a desolate camp, a real castle, a great city

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August 5th 2011
Published: October 31st 2011
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We had a slightly longer drive, around 500kms, and we ended up in Olite. No particular reason, really, just that it was on the way to France – sort of - and there was supposed to be a good castle there.

The campsite cheaper than we had been paying, and there was a reason. It was a bit open. Well, a lot open, actually. It was like being back in Patagonia, except the wind was hot. The sheer amount of wind mills on the hills nearby should probably have clued us in about the wind. We had planned to stay two nights, but cut it back to one. We managed to get the tents up eventually, and settled in for the night.

Crickets. That's one thing this place did have. You get good at hunting them having grown up in Darwin. The sun goes down, the air grows cool, all is relaxed and quiet, then....chirp chirp frickin chirp.

What follows is pure ninja work. Sneaking up, slowly, waiting for them to start up again. I don't mind the sound in the distance, but this one was to close and had to die. A cricket exclusion zone.
Dance of death on the tent patio bit.

But the little bugger kept going, no matter how much I banged on the tent. Klaire was about to stab me, so steps had to be taken. I found it – it's stupid chirp guiding the way. It was in fact some sort of flying bug making noise with its wings. Interesting, and I was momentarily fascinated. But it still had to die. From the sounds in the field beyond it wasn't endangered, so I squished it and got to sleep.

We headed up the road to San Sebastian. It was only a short trip so we took the opportunity to stop in and see the castle at Olite. It had been restored in the nineties, but much of it was original. Very fairytale like – a very good example of a medieval castle, complete with watchtowers, private gardens and the like.

Then, moments later, we were lost in the tiny little road in the hills around San Sebastian. It took only one slightly wrong turn off the motorway into San Sebastian to get us hopelessly stuck, and we tried to get our way out of it by following the GPS. We went up some truly tiny roads, into houses and back out, and were continually stopped by roadworks and closed roads.

When we finally arrived at Camping Igueldo the queue to check in was huge. I thought the system they had to check people in could have used some refinement, and it appearred the other 48 pepople waiting agreed. We got a good site though, and the blue tarp we had was put to good use, creating a truly Australian looking campsite. I found some mint growing around the edge of the campsite and added it to my Patxaran – the local wild plum and anis liquor. Nice, once I avoided the stinging nettles.

Donostia/San Sebastian. Packed with tourists though it may have been, we all liked it. So much so that I even went clothes shopping. A little bit.
An attractive city with just enough to make it a little different to the others. The pintxos were excellent, although not free like in Granada, and there was plenty of good beer to be had with god bars to have it in. You had to take a bit of a punt with how the pintxos worked. Generally they were arranged along the bar, and the procedure was to go up and point out which ones you wanted. We took a deep breath and leaped into it – we watched a few other travellers hesitate, then back out. You had to have a go. There was plenty going on around town, and it seemed a good place to be.

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31st October 2011

As good as it gets those pinxtos. I even forgave Frank Alcorta - the only Basque I can actually remember talking to. If those are forever denied to you it would be a reason to become a bit jaundiced.

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