A Travellerspoint blog

Sunday 3rd January

Started heading for the coast of Portugal, through lovely winding hilly roads overlooking beautiful valleys. We were in one of their national parks but already I liked the look of Portugal more than Spain. The north is supposed to be the poorer part of Portugal and you can tell from the houses and way of life here, but I find it adds charming character. As it was going dark we decided to head around the lakes to find a spot to park for the night. This idea went a bit wrong as we ended going up and down small hilly roads in the dark and then realised we were lost as none of the names of places were on our map! We eventually stumbled upon a lake down one of the small roads with a small parking area and decided to stop here. We would work out the way back to the main road in the daylight of tomorrow.


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Saturday 2nd January

After a good nights sleep, woke up and decided we had had enough of the rain and wanted warmer weather, if not some sun. The north of Spain is very green, mainly due to the rain and we hadn’t exactly been grabbed by what we had seen so far. So decided we would head off to Portugal to the sea, hopefully better scenery and better weather. Also we would be back in Spain after Morocco, so could check more of it out then. Although it was far, decided if we both took turns driving we would be in Portugal some point tonight.

We had also in the last few days slowly come to the realisation of yet another problem! We had been doing a lot of driving through hilly bendy roads and realised liquid was leaking out of our Cassette toilet on to the shower room floor. We had had enough of cleaning it. So from now on we would empty before we drove until we found another motorhome shop along the way to get a replacement seal. I know the glamour just doesn’t stop!

So off we headed across north Spain. Now my impressions of Spain so far seem to be of a broken country in a way, that probably sounds harsher then I mean though. There seems to be lots of random abandoned buildings, new roads right by old roads, lots of new buildings, then space and then buildings. Just not much cohesion, but I suppose it’s a big Country and it’s cheaper building new. Anyway, we stopped at a town called Villada as the book said they had showers at their aire, this wasn’t the case, so we continued the journey into the dark and the night. Just before leaving Spain the road headed high into the hills and nearer the border we suddenly entered a town covered in snow! There was us thinking we were heading for warmer climates. We entered Portugal late on through hilly winding roads, and stopped at a town called Braganca below a castle. We decided then that we would stop driving at night as we were missing all the scenery. Oh and it was raining in Portugal too.


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Friday 1st January 2010


Woke up, feeling a little worse for wear, to a lovely day with surfers already out catching the waves. After some food and tea decided we felt almost human again so headed for a walk. The day before we had driven up the hill and found a walk that went over some rocks out to a small island with a chapel on just off the coast. This would be a good start to the new year, but by the time we had drove up the hill ready for our walk the rain had started! So we waited for a bit for it to pass and maybe had a little nap, to conserve the energy of course, but the rain kept coming. Decided we would just head for Bilbao city instead.


After driving a few times round the city to find a parking spot to visit the old town and have something to eat. We could only find parking in what seemed a dodgy area a very long walk away from where we wanted to be and the rain kept coming down. So as it was already going dark decided to head out of the city, to a motorhome stop from our book in Miranda De Ebro and get something to eat there or along way. We found the motorhome Aire (seems like Spain has a few) on the outskirts of the town besides the river, it was not as nice as it sounds. After walking round the town tired and then driving round we finally found a take away pizza place, we had kept seeing the delivery bikes for. Turned out the pizza wasn’t that great, but food was needed.

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Thursday 31st December

After a morning walk along the sea front and through the town (Still no laundrette), decided we didn’t really want to celebrate New Years eve here. So off down the Coast to Bakio, a town right on the coast with a big beach and surfers. The town, as with what seems most places in Spain, seems to love their high rise apartments. We parked up along an almost Harbour wall one side of the beach and took a wonder round to find where we could have a meal out to celebrate New ears Eve. Well seems the town is rather dead and probably is a holiday town. It only had a couple of bars not really doing food, which were open, so we would stay in tonight and cook ourselves. Also during the early part of the evening there was a crazy noise that turned out to be a procession of cars waving flags, beeping their horns and one of them with a loudspeaker. They came right around where the motorhome was parked and back off. It was at this point and after reading about the ETA (the Basque terrorist group), we had seen it sprayed everywhere, we realised we were in the heart of the Basque country and got a little nervous, did they like foreigners? Anyway a glass of wine later decided we would stay put and we were being silly, the town had started to feel a little strange. We had more wine and a meal then more wine and took a walk along the beach for midnight. On the way back to the motorhome the sky went crazy with fireworks, it was lovely to watch. After watching the display and celebrating the New Year we realised we were very drunk so headed off to collapse in bed. The party and coming and going around us seemed to last all night mind. Also in the middle of the night Lorna woke me convinced the motorhome was going to be engulfed by the sea in a big wave, we were close to the edge admittedly, but the sea had only risen a bit.


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Wednesday 30th December

We started driving about trying to find the motorhome shop and were getting nowhere. We were about to give up and head down the road to San Sebastian, hopeful of finding something en route, but I decided to ask someone in my very basic Spanish. Well it turned out the bloke new where it was and even better his son spoke English so I was able to actually understand the directions. Turns out the shop was just round the corner on the road to San Sebastian, we wouldn’t be able to miss it. After another discussion at the shop in my broken Spanish, well I say broken more like few phrases and use of a Spanish dictionary. We brought a new tap for a very cheap price (13€), now Spain is better at France on price.

We then headed for the coastal city of San Sebastian. Upon entering the city and driving round and round in bad traffic slightly lost, we realised we were missing tom, or at least a good detailed map. The one we have shows the whole of Europe and is great for planning and handy if you stick to the main roads, but city centre’s mmmmm. We finally decided to give up on the city and head for motorhome stops along the coast, from our Camper stop Europe book.

We had a long winding windy journey, with some great sea views looking for places to stop. But it seems Spain’s coastal towns like their No Motorhome signs, or the one beach we found, was rather grim and slightly dodgy. Also we took a road that after a while decided it was closed, so we had to turn back. We ended up on a car park over looking the sea and a disused hotel in the town of Gorliz above the City of Bilbao.

At this point we realised two things, 1) Spain’s road signs seem hard to work out, as they will point you in the direction of the town you want to head for, then will just point out towns and villages along the way. Only problem being most of the towns along the way aren’t on our map, so it takes some guesswork, but we get there in the end. 2) We really needed to find a Laundrette as the clothes are piling up and running out. Spain though doesn’t seem that keen to show us where any are, so it was pants in the bathroom sink to wash by hand. The Glamour of life on the road.

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