Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Valladolid to San Sebastian to St Jean de Luz – 235 miles - 19th May

As planned we got away early.  It was 8.40 am and I suddenly realised the time.  We had got up early and it’s amazing how quickly an hour can pass when you are busy doing nothing.  I shrieked “We’d better get our a**es in gear”.  We were almost ready and in only another 5 minutes we had finished getting the van ready to leave.  That’s the beauty of not getting anything out.

So here we were again – top priority – get LPG.  I had checked the SatNag and there was an LPG station only 2 miles away, just off the dual carriageway on our way out of town.  This must be easy!!!!! Actually yes, just a couple of glitches this time.  One it took us onto a sliproad with a Repsol garage in sight – only that wasn’t the Repsol garage that we were looking for but it was the right direction and 2.  In Spain they have some very strange roundabouts on main roads. They are a bit like the London Underground Sign.  A roundabout with the dual carriageway running down the middle and traffic lights all over the place. 

Well I had to go all the way around the roundabout and back down the other side of the road to get to the entrance for the garage. However, what I managed to do was to get onto the roundabout and then cut across it as if I was turning left – Oh no no no!!!!! You are then stuck in the middle of the road with nowhere to go and no view of the traffic lights to tell you when you can go.  The consensus of opinion was to wait until the traffic coming towards me on the dual carriageway stops for their lights and then just go for it!!! 

I hope the picture explains it better.  The black line shows how I should have done it and the yellow one shows the actual route taken.  It’s so difficult when you are driving and concentrating on where you are in the current road to see where you should be on the next one.

A bit of adrenalin flowing but no harm done, we crossed the road safely and got into the garage.  Phew! That was the easiest one yet. 

Refuelled we got on our way to San Sebastian.

Now all the time when we’d been on the central plain I had been saying that what goes up must come down.  There had to be a time when we would be coming down to the coast.  For miles and miles we had no more than a slight downhill slope and we were getting closer and closer to the coast.
Finally it hit us, a 6% descent – we hadn’t seen anything like that since the Massif Central in France just after Christmas.  This was fun!

Finally we reached San Sebastian and it was only just lunchtime.

San Sebastian  - just a short visit.

I had suggested that we go to San Sebastian to have a look and to stay at an aire for a couple of nights.  It is supposed to be a popular holiday town so we thought it would be a good place to stop, do our shopping before we crossed the border – just the essentials of course, wine, brandy, whiskey and tobacco.
Again things didn’t quite go to plan.

Having made an early start, we arrived at the aire at about 12.30pm, nice and early and in time for lunch.  We thought we’d have lunch and then walk into town which was only about 1 mile away.
The aire itself was quite nice, green, contained the necessaries and was backed up to a cliff and in a car park near to what looked like a college.

We paid for the overnight stay which was only about 3.5 Euros and then had lunch and a rest after the journey. We planned to go into town at about 2pm. There were about 10 other vans parked up and only one seemed to be currently occupied, by a young Spanish couple.  While we were sitting around relaxing a van drove around with a rough looking man in it looking at all the vans.  A short while later he drove round again and then left.  Then Iain saw a battered old Volvo drive around looking at the vans.  When he went to throw some rubbish away he saw the same car with a middle-aged man and a child in it, parked by the bins, behind the hedge where it couldn’t be seen by anyone in the motorhomes.

Now we have never been afraid when parked on aires before and we didn’t feel uncomfortable staying here overnight, especially as we have one of the best burglar alarms in the world – a dog, but it just didn’t feel right.  Even though the car left, eventually, as Iain said, small boys are great for pushing through sky-lights. There was no guarantee that the car, or the van would not come back.  There was no reason for either of them to be in the motorhome parking area  and certainly not to be hanging around there.

There was no way that we were going to leave the van empty in this car park.  It is our home after all and you carry a lot more important “stuff” than you would if you were on holiday.  If we couldn’t leave the van unattended then there was no point in being in San Sebastian.  We quickly decided that we were not happy to stay here and that even though we’d already paid for the night we would move on.  Better safe than sorry.
Luckily it was still only 3pm and although we’d already done over 200 miles we were feeling pretty fresh and we had plenty of time before dark.  As we were on our way home, we decided to move up into France, but decided to go to Saint Jean de Luz,  about 20 miles away on the way to Biarritz. We were then hoping that we would find a supermarket on the way, near to the border so that we could do our “stocking up”.

Luckily just on the border there is a supermarket, at Irun so we stopped and shopped for the necessaries. Unfortunately there are no tobacconists at the shopping centre, however for the smokers reading you can buy cartons of cigarettes at many of the cafes there, but I’m not sure if they take credit cards.  As Iain wanted to buy tobacco that was a bit of a disappointment but c’est la vie, it's not that much more expensive in France.

We then decided not to go back onto the peage which was a bit of a mistake as the roads from Irun to Saint Jean de Luz were not the best, however we arrived at our campsite without any major drama.
We felt that we had made the right decision not to stay in San Sebastian.

So here we were at Camping Ferme Erromardie on the north side of St Jean de Luz.

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