Thursday, 19 May 2011

Spain 2003, Day Eight, Santander

Day Eight 24th March

First we stop at the supermarket, there is not much in the way of good beers, so I just stock up with a few packs of Spanish stubbies, some cans of Hoegaarden and some wine, not a lot I know but as I mentioned before, we are heading off to France in June and can do a proper beer run then.

The Drive to Santander is a bit busier than the drive to Haro, as the road passes more urban areas but it is still far better than traffic in England.  We had to stop for more fuel along the way.  The last half of the journey is along the coast and is quite pleasant. We arrive at the port about five hours early, with the intention of having a look round Santander. We are allowed to park up at the port and given a time to be back for loading, we then set off for the town, which is just outside the port gate.

The weather at Santander is really hot, something we had not expected this far north especially after Haro, also the shops are all closed for siesta something else we didn't expect.  The shops eventually open in time for us to have a quick look round and get cigarettes for a friend, before we have to head back for the ferry.

Leaving Santander, 2003

The ferry leaves right on time to give us a wonderful sunset over Spain to say adios, for now.

Spain 2003, Day Seven, Haro

Day Seven 23rd March

Our last full day in Spain, although we will not be home for another four days, its a long way back to the North East of England. The sun is out and we decide to have a quiet day, walked up to town, did a bit of shopping and had a sit in the sun in the town square. It's there sitting outside a bar, on the opposite side of the square to our usual, of we notice a huge nest on top of one of the buildings. As we watch a large bird flies to the nest, we had seen these birds flying over earlier, but had not noticed the nest. I think the birds were cranes but am not sure.

Haro Spain 2003

We had an early night as we have a long day ahead of us tomorrow.

Spain 2003, Day Six, Haro

Day Six 22nd March

There is a very small tent on the plot opposite us, the young gentleman it belongs to, is on a bike, hence the small tent. Now the reason I mention this is, the cheek of the young man, you have to pay extra for hook-up but this chap wanders across to an unoccupied site next to ours, opens the hook-up box and plugs his mobile phone charger in. Then he's off to washes his pots and pans, on return he goes over to one of the static vans by the river, takes a tea towel off their washing line and dries his stuff. Its easy to travel light if you have the nerve and don't give a dam about other peoples property.

By this time we are out of water and will have to fill up for the first time on a site, the hose we got with the van is very short and the tap is a fair way off.  So we put away anything that could fall over and drive round to the tap, after a bit of fiddling with fittings the job is done. We now usually fill up on entering a site, if we are only there for three of four days this will usually suffice and if not, we use a five litre water bottle to top up, the water tank is easily accessed under a seat and filled by removing the tanks large screw lid

Haro, 2003

Found a supermarket on the edge of town, got a few things we needed but will return on our way out of town to stock up with alcohol to bring home. This is the centre of Rioja production but at this time in our lives we are not big wine drinkers, pity. 


That night we head out on the town, tapas at the first bar we come to (luckily this is the very busy bar/restaurant from yesterday) then on into the main square. It is very quiet for a Saturday night and the few bars around the square are practically empty but then we discover, up the side streets, several bars and restaurants, that we hadn't noticed during the day and they where heaving.

Haro Spain 2003

We had a real good night and we even ended it by popping it to the bar on the campsite for one on the way back.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Spain 2003, Day Five, Haro

Day Five 21st March

Only stopped in Cambrils one night, the site is a bit out of the way. Decided to head north east, towards a site in Haro, about 280 miles, well on our way to ferry at Santander. Just after we set off, Dot starts moaning about a smell and blames me, I am most upset (although it usually is me) and point out it is probably coming from outside but this smell persists. We work out that it must be coming from inside the van and Dot goes back to investigate. She traced it back to the dirty water tank and it is easily cured, simply by putting the three plugs in the three drain holes. We make mental notes to remember this next time and to buy some bleach, it was pretty bad.

Made one wrong turn and nearly ended up in Tarragona as we took a shortcut from the A7 to A2, we went onto a trading estate to get our bearings. I think we where just confused by road signs and where on the right road in the first place, anyway we took the opportunity to fill up with diesel on the trading estate.

This trip is when we discovered just how good it is to travel on the motorway in Spain, now this may not be true for all motorways in Spain but on the toll roads in northern Spain it is. We travelled for miles with only one lorry up front, about a mile in the distance and maybe one the same distance behind but the strange thing is, every time you come up to overtake one of these lorries, three cars will suddenly appear from nowhere and get in the way. The other strange thing is, that these cars will be about ten feet apart, as if towing each other and still will be as the disappear in to the distance and this will happen every time.

Camping de Haro, Spain 2003
HaroCamping de Haro
Avenida de Miranda s/n
Web Site

We had pre-booked the site, mainly to be sure we knew a site that was open. The site is just across the river from the town about a ten min walk to the centre but up hill all the way. Its a lot cooler in Haro, luckily we had nice thick coats with us, that we had used to get to the airports on the way out, we had also packed some warm clothes for the evening.

When we arrived there wasn't anyone at reception, so we had a look round the site, which as with the others we had visited, it was pretty much deserted. We eventually booked in, and then walked up in to town for a look round and something to eat.

