Day 921 – Basque Country – 8 Sep 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 www.eastmidlandsdea.co.uk
Well, we finally set off from Alan and Mary’s in Pulborough on Sunday evening (2nd) and caught the 2200 from Portsmouth to Bilbao. It was the rather ageing Cap Finistere and was £385 for that particular leg. We were also lucky in that another couple were charged £90 for a trailer over 1.83m – although it looked lower than ours! It was a pleasant trip – very calm seas - and stopping off in Roscoff to change crews on Monday morning. We didn’t do much on board except take part in quizzes – we came 2nd four times! But it was only us two against teams of 6 plus, so we did OK. We did a bit of Dolphin spotting on Monday afternoon and saw several large schools and 2 or 3 small pods swam right up to the ship.:thumb:
We landed in Bilbao at 0630 and it was still dark. We were almost last off the boat but we weren’t that concerned as the transit to Camping Igueldo in San Sebastian (SS) was only 70 miles or so. We soon learned that Basque Spanish is not even close to any other language in the world. Plenty of Zs and Xs and in strange combinations making it more like a Polish/Albanian. Consequently, we got mildly lost and the Sat Nav/Road Signs did not help. Anyway, we eventually ended up on the AP8 and I'm not at all certain how we did it! (€9.13 toll) The area is called Gipuzkoa and is the smallest province in Spain, but still speaking the Basque language. Now that ETA has ‘discounted’ violence, the external tourist trade is picking up.
Got to Donostia/San Sebastian late morning and promptly got lost again as the Sat Nav tried to take us up remote mountain roads. We abandoned that and followed the instructions provided by the Caravan Club Book, through the centre of SS and up only 4kms of mountain-ish road. Nice enough site but VERY pricey. Still high season and €33 per night. All facilities but on wrong side of the hill for a view of the impressive bay. The pitches are narrow and long and a bit of a squeeze. It filled up by 2pm with vans from all over Europe. Most set off early next morning.
We settled in and caught the bus from outside the camp (€1.45 ew every 30 mins) and enjoyed a 30 minute trip into SS. It's a very nice resort town with big train and bus stations. Very picturesque with a long promenade along the coast with a huge curving, deep sandy beach with shallow blue water. We hit the old town and tasted some tapas in a couple of bars. 4 pinchos style tapas and 2 glasses of wine cost about €10 and the nearer to the centre the pricier it gets. Nothing new there, then! Followed by the biggest and best value ice cream we’ve ever had, a trip to a town centre Lidl and the bus back to camp. A long day but enjoyable in the end. We will stay here until Saturday and visit Bilbao by bus on Friday.
Back into SS by bus today and a trip up Monte Igeldo via Funicular Railway. (€2.80 return) and spectacular views of the bay. There is a small kiddies funfair at the top but not much else. Then a walk into the Old Town via the promenade. Saw several groups of hikers and we reckoned that they were on their way to Santiago de Compostela. More tapas and cidre and the bus home. The cidre is interesting. It's served from a wine bottle from a great height into a glass tumbler. The cidre is aerated and appears cloudy. You only get about a wine glass amount but it's pleasant enough. Goes well with the tapas.:Cool:
After a day off lurking round the 'van, doing odd repair jobs, we got the bus in again on Friday (7th) and got off at the cathedral. We walked to the main bus station and bought tickets for the bus to Bilbao (€10.40 one way) and arrived in the city after a 70 minute journey in air conditioned luxury. It was 35C by this time and we were grateful for the shade of trees on our ‘search’ for the Googleheim (as Shirl calls it) Museum. It's an impressive exterior with a giant floral dog outside which looked more like a cat to me. Then a walk along the river into the Old Town. The large St Santiago Cathedral was CLOSED! I’d have been a bit peeved if I’d trudged hundreds of miles en route to Compostela only to be shut out! Don’t understand it?
Bilbao is a very pleasant city with many attractive sights. We had an excellent 3 course Menu del Dia lunch including water and a full bottle of wine for €11! You can't beat that for value. We walked back to the station via the Plaza Major and arrived back in Donostia by 7pm. We decided to go straight back to the 'van and extend our stay by one day – even at these rates! San Sebastian is definitely worth one more night. You could actually do a fortnights beach/touristy holiday here.
We’ll bus in about 5pm and visit the Singing Combs and then feast on later night tapas when the city wakes up around 9pm.
Off to the Oviedo region tomorrow and we expect some rain over the next 48 hours, but then it looks set fair for the foreseeable future.
All for now
M and D
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