Thursday, December 14, 2017

Cherbourg to San Sebastian

So nasty little Anna, delayed us for almost four hours. That was storm Anna, not the lovely Anna Carrol from Galway.

Traffic had built up in Cherbourg with the rush hour, and about twenty miles from the city the rain came on. Driving rain, dark unlit sixty five KPH road, car head lights cutting the eyes out of me, and them all driving on the wrong side of the road.
It didn’t help progress, but we made it down the road after a four hour drive. 
We’ve stopped at a fire station in a very small town called Heric, free parking overnight, and the local Christmas lights are very fetching.

A couple of drinks and then bed for me alas, because we ‘re driving 360 miles tomorrow to get to Biarritz, which is allegedly on the edge of sunny days….

Well we arrived in San Sebastian, Spain instead of Biarritz France. This was because it was only around twenty miles down the road, and as we were dead keen to get to the sun, on we went.

The drive down had dozens of kilometres of road works, two major snarl ups, Nantes and Bordeaux. Tens of thousands of forty footers, which we used in the worst driving conditions by staying pretty close to them, assuming they knew the roads.  

Anyway we arrived safely without incident and made dinner in our new home for the night. We were about sixty meters from the pounding waves of the Bay of Biscay thundering fifty feet below us. 


A quiet stroll around the old town promised good things to come tomorrow, as it really is a fine city.  San Sebastian, or the part we were in is called Donastia. 
So nasty little Anna, delayed us for almost four hours. That was storm Anna, not the lovely Anna Carrol from Galway






















Traffic had built up in Cherbourg with the rush hour, and about twenty miles from the city the rain came on. Driving rain, dark unlit sixty five KPH road, car head lights cutting the eyes out of me, and them all driving on the wrong side of the road.
It didn’t help progress, but we made it down the road after a four hour drive. 

We’ve stopped at a fire station in a very small town called Heric, free parking overnight, and the local Christmas lights are very fetching.

A couple of drinks and then bed for me alas, because we ‘re driving 360 miles tomorrow to get to Biarritz, which is allegedly on the edge of sunny days….
Well we arrived in San Sebastian, Spain instead of Biarritz France. This was because it was only around twenty miles down the road, and as we were dead keen to get to the sun, on we went.

The drive down had dozens of kilometres of road works, two major snarl ups, Nantes and Bordeaux. Tens of thousands of forty footers, which we used in the worst driving conditions by staying pretty close to them, assuming they knew the roads.  

Anyway we arrived safely without incident and made dinner in our new home for the night. We were about sixty meters from the pounding waves of the Bay of Biscay thundering fifty feet below us. 

A quiet stroll around the old town promised good things to come tomorrow, as it really is a fine city.  San Sebastian, or the part we were in is called Donastia. 

When he set off to relocate to another part of the town, a kindly local informed  us we had a flat tyre on the back. The one that I thought might have a slow puncture. Luckily enough I carry a compressor, and got it inflated enough. We eventually found a repair shop, via Google which turned out to repair scooter and motor bike tyres only. He told us of another place, and we drove all round only to give up and get out of the crazy traffic. We have seen parts of San Sebastian that even God hasn’t! 
The Spanish do things like ram the vehicle in front gently to extend the parking place! Just pull up 
and double park, there was one time, and a cigarette paper might not have fitted between Helga and some dollars! All while the driver of the errant van just looked on, like a retarded  marshmallow. Still, we made it out unscathed.

Getting the book out, Margaret found a promising spot. And it is. Even the radio station has no narrative, just music that we know and love from the seventies on. S.Amara 108.0 MHz lovely jubbly. And on that note, we are still getting UK TV, even BBC NI and UTV.

    










We now find ourselves in a small town called Lekeitio. N 43 21 29 7 W 2 30 25 5. Where we sit Is a free council run Aire about five minutes walk into the town centre. spotless, with Euro Relais and just slightly sloping.
Having walked around in daylight we decided to come back later and try the tapas, called Pintxos, pronounced pinchos, because the ones we tried were very good. Margaret had field mushrooms with garlic bacon and parsley. I had octopus, when the girl said “tentacles” I misunderstood, thought I was getting something totally different. Like in the jungle

The Baque country seems to be very proud of their heritage, Street signs and road signs are written in Basque, and we found the language to be well hard to understand. More grunting and waving was needed, and that was just to get a puncture repaired. 
They are a happy looking band except for elderly ladies who, without exception walk around scowling. 

The coastline that we’ve seen so far has been amazing, more like Ireland or Cornwall than Spain. Lots of green fields and healthy looking fauna, but of course this is all helped by the amount of rain the place gets.  

Monday, December 11, 2017

Day 1 and away from the snow.

It was one degree when we left home and two hundred miles later when we arrived in Rosslare it had soared to three degrees!
The drive down had been as usual, uneventful, except for a mini blizzard this side of Dublin. We had called into the devices for a coffee and ran into a couple of motor homing friends who pointed to a very soft tyre at the back of Helga, luckily enough there was a compressor and we were able to change up from 15 psi to 50.

