Day 762 – Home – 2 Apr 12

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Day 762 – Home – 2 Apr 12

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.

For piccies see

Hi Clo,

Set off from Cabopino (17th) after bidding farewell to our fellow campers and made the uneventful trip to Cordoba. Only 3 hours with a stop. Saw one Osborne Bull and arrived at El Brillante by lunchtime.

Never was a campsite less aptly named! What a sh1te-hole! Tiny pitches on rubble and €37.50 per night – the most we’ve ever paid! It's a complete rip off. Less than a dozen camper vans and most of them are whirr-clunkers. No-one stays for more than a night as Cordoba is a one day visit! The up side is that it is only a 20 minute stroll to the main sites.

Did the main sites around Cordoba, including the Alcazar and the cathedral within the mosque – called the Mezquita. Very imposing with 850 marble pillars supporting the roof, but some look distinctly worse for wear. The Mosque, although full of Arabic inscriptions and art, is dark and dingy but as you go into the cathedral the light strikes you and it's very impressive. The Jewish quarter is full of restaurants, bars and souvenir shops, but not tacky. Well worth the visit.

Travelled on to Toledo (19th) and spotted several more Bulls and a few Tio Pepes. Long drive but easy on the Autovia with no tolls. The countryside is flat with few towns, but quite a bit of industry. However, there are millions of acres of olive trees with vines appearing at Valdepenas. Also, a lot of crocus fields for saffron. Well into Don Quixote country now with windmills appearing all over the place.

Toledo is very striking. We drove round it a few times trying to find the campsite without going through the town. Camping El Greco is also very expensive at €35 per night – why do they charge Motorhomers for towed cars? And it's all but deserted.

Carole has gone into the town for a walk whilst I fester. Snow showers expected at Salamanca on Wednesday! Eek…but it's -7 degrees C at Almeria on the coast, so we’ve moved to the right place as it's been very warm.

Bussed into Toledo (no 72 €1.40) after a chilly night – but not as chilly as Almeria on the coast. -7 deg C and 8 inches of snow. Paul and Jackie said it rained heavily at Cabopino last night – so if we had gone the same way home as last year – we'd be in the deep doo-doo.

However, we are in sunny Toledo and have spent the day looking around the Cathedral and other Don Quijote associated touristy stuff. The cathedral is the twin brother of Burgos! Saw loads of really fine art – El Greco, Titian, van Dyke, Velazquez, Reubens, Carravaggio et al. Better than Florence and also climbed the bell tower – all for €10. Finished with a good value Menu del Dia at €11 including wine.

Set off for Salamanca tomorrow – snow permitting and hopefully the campsite will be better than this. Our shower block has now closed, swimming pool shut, restaurant shut, and no wi-fi after 4pm. They know that it's a one visit town – so rip off the campers – just like Cordoba.

Just discovered that someone drove over our power cable and pulled out the power socket in the 'van. Mainly because the nearest power cable is over 25 metres away and the cable lays in the path of several pitches. Expensive stop-over – but at least we aren't drowning at Marjal, near Torrevieja…another good reason for not going on the Motorhome Fun Rally.

Started raining at 1115pm and didn’t stop for 6 hours. Not heavy, but enough to come through the Heki again. Damn SMC for not fixing it properly last year! It's caused us a lot of grief. Anyway, got up early to sleet and 1 deg C. Set off early and Toledo was snowbound. Getting out was a bit of a nightmare, as a combination of roadworks and Satnav issues got us in a pickle, but we were saved by a great bit of map reading by Shirl, who saved the day.

Transit was long, but un-noteworthy. Extremadura is mildly boring. Sun came out and then disappeared as we approached Salamanca. Peter Kaye drizzle accompanied us to the campsite but has now dried out. Excellent welcome from staff in hotel attached. Free Wi-Fi, €16 ACSI all in and special menu in hotel restaurant! Also, bus goes straight into town. Shirl has gone out investigating whilst I catch up on internet. Might be ordering a new Air Suspension Kit for the 'van. About £700 but probably worth it. NB…£1100 – so postponed until next year.
Touristing in Salamanca tomorrow when it should be mild but sunny. Site is filling up, mainly with a rally in from Albufiera in Portugal en route to Santander.

Bus into Salamanca after a freezing night – down to minus 4 deg C. But 'van warm and toastie. Kept hot water heater and space heater on all night. No apparent damage and not too cold in bed. €1.20 into town centre where we did the sights and rode the Noddy Train (€4). Too late for the Cathedrals as they shut at 1pm!!! As did most of Salamanca. It's a very formal town but has virtually no modern buildings in the centre. A bit like a mini-Madrid with a nice Plaza Mayor. Saw our 17th OSBORNE BULL today. Just approaching Salamanca.

Sunbathed back at camp and ran into some old acquaintances from Bonterra Park who are also heading home. In fact most people we meet now seem to be heading for our ferry on Monday.

Another cold night before setting off for Burgos. Nice motorway run with little traffic once again. Signposting to Burgos Campsite needs sorting as roads are closed and if we hadn’t been before we'd have got lost. Luckily, Shirl spotted a sign on the other side of the road and we made it OK. Got the same pitch here and it's 22 deg C outside. Phew!! Birthday Tapas Lunch for me tomorrow! Hurrah!

Bussed into Burgos and spent day Tapas-ing and vino-ing. Had extremely dodgy tripe tapas in one place. Not pleasant.

Went through 10000 miles on the journey this week and 30000 miles on the 'van. That's 11600 since we've had her. Onwards to Santander tomorrow and onto Portsmouth and visit Alan and Mary for a couple of days, getting Smartie MOT’d. Should be home by Thursday, all things being equal.

No snags into Santander where we caught the Cap Finistere to Pompey. Not as nice a boat as the Pont Aven – it hasn’t got the same eating options – unless of course you are a truck driver!
Got to Alan and Mary’s about 4pm and drove Smartie to its MOT where it passed with flying colours. Phew. Good garage at Thakeham. Very helpful and reliable. Also had 9 holes in the bright sunshine with Alan at his club in W Chiltington.
Now there's going to be a fuel tanker driver’s strike. No wonder we all bugger of to Spain.
Straightforward trip home except for a couple of minor incidents. Bill, in his utter idleness, couldn’t be bothered to return his golf clubs to the top box and lock it. As a result, after 5 minutes on the road the top box flew open and cars were flashing and honking at us to stop. We pulled half into a Happy Eater and closed it properly. Lucky escape and some deft reversing required.

Also, the new SatNav saved us. Usually we go via the Dartford Crossing, but this time she insisted on going clockwise via Heathrow, although there was some traffic delay. However, it was lucky we did as the M20/M25 at Dartford were rammed and an accident at J29 closed it all day. We sailed round clockwise and got fuel easily enough.

Got to Welby to see Jim and Carole who looked very well. Quickly transferred gear to Smartie and were home by 2pm. Lots of mail, but basically the Rabbit Hutch was just as we left it – with no dust either! Thanks Helen! Even the internet works better this year.

Got the mail sorted and found £45 worth of Tesco vouchers. Did a bit of shopping, mowed the lawn and had a BBQ. Nice to be home.

Hopefully, we’ll see you and Chris next Saturday.

All for now
M and D
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