Sunday in Tarragona

One of the places on my list to see whilst in Spain was Tarragona – so for just the 2nd time this trip we managed to actually tick something off of the, admittedly very short, list (the other being Carcassone).

From our campsite we had about an hours drive.  We took the non-pay road.  Well we fully intended to, but accidently ended up on a pay road for about 2 mins – we came off as soon as we realised – but it still cost us 2.13 Euros!!  This was the C-32, and it happened as we believed that all toll roads began with the designation of ‘AP’.  We now know we were wrong on this!  The fact that it was a ‘peage’ road was shown by a small sign next to the road name with ‘peage’ running through the middle – if I could find an image for you I would, but let’s just say it wasn’t an ‘in your face’ kind of sign!  Anyway lesson learnt we carried on along the C31 through Cubelles and beyond.

About 1/2 hours out we realised that whilst we had remembered to put our hi-viz jackets in the car (this time – we keep forgetting), we had left all the other documentation AND our passports and driving licences in the van – doh!!  This caused the stress levels in the little car to rise somewhat, as the police in Spain have a habit of stopping cars, pretty regularly, at the entrance to roundabouts for spot-checks.

We’ve been stopped twice, once on the way to Tarragona….  Luckily though, as soon as they realised there was no steering wheel when I opened my window, they waved us on (this happened the first time as well) – phew 🙂

Once there we took a left by the ‘ampifeatre’, following the road towards the train station and the sea and found a car park immediately.  We were right in the centre of things and ended up paying 10.75 Euros for about 6 hours – we were happy with that (even though we hate paying to park!!)

So our first stop was to see the ampifeatre.  To be fair you get a really good impression of it without paying to actually go in, but it is worth wandering Continue reading “Sunday in Tarragona”

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Gibraltar – Tuesday 21st February 2017

I started this post last night while it was still fresh in my mind – unfortunately it had disappeared by the time I came to finish it.  Now I’ve got to remember everything all over again!

First to get us up-to-date.  We arrived here at Cabopino (Calahonda nearer to Marbella than Malaga) on Thursday.  The site is okay and we settled in quite quickly as we’re staying here for 3 weeks – it’s just a shame that it’s directly on the main Costa del Sol road.  Mind you it looks like it’s pretty impossible to avoid that if you want to be located near the beach.

It’s not particularly cycle friendly (mainly because of the location and reliance on the A7) although Calv has been out and about (and managed to snap his chain…)  He’s fixed it, of a fashion, but does need a new one.  He’s also identified some work arounds for cycling, so I will be going out at some point!

We’ve also been out for a couple of long walks.  There’s a boardwalk along the beach here, and also a bit past the port.  The one nearest to us is to protect the dunes mainly, but during the week we will be able to cycle along it.

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However, we quickly realised that in order to really appreciate a bit more of the area we would need a car, so on Monday we picked one up for 10 days.  What a painless process that was!  We were then able to go shopping without having to worry about how much we bought.  But we’re now very much into the habit of not buying what we don’t need, so didn’t spend that much anyway 🙂

In the afternoon we dropped down on the A7 to Marbella.  We tried a couple of times to find a road down to the beach with no luck, so decided to continue onto Puerto Banus.  This wasn’t at all what we were expecting.  As we wandered through the port we were accosted by scores of hawkers wandering around.  Calv’s comment was ‘It’s not Monaco is it?’ We were definitely in the right place as it was lined with designed stores!  I expect it’s different when the sun’s out.

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With the car we were able to go along the coast to visit Gibraltar, which is about 60 miles from where we’re staying.  Calv has never been and I’ve visited once about 10/11 years ago.

We returned to old habits and managed to get lost in the border town, La Linea de la Concepcion, having decided that we wouldn’t take the SatNav as “it couldn’t be that difficult to find”..  Not somewhere you want to get lost…  Anyway we pulled up Google maps and found our way to the big car park by the border.  It costs 1.80 per hour to a maximum of 14.40 per day (Euros that is).

We had no problems going through – this is a busy crossing!  Don’t forget your passports!

