Sunday, 13 December 2009

Here be dragons...

written 11th december

so, with a sense of poetical completeness, exactly a month after leaving england, we have left France - where we should never have been in the first place - and exactly a month after waking up in France we have woken up in Spain - where we were supposed to have started.  We have been to spain for exactly three days before (Barcelona for a long weekend two years ago just after Will left Arm and fitted the kitchen) and we speak no spanish whatsoever - something we obviously intellectually knew but which became an all to apparent actuality when, finding ourselves on the Texas border at OJ 3 years ago, we decided to walk across the border into Mexico and were suddenly plunged into a strange dusty world with no local currency, no signs (this was not tourist country) and no idea.  Fortunately on that occasion we eventually found ourselves in burrito bar where some american teenagers helped us get lunch and they obviously took US dollars but still...

Despite not being in the original plan though, France has been great and I have loved it.  It has provided a much needed, slightly less than absolutely foreign, and somewhat gentle start to the adventures and has ironed out all our teething problems (hopefully!) in a land where we could make ourselves understood.  We have eaten well, drunk well and generally life has been good but it is definately time to leave this land of chocolate croissants, where we haven't eaten the same cheese twice and try somewhere else for a while....

We have a vague route plan, little knowledge of northern spain (most of the famous places I have heard of are in the south) and 19 days to get to Porto

The drive from St Jean was uneventful and nicely up and down - I suspect there would have been good views as the road at times had that "clinging to the edge of a hill" feel but the trouble with fleeing a country under the cover of darkness is that it is dark and therefore you can't see the view, nor in fleeing, can you come back the next day and take photos... ;)

The border crossing was, to be honest, a bit of a let down.  To make absolutely sure we didn't end up on a toll road, we followed a back road route through Hendaye in France to Irun in Spain where the border crossing was an unmarked bridge over a river.  After our european adventure in the midget last year, I wasn't expecting fanfares (all previous previous crossings are of course faithfully pictorially documented elsewhere) but the official EU Spain sign was so graffiti'd we missed it (so I made Will go round again) and there wasn't a sign at all for re-entering France (although on one of the France/Italy backroad border in the Alps last year, the France sign was heavily graffiti'd with "F**K Sarko" so maybe they have just given up...).

San Sebastian is described by Lonely Planet as the Spanish equivalent of Biarritz and the Basque cultural centre of Spain so, lulled into complacence by camping-car friendly france, we left St Jean late to avoid the traffic and assumed we would find a smallish seaside city with clearly marked camping-car spots.  Not so.  The urban motorway stretched from Irun all the way to St Sebastian, we couldn't find either the beach or the town centre and headed back out the the mid-way service station where we assumed we could tuck ourselves in by a lorry.  Again, not so.  Unfortunately there was no room at the inn and a clamped car in the service station parking spots.  After a drive around some deserted industrial estate which didn't look promising, we nearly, almost considered ducking back into France but that would have been cheating so we eventually tucked ourselves into a service road by the side of Carrefour, just in time to get to the toilets before it shut, and cooked up random dinner of lamb, onion and asparagus risotto - which was a complete experiment and actually surprisingly nice!

This morning we have woken up to lorries passing down the road past us, bright clear blue sunny sky and you can see your breath if you open the window - but we are snuggly warm in our duvet.  We have also met Walkabout Wayne who, with his girlfriend and dog, was parked up behind us in their converted truck on their way to near Malaga by way of Burgos and Madrid then on eventually to his plot of land in the west to build his house.  As an ex-VW van owner and a very well travelled bloke, Wayne has marked up our map of spain with free camping spots and other good places to go and I am once again excited about spain!

Just a spot more fettling to do (amongst other things, Will is making voltage spike isolators by winding wire round cheap leroy-merlin washers - even I know that the resultant magnetic field will help resist the change in voltage...) then we shall head off back into town to see what's what!

Hasta Luego!

1 comment:

  1. Glad to read that you have made it to Spain, enjoy those Tapas