St Paul des Dax – San Sebastian
We set off at 10am headed for San Sebastian… the indicators seem to work fine, but as you can see the dashboard is slightly dismantled for the journey!
The rain petered out when we arrived in Biarritz – a small shop in Lidl and fuelled up…. only E.898/litre. Arrived at the Aire trouble-free – so Nick’s earth/neutral theory on the problems appears to be correct. Now we just need to find some wire to fix it before re-assembly.
Lunch at the Aire, I’m having a short nap while Nick takes Bert out exploring. Surprise – he managed to find a bar while on the walk – he reckons Bert has a ‘nose’ for these things! Our lazy afternoon was followed by a few hours (and a few beers) uploading our first week’s blog at the local bar. Lovely barman showed us a picture of his dog – a mastiff that’s actually taller than him! Bert made friends with a black lab. Didn’t want to leave, but I’d had a Facebook fix and played with the blog… and the bar closed at 9.
We’ve decided to stay another day and seek out some tapas here – purportedly the best in Spain. We watched a movie with Bertie (Dean Spanley) – as you can see he loved it!
We both feel a bit achy and knackered today – serves us right for driving for too long today, but what else is there to do when the weather sucks but head south! Callie called tonight – it was lovely to hear that she and Luke are both okay… tried to call Mum but no answer.
2/2/16 San Sebastian
Not a great night’s sleep – birdsong before dawn woke us up, and then a little doggy chorus which Bert joined in very enthusiastically! No rain today and feels warm – double figures today. Breakfast, showers then went for a walk in the University area – Musiteke is a FAB, wonky, golden roofed building and this photo does not do it any justice at all!
Bertie met a few locals on the walk – had coffee and tapas (ham, breads, mushrooms, and the VERY best vegetable tortilla I’ve ever tasted) at Cafe Mogambo – YUM!
Opted to do a little bit of writing up today – and save beer and wifi for tonight!
Hating this hectic pace of life – Twiz is getting twitchy although he’s learning to relax just a bit… We went to the bar for an hour or so, then back for a movie in bed!
3/2/16 San Sebastian – Ayegui
Woke to rain (and a little bit of sun, but not for long). Tea and maps for breakfast. Route today is Donostia – Villabona – Besain – Aranatz – Estella – Ayegui, our destination is on the Pilgrims Way to Santiago. Left in torrential rain, the route took us down some AMAZING wiggly roads, over some mountains and in the piddling rain it really wasn’t pleasant!
But once on a higher level, despite the temperature dropping sharply to 2.5 degrees, the sun came out to play for a while again.
Our destination is quite beautiful – look at the view!
Settled down, we’re the only ones here – alternate sun and then freezing rain! Got bikes out to visit the Monastery Irache – there is a Bodega alongside the Monastery rumoured to have a Fuente de Vino (wine fountain) for pilgrims!
En route we found a very deep voiced beagle guarding his very own brick built dog house, adjacent to the Wine Museum.
We arrived at the monastery and yes, there was a rather special fountain with Cabernet Sauvignon on the left, and Agua on the right! All free and quite delicious – glad I bought my mug! The fountain is supplied with no less than 100 litres per day – PER DAY!!! – and no, we didn’t take a bottle (or a demijohn) with us!!!
The rain returned with a vengeance so we decided to head back to the van – Nick cooked – entrecote with a mushroom and Roquefort sauce, salad and potatoes (yes, he can do it again!) and some huge langoustines.
Just want to sleep it off now, but doing a bit of research for tomorrow’s journey – we might just take a cup or two of Cab Sav with us!
4/2/16 Ayegui – Burgos – Palencia – Ampudia
Don’t know if you got our texts, but Happy Birthday Linda Smith!
Early, frosty start this morning zero degrees… early because Bert could hear the beagle up at the monastery barking! Lindi didn’t hear the beagle, and wondering what had alarmed Bertie decided to investigate – making sure she had her trusty baseball bat and cooks knife with her! It was hilarious! Mind you – one sight of her in that dressing gown would’ve seen off all but the most tenacious burglar!
Heading towards Burgos today, and there doesn’t seem to be any snow on the distant mountains, which is all good! Visibility is excellent and it’s nice to see the terrain at last. Nice lunch spot by the A12 .
Refuelled just outside Burgos (E0.67/litre) heading for Palencia. We had several aires in mind around Palencia to choose from, but AMPUDIA looked like the best – so that’s where we aimed, and we most certainly were not disappointed… It looked like an ordinary village from a distance, surrounded by hills and loads of wind turbines – but as we drew nearer a beautiful church, and then a castle appeared, and as we found ourselves in the centre of the village the strange architecture took over – medieval covered walkways – street after street of first floors protruding out onto the street – supported by ancient pillars, some of stone, but most of worn, silvered wood…
The trees in the squares had been grown together to provide a leafy canopy in the summer, and as we headed towards the aire it just got more beautiful!
We parked up and got the bikes out immediately and set out to explore. We were nearest to the castle – and we were deafened by echoing barks from the resident guard dogs! one of whom nearly wriggled right through a lookout hole!
