Day 1691 – En-Route Spain – 18 Oct 14
Primarily this blog is aimed at keeping our daughter in the UK, Chloe, abreast of our adventures in Europe. Additionally, we hope that other readers will find snippets of info regarding campsites, prices and foreign travel interesting or perhaps just informative.
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Well, we left St Jean de Luz in good weather, after going down to the beach on Sunday night where there was a band playing and all the BP’s had turned up to flirt and look for rich husbands. It went on quite late.
The trip to Haro was uneventful except for a minor mishap by Bill ignoring the SatNav. But we climbed up to 3000 ft altitude with no probs and settled in. The staff were very helpful – the French could learn a thing or two about customer service! They organised a trip to a local Rioja vineyard and advised on buses as the train we wanted to take had been dismantled years ago. Poor old Michael Portillo would have been distraught.
Of course, we are now in Spain and I, for one, am grateful. However, one should not forget that as soon as one crosses from France the flies appear and the dogs bark through the night. However, it's a small price to pay for the general climate and Spanish friendliness.
We walked into town, had a drink, looked round and did the inevitable shop. The site is pleasant enough, with most people popping in for a nitestop before or after the ferries from Santander or Bilbao. The site is situated on a huge plateau at 3000ft and it's quite strange. I expected steep rocky mountains and narrow roads – but it's quite normal actually – with fantastic scenery.
The Rioja wine industry is going strong and we visited the Muga Vinery for a visit and very slick and professional it was too. They’ve got over 3 million bottles on site plus all the vino in vats and barrels – about 10 million bottles in all but just a drop in the ocean when you consider worldwide wine consumption. (40 billion bottles per year!) Extremely enjoyable and of course we bought the vino after a tasting. Then it was into town for a €12 Menu del Dia – which included a FULL bottle of wine.
Next morning we taxied into Briones to visit the Vivanco Wine Museum (€8). What a spectacular facility. The complete history of Rioja wine, with superb exhibits and featuring 3 x Picasso’s, a Miro and a Liechtenstein. Well worth the visit. We walked into Briones to visit the 12th century church. Fantastic views of the surrounding countryside.
Haro is a little gem, and to be preferred to Burgos to and from the ferries.
Tomorrow (2 Oct) Zaragoza. The drive down the A68 was the quietest motorway experience yet. Expensive at 17 cents per kilometre but absolutely no traffic and smooth roads. Found the Municipal Campsite Ok and despite warnings of horrendous fees it is only €26 per night for the biggest pitch you’ll ever see. We caught the No 41 bus into Zaragoza (€1.35 and 30 mins). It's a big, clean, open plan town and seems to have been rebuilt to a plan. It's a bit Stepford-like. But the traffic flows and it's a very pleasant experience wandering around the ‘old town’ – which is not so old! Well worth a visit en route to France or the ferries.
On to Camping Pucol on the coast near Valencia. Four more hours on uninhabited dual carriageway, but free as it's only an A road. The sun came out after a lot of hill fog at 4600 feet in the mountain passes and after a bit of a faff we reached the campsite near the beach. Only 3 vans including us and hundreds of semi-permanent Spanish caravan/awning set ups. The restaurant /bar was shut so we walked the five minutes to the promenade. Only one restaurant in sight, so we had a nice lunch and lazed on the beach. It's clearly a local Spanish holiday resort. I would not recommend it for passing Motorhomers – unless all you want is beach-time.
It would be very noisy – and was to an extent – as a Spanish MH arrived at 1145pm! Also, two sets of tenters with cars decided to start erecting their tents at 1015pm and hadn’t finished by midnight – doors slamming incessantly!
We will not be visiting these un-validated / un-recommended sites in the future. They are generally difficult to find and there is little to occupy the time. However, it's ‘horses for courses’ I suppose. Not for us.
Mad the short hop to Bonterra Park, and we are glad that we booked. It's packed! Got a good reserved pitch close to last year’s slot. It's a bit sloping – but we’ll cope. ( Although the fridge did start leaking!) Met up with Finbar and Susan, Ian and Ann and chatted to a few of the other usual regular visitors. Nice to be back.
After a good meal of garlic prawns from Mercadona, we walked to a new bar on the front and sat out until 11pm. Really nice weather – in the low 30’s every day. I think Shirl will be on the beach today. I need to wash the awning and get started on ‘FLOOD’ again. I want it published by Christmas.
We’re into the rounds of eating out, visiting pals, playing Petanca, going to classes and walking to the beach to listen to live music in the sunshine. It's a nice place and the weather (32degsC) helps. However, I couldn’t spend more than a month here. The average age is quite high and we are literally surrounded by white vans. Big pitches but no real privacy and to make things worse, we've got a Whirr-Clunker next door! Can't they hear how noisy their bloody doors are? Why not just leave them slightly ajar all day? It's a real pain – whirr-clunking from dawn to dusk.
So it’ll be off to Cabo on the 22nd as planned or maybe a couple of days earlier. Got forty pages written in the last couple of days and we should be ready by 31 Dec.
Well, our time at Beni is coming to a close. We leave tomorrow, 19th Oct, and head to Benidorm and onward to Cabo by next Saturday 25th.
I'm not too sad to leave. The flies and biting midges are a pain and the tree cutters are at it from 9am – 6pm and it's impossible to do any writing or reading round the 'van. Next year, if we come, we’ll leave before they start trimming the trees.
Carole really likes the place but it's not the same as Cabo. It's very regimented and a sea of white greets you as you look out of the 'van window. The town is nice and we've had a couple of good evenings out. However, I couldn’t stay for more than a fortnight. On the way home we’ll stay at Mazzaron/Bolneuvo.
We also took a look at Camping Azahar. It's rough! The pitches are dreadful. Low trees, restaurant/bar shut and scruffy. Full of Dutch trying to get a cheap deal at any cost! If it rains then the mud will be a nightmare.
There’s definitely a compromise between these two types of campsite – and I think Cabo fits the bill.
We cycled to Orapresa and Marina D’Or yesterday. 15 miles return along the old railway track. It's a sad place. They tried to construct a purpose built Las Vegas/Orlando type super resort but the developers went bust and the proposed airport hasn’t opened – and so the customers haven’t arrived. It's a great pity and some people must have lost a lot of money!
Well, that's all for now…Cabopino next!
Well done on the Half Marathon
M and D xxxxxx
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