Saturday, 5 December 2015

Our Journey Through The Costa Brava

Our Journey Through The Coast Brava

Wednesday 2nd December 2015

This morning we left out camp site at Joncar Mar and headed straight for the nearest Lidl, we loaded up our trolley with all sorts of goodies, and even found the ones that we were missing while we were in France.  Things like baked beans, porridge and my favourite - lovely cheddar cheese!   The ‘shipping order’ we’d  brought would easily last us for a full week, and when we got to the checkout we had a very pleasant surprise, the bill came to just over 70 quid and that included wine and beer- I think we’ll like Spain.
Shopping was soon stowed and then we made tracks for La Scarla, another little seaside town, but when we got there we found that motorhomes were unwelcome and banned from parking in their car parks, so we snubbed our noses and headed on to our next destination - Sant Feliu De Guixols. However, maybe it wasn't our day because when we got there we found that the Aire where we'd intended to park was closed, so we, along with many others, parked on the car park just above - and it was a good job because some of the other vans were as big as busses and we would never have all fitted in the little Aire anyway!

We’d read about Sant Feliu De Guixols in a couple of other blogs so we came to see for ourselves what it was like - when we walked into the town at about 3.30ish it was just about dead and all closed - we weren't sure if this was for lunch, for winter or for ever!  Having said that, the bay was ultra clean and tidy and provided an informative and pleasant place to walk with information boards giving a history in several languages.    

We found the remains of the Benedictine monks abbey;


We read about the history of the beach Shipyard - apparently in the 19th century many vessels were built on the beach - amongst them the 850 ton frigate Antonio.

A photo of a photo!
And we learnt about The Baths of Elm - a spa that had provided bathing services since 1870 - the oldest on the Costa Brava.  It was modernised in 1919 by a chap called Pere, and after that, was used as a sports club by the middle classes.  Sadly, today it is derelict and just a bit of blot on the landscape awaiting someone to come along and restore it to it’s former glory!

These were the only huts left - but there not used as beach huts today! - any guesses
After our walk we returned to the T4rdis and snuggled in with a nice glass of the San Miguel we’d brought earlier along with a lovely dinner of wild salmon

1.25 euros a bottle - bargain - Ben and Adam - you'd love it here!

Thursday 3rd December 2015

This morning we left our Aire (car park) and headed for the hills!  The route we'd chosen was a coastal road that rises out of Sant Feliu De Guixols and continues on through Tossa de Mar, Lloret de Mar and on to Blanes.  We’d  um’d and ar’d if it would be suitable for a big vehicle like the T4rdis, but John was soon quite comfortably driving us on our way, because although it twisted and turned as it rose, it was double width and did have a white line down the middle. However, for quite a way it also has a sheer drop on one side (down to the sea) only protected by an old wooden crash barrier, and an unforgiving craggy rock face on the other.  Happily, with driving on the right, there was the other lane between myself and the drop, and I only ended up with white knuckles once - when a motorbike came round a blind bend banked over in the middle of the road.  Luckily two of his mates had preceded him around the corner so John was well prepared in case a third followed!

You can just about see the road as it climbs through the hills!
Having said all of the above we were extremely glad we'd ‘risked it’ and taken this route - the views over the craggy coast line were amazing and we were spoilt for choice for our coffee break stop.



We eventually arrived in Blanes - which proved to be rather bigger and busier than expected, but we'd ear marked a camp on the outskirts of town that had views straight out to sea.  
We easily located it (with Mrs Snoopy’s help), but initially it seemed absolutely deserted and we wondered if it was closed for the winter,  however just as we were about to give up a Spanish gentleman came running out and gesticulated that we could park anywhere.  He hadn't got a word of English and we have very few of Spanish but we managed to come to an agreement that we wanted to stay 2 nights and that he would charge us 16 euros per night including electric - and this was where a bit of a problem declared itself. 

Now, I'm no good at the technical stuff - that is very much John’s domain, and with regard to getting electric into the van he thought he had catered for all eventualities.  We have cables for ordinary ‘polarity’ and ‘reverse polarity’ and a meter to tell us if the set up is correct.  Well, over the next hour the air became blue - but nothing to do with the actual electricity supply! He had it set up everywhichway including upside down, and still the metre said NO!  

