Saturday, 11 November 2017

Back on the road again!

What were we thinking. Hard on the heels of driving an old van to Scandinavia we decide to drive our old £400 Ford Fiesta ‘Ron’ down to Southern Spain. Ron was a bargain buy bought before we arrived in England back in the spring. After driving the camper, the Fiesta seemed fast, quiet and responsive. Our somewhat rampant imaginations likening the experience to being in an electric sports car – The new Tesla perhaps!?. Just for the record – we do know it’s not a Tesla but if we enjoy it as if it was one then these two delusional idiots just saved themselves thousands. Anyway we had lots of stuff to get down to our 5 month housesit in Southern Spain including two bikes which we are yet to actually ride, so a 2000 mile road trip seemed worth doing.

We had the car checked before going and after purchasing a service, an MOT and a travel tin of sucky sweets for £151.99 and we were ready to roll.

First stop Dover, then a ferry across the channel to Calais and over the top of Paris to head South down to Dijon.  Well, what can I say about Dijon… Nothing, actually. We stayed on the outskirts, we bought some pasta at a supermarket, we ate and went to bed. Didn’t have any mustard or anything.
Leon. No, sorry, not a lot in the brain about there either apart from hundreds of keen young freerunners with as yet unbroken bones, practicing tumbles and jumps. I guess the later lessons will deal with plummeting after mis-judging a leap and wearing hoodies.

On we headed. Now, with a respectable number of miles under our (cam) belts we at last decided to leave the expensive motorways and take more of a romanticised meander through the byways of France. We finally meandered along avenues of plane trees, dipped in and out of some sleepy villages where old men played boules in shady squares. Sadly. There were no lazy day picnics with baguettes, olives, wines, meats and tartes in daisy laden fields. (I love a tart in a field!).

One particularly large detour was to Carcassonne. It sounds as cool as it is. The old town part sits atop a hill. The place is surrounded with castellated walls and a moat with statues that remind you of Shrek. Inside there are cobbled streets, turrets and windows for archers to shoot the tourists from and of which there are many. However if one ignores (accepts) there will be other people then the visitor can enjoy the architecture and sympathetic décor and have a well priced meal in one of the numerous restaurants in the little alleys and nooks of this charming place.

Montpelier. Nice city that just feels really French! It has all those lovely Louis whatever style buildings with the nice roofs and all that French style signage on shops. It’s like the picture in your school French text book with boulangeries, patisseries, tabacs and lots of French looking people doing more daytime drinking in cafes than actual shopping. There is a nice park bit and a fine square with cobbley streets coming off of it. There is also a pretty cool palace/ governmental building that sits on high with great views of the surrounding metropolis that is dotted with some monumental street art.
Montpelier: Spot the street art
Moving on we slip across the border at Mary Aqua and into Spain. Prices drop instantly. Hooray!

Since Spain is to be our home for a little while we have concentrated on getting the language under our belts. It’s so much easier than Japanese which after 18 months still had us pretty well flummoxed and we hope to come away from Spain with enough to get by in most circumstances. We are staying in a little village iin the South called Mizala. It’s about 50km North of Almeria so our drive is down the East Coast of Spain. Through Costa Del Civil Uprising (Catalan was trying to go it alone and have many a scrap with the elected government) on past some other Costa's to Andalucia (love the sound of that)

Tarragona street festival
Tarragona was an unexpected joy. We stayed with a charming young thing in a well-placed apartment and had a good nose around the city. Lovely streets, amphitheatre, sturdy walls, shady squares, an excellent walking area with all sorts of shops and a back drop of the blue, blue Med to set it off. There was a festival when we were there. It doesn’t matter what it was for since they all seem similar. Crowds of people lining the street, floats with Madonnas, noisy fireworks and ridiculously dangerous roman candles and Catherine wheels attached to effigies of dragons or bulls squeezing through the throng. Fantastic! Down with H&S.

Our final day was just a short burst along some free Spanish motorway through rugged hilly landscape. A slip road, a short stretch of B road, under a bridge onto a D road and into the Mizala Valley and onto a road that gradually wasn't. Until next time Chicas!

Yum. Tapas

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