26th February to the 3rd March

Sorry, no photograph on this blog because I cannot get a decent wi-fi signal to be able to up-load the images

26th February

Really we would have liked to move on but the wind is so strong that it wouldn’t be wise to drive in the near gale force winds.  The website we use to give us updates on all things weather ominously tells us that this will go on until Saturday.  We have done the local area and the site is in need of a bit of TLC and the people running the camp could do with an intensive course in dealing with the general public.  The only thing that keeps us smiling is the relationship Elaine has with Nicki from the next motorhome to us.  Nicki is from the Netherlands and her husband Paul is from Switzerland.  For 19 years travelled the world in their catamaran and now they travel in their small motorhome.  They live in a caravan on a Swiss campsite and the pictures she showed us, shows it as a very nice dwelling indeed.  We have been invited there should our travels take us that way.  They were the same as us, made prisoners by the high winds.

We drove up to the next site and it looked so much cleaner and we were very taken with the friendliness of the owners of the camp.  Not only that, we found it cheaper and the wi-fi was included in the price and not at an extra charge as it was on the other site.  When we had set up we went off toward town to catch the bus into Vineros to visit this seaside town and to go to the weekly market there.  When we got there, we walked to the market and we were both quite disappointed with what we saw there.  It was a clothes market and probably because of the weather then there were lots of spaces between the stalls that were there.  Lots of the tables were piled high with shoes all in a jumble and a lot of the clothes were marketed in the same way.  I have seen jumble sales in the past and that was the impression we got as we walked along.  Mind you, every stall had lots of people around them scrabbling through the mounds and as we walked through then we did our bit in helping the stall holders by picking up the stock that was being blown about in the high winds

27th February

I had a leisurely morning and Elaine took it into her head that the van needed a thorough spring clean.  Then the oven was scrubbed and polished to within an inch of its life and at that I beat a hasty retreat in case I was next on the list of things that Elaine thought needed an energetic cleaning.  Armed with my camera I took myself off for a three hour walk into the neighbouring town of Benicarlo.  I thoroughly enjoyed my walk and came back all along the beach.

28th February and 1st March

As we were packing up the van ready to move on a Belgian from a neighbouring van gave us a leaflet for a camperstop he had stopped at on the way down.  It would take us north of Barcelona so we put the coordinates into the sat nav and headed off.   Our route took us along the N340 and by then we had started to leave behind the stalls and tables by the side of the road selling plastic netting bags of oranges, 5 kilos of oranges for 2 euros.  Instead we started to see a different type of road side selling.  Ladies, and I use that term loosely, who were flaunting themselves openly trying to entice drivers to pull into their driveways into a field.  Each one had a plastic chair beside them with some belongings on them and down one such opening we saw a big white van parked.  We must have driven by 10 such drivers’ ‘restrooms’ spread all along this long road.  Business cannot have been good as we only went past one chair with no lady present.  Unlike the oranges, we did not see any signs showing the prices of the goods on offer.

As we got nearer to Barcelona then in comparison with dry dusty scrublands we had been used to during our long stop over; everywhere looked green and well cultivated and then we started to drive past acres and acres of vines.  Lots of trees had beautiful blossom and the towns we drove through gave us the impression we were in a much more prosperous area of Spain.  The traffic built up massively the closer we got to Spain’s second city.  We didn’t go on any of the peage motorways as we elected to take more time over the drive so we could see the towns and villages as we drove through them.  With a couple of stops we got to Palamos in 6 hours and we had driven 230 miles.

It felt chillier here as we are a lot further north and there had been a little rain during the night so after a leisurely breakfast we got ourselves ready and both donned jumpers and our waterproof walking jackets and walked into Palamos.  The sun came out and soon we were both carrying the jackets.  We walked all along the promenade beside the beautiful beach past the three large harbour areas and then headed in to the old town with the narrow streets that was built over the headland that jutted out into the sea.  What a lovely place to stop.  I think the Dutchman must have told others about this camperstop because there was a Dutch couple here that were at our last stop and whilst we were out friends of the Dutch lady and Swiss man who Elaine befriended parked right next door to our motor home.  As I type this our holiday coordinator (Elaine) is busy on the tablet looking for our next stop at Figueres because we will visit the Salvador Dali Museum there before moving into France.

 2nd of March

We only had 42 miles to do to get to our destination.  We said our goodbyes to the Dutch couple and got on our way.  As we neared Figueres we got our first views of the snow covered Pyrenees Mountains.  I couldn’t find a place to pull over because the mountains were as clear as a bell and I could have got a beautiful picture.  We got into the town and we drove to one of the spots where we may have wild camped for the night.  When we got there it all looked distinctly unsafe and on top of that there was not another unit parking there.  We then went on to our 2nd choice rest stop and we parked in the car park of the Esclat supermarket and that looked a lot safer.  We walked into town, heading straight for the Dali Museum.  Guess what!  The wretched museum doesn’t open on a Monday.  We had a bit of a walk around the town looking for a tourist information office because we needed something else to visit.  She provided us with maps and sent us off to visit the Castell de Sant Ferran.  This is the largest fortress in Europe with perimeter walls 3120 metres and they started work on it in 1753 and it was built to defend the Spanish from the revolutionary France.  Better still it was going to give me an opportunity to get those photos of the snow covered mountains.

Elaine took charge of the audio guide and in no time we were hearing about the stables when we were in something that looked distinctly like an old church and the description of the colonel’s quarters looked nothing like the ancient toilet we were actually looking at.  By the time we got to the northern edge of the huge castle then clouds were well down over the mountains.  That perfect photo remains elusive.

On the way up to the castle we saw something which we had never seen before.  All across the path were lines of caterpillars joined up nose to tail, all blindly following the one in front.  It was just like seeing the legendry lemmings and as the lines led into the road; the ones at the front were squashed flat, ran over by the passing traffic.  Still the lines continued on.  In places there was a traffic jam of caterpillars and then it looks like they have gone round and round in ever decreasing circles.  I think there must be a moral in all this.  Never blindly follow someone unless you really trust their leadership credentials.  In case there is sympathy felt for the poor dumb creatures then let me tell you a little more about these horrible creatures.  Throughout Spain and the southern parts of France you will see huge web nests covering the ends of many of the branches on fir trees that you pass. These cocoon type nests contain these caterpillars and you touch one of these nests at your peril because the mere touching causes an extreme allergic reaction the effects of which are worse for some people than others.  Even walking under one of these nests can cause respiratory problems for some people.

3rd of March

At 10 o’clock we were at the doors of the Dali Museum and we wandered around the many levels of this circular building being and more amazed at the genius of this multi-talented artist.  It is no good me trying to describe any of the wonderful, weird things we saw there so I’ll leave you to use the internet, if you are interested, to get some sort of idea what we saw there.

We then walked back to our motorhome and then set the sat-nav for the French town of Collioure which is on the coast just past the border between Spain and France.  This is a place I have been looking forward to visiting for a long time. Seven years ago I had the pleasure of being the co-driver in a hired van with my very good friend Paul Ridley.  The van contained all his belongings as he was moving here to start a new life in France in this most beautiful place.  Although we have kept in touch this was going to be the first time since then that we would meet face to face.  Also, I have always wanted to bring Elaine here to see this place and to wander around seeing all the sights that have been the subject of so many paintings by so many artists over the years.  Just some of the known artists that have set up their easels here are Picasso, Juan Gris, Derain and Duffy.

The Sat-nav. gave us three alternatives so I chose the N260 route that would take us all along the coast to our destination.  The narrow road was the longest big dipper ride I have been on in my life.  The road snaked, up and down constantly turning back upon itself.  At times there were no crash barriers between us and the drop below us and even though this was not the best road for us to have taken in our old bus; Bertha performed admirably.  At one stage Paul rang to see where we were.  That coincided with me yelling with delight at seeing a sea side town miles below us whilst Elaine was screaming full stop because of the same view and the lack of anything between us and the massive drop.  We arrived safely and we met Paul at the train station car park and we were soon taken off to meet all his friends that were all meeting up especially to meet us.  Later on Elaine and I walked around the town and Elaine was soon saying that Collioure was the most beautiful town we had visited since the start of our journey.

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This is all about our year long meander around Europe in our motor home. It is a way of passing on what is happening, where we are and thoughts on what we have seen or done. Please comment as it is, firstly, nice to know this stuff is being read, and also tell me if there are other things you would like to hear about.

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