Sam’s April-July 2016 blog

07/07/16

Stop 26 was in Saint Christophe. A campsite run buy a Dutch couple with only 30 pitches on. The site had a bar but not a restaurant except for twice a week when the owners will cook you a 4 course meal €16.50. Everybody sits together and the owners will bring out your meal and then sit with you to eat theirs! It was fantastic sitting with everybody and sharing your experiences.

We visited a village called Oradour sur Glane, otherwise known as the martyr village which is in ruins after the Germans slaughtered nearly every villager on 10th June 1944 and remains as a reminder. ( Pictures in the gallery )

Stop 27 was Genillé which was a 30 minute ride on the duke from Beauval zoo. This has got to be  one of the best zoos ever and it took a day and half to get around it.

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We are now currently on the final drive to the tunnel for home. Today is a sad day as it’s the end of an adventure but it’s also a happy one as we know that there will soon be another one.

24/06/16

Whilst in the Picos mountains we took a cable car to one of the peaks. It was a fantastic view and no photograph could show just how magnificent it is at the top of a mountain.

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Stop 25 is Chatelaillon-plage. A lovely campsite not far from the beach. A nice ride on the duke to an island called Ile de Re where a nice little nudist beach was found. We have never tried one before so off came the clothes and we no longer have white bits!

18/06/16

After 5 days of being ill and not doing much we were finally able to go out for a walk today. We are currently in the Picos mountains in a lovely campsite with a beautiful view of the mountains. Griffin vultures regularly flying off the tops and plenty of other bird life. The walk today was 2 and a half hours long and went past a monestry that holds a fragment of the true cross.

14/06/16

Stop 19 was Salamanca. A 90 minute walk into the town and looked around but we wanted to go back at night as Salamanca is known as the golden city due to the effect of the bricks at sunset so a couple of days later we took the duke. It was quite surprising how busy it was at night. There was a live band and the streets were heaving.

Stop 22 is a place called Valdáliga. A walk into the nearby town of San Vicente de la Barquera was a 6 hour round trip. On the way we did meet a nice English man that was doing the pilgrimage walk and it was going to take him about 3 months to walk it. The town in the other direction, Comillas, was only about 50 minutes to walk so that wasn’t too bad except that on the way back I could feel my stomach making funny movements. All evening, night and the next day I was very, very ill on the toilet. We didn’t go anywhere as I couldn’t be away from the toilet for any length of time. The nice man from Newcastle who is in a caravan, 3 pitches away and on the next level shouts over to Andy and asks if we were going out on the bike today. Andys reply….. No we can’t today because she’s got the shits! I just glare, did I hear him just say that? The whole campsite now knows that I have a bad stomach.

27/05/16

Stop 16 was El Rocío. After parking up and settling in we just sat under our awning as it was at the hottest part of the day ( which is between 3 and 4.30 ) reading when the first Irishman came and parked a few pitches away from us. Looking out to the main road and seeing more of them just waiting to come in. The English couple on the pitch next to us said they were leaving the next day because of them but we assured them the Irish were fine and had caused no trouble on the previous site. Andy starts talking to the main man and before you know it they keep coming over to talk to him! The next day was a walk into the town which looked like something out of a Wild West movie with all the sandy roads except there were cars. They even had men going around on horses. The only road signs I saw were no entry so the cars were driving anywhere they wanted and on the wrong side of the road.

It was time to get the duke down and take him for a spin. After a nice ride we decide it’s time to turn back and after putting the campsite in the sat nav we continue on. A little while later Andy stops the bike and is looking at the sat nav and at the road signs and decides that he is going to go against the technology that has a map of the area that we have never been in inside and should theoretically know better than mankind the best way to go. The road turns bumpy……. then a bit of sand……. then a bit more sand…… then the back wheel keeps spinning out and the floor is like we have just ridden onto a beach! The thought process is we must be nearly there so we continue. Several times I think the bike is going to topple over and by now I’m a nervous wreck. I can feel the heat of the engine and keep getting visions of my legs being trapped under this boiling engine. We finally decide to turn around and go back the way we came and an hour later we are back at the junction where we started. I’ve got to say that Andy controlled the bike so well. Not only did he have to worry about dropping it but he had my weight on the back and every time the back wheel spun out I was gripping at his sides! A nice relaxing afternoon afterwards to recover.

Stop 17 is Isla Cristina. This one is a beach and pool place to touch up the tan and the occasional bike ride so we don’t get bored. Tomorrow is going to be thunderstorms so off to Portugal tomorrow.

21/05/16

Stop 14 was El Puerto De Santa Maria. On the day we arrived there were about 20 caravans from Ireland who all arrived at the same time and congregated at the far end of the campsite on their own. We didn’t really hear anything from them until one of the couples started having an argument! It was a lovely little campsite next to the beach and in between Jerez and Cadiz. The first day was a 3 and half hour walk along the beach as a relaxing day ready for the city visit the next day.

