of boating competition...must have been a big deal as the place was full of tv crew and very busy. 

We headed back through the crowds embarking on the few mile walk back to the van. 

Another parking ticket. 

We felt brave so decided to have a swim. Beautiful water, but the Atlantic doesnt have a patch on the Med - it was bloody freezing. Feeling refreshed albeit a little cold, we headed an hour up the coast to Biarritz.

We had found an Aires in the book, but the coordinates didnt work with sat nav. Still managing to find it, we drove in and straight back out. It was the Biarritz Aires and was pretty poor. Full of motorhomes and barely any space, it looked grim. We went off in search of another. En route we saw a motorhome looking like they knew where they were we followed them.

We found another Aires thanks to them. It was right on the beach and full of surfers. It was supposed to be 12 euros, but you could only pay by card, so we were a little naughty and didnt pay. Oh well. 

Me riding a canon on the castle...Christian said this isn't the way they fired them...I thought it would be the only way to fire this bad boy!!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Day 20 - To Pamplona for lunch & San Sebastian

We had a bit of a mooch through Zaragoza last night in a hunt for some dinner. Arriving at the time we did most places were serving bar snacks, not meals, or closing. But, that was OK, we still managed to find something and also had a wonder round the cathederal, which is really stunning.
Had a comfortable sleep in the car park, it was pretty safe. There were also several other campervans and motor homes doing the same.
We left about half an hour ago and are on our way to pamplona, about 170km from Zaragoza. I have found somewhere to stay tonight in San Sebastian, although if we like the look of Pamplona we may stay there.
Pamplona was very nice, we had a spot of lunch and opted for the "Menu Del Dia" which is popular around Spain for the budget conscientious, it was a lovely two course meal and a beer for €13. We had a nice wander around the town afterwards and scoffed an awesome ice cream....why are they never this nice back home?! We decided to crack on so since we found what looks like an Aires in San Sebastian.
The drive from Pamplona to San Sebastian wasn't long but wow was beautiful..lots of dramatic sceneray of the Pyrenees and lots of hills and tunnels..and the scary high bridges!
In San Sebastian...north Spain and we've met up with the sea again...Atlantic this time..weathers OK but not scorcharoo....only 23c this time...more clothes needed!! had a quick much around, went shopping and now at an actual Spanish Aires.
Not found many of these in Spain...tbh the Spanish are not as good at this Aire stuff like the French. But we have one that will do since the location is great.

Spot of in town supermarket shopping then back to set up camp...lots of footy fans wandering around so was quite busy. The beach is back and looks fantastic...very scenic here indeed.

See if you can spot Brett's (aka BlueMooner) Dad! lol
I was impressed with the meat hanging in the background, until I looked back on the pics and saw this guy had his best zoolander pose going...magnum
Christian eating his amazing ice cream...
Squashed in like sardines in San Sebastian! 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Day 19 - We have left the island!

So, we left Cala Comte this morning at 10:30, after Daddy Steve checked we were out of bed...yes, our reputation stands in Eivissa now too ;)

We mumbled about the 6 and a half hour ferry we were about to get as we drove to the ferry port in Eivissa Town. Parked up and queued for a sweaty 25 minutes before we were handed our tickets. Anyone who gets the Acciona ferry from the town will experience the same crappy map and poor directions to where the ferry terminal is as we did I am sure. As we drove in to board the ferry a man checked our passports and told us several times something in Spanish. Even though we told him we didn't understand he kept telling us, louder each time, until we pretended we knew what he meant. A quick translation in the app soon revealed he was telling us we had a cabin for the trip. Cool!

We headed up through a huge queue of people to collect our cabin keys. At this point we weren't sure if we were going to be sharing with people or on our own, but the idea of not sleeping with our heads on the canteen table seemed a better prospect no matter which way.

Christian returned with the keys and we went to our room. We got excited when we were presented with our very own premier inn type cabin. When you have slept in a van for over 2 weeks a bed and shower are the most exciting thing ever, not to mention a proper toilet with locking door! Christian didn't mess around and was straight in the shower. I went to speak to the receptionist to see if we could expect anyone else to fill the spare bunk beds we had in the room...fortunately, the room was just ours...score! So, after a shower I lay down to watch the ferry movie and Christian had a nap to prepare for his drive later.

