Overnight the campsite experienced what can only be described as a deluge.
Sleep was difficult as the rain hammered on the van. Miraculously for it’s age, the van remained almost watertight.
Not the awning though.
Overnight mud damage
It’s now 17:28 Central European time and am on board the Eurostar, destination London.
Accommodation was the 5 star caravan, chez Monsieur Bell. The caravan is vintage 1995 and doesn’t look a day over 25 years old. The good news is that a newer model will surely be available for next year before chez Bell becomes a mass of tangled plywood on a French autoroute…
Friday was a beautiful day on the south west shores of France and a very relaxing day was followed by a cycle ride early evening to the harbour at Guethray. A couple of beers overlooking the bay and then back to Tamaris Plage and a fine fish bbq.
Saturday and the nice weather had departed leaving a somewhat grey and cooler day. The copious amounts of rain forecast fortunately didn’t appear and we were able to cycle to St Jean de Luz in the afternoon and a fine dinner at a basque restaurant in the evening.
St Jean De Luz
Sunday we walked to Guethray and then caught the RER train to Hendaye and then the Metro to San Sebastian. A good and fortuitous decision not to drive as a major wine festival was in full flow. Luch was a beer and tapas at a local hostelry.
Wine Festival Donostia
Evening dinner was at the local pizza restaurant.
15:43. Just arriving in Bordeaux. Just one section of the journey left now down to Biarritz.
There’s a small question mark over the inclusion of this trip in the Caravan Ramblings blog. After all this is a rambling to stay a few days in someone elses caravan – still it should provide some context to our own travels and experiences.
The day began long before dawn and a wake up call at 4:25. The Eurostar departure was at 07:55 and this meant catching just about the first fast train out of Reading into London Paddington. The drive from North Hampshire to Reading station took exactly 30 minutes as did the train journey into Paddington.
Another 30 minutes to cross London to St Pancras International meant a comfortable one hour to check in at the Eurostar terminal. The Eurostar departed per schedule and it’s now 08:36 and we are somewhere under the English Channel.
We travelled for much of the route at 300km per hour. Wonder if the TGV will be much faster.
Still with only an hour to cross Paris to Gare de Montparnasse everything needs to go according to plan.
Arrival in Paris was just two minutes behind schedule but the Metro ride to Gard de Montparnasse only took around 20 minutes. Am now waiting for my TGV to depart for Biarritz. Hope I’m in the right part of the train because it splits somewhere with half going to Toulouse.
We were on the road just after 09:00 and just 280km to Santander. An easy drive along the E80 with yet again no traffic delays (well, none in front of us at least!) and a 3 hour journey to the port of Santander.
We arrived in plenty of time before the scheduled departure of 15:15 and enjoyed a fairly pleasant 24 hour crossing to Portsmouth. The Bay of Biscay was somewhat choppy in the prevailing force 6.
Following our return to Hampshire, we had a couple of jobs to perform before installing the caravan back into its home – the laying of a ton of concrete to better ease it’s motion in and out of its corner.
Then finally, the destruction of the fence, which had so nearly cost us the entire trip…
A day to explore the local town of Tordesillas. There is no shortage of beautifully kept ancient villages all over Spain. Apparently Tordesillas is famous for the signing of a treaty between Spain and Portugal on 7th June 1494. The treaty basically carved up the world based on a meridian line in order to split up the new world between Spain and Portugal. How the mighty are fallen…
It was also the day of Corpus Christi celebrations which is a Roman Catholic festivity. All the kids have been dressed up – girls in white flowing dresses like a wedding dress and boys suited and booted.
Convent of Santa Clara – closed
Still, this timing meant the convent was closed due to the celebrations and this was the one land mark we really wanted to look around. It was a palace in the days before it became a convent but today it was “cerrado”.
Lunch was in the main square and consisted of a three course Menu of the day. Mo had salad followed by cod and I had scrambled eggs with prawn followed by chicken kebabs. All washed down with a customary beer and glass or two of vino tinto.
Tordesillas Main Course
Where’s the chocolate
Profiteroles were a little weird.
Our stocks of food, beer and wine in the caravan are just fine.
Still, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to stock up on some fine Spanish wine and replenish our somewhat depleted stocks in blighty.
We visited Rueda which is central to the wine growing region we are in and visited a place called La Cuba De Rueda which is a kind of wine wholesale operation stocking wines mainly from the local bodegas. There was a huge selection of wine and we were encouraged to taste as many as we wished.
La Cuba de Rueda wine purchase
We naturally left with quite a selection of half cases – not all of which we had tasted.
I’m certain we were their premier customers of the day (if not week) judging by the first class treatment we received.
The deals seemed good but how does one know it isn’t like shopping at a farm shop in England where more oft than not, the similar quality if not same product is available at a fraction of the price in a local supermarket… It’s not as though any of the wines purchased were household names. Still, it was a lot more fun than wandering around Sainsburys looking for half price Wolf Blass Yellow label.
The afternoon was a trip to Leroy Merlin – a DIY Hyperstore. I had a few things I wanted to buy for my computerised irrigation system in England (prices are a fraction of what they are in the UK) but sadly the primary items I wanted were out of stock. We’ve been away from the house a long time now and it will be interesting to see how many of our plants have survived. Still, next time, the raspberry pi linked to weather forecasts ought to do the trick.
Evening was a meal at the Campsite restaurant which was very good and of course reasonably priced. We ended up eating in the bar as an early evening thunderstorm or two were brewing. That’s when we realised the European cup final was taking place live on TV and we watched our first television since departing our green and pleasant land.
El Astral – Camping and Restaurant
Time to move on again and this time it’s a 420km journey from Camping Los Batanes to Camping EL Astral in Tordesillas.
Pitch at Camping El Astral
Much of the day was therefore spent travelling and setting up at the new site. The pitch itself is huge and first impressions of the campsite are that we’ve chosen another gem.
Kayak rental today from restaurant Los Alamos in close proximity to Camping Los Batanes.
Through the canyon
We kayaked around Laguna San Pedro and through a narrow canyon to the next lake upstream.
Mo didn’t fancy navigating through the small cave. But relented anyway – either that or swim…
Like most people we have met here, the chap with the Kayaks was most helpful and friendly, doing his best to speak in English. Wish our Spanish was as good as his English.
Camping Los Batanes is changing again before our very eyes. Folks have been pouring into the site all day and everything is busying up again for the weekend. Spent late afternoon people watching, particularly a Spanish family who arrived shortly after lunch. Perfect execution of manoeuvring his van into position until his wife returned from the café, marched across the campsite and remonstrated that she wanted a different pitch. He duly obliged (how sad is that!).
The influx of people did have its merits in that the local Pizza restaurant was open again thus solving the dinner dilemma.
Camping Los Batanes at night
The site looks terrific in the late evening. Such an extreme of temperatures here. The daytime high of early 30 degrees occurs around 5:00 pm and yet just 12 hours later, the mercury falls to some11 degrees, ensuring a good nights sleep (for everyone), without the caravan windows remaining open…