20. Feb, 2017

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SATURDAY 18-2-17

We had a lovely night's sleep, the sea had remained calm which is unusual for the Bay of Biscay. After a lovely hot shower and shave we were dressed and on our way to the Self-Service dining area and a Full English breakfast. The thinking was that once we drove ashore we could cover a good few miles before we needed to pull in somewhere for lunch. Then it was back down to the cabin for a read before vacating it thirty minutes before docking.

We watch our arrival in to Santander before making our way down to the car deck. We had been the first deck to be called forward.

What a surprise, we were one of the first to get off the ship, so maybe it was worth the long wait to load back there in Portsmouth.

This would be a good time to mention my 'Travelscript'. It's a form I developed for our tours around America, and I have adapted it slightly for our European trips. Basically it identified each motorhome journey. That journey will have the distance between A & B, the intended route listing the road numbers. The campsite or parking area we intend to stop at once we reach our destination together with en-route campgrounds should we need to abort the journey along the way for any reason. It will also show places we intend or are worthy of a visit at each destination and a guestimate of how many days it would take to do it all. Throughout each trip it is always available for modification, but it's useful to have as a starting point.

I don't think I could have had my mind on the job when I began planning this trip. I had our journey when leaving Santander as going east along the coast to Bilbao, leaving me wondering why we didn't just sail to Bilbao in the first place. This involved us travelling on a motorway running parallel with the coast going up and down, up and down as we weaved along the mountainous coast. From here we dropped on to a toll road, the AP68 heading towards Zaragoza, our intended overnight stop. After The Chef had a look at the map and our route taken thus far, she pointed out that we could have just headed south from Santander to Burgos, then headed east to Logrono avoiding an awful lot of toll charges. We have  now agreed that in future I will continue to produce the 'Travelscript' for each trip, but The Chef will then give it a closer look armed with a road atlas. Another pair of eyes would have saved us time and money on this occasion.

Lunch was taken in a picnic area in the Logrono area before we continued onwards. It was a lovely sunny day and we were in Rioja wine country, thousands upon thousands of vines on either side of the road. All very nice but what we needed to see were Truck-Stops, our regular freebies for the night when out on the road. I had earmarked one just west of Zaragoza, but when we took a closer look it was too small and crowded, so onward we plodded.

At Zaragoza we headed south  on the A23 towards Teruel. This is the road which would take us pretty much all the way to the seaside. We eventually found a rural filling station just off one of the interchanges but it didn't feel a very safe place to spend the night, so back on the road we went.

Fortunately not too much further down the road we came across a Truck-Stop where, having topped the tank up, we were given permission to park for the night, although I'd have parked there anyway.

We tried to get right away from all the activity of the Truck-Stop operation and parked next to an HGV right on the edge of the very large parking area. It wasn't until he fired up his refrigeration engine that we realised why he had also parked right away from everybody else. Oh well, back behind the wheel after our evening meal to move us alongside another HGV which I had checked didn't have a refrigeration unit on it.

Today we had passed thousands of ugly wind turbines and not one of them was turning. Between them they hadn't generated enough electricity to power a one-bar electric fire due to the fact that the wind was perfectly calm.

It had been a long day with a lot of driving, but it was warm and sunny which made it all worthwhile. In fact spring seems to have arrived in this part of the world. The sun was shining, there were lots of birds about and thousands upon thousands of trees covered with blossom.

The biggest tragedy of the day was in finding an aluminium one-litre container I use to decant wine in to, and was, until this evening, full of nice chilled Ros—ź, now partly empty with a damp fridge interior. Somehow or other it had sustained a tiny hole near the base. This gave me an excuse to drink some of it before turning it upside down to preserve the remaining contents. Once we arrive at the seaside I shall attempt to repair it with some Epoxy Resin.

Tomorrow we should be at our destination at Benicassim, a whole twenty-four hours before we are expected there, but by allowing adequate time to make the journey it took the pressure off us. After all we could have been unlucky enough to have encountered snow inland at these high altitudes.