The next day we stayed local and used our bikes. There are many opportunities for cycling around this area and numerous cycle paths (we tend to make up our own routes!) We first headed right out of the campsite, finding la Gola, where the River Ter meets the sea.
Unfortunately, due to the recent storms, the beach area was a bit untidy. However, there were people there busy clearing it all up.
We then headed back up towards the campsite and the other way towards the marina. This entailed cycling through the floods (we weren’t meant to, but I followed Calv – although I but managed to hit a large bit of debris and ended up jumping into the water to stop myself from falling off completely! It was deep enough to come up to my ankles, so the rest of our ride was completed with me in sodden trainers….)
The day that we came across the border from France into Spain was, it’s fair to say, a bit stressful…
Firstly we were affected, twice, by the fuel protests happening all over France. First as we tried to leave Narbonne, and then as we tried to get onto the motorway at Perpignan. I simply cannot imagine anyone getting away with protests like these at home – making a point and then letting people through, fair enough; burning tyres at the side of the road and not letting anyone through (as happened to us on Saturday) would not be tolerated. On Sunday they were holding everything up for about 15 minutes and then letting a few vehicles through – I guess thereby keeping the police off their backs. We were probably held up for a total of about 1 1/2 hours.
Then, once in Spain, we had heavy rain (yay, welcome to Spain!!) and started noticing increasingly bad floods in the fields alongside the road. As we neared our chosen site we suddenly came across a road closed sign (no diversion or anything…), so we stopped to find a new route, only to have the same thing happen again. It was due to flooded roads and this time we were sent off on a diversion by the police manning the closure. A very interesting diversion it has to be said (it was a road, but not really if you see what I mean!) – anyway we made it through and stayed 1 night at a different site (which was actually very nice – Mas Patoxes, Pals) before heading to L’Estartit and our chosen site, les Medes, in the morning.
Approacing l’Estartit via Toerella de Montgris we could see a castle sitting high atop the mountain – every time we passed it over the next couple of days we would look at each other and say – ‘We’re going up there!’ (and we did 🙂 )
But before we did we visited Empuries at L’Escala, a little way up the coast, cycled around l’Estartit – through the floods and getting waylaid by a little bar open outside the marina (oops) and also took in Dali’s castle in Pubol.
This is a really interesting site – it is, in fact, 2 ancient cities that have been unearthed (this is actually on-going) – 1 Greek (this came 1st) and the other Roman (bigger, but only 20% so far unearthed).
For just 5.50 Euros each we spent a couple of hours wandering the 2 cities and learning of their history, via the audio guide included in the price; visiting the museum and also having a quick drink in the cafe (2 drinks and 2 cakes for about 6 Euros). We would probably have stayed longer but our feet were aching!
This had been a particularly busy day of exercise for me as I had been out for my 1st run in over 3 weeks that morning, surprising myself with how much I enjoyed it! I had also taken advantage of the indoor pool at the campsite the afternoon before – so I was feeling very smug with myself.
Leaving Tours we decided that we would have a couple of overnighters on the way south, which meant we stayed at a site, de Montreal, a little south of Limoges. A lovely little site set out of the way on a lake in St Germaine-les-belles. We had chosen to take the toll road from Tours to Poitiers, which we regretted as it came at a cost of over 35 Euros!
The next night was spent in another lovely site, de Bois-Redon, in a village outside of Caussade called Septfond. We then headed down towards Toulouse where we had decided to stay for 2 nights (overnighters are all very well, but, for us, 2 in a row is more than enough!)
Having rocked up just outside of Toulouse we decided that we really should make the effort to go into the city.
We were staying at Les Violettes, a campsite just south of the city (and very close to the Canal du Midi) and managed to find out that we could use a park and ride at Ramonville, about 4 miles away, to get on the metro taking us straight into the heart of the city.
At a cost of 6.10 Euros each we were in the city within an hour of leaving the site – even though both car parks were full when we arrived. Just a little tip here – it is worth waiting at the barriers as people do come and go and the barriers will go up when there are a few spaces available; we waited about 10 minutes and then we were in!
Ramonville is the end of 1 of the 2 metro lines that serve the city, and you change after about 11 stops (at Jean-Jaures) to go to Capitole, which is a good place to start your visit.
This is where you will find the Tourist Information centre (in a rather impressive building), and where you can then head down to see the Hotel de Ville (a much more impressive building – mostly hidden by the preparations for an event whilst we were there, sadly).
We moved on towards Tours after leaving la Ferte-Vidame. This route was chosen after much deliberation regarding our route – resulting with us eventually, and reluctantly, deciding to abandon our plan to cross the Millau Viaduct (boooo….); mainly due to the seeming lack of campsites open for us on that route 😦
Having decided on Tours, I thought that we might actually stay for 3 nights, having seen a weather forecast suggesting full sun and a high of 21C on Monday. Sadly it turns out that there are several towns called Tours in France, and my app had decided to provide me with information for a different one, rather than the main town of Tours located in the Loire Valley. So we just stayed for 2 nights after all.
