Tuesday, 1 December 2015

We're now in Sunny Spain!

We're Now in Sunny Spain

Saturday 28th November 2015

This morning we left Camping la Florida with a plan to cross over the boarder into Spain, hopefully to find a bit of sunshine and warmth, but first we had to cross the snow capped Pyrenees.

Now, we had debated whether we should do this by using the fast motorway toll roads, or if we should continue to programme Mrs Snoopy to avoid them.  We'd located a camp site in Spain at a place called Roses, so we knew we only had about 75kms to cover, therefore we opted to avoid paying - as we've done ever since arriving in France.  And in the end we were quite gald we chose that option because the main toll road that crosses the boarder in this area ran almost parallel to the road we travelled on, so really, we would have gained very little.

The Toll Road Viaduct taken from the T4rdis window as we travelled
Also, as an added bonus, the scenery was spectacular - we could see snow capped mountains in the far distance, and the road we were travelling on had a craggy cliff face on one side and a deep drop off on the other - which in places was only protected by a crash barrier before a very long way down!

As we approached the boarder we came to the town with two names - the French side is Le Perthus, and the on the Spanish side it's called El Pertus.  As we approached we prepared our passports and van documents for viewing, however The Schengen Agreement made this unnecessary - we sailed through (as did everybody else) without even a hint of being stopped.

No Officials Here!

From here it was only a short hop to our planned camp site - Joncar Mar in Roses, so we were soon settled in with the kettle on and enjoying our first experience of Spanish Camping (which seems to be a little different to England!)  For a start, with only a very few exceptions, the site is the reserve of motorhomes of multiple nationalities, and many of them seem to be dug in for the long haul.  They have their pitches marked out with washing lines, outside dining areas and fairy lights, and some of them even have sheds for their belongings, kennels for their dogs, and additionally, there were also numerous cats prowling and guarding their perimeters. Happily, it is only about half full so there was plenty of space, but if it had been full I think you would know every time your neighbour farted sneezed!

Having said that, the facilities were excellent and  the site is only a stone’s throw from a very lovely beach with it’s promenade that wraps itself around the bay.  The backdrop to the town is low rise eateries and apartments, all of which are very pleasing to the eye, but mostly closed for winter.  We nipped out for a short walk in the afternoon, but as we were planning to stay for a few days, we are saved our main exploring for another day.

Sunday 29th November 2015

The morning dawned bright and sunny but still a bit breezy, and having been caught out in France - thinking it would be warm because we could see the sun - and then being cold, we layered up before leaving the T4rdis to do said exploring.  We both had long trousers, undershirts, long sleeved tops, jackets and walking boots/shoes - how wrong we were - soon we were absolutely boiling, and even though we removed everything we decently could, we were still far to  warm in the 19 degree sunshine!

This little chap knew how to catch the shade!

Anyway, John had planned a route along the coast - we walked along the promenade and up a hill out of Roses, until we  joined the coastal path that hung over the deep blue Mediterranean sea.

Along the way we spied the fishing yards, where apparently, they sell their catch at daily auctions that are open to the public - I think they are fairly early in the mornings so we're unlikely to be up in time to go!

We paused at Canyelles for a coffee break 

and then continued on to a large nature reserve on a headland where we were treated to far reaching views over the Roses Bay. By now we'd realised that we'd walked a little further than we'd intended and we still had to retrace our path to get back, however, the return walk held different views and vistas so it was almost as enjoyable.

I say almost, because by the time we were nearing the end of our jaunt we were a little foot sore and weary and ready to strip off some of our ‘warm clothes’ that we hadn't  needed in the first place! 

Monday 30th November 2015

Today was to be a cycling day.  John had planned a ‘hilly’ route up to a headland where we would have 360 degree views around the area, and reassuringly, he told me it was about 9 miles there and similar back, but there'd be a lot of climbing!  On the first point he lied fibbed, and on the second he hadn't exaggerated!

These are some of the hills we cycled up - look how small the buildings appear at the side of them! gulp

However, at least we chose suitable clothes for this excursion - cycle shorts and tee shirts - or at least we thought we had.  On the way up they were fine, but on the way down, at about 30kmh it was CHILLY to say the least.

We left the van and had about 4 kms to ride before we picked up the quite B road that would wind itself up up up and up to the hight of about 285 metres, before we dropped right back down to sea level at Cadaques where we paused for coffee.  Cadaques turned out to be a busy little town with noisy motor scooters and motor bikes flying around every nook and cranny so we were quite glad to leave the hussle and bussle behind.  However, there was just one little problem - because we'd dropped down to sea level we had to climb back up the steep winding roads out of the town, and then the ongoing minor (white) roads that led to our destination (another 300 or so metres up).  I really do sound as if I'm moaning - and maybe I am a little bit, but even though the ride was hard it was well worth it.  

