They say it’s all over… it is now.
Our last night in Galera saw the most amazing weather as for the first time, just as Maureen and I were settling down to dinner in a restaurant in Huescar, the heavens opened up – not only did we get the first rain in many weeks but for a few minutes the most amazing pea-size hailstones – solid ice. Of course within the hour it had all gone.
I was convinced the top of our car would be shot but amazingly thanks to being parked under a tree, we got away with it. Typically it was all over in a matter of an hour and after enjoying our meal in fresh air you only ever come across after a good storm, we ended up back in the bar in Galera to say our farewells.
Monday: Early on Monday morning we started our long journey up from Southern Spain. The atmosphere in Galera was fantastic with a thin layer of mist over most of the village which quickly lifted for yet another day of excellent weather. After a full day’s pleasant drive, though thanks to TomTom not the most straightforward drive, on Monday night we stopped over at Zaragoza – and boy, was it worth the trip.
The hotel we stopped at wasn’t that exciting, mainly due to road works in progress and the fact that they’d demolished the adjoining building, but the area was right next to an excellent restaurant district and some superb architecture. We had a couple of drinks before walking around the corner… the photos say it all….though you’ll have to head off to Google Web Albums to get the full picture – this is an area well worth a visit.
We sat outside near the statue of Goya and enjoyed very nice pizza. The beer looked as if it had been used once already – but the view made it all worthwhile.
Tuesday: From Zaragoza we drove to San Sebastian so that Maureen could find a Carrefour – and it’s the funniest place – the road-signs looked far more German than Spanish – despite France being the nearest country. Nice looking place, of course being at the Northern tip of Spain it has lots of green – a bit like England really but without the rain. It’s around 26c here, much cooler than we’ve been used to but still very pleasant and clear blue skies. The difference in Carrefour is obvious – larger store, more choice, French-speaking staff and Basque-looking signs.
Next stop Poitiers… After figuring out how the diesel pump worked at Carrefour we headed off up to France – getting notably poorer fuel consumption (36mpg) than we did using Repsol diesel (45 mpg). About the only thing you can say about the long journey is that the greedy French take every opportunity to rob you on the peage roads, their fuel is preposterously expensive (marginally worse than ours) and their roads are crap – the A63 being a prime example – it’s like the A1 used to be before they improved it. Weather freshened up throughout the day, hitting 30c late afternoon. Bergerac – is a place to avoid, like much of our journey the road appears in permanent gridlock with the most aggressive offenders being as you might expect those driving cars manufactured by the Bavarian Motor Works.
Wishing I was back in Spain already, no doubt tonight we’ll end up eating something stomach-upsetting washed down with Freedom Fries. Perhaps we’ll be able to grab some cases of Kronenbourg to bring back – as I recall the stuff they sell in France is much nicer than the clone we get in the UK.
The A10 is a long and featureless PEAGE road – unlike the beautiful alternating white and pink flowers prevalent on the roads in Spain, this one has weeds along the middle along with the odd green bush. That’s how boring it is when you start looking at weeds.
By 7.30pm we arrived at out destination in Poitiers, the “Hotel Central” in Place du Marechal Leclerc. The hotel has a small entrance and no dining room but the bedrooms are clean and efficient and they bring you breakfast to your rooms. We spent our evening in the square which though pleasant enough, was starting to chill by 9pm and we ended up in-doors. Weather on Wednesday morning is cool and there’s little sign of the sun yet – a FAR cry from only 24 hours ago. The plan was an early start to our destination for today of Caen where we’d stop the night before heading off on the ferry back to wet and cold Britain.
are relatively boring. The best thing we did all day was to ditch the PEAGE and go on the older roads – a slight drop in miles but increase in time was handsomely repaid by the fact that the free, older roads take you either by or straight through some really interesting towns including, in our case a trip through the town of SEES – wherein we found an excellent if expensive café and a great church for taking photos. Whereas in Spain we’d be paying 1 Euro for a café-con-leche, here it was more like 2.5 Euros! Evening came and we arrived in Caen to our destination hotel, an absolute dump called Hotel Avenida. With just about enough room to swing a cat, we dropped off our bags and enjoyed a quiet meal in town.
Thursday: After an early start, we were on the ferry (a very pleasant trip except for the worst burger in living memory which looked like one of the soles of my shoes and tasted as I imagine the same to taste) and on our way back to cold and rainy Blighty – except – it was, briefly, warm! after several hours drive we arrived at our destination, Cranage Hall in Cheshire – and the thermometer had still not dropped below 20c. As we arrived at teatime it was 23C and sunny – not a bad start… and it got better… alas this was just a brief blip… back home days later it is now drizzling as usual.
Until our next trip…