We could have hopped on the cycle path and ridden into Tours to visit the old city (about 4 miles away, with the cycle path passing within about 50m from the site – albeit across a busy road); but we didn’t…
We paid 14 Euros each to visit the castle and gardens – other attractions within the grounds include a maze, wine cellar (caves), gourmet restaurant, tea-room, self-service restaurant, 16th century farm with carriage musuem and donkeys 🙂
Starting to prepare and get excited for our next trip. This will be recorded as we move on Polarsteps so if you follow us you won’t need to wait until I get round you writing up my blog to see where we are 😊
See also our reviews for each site we stopped at on the way.
Time is precious. We all know that. We also know that life’s too short. This is why we embarked on this adventure – taking a year out and travelling.
We are struggling to believe that we are already nearing the end of this year (I know we still have 4 months of the year remaining, but remember we ARE in the UK and we WILL lose the weather sooner rather than later. We are however desperately wishing for a prolonged Indian Summer so that we can keep travelling through to later November. We understand that we have a maximum, therefore, of 3 months travelling in the UK.
Being at the end of August we were expecting to be in Scotland by now… Actually, we expected to have almost finished Scotland by now! The furthest north we have got, however, is Whitby in North Yorkshire – there is so much to see and do in this wonderful country of ours.
Back to the point of this post though. Time is indeed flying by, but what I have found is that when we spend time with family and friends it flies even quicker. The last 2 weeks have seen us spending a week in Cornwall (my favourite spot in the whole world – keep an eye out for my post on this) to celebrate my friend’s 40th birthday, followed by a return ‘home’ to catch up with family (in particular to make sure that Calv’s grandchildren still recognise him!), and to celebrate my friend’s birthday again (on the actual day this time 🙂 ).
This time is going by so quickly that it simply emphasises the point of our travels, of our year off, of doing this before we run out of the energy or the desire to do anything.
Everyone tells themselves that this is something that they would love to do in some capacity (i.e. not necessarily in a motorhome!), but there is always a reason not to take the plunge. They don’t have enough money, they need to keep an eye on the kids (adult kids even), they just need to see through this big project at work, they couldn’t possibly give up work…
All valid reasons of course, and, don’t forget, we all have different motivations and desires.
However (and it is a big however), we truly believe that we have changed our lives for the better. Despite the fact that there have been a few bumps along the way (I shan’t go into that now!) which meant we had less money available than we initially thought, this hasn’t detracted from our enjoyment of our time on the road together. We have found that we want for a lot less, we have become far less materialistic if you like.
I didn’t actually consider myself overly so to begin with to be fair, but even I have noticed that I want for less – apart from reading material and the occasional new (but useful) gadget for the van! Even our grocery shops have declined (although they’re still more expensive when we’re meeting up with people. Alcohol. Of course…!)
Even with all the time in the world that we have gifted ourselves we still never seem to have time to do everything. We have learned to relax (even Calv, it might surprise some of you to learn), although it doesn’t seem that we actually do that very often. We only realised this yesterday when we did actually relax for the whole day. We sat reading (well, I did – he hasn’t changed that much!), drinking tea (yes, tea), enjoying the sunshine and then went on a lovely walk in the countryside to a local country pub (The Old House at Home in Chidham, well worth a visit, and actually much older than it appears from the outside).
We have loved spending time with friends and family, apart from the fact that we also put weight back on when we see them – so in 2 1/2 weeks our waistlines have taken a definite hit!
But we are also looking forward to getting back on the road. On Tuesday we will be heading north again, taking in the Yorkshire Dales and the top of the North York Moors via York itself, before heading into Northumberland – which we believe (and hope) will be the highlight of our trip so far. We suspect that by the time Northumberland has finished with us, and us with it, it may be time to cross over a little to the west coast and start making our way home.
We are sad that we won’t make Scotland this year but, if all our plans come together, we would like to think that we’ll head straight there for some time next year. We have lots of plans going forward – another by-product of this time is that we really talk to each other. A lot!
Please stay with us as we tell you about our adventures yet to come over the next few months, as we visit yet more places that we have never been to before and create more wonderful memories – trust me, we will always have something to talk to each other about!! Please feel free to comment with your own thoughts and experiences – we love to hear from you!
I will aim to tell you about Cornwall as soon as possible – but we are busy seeing people over the next few days before we head off again!
This is a final mop-up of our time, so far, in Yorkshire (we’re heading back via York next week..), and it will cover a 2nd visit to Scarborough – to the North Bay area and the castle, a flying visit to Burton Agnes & the Rudston Monolith, the Muston scarecrow festival and Boggle Hole (visited on the way home from Whitby).