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We were inappropriately dress in shorts and t-shirt as the weather we looked at turned out to be lying to us.  Also we didn’t check the wind speed.  We should have checked the wind speed!  It was VERY windy.  Also the clouds, I think they call them the Levant, hung around for most of the day.  Luckily we walked a lot which kept us warm 🙂

So we took the bus over the runway and into the city centre.  After breakfast in ‘Little Rock’  in Casemate Square we wandered the main street of shops (which included M&S, Next, Dorothy Perkins & Monsoon) and saw the government buildings and also the courthouse, where barristers were milling outside and there was a camera crew outside – presumably waiting for a newsworthy verdict to come in.

When we came to the end of the street we turned round with the intention of going off up one of the little side streets, I fancied visiting the Victorian Police Station, but we didn’t actually make it there.

Instead we went up Bombhouse Lane and found the Gibraltar Museum.  We took a while to decide to go on in, because it sort of undersells itself.  There are archaeological remains in there together with some pretty well preserved Turkish Bath remains that existed in the house itself.  It cost just £2 each to visit and was well worth it.  Thoroughly recommend it. (No photography allowed though).

Look out for the red plaques on buildings as they give you historical information.  We then made our way along Lovers Lane and the bastions to find the cable car.  We could see it in the distance so just headed that way!  It costs just over £10 for a one way trip, just over £12 for a return or just over £20 (each) for a one way trip and a ticket to visit the attractions in the nature reserve, which entails walking back down.  We went for the last option.  Once at the top we went out onto the terrace of the café and were very nearly blown away, the wind was vicious up there!  But we saw our 1st macaques of the day 🙂

We then headed off to explore.  We lost our map early on; no idea how but Calv thinks the wind snatched it out of my hand and I was so busy trying to stay on my feet that I didn’t notice!  Anyway this, eventually, meant that we missed St Michael’s Cave as we thought we’d gone the wrong way – as it turned out we were just too impatient!  So we turned back too early and headed on down towards the other side of the rock to see the attractions that I didn’t see the 1st time I visited, namely, The Siege Tunnels, WWII Tunnels and the Moorish Castle.  It’s rather a long walk, even though we shortened it a little by walking down a closed road (our rationale being that it was only closed to cars as it was easy to walk around the barrier).  It did mean we didn’t have to play chicken with the taxis for a while.  Which was nice.. 🙂

We visited both the Siege Tunnels and the Moorish Castle and I was impressed with both.  I didn’t realise how ignorant I was of the history of Gibraltar before coming here today.  I now know, for instance, that Spain itself has only held the Rock for 33 years in the last 800 or so, and the Siege tunnel was built to wait out the 3 year siege laid by the Spanish with French reinforcements.

The tunnels are a mine of information which really brings the history to life.  It’s worth carrying on to the end, even though it’s like walking down a wind tunnel.  Calv thought it would be funny to tell people that there was a nice café at the end…

The inside of the castle was unexpected.  For instance the ceilings inside are domed and I found out that the King had a suite of rooms which included a heated shower!  Whilst interesting there’s little to see in there and so the visit is short, although the top of the tower does provide an excellent viewpoint of the runway to watch take-offs and landings.

On leaving the castle you’re on the last stretch back down to the main drag.  I spotted some ‘Castle Steps’ on the right of the road and persuaded Calv that this was probably a quicker way to go.  He wasn’t too convinced that I wasn’t going to get us lost again but, although there were a lot of steps, it brought us out opposite Peacocks in the Main Street.  We were thinking of stopping somewhere for a cup of tea and a slice of cake but were so tired that we headed straight back to the car.

On leaving the car park we stayed on the coast road and spotted the Aire, that we’d been told about, on the Eastern side of the peninsula.  The wind was still really high and I took this video of the waves – it doesn’t really show just how rough the water was though. (The video is at the beginning of the post as it keeps putting it there and I’m getting cross now…!)

We decided to pay the toll on the way back (a total of 5.10Euros) back to Marbella, but much quicker.  As it was quite late and we hadn’t eaten since breakfast (and had walked about 8 miles since) we ended up in McDonalds.  And we had McFlurrys…  I doubt we’ll be doing that again for a while!

Today (Wednesday) we are both aching all over, so we walked over to the beach and the port to make sure we didn’t seize up completely.  Calv managed to get in a bit of beachcombing as well 🙂  (We also found where we’ll be watching the rugby on Saturday).

Cheers 🙂  See you again soon x

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Welcome to Spain!

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…!)

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On the walk down to Zarautz
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One of our tame Robins

 

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!

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From one end of the beach to the other at Zarautz

 

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.

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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!