HaroHaro 2003

We had a good look round and then headed back to the main square, just as we got settled for a drink outside one of the bars, a large crowd started to congregate outside what looked like the town hall. Whatever the protest was about it only lasted a few minutes, thinking about it later, the gulf war had just started, so it was probably that. The bar we chose had lots of tapas on the bar but this looked different to what we had seen in Spain before, as it seamed to consist mainly of small sandwiches with cocktail sticks through them. Anyway we got a menu and I was surprised to see egg & chips top of the list, just what I fancied, I think Dot had an omelette or a pizza.

Haro 2003

Later on the way back down the hill, we passed a very busy bar/restaurant, so popped in for a look, these had masses of tapas, the traditional type and one, slices of potato baked in oil with chillies, looked particularly good, so we had to have a portion between us. It was better than it looked and we vowed to return.

Spain 2003, Day Four, Cambrils

Day Four 20th March

Set off for Cambrils about a 50 mile drive, but when we got there, they where building several new roads around the area, one right in front of the site we where aiming for. We could see the site but no matter where we went we could not get to it, we went round and round, did give me plenty of practice driving the van in a built up area though. To cut a very long story short, we had to drive across the roads works, along a dirt track (a real one) and down an embankment to get there, and to cap it all, we didn't like the look of the site and left.

Parked up on the front and had something to eat, then a walk, another nice seafront.

We then doubled back to Salou, we had been there on a package holiday years before and thought it would be nice to see it again. The two sites in our book where still closed for the winter, so we drove through to one on the other side on the way out of town, it was open but because of some refurbishments going on, motorhomes where not allowed? We stopped at a bar nearby to ask about camping and was told that there where some motorhomes wild camping on the seafront at the very north of Salou but we did not think we should try this, maybe at a later date (didn't fancy being moved on in the middle of the night).

Camping Àmfora D'Arcs, Spain 2003

Camping Àmfora D'Arcs

N340 Km1145, 43391 Vinyols i els Arcs

Went back to Cambrils, to a site we had seen just off the main road, and booked in for the night, it is just a short walk from the hotel Port Vinyols on the N340.

We where given a map and instructions on how to get to the seafront, so off we set, never did get there although we walked for miles. We walked along country roads, paths, across fields, are chased by farm dogs and end up not being able to cross the railway lines. So we head back and find what is supposed to be a petrol station/service area but inside its a bar and restaurant, food is being cooked over an open fire like a huge BBQ, it looks really good but we have decided to go to the hotel for our evening meal, so for now we just have a drink.

The hotel does one of them, three courses, bottle of wine and water for a fixed price things, these are very good value. The menu is all in Spanish (as you would expect away from the main touristy bits) but the waiter is very helpful, explaining a best he can what everything is. He must have done a good job, as it all gets eaten and is most enjoyable.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Spain 2003, Day Three, Sitges

Day Three 19th March

Another day out in Sitges centre, the walk in is not that bad in the warm sun.  
There are some very nice properties on the front leading out of the old town, there are also a couple of motorhomes that looked to be parked up long term on the road, I can not see this happening in the summer, when it is busy.

Sitges 2003

We picking up some more things we needed for the van, can opener, bottle opener, matches, dustpan and brush, hot glue gun, etc (hot glue gun??).  There are some nice tapas bars, restaurants and shops in town, strange though, to see advertisements in clothes shop windows with photos of men kissing.  Came across the train station and considered a trip in to Barcelona but decided against it, we have been twice before and it would be a bit of a rush. So we spent the day at a more relaxed pace instead.


Had a beer in a very smart bar, with the largest selection of tapas I have ever seen, then we had a drink in a beach bar in the sun. 

Beer in the sunBar Sitges

Back at the campsite we had some food and beer in the bar and then sat outside the van in the sun with a drink on the evening.  Bacardi and Cola, something else we bought down the town, we didn't have anything to sit on, so we used the cushions off the bench seats from the van.


On the site, I see a scooter on the back of a motorhome for the first time and think, that it would be something to consider in the future but maybe with a small motorbike.

Spain 2003, Day Two, Sitges

Day Two 18th March

We need pillows, it was incredibly uncomfortable last night without any, so we will get some from the town this afternoon.  We took the long walk back along the promenade into the centre to look around the shops. 

Sitges 2003

Sitges is a nice place, with a good long beach and the sun was out.  What we did not know, was that Sitges was a mecca for gays but we did wonder what the phrase "great for gays and family alike", in one tourist books meant.


After completing the walk to the far end of the promenade and looking around the marina area, we head into the shops to look for pillows


We could not find pillows anywhere and after looking for hours we eventually retire to a small bar for a beer and a sit down.  We had found some cushions that we bought, just because they would be softer than what we had last night.  We asked a girl serving in the bar, where we were resting and thankfully, she knew somewhere and pointed us in the right direction.  We returned to the small bar, with our newly acquired pillows, to say thank you and obviously, have another beer or two before the long walk back.  Although we did take the shorter route back via the main road, not as nice as the beach way.