The restraints were taken off the duke so we could go into Jerez and do a bit of sherry tasting. The tour guide who was Porugese, was brilliant saying that this was not a normal tour. It all went wrong when he had a wardrobe mishap and had to change his shirt which made him late for us so the tour took on a different route as there were different language tours going on at the sane time so we were always overlapping. It didn’t help that Andy then had to start a conversation with him about FIFA and the guide obviously felt strongly about them and continued with Andy for about another 10 minutes talking about FIFA which then made the tour even later! The tour was better than the sherry which wasn’t to my liking which is unusual as I like most alcoholic beverages. After the tasting we found a nice little restaurant just off the touristy bit and had tuna and swordfish. (I’m trying so many new different dishes here as its so cheap) The waiter brought me more Sherry to taste but it was a different type and ended up buying a bottle for a whole €5! The next day was a walk around a nature park which ended up being nearly 4 hours long and at the hottest part of the day so it wasn’t as enjoyable at the end unlike when we started.

A ferry across to Cadiz the next day with a class of school children who seemed like they had never been on a ferry before. It was funny watching them get excited about passing other ferries and bouncing over the waves it had made. There was this fantastic fish restaurant that everyone queued for, me and Andy came along at the right time and got straight in but some people were queueing for half hour. There was a tray of traditional fried seafood from Cadiz for 2 with a beer and shandy for just €13, no wonder people were queuing and it tasted quite nice too. After a good walk around, lunch and then ice cream to follow we took the ferry back.

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Stop 15 was a small car park in Matalascanas which was right next to the beach but after a walk in the evening we discovered that nothing, absolutely nothing was open apart from a bar on the beach so the next day after a short walk and a couple of hours on the beach sunbathing we moved on.

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Stop 16 is El Rocío. We have only been here for a day so I will update you soon on future activities but I will tell you that the Irish vans from El Puerto De Santa Maria have just turned up!

15/05/16

The weather has been horrendous! Stop 13 was near a town called Barbate. The weather was so bad that we couldn’t do anything for 2 days although we did attempt to go for a walk and got about 10 minutes down the road and the heavens opened again so a swift u-turn and back to the van. I say near the town of Barbate but it took just over 3 hours to walk it, one way, so we then had to walk it back. Barbate is obviously a surfers town and out of season as most of the town was closed. Lunch was fried calamari and fried anchovy and then 3 hours back to the van. Stop 14 is El Puerto De Santa Maria. A lovely place on the beach and very busy with campers. Updates will follow as we have only been here for a day. The temperature is now the complete opposite and was 23 degrees today and is going to be above 30 by next week, thank god for the air conditioner.

09/05/16

The weather held off long enough to take the duke to the National park where we saw plenty of Griffon vultures. We moved on to Seville on Fri 6th ready to meet Sam and Jade. We stayed in the Marina and took the duke into the town centre. We met Jade at the bus station ( after much confusion of which one we should be ) had a drink with her and then went back to the van. We met up with boy Sam, Frances, Jade and Vince the next day enjoying Seville centre and actually spending some money! We sat down to a meal in the evening where I got cards and pressies for my forthcoming ahem….. 40th. It was a fantastic day and evening with the whole restaurant singing happy birthday to me and I did go a bit red. We had to get back to the marina by 11pm before the gate keeper left so we were running through the streets of Seville to get back to the bike and get going. After going around a big circle, twice, we got back at 11.05pm and the gate keeper had gone home! I’m really glad we took the duke as Andy says “jump off a minute” and he goes up the kerb and through the pedestrian gate. We met up with Jade and Vince on the Sunday but everything was closed and the rain was horrendous so we left them to carry on exploring and we moved on to Gibraltar.

We parked on an aire on the Spanish side and walked across the border. It really was like being back in England with the traffic lights, the red post boxes and the litter! I couldn’t believe the state of it. We did have a nice day though after going up the rock in a cable car and then walking back down. We saw the monkeys ( who were very randy and really didn’t care where they did there business ) and I got to stroke one, not at the same time as them doing their business. When we got to the bottom we walked through the high street looking in the shop windows. We stopped at a jewellers and Andy tells me that for my birthday he is getting me an eternity ring and I’m to choose one today. For some unknown reason my brain is telling me that those rings are big and I’m looking at my finger and say ” I can’t fit another ring on my finger ” of all the things in the world to say! Just so you know Andy, I love my ring and it was very unexpected.

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04/05/16

There was only a short walk left to do in the national park so after we done that we moved on to a place called Santa Elena. We took the duke to a nearby town called Vilches where there was a monestry at the top of the hill but it was closed so we couldn’t have a look around. The views were fantastic though. We then rode down to the nearby lake which had a dam. I was busy taking pics while Andy was putting our next destination into the Garmin, some of you may be aware of Andy not liking heights very much, so he kept saying to me ” not too close, you don’t need to stand on that ledge! ” so while he was doing our next route I wandered off. I went into a little alcove and bent down to take some pics through the bars and all of a sudden I can hear SAM, SAM WHERE ARE YOU? He only thought I had gone over the top!

