28. Apr, 2017

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FRIDAY 28-4-17

It was a good thing we put the winter duvet on the bed last night as it was awfully cold. When we got up at a reasonable time, thinking we'd beat the Spanish to the bathrooms there was a frost on the ground. We needn't have worried, you'll never lose a race against the Spanish when it comes to the bathrooms. Saturday night, maybe, but the rest of the week you'll have the shower block to yourself.

We made the vehicle ready, then set off for Pamplona. Again the scenery was amazing, the centre of Spain is definitely where the best scenery is. Up until now I would have said you couldn't call Spain pretty. The reason being much of their rural areas have been, and are still being, open-mined for such things as clay, cement, rock and marble. These areas of Spain have not been shaped over millions of years by the ice age, wind and erosion etc, they have been changed by earth movers and giant JCB machines, scooping up the natural resources. When you look at so many hills and mountains they rise in definite steps, all man-made, where, once the mining is finished, it is left for mother nature to reclaim. But the last few days have been truly dramatic.

Between Burgos and Logrono we saw lots and lots of 'Pilgrims' trudging the Camino de Santiago route to Santiago de Compostela. If that's what turns them on then fine. They may feel they become better people for it, but better people with blisters.

We are only sorry we have not managed to capture it in photographs as well as we might have. The problem is that much of our travels have been on duel carriageways, and here in Spain, these roads have a very narrow hard shoulder. For a vehicle like ours, only about 80% would be contained within it. That leaves 20% sticking out in to the nearside lane, too dangerous for me to justify doing so unless I really had to. Such a shame, it would have been lovely to have pulled up and taken a decent photograph or two at just the right time, but it was not to be.

To Pamplona then, about one hundred miles, much of it through the mountains, and when we got there it turned out to be far, far bigger than I expected. Not a comfortable feeling, we would have had to catch a bus in to town from the free car park, and the town/city had, as I recall yet another city wall, yet another cathedral, and yet another Old Town. Having stretched my legs and taken in some nice fresh air we decided to press on with our journey towards Bordeaux. It was too far to reach today, but at least we could get that bit closer by this evening and finish the job off tomorrow. This means I will now have to re-title this section as 'Toledo - Bordeaux'.

We have spent a couple of bob on toll roads today. Fortunately the French 'TAG' system kicked in after we crossed the border and we didn't have to wait to pay our money. We just go through designated barriers, and the windscreen-mounted TAG is read, and the barrier goes up, job done. The downside of course is that at the end of each month a nice Frenchman takes money out of our bank account.

So Spain then - The Costa's are the Costa's. Ex-pat Brits living the life of back-home, but in the sunshine. They are joined throughout the year by Medallion Man and his brat kids enjoying an 'All Inclusive' sun-soaked Blackpool-like holiday. And then there's Benidorm, less said the better.

For us though it was Jerez and Seville, both so very Spanish in their own ways. We were sorry to have missed the performing horses in Jerez, trained to mimic modern Spaniards by standing on their hind legs, and Seville with its wonderful architecture. We would be very happy to return to either, or both at some time in the future.

Tonight though we are spending our evening in a Truck-Stop on a toll road north of Bayonne in the bottom-left corner of France. This will put us in a nice position in the morning to complete the journey to Bordeaux.

We have just finished up the LPG in the first cylinder and have changed to the second, larger one. I am confident that there will be enough gas to last us for hot water, central heating and to power the fridge on those days we are not on a campsite hooked up to electricity.