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May 28th 2012
Published: May 28th 2012
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FRANCE

Friday 18th May 2012

This is our first trip in our new (to us!) Romahome Dimension campervan other than a weekend away just to test it out! We caught L & D Lines ferry from Portsmouth to Le Havre at 23.00 which left an hour late to due to enormous number of motorbikes going to a Motorcycle Race at Le Mans. All the bikes had to be strapped down so whilst all their riders were enjoying a beer at the bar, the cars and vans were left queuing outside for an hour!!

Arrived at Le Havre to a grey day with drizzle.....and crossed the bridge to Honfleur (6 euros) past a few villages where the thatched roof had what looked like iris’ growing along the ridge (never seen that before!!) before driving via Bernay and Alcencon to Le Mans where they were in the process of barricading roads for the impending race! Drove along the road (shortly to become part of the race circuit) and had lunch, in the sun, by a park and river at a lovely little French village called Dissay-sous-Courcillon.

Reached Villandry about 3.00pm and as the weather had brightened up, decided to have a look around the Chateau and gardens which were quite spectacular! Enormous, formal gardens, laid out in sections and planted up with vegetables!! There was red lettuce, broad beans, purple cabbages all enclosed in little box hedged edgings....quite amazing – got me thinking about our allotment!!

Onto Azay le Rideau that has an Aire right outside the campsite, 300 metres from the Chateau. It was completely full so we treated ourselves to a night, with electricity, in the Campsite (Le Sabot!) (205 miles)

Saturday 19th May 2012

Cloudy day and an early start! ( We did note that the car park NEXT to the Aire was also full of Campervans!!) As the weather seemed to getting increasingly worse we just drove all day, mainly on N10, via Bordeaux and ended up in Bidart, near Biarritz. (338 miles) Stayed at Camping Sunelia Berrua, (21.00 Euros) which had wifi – albeit a very slow connection!! Rain forecast for next three days!!

SPAIN

Sunday 20th May 2012

The day started, as predicted, with torrential rain so we didn’t leave the campsite until about 10.30am. Because of the weather we decided to push on and up to Vitoria Gasteiz on the motorway to avoid any possibility of landslides etc. (Tolls worked out about 15.00 Euros!) We then got on the N1 and carried on to Burgos stopping at a Picnic Area for lunch which had a series of sculptures, including El Pastor and a huge dog!! By the time we got to the campsite (Camping Fuentes Blancas 26.50 Euros) the sun was breaking through so we walked the 3km into the City, through the fine city gates, peered at the Cathedral and then walked back along the river to the campsite. (169 miles)





Monday 21st May 2012

An hours drive to Vallodolid and then, after parking the Campervan, another hour to find Tourist Information!!! Had a lovely wander through the park with loads of peacocks and then the old town with its various churches, university and Cathedral! Valladolid was the capital city of Spain in the 16th Century and also boasts Palace Real where Felipe III lived for 5 years and the Pimental Palace which was the birthplace of Philip II on 21st May 1527!! A nice place but no wow factor! On to Segovia, which wowed us from the start!! An amazing view of the old walled city with its magnificent cathedral and a drive into the centre with its 1st century Roman aquaduct! Camped about a mile outside the city ( Camping ‘El Acueducto’ 24.21 euros) and walked back in the evening. Strolled around the old town gazing at the various churches and of course, the magnificent gothic Cathedral built in the 16th Century. Fantastic views all around of snow capped mountains, plains and wooded valleys and it was lovely to see the storks again nesting on the old Churches, most of them with a baby chick!! A truly lovely place! (166 miles)

Tuesday 22nd May 2012

So lovely that we decided to go back into the old town for a morning wander to make sure we hadn’t missed anything!! It was a beautiful morning with blue sky and sun so we walked up the main street and had a look inside the Cathedral and the Cloisters and then meandered back down again!

Onto Avila, about an hours drive away to see the best preserved City walls in Spain dating from the 12th century! Walked around the 2.5km walls, half on top the walls and the other half on the outside duly admiring the 88 towers, 6 gates and the many churches, convents and monasteries!

As there was no campsite at Avila we drove to Salamanca where there are 4 campsites. It was still hot and sunny so we parked in the centre and walked through to Plaza Mayor, built in 1775 – a very impressive square surrounded with old columned buildings and cafes and shops. Had a stroll around the old city, walking past the magnificent Convent to the old Roman Bridge, part of the Ruta de la Plata (Route of the Silver) before heading to the incredibly huge Cathedral and various enormous churches!

Being completely cathedraled and churched out we had a Menu del Dia, sat in the sunshine and watched the world go by, before heading north on the N630 to La Capea campsite at Aldeaseca de la Armuna about 4km away. (20 Euros) A very nice, completely empty campsite, which had free wifi in the small lounge area! (122 miles)

Wednesday 23rd May 2012

Got to Placencia, our next stop and parked by the rose garden and aquaduct. Followed the road into the town and after walking some of the city walls and climbing one of the towers we strolled through one of the narrow streets that all lead to Plaza Mayor, a lovely old square with the usual cafes and bars surrounding it! Wandered round the once again magnificent Cathedral and had a look inside the Parador, once a Palace, now a Hotel! Took a quick look at the river with its old bridge and then went back to the van to drive to Caceres.

We took the N630 south where the countryside is mostly flat with small ranges of mountains, but there were a huge number of soaring birds of prey, red kites and storks. We were even lucky enough to spot a few hoopoe!

The campsite (I think it was the municipal campsite 20 Euros) was this side of Caceres so we thought we would camp up and then bus into the town, but it was so lovely and hot and sunny and all the pitches had their own toilet and shower AND we had the bonus of free wifi we just ‘chilled’ and read books etc!! (142 miles)





Thursday 24th May 2012

Drove into Caceres, parked at the Parque de Principe carpark (free) and then walked 10mins into the City. More narrow streets leading to another Plaza Mayor where you could then walk up into the old medieval town with its high walls, convents, palaces and churches. Climbed up the spiral staircase of the tower of the Iglesia de San Francisco Javier for some fine views over the city, including a few old stork nests!

Back to the Van and after stocking up with provisions at Carrefour, a 50 mile drive to Merida, that has the most Roman ruins in the whole of Spain. Parked by the Acueducto Los Milagros,where on top of every pillar there was a stork and followed the park and river, which we thought would lead into town! Unfortunately we followed it the wrong way and had to double back, eventually coming across another aquaduct (De San Lazaro) and then a fantastic Roman Chariot racing Arena. Its the first one I had ever seen and it was absolutely enormous! In its day, there were about 30,000 spectators watching the races that took about 10mins. We think it was also where the Chariot racing for Ben Hur was filmed. Still trying to find the tourist office we walked to Plaza de La Constitucion and then a ‘friendly’ person showed us the way (for 1 euro!!) to the Temple of Diana – just round the corner!!

Still no Tourist Information so back to the van and drove around where we then found the Roman Amphitheatre, Tourist Information Office and Little Tourist train! It was 12 Euros for entry to all the sites, most of which we had already seen so we gave up and went to the Campsite at Merida (on N630) which had no wifi!! (61 miles)


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Burying your head in the sand!!


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