Arriving in the port with an hour to spare we busied ourselves with a bottle of Gordons, the crossing was going to be lumpy for its nineteen hour duration, so a strong sleeping draught was required. Any excuse.

And so to board the good ship Oscar.

The crossing was a tad lumpy, very difficult to walk in a straight line, although this morning I’m wondering if it was the swell or our alcohol intake.
I was aware of myself sliding about in the bed, thinking it was a wonderful dream only to be awakened by the sound and sensation of huge amounts of brine throwing themselves at our vessel.

Still this morning under leaden skies with the six meter waves dancing below our window all is well. a nice breakfast and if it brightens at all, some pics of the water.


We intend driving as far south as possible today, given there will be only around three hours of winter daylight, so There will be no more news from your roving reporter for a while.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Back in the drivers seat.

Iberia and beyond. 

Winter 2017




As many of you will know, 2017 has been the worst year of our lives. 
We lost our youngest daughter, Andrea, to the Black Dog, that is bipolar.

Because of our love of touring, Christmas 2016 was the last time we were all together as a happy family unit, in fact, just for a change Kim, our eldest, did Christmas lunch at her house and Andrea, regaled us with a Boxing Day feast at hers.

Margaret and I decided we didn’t want Christmas at home this year so we felt we needed to try to find a more benevolent location, offering sunnier days and good company.

Hopefully we’ll find both, on this, our fourth European odyssey. It hasn’t failed us yet.

Starting off on December 10th sailings from Rosslare Ireland to Cherbourg in France, then going down the western side of France into Northern Spain, where we’ll turn west and slowly make our way down through Portugal. We’ve booked a lovely hotel for four days over Christmas, near Faro, it’s a former castle and looks impressive. 

We’ll go further south towards Spain and Gibraltar, where we’ll play with the apes beefier getting a ferry to Tunis in Morocco. 

Here we hope to explore the Atlas mountains before heading over to the Atlantic coast at Casablanca, turning north to go back up to the ferry back to Spain.

Margaret will be flying home from Malaga for two weeks at the end of January, to take over mother sitting duties, before returning to Malaga with Kim, who is coming out for a week to celebrate her birthday in February.

When Kim returns home, we’ll turn north and head up through central Spain, across the Pyrenees, into France, and then home, hopefully when the snow has gone from our shores and the days are longer.


Hope you enjoy the offerings, have a lovely Christmas and peaceful 2018.

France.
And how remiss of me not to be punctual.
Well, I couldn’t be punctual because we’ve been off sites with wife for five days, and such a lot has happened.
Venice. Been there, got the t-shirt, not for us. The city or state is a rip off from the time you get near it. What did my head in was being charged to SIT in their restaurants, being forced to pay a 12% service charge, by law!
We ate in a lovely looking restaurant, and to be, such character, fair the food was fine. But the service? Really woeful.
Walked the legs off ourselves, so much so in fact, that Margaret fell out with me. We walked that far, we got a water bus back to the station and it was thirteen stops.
Wonderful buildings, such character, we didn’t even mind when the sea started coming up through the man holes in St Marks Piazza!
Just stayed one night and headed north west towards Switzerland. We stopped at a country restaurant and asked if we could stay if we ate.
No problem.
The food was a la mama! In fact, I think mama was the cook, but it didn’t take away from the honesty and freshness of our meals. A bottle of wine and four courses, €22!!!!
No chance of getting caught drink driving, we repaid the hospitality with some Limoncellos and were last to leave. Slept really well and woke up to the buzz of small talk. The pub opens at 07:30 for cures and croissants!
Today we would be going into Switzerland, through the amazing 17km tunnel at Gothard.
More to come.


France.
And how remiss of me not to be punctual.
Well, I couldn’t be punctual because we’ve been off sites with wife for five days, and such a lot has happened.
Venice. Been there, got the t-shirt, not for us. The city or state is a rip off from the time you get near it. What did my head in was being charged to SIT in their restaurants, being forced to pay a 12% service charge, by law! Even when the service was fekkin atrocious?
We ate in a lovely looking restaurant, and to be, such character, fair the food was fine. But the service? Really woeful.
Walked the legs off ourselves, so much so in fact, that Margaret fell out with me. We walked that far, we got a water bus back to the station and it was thirteen stops.
Wonderful buildings, such character, we didn’t even mind when the sea started coming up through the man holes in St Marks Piazza!
Just stayed one night and headed north west towards Switzerland. We stopped at a country restaurant and asked if we could stay if we ate.
No problem.
The food was a la mama! In fact, I think mama was the cook, but it didn’t take away from the honesty and freshness of our meals. A bottle of wine and four courses, €22!!!!
No chance of getting caught drink driving, we repaid the hospitality with some Limoncellos and were last to leave. Slept really well and woke up to the buzz of small talk. The pub opens at 07:30 for cures and croissants!
Today we would be going into Switzerland, through the amazing 17km tunnel at Gothard.
More to come.