We’re coming to the end of our 1st full week in Spain, and up until today we were staying in Basque Country. It took me a while to realise that the 1st language on signs was actually Basque (as it bears no relation to Spanish). On reflection it’s a little like Welsh is to English.
Yes, I did leave my tablet on the ferry and, having found it in our cabin, the ferry company sent it straight back to Portsmouth! Anyway, all’s well that ends well, and, with the help of Calv’s daughter (thanks again Lisa) I now have my precious tablet back and can properly update the blog. We did have a few problems on delivery day as DHL, Spain seemed to have issues with the address of our campsite, but it eventually turned up about 4.30 (meaning we could finally go out J ) Also thanks to Brittany Ferries for dealing with the issue so quickly.
On arriving in Bilbao we knew where we were heading and had programmed our new SatNav (an Aguri and a vast improvement on the one we bought last year for France). We’d decided to go with the main road instead of the motorway (we were only going about 60 miles after all), because we’re worried we’ll miss out on some worthwhile sights on the motorway. It was the wrong call this time unfortunately – until we got to the coast road at Deba (only about 10 miles from our destination at Zarautz). The N-634 wound its way through several towns, all very industrialised and with nowhere to pull off the road at all. We’d paid 1.22Euro for the short bit of motorway we did have to use, but later found out it would only have cost just over 8 to go the whole way. You live and learn.
We finally climbed a steep hill to our site, where we received a warm welcome. Our ACSI card gave us a rate of 17Euros per night (we thought we’d probably stay 4 nights, but hadn’t discovered that I’d left my tablet behind at that point..) Our pitch overlooked the sea, and we had dozens of birds around the van. A couple of robins were so tame that they fed from Calv’s hand and settled on our knees – 1 even kept going into the van (and left a present for us…!)
You can find more info about the site here – Gran Camping Zarautz review.
We could see a ruin far below us and after dinner we headed down to check it out. It was an old mineral loading facility called Malla Harria. I was very pleased with myself making it back up the steep hill from the ruin – see the photo below. A couple of days later we decided to avoid this climb when we found a shortcut through the undergrowth that took us straight to the campsite – of course it was steeper than what we were trying to avoid!
We could also see the beach from our pitch and knew it was accessible with a 10-15 min walk down the hill. The next day we headed out to explore Zarautz via this walk – the steps, when we got to them, were relentless. Then there was a boardwalk over the dunes and then the promenade along the beach. It was pretty busy for a cold Friday in January, and busier still when we rode our bikes into town on Saturday. On Saturday there were loads of people on the beach and in the water surfing. We even saw a couple of lads in swimming in just normal swimming trunks!
On Sunday we headed the other way towards the village of Orio. We were stopped from going the wrong way by a young guy with a dog, who then came back to help us with the right way (the younger generation are very friendly and go out of their way to help. The older generation of men, much like we found in France, don’t tend to be so welcoming (obviously there are exceptions)).
Orio is a pretty little village in parts with a medieval street full of old houses – Kale Nagusia. It’s a real mix of ancient and modern, and because of the steepness of some of the streets you suddenly come across a lift to a higher level!
Like France we have noticed several old, abandoned, dilapidated buildings. Unlike France we haven’t seen so many churches.
On Monday we were a bit stuck due to the problems with receiving delivery of my tablet, but once it arrived we were able to escape the confines of the van (we’d done ironing, hoovering, cleaning and polishing…) and we headed off down the hill again for a walk ‘round the block’. It was harder work this time though where we’d been stuck in all day.
So after 5 nights we could move on and tonight we’re near Pamplona. We came along the Autovia de Montana and there were some stunning views along the way. It turns out we see better views from the motorway than on the main roads (and it only cost a total of just over 4 euros).
We’re now at Camping Ezcaba which is open all year. However, it’s not all open, and we’re the only ones here. We’re struggling to understand the 19Euro ACSI charge (the highest possible). On top of that we paid 10Euros for 2 days of WiFi (which gives us 2 codes) only to find that each code only gives access to 1 device! We also put a wash on having purchased a token – at 4.75Euros I, naively, thought that this would be for a wash and dry – no this would have cost 9.50Euros! So the washing is currently hanging outside – could be a problem as we’re expecting temperatures below zero tonight (even though we were sat out in the sun this afternoon!)
Tomorrow we’re going to cycle into Pamplona (10km along the river) before moving on again on Thursday. The rest of this evening will be spent investigating our options on where to go next J
See you next time we have free (or cheap) WiFi!