Then onto the church which boasted a very ornate and very large organ (enough already people!). It was thirsty work and we found a bar Meso de Ampudia, but missed the (tiny) sign on the door of a dog with a big cross through it! After serving us 2 beers and a plate of tortilla, the landlady noticed the pooch and asked us to leave! So only the one beer then…If Bert can’t go there – we can’t go there!… the price of E2.10 for 2 beers and a munch seemed okay though!
We returned to the aire to find we had been joined by a Brit registered Bessacar driven by Michael and his wife Jean, who were returning to the UK after wintering in their apartment in Portugal.
While we were chatting a donkey came into view, followed by a shepherd, 2 dogs and a large flock of sheep! Bert was on his long leash and was vetted by one of the sheepdogs who decided he was no threat to the sheep and wandered back to the flock.
After a couple of hours munching the lawn they crossed the aire and disappeared up the hill…! Nick attempted to use the services but the waste disposal point was almost at overflow! Only bad point about this location. I did a couple of hours work on the computer, and made veg soup for supper, and we drank way too much tinto – but slept well.
Ampudia – Salamanca – La Alberca
Woke at dawn and watched a gorgeous day emerge – blue skies, frost and sunshine! Nick strolled down to the village to get bread. Feels good to be alive this morning!
I took Bertie for a walk around the town, back up around the front and side of the castle – and back to the van – a lovely walk – but Bertie didn’t like the little lookout post thingies that littered the grounds around the castle! Anyone know what they are?
Perhaps for guard dogs? Grille in the front facing out, and little tiny doors at the back….
We left at 12 aiming for Salamanca taking the Ruta de los Castillos… very picturesque! Just north of Salamanca filled with fuel and LPG – only LPG station for a couple of hundred miles so made sense! Happy bunnies – 24 litres for E12.43 -under £9 for a full gas bottle!
Now we just had to worry about fresh water and waste disposal, and we’re good for the trip across to Plasencia, Coria and Alcantara – and then Portugal! En route keep seeing storks nesting in any available high chimney – even saw one intrepid pair on the top of a telephone pole!
We got to La Alberca – a nice Aire with forest walks in National Park. Black Pig country! I settled down and did some more work, and we ate supper late. It looks however like Friday night is firework night here – from 10.15pm until gone midnight lots of SERIOUSLY loud explosions in the vicinity… couldn’t consider moving however because we’ve both had wine and daren’t! Poor Bert is beside himself – no likey!!! A certain doggy spent the night squished between us.
La Alberca – Ciudad Rodrigo – Benquerenca
Late night = late start! The noisy explosions continued and we can only surmise there were hunters in the forest… Bert had grown accustomed to them and although he wasn’t happy they didn’t freak him out this morning. Left La Alberca at midday seeking a supermarket / laundry. Headed to the Ciudad Rodrigo area to find one – without luck! Small shop in Lupa, now crossing the border into Portugal! Saw storks in flight en route – they’re huge! Arrived at our proposed stop, Aldeia da Ponte – looked beautiful initially – adjacent to an old stone chapel and river bridge. Wellington fought a battle here in September 1811 as part of the Peninsula war apparently! Unfortunately we soon realised we were in a much-used thoroughfare and felt like goldfish in a bowl!
After coffee and a dogwalk it wasn’t too late and we decided to leave and head somewhere else with a wee bit more privacy! We didn’t fancy the first two closest aires, and headed for Benquerenca.
After a nerve-wracking 3km single track road we pulled in and we couldn’t be happier! Beautiful weirside aire surrounded by countryside close to the village – with immaculate toilet & showerblock (coldwater – brrrr) and a barbecue area and free services too!
When facilities state bbq you’re not sure what to expect – but this was a 3 station full chimneyed beaut!
The cafe across the riverbridge doesn’t open until Easter, but it’s such a lovely place that doesn’t matter. An ancient Brit caravan, a Brit camper and trailer and a french caravan were on site, but with 30 spaces very widely spread we had the pick of the aire… The Brit camper was occupied by Geoff and his wife Jenny. Nick waffled to Geoff and found out they were full-timers, having rented out their home in UK to fund their adventures. When we talked about being in Monaco for April 15th, they had a recommendation for parking on the Haute Corniche at Villefranche-sur-Mer, free parking and a bus/train journey from Monaco proper.
Now we just have to find out if Bert is OK on public transport… fingers crossed. Slept really well with the sound of the weir lulling us to sleep!
Happy Birthday Luke!
Went for a long walk over to the village today in lovely sunshine.
All in all a very chilled day – even managed to do a bit of handwashing in the 2 sinks in the BBQ area, and was rudely interrupted by a party of about 10 Portugese hunters coming for lunch! I returned their very gruff “Bom Dia”, and rinsed my smalls as quickly as I could so they could enjoy their lunch without a washerwoman! We invited Geoff and Jenny over for a drink and then realised we had plenty of food for 4 so they came for supper. Dog people who lost their 2 border collies in the last year, they loved Bertie! We went late to bed, a little worse for wear!