Friday, 3 January 2014

Our last travel day - for a while I hope

As the evening weather wasn't that warm, we did need to use our blown air heating.  Now our dog has never been a hearth dog but she has discovered that not only is her bed in a warm place, but there are even warmer places to find - and it doesn't matter what's in the way. Now that she's getting old she does like the comforts of a warm place to sleep and you can't get much closer to the heat source than this:-

This site was lovely but rather expensive at 26 Euros a night. It was listed in the ACSI book but didn’t do the discount scheme – a bit miffed about that – one to watch out for in the future.  The down side was that it was terraced (pretty but difficult) and a bit far out of town (about 1.5 miles).

We got up early and were ready to go just after daylight at about 8.30am.  I was working myself into a paddy about getting the van off our pitch.  But I kept thinking that there must have been loads of other big vans up here and there was a pretty big caravan up there as well.

We had three choices, two meant going down very steep hills with bends  on a road of sand.  I didn’t like that idea, so decided to go out the way we had come in – on tarmac.

Firstly I really didn’t want to negotiate our exit in reverse, so we  had to turn around and I nearly knocked off the top of the lamppost.  A very tight squeeze but with a bit of to-ing and fro-ing we managed it.  Then the real challenge – there was a dip and turn and horrible twist to negotiate.  I took it very steady – I’d got there in the first place so I was sure I could get back.  I had visions of the van toppling down the hill on it’s side (I said I was a worrier) and slowly was to be the only way, but the angle was just a bit too much and  CRUNCH – Oh NO!  I was grounded!!!!!!

It made a horrible noise and probably woke everyone up but luckily I think it was just the bottom of our tow-bar that had grounded.  The angle was just a bit too much. I had a quick look in the mirror and I had taken out a big chunk of their road.  I didn’t stop and wasn’t sure if it was the hard sand or actually the tarmac. 

After that the descent down the huge hill was a doddle!!!!  But I was glad to get to the bottom safely.  We had a bit of a laugh about that, but then you can when the danger is over.

The lesson to be learned on this site was to stop at reception and walk around to find a pitch. It’s much easier to choose while walking that when driving a huge truck around. In hindsight we would have chosen a pitch much further down on the terracing to make our exit a lot easier but we had committed before we realised how steep this site was.

So it was on the road and for the first time I forgot what side to drive – so the first 30 seconds were interesting as I turned right onto the main road.

The weather was sunny and the road was good and with nearly 400 miles to go we were away before 9.00am.  As I’ve said before we wanted to get south as quickly as possible so were happy to use the paeage all the way.  I think the total cost was probably about £200 but we did save some in France by always pressing the assistance button and telling them that we were a camping car.  Mostly we were downgraded from Class 3 to Class 2 (only 2 refused) so that saved us about 40 Euros. Unfortunately neither of us and ANY  Spanish so we didn’t bother in Spain. Another point for reference is that most of the toll roads won’t take the Caxton card and we had to use our normal credit card.

So most of the way I just put Jan the Van into cruise control at between 60 and 65 mph and we toddled along nicely.

Now we had been warned that LPG is difficult to find in Spain and gas stations are few and far between.  We needed to fill up before we got to Altea, both our main tank and our habitation tank. There was one Autogas station north of Barcelona but we still had ¾ of a tank so there was no point stopping there.  The next one was 170 miles away and we do about 200 miles to a tank of gas. We decided that we should might won’t make it but what was the choice, so we’ll  have to use a bit of petrol.  With over 80 miles to go the gauge was showing red and we were on reserve.

Now I don’t know if anyone else has gas but the gauges are terrible and very unreliable. The lights are so small that I can’t see them with my glasses on but I can’t see to drive without them.  Plus with the bright sunshine they are a nightmare to see and are positioned in a really stupid place.  The gauge goes from 4 green lights down to 1 and then one red light when you go onto reserve.  However when you are REALLY out of gas it doesn’t really know what’s going on and all the lights come on at once.  So for the first time this trip we did actually run out of gas and have to do some miles on petrol – it doesn’t matter that much except that on 9 miles to the gallon you don’t want to do too much on expensive petrol.

The good news when we did fill up was that the gas was only 78 euro cents a litre and it had been 96 in France.

On doing our sums I have worked out that it’s about £1,200 travelling cost for the round trip to Spain and back.  In comparison while writing this I’ve just looked at flight costs and we could have flown here in 2.5 hours for a cost of around £80 each – food for thought.

Nothing exciting or scary to report about the journey itself so I’ll move on.

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