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Published: March 30th 2016
We purchased two croissants yesterday in Pamplona to have for breakfast this morning instead of risking the toaster and we were looking forward to what we thought was going to be a sweet jam filled croissant.
No such luck. The croissants turned out to be filled with a type of ham like material and almost tasteless cheese. We did manage to get them eaten but it wasn’t the delicious experience we had anticipated.
We said adios to ‘Jose’ on the reception desk and he motioned something back to us that we don’t think we would have understood even if our Spanish was better.
It had been a good stay in a very neat and modern room of a good size and of course the value had been excellent at the price paid.
On the advice of a number of websites and Peugeot ‘s handbook that we received when we picked up the car, we put our two chains we had bought with us from NZ through the handles of the two suitcases and backpacks and then the longer of the two chains through an anchor point in the side of the boot. No one will be stealing
our luggage in a hurry if we were to get scammed!
We had decided not to take the more direct road to Langre near Santander which would have taken us to the outskirts of Bilbao and then along the coast in a westerly direction.
Instead we chose to head in a south westerly direction following one of the Camino Way trails towards Logrono.
We had filled the car up near the hotel before we pulled out onto the highway and we should have known better as the petrol price just a few kilometres away and beyond the highway was 15c a litre cheaper! Just as well it only took €20 to top up the tank.
The A12 was a good wide secondary road and we made very good progress taking in the fertile landscape as we proceeded on in light traffic.
Today being a holiday in Navarra and Basque country we had thought that the roads might be a bit busier with returning holidaymakers but this wasn’t the case.
There were signs giving direction for the Camino Way pilgrims just off the roadway and the trail they had to use was very well formed
and appeared very easy to walk. We speculated as we drove on taking in the rise and fall of the land through the expansive valley we were travelling as to just how many kilometres a pilgrim could expect to be able to walk each day and thought 35km sounded achievable if you were fit.
Coming into Puenta la Reina an opposing driver flicked his headlights at us and in what appears to be an international signal, around the corner were two policemen on either side of the highway. We had slowed to 50kph, the speed limit, anyway and they weren’t interested in us despite our red French number plates sticking out.
After Vilatuerta the Camino Way appeared to disappear from our view and it was probably because the road appeared to be newly constructed and now took a different direction to the way it used to run.
Before the trail had disappeared we had seen at least 2 sets of couples striding their way, ever west, and we expect as we get closer to Santiago de Compostelo next week the numbers we see will increase as the various trails from different parts of France, Spain and Portugal
converge on the city.
As it was getting close to lunchtime we pulled into a commercial centre on the outskirts of Logrono in the hope that we had crossed the provincial border and the public holiday in Navarro didn’t apply here. No such luck as the giant car park was almost bereft of vehicles and the stores including the supermarket were firmly closed up.
Beyond Logrono the road gradients on the hills became a little steeper and shorter which necessitated a large bright yellow road sign depicting the rear of a truck travelling at 40kph with two cars ramming into the back of the truck doing 120kph (the speed limit).A novel way of showing be careful of your speed and that trucks will be travelling much slower on the hill.
We were now into wine country and the landscape along road to Haro, where we started swing on a more northerly direction, was vineyard after vineyard with extensive irrigation installed.
Haro was open for business so we had obviously travelled far enough away from Navarro Province.
These northern Spanish towns are not like their counterparts in France where there are commercial centres on the outskirts
where you can find supermarkets and other shops grouped together which often meant we didn’t have to drive through the centre of the town to get on your way.
Haro was a reasonably sized town so we found a car park and went in the direction of locals we passed who had bread and other shopping in their arms.
No all the shops were open but we did find a busy bakery and purchased two sweet croissants for lunch. This time we could see they didn’t have anything savoury in them and will be a better taste for lunch than the ones we bought in Pamplona yesterday for breakfast this morning.
We switched onto Route 232 and stopped in the sleepy little town of Pancorbo for lunch.
Our park was on a street that ran adjacent to the town’s main street and the busy AP1 that ran between Bilbao and Burgos. There wasn’t much to look while we had our lunch except the stream of vehicles climbing the hill on the highway and disappearing into a large tunnel portal in the rocky landscape above the town.
Continuing on the 232 and the landscape became a
bit more barren as we drove over the Sierra de la Tesla reaching Ona where we found a Dia supermarket open alongside the roadway we were travelling.
We hadn’t been to a supermarket for 3 days and we needed to top up supplies for our 3 night stay in Langre so we took the opportunity and got all we needed to keep us going in case there wasn’t a supermarket close to our beach side accommodation we were heading for.
We switched to Route 629 which would take us north towards the coast climbing slowly towards snow covered mountains that were in the distance.
At one point the mountains disappeared from view when the road took us through a very narrow, winding gorge which we came upon all of a sudden after driving for all of the day across either fertile plains or semi barren countryside.
Eventually we made it to the low pass that took us up to an altitude of 900 metres above sea level and while the snow was well above where the road tracked there was a reminder of what happens in the winter with snow markers on both sides of the
At the summit there was a panoramic view out to the coast still some 30 kilometres away. It wasn’t a time to be outside the car for too long for although the sky overhead was still fine, there was a strong wind blowing making it chilly to be hanging around too long.
The people having their late lunch in the campervan next door to where we pulled into were probably happy we didn’t stop long as we took their view away for a few minutes!
The road downhill was steeper than the ascent had been with a number of hairpin turns and we were pleased we didn’t meet any of the trucks including a long car transporter that were heading up the mountainside on any of those corners.
Now on the flat again at sea level and it was a short run along the A8 to the turnoff that took us to the coast.
We haven’t as yet tried to put the co-ordinates of any of our accommodations into Gina to use as a guide to our destinations but today that may have been handy as we couldn’t get Gina to take the name
of the road our apartment was located on.
After driving this way ,then that way and not finding the apartment, we pulled over and Gretchen used her cell phone for the first time’ to talk us’ to our destination.Oh the wonders of technology!
Paulo, our host and owner of the 3 apartments was very helpful in helping with our luggage and giving us a good run down of the area and Santander.
After a long day of driving we needed some exercise so walked the short distance to the cliff top overlooking the flat curved beach.
With a weather system out in the Atlantic that had given strong winds to southern England and northern France over the weekend there were some sizable swells rolling in with waves pounding over the rocky promontory closet to our viewing position.
It was like a setting one might see in Cornwall or the west coast of Ireland, a deserted beach, tall cliffs surrounding it and a slightly angry sea.
Actually the beach wasn’t quite deserted as there was a lone surfer just offshore waiting for the right wave to get his ride back into the beach.
watched him as we took a walk along the cliff edge and noted that he caught a wave on a couple of occasions while we were in view.
This surfing lark seems like hard work. You paddle out, breaking through waves that chuck you part way back to where you have come from, then catch a wave and ride in, which looks like the fun bit, and then do it all again!
It had been a good day of travel and sights’ giving us a taste of what we hope is to come as we pick up the trail to Santiago again over the coming days.
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