Sunday, 10 September 2017

Better late than never

Sunday 10th September 2017 We are parked up this afternoon just outside Albarracin which is described as one of the most beautiful villages in Spain. This may well be true but the reason we have stopped here is because we needed some reliable WiFi and so, reluctantly, we are on a campsite just outside the town (40.411917 -1.427559). We're at an altitude of just over 1200m and although it's sunny it's also very windy today and a cold wind. We're on our way to Bolnuevo for the winter and I was not going to bother with the blog but two events have encouraged me to change my mind. Firstly an email from my eldest daughter saying "Wot, no blog?" And secondly to discover that our friends Paul & Chris are on their travels and have resumed their blog So here's what we've been up to since we left England on 29th August. This is our 8th trip to Europe since we bought the van in 2013 and previously we've always crossed via the tunnel to Calais or Portsmouth to Santander/Bilbao and the same thing coming back but the drive to and from Yorkshire from either of those places is always a pain. Roadworks on the A1/M1, the crawl around the M25, the constant nose to tail traffic, aargh we're sick of it! So when we came home last May we took the ferry from Zeebruge to Hull, 90 minutes down the M62 and we're home! So a couple of weeks ago we took the ferry from Hull to Zeebruge which was painless. A bit longer drive through Belgium and France but along roads which have a fraction of the traffic compared to the UK. A tip for anyone contemplating using P&O on this route - when booking choose the cheapest cabin option and then upgrade on board, it's much cheaper. Or, of course, stick with the cheapest cabin and send your partner up the ladder to the top bunk. This was not an option for me. After docking in Zeebruge we set off for Reims and the dedicated motorhome parking (49.250301 4.020210) which is only a ten minute walk to the city centre and another five minutes to the Cathedral but we explored both last May and it was raining this time so we did very little other than plan the next day's stop. Bray-sur-Seine is a pretty town with some interesting river walks and we parked on the quayside (48.417112 3.238018), ideal for watching the big commercial barges sliding by. From Bray we set off for Bourges and another large parking area for motorhomes (47.076323 2.398953) and another day of torrential rain. Bourges was not explored, saved for another day. Next stop was Sadroc (45.283443 1.548686) which I would have described as a one horse town had I not seen a couple of young lasses on horseback. A tiny village but with some lovely large houses. There's money in Sadroc we reckon. Onwards the next day to Cahors and parking close by the river Lot (44.438874 1.439712) A beautiful medieval quarter to explore, monks gardens, ancient river bridges and lots of public gardens. We liked Cahors. By now we realised we had been in France for 5 days and hadn't stopped at a vineyard. This was soon rectified by a stop at Domaine de LaBarthe (43.984107 2.020776) just outside Castanet, nice views and nice wine from the Gaillac region. A short drive the next day to Albi and some more parking reserved for motorhomes (43.927384 2.140944) in the shadow of the massive Cathedral which, unusually, is built of brick and is reckoned to be the largest brick built structure in Europe. The inside of the Cathedral was no less impressive where the limestone rood screen was still intact. St Cecile Cathedral was built between 1282 and 1830 and Italian painters found plenty of work in the C16th painting every available wall and ceiling. We stayed an extra day in Albi so we could visit the museum and art gallery dedicated to Toulouse Lautrec who was born in the city. The museum is housed in what was the Arch Bishop's palace, also built of brick and equally impressive. The next day was to be our last stop in France for a while. Vicdessos is a short drive from Cagnac at the end of the N20 in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Another tiny village but dedicated motorhome parking (42.768436 1.502073) including electricity for €7.65/24hrs and with the bonus of free herb gardens where visitors are invited to help themselves, which we did. Leaving France the next day we climbed up to and through Andorra and then descended to the town of La Seu d'Urgen in Spain after a brief halt leaving Andorra where we were asked how many cigarettes we had bought. We waved our electronic fags and the customs officer waved us goodbye.  Half the fun of travelling in a motorhome is stumbling upon places and events and La Seu came up trumps on Friday. We parked up and could hear somebody talking excitedly through a PA system. At first we thought it was the travelling fruit and veg man but I listened a bit closer and it sounded like a sports commentary in English. We set off to see what was happening and discovered the canoe slalom world cup taking place on the course designed and built for the Barcelona Olympics 25 years ago. It was the men's qualifying rounds and we sat and watched these sportsmen for ages, cheering everytime someone came down the course with a union flag on his kayak. There were contestants from all over the world and I got chatting to a guy from team GB who reckoned we were in with a shout for a medal. It was a great atmosphere and it was great to watch a sport I've never followed before and admire the skill and massive upper body strength of these guys. It was a beautiful day and we wandered up and down the course and then sat in the shade watching how the "paddlers" maneuvered through the gates in the roiling water. A World Cup event - for free! Last night we stopped in Zaragoza after a long day's drive and managed to squeeze into a car park on the northern edge of the city (41.661869 -0.8799600). There were supposed to be 5 parking spaces for motorhomes but we found no evidence of them. We had wanted to explore Zaragoza but a combination of tiredness and a feeling of not really wanting to leave our home on wheels unattended where we were parked prevented us from doing so, maybe next time. We are booked into our winter campsite in Bolnuevo from next Wednesday so have a couple more stops on the way  I'll post another blog next week and when I've resolved the usual "photo issues" I'll post some pics. Pat  


  1. That's better we thought we had lost you. As for posting photos on iPad what a nightmare. So far the only way I have managed it is to upload pictures into google pics and then access them there the only problem is that consumes vast quantities of data so really needs wifi.. I tried blogpad pro app but that doesn't seem to upload. When you work it out let us know the solution please. Stay safe and pray for falling Euro!

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