Thursday 2nd November
This is the first view of our ferry, the Pont Aven, sailing from Portsmouth to Santander. There would have been more photos if things had been more exciting but the crossing was so smooth and uneventful nothing really happened. We did have one of the best meals we have ever had in the a’la carte restaurant, potato risotto with pork cheeks, baked Halibut, cheese platter and then chocolate feast that even Lucy couldn’t finish.
Lucy has been going on and on about us doing a cruise but she did feel a bit queasy after her full English breakfast and is beginning to change her mind.
Loading the ferry was a bit of a palaver and we had trouble working out the system that the staff were using. When you book in you are directed to a lane where we sat for an hour or so. We were then summoned forward, a good 2 hours before the sailing and lined up in another section. An hour later we are moved along into a third section. All the time there are cars being called forward into different lanes, their heights measured, and then some directed off to go and board. Twenty minutes before sailing we were allowed on board onto an almost deserted deck. It seems that unlike at Dover where there are two decks where vehicles can enter the ferry, this one only has one entrance and the smaller vehicles go up ramps to get out of the way of us big boys. Consequently, the big boys were allowed off the ferry first.
Before the ferry had docked my phone let me know of an incoming email, we’ve been asked to do a summer rally for the club in the Loire Valley!
The ferry arrived spot on time, 6.15pm local time and we rushed through passport control on our way to our first stop, an aire just 2 miles from the docks.
As you can see, we did get there, but I’m still not sure how. Stella had us going up some very steep narrow twisty hills and then down again before depositing us by a no through road sign. Luckily I had read some of the reviews in Camper Contact and knew that we had to do a large circuit around the Park de Llamos. At the far end, with Stella still trying to turn us around we found ourselves in the middle of crowds of pedestrians. The football had just finished and we were surrounded by thousands of fans, a terrifying prospect in the UK, but here it was no problem at all. It may have helped that Santander beat Burgos 1-0.
I managed to strike up a conversation with Jose from Galicia who had just spent two months touring Germany and France. It was a bit of a struggle, he didn’t understand any of my French, German or English. Incredibly, he struggled with my Spanish as well.
We are heading south, slowly. We have at least 8 days to get to Almafra and hope to stop in Burgos, Madrid and Albercete on the way. I found a place 50 miles south of Santander and off Stella lead us up mountains, round hairpins and down steep hills. Lots of fantastic scenery on the way, in places it looked like North Yorkshire with the stone walls dividing the fields, in other places we could imagine we were in Italy or France. We’ve stopped in a 2 bar town called Pesquera del Ebro. The Ebro winds it’s way across Spain, through Zaragoza and eventually draining into the Mediterranean Sea.
The view above is from our aire. The town is sheltered below the tree line and the rocks look almost as if they were man made, some of them really look like castle walls.
In the village many of the buildings are decorated with theses carvings, as far as I can make out each family has it’s own crest.
This is the bridge that we had to cross to get into town. The walls are out of site as you cross and you only know that you haven’t hit anything because there is no scrapping noise. Looking at the walls in my mirrors showed a very narrow gap each side.
Next bit of negotiating was this bit. Overhanging signs and gullies either side.
Our aire is at the top of this road.
After lunch we went for a long walk along the river.
The leaves are changing colour and desperately hanging on, won’t be long before they have all gone and the snow starts arriving.
Some of the trees had these growths on them. They look like fungus of some type but they were rock hard.
No good blog would be complete without a photo of a bridge (the earlier one doesn’t count).
And you need a church in one of the photos. You nearly got a beer of the day photo but we managed to stumble into the bar two minutes before it closed. He managed to serve us the beer before telling us of course!
Here’s Frankie all alone on the aire. It’s just a parking area really without any services, not even a rubbish bin, but we have everything we need and if it’s as quiet as last night we’ll be very happy.