Two movies on and the time passed really quick. We had some food and then went for an explore.
The ship must have been an old cruise liner as it was huge and had various entertainment rooms everywhere. We found the action on the veranda. The Estrella bar had music pumping and represented an Iberian bar. We hung out there for the last hour.

Disembarking in Valencia was as easy. We were off the ferry in less than 5 minutes. We put 51 litres of fuel in at a supermarket petrol station at the cost of 70 euros.

We discussed the way whilst on the ferry and decided we would miss Madrid as it put us 2 hours off the beaten track. We would have gone probably had we not been a day later...but you can always fly there.

So, now we are driving up the a23 towards Zaragoza, 290km from Valencia - tonight's stop. After doing a bit of Googling as christian drove I found a wild camping spot recommended by a guy from Zaragoza right by the main cathedral. Apparently, people come from all over the world to kiss the marbel on this cathedral, not sure I will, I already have the lurgy lol.

Having a look at the rough guide book we are gutted to have found out we missed happy hour at one of the restaurants in El Tudor, Zaragoza. Between 7 and 8pm they discount 60 items to 60 cents each, including beer, wine and tapas...sounds amazing!

We should be there in 45mins...listening to a bit of Stone Roses to keep us going.

We have arrived at our wild camping spot in Zaragoza. The forum is true to its word, free car facilities, but that doesn't bother us. Its right on a river and opposite the Basilica of El Pilar.
Coordinates: N41 ° 39'42 "W0 ° 52'49".

Monday, 26 August 2013

Day 18 - Back to Valencia, well, we tried...

Well as we thought, we were fine tucked away in the Benirass forest. While the first storm we have experienced on the island went on, we slept all snuggled in the forest..maybe not the best place for a storm but we certainly weren't high up and there were rolling hills nearby. Anyway taking respite in the cooler evening was a luxury actually.

We have woken this morning to a muggy, overcast day, so we are just chilling out in the van until we get the ferry later. We will probably call past and see the caves near Benirass on the way out if the rain holds.

Last night the drums were cool. People partied on the beach and generally enjoyed themselves. I am sure they would still have been going to the early hours, but we made it to 1am ish, before deciding we couldn't face anymore beer.

Currently sat watching the storm with a beer at Cala Comte. Let me explain why this doesn't say Valencia.

We headed off through San Antonio to find a fresh baguette so we could have a sandwich on the ferry. 6 supermarkets later and I found one (after being offered chips instead at 5 others). Reaffirms what we thought about this place...these tourists would rather eat chips. Meh. We also had a van pass us flashing and beeping on our way out...thinking we had done something wrong, we quickly realised it was daddy steve and his friend vita saying hi lol.

Anyways, we got to the port at San Antonio for when it was supposed to open at 4pm. Parked and headed in to collect our tickets. Acciona was still closed while Baleria was bustling with people. Maybe the other guys are finishing their brew we thought, let's give them 15 minutes....still no sign. While christian walked around the terminal to see if we should be somewhere else I went to see the tourist information lady. The conversion went something like this:

Me: hola, habla ingles?
Lady: yes.
Me: we have a ferry today from here at 6.30 today. Is the acciona office opening do you know please?
Lady: oh dear. Its cancelled.
Me: shit. *hyperventilating*
Lady: hold on, I will try and help and find someone from acciona.
Me: shit. *hyperventilating*

So, with reassurance all would be ok from christian we waited for the guy to open. When he finally did, we approached with our most vacant expression. His response was the same, its cancelled. Can you go tomorrow from ibiza Town? Our response had to be yes, of course, so off we trotted with confirmation that we can go tomorrow...on a slower ferry.. along with our compensation form.
To be fair, we dont mind another night here...we don't care if we never leave.

Since I last wrote we have left the van and are watching a band, comparing stories with steve. I still don't care if we never leave.

The storm has slowly caught up..been counting down between lightning and thunder and its quite close now..internet left for ten mins..but its proper chucking it down..strangely nice sat in the van watching the fork lightning out at sea with thunder blowing about rattling the van inbetween the raw.