We then moved onto a place called Guejar Sierra. This place was beautiful and we stayed there for 5 nights. We actually ate in the restaurant twice! It was good even though I upset Andy by having grilled rabbit. We took the duke to a village called Prado Llano in the Sierra Nevado mountains and I was freezing! There was still snow there and people were skiing! We also had a 6 hour walk along a river but we had to walk down a mountain to get to it so of course at the end of the walk we had to go back up! In 28 degrees weather and no clouds! I did feel good after though even if I was a bit achy. We took the duke back out on the last day further up to the highest point and had churros and beer. They gave us a tapas of pork and tomato and it was really good.

We are now just outside a village called Olvera which is one of those white house villages on a hill. We walked up to the church and castle and around the village. We just got back on the duke to go back to the van and an English man who was very drunk would not stop talking to us, about nothing in particular but we found out he was married, they had lived in the village for 8 years and the police don’t care that he rides his scooter drunk! I don’t think they have seen him personally. We are hoping to go to the nearby national park tomorrow which has the biggest colony of griffon vultures. It’s raining at the moment and is apparently meant to be rain and thunder storms for the next 10 days, we will see.

27/04/16

Sorry it’s been so long but I’ve had a bit of trouble getting on the blog. We only stayed one night at Gargantilla del Lozoya because the weather was bad and moved further down to a place called Aranjuez. It was recommended to us by an English couple who had just stayed 5 months in Spain. It was quite nice and stayed there for 4 nights. There was an English couple on the pitch next to us and Andy was talking to the husband who didn’t like the showers? I personally thought the showers were fine with plenty of hot water and clean and Andy thought the same thing so he replied to the man “all I need is shower, shave and shit so I think they are fine” For some reason he didn’t talk to us after that. While we were there we caught a train to Madrid which was only €8.20 return each. There were some things to see like museums etc but we don’t really go in to all of them. It’s just another big city but we can now say that we’ve been to Madrid. We spent Suday having a lazy day and going for a walk around the Royal gardens which were opposite the van. The bird life was fantastic. ( photos in the gallery ) We took the duke to Toledo on the Monday which was a nice medieval town with very narrow streets that was one way to traffic. We did have a laugh watching a camera crew trying to get their transit van out of the town! We went into one church where you could walk up to the top and see the town from above and was a pretty good view. We moved further down on the Tuesday to a place called Daimiel and we are parked in a national park for free! We have walked around some of it and already I’ve seen 4 birds that I’ve never seen before and we have more to walk today.

21/04/16

We went to a winery called Muga today and tasted some of their wines which were very nice. The tour was very good and was only €10 each with a free glass at the end. We met 2 very nice American couples from New York and Arizona who started talking politics with Andy so I carried on tasting the wine and smiling at the right places. (The wine was good so it wasnt hard to smile) We have exchanged e-mails for when we are in their neighbourhood.

We thought we would travel further South stopping to pick up more vino and food along the way. Our meal was only €7 today with Salmon, Calamari and noodles. We have stopped at a place called Gargantilla del Lozoya, a campsite that is so big that it just took us one and a half hours to walk around it!

Don’t forget to go in the gallery to see the pictures.

20/04/16

We arrived in Spain yesterday and are staying in a town called Haro which is well known for its wine. We stopped at a supermarket to get some wine and the meal for the evening. We looked at food first thinking of our €20 budget for the day and ended up with a whole cooked chicken and wedges for just €7! Excellent we think and go directly to the wine aisle.

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I think I’m reading it wrong, a bottle of red wine 13% and only 0.99 cents? No, it is correct. What if its horrible and tastes of vinegar? We buy 2 bottles to try and its not actually  that bad. Normally I would get a 10 litre box (approx 13 bottles) for €18 and now I can get 18 bottles! One happy camper.

16/04/16

The van is packed and ready. There may be a bit too much in there but it’s all trial and error. We had the alarm set for 6.30 am but we are wide awake at 5am excited and want to go now!

Here we go for day 1 of 90

 

17/04/16

I wasn’t going to update the blog daily but I think Andy changed my mind for me today. We had our first stop in a place called Montbizot. It was just a bit of grass really which was all we needed as we are doing most of our driving in the first 3 days to get to Spain. We were up and out on day 2 by 9.30 am to carry on our journey towards Spain. We are about 30 minutes away from stop 2 when we decide to carry on driving to the next one at Sanguinet by the lake. We finally arrive at 5.30 pm but that’s the long drives out of the way.

We are parked up and are going to stay here for 2 nights so Andy decides he is going to have some brosé as he isn’t going to drive tomorrow. In typical Andy fashion, he drinks it like it’s Pepsi Max and he is thirsty! A couple of glasses later ( just so you know, he doesn’t normally drink! ) a French van parks next to us which isn’t actually a pitch but the road for the vans to around in and comes over to Andy. After much sign language because we don’t speak much French, Andy has told this poor man that it’s fine to park where he is and everybody will have to reverse out! This is going to be a fun trip.