So, although we've paid for electric we haven’t got any, better safe than sorry, but rather than complain (which I am usually very good at), we decided it might be more trouble that it was worth in view of the fact that we couldn't communicate with the owner - oh well, it’s only for a couple of nights.  

Also, at a similar time to the above we had another problem - we had an intruder!  I’d left John to it, and nipped off to check out the facilities, and when I got back John and given up on the electrics and gone off to collect some water.  As I entered the van there was a great big fat pigeon sat on my settee - now, I have a bit of a phobia about flapping birds in enclosed spaces and I was also worried that if it got scared it would do a crap whoopsy on my furniture - so I called for John to come to my rescue - he tutted loudly, then nipped in, grabbed it by the scruff of it’s neck and then leg and winged it out the door - phew, glad that's over.

Well, after all that palarver, we went for a walk along the esplanade to try and find out what there is to do in Blanes in the winter.  Unfortunately the tourist information office had closed at 1pm so we'll have to pop back tomorrow, but the esplanade provided a lovely place to walk - fronted by the beach and backed by numerous eateries, some of which were actually open! However, as the sun was becoming a bit watery and occasionally hiding behind  whisps of cloud we retired back to the T4rdis for tea and we’ll explore more tomorrow.

Friday 4th December 2015

Well, this morning started with a bit of good news - Ernie had e-mailed me to say ‘congratulations’ and that he had some good news for me about my Premium Bonds!  He didn’t tell me any more, apparently I have to log on to check - Only trouble is we haven’t got any internet at the mo so I just might be sitting here a millionaire and not know - fairly unlikely!

Anyway, today we decided to visit the Marimurtra Botanical Gardens which are set high up on the hill side above Blanes and which were founded in 1952 by Carl Faust.  To get there we toddled back along the prom, then climbed a quite huge flight of steps and then trundled up a hill - by the time we got there we were more than ready for a coffee break!   

Out came our trusty flask and we sat sipping our coffee while we admired the exotic plants which included numerous old cacti, palm trees and many others that we found quite amazing - we've never seen a strawberry tree before - I was very tempted to pick one and try it but all the fruit was just out of my reach!

They really were strawberries!
We spent several hours wondering around, and as the garden is situated high up but right on the coast, we had fantastic panoramic views over the craggy rocks and out to sea, so as well as coffee, we sat and had our lunch while enjoying the peace and tranquillity of this beautiful place.  And just to add to my bliss my lunch was cheddar cheese and pickle sandwiches - I’d really missed them!

After lunch we strolled down to the Linnaeus Pavilion and then back up the Epicurus Stairway



Once our visit had been completed we retraced our steps back down into Blanes, and then just to round off our day, we sat outside a bar with a lovely cool beer watching the sun go down and with the Mediterranean ocean lapping just a few yards away.

Saturday 5th December 2015

Today we planned to move on - and having been led up the garden path several times by Mrs Snoopy we made very careful plans to bypass Barcelona - I would have loved to have seen some of the city sights but we felt we didn't want to take the T4rdis in and get snarled up in all the traffic. Now, John had planned for Mrs Snoopy - he had put in a specific location and told her it was ok to use toll roads - but he hadn't planned for Mrs Varney - and he let me have a map! - Big Mistake!

We set off quite nicely and headed for the main AP7 that would allow us to pass well above Barcelona, however Mrs Snoopy was quite determined, and kept telling us to head towards it. However, I knew better! and I firmly told John to ignore her and continue on the route we were presently following! I thought I had it sussed! Guess where we ended up - and we had to pay the tolls as well!

A statue in the middle of Barcelona
Well, for a while the air turned rather blue, green, red and any other colour you can imagine as we fought our way though the very busy and confusing streets, dodging scooters, pedestrians, and bus lanes while watching for red lights and taxis that seemed to disregard the usual rules of the road - and to make matters worse, at times even Mrs Snoopy became confused and forgot which was right and which was left!

However, eventually she came good and rescued us from Barcelona's clutches and then put us back on another toll road which buried us within the depths of the earth - 4 very long tunnels. 


After our adventure (not sure if John would call it that - but he has forgiven me 😘😘), we are now ensconced in our resting place for tonight - Bellvei Polfust a little Aire that is very much like a Caravan Club certified location. We have wifi, a flat parking space and a very well deserved beer to round off our evening.

Oh and my win on Ernie - £50 - but it all helps!

Sleep well xx  ..