Tuesday, 27 May 2014

St Jean de Luz

I'm still on catch up so I've got two posts for you today.  For chronological order read the Valladolid to San Sebastian one first.

St Jean de Luz

It was around 5pm when we arrived at the campsite.  I pulled into what seemed a small reception area with a roundabout in the middle.

 Before even introducing ourselves at reception, this very smily Spanish gentleman beckoned for me to get into the front of his electric golf buggy and then for Iain to get into the back.  Typical Spanish, the woman in the front!!!

Then he shot off. Down the narrow campsite lanes and out through the smallest gap in the fence.  I’m sure that he has done this many, many times and has the gate open just enough for him to get through.  There must have been half an inch each side as he wizzed through.  It must be his party piece and loves to do it just to scare his passengers.  Off onto the road and then back onto the campsite at another entrance.  This campsite had about 150 pitches and he was taking us around to find us a suitable pitch.  We selected one and he headed off back to reception.  He was very pleasant and it was a bit of fun being paraded around in a golf buggy, we've never had that service before.  I’d love to get one. Just the roundabout to manouver, a bit tricky back and forth but hey I'm used to this sort of stuff now.

We booked in for 3 nights and a result here and one which makes me happy, even happier than having a swimming pool, or being near water -  free WIFI. 

Now it’s my theory that it’s the poshest campsites that charge for WIFI and it can be quite expensive, about 2 Euros a day if you have it short term and about 20 Euros for a month.  My reasoning for this is that they got onto the WIFI band waggon early when it was very expensive and have tied themselves into long contracts with WIFI providers, the cost of which is charged to the customer by the WIFI provider and the campsite gets a cut.  The smaller sites could not afford it at the beginning so waited and now it’s so cheap to provide, they do it for free.  Even if you pay for it, there’s no guarantee of good broadband speed.  Most people think that the signal is the problem but actually it’s the broadband speed, not the signal.  Check out my tips page for more information on extending your wifi range.

Back to the campsite.  We got parked up and as it was quite late and we’d had a long day we thought we’d eat at the campsite restaurant.  Boy was it expensive, well compared to Spain anyway. So we had a look at a nearby restaurant and that was the same.  Decision made, we’d make do with what we had.

We had already checked out the weather forecast and it wasn’t good for anywhere near to us so we knew that we’d just have to put up with it.  That evening I thought I would go to bed early but for some reason it didn’t happen.  There was a storm brewing out at sea and the lightening was very interesting to say the least, flashing every few seconds and then a rest, followed by more lightening.  Then the thunder started.  I stayed up until about 2am watching the storm which of course included some heavy rain. Rain like that we had last seen 5 months ago in England just before we left.  I finally went to bed and about 3:45 I was awoken by a great bang.  I raised myself to look out of the small window by the side of the bed and suddenly there was an almighty flash of light, followed immediately by a crash of thunder.  It looked and sounded like the sky had exploded and made me jump so much that I fell back into bed.  Amazingly this had not upset the dog at all, she who normally quivers and shakes with so much as a thunder rattle like Chicken Licken afraid that the sky is falling down.

I managed to get back to sleep and then the storm came back again, this time with hail stones beating down on us like bricks.  That’s a lovely Brummie expression, a brick is anything larger than a small pebble. Of course any motorhomers will know that any rain or hail stones always sound a lot worse than they actually are.  With the storm abated it was finally back to sleep.

The following day the weather was better and the forecast not too bad so we walked into St Jean de Luz.  Not too far, about 2.5km but too much up and down to take the bikes avec buggy. This is a pretty place and there looks like a very nice aire near to the town centre. The harbour area was pretty and the town centre was pleasant. I thought I had taken some photos but can’t find any of the town centre so obviously I didn’t.

I'm getting good at these panoramic shots -even though I say so myself.

Seafront, showing the flood defences

On the way back to the campsite

We searched and searched for a supermarket but all we found was a convenience store where I bought a couple of portions of chicken and half a dozen eggs – and this cost nearly 8 Euros.  We stopped for a well-earned rest and a pint and a half was 8.6 Euros – not like the 3.5 that we’d been used to spending in Spain.  At this rate our 7 days in St Jean de Luz and Biarritz was looking doubtful, the weather wasn’t very good and it was expensive, and we’d got another 8 days to use up before needing to start the journey north.  We reassessed our plans and our options were:

1. Weather bad everywhere, so why not go home early. Mmmm that would mean getting back to the UK for the bank holiday weekend and kicking our heels for a  week.

2.  Head further north into France – mmm still expensive and weather not that good.

3. Go back into Spain – the weather forecast wasn’t good there either but at least it wouldn’t be so expensive – and we could pick up that cheap tobacco. 

Now we’re not on a tight budget but there’s no point in wasting money either. Talking about being on a budget I’ve decided that this year will be classed as our gap year.  Most people take a gap year to travel between full-time studying and work.  We didn’t do that in our time so we’re having our gap year now – between full-time work and pension. And then we'll just be retired and not on a gap year any more, but still travelling. And just to clarify, private pension that is, we’ve both got another 13 years before we get our old-age pension.

Where was I, oh yes, what were we to do next? Well we had booked in for 3 nights so we had another night to think about it.

The following day brought heavy rain in the morning.............
Just a shower - it will brighten up later

but when it cleared up we took the dog for a walk the other way out of the campsite.  Not a particularly long walk this time but quite pretty.

Bay towards Biarritz in the background

Turn around and view the mountains

From just up the road from the Campsite looking towards St Jean de Luz

All in all, we did like St Jean de Luz and the campsite.  The facilities were ok but the man in the buggy was so friendly and welcoming that it made it a really nice place to stay.

Our next trip then – back into Spain for 7 nights.  The ACSI book showed three campsites between San Sebastian and Bilbao so we chose the nearest one that accepted dogs and was suitable for larger motorhomes – unfortunately it is up on top of a hill – and terraced.

Next Installment – St Jean de Luz to Zarultz only 30 miles and 50 minutes but………..  the drive from hell – wait for it - this one’s well worth the read – the scariest trip yet – I never ever want to drive again.

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