We started our epic trip to Spain on 22nd of July with the long and wet car voyage from Wark on Tyne down to Portsmouth – specifically Hayling Island to visit our pals Clare and husband Craig. After atrocious weather all the way we arrived late at night to pretty decent weather and a warm welcome. After an excellent meal, rather too much wine and superb company we went off to bed to build up our energy for the European trip to come.
Saturday morning we set off first thing from Hayling Island for the Portsmouth ferry to Caen, France. We spent most of the ferry trip sleeping but I can tell you that the food on the Brittany ferry was really good and the room, though rather small, was comfortable.
Mid-Saturday afternoon we departed from Caen to head off to see our friends Carol and Graham who live in a small town called St Martin de Sanzay in the middle of France. A typical small French village, the area has a square and bags of personality. We spent the night and as you can see on the right – they have a pretty spectacular garden though you can only see part it it here.
Sunday morning after a typical and superb French breakfast with Carol’s home-made jam and croissants, we set off on our trip down to Spain, suffering at times pretty awful rain (though the temperature never dropped below 18c) and stopping on the way at a couple of French gas stations (where folk like to live the old-fashioned way – see toilet), to arrive late afternoon at our destination of San Sebastian in the very northern tip of Spain where, guess what – it was raining.
Our first hotel in Spain was the Hotel “Pension Ametzagana” in San Sebastian. I’ll save most of my wrath for Trip Adviser and Booking.Com but suffice it to say neither the iPad nor iPhone would even recognise the existence of the well-advertised WIFI and after being told by two staff that the restaurant would open at between 8pm and 9pm, we had a couple of drinks (hence ensuring we could not drive elsewhere) only to discover at 9.15pm that the restaurant does not open on Sundays. The best they could offer was warmed-over Carrefour pizzas (and Carrefour pizzas are awful).
The bedroom at Ametzagana was small to say the least, with a corner bathroom so amazingly tiny, there wasn’t enough room to swing a mouse never mind actually have a bath. The place left me with the distinct impression I’d just visited a Russian jail. NOT recommended. We left early morning accompanied by fog, rain and the promise that our next stopover, Valencia, is super-sunny! The plan is to stop-over mid-day at Zaragoza.
Incidentally to answer any questions about the cost of fuel in France – Diesel there is typically 1.53 Euros or more and up to now it looks like Spain is somewhat better at 1.28 to 1.34 Euros – but no more cheap fuel, to be sure. This must be crippling the less-well-off, especially in Spain with 40% youth unemployment. Still – given what we’re spending on travel this trip, 1.28 is better than nothing. That works out at around 1.13 a lire in British money…