We tried our hand at bull running.
The market place and the old town at Pamplona.
Following a fortnight cruising around South West France and Northern Spain, we have now been back at Le Touroulet campsite for a week. The weather has been glorious, with crisp early mornings followed by warm sunshine. The trees are beginning to take on their autumn colours, there are chestnuts, hazel nuts and wild mushrooms everywhere, and the lakes are still warm enough to swim in, (although I seem to be the only one using them.) We have been for a couple of very pleasant walks, and have also seen a house that we would both buy tomorrow if we had the money. Let’s hope it is not gone by the Spring.
We have spent most of the past two days trying to cram everything we own either into or onto the Beast, and have had to repack at least four times in order to get everything in. I hope he makes it up the steep hill out of the campsite! We are planning to drive to Pamplona, about 300 miles, tomorrow and another 300 miles to Jalon the day after. We are both looking forward to being back in a house for a few months and to seeing our friends, but now that we have decided we want to be in France, we both feel rather as if we are marking time. We are also a bit concerned that George Osborne is about to do something very nasty to overseas resident tax allowances.
Must close now as I want to make the most of the sunshine. We are likely to be out of contact for a few days until we can set up our computers in Spain, so apologies if no new blog for a day or two. Happy birthdays to Stefan and Tom.
Finally, we would love to know who is following our blog in Brazil. We have wracked our brains but still can’t think of anyone we know there, so please post a comment and let us know who you are! All the best, Andy.
After a very pleasant day on the beach at a town called Castro Urbana, which has a spectacular castle and an amazing promenade, we left our eyrie in the mountains, which I loved but Ann wasn’t so keen on, and had a comfortable drive down to Pamplona with The Beast behaving immaculately. Hotel is clean and comfortable. We spent the afternoon and evening walking around Pamplona, the former home of the Kings of Navarra. I don’t think they are related to the Kings of Norfolk and Depford but I’m not sure who to ask. Pamplona is a very attractive city with a lovely old quarter. Hopefully Ann will post some photos tomorrow, as the technology is still beyond me.
We walked part of the Camino de Santiago de Compostella through the city centre (about thirty yards), before our religious fervour began to fade. We met several people who had been walking for weeks, at about 30k per day, which has to be fairly painful. Not many of them carrying any extra weight, so perhaps there is a lesson to be learned there! We also followed the route of the bull run. What I hadn’t realised is that the poor bulls are driven at least two hundred yards uphill at a full sprint as soon as they start so they are knackered before the runners join in!
We had a decent three course meal for twenty euros in the evening, having managed to hold out until 8.15 before we started. We were still the first people in the entire city to enter a restaurant, some of which don’t even open until nine. The whole place was flooded with people out having a good time and all the bars were full. If the Spanish economy is as deep in the doo doo as is claimed, they are certainly trying to ignore it! More of Pamplona tomorrow. I am hoping to see a game of pelota which is supposed to be the fastest ball game there is, and we might make it to the market. All the best, Andy.
The Guggenheim Museo in Bilbao was one of those places on our list of ‘100 things to see…..’.
and it didn’t disappoint. The third floor was closed and so was one of the galleries but the building itself and the Georges Braque exhibition were fantastic. We went back to our hideaway in the mountains for tapas. Pamplona next…..
We found a rural hotel just outside Lesaka which looked great but was right next door to a truck yard. We loved San Sebastian. The city is really relaxed and pretty. We took a bike tour around.
We have moved onto Bilbao. We thought we’d book a small hotel five miles outside the city. It is even more remote than living in Mozambique. We are right up in the mountains, with no signs of civilization anywhere in sight. We had lunch in blazing sunshine on the patio and now there is continuous rain and thunder. This is the view from our bedroom window!
is thankfully staying away. Temperature still in the late 20’s and bright blue skies. The hotel we are in is “interesting”. It has corridors like a museum, and we are struggling to work out how it can be described as “rural”. It has a truck park on one side, an HGV filling station on another, and a car park and busy road on the other. Food is good but very basic, and is slapped in front of you by a waitress on the run.
We had a pleasant day on the beach at Hondorribia this afternoon, and watched a triathlon. The area is somewhat different to what we had expected, with lots of Austrian type ski chalets. though no girls called Heidi wearing durndls. The Basques, both men and women, are very short with powerful shoulders and somewhat surly expressions. All the road and shop signs are in the Basque language. If Scotland votes yes next week I suspect that will be the end of Spain as we know it. The Basques, Catalans and Valencianos will surely jump on the Independence bandwagon. The particularly interesting thing about the Basque situation is that they spread over two countries, so the French would be involved as well.
Ann has been walking much further lately, so hopefully her left ankle is now well on the mend and she’ll be back to normal soon. Both looking forward to getting back to our house in Spain. Andy.
This is a gorgeous area of France. We are in the Gironde. The weather is really warm, our Chambres D’Hote is comfortable and friendly. The countryside is beautiful and the medieval towns are pretty. We are heading to just over the Spanish border tomorrow so it’s back to practising our Spanish again.
Said a grumpy old lady named Ann
I’m fed up with this caravan
I prefer a hotel, and a good one as well,
So take me there, soon as you can.
We have had a very pleasant couple of weeks back at La Touroulet campsite, although when the news from home is not good one feels a bit useless. We had a really good lunch with Simon and Shari near Perigeux, and looked at lots of houses without finding one that we both fell in love with. We have also done a bit of walking, and I’ve done some cycling and swimming. The people who run the campsite, Ruth and Peter, are brilliant and will do anything to make life pleasant. It’s a lovely peaceful rustic site, but not too far from facilities, so if anyone wants to borrow the caravan between now and 1st December just let us know. The russet colours of autumn are just beginning to kick in, and the hedgerows are full of nuts and berries.
As the opening verse might suggest, Ann is not quite as keen on glamping as I am, so we have decided to have a “holiday” for a couple of weeks. We have just arrived at an excellent chambres d’hote at Tuillac, near Blaye. It is called the Chardon Fleuri, and the gardens are beautiful. We are planning to visit the Napoleonic fort at Blaye tomorrow and have a day in Bordeaux on Thursday before moving South to have a look at St Jean de Luz, Biarritz, and San Sebastian. Then, if the Beast is still going and we have any dosh left at all, it’s down to Bilbao to see the Guggenheim, over to Pamplona and back up to Pau before returning to Chalais to pick up our stuff and head south for the winter. I suggested taking a two man tent and a couple of sleeping bags to reduce the cost, but sadly my pleas have fallen on deaf ears. All the best, Andy.