Our final destination was Cap de Creus - a rocky, craggy headland  that protrudes out from the coast and forms little tiny bays within it’s structure.  That, and the deep blue Mediterranean sea formed a stunning vista where we sat and ate our lunch in the very warm sunshine.  The area is a protected site that entertains visits from loggerhead turtles and bottlenose dolphins and also provides a habitat for coral reefs and sponges in it’s crystal clear waters - but alas we didn’t see any of the rarer inhabitants - we just saw this one who wanted to share our picnic - and he was quite bold.

After our late lunch it was time to turn our wheels homeward - we knew we had the same hills to conquer but this time with different views. By the time we arrived back at the T4rdis we'd covered just over 30 miles and were quite knackered, so we've booked an easy day for tomorrow.

We finished off our evening with a nice roast dinner and watched the ‘Results’ show for Strictly on YouTube - it’s a wonderful thing - I can even get most episodes of Eastenders on it - John thought he had escaped that (ha ha).

Another view from Cap de Creus

Tuesday 1st December 2015

Well, today is our ‘day off’.  John is pottering about outside cleaning our bikes etc and I am in the T4rdis catching up on this blog.  After lunch we plan to have a stroll down to the promenade and then maybe sit for a while and watch the world go by - it's a hard life!

We sat on the harbour side and watched the fishes go by - look carefully!
Therefore, because it's been a quite day in the life of Lin and John I haven't really got much to say, however it's now been a full month since we left Blighty so I thought I might write a bit about how we're getting on and how we're finding our new way of life.  

I suppose to start with, it all felt a bit strange and daunting; we’re living in a very small space, we couldn't communicate very well with the outside world, we needed to plan and find our way about in a strange country, and maybe the fact that we’d never had a proper plan didn’t help. Also, because in the early days we stayed mainly on Aires, we had to be very careful with our use of power (electric) and water, and in all this, we often didn’t have the aid of the internet to help us.

Mostly, all of the above turned out to be non existent niggles that we shouldn't have worried about in the first place because we managed exceedingly well!

Living in the small space of the T4rdis has never been a problem really, because even before we left England we'd travelled for long periods without having any real issues. Everything had it’s place and we got very good at abandoning anything we didn't use, so our compact living space really proved quite ideal for us.

Communication -  On nearly all of the camp sites we've stayed on we've found someone at reception who has spoken understandable English, and as most of our shopping has been done in supermarkets this hasn't posed a problem either.  However, communicating on a social level has been less successful.  We've occasionally come across other English people but so far mostly it has been just a quick hello - It’s a good job we've come away with our best friends!

Deciding what to do and finding our way about - John is very good at that, so following many evenings pouring over maps and The France Lonely Planet guide, and with the aid of Mrs Snoopy we haven’t ever actually got lost and we've seen most of the things we wanted to see.

Power - Is a bit of an issue when we’re off grid (we've spent 15 nights on Aires so far) because as it gets dark early we need lights on from about 5ish, and we need to fill our evenings with some form of entertainment. At the moment we only have a 75 amp hour battery of which we can only use half (or the battery will be broke), so we're having to ration things like telly.  If we’re moving about the battery recharges as we go, but if we’re staying put we have to rely on our solar panel to recharge it, so when we’re off grid it's usually early tea while it's still light, and early to bed.  However, when we get back to England we’re going to fix this problem - we’ll fit a bigger more powerful battery, but having said that we've never ran out of power so far.

Lack of Internet has however been an issue which we should have sorted out properly before we left England!  Having read other peoples blogs we brought an IBoost - a device that is supposed to pick up signals from other services (like McDonalds for instance) and let us use it for free - so far we've never found any free service!  We/I also thought we might be able to use our 3 sim cards from our phones in our EE modum and use our data allowance that way - that didn't work either. So now we're left with the option of buying data from EE which is secure but very expensive, or buying it on the various camp sites were we're staying - usually for about 2 euros a day - and this is the option we've used the most - the only draw back is lack of security.

Anyway, on the whole, we're loving our new life - sun, sea, good food, etc, and like with most things, we will learn as we go along and make adjustments and improvements as necessary.

Well, that's about it for now and as my internet data is nearly all used up I'll sign off.

Take care xx