For the first time we took the Toll roads to get us passed the big cities of Biarritz (France) and San Sebastian (Spain). It was a challenge using the toll booths as I had to almost climb out of the window to reach the payment point whilst trying to work out where / how to do if contactless style / cash, then get back in and move off before the barrier comes back down. Some you paid on the main toll, others when you were on the slipway to the next road.
We were practising all the key Spanish phrases we thought we’d need – No hablo español, when actually we needed to say – Ez dakit euskaraz because the main language is Euskara. As you can see no similarities!!
We stopped and picked a point on the coast and using trusty SearchforSites aimed for a campsite in Matrika. Looks simple on the map, but there was a fairly quick introduction to the vagaries of their roads – up down round and round, hairpins here there and everywhere. Narrow roads that even made Shar squeak a couple of times, but we made it to the campsite in 2nd gear and in one piece.
It was time for a clean out of French sand, cheese, wine etc and everyone had a wash. Time for a rest before more exploration
All clean, tanks filled / emptied as appropriate and all electrical items charged to within an inch of their lives and we headed off down the coast. On paper it was a mere 11km drive to our next destination Lekeitio, it turned out it was a bum clenching hours drive, Gurty took all the hairpins and steep gradients in her stride. Cyclists were going faster than us at some points, but we made it in one piece.
We headed for a park up by the local lighthouse and stayed for 4 nights. One of which was at the local Aire – just to remind ourselves of the parking etiquette of close parking, chocks out and satellite dishes all aligned for french / german Emmerdale or what ever. All the dishes seem to appear and align at the same time.
Lekeitio was surfers heaven, surfers to the left, surfers to the right, stuck in the middle of surfers, but I decided (well Shar told me) it was inappropriate to take pictures of the gorgeous fitties because they were my children’s age. Suffice to say we enjoyed the views and an unintended ‘phwoar’ may have slipped out of my mouth on the odd occasion.
Next stop was Busturia, for 3 nights, in a lovely shady spot close to an estuary and a train station. We thought it was time we headed to a city for some culture, checked out the prices to get from Busturia to Bilbao, only 3.50 euros for an hour and half journey to the centre and the trains ran every half an hour – barry bargain. Guggenheim here we come.
We headed off to Bilbao excited at the thought of some culture. Train arrived on time, was clean and new, a far cry from the cattle truck ride on First Worst from Bristle to Wessun. We splashed out and caught a taxi to the Guggenheim museum, excitedly chatting away to the taxi driver, who in turn was excitedly talking back to us. He kept mentioning restaurants and pizzerias, we thought he was just being helpful. That was until he dropped us off outside the museum and disappeared and we discovered that as it was Monday it was SHUT!! He must have thought – Stupid English. Which I was cos I didn’t read the blurb properly. Still we had a good look from the outside and went off in search of a Head shop instead for a different type of culture.
The weather was getting colder, and rain was setting in, it was time to follow the birds and head South. We checked all Gurty’s levels and gave her a good once over before heading over 800 kms across Spain. It took 3 days to cross the windy dusty plains feeling like we were on the set of a Clint Eastwood movie. But rather than cigars and bourbon we were fuelled by good coffee and Werthers originals, or ‘Grandads’ as we like to call them.
The first night we parked up 4 km away from the motorway by a pretty river in San Miguel near Valladolid,
The second night we were so exhausted we stopped in a restaurant car park which was also a trucker stop at Badajoz, 7km from the border. We didn’t hang around as it was the equivalent of a motorway services: dirty, full of salacious truckers and the smell of over fried food. Just pull up, lock doors, curtains down, eat, sleep and run away in the morning.
Wake up in the morning and let’s go to Portugal for breakfast, happy days.
It was time to drag ourselves of of the Basque country to experience Spain as we know it. We left with a heavy heart, but so much richer for the experience. On the way out we stopped for our routine of clean and swill at Arteaga and found some amazing artwork and vegetables – and we really really love vegetables!
After our last attempt at culture, more reading was required and we headed off to Comillas:
The town of Comillas is one of the northern Spanish region of Cantabria’s most symbolic places and one of its most interesting from an architectural point of view.
It has some of the most important Art Nouveau buildings in Cantabria, which include Sobrellano Palace Chapel and the Pantheon, the Pontifical University and, of course, the brilliant El Capricho by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi.
Checking our trusty app we headed once again for the beach and a few days of culture. I do love